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USA*Engage Urges Congress to Refrain from Legislating Additional Unilateral Sanctions, Give Multilateral Negotiations a Chance
Date: 10/26/2009
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Association Says Proposed Sanctions Will Not Deliver ‘Crippling Blow' to Iranian Regime

Washington, DC – In advance of House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committee markups of Iran sanctions bills later this week, USA*Engage today urged Members of Congress to refrain from legislating additional unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran, The association expressed support for the Administration's efforts to build a multilateral negotiating consensus to engage the Iranian regime to forego the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and pressed policymakers to pass a bipartisan resolution reaffirming the President's authority to implement a multilateral engagement strategy.

In a letter delivered today to all members of both committees, USA*Engage wrote the following:
… For thirty years, unilateral economic sanctions have been have been the principal instruments of U.S. policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unsurprisingly, the iron law of unintended consequences has characterized that policy. The sanctions have empowered and enriched the ruling regime, stifled ordinary engagement between citizens of the two countries, benefited American companies' foreign competitors, and provided third countries opportunities for geopolitical game-playing at the expense of U.S. national interests. The record speaks for itself....

… In working with allies, the Administration can avoid these past mistakes. Nonetheless, members of Congress appear set to legislate yet more unilateral sanctions upon Iran - this time by targeting foreign companies in any way connected with the importation of refined petroleum product into Iran. Since Iran currently relies on imported petroleum products to satisfy its highly-subsidized gasoline consumption, proponents of H.R. 2194 and S. 908 assert that unilateral sanctions will deal a "crippling blow" to the Iranian regime. The facts on the ground, however, strongly suggest the opposite…
… The President has the authority to commit the U.S. to whatever array of multilateral sanctions are deemed most able to influence Iran's decision makers. USA*ENGAGE urges Congress to pass a bipartisan resolution reaffirming the President's authority to develop a multilateral strategy, based on engagement, best suited to attain actual U.S. national interests and to oppose H.R. 2194, S. 908, and similar bills.

To view a copy of the letter, click here.

About USA*Engage

USA*Engage ( is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council (, USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy world wide.


The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.