Iran Energy Sanctions

A Canadian Proposal for Sanctions Against Iran

1. A Nuclear Iran – The Crossroads

Iran is one of the international community’s greatest concerns as a potential nuclear threat. Efforts aimed at engaging Iran with generous offers and incentives aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions have met with failure, and the international community has reached a crossroads. While estimates vary, there is broad consensus that Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons and delivery capability is imminent9, and growing international alarm over this prospect.

C-CAT’s proposal was submitted to the Government of Canada and briefly outlines the parameters of the Iranian nuclear threat. It presents the rationale for Canada pursuing further sanctions against Iran. C-CAT recommends that Canada:

1. impose sanctions by way of a Regulation under the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”) prohibiting any entity in Canada from providing or helping Iran obtain, (i) refined petroleum or gas, or (ii) dual use technologies;

2. introduce legislation either amending SEMA to close a gap which might permit companies operating in Canada to supply gas to Iran through related entities, or introducing standalone legislation targeting Iran’s energy sector; 

2. A Legal Pathway for Canadian Sanctions Against Iran

The Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”)

Canada can impose further sanctions on Iran without introducing legislation by employing the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”). SEMA allows for orders and regulations amounting to economic sanctions against a foreign state “where… a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis.” To date only Zimbabwe and Burma/Myanmar have been listed. But unlike Zimbabwe and Myanmar, Iranian actions and intransigence in the pursuit of nuclear capability clearly have significant “international” and “security” implications that have already generated “international crises” of serious consequence.

Furthermore, even independently of the nuclear issue, Iranian actions have more than met the threshold for sanctions under the SEMA provisions:

1. The human rights violations and election fraud justifying sanctions against Zimbabwe and Myanmar pale in comparison to those committed by Iran over the last 30 years. In fact, Canada would be justified in imposing sanctions based simply on Iran’s recently “stolen” election that was accompanied by brutality against protesters who were beaten, imprisoned and in some cases executed.

2. Iran has conducted a relentless campaign undermining other states through instigation of regional conflicts; the assassination of Iranian dissidents throughout the world; the high profile kidnapping and murder of numerous foreign diplomats and nationals; the bombing of foreign embassies and community centers; and the support of terrorist activity across the globe including involvement with al-Qaida.

If any state deserves the sanctions afforded by SEMA it is Iran. The present nuclear crisis is only the most recent but potentially the most lethal expression of Iran’s insatiable drive for regional and global supremacy. There is still a small window of opportunity for a nonmilitary initiative to bring Iran back from the brink, and every opportunity must be exploited to this end. SEMA provides an existing legislative framework for Canada to take such measures that can be quickly implemented without undergoing a long legislative process, and should be acted upon immediately.

Click here for the full proposal

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