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Lawler, Moskowitz introduce sanctions targeting Iranian oil exports

Bill would sanction those in China and elsewhere involved in assisting and facilitating Iran’s dodging of oil export sanctions

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., arrives for the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled "Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission," in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Amid concerns about Iran’s increasing sales of oil abroad, Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) introduced legislation yesterday to impose new sanctions targeting those who assist the Iranian regime in ducking U.S. sanctions, Jewish Insider has learned.

Iranian oil sales have surged in recent months; earlier this year sales hit record highs since the reimposition of U.S. sanctions in 2018. The oil sales are a major income source for the regime, helping to fund activities including terrorism and nuclear and ballistic weapon development.

The “Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act” (SHIP Act) would direct the president to impose sanctions on a range of foreign individuals knowingly involved in assisting Iranian oil exports, including operators of ports that accept sanctioned vessels; anyone who offloads, transports, transfers or sells Iranian petroleum products; and refinery owners who process Iranian petroleum products. Adult family members and anyone who engages in a “significant transaction” with or provides material support for sanctioned individuals would also be subject to sanctions. 

The sanctions would include property freezes and visa bans, and the sanctions authority would remain in effect until Iran ceased its support for terrorism and its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and ballistic missile programs. The bill would also require the administration to report periodically to Congress on Iranian petroleum exports, particularly in relation to China. An unclassified version of the report would have to be made public.

Lawler said in a statement that the bill would serve as a “warning shot” to Iran and China, describing the two U.S. adversaries as part of a “new axis of evil” with Russia and North Korea.

“The SHIP Act is an important step in preventing Iran from using that partnership, especially in maritime trading with China, to benefit themselves financially,” Lawler said. “The SHIP Act will unequivocally sink Iran’s aspirations of regional dominance and poke holes in their trade relationships.”

Moskowitz highlighted the role of Iranian petroleum exports in funding global terrorism.

“This legislation will impose additional sanctions and deny Iran the ability to destabilize activities across the region, fund terrorist groups, violate human rights, and commit acts of oppression,” he said in a statement. “All foreign adversaries better think twice if they believe they can finance and facilitate terror and get away with it.”

Lawler and Moskowitz are currently the bill’s only sponsors, but the legislation is being backed by AIPAC, which is set to conduct a lobbying mission in Washington, D.C., next week. The group has not yet disclosed its specific lobbying priorities.

“We strongly support this important legislation, which would penalize ports and refineries in China and elsewhere which continue to ignore U.S. sanctions and purchase Iranian oil,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JI. “The United States must increase the pressure on China to end its financial lifeline to the Iranian regime as it advances its nuclear program, sends drones to Russia and represses its own people.”

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