Tester ‘Tightens the screws’ on Iran

Iranian attempt to assassinate diplomat on U.S. soil must lead to real action, Senator says

(U.S. SENATE) – On the heels of a plot by Iran's government to conduct a terrorist attack on American soil, Senator Jon Tester today amplified his call on Congress and the Obama Administration to crack down on U.S. companies – like Koch Industries – that do business in Iran.

Tester called for tougher restrictions during a Senate hearing examining potential threats from Iran, which is considered a state sponsor of terrorism. The hearing follows this week’s news that the Iranian government plotted with a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.

“Iran’s attempt to kill a foreign diplomat here on U.S. soil elevates the Iranian threat to a new level,” Tester said. “It ought to be clear that no responsible and patriotic American business should be dealing with Iran in any way. And the U.S. government needs to be doing everything it can to pressure these companies and put the squeeze on Iran.”

Iran is subject to broad range of U.S. sanctions that restrict trade and investment, but loopholes remain that allow foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do business in Iran. Reports indicate that a Koch Industries subsidiary sold millions of dollars of equipment to Iran’s oil industry.

Tester called the practice ‘unacceptable’ and today asked witnesses whether the United States should require American companies and their subsidiaries to disclose all business activity in Iran.

David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, called Tester’s idea ‘interesting’ and said that U.S. subsidiaries working overseas need to be looked at very closely.

“It boggles the mind that we continue to see businesses – American businesses – supporting Iran’s economy by actively circumventing imposed sanctions,” Tester said at the hearing. “That’s outrageous and we need to put a stop to it immediately. It’s clear that we need to tighten the screws.”

Tester added that Iran supplies weapons that harm U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and incites violence in Israel and Lebanon.

Thursday’s hearing also addressed Iran’s nuclear program, energy production, and support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

Tester is leading efforts to crack-down on large corporations that do business with America’s enemies, including recently introducing new legislation to prevent American taxpayer-funded contracts from benefitting U.S. enemies.

Video of Tester’s hearing is available HERE.