NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2012 -- (Senate - November 17, 2011)
AMENDMENT NO. 1084
Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I wish to speak on the pending amendment. I rise in support of the Kirk-Manchin-Heller and Blunt amendment regarding Iran. What we know with regard to Iran is that they have persecuted 330,000 Baha'is in their country, registered their houses, kicked their kids out of university, made sure that they can do no business with the Iranian Government.
We know Iran is the chief sponsor of the terrorist group Hezbollah that has had a grip on southern Lebanon. We know Iran jumped the Shiite divide to also support the terrorist group called Hamas in the Sunni community.
We know Iran has been a state sponsor of terror as certified by Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.
We know Iran recently sentenced an Iranian actress to 90 lashes for appearing in an Australian movie without a headdress.
We know Iran recently arrested 70 of its fashion designers, for crimes I cannot even imagine that they would have committed.
But, most importantly, we know the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified that now Iran has enriched uranium far beyond what it needs to run a civilian reactor program; that Iranian military personnel have been involved in acquiring information on the design of nuclear weapons; that the Iranians are working on the details of a warhead for their Shahab-3 missile that fits all of the profiles of a nuclear weapon.
Finally, we know, according to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, that Iran and its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds force established a bomb plot with the Mexican cartel, the Zetas, to blow up a Georgetown restaurant, to kill a number of Americans, even talked about possibly killing Senators, in an effort to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States here in Washington, DC.
I think it is clear with this bipartisan amendment that we all recognize we are at a turning point and that we need new sanctions against Iran. Without crippling sanctions, I believe we have then turned the international community on the path toward war, likely between Iran and our allies, in Israel.
This would cause a needless loss of life. It would lead to higher energy prices for the West, an increase in instability in Europe when we can least afford it. Therefore, we need to level crippling sanctions, especially against the Iranian center of gravity, the Central Bank of Iran.
The Central Bank of Iran is the principal funder of the Ahmadinejad regime itself. It is probably the source of funds so substantially provided to terrorist groups by Iran to Hamas and Hezbollah. It is the Central Bank of Iran that is supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq against our allies there.
It is the Central Bank of Iran that is the principal underlying financial support for the Iranian nuclear program, and the Central Bank of Iran that is the paymaster for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards force, especially their Quds force. Likely the money that was planned for the Zetas to carry out the bomb plot in Washington, DC, had its origin point with the Central Bank of Iran.
That is why 92 Senators, Republicans and Democrats, despite these partisan times, have joined to say we should level this crippling sanction against the Central Bank of Iran.
I thank the 92 Senators who signed the Schumer-Kirk letter. Indications are that the Obama administration is going to take further actions on the Central Bank of Iran. This amendment lays out the full roadmap for what we should do.
What does the amendment do? It is patterned after the bipartisan amendment adopted under the authorship of Democratic California Congressman Howard Berman, unanimously adopted in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that says for any business, if you do business with the Central Bank of Iran, you cannot do business with the United States of America.
We know that world financial arrangements and especially oil markets are complicated instruments, so under this bipartisan amendment we have a 180-day timeclock to make sure that especially key allies and friends of the United States can unhook from Iranian oil and the financial ties that bind them to Iran. This is particularly important for Turkey, for Sri Lanka, for Italy, and for Greece, who would all use that time under this amendment to unhook from Iran.
In this, I think we are going to have a very willing partner in the Government of Saudi Arabia, recently obviously focused on, because the Iranians tried to kill their Ambassador to the United States. I will be meeting with that Ambassador tomorrow. I think this amendment lays the groundwork not just to work with Israel, not just to
work with Saudi Arabia, but our allies, to collapse the Central Bank.
Without action, I think we turn the Middle East and especially the Persian Gulf toward war. That is why we should take every nonmilitary action possible to avoid that conflict, to collapse the Central Bank of Iran.
There are a number of bipartisan heroes in this story--Senator Lieberman, who has been a key actor on these issues and a partner with me on many of these issues; Senator Gillibrand also who has helped out; obviously Senator Schumer, who was the coauthor of the 92-Senator letter on the Central Bank of Iran; Senator Menendez, who also has an outstanding idea on creating an Iranian oil-free zone; and obviously my bipartisan partner on this and best friend in the Senate, Senator Manchin, who joined me on this effort.
Together, we can have a clear statement about what has happened with the IAEA and the Iranian nuclear program, with their record on human rights, with their record on support for terrorism and, most importantly, according to the Attorney General, with a brazen attempt to attack the United States directly with this bomb plot.
"Nuclear Option" Against Iran's Economy Paves Way for War
Wednesday 16 November 2011
by: Kate Gould, Friends Committee on National Legislation  | Op-Ed
The drumbeat for another round of draconian sanctions against Iran is growing louder on Capitol Hill. While Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's proposed legislation  to “collapse the Central Bank of Iran” was intended to be attached to the now-stalled international affairs funding bill, the pressure from Congress for another round of indiscriminate sanctions continues to build. Some U.S. officials have called sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank “the nuclear option”  because it would deal a devastating blow to the teetering global economy, and inflict untold human suffering in Iran.
Still, such an initiative is expected to receive overwhelming bipartisan support, following a letter Senators Kirk and Charles Schumer wrote to the administration calling for the administration to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, which 92 senators have signed. The Kirk initiative this week appears to be similar to one offered by Rep. Howard Berman  in the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, and would effectively bind the administration into imposing sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran. The committee approved Berman's amendment.
The Obama administration has signaled that it won't immediately seek sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran because, as the Los Angeles Times reported , “U.S. officials have decided that such sanctions could disrupt oil markets and further damage the U.S. and world economies”. Nobody mentioned these concerns during the Republican presidential candidate debate on November 12 in South Carolina, where candidates enthusiastically endorsed U.S. sanctioning of the Central Bank of Iran, along with calls for military action against Iran and funding violence through ‘insurgents’ in Iran.
What if Iranians Created a Banking Crisis in the U.S.?
You don't have to be an economist to understand that the most vulnerable sectors of any society bear the brunt of any economic crisis and that shutting down any economy in the world would damage the global economy. The full extent of economic consequences from U.S. sanctions on the Central Bank is still unclear, but the fact that the explicit goal of these broad sanctions is to destroy the Iranian economy is deeply troubling in and of itself.
Many proponents of broad sanctions argue that inflicting such widespread suffering—either directly or through the Iranian people—will pressure the Iranian government to change course. For example, Rep. Sherman  (CA), a prominent proponent of broad sanctions against Iran, has gone so far as to endorse sanctions because they would cause suffering, writing in an August 9, 2010 op-ed in The Hill that “critics.... argued that [sanctions on Iran] will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.” 
However, as Professor Robert Pape  of the University of Chicago pointed out at a recent congressional briefing , manufacturing an economic crisis in Iran is not likely to persuade the Iran government to abandon its abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, nor would it be likely to persuade the Iranian people to submit to U.S. wishes.
“Imagine, if you would, the Iranians were suddenly able in one single day to create a banking crisis in the United States that made it impossible for us to cash our checks…I don’t think it would make us do what Iran wanted,” Dr. Pape said.
Dr. Pape has also pointed out that while sanctions are often marketed as a substitute for war, “economic sanctions are often a prelude to using military force.”  Once sanctions fail—as they almost always do—proponents for war use the failure of sanctions to justify military confrontation. In the case of Iran in particular, more than three decades of U.S. sanctions have failed to prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.
Indiscriminate Sanctions Pave Path to War
Based on a comprehensive study of modern-day sanctions , Dr. Pape found that sanctions have failed to achieve their objectives in 95.7% of cases since World War I, and that sanctions are three times more likely to end in military conflict than success.
While the U.S. did join the U.N. Security Council in imposing sanctions on Iraq and Libya, which ultimately ended in war, if the U.S. were to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, it would be the first time that the U.S. has ever imposed unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions on a central bank.
Among other functions, the Central Bank of Iran regulates Iranian currency, just as the Federal Reserve regulates the U.S. dollar. Since central banks are accorded sovereign immunity, some argue  that it contravenes international law to sanction the Central Bank of Iran. Some Iranian officials have declared that any sanctions on the Central Bank would be treated as an act of war .
Sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank would be yet another blow to prospects for a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, at the expense of the global economy and the Iranian people. The U.N.'s Children Agency (UNICEF ) estimated that the oil embargo on Iraq, which included sanctions on Iraq’s Central Bank, contributed to the deaths of half a million children , which could be repeated after additional rounds of broad sanctions against Iran.
Rather than prevent war, sanctioning the Central Bank would harden the resolve of the proponents for war in both the U.S. and Iran, and would give Iran's hardliners further incentive to pursue nuclear weapons as an attempt to deter a U.S. attack.