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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Sep 22, 2016.
Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act
(Sec. 3) This bill declares that it shall be U.S. policy not to pay ransom or release prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of U.S. citizens taken hostage abroad.
(Sec. 4) The U.S. government is prohibited from providing monetary instruments or precious metals to the government of Iran.
The conduct of a transaction or payment in connection with an agreement to settle a claim or claims brought before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (established on January 19, 1981) may be made only: (1) on a case-by-case basis pursuant to a specific license by the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, and (2) in a manner that does not contradict such monetary instruments or precious metals prohibition. The President must publish in the Federal Register a list of such transactions or payments. The term "agreement to settle a claim or claims brought before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal" shall not be construed to mean a promissory note.
The prohibition on the transfer of monetary instruments or precious metals and the licensing requirement shall remain in effect until the President certifies that: (1) a preliminary or final rule providing for Iran's designation as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern has been rescinded, and (2) the Department of State has removed Iran from the list of countries that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
(Sec. 5) The President shall submit within 30 days and every 180 days for up to 3 years a report that evaluates each outstanding claim before the tribunal, including its value, current status, and likelihood of resolution within 6 months.
(Sec. 6) The President shall provide notice not later than 30 days before conducting a transaction or payment from the U.S. government to the government of Iran in connection with a claim settlement agreement.
Such notice shall include:
the total amount of the settlement, including principal and interest; a legal analysis of why the settlement was made, including a description of all claims and counter-claims; a certification by the President that the settlement is not a ransom for the release of individuals held hostage by Iran; an identification of each Iranian government entity that will receive settlement amounts; a certification that the settlement funds will not be used to support foreign terrorist organizations, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, or other destabilizing activities; whether an equal amount of Iranian funds are available in the United States to satisfy judgments against Iran by victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism; a copy of the settlement agreement; a description of the disposition of any related claims that have been subrogated to the U.S. government; and a certification that the settlement is in the best interest of the United States. (Sec. 7) Nothing in this bill shall: (1) apply to activities subject to the non-covert intelligence reporting requirements under title V of the National Security Act of 1947, or (2) be construed to authorize any U.S. government payment to the government of Iran.
(Sec. 9) The "government of Iran" means:
the state and the government of Iran, as well as any related political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality; any entity owned or controlled by the foregoing; any person acting or purporting to act on behalf of any of the foregoing; and any person or entity identified by Treasury to be the government of Iran. (Sec. 10) The bill prohibits the President and all U.S. government officers from making a payment to a government, person, or entity to secure the release of unjustly detained U.S. nationals or permanent resident aliens, except that such prohibition does not prohibit the U.S. government from providing assistance to such nationals or permanent residents.
(Sec. 11) The President shall, within 60 days, block transactions in U.S.-sited or -controlled property and property interests with respect to any Iranian person or entity that:
is involved in the kidnapping or detention of any U.S. national or permanent resident alien; engages in an activity or transaction that materially contributes to, or poses a risk of materially contributing to, such a kidnapping or detention; or is owned or controlled by, or is acting on behalf of, an aforementioned person or entity or that provides financial, material, technological, or other support to such person or goods or services in support of such activity. The requirement to block and prohibit all property and property interest transactions shall not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation of goods.
(Sec. 12) The U.S. government may not provide monetary instruments or precious metals to the government of, or to an agent working on behalf of, a state sponsor of terrorism.
Such prohibition shall apply to an agency or instrumentality of the government of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, or an agent acting on its behalf, in the same manner and to the same extent as would apply to an agency or instrumentality of a state sponsor of terrorism.