TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would prohibit New Jersey’s pension and annuity funds from investing in foreign companies doing business with Iran and require the funds to divest any interests in such companies was unanimously approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“I think that the vast public sentiment in the State is that New Jersey should not be economically subsidizing terror regimes in the Middle East, regardless of the political opinions on our military involvement there,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Iran has long been identified as supporting and sponsoring a worldwide terrorism effort, and continues to build a nuclear program which could cause untold devastation on the world. New Jersey must send a message to the world’s business community that international security and world peace cannot be compromised for a quick buck.”
The bill, S-2615, would direct the State Investment Council to immediately cease doing business with foreign companies that support the defense, nuclear or energy sectors of Iran’s economy. The Council would be required to divest all current investments in companies doing business with Iran, and would be prohibited from investing in those companies until they cease ties with Iran, or Iran ceases its nuclear proliferation and terrorism campaigns. The bill would not apply to the activities of any foreign companies engaged in humanitarian aid to the Iranian people.
Since 1984, the United States Department of State has included Iran on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. As such, direct financial transactions between the United States and Iran have been banned for many years. This bill would provide further sanctions against the Iranian government by cutting off support to companies which fuel Iran’s terror campaigns and efforts to enrich uranium for use in nuclear arms.
“Iran continues to pose a significant threat to the rest of the free world, and New Jersey cannot stand by and ignore that threat,” said Senator Vitale. “The State must rid itself of all tainted investments in companies supporting Iran’s terrorist government and providing resources to fuel Iran’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. Hopefully, the foreign companies which would lose business under this bill take note, and cease being a part of continued hostility between Iran and the rest of the world.”
The bill was approved by the Senate State Government Committee in June. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Identical legislation was also approved by the Assembly in June.