Earlier this week, on Monday, the advocacy group USA*Engage sent a letter to each of the 100 Senate offices. The organization’s intention was clear: to prevent the U.S. from imposing economic sanctions on Iran.
USA*Engage’s efforts, however, failed last night when every office to receive such a letter did the exact opposite. The sanctions amendment offered by Senator Bob Menendez (D, New Jersey) and Senator Mark Kirk (R, Illinois), which passed by a 100-0 vote in the Senate.
According to Kirk’s Senate office, “The sanctions would prohibit financial institutions that do business with the bank of Iran from opening or maintaining correspondent banking accounts in the United States.” The goal? “The amendment seeks to deny Iran the resources for its nuclear weapons program.”
So why would USA*Engage actively seek to block a measure that would hopefully prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?
In the letter, USA*Engage director Richard Sawaya states:
Given that the reported announced intent of the sanctions amendments is to target Iran’s crude sales into the world oil market, the adverse effects on the world economy, and on vital U.S. interests, could be considerable. Such hasty, draconian, unilateral legislation would be ill advised at best.
If any Iran sanctions amendments do reach the floor, we urge you to vote no.
In other words, USA*Engage is concerned that sanctioning Iran will hurt the economy—not at all about allowing a rogue regime to acquire nuclear weapons.
But who is USA*Engage anyway?
It’s a coalition of corporations, companies, and organizations, a subsidiary of the National Foreign Trade Council. Although USA*Engage does not reveal who their members are, here is the list of those who make up the National Foreign Trade Council’s board of directors: