News / USA

    Iran Missile Launches Prompt Sanctions Push in US Congress

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker on Capitol in Washington, March 8, 2016.
    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker on Capitol in Washington, March 8, 2016.
    Michael Bowman

    The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told VOA that Iran’s missile launches are sparking stronger resolve in Congress to renew and boost U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
     
    “There are three categories [of sanctions] that can be looked at in a bipartisan way, and we are attempting to do that now,” Republican Senator Bob Corker said.

    In particular, Corker said he is working to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which was suspended as part of last year’s landmark international nuclear accord with Tehran. The law targets international investment in Iran. It remains on the books but will expire at the end of the year unless Congress extends it.

    Responding to congressional developments on Iran, a senior administration official told VOA, "It's not necessary to extend the Iran Sanctions Act at this time since it does not expire until the end of the year. Right now our focus is on implementing the deal, and verifying that Iran completes its key nuclear steps."
     
    President Barack Obama has stated repeatedly that sanctions will “snap back” if Iran violates the nuclear accord. Such leverage will be lost if the Iran Sanctions Act expires, according to Corker.
     
    “In the event there are violations, the snap-back provisions that are a part of the [nuclear] agreement mean that there has to be something to snap back to,” the senator said. “So extending that, dealing with conventional weapons and dealing with ballistic missiles are three areas that I think we have a possibility of reaching consensus on.”
     
    Another committee member, Democrat Robert Menendez, also is on record supporting the ISA’s renewal through 2026.
     
    In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last October, Menendez wrote, “Provisions of the Iran Sanctions Act expire in 2016. Failing to reauthorize these provisions is also a message to the Iranian regime.”

    Testifying on Capitol Hill last month, Kerry counseled against a “rush” to extend the ISA and suggested patience during the implementation of the international nuclear deal.
     
    Patience at an end
     
    “Iran is developing a nuclear program so that they can put it on top of a ballistic missile and destroy the nation of Israel,” Republican Senator Cory Gardner told VOA. “They wrote as much on the ballistic missile [launched this week] itself.”
     
    “Absolutely Congress should increase our sanctions and efforts. But the president might veto it, because this president doesn’t seem to want to stop Iranian bad behavior. In fact, in many ways, I think the Iran nuclear deal has enabled Iranian bad behavior,” Gardner added.
     
    Democratic Senator Chris Coons hopes for a unified international response to Iran’s violations of the U.N. resolution.
     
    “I think this calls for sustained active global engagement. I think the Security Council should act against this recent ballistic missile launch,” Coons said. “I continue to urge the administration to be engaged and strenuous in enforcing our existing sanctions against their ballistic missile program, their ongoing human rights violations, as well as their support for terrorism in the region.”
     
    Corker said renewing the Iran Sanctions Act would be a unilateral U.S. move, but could cause other nations to act, as well.

    “We’ve seen in the past, sometimes when we begin – just like with North Korea – there are follow-ons that are taken up by other countries,” Corker said.
     
    Iran has warned that punitive measures would cause it to terminate its adherence to the nuclear deal.
     
    Asked about Iran’s most recent missile launches, on Wednesday State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United States will “take whatever appropriate response is necessary, either at the U.N. or unilaterally.”
     
    “We condemn all threats to Israel, and we stand – will stand – with Israel to help it defend itself against all kinds of threats,” Kirby added.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MKhattib from: USA
    March 11, 2016 9:57 PM
    What was the U.S. reaction to this outrageous behavior by the president’s negotiating partners? So far, nothing. The administration did previously announce some minimal sanctions placed on individuals that helped procure the missiles, but that slap on the wrist impressed no one, least of all the ayatollahs that have long understood that Obama is a paper tiger with respect to Iran.

    by: Joey
    March 11, 2016 9:21 AM
    Everyone knows that the Iranian people have always been the best friend and ally of the Israel and for the first time in the history, this was the Great Cyrus who freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their sacred temple that had been destroyed before. In fact, each of these missiles fire to both the people of Iran and Israel on behalf of the small group of people who their origin race basically is Arab, not Persian, and unfortunately they rule on the Iranian people.

    by: bcdemon from: Canada
    March 11, 2016 8:15 AM
    I don't understand the issue here. Iran is legally allowed to test missiles, just like the USA tested a couple ICBMs last month. Mind you Iran can't test nuclear capable missiles, but non-nuclear missiles are fine. Just seems like the USA constantly wants to be at war with someone, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now obviously Iran. Unless of course Iran isn't allowed to defend itself against an aggressive military?

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    March 10, 2016 11:42 PM
    Jerusalem and Netanyahu will say "I told you so!!

    The timing of the Iranian missile launches are no accident since this is 2016 and the year the next POTUS is elected.

    Besides Israel these missiles also pose a threat to Europe. But in the end it may well be Israel that will have to permanently remove the Iranian threat!!!!
    In Response

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    March 12, 2016 4:11 AM
    Anonymous why does Iran need missiles and a nuclear arms program?

    Just how can the Iranian people benefit from a theocratic Shite government expending scarce financial resources on military programs that are offensive in nature?

    If countries in the European Union can live in peace with their neighbors why can't Shite Iran not live in peace with their Sunni neighbors.

    Iranian actions are destabilizing not only in the Persian Gulf and the Hormuz Strait through which a significant portion of the world's oil is shipped to Europe and elsewhere, but their missile program poses a potential threat to the EU.

    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 11, 2016 11:59 AM
    You are out of touch of reality. Your mind is being shaped by propaganda. The US war complex wants a war (doesn't matter where, just a war anywhere) and Republicans and some Democrat for-sale politicians like Clinton want to make sure they will have somewhere to do it. The US public wants peace, not war for the benefit of a few. The money that's spent on war, if spent domestically in the US will make the US the most prosperous nation. Wake up.

    by: Anonymous
    March 10, 2016 4:48 PM
    Republican crooks drumming the war drum, again.

    by: John Wickstrom
    March 10, 2016 3:38 PM
    This proves that critics of Obama's Iran nuclear deal were correct; you can't trust a country run by blood thirsty religious zealots! Repeal the deal immediately, and stop them from shipping anymore oil!!!

    by: Watson Muyaba
    March 10, 2016 3:21 PM
    In this era some countries still want to fight instead of dialog. It is a shame really or it is just apocalypse.

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