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Reform Leader Calls Upon Congress to Pass Targeted Iran Sanctions Legislation

Saperstein: “The urgency of a nuclear Iran’s potential impact on the international community demands that we speak out and act. As we look to the new year, the world cannot afford to allow Iranian nuclear proliferation to continue unchecked.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Liz Piper-Goldberg
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 10, 2009 – This afternoon, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Members of Congress urging their support for the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanction Act (H.R. 2194). Rabbi Saperstein stressed the serious threats posed by Iran’s continued development of a nuclear program, writing in support of targeted economic sanctions as a compelling way to demonstrate to the Iranian government that the pursuit of nuclear capability, in defiance of international agreements, is unacceptable. The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes over 1800 Reform Rabbis, I urge you to support the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194) as it moves toward a floor vote. Your co-sponsorship of and vote for this vital legislation will strengthen the already broad bipartisan support for targeted sanctions against Iran.

Iran’s ongoing defiance of international nuclear non-proliferation agreements is unacceptable. The Reform Jewish Movement has long recognized the serious threat that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability poses to United States’ interests, to Israel’s security, and to the stability of the Middle East. In recent months, the situation has worsened, increasing the urgency of our longstanding commitment to halt nuclear proliferation and to reign in Iran’s aggressive posture in the region.

Talks in Fall 2009 between the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran were an important diplomatic effort to meet the challenges before us. Yet, such discussions have yielded few concrete results to date, and President Ahmadinejad continues to insist that “[a]s long as this government is in power, it will not retreat one iota on the undeniable [nuclear] rights of the Iranian nation.” Indeed, since those talks it has been discovered that Iran has been hiding nuclear facilities from international inspectors.  The Iranian government’s nuclear policy must compel the United States to employ stronger economic pressures. The United States should adopt effective sanctions against Iran until it cooperates with international authorities.

Economic sanctions are a powerful method to make clear to the Iranian government that the continued development of a nuclear weapons program is unacceptable. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194), introduced by Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), would strengthen the President's authority to impose sanctions limiting Iran's ability to import and produce refined petroleum products. These targeted sanctions would have a significant impact on Iran’s economy, as Iran imports about 40 percent of its refined petroleum.

With its continued human rights abuses, stated opposition to the existence of the state of Israel, denial of the Holocaust, sponsorship of terrorist organizations, and enrichment of uranium in defiance of international inspectors, Iran presents fundamental challenges to the Jewish ideal that we “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15). Jewish rules on warfare eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately and create sustained and lasting damage to the environment, and the world remains at grave risk if we continue to allow the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The urgency of a nuclear Iran’s potential impact on the international community demands that we speak out and act. As we look to the new year, the world cannot afford to allow Iranian nuclear proliferation to continue unchecked. Economic sanctions will increase leverage in our work to achieve credible assurances that the government of Iran has ceased all efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability and is cooperating with international inspectors. Toward this aim, the Reform Jewish Movement calls upon Congress to swiftly pass the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act.

Sincerely,

/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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