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Lankford Pushes Biden Administration to Enforce Steel Sanctions on Iran

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Senator Katie Britt (R-AL), along with 29 other Senate Republican colleagues, in sending a letter to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging the Treasury Department to enforce existing sanctions on Iranian steel.

In the letter, the Senators express the importance of “proactively and continuously” enforcing sanctions and the detrimental consequences of ineffective—or willfully negligent—enforcement. Iran is one of the largest steel producing countries in the world, with the industry generating significant funds via exports.

“In 2020, the United States sanctioned Iran’s metals industries and steel producers, massively impacting their exports in 2021,” the Senators wrote. “The enforcement of these sanctions decreased Iranian steel exports from 9 million metric tons in 2020 to 4.2 million tons in 2021. However, Iranian steel exports rebounded to 10 million tons in 2022. This correlates to the United States reengaging with Iran to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), along with a decrease in enforcement of existing sanctions by the Treasury Department.”

“In this instance, relaxing sanctions enforcement resulted in economic enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. We urge your Administration to enforce all Iran-related sanctions at your disposal, to include secondary sanctions on other countries who seek economic engagement with Iran. We owe it to the innocent children, women, and men who were savagely beaten, raped, tortured, and killed on October 7, 2023,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write to you just weeks after our nation’s great ally was suddenly and barbarically attacked by Hamas terrorists—proxies funded, trained, and equipped by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The pure evil inflicted on the Israeli people on October 7, 2023, will live in infamy as one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in world history.

Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism across the globe, and its stated objective is to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. It is estimated that Iran provides $700 million dollars annually to Hezbollah and $350 million annually to Hamas. Additionally, Iranian-backed terrorist proxies in Syria and Iraq have received substantial new financial support, including double digit percentage increases to the salaries paid to affiliated individuals this year alone.

Since 1995, Congressionally enacted laws and Presidential executive orders have provided the Treasury Department with authorities to impose significant sanctions on Iranian proxy groups. However, enacted sanctions are only effective if the Treasury Department proactively and continuously enforces them. In recent years, we have seen the direct consequences of ineffective sanctions enforcement: Iran’s economic productivity rebounded while the regime augmented its on-the-books military spending, and its access to foreign currency reserves increased ten-fold.

Steel is one of Iran’s most lucrative export markets. The World Steel Association announced1 in September 2023 that Iran is the 10th largest steel producer in the world. In 2020, the United States sanctioned Iran’s metals industries and steel producers, massively impacting their exports in 2021. The enforcement of these sanctions decreased Iranian steel exports from 9 million metric tons in 2020 to 4.2 million tons in 2021. However, Iranian steel exports rebounded to 10 million tons in 2022. This correlates to the United States reengaging with Iran to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), along with a decrease in enforcement of existing sanctions by the Treasury Department.

Sanctions enforcement, when executed properly, is an effective tool against regimes that do not share our values and, as in Iran’s case, have a proven track record of sponsoring terrorism. In this instance, relaxing sanctions enforcement resulted in economic enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.


We urge your Administration to enforce all Iran-related sanctions at your disposal, to include secondary sanctions on other countries who seek economic engagement with Iran. We owe it to the innocent children, women, and men who were savagely beaten, raped, tortured, and killed on October 7, 2023.

Sincerely,


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