Albany, NY – With the U.S. Congress set to vote in the coming days on a proposed deal to lift international sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, a broad bipartisan coalition of New York State legislators have sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging the continuation of measures passed by the state in 2012 to prevent the leading terror sponsor from obtaining nuclear weapons. The letter, spearheaded by Assembly Members Nily Rozic (D, WF – Fresh Meadows) and Phil Goldfeder (D – Far Rockaway), includes signatures from nearly thirty leading legislators from around the state.
“Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was first proposed, I have heard concerns from constituents and want to ensure their voices are heard as Congress prepares to take up the measure,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who is the first Israeli-born elected official in New York. “In keeping existing sanctions against Iran, we are sending a strong message that New York should not do business with Iran or its business partners.”
“New York State has been a leading voice in the implementation of sanctions against Iran and now is not the time to waiver in our resolve on this issue,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “It is unfortunate that some want to take steps in the wrong direction and put our world on a path of terror and destruction. Regardless of what happens in Washington, I urge Governor Cuomo to continue the state’s sanctions on Iran and ensure a safer future for our families.”
“As the administration moves forward with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we legislators at the state level of government have asked Governor Cuomo to exercise his constitutional authority to retain existing sanctions against Iran through state pension divestment. We have heard forcefully and continuously from the majority of our constituents that they fully believe this deal is not the correct course we should take as a nation and, as their voice in Albany, we move to ensure that we do what is within our power as state legislators to reflect their views and positions,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D – Brooklyn).
“A part of the deal that I find particularly objectionable is giving a king’s ransom to a country that has funded some of the worst acts of terrorism the world has ever known,” said Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky (D – Long Beach). “I call on Governor Cuomo to exercise his constitutional authority and retain New York’s existing sanctions against Iran.”
In a joint letter sent Monday to Governor Cuomo, Assembly Members Rozic and Goldfeder called on the state to keep in place a broad set of sanctions passed in Albany in 2012 designed to prevent access to state contracts for companies doing business in Iran’s nuclear energy sector. The letter included the signatures of nearly thirty Democratic and Republican legislators from across the state, in a broad bipartisan show of support for maintaining the current state-authorized sanctions.
Citing concerns with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and state sponsorship of terrorism, the letter urges Cuomo to use the state’s “constitutional authority” to impose and maintain sanctions. The legislators tout the state’s recent efforts to impose sanctions against Iran as being crucial to efforts to obtain a better deal from Iran than the currently proposed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between Iran, the United States and other nations.
The legislators point to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA) passed by Congress, which granted states the authority to impose sanctions in the wake of federal efforts to combat Iran’s growing nuclear and terrorist aspirations. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, this law and the authority it grants New York State is unlikely to be undone by the current Iran deal.
New York State has a long history as a leader in applying pressure on Iran. The state passed the Iran Divestment Act of 2012, which requires the State Office of General Services to identify persons or entities that invest more than $20 million in goods, services or credit in the Iranian energy sector; and preventing their doing business with the state. Similar legislation was passed in relation to the SUNY system. This followed earlier efforts in 2009 by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to divest $86.2 million in state pension fund investments made by companies doing business in Iran and Sudan.
A copy of the letter is below:
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We write to you today as concerned elected officials from across New York, urging you and the State to continue to exercise its constitutional authority to retain existing sanctions against Iran. It is our belief that a deal of the magnitude of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action–which would restructure the geo-political balance of an already volatile region–requires thoughtful oversight and input from all interested parties. Although it is atypical for state governments and local legislators to play a role in our nation’s foreign policy, we strongly believe that it is our role as leaders to be our constituents’ safety net and remain committed to continuing state sanctions against Iran.
As you know, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, entered into by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the six world leaders comprising the P5+1, is an executive agreement that sidesteps traditional diplomacy and statecraft. While we are aware of the significant power the President and the federal government have in matters of foreign policy, those powers were never meant to circumvent the political process by unilaterally entering into an agreement with a hostile nation that is, in substance a treaty, simply by calling it another name. Any executive agreement that may have a preemptive effect warrants closer inspection.
There exist important distinctions between an executive order or treaty’s impact on the powers of individual states including the question as to whether or not a state is obligated to alter or repeal existing law. This limitation on executive power was intended by the Founders to protect states from a president who might one day try to circumvent the political process and the will of the American people.
An examination of the agreement with Iran reveals how dangerous it is. The lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions is not tied to any change in Iran’s behavior. The deal does not require that Iran cease its regional aggression or its worldwide campaign of terrorism.
As you know, the New York Iran Divestment Act of 2012 already bars access to state contracts and business for companies that provide economic support to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Crippling sanctions like these and others passed with strong bipartisan support in numerous states and at the federal level are what convinced the Iranian regime that it had no choice but to negotiate. Faced with the choice of doing business with Iran or with the United States, countries and companies around the world did the right thing–both economically and ethically. They will continue to do so if sanctions are maintained or intensified, which is essential for convincing Iran to accept a better deal.
Until such point as Iran ceases its pursuit of nuclear weapons, dismantling its military nuclear program, funding and engaging in terrorism around the world, and committing to release American hostages, the State of New York should not do business with Iran or its business partners. We have concluded that we cannot in good conscience dissolve the sanctions that the State of New York has previously placed.
We urge you and your Administration to assert its interest and the interest of its people in opposing the Iranian regime and its current egregious policies. We believe in this reasonable and necessary step to further prevent taxpayers from enriching Iran. We do hope for the day when Iran renounces terror, and look forward to extending our hand in friendship to the Iranian people.
Hon. Nily Rozic
Hon. Phil Goldfeder
Hon. Todd Kaminsky
Hon. Steven Cymbrowitz
Hon. Michael Simanowitz
Hon. Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Hon. Edward C. Braunstein
Hon. Anthony Brindisi
Hon. Michael Cusick
Hon. Jeffrey Dinowitz
Hon. Mark Gjonaj
Hon. Peter Abbate, Jr.
Hon. Michaelle C. Solages
Hon. Amy Paulin
Hon. Walter T. Mosley
Hon. Erik M. Dilan
Hon. Joseph R. Lentol
Hon. Félix W. Ortiz
Hon. Chad A. Lupinacci
Hon. Edward P. Ra
Hon. Brian M. Kolb
Hon. Gary D. Finch
Hon. Andrew R. Garbarino
Hon. Nicole Malliotakis
Hon. Michael J. Fitzpatrick
Hon. Jane L. Corwin
Hon. David DiPietro
Hon. James Tedisco
Hon. Brian Curran