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First Gov  

November 7, 1997

H.R. 2709 - Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997
(Gilman (R) NY and 117 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2709, the "Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997." 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 would not improve our ability to halt the transfer of missile technology to Iran. On the contrary, H.R. 2709 would weaken the U.S. ability to persuade the international community to halt such transfers to Iran. Because the bill's broad scope, retroactivity, and indiscriminate sanctions would undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals and objectives, the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor would recommend that the President veto the bill, if it is presented to him in its current form.

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 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.

The Administration would strongly oppose any attempts to combine H.R. 2709 with S. 610, the "Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1997". Until S. 610 is enacted into law, the United States will be unable to implement fully its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and U.S. nonproliferation leadership will be questioned. S. 610 was adopted by voice vote in the Senate in late May following intensive negotiations between the Senate and the Administration. S. 610 has strong bipartisan support from members on both sides of the aisle. If S. 610 is attached to H.R. 2709, however, the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor would have no choice other than to recommend that the President veto the combined bill.