May 21, 1998
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2709, the "Iran Missile
Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997" and, for the reasons stated below, the
President's senior advisers would recommend that the President veto H.R.
2709, if it is presented to him in its current form.
The Administration is committed to fighting terrorism and taking steps to halt the transfer of missile technology to rogue nations. U.S. leadership is critical to the required international effort to attack this problem. H.R. 2709, however, would not improve the ability of the United States to halt the transfer of missile technology to Iran. On the contrary, H.R. 2709 would weaken the United States ability to persuade the international community to halt such transfers to Iran. The bill's broad scope, retroactivity, and indiscriminate sanctions would undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals and objectives.
Current law provides an adequate basis for the United States to impose sanctions on foreign entities that further Iranian ballistic missile capabilities. The standard of evidence, sanctions, and reporting requirements of H.R. 2709 are too broad and vague and would be counterproductive to convincing foreign governments to control missile-related trade with Iran. For example, the standard of evidence is too low and could result in the imposition of an unknown number of erroneous sanctions on individuals or business entities. Imposition of erroneous sanctions could not only harm U.S. political and economic relationships with other nations, but could dissuade foreign governments or persons from cooperating with the United States to prevent the transfer of missile technology to Iran.
In addition, while the Administration supports S. 610, the "Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1997," it strongly opposes the inclusion of the bill in H.R. 2709. S. 610 has strong bipartisan support and it should be enacted by the Congress as a free-standing bill without further delay.
Adoption of the Levin amendment would improve the legislation by altering its retroactive provisions. However, because very harmful provisions would remain, the President's senior advisers would still recommend that he veto this version of H.R. 2709.
H.R. 2709 could affect direct spending and receipts; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990. OMB's preliminary scoring estimate is that the PAYGO effect of this bill is zero. Final scoring of this legislation may deviate from this estimate.