The United States Congress recently passed and President Obama signed into law legislation tightening economic sanctions against Iran with the goal of finding a peaceful means of thwarting Tehran's goal of developing nuclear weapons.

This latest round of sanctions will further impair Iran's financial system and target Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards – who support much of Iran's nefarious activities – whether by way of the pursuit of a nuclear arsenal or funding or engaging in international terrorism.  Reinforcing the importance of current and previous sanctions is the necessity of the economic weakening of a regime which represses through violence its citizens based upon their religious, sexual orientation and political beliefs.  This repression has assumed a transnational character with the mullahs’ material and "spiritual" support for Bashar Assad allowing the Syrian dictator to ignore the observers of the Arab League with his death squads of snipers hunting down regime opponents.

This sanctions legislation was passed in the aftermath of the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency.   These IAEA findings are consistent with Iran's behavior as the "leading state sponsor of terrorism" according to the State Department and as a pariah state in general.  Importantly, this report indicated, for the first time, that Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective.  The U.S. Treasury Department recently said that Iran was a “jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”  Additionally, the Treasury Department discussed Tehran’s methods of directly funding terrorism and its nuclear and missile programs.

Please see excerpts (part 1 and part 2) from an interview with Professor John Radsan of William Mitchell College of Law discussing the serious threat of a nuclear Iran.  Professor Radsan, whose parents are both from Iran, has served as a federal prosecutor and as assistant general counsel at the CIA, in addition to his work as a corporate lawyer and consultant. In the late 1990s he managed the Iran Commercial Initiative for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and consulted with several non-governmental organizations trying to improve U.S.-Iran relations. Radsan has also advised officials from other countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas was pleased that this important Iran Sanctions legislation was supported by Senators Klobuchar, Franken, Thune, Johnson, Conrad, and Hoeven, as well as Representatives Walz, Kline, Paulsen, McCollum, Peterson, Cravaack, Noem, and Berg. (*Note that Rep. Michele Bachmann was a cosponsor of this legislation but was not present to vote).  The "no" vote of Rep. Keith Ellison, on the latest round of Iran sanctions, is concerning particularly in light of his consistent support of Iran sanctions and early, outspoken criticism of Bashar Assad's violent repression of his own citizens, and his dedication to opposing anti-Semitism worldwide.

Additionally, the need and desire for tough sanctions is evidenced by the solidarity of Obama, Sarkozy and Merkel on the imposition of sanctions.  Recent reports indicate that European countries will take bold steps and impose an embargo on Iranian oil.  As stated in The New York Times, the Obama administration reacted very positively to the European Union proposed oil embargo stating, “very good news and the result of lots of consultations among us…”  This is further evidence of the unity in the Western world to find a path to peacefully halt Iran’s nuclear ambition. 

The collective goal of peacefully thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambition is shared by the United States, Europe, our Arab allies, and Israel.  The recent American sanctions supported by an overwhelming majority of the Congress and President Obama as well as the European Union push to embargo Iran’s oil exports speak volumes about this goal. 

Joining the additional American sanctions against Iran are the European Union’s stepped up measures against Iran.  The European nations are preparing to impose an embargo of Iranian oil.  According to The New York Times, oil accounts for 60% of Iran’s economy.  European counties purchased about 18% of Iran oil exports in 2010. 

Since Iran is a global threat—concerted global economic action is needed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

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