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Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Permanently Authorize Law Allowing Sanctions on Iran

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) gives an opening statement during an organizational meeting for the 118th session of Congress on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation in the House and Senate on Monday to permanently authorize a law allowing the president to implement punishing sanctions on Iran’s economy.

The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is intended to permanently extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, which is set to expire in 2026.

The ISA, which must be continuously renewed by Congress under a mandatory sunset provision, allows the U.S. executive branch to impose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector to cripple its attempts to procure a nuclear weapon, an effort Tehran has accelerated toward in recent years.

“The Iran Sanctions Act is one of the most important tools in U.S. law to compel Iran to abandon its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” McCaul said in a statement.

“This bill takes the long overdue step of striking the arbitrary sunset from the law, so that sanctions will only be lifted if Iran stops its threatening behavior. Iran can’t run out the clock on U.S. law,” he added.

The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 24 lawmakers, including Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.).

Steel said Iran has “made clear it has no interest in participating in the international community or working towards peace.”

“The rogue state continues to make threats against democracy and actively sponsors terrorism around the world,” the lawmaker said in a statement. “Through this bipartisan, bicameral legislation, we can prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons and further jeopardizing global peace.”

A companion piece of legislation will also soon be introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have soared after Iranian-backed militia groups have carried out rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Syria and Tehran has provided explosive drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The Biden administration has also failed to reach a deal reviving a nuclear deal with Iran.

The indirect talks were intended to ease up sanctions on Iran in return for the Middle Eastern nation to never develop nuclear weapons.

With the deal effectively scrapped, United Nations atomic energy regulators have warned Iran is enriching uranium at facilities to the capabilities needed to make a bomb.

The Pentagon warned last month that Iran has enough material to develop a nuclear bomb within 12 days.

Under the ISA, the president has the authority to impose restrictions on Iran’s energy industry, which makes up a large share of the country’s gross domestic product, but over the years the authority has grown to include other Iranian industries.

The ISA is enforced by triggers that impose sanctions on firms that violate the law.

Congressional efforts to permanently extend the ISA have been introduced before but have not yet passed both legislative chambers.

The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act introduced Monday is backed by advocacy organizations the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Action and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act is an important bipartisan effort to solidify critical sanctions on the Iranian regime at a time when Tehran is dangerously advancing its nuclear program and targeting U.S. troops,” said AIPAC Spokesperson Marshall Wittman in a a statement.

Source : The Hill