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Rubio, Colleagues Urge President Trump to Impose Additional Sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran

Jun 19, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mike Braun (R-IN), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to use authorities in the Rubio-coauthored Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act (Public Law 114-102) and the Rubio-authored Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (Public Law 115-272) to impose additional sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President,
We write to request that you utilize the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act, as amended, to impose additional sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).
The threat posed by Hezbollah has only increased over time, so it is critical the United States deprive the group of funding it uses to terrorize American citizens and allies. For 30 years, Hezbollah has served as Iran’s proxy, and Iran remains Hezbollah’s primary source of financial support. Hezbollah reportedly receives up to $700 million per year from Iran.
When Congress imposed sanctions on the CBI in 2011, it did so on multiple grounds, including money laundering and financial support for terrorism and the illegal development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Despite the CBI’s criminal activities, in 2015 President Obama lifted existing sanctions as part of the JCPOA.
Your administration rightly reinstated sanctions on CBI as part of the unprecedented maximum-pressure campaign against Iran and Hezbollah. You also recognized that the CBI’s malign conduct extends well beyond its support for Iran’s nuclear program. After the United States exited the Iran nuclear deal, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against high-ranking CBI officials for funneling millions of dollars to Hezbollah on behalf of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.
However, a future president could invalidate your efforts by lifting CBI sanctions again.
We urge you to prevent this from happening by reclassifying sanctions against the CBI for Hezbollah-related offenses. Such a redesignation would require the bank to meet a higher legal threshold to receive sanctions relief, thereby making it more difficult for a future president to lift sanctions again. The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018, which you signed into law last October, provides a legal foundation for such a redesignation. This legislation amends the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 to sanction agencies of foreign governments—such as the CBI—that provide Hezbollah with financial support, arms, or other assistance.
We ask that you also apply appropriate secondary sanctions on the CBI, including the secondary financial sanctions contained in Section 1247 of the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act. This provision prohibits foreign financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts in the United States if they knowingly facilitate financial transactions on behalf of Iranians under U.S. sanction.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.