WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Bob Casey (D-PA) last night introduced the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, legislation which would authorize the divestment of public pension money from companies doing business in Iran’s oil and natural gas sector.
Brownback said, “We must take every possible step to pressure the Iranian regime to abandon its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, its global sponsorship of terrorism, and its brutal oppression of the Iranian people. Divestment can and should play a key role in this effort. I am pleased to join with Senator Casey to introduce this bipartisan legislation that would authorize state and local governments to divest their assets from companies known to be assisting Iran’s energy sector, and provide safe harbor for fund managers who participate in authorized divestment. I look forward to working with President Obama on this important initiative, as I did when he and I introduced this legislation in the last Congress.”
Iranian leaders have publicly estimated that Iran requires $20 billion annually in investments for its oil and natural gas sector. The revenue from Iran’s oil and gas industry directly funds its nuclear program as well as its support for international terrorism. Iran has been repeatedly identified by the U.S. State Department as the chief state sponsor of international terrorism. Iran defies the international community, its nonproliferation obligations and numerous United Nations resolutions by continuing to develop its nuclear program.
Casey said, “State and local governments, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, should have the right to ensure their investments and pension funds do not support companies that do business with Iran. Iran will only cease its illicit nuclear program and end its support for terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah when it is compelled to pay an economic price. I am pleased to be working on this important bipartisan legislation with Senator Brownback.”
Due to the economic sanctions, risk warnings, credit restrictions, and other measures announced by the international community, the conduct of business in Iran’s energy sector is especially risky. By investing in companies with ties to Iran’s energy sector, states put their assets at substantial financial and global security risk. Eighteen U.S. states already have either enacted Iran divestment legislation, or adopted policies to the same effect.