News

31 October 1997

TEXT: DEPUTY ASST. SEC. RAMSAY ON IRAN-LIBYA SANCTIONS ACT

(Statement to October 30 Banking Committee hearing) (850)



Washington -- William Ramsay, deputy assistant secretary of state for
energy, sanctions and commodities, told the Senate Banking Committee
October 30 that no decisions have been made as to whether two Iranian
energy projects involving private and state-owned companies in France,
Russia, Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia "involve sanctionable activity"
under the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA).


However, "sanctions are a very real option if we determine that
sanctionable activity has occurred."


Ramsey said the United States is "not prepared to carry on business as
usual with the Iranian regime, and we feel very strongly that our
friends and allies should not do so either." He condemned Iran's
support for terrorism, its efforts to obtain weapons of mass
destruction, and its efforts to disrupt the Middle East peace process
as "intolerable."


The United States has been working "to develop a multilateral
consensus on inhibiting Iran's support for international terrorism and
acquisition of weapons of mass destruction," Ramsey said, citing some
successes such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Missile Technology
Control Regime, and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.


"But other countries have resisted trade and investment sanctions that
impose economic pressure on Iran," he noted. "We therefore are
committed to continue working with our European allies, with the
Russians and with other countries to build an effective multilateral
coalition that would increase our cooperation to inhibit Iran's
objectionable behavior. This has been a long-standing policy of the
United States, and it is a step ILSA encourages us to take."


Following is the text of Ramsey's prepared statement.



(Begin text)



Statement of William C. Ramsay

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

for Energy, Sanctions and Commodities

Before the Senate Banking Committee

October 30, 1997



Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:



Thank you for your invitation to appear today before this Committee.
On behalf of the State Department, I would like to make the following
statement with regard to implementation of the Iran and Libya
Sanctions Act (ILSA).


ILSA has a very clear objective: to change Iran's unacceptable
international behavior. I think it is accurate to say that no nation's
behavior poses a greater threat to U.S. political and security
interests than that of Iran. Iran's support for terrorism, its efforts
to obtain weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them,
and its efforts to disrupt the peace process in the Middle East are
intolerable. Despite the recent attention given to the election of a
new Iranian government, we have seen no evidence of change in Iranian
practices.


We take very seriously our responsibility to implement this law. As
you know, we are actively investigating two ILSA cases involving
reports of foreign investments in two Iranian energy projects: South
Pars, involving the French company Total, the Russian company Gazprom,
and the Malaysian company Petronas; and Balal, involving the Canadian
company Bow Valley and the Indonesian company Bakrie. We have made no
decisions yet whether these deals involve sanctionable activity. We
are moving expeditiously to ensure that we have all the facts in both
cases to enable us to make the right decisions and apply the law
correctly. We will take appropriate action once our deliberations are
complete. Sanctions are a very real option if we determine that
sanctionable activity has occurred.


I regret that I cannot say more about the South Pars and Balal cases
at this time. But I can assure you that we are vigorously pursuing our
investigations. I have just returned from Paris and Moscow, where I
had the opportunity to explain fully the Administration's
determination to implement the law. I will soon travel to Kuala
Lumpur, Jakarta, and Ottawa for similar conversations and to develop a
better understanding of these deals. We will provide more detailed
briefings to members of Congress as developments progress.


We are not prepared to carry on business as usual with the Iranian
regime, and we feel very strongly that our friends and allies should
not do so either. We have been working for years to develop a
multilateral consensus on inhibiting Iran's support for international
terrorism and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. These
efforts have met with some success. Examples include the Wassenaar
Arrangement, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Nuclear
Suppliers' Group. Furthermore, we have been successful in
significantly narrowing Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran, and
are engaged in a serious, high-level effort to stop Russian
cooperation with Iran's ballistic missile program.


But other countries have resisted trade and investment sanctions that
impose economic pressure on Iran. And even in terms of weapons of mass
destruction and terrorism we believe that more needs to be done. We
therefore are committed to continue working with our European allies,
with the Russians and with other countries to build an effective
multilateral coalition that would increase our cooperation to inhibit
Iran's objectionable behavior. This has been a long-standing policy of
the United States, and it is a step ILSA encourages us to take.


Thank you.



(End text)




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