Vote Explanation for H.R. 5461 — Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act

I voted against H.R. 5461, the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, which claims to be aimed at tackling corruption in Iran but in fact it weakens enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “JCPOA”) and represents a potential backdoor sanction that risks undermining US obligations.

If passed, the bill would divert critical U.S. government resources (including those of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the intelligence community) from the targeting and enforcing of our existing sanctions countering Iran’s other nefarious behavior such as its support for international terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and human rights abuses against its own citizens.

Furthermore, in establishing a new Treasury Department list outlining assets under the direct or indirect control of Iranian leadership, HR 5461 is duplicative and would create significant confusion regarding permissible trade with Iran under the JCPOA. Such confusion would further complicate nascent efforts of Treasury and other business groups to re-engage with Iran through licensed business activity — this is an integral component of JCPOA terms of relief.

Republicans claim the bill is an effective way of addressing corruption throughout the upper ranks of Iranian leadership. Such corruption indeed hurts the Iranian people and undermines Iran’s potential. However, this corruption has largely been enabled through economic sanctions that hardliners exploit to channel wealth and goods by extra-legal means.

Rather than preventing terrorist financing and money laundering, this bill would incentivize those involved to make their financial dealings even less transparent and create a disincentive for Iran’s banking sector to demonstrate transparency and constructive re-engagement with the international community.

In summary, this piece of legislation appears to have good intentions, but in fact would weaken our ability to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and empower Iranian hardliners in the process.