Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the state’s congressional delegation that he would encourage private enterprises to join sanctions prohibiting taxpayer-funded investment in Iran and entities that do business with the Islamic Republic, vowing to uphold state restrictions even as the Obama administration’s nuclear deal goes into effect, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday.
Though he circulated a letter encouraging Texan lawmakers in Washington to reject the nuclear deal before news broke that the Obama administration had secured enough votes to prevent the deal from being scuttled in Congress, Abbott’s call sheds light on state efforts to circumvent the sweeping agreement with Iran.
Texas, like some 25 other states — including California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Florida — has laws against investing in Iran or related entities, especially in relation to taxpayer-funded investments, such as pension funds for public employees.
Secretary of State John Kerry admitted during a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to deal with Iran’s nuclear program was more an “executive-to-executive” type of agreement, conceding that states would likely be able to keep their sanctions in place, even as international financial restrictions are peeled back. The Iran deal itself calls on the White House to encourage states to cancel these sanctions, which in Texas, for example, have affected oil deals with the crude-rich state of Iran for years.
Abbott called the nuclear deal “short-sighted,” and accused the Obama administration of turning a “blind eye to geopolitical realities.” He said the deal would threaten the U.S.’s “greatest ally in the region: Israel.”
The Obama administration this week announced it had enough senators backing the deal to prevent Congress from killing it, though many in the U.S. and Israel have vowed to continue efforts to alter aspects of the deal, which they say fails to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.