Rep. Lipinski: Enabling More Iranian Belligerence by Ignoring American Law and Providing Access to the U.S. Dollar is Not a Path to Peace

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement after recent reports that the U.S. Treasury Department is considering loosening restrictions on Iran’s access to the U.S. dollar in business transactions:

“Since the implementation of last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the well-intentioned but flawed Iran nuclear agreement, Iran has violated the agreement and other international restrictions as well as continued its belligerent behavior in the region.  Just since the beginning of this year, Iran has detained American sailors, conducted multiple ballistic missile tests, continued to support the Assad regime with arms and special forces, and moved forward on the purchase of advanced arms.

“Despite these violations and provocations, the Administration is now considering lifting some of the restrictions placed on Iran’s access to the U.S. dollar for use in business transactions.  This would be an additional relief of sanctions on Iran beyond what was included in the JCPOA.  These reports are extremely concerning and disappointing given that the Administration has repeatedly informed Congress that no further sanctions relief would be made, especially in terms of access to the U.S. dollar or the U.S. banking system. 

“In fact, a month prior to the adoption of the nuclear agreement on October 18, 2015, Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary at the Department of Treasury, stated that ‘Iran will not be able to open bank accounts with U.S. banks, nor will they be able to access the U.S. banking sector, even for that momentary transaction to, what we call, dollarize a foreign payment.’  Whether the Administration is now going back on that statement or searching for a different loophole that allows Iran to get around longstanding financial sanctions, the bottom line is that the Administration promised Congress and the American people that these sanctions put in place to counter Iran’s support of terrorism would not be relieved.

“In addition, the Administration has announced that the Department of Energy would purchase 32 metric tons of Iranian heavy water.  Even if Iran is allowed to sell excess heavy water under the JCPOA, there are many unanswered questions about this specific deal: these questions include whether the Administration perceives this as a one-time purchase or if future purchases are contemplated, whether the heavy water purchase used taxpayer money, and what assurances the Administration has that these funds will not be used to support terrorism or President Assad.  I strongly feel that our government should go no further in enabling Iran’s nuclear program or access to U.S. currency. 

“I voted against the Iran nuclear agreement because it gave Iran too much and required them to give up too little.  Now the White House is considering enabling Iran’s bad behavior and not following through on their pledge to hold Iran accountable for all violations and to pursue sanctions on their other destabilizing policies.  We must continue to restrict Iran from access to the U.S. dollar and American banks, and become more, not less, vigilant in restraining Iran.  The current path is only a path to more war, death, and destabilization in the Middle East.  We must turn away from this path and move down a path of peace.”