TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which prohibits New Jersey’s pension and annuity funds from investing in foreign companies doing business with Iran and requires the funds to divest any interests in such companies was signed into law last week by Governor Corzine.
“This new law makes a strong statement about New Jersey’s priorities,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “We cannot tie New Jersey’s funds to Middle Eastern tyrants and their campaigns of worldwide terror and nuclear proliferation. This law will start the process of divesting the State’s pension and annuity funds from any economic ties to Iran’s war machine, and sends the message that we will not be an accessory to the worldwide threat posed by Iran.”
The new law, S-2615, will 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 will be required to divest all current investments in companies doing business with Iran, and will be prohibited from investing in those companies until they cease ties with Iran, or Iran ceases its nuclear proliferation and terrorism campaigns. The law will 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 law will 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.
“I think, whether you support or oppose continued US military involvement in the Middle East, most New Jerseyans can agree that we should not be funding Islamic fundamentalism with public resources,” said Senator Vitale. “This law, sponsored on a bipartisan basis, is an example of diplomatic pressures governments around the world should be applying on Iran to get them to cease their military nuclear operation and support of global terrorism. I hope that other states and public bodies will follow suit, so that we can say in a unified, strong voice that we will not tolerate tyranny and oppression, let alone fund it.”
The bill was approved by the Senate last month.