Bill to Restrict Diplomacy with Iran

Nov 10, 2011

Anti-Iran Diplomacy Bill

The House is currently considering legislation which could dangerously undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict over Iran's nuclear program, increasing the threat of war. See the text of the most current available version of H.R. 1905 here.

Take Action: Urge your representative to oppose H.R. 1905 and to support--not sabotage--diplomatic engagement with Iran here.

The anti-Iran diplomacy provision in H.R. 1905 (section 601 c of H.R. 1905, ANS) would prohibit U.S. government employees in any “official or unofficial capacity” from contacting anyone who is affiliated with the Iranian government and who “presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.” To waive this requirement, the President would have to certify 15 days in advance that not making this contact "would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States".

Anti-Diplomacy Provision Added as Last Minute Addition

The vast majority of cosponsors to the bill were added before the anti-diplomacy provision was inserted, as part of what's called the "manager's amendment". The manager's amendment is a bundle of individual amendments that were agreed to by the Chair and the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The complete text of section 601 of H.R. 1905 is posted below, and the complete text of H.R. 1905, as submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for markup on November 2, 2011 can be found in PDF form here.

Bill Blasted by Former Ambassadors, Experts

This anti-diplomacy provision has been roundly condemned by a host of national security experts because of the chilling effect that it would have on diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers have called the bill “preposterous,” noting that it “raises serious constitutional issues over the separation of powers,” and that former top Middle East intelligence analyst Paul Pillar excoriated the bill, saying, “this legislation is another illustration of the tendency to think of diplomacy as some kind of reward for the other guy, rather than what it really is: a tool for our side.”

Full Text of Sec. 601, H.R. 1905

TITLE VI—GENERAL PROVISIONS

SEC. 601. DENIAL OF VISAS FOR CERTAIN PERSONS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN.

  • (a) IN GENERAL.—Except as necessary to meet United States obligations under the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, and other applicable international treaty obligations, the Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall deny admission into the United States to, a person of the Government of Iran pursuant to section 6(j)(1)(A) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (as in effect pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act; 50 U.S.C. 24 1701 et seq.), section 40(d) of the Arms Export Control 25 Act (22 U.S.C. 2780(d)), and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2371), including a person who is a senior official of the Government of Iran who is specified in the list under section 205(a)(1), if the Secretary determines that such person— (1) is an agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the Government of Iran; and (2) presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.
  • (b) RESTRICTION ON MOVEMENT.—The Secretary of State shall restrict in Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations in New York City, the travel to only within a 25-mile radius of Washington, D.C., or the United Nations headquarters building, respectively, of any person identified in subsection (a).
  • (c) RESTRICTION ON CONTACT.—No person employed with the United States Government may contact in an official or unofficial capacity any person that— (1) is an agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the Government of Iran; and (2) presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations. (d) WAIVER.—The President may waive the requirements of subsection (c) if the President determines and so reports to the appropriate congressional committees 15 days prior to the exercise of waiver authority that failure to exercise such waiver authority would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States.
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