For many U.S. lawmakers, the 2015 nuclear deal has been a source of vigorous debate in terms of how it impacts U.S. dealings with Iran, particularly in light of Iran’s increasing role in the instability of the Middle East.
Various lawmakers also backing bipartisan legislation that would put new sanctions on Iran, while maintaining enforcement of the JCPOA. The latest bipartisan measure was unveiled prior to the opening of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. It seeks to build consensus between both sides, who often are at odds on any domestic issue.
“The United States will stand with Israel,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the conference Tuesday. He also criticized the nuclear agreement, saying it prevented the U.S. from taking more aggressive steps against Iran. The nuclear agreement suspended wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions that had choked the Iranian economy, although many of these are considered secondary sanctions. The House bill, which is co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, targets Iran’s ballistic missile development program.
The measure is designed to impose mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. It would also impose terrorism sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Ideally, the bill is meant to shut out the international financial system and banks that are used by the Iranian and foreign companies involved in the missile program.
The Senate has also drafted a bill to impose sanction on people involved in the ballistic missile program, sanctions on the IRGC and enforce an arms embargo. “The spirit of bipartisanship of this important legislation underscores our strong belief that the United States must speak with one voice on the issue of holding Iran accountable for its continued nefarious actions across the world as the leading state sponsor of terrorism,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in a press release on March 23.
“To combat these threats, we must harness every instrument of American power,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a conference on Monday. “We must work with our allies – and Israel in particular – to counter this aggression at every turn.”
During the conference with the Israel leaders, the hope that Trump would rubberstamp the Jewish state received reassuring statements, but no concrete plan from the Trump administration that advanced Israeli government’s top priorities was on the agenda.