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Congress & the Middle East: Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012

(May 21, 2012)

iIn May 2012, the Senate unanimously approved by voice vote S.2101 calling for a package of new economic sanctions on Iran aimed at deterring the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. The bill targets Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, requires companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the SEC and expands penalties for energy and uranium mining ventures with Tehran.

S.2101 [PDF]

Overview of the Bill from the Congressional Research Service:

- Urges the President to initiate diplomatic efforts to expand the multilateral sanctions regime regarding Iran.

- Amends the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to impose specified sanctions on a person that knowingly:
        (1) participates in certain petroleum resource development joint ventures outside of Iran if the Iranian government is a substantial partner or investor in the              joint venture, or if Iran could, through such joint venture, receive new technology or equipment that could significantly contribute to its development of
             petroleum resources in Iran;
        (2) sells, leases, or provides to Iran certain petroleum development-related resources goods, services, technology, or support whose market values exceed
             specified ceilings; and
        (3) participates in certain joint ventures with Iran's government, Iranian firms, or persons acting for or on behalf of Iran in the mining, production, or
             transportation of uranium.

- Authorizes:
        (1) exclusion from the United States of an alien who is a corporate officer, principal, or controlling shareholder in a sanctioned firm; and
        (2) sanctions against the principal executive officer or other principal executive officers of a sanctioned firm.

- Blocks the property of a person that knowingly provides ships, insurance or reinsurance, or other shipping services for transportation of goods that materially contribute to Iran's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program or its terrorism-related activities.

- Prohibits an entity owned or controlled by a U.S. person and established or maintained outside the United States from engaging in any transaction with Iran that would be prohibited if the transaction were engaged in by a U.S. person or in the United States. Requires the imposition of civil penalties for violations of such prohibition.

- Amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require securities issuers to disclose in their mandatory annual or quarterly reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whether they or their affiliates have:
        (1) engaged in certain activities relating to Iran, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
        (2) knowingly engaged in specified activities, or knowingly violated certain regulations prescribed under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability,
             and Divestment Act of 2010;
        (3) knowingly conducted any transaction or dealing with a person whose property and interests in property are blocked by certain Executive Orders; or
        (4) knowingly conducted a transaction or dealing with any person listed in the Iranian Transactions Regulations.

- Directs the President to publish a list of senior Iranian officials (and family members) involved in Iran's:
        (1) illicit nuclear activities or WMD proliferation,
        (2) support for international terrorism, or
        (3) human rights abuses against Iranian citizens.

- Prohibits such persons from being granted U.S. immigration status for admission.

- Sets forth reporting requirements regarding:
        (1) financial communications services to the Central Bank of Iran;
        (2) foreign entities investing in Iran's energy sector;
        (3) petroleum imports to, and exports from, Iran; and
        (4) Iranian membership in, and U.S. contributions to, international organizations.

- Directs the President to identify and designate for sanctions, exclusion from the United States, and freezing of assets officials, affiliates, and agents of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

- Sets forth mandatory and discretionary measures to be taken against a foreign person or entity that provides the IRGC with material support.

- Requires certification by prospective U.S. government contractors that neither they nor their subsidiaries have engaged in significant economic transactions with designated IRGC officials, agents or affiliates.

- Amends the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to determine whether the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) or the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) is an IRGC agent or affiliate and submit such determination to Congress.

- Directs the President to identify and:
       (1) freeze the assets of a person that has knowingly transferred to Iran goods or technologies, or provided post-transfer services that are likely to be used
            to commit human rights abuses; and
       (2) impose specified sanctions against individuals and firms that have engaged in censorship or repression of the rights of freedom of expression or assembly
            of Iran's citizens.

- Requires the Office of Foreign Assets Control to expedite processing of Iran-related humanitarian, human rights and democratization aid by entities receiving funds from the Department of State, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and other U.S. agencies.

- Directs the President to submit a comprehensive strategy to Congress regarding the promotion of Internet freedom and information access in Iran.

- Denies admission to, or excludes from, the United States an Iranian citizen seeking to enter the United States to study at an institution of higher education to prepare for a career in Iran's energy or nuclear sectors.

- Subjects certain Iranian assets to U.S. court jurisdiction.

- Prohibits anything in this Act from applying to authorized U.S. intelligence activities.

Sources: AIPAC; GovTrack