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Congress & the Middle East: Senate Letter Urging President Obama to Sanction Iranian Central Bank

(August 9, 2011)

In August 2011, ninety-two senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to sanction Iran’s central bank. The letter was authored by Sens. Mark Kirk [R-IL] and Charles Schumer [D-NY].

Dear Mr. President:  

Following the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear program and recent Iranian missile tests, we remain seriously concerned that Iran continues to accelerate its uranium enrichment and ballistic missile programs. Meanwhile, the regime refuses to answer questions posed by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog regarding evidence Iran is working toward the development of nuclear weapons.

We must do more to increase the economic pressure on the regime. In our view, the United States should embark on a comprehensive strategy to pressure Iran's financial system by imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), or Bank Markazi. If our key allies are willing to join, we believe this step can be more effective.

As you know, the Iranian regime continues to pursue avenues to circumvent both U.S. and multilateral sanctions. In the banking sector, the Central Bank of Iran lies at the center of Iran's circumvention policy. In May, UnderSecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen stated that "the activities of the Central Bank of Iran have been, and continue to be, a focus of the Treasury Department. Treausry has noted previously that the CBI and Iranian commercial banks have requested that their names be removed from international payment messages to make it more difficult for intermediary financial institutions to determine the true parties to the transaction, and we remain concerned that the CBI may be facilitating transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks."

The time has come to impose crippling sanctions on Iran's financial system by cutting off the CBI. There is strong bipartisan support in Congress for the imposition of sanctions on the CBI. As recently as the consideration of the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate unanimously supported an amendment urging you to impose such sanctions. We urge you to strongly consider imposing U.S. sanctions against against the CBI and to encourage key allies to join us in this important action.


Senator Charles E. Schumer

Senator Mark Kirk

Senator Mitch McConnell

Senator Richard Durbin

Senator Jon Kyl

Senator Joseph Lieberman

Senator Richard Lugar

Senator Susan Collins

Senator John McCain

Senator Carl Levin

Senator Thad Cochran

Senator Daniel Inouye

Senator Saxby Chambliss

Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Richard Shelby

Senator Max Baucus

Senator Orinn Hatch

Senator Patty Murray

Senator John Cornyn

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Senator Lindsay Graham

Senator Jerry Moran

Senator Roy Blunt

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Ron Wyden

Senator Daniel Coats

Senator David Vitter

Senator John Boozman

Senator Dean Heller

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Olympia Snowe

Senator Kay Hagan

Senator Mark Begich

Senator John Barrasso

Senator Bob Corker

Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Senator Pat Roberts

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Mike Crapo

Senator James Risch

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Senator Robert Casey Jr.

Senator Mike Johanns

Senator Jim DeMint

Senator John Tester

Senator Christopher Coons

Senator Ben Nelson

Senator Jeff Sessions

Senator Robert Menendez

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Ben Cardin

Senator Mark Pryor

Senator John Hoeven

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Richard Blumenthal

Senator Johnny Isakson

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Frank Lautenberg

Senator Tom Coburn

Senator Mary Landrieu

Senator Mike Lee

Senator Mark Warner

Senator Barbara Mikulski

Senator Roger Wicker

Senator Herb Kohl

Senator Thomas Carper

Senator John Thune

Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator John Inhofe

Senator Joe Manchin III

Senator Daniel Akaka

Senator Scott Brown

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator Kelly Ayotte

Senator Michael Bennett

Senator Lamar Alexander

Senator Jack Reed

Senator Al Franken

Senator John Rockefeller IV

Senator Mark Udall

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Kent Conrad

Senator Rob Portman

Senator Patrick Toomey

Senator Ronald Johnson

Senator Tom Harkin

Senator Jeff Merkley

Senator Rand Paul

Sources: Mark Kirk