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Iran Sanctions Bill Puts U.S. on Path of Confrontation with Iran

July 28, 2017 (EIRNS)—H.R. 3364, the Iran-Russia-North Korea-Sanctions bill passed by the U.S. Senate, yesterday, began life as an Iran sanctions bill, one that clearly is intended to increase the level of confrontation between the U.S. and Iran while technically avoiding renewing the sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—between Iran on the one side, and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on the other.

Right at the outset the bill requires the administration to develop

"a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond..."

That strategy must include, among other things, a summary of U.S. objectives, plans and means for

"countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, including identification of countries that share the objective of countering Iran’s destabilizing activities."

It must include

"An assessment of Iran’s conventional force capabilities and an assessment of Iran’s plans to upgrade its conventional force capabilities, including its acquisition, development, and deployment of ballistic and cruise missile capabilities, unmanned aerial vehicles,

and maritime offensive and anti-access or area denial capabilities." This is the kind of stuff you want to know if you’re developing war plans. It also requires an assessment of Iran’s "asymmetric activities," including of the IRGC (Revolutionary Guard) and Iran’s support to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Assad government in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen.

The bill’s sanctions target Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The bill allows the president no discretion whatsoever on sanctioning the IRGC as if it were a terrorist group.

"[T]he President shall impose the sanctions described in subsection (c) with respect to the IRGC and foreign persons that are officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC,"

it says. The sanctions to be imposed are those authorized under Executive Order 13224 relating to the blocking of property and the prohibiting of transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism. The bill also imposes sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on persons (allegedly) responsible for human rights abuses and it imposes an arms embargo.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi today rejected the claims made in the bill that Iran is the destabilizing factor in the Middle east, noting that it was the U.S. actions in the Middle East that eventually created Daesh and destabilized the region, reported the Tasnim News Agency. He added that the growing insecurity and extremism in the region were the results of "unwise and irresponsible" policies of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile program is in accordance with Resolution 2231 and nothing can prevent Iran from pursuing and implementing its principled policy to boost defense capabilities,"

Qassemi said. He said that if approved and implemented, the bill would undermine the successful implementation of the nuclear agreement which, he noted, is not a U.S.-Iran bilateral agreement but a multilateral agreement involving five other countries.

"Since the Islamic Republic of Iran has been fully committed to and fulfilled its obligations, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency and admitted by the Group 5+1, it expects other parties to the JCPOA, including the U.S. government, to follow suit,"

he said.