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Bipartisan Efforts to Sanction Iran for Ballistic Missile Tests Underway in Congress

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are working on a series of responses to Iran’s attempts to procure conventional arms from Russia and its recent ballistic missile launches, according to Al-Monitor. United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 includes a 5-year ban on the sale of conventional weapons to Iran, unless the Security Council “decides in advance on a case-by-case basis to approve” it, and an 8-year ban on ballistic missile development. In recent months, Iran has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles and has announced plans to purchase Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is working with Ranking Member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on a sanctions package to counter Iranian aggression. Al-Monitor explained that Corker is pursuing a three-pronged approach: toughly counter conventional arms sales to Iran, punish Iran for its ballistic missile launches, and renew the Iran Sanctions Act, which is set to expire this year. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is also supportive of the effort, with an aide revealing that the senator was considering a separate legislative proposal “to encompass missiles and terrorism, plus much more.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is also working on legislation to counter Iranian attempts to procure conventional arms. “My gut is that we need to punish Iran for its ballistic missile nonsense and also punish whatever entities try to sell them weapons, which I think is a direct violation of the [nuclear deal],” said Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Republican senators also announced on Thursday that they plan to introduce legislation with economic penalties against Iran for its human rights abuses and support for terrorism. The measure would specifically target Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Mahan Air, an airline that has funneled weapons and Iranian troops to Syria, for “spreading terrorism and militancy throughout the Middle East,” according to The Hill. Under the nuclear deal reached in July, sanctions against Iran for its human rights abuses and support for terrorism are permitted.

[Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / YouTube ]