Press Releases

Waters Statement in Opposition to Second Republican Bill to Undermine the Iran Nuclear Deal

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Washington, DC, December 13, 2017 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, made the following floor statement in opposition to H.R. 4324, a bill which would undermine the Iran nuclear deal:

As Prepared for Delivery

H.R. 4324, the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act, would impose a new and unilateral certification requirement on the Administration in order to meet current U.S. obligations under the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, with respect to the sale and financing of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran.

This certification requirement would call for the Treasury Secretary to consider factors that fall well outside the scope of the nuclear deal, and beyond the specific conditions the U.S. is allowed to place on the license of commercial aircraft to Iran under the nuclear accord. By moving the goal post on our commitments under the deal, H.R. 4324 clearly aims to force the U.S. into a violation of the agreement.

Under the Iran nuclear deal, the United States is broadly committed to “allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran.” This involves licensing the sale of aircraft and related parts and services to Iran, including the financing for such sales. Under the JCPOA, Annex II,the only condition on the U.S. commitment is that “licensed items and services [must be] used exclusively for commercial passenger aviation.”

Moreover, the only allowable conditions the U.S. can place on authorizations for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iranapply to the licensed aircraft themselves and the use of such licensed aircraft—not on activities orservices provided that have no relationship to the licensed aircraft or related goods or services.

And yet, H.R. 4324 would impose new conditions on the licensed sale of aircraft to Iran, including, notably, the condition that the recipient airline has not used non-licensed aircraft for purposes other than commercial passenger aviation. That is, under this bill, the Administration would have to certify that Iran is not engaged in certain activity unrelated to Iran's nuclear conduct, but also unrelated to the use of the aircraft itself.

If the Treasury Secretary is unable to make such a difficult certification, the Secretary must then report to Congress as to whether the Secretary intends to suspend, revoke, amend, or approve (“notwithstanding such non-certification”) any license facilitating the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran.

Supporters of the bill will likely note that the bill would not “require” the Secretary of the Treasury to suspend or revoke an authorization in the event that the Secretary is unable to make the necessary certification, but the obvious political conclusion is that the Secretary will be forced to revoke such license if the Secretary is unwilling to make the certification.

As we have now seen, the President detests the fact that his Administration has to take affirmative steps to keep the deal in place, and he refused to do so in the case of the last recurring 90-day Congressional certification requirement. Proponents of this bill undoubtedly hope Trump will react the same way to these additional certifications, and block the sale of commercial aircraft, which is a key element of the deal.

In a break from reason and logic, this legislation plays directly into the hands of the President, who is desperate to find any pretext to say that Iran is in violation of the deal, or to force Iran to walk away, and thereby avoid having to take the blame for pulling the plug on the deal.

But let me be clear: by seeking to render impermissible that which is expressly permitted by the JCPOA, the legislation is clearly intended to undermine the nuclear agreement.

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