Friday, October 27, 2017

Eye on Iran: U.S. House Passes Ballistic Missile Sanctions on Iran

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously on Thursday for new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement. The vote was 423 to two for the "Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act." Among other things, it calls on the U.S. president to report to Congress on the Iranian and international supply chain for Iran's ballistic missile program and to impose sanctions on Iranian government or foreign entities that support it.  

President Trump's assertive new strategy toward Iran is already colliding with the reality of Tehran's vastly expanded influence in the Middle East as a result of the Islamic State war. The launch of the strategy signaled an important shift in U.S. Middle East policy away from an ­almost exclusive focus on fighting the Islamic State to an effort that also pushes back against years of Iranian expansion in the region. But the strategy offers no specifics for how to confront Iran's pervasive presence on the ground in Iraq, Syria and beyond, raising questions about how easy it will be to push back against Iranian influence without triggering new conflicts.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday Iraq must stand on its own in the face of Iranian influence, while recognizing that the two states shared a long border and legitimate economic interests. 


Mark Wallace, CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran, testified that Congress should pass additional legislation that would reimpose nuclear sanctions on Tehran if the sunset clauses were not eliminated while also intensifying restrictions against the country's ballistic missile program.


Despite a purely partisan Republican push to alter the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, an overwhelming majority of US lawmakers from both parties continues to advance legislation to counter Iranian behavior throughout the Middle East. The House passed four bills today and Wednesday taking aim at Iran's ballistic missile program and its support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite paramilitary group fighting alongside Iranian forces on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. In addition, Iran hawks in Congress continue to press the Donald Trump administration to ban US aircraft sales to Iran and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. 

In mid-October, President Trump was due to make a certification to Congress on four conditions about its nuclear deal... On October 13, he surprised no one by declining to certify one of the conditions set out in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), a bill Congress passed to oversee the 2015 deal: that continued sanctions relief to Iran under the agreement is "appropriate and proportionate" to measures taken by the regime to end its nuclear program. The president said he is not yet quitting the deal, which he can do unilaterally, but giving his administration time to fix its flaws by working with Congress and our European allies. This "decertification" set off a 60-day period during which lawmakers could reimpose the heavy sanctions killed by the 2015 deal through a fast-track process.


Iran expects to seal energy contracts worth more than $20bn over the next year despite the threat of new US sanctions as it pushes ahead with negotiations with international oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo Dutch group, and Kremlin-controlled Rosneft.

A recent string of "financing agreements" that various governments and international banks have signed with Iran indicates that Tehran is finding solutions to leave behind the bottlenecks in financing its international projects. The question at this stage is whether or not such deals will facilitate the planned expansion of trade and investment with international - and especially European - companies.


A U.N. special rapporteur said on Thursday there had been little change in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year, voicing outrage over the harassment of journalists and adding that progress on women's rights was extremely slow. A day after submitting her report to the world body, Asma Jahangir, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Iran rights situation, told reporters that torture was widespread in Iran and that some people were imprisoned for seeking justice. 


Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks with top Nigerien officials, including Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and President Mahamadou Issoufou, about a range of issues, including ways to boost bilateral relations between the two countries.


After this week, the Trump administration will not only be leading the United States down a different path with respect to the Iran nuclear deal; it will also be employing a revised strategy on the Islamic Republic as a whole. On Oct. 13, President Trump announced the results of a comprehensive policy review, resulting in, among other items, a terrorist designation for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which he accurately described as "the Iranian Supreme Leader's corrupt personal terror force and militia." By means of its extra-territorial special operations Quds Force, the IRGC provides logistical and financial support, as well as arms and training to a variety of regional proxies and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Shiite militants in Iraq and Syria who have been accused of human rights violations rivaling those of ISIS.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson poked fun at Iran as being little more than a "hanger-on" in Syria and said that in contrast, Russia has been much more successful in backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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