I am pleased that this afternoon, the Assembly Majority will take up and pass legislation that if enacted, would prohibit individuals and companies who invest in Iran's energy sector from doing business with state agencies or local government bodies in the State of New York.
I am equally pleased to be standing here with Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, the Senate sponsor of this legislation. The Senate will likewise pass this legislation today. You will be hearing from the Senator momentarily.
Why the need for this legislation? To put it bluntly, we must do everything in our power to stymie the efforts of this "terrorist state" to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons which it can use against the United States, Israel and our allies.
Standing with us in support of this legislation are a number of my Assembly colleagues as well as several special guests.
We are honored to have with us:
Michael Miller, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York;
Chris DeVito, Executive Director of Iran 180;
Robin Roland Levy, Assistant Director, New York Region of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith;
Ron Soloway, Managing Director of the Department of Government Relations and External Affairs of the UJA Federation of New York;
David Ibsen, Executive Director of United Against Nuclear Iran;
Shelly Shapiro, Director of Community Relations for the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York;
And Josie Kivort, Chair of the Israel Committee of the Community Relations Council and member of the National Board of Hadassah.
All of these leaders have been outspoken critics of the Iranian government's record of human rights abuses as well as its nuclear program. You will be hearing from some of them in a few moments.
As you know, for many years, the United States government has barred American companies from doing business with Iran.
In 2010, Congress strengthened U.S. sanctions against this nation through the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, which authorizes state and local governments to divest their funds from entities involved with Iran's energy sector and to prohibit these entities from vying for state and local government contracts.
The legislation we are passing today - the "Iran Divestment Act of 2012" - would require the Office of General Services to create a public list of individuals or companies engaged in investment activities in Iran which are targeted by the federal law.
Individuals or companies would be deemed to be engaged in such investment activities if they provide goods or services, or credit used for goods or services of $20 million or more in the energy sector of Iran.
Persons or entities wishing to enter into contracts with the state or local governments must certify that they are not on the list. Those whose names appear on the list would be barred from entering or renewing such contracts.
It is no secret that Iran is the patron of terrorism in the Middle East.
The tyrannical regime controlling Tehran has been linked to terrorist activities ranging from assassination and hostage taking, to bombings and hijackings directed against Israel and the West.
In October of 2005, President Ahmadinejad, quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, said and I quote: "Israel must be wiped off the map and G-d willing, we shall soon experience a world without the United States."
The threat is real and it is serious.
Despite years of negotiation, warnings, incentives and sanctions, Iran continues to advance its nuclear energy program toward the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. It has likewise been active in the development of long-range missiles.
You may remember that the Iranian government is suspected of attempting to carry out a terrorist plot on American soil in October of 2011.
The United Nations' watchdog on atomic energy - the International Atomic Energy Agency - issued a report in November of 2011 stating that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices.
For the safety of our nation, for the safety of our allies throughout the world, including Israel, we must do all that we can to shut down this program.
By divesting the state from any business with corporations who fuel Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, we are doing our part to make the world a safer, more secure place.
The States of Florida and California have already passed legislation with a similar purpose.
I should also point out that in 2009, our State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, divested more than $86 million in New York State Common Retirement Fund investments from nine companies that conducted business in Iran and or the Sudan.
I urge the rest of the "united states" to follow suit and to take a stand against a "nuclear Iran."