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Texas Governor Urges All States to Strengthen Iranian Sanctions

Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged his gubernatorial peers in 49 other states to establish, maintain, or strengthen state-based sanctions against Iran in a two-page letter Tuesday.

Abbott intends to ask the Texas Legislature to strengthen the state’s existing sanctions when they reconvene in January 2017. Earlier this year, Abbott issued a directive on Iran divestiture in response to President Obama’s announcement that he was lifting the sanctions against Iran. The Texas Prohibition on Investment in Iran Act currently bans state pension and retirement systems from investing in Iran or entities that do business with Iran.

Abbott’s May 31 letter called the Obama administration’s recent appeal to convince states to lift their economic sanctions against Iran “misguided.” He described the U.S. policy of entering into an agreement with a country that consistently calls for “death to America” and “articulates anti-Semitic policies” as short-sighted. He said it ignores geopolitical realities.

“Because the Iran Deal is fundamentally flawed and does not permanently dismantle Iran’s nuclear capability, Texas will maintain its sanctions against Iran,” said Abbott, who called Iran “the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism.”

He wrote: “It is the central bank and training center for terror organizations, including Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the Mahdi Army, which have killed hundreds of American service men and women, including in Lebanon and Iraq.”

“Iranian-sponsored groups have also targeted civilians around the world: hijacking airplanes, bombing and Argentine Jewish cultural center and – according to the findings of a U.S. federal court – providing ‘direct assistance’ to Al Qaeda in carrying out the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa,” the Governor continued.

Abbott further explained his opposition to the Iran Deal because it undermines U.S. national security and its strategic allies abroad — “especially our most important Middle East ally, Israel.”

He stated the Iran Deal “does not eliminate Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear warhead – much less completely and permanently dismantle its nuclear capability.” He pointed out that while “complying with the so-called Plan of Action,” Iran retains its enriched uranium and uranium centrifuges.

“Expecting Iran to actually adhere to the deal is equally foolhardy,” Abbott wrote. The governor criticized the Obama administration for taking an “empty and unreliable” promise from Iran, thereby unshackling it from sanctions that have helped to keep the country in check.

He expressed concerns that the Obama Administration “released billions of dollars to Iran that can now be misused to sponsor acts of terror against Israel, the United States and our allies.”

In the letter, Abbott reaffirmed Texas remains “absolutely committed to maintaining its sanctions against Iran.” He stated there is more the Lone Star State can and will do to ensure Iran does not receive taxpayer-funded subsidies from Texas. “I have called on the Texas Legislature to strengthen the Iran sanctions that Texas already has in place.”

He intends to shore up existing state-sanctions with legislation that prohibits local government entities in Texas from investing in Iran or entities conducting business with Iran and requiring all Texas state entities, not just state pensions, to follow Texas’ divestiture policy. The Texas Governor urged other states to chart a similar path.

In January, Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Governor stated his “steadfast” support and friendship to the State of Israel, announcing Texas maintained its Iran divestiture policy despite the U.S. federal government’s Iran Deal.

On Tuesday, Abbott met with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer in Dallas. He thanked Dermer for Israel’s continued partnership with the State of Texas and assured him that the Lone Star State has and will continue to stand with the State of Israel against the global scourge of terrorism, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.

The Governor also signed Governors Against BDS, an initiative of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) that condemns the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. BDS intends to demonize, delegitimize, and isolate Israel. Abbott denounced the BDS movement as “incompatible with the values of our states and our country.”

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.

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