September 21, 2016

Immediately following the conclusion of Congress’ review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (the JCPOA), J Street urged Congress and the administration to work vigilantly to simultaneously ensure Iranian compliance with the agreement and to counter Iran’s dangerous non-nuclear behavior. We are deeply concerned that the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act” (H.R.5461) would harm the US Government’s ability to perform both of these essential functions.

Collecting and publishing detailed information on the personal assets of top Iranian officials – as the bill would require – may yield information of interest to certain audiences. Yet it would come at the expense of US Government time, personnel and other resources currently dedicated to ensuring Iranian and third-party compliance with post-JCPOA nuclear sanctions rules. Even more concerning, it would divert such critical US Government resources from the targeting and enforcing of our sanctions countering Iran’s other nefarious behavior such as its support for international terrorism, its ballistic missile program and human rights abuses against its own citizens.

Such a trade-off seems especially imprudent in light of the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office in its official estimate that much of the information the bill aims to uncover and publicize would in fact be classified. As such, this information could not be disclosed to the very segments of the Iranian, American and international public that the bill’s proponents endeavor to inform, thwarting its “name and shame” impact.

Finally – and especially in light of its limited practical utility – this bill appears to be yet another piece of a sustained effort by US opponents of the JCPOA and other diplomatic engagement with Iran to undermine the agreement by weakening the domestic standing of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his allies vis-a-vis Iranian hardliners who also oppose the agreement and bilateral dialogue. It is likely not a coincidence that proponents have arranged for floor consideration of this bill just as Rouhani is in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, and that it would require the finalization of the first report around the time of the next Iranian Presidential election.

Hindering the US Government’s ability to enforce the terms of the JCPOA and sanctions on Iran’s dangerous non-nuclear behavior while simultaneously undermining Rouhani’s standing would make America and our allies less safe and redound to the benefit of the very Iranian hardliners who seek to do us harm. Risking these consequences for the sake of procuring information that could not be shared with its intended audience would be both pointless and reckless. We therefore urge Members of Congress to oppose this bill.