Iran Wants Access to the Dollar It Must Clean Up Its Act
By Senators Marco
Rubio and Mark Kirk
April 28, 2016
Last year, as the Obama administration urged support for
the flawed Iran nuclear deal, it repeatedly claimed the deal would not undermine
America’s broader efforts to halt Iran’s destructive behavior in the Middle
East and beyond.
“We harbor no illusions about the Iranian government’s
nefarious activities beyond its nuclear program,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew wrote
in July 2015. “Make no mistake: we will continue to impose and
aggressively enforce sanctions to combat Iran’s support for terrorist groups,
its fomenting of violence in the region, and its perpetration of human rights
But now that the administration has implemented the flawed
deal against the will of majorities in the Senate and the House of
Representatives, it has dropped the tough talk on Iran.
Worse, Secretary of State John Kerry is leading U.S.
officials in siding with the Iranian terror regime’s complaints that the
deal—which, among many other things, unfroze over $100 billion in overseas
assets—still did not provide enough sanctions relief.
On Friday, Secretary Kerry tried to reassure
international financial institutions about the risks of doing business with
Iran. But as he tries to offer new unilateral concessions to Iran,
Secretary Kerry is willfully ignoring an important fact: Iran is denied
access to America’s financial system and transactions in U.S. dollars, not
because of the Iranian nuclear program, but rather because of Iran’s abuse of
its own financial system to promote terrorism and other dangerous activities.
In February 2009, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),
an important inter-governmental body that sets standards to prevent abuse of the
international financial system, called on its members to apply countermeasures
against Iran to “protect their financial sectors from money laundering and
financing of terrorism risks emanating from Iran.”
In response to FATF’s action, international financial
institutions have rightly been wary of doing business with Iran due to the risk
of enabling Iran’s terrorist financing and other illicit activities. In
fact, the U.S. Treasury Department even issued a finding in November 2011 that
Iran is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern under the USA PATRIOT
Act’s Section 311.
The nuclear deal changes none of this because, as
administration officials admit, Iran remains the world’s foremost state
sponsor of terrorism and its ballistic missile program and related pipelines for
proliferation and money laundering continue to flourish.
In a speech in Washington on April 15, Iran’s Central
Bank Governor Valiollah Seif claimed Iran has addressed money laundering and
terrorist activities. But as with most statements by Iranian leaders,
Seif’s claims are far from the truth.
In fact, FATF declined in February to reverse its past
warnings about Iran’s misuse and abuse of its financial system, and instead
renewed its call for international countermeasures. Given FATF’s
prestige and membership, this is a clear indictment of Iran’s continuing
Despite Secretary Kerry’s advocacy on behalf of Iran’s
financial system, the U.S. Treasury Department noted last month that Iran
continues to engage in deceptive financial practices in support of terrorism
when it imposed modest sanctions against entities and individuals associated
with Iran’s Mahan Air.
Moreover, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Thomas Shannon told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month that
Iran’s destabilizing activities have not abated. Indeed, Shannon
conceded Iran continues to support Hezballah terrorists, prop up the Assad
regime in Syria and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and systematically violate the
human rights of its citizens, including by detaining over 1,000 political
prisoners and subjecting them to harsh treatment as well as extended pretrial
In addition, Iran is accelerating the development of
ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons with launches in October
2015 and March 2016, including the test of one missile inscribed with the phrase
in Hebrew, “Israel must be wiped off the arena of time.”
Iran does not need access to the U.S. dollar, nor should we
allow it because it would serve to facilitate and further all of its destabilizing
activities by boosting the very same Iranian financial system that the
administration is now trying to enrich and empower. Access to the U.S. dollar is
not an international right. But if Tehran wants access, the onus should be
entirely on Iran to clean up its act and reduce the risk that Iran’s dangerous
activities pose the global financial community.
Yet Iran refuses to address grave and growing concerns
about its destabilizing activities and deceptive financial practices. And,
sadly, the administration appears to be more focused in capitulating to Tehran
than in forcing Iran’s terror regime to fundamentally change its behavior.
It’s time for the U.S. to stop making unreciprocated
concessions and to start holding Iran fully accountable for continuing its
dangerous and destructive behavior.