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Defunding Iranian Terror

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On the anniversary of the tragic events that took place on September 11, 2001, we remembered the lives lost of friends, family and neighbors. We also renewed our resolve to rebuild, to bring to justice those responsible, and to challenge extremism wherever it exists.

The anniversary also offered us a reminder of what happens when organized hatred and extremism go unchecked.

While we must keep our overseas soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in our hearts, we must not take our eye off of Iran.

According to the State Department, Iran remains “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.” This includes being directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and by supporting groups, like Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Taliban, that use terrorism to achieve Iran’s foreign policy goals.

Past examples include the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 80. When Interpol issued a warrant and requested extradition of Ahmad Vahidi, a man believed to be responsible for the attacks, the Ahmadinejad regime not only refused the request, it recently appointed this wanted terrorist as the nation’s defense minister.

Iran’s continued support for violent terrorism around the world, coupled with its refusal to discontinue its nuclear program, constitutes a threat too large to ignore. Amadinejad’s repeated claim that Tehran’s nuclear program is strictly for electricity production is a lie.

That is why I, along with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, recently announced plans to divest several New York City pension funds from companies that do business with Iran’s energy sector.

The message is clear: profiting off Iran is wrong and New York City should have nothing to do with it.

By preventing investment in Iran’s energy sector, we ensure that the current regime in Tehran will (a) continue to depend on the rest of the world for the processed gasoline they are forced to import and (b) be more susceptible to international pressure leveraged through sanctions.

Despite Iran’s progress in developing nuclear technology, many want to believe that a softer approach to Tehran is the key, or that mass protests prove the Iranian people are ready to moderate their own government. But Ahmadinejad came out of this last election stronger and with more determination to intimidate his perceived enemies.

The Obama administration recently offered Iran a chance to come back to the table, but Ahmadinejad’s response was that discussion of Iran’s nuclear program is “finished.”

This conversation will not be finished until Iran agrees to discontinue its nuclear program and end all terrorist activities.

Until then, the United States should continue to push for tougher sanctions against Iran, encourage state pension funds to divest from businesses with investments in Iran, make clear that the world will under no circumstance accept a nuclear Iran, and pledge our support in every way to our most steadfast ally and foe of terrorism – Israel.

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