Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, announced today that he is proposing legislation to bar companies that invest in Iran’s energy industry from doing business with the state and local governments. The Iran Divestment Act of 2012 would prohibit businesses that provide goods, services or credit worth $20 million or more to that country’s energy sector from receiving or renewing contracts in New York.
The legislation is modeled after a similar bill in California and comes in the wake of an alleged plot by the Iranian government to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. The suspected plot was foiled earlier this month.
“The government of Iran is a tyrannical regime and a sponsor of international terrorism and it is determined to acquire nuclear weapons,” Silver said in a statement. “For the safety of our nation, as well as our allies throughout the world, including Israel, we cannot allow that to happen. By divesting the state from any business with companies whose actions further Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms, we are doing our part to make the world a safer place.”
Under the bill, the state would create a list of companies that would be ineligible for contracts, and companies seeking contracts would have to certify they are not on the list.
A federal law adopted last year permits state and local governments to divest from companies that do business with Iran’s energy industry and whose interests directly or indirectly support its pursuit of nuclear weapons, according to Silver.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is backing the legislation.
“Iran is the world’s leading exporter and state sponsor of terror, actively facilitating deadly attacks against our U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Alan S. Jaffe and Michael S. Miller, the group’s president and executive vice president/CEO, said in a statement. “This measure further intensifies global efforts to isolate Iran for its ongoing violations of its own citizens’ human rights and international law.”
Two years ago, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that his office divested $86.2 million in pension-fund investments from nine companies that were doing business in Iran and/or Sudan.