New Jersey’s State Senate last Wednesday unanimously approved a measure urging the federal government to take stronger action in imposing and enforcing sanctions against Iran.
The resolution urges better enforcement of “current United States sanctions against investment [in Iran] by energy companies” and suggests that the federal government take “additional steps” to put pressure on Iran.
Acknowledging that the resolution, which parallels a bill that passed in the state Assembly last month, is largely symbolic, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) told the Standard that she hopes and expects the federal government will take notice.
“When a state legislature makes a statement it hopefully does and should carry weight,” she said.
Jacob Toporek, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, told the Standard that he contacted New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3), one of the bill’s prime sponsors, and urged its passage with help from the Stop Iran Now Task Force, a coalition of mostly New Jersey-based non-profit, academic, and faith organizations dedicated to stopping the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“It’s so easy with all the budget debates and negotiations to have the issue of Iran bypassed and it’s very important that we keep it on the front burner,” Toporek said.
In advocating the bill’s passage, the Stop Iran Now Task Force, of which the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Northern New Jersey is a member, sees itself as a leader and hopes other organizations and state legislatures will follow, according to Joy Kurland, director of the JCRC-NNJ. The resolution stresses compliance on the part of American business, she added.
“The whole idea is to ensure there are no loopholes allowing U.S. companies indirectly to invest in Iran’s energy sector.”
Weinberg echoed Kurland’s concern about U.S. businesses that have found “loopholes” to avoid sanctions.
“We are living in an America today with some real economic problems and a large unemployment rate, and if we’ve got U.S. companies trying to find loopholes around the sanctions it is doubly morally bad,” she said.
While the bill itself does not specifically mention any U.S. businesses, it includes calls for “limiting [Iran’s] access to refined petroleum products” and for “sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran.”
Kurland cited the Iran Business Registry of United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), a non-profit organization of business leaders, attorneys, and academics dedicated to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, for information on companies that continue to do business with the Islamic Republic (www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com). According to the site, U.S. companies that continue to do business with Iran include Honeywell, Intel Corporation, and Tyson Foods, to name a few.
Text within the resolution stipulates “the Legislature hereby urges the United States government to implement additional sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and financial divestment against Iran.”