Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image State Can Help Stop Iran’s Quest for Nukes

Sunday September 30, 2007

The president of Iran has stated publicly that it is his goal to attack the great Satan (referring to the U.S.), develop nuclear weapons and eliminate Israel from the face of the Earth.

We take him at his word, and more importantly, world leaders do, too. That’s why Americans should refuse to invest their taxpayer dollars in companies doing business with Iran’s defense and energy sectors.

To reduce the nuclear threat and stop the flow of American money to terrorism, local, state and federal governments should adopt “terror free investment policies” and divest public retirement funds from international companies that do business with Iran’s energy and defense industries.

The Islamic Republic of Iran tops the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. It supports groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as terrorists, who are killing civilians. In 2000, President Bill Clinton imposed sanctions on Iran. By 2006, conditions worsened so much that the sanctions were renewed. U.S. law now mandates that NO American company may do business in Iran or any other country classified by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terror.

However, America’s two largest public employee retirement funds – the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, invest billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars in foreign-owned companies that do business inside and with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

With ground-breaking state legislation, Assembly Bill 221, Californians can join the movement to fight nuclear proliferation and international terror by divesting California’s public retirees’ nest eggs from foreign companies that profit by violating or skirting U.S. and United Nations sanctions. Millions of taxpayer dollars, reserved to fund CalPERS and CalSTRS retirement plans, are in harm’s way, invested with foreign companies whose assets can be bombed, nationalized, and seized.

The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a new policy to divest city employees’ retirement funds from foreign companies that do business with Iran’s defense and energy sectors. The city’s firefighters, police, and other workers will no longer invest their publicly funded retirement savings in companies enabling the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons or terrorist activities.

The Los Angeles and California measures affect 19 foreign companies and multinationals that continue to do business in Iran’s defense and energy sectors. They include Royal Dutch Shell, which has partnered with the National Iranian Oil Company to develop Iran’s oil fields and earlier this year entered into a joint project with Spanish company Repsol in a natural gas project reportedly valued at $10 billion. Companies based in Canada, Japan, Spain, Italy, India, South Korea, Chile, Norway and others around the globe continue to invest in Iran’s energy and defense industries.

Approximately 200 companies do business with Iran in other sectors, including Japan’s Honda Motor Co., Korea’s LG Electronics and Germany’s Siemens. They are not targeted in California’s AB 221, which is limited to energy and defense industries.

We all know that money is the mother’s milk of terrorism; that’s why terror-free investment policies have drawn support from all corners of the political universe. Democrats and Republicans partnered to pass this legislation in Los Angeles and are working together for AB 221. This California bill has united hundreds of diverse entities – Teamsters, taxpayers’ organizations, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Iranian-American groups, to name a few.

The California Assembly and the California Senate unanimously voted for AB 221, and now the governor has signaled his intent to sign the legislation. The bill has built momentum on both sides of the aisle and, hopefully, will become law by the end of this year.

Adopting terror-free investment policies gives workers in America’s towns, cities, and states a unique opportunity to make an impact on world affairs. By joining the national movement to stop the Islamic Republic of Iran’s campaign of terror, cities and states like California can lead the way to a more peaceful future for the Middle East and the world.

To learn more see:

California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, is the author of AB 221. Los Angeles Councilman Jack Weiss is the sponsor of the Los Angeles City Council’s resolutions to divest municipal pensions and support AB 221. Their column reflects their own opinions, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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