Jewish community leaders hailed tough new sanctions aimed at Iran’s energy, shipping, and financial industries.
President Barack Obama signed the sanctions into law on Aug. 10. The bill, which targets foreign companies that mine uranium with Iran or assist its oil exports, was passed by a unanimous vote in Congress.
Local activists called the sanctions a potentially useful tool in halting Iranian nuclear weapons production.
“Nuclear weapons capability in the hands of the extremist and theocratic regime in Teheran would pose a serious strategic threat to the United States and our allies in the region and in Europe, and it represents an even more urgent threat to Israel,” said Jim Daniels, chair of the Stop Iran Now Task Force of the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest.
The new law allows the federal government to target parent companies of foreign firms that violate the sanctions, and requires such violations to be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We hope and pray that Iran can be persuaded quickly to put an end to its nuclear weapons ambitions through nonviolent means,” said CRC director Melanie Roth Gorelick.
Daniels sounded a cautionary note, however.
“While economic and diplomatic measures taken by the international community recently are much stronger than those imposed in previous periods, the Iranian centrifuges continue to spin, and recent expert reports suggest that Iran is getting very close to the so-called nuclear breakout capacity,” Daniels wrote in an e-mail.
The bill’s passage follows a unanimous move by the New Jersey State Legislature to deny state government contracts to companies that do business with Iran. Gov. Chris Christie signed the measure into law on July 31. The CRC and the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations lobbied hard in favor of the legislation.