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Iran sanctions in Los Angeles

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Negotiations between the Western powers and Iran have reach a pivotal point. In Washington, two camps have emerged regarding the use of sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

The first believes that there is no greater threat to international peace and security than the Bomb falling into the hands of the Iranian theocracy. Therefore, sanctions should be strengthened in order to either force Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, or cripple the Iranian economy so that it will be impossible for Iran to continue.

The second fears war with Iran, and very much wants a deal. It is therefore willing loosen the sanctions, even before Iran makes any significant concessions.

Broadly speaking, the first camp is represented in Congress, while President Obama leads the second camp. The coming weeks may reveal which philosophy will prevail.

But in Los Angeles, the picture is bit different. The existing federal sanctions legislation specifically authorizes state and local governments to enact laws to divest from companies doing business in Iran, and to refuse to do business with such companies. California passed such a law, the Iran Contracting Act of 2010. The law requires a company bidding on state or local contracts to certify that it is not on the state’s list of companies prohibited from doing business with state agencies and local governments; and is not a financial institution that extends $20 million or more for investment in Iran’s energy sector.

In Los Angeles, these measures are being implemented.

On September 10, 2013, Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced a motion, seconded by Paul Koretz, instructing the City Administrative Officer to prepare a comprehensive review of Los Angeles’ compliance with the California Iran Contracting Act of 2010. It points out that “Iran’s dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated and compliance with AB 1650 [the Iran Contracting Act], is a step in the right direction.”

The City Council approved the motion, 14 to 0, on October 9, 2013.

In response, City Attorney Michael Feuer sent a memo to the general managers and executive directors of all city departments. He reminded city departments of their obligation to comply with the requirements of the California sanctions law. Feuer suggested language to go into every city procurement contract to ensure compliance. He concluded: “As the largest city in the state, compliance by Los Angeles is essential to effectuate this important piece of legislation.”

In addition, there is an effort to close the Port of Los Angeles, one of the busiest ports in the country, to Iranian ships.

Sanctions may be faltering in Washington, but the screws are being tightened in Los Angeles.

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