Senate approves new sanctions on Iran

Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian flag
Iranian flag

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would see the United States impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile development, arms transfers, support for Islamist groups and human rights violations, Reuters reported.

The legislation was approved by an 18-3 vote, paving the way for full Senate consideration. Former Secretary of State John Kerry and others who served in the Obama administration objected to the legislation in the past, claiming that it might threaten the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.

"We know that this in no way touches the nuclear deal," Senator Bob Corker, the committee's Republican chairman, told reporters.

If approved by the Senate, the bill would also have to pass the House of Representatives before being sent to President Donald Trump for it to be signed into law.

Republicans and Democrats have been pushing a response to Iran's missile program and other activities. The bill the committee passed on Thursday is co-sponsored by 48 of the 100 senators.

The Trump administration recently imposed new sanctions on 25 individuals and companies connected to Iran's ballistic missile program and those providing support to the Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Qods Force.

The sanctions came in response to a ballistic missile test conducted by Iran, in violation of UN Resolution 2231, which bars Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years and which went into effect after the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers was signed.

Iran denies its ballistic missile tests are in violation of the UN resolution. Iranian President Hassan Rouahni, who was just reelected for a second term in office, stressed this week that the Islamic Republic would continue its missile tests and does not require permission from anybody to do so.

The measure approved Thursday would impose mandatory sanctions on anyone involved with Iran's ballistic missile program, and those who do business with them. It would also apply sanctions to the IRGC.

The Trump administration has been considering whether to formally designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

The bill seeks to tighten an international arms embargo on Tehran by requiring Trump to block the property of any person or entity involved in activities related to the supply, sale or transfer of prohibited weapons to or from Iran.

The bill was introduced in March, but the Foreign Relations Committee waited to take it up until after Iran's election on Friday, when President Hassan Rouhani was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote, noted Reuters.

The legislation passed a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would increase sanctions pressure on Iran, Syria and North Korea.