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Democratic Lawmakers: U.S. Must Sanction Iran Over Ballistic Missile Development

In the absence of action by the United Nations Security Council, the United States must impose unilateral sanctions on Iran for its illicit ballistic missile tests in October, Democratic congressmen Joseph Kennedy (D – R.I.) and Ted Deutch (D – Fla.) wrote in an op-ed published Friday in The Times of Israel. Deutch is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

If the Security Council refuses to take action against these repeated violations, it is time for the United States to increase unilateral sanctions on Iran. More pressure is needed on those who aid and abet Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program, on the persons that facilitate the transfer of ballistic missile technology and on the entities that transfer funds for Iranian procurement.

The lawmakers also called on Congress to pass the Zero Tolerance for Terror Act, a bipartisan measure which they introduced in January. “[The] bill would allow Congress to quickly consider and impose new sanctions without procedural delay if Iran commits acts of terror that threaten American interests, provides support for terrorist organizations that do the same, or acquires ballistic missile technology in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Kennedy and Deutch explained. The congressmen added that the “new sanctions would be outside the scope of the nuclear deal and would not give the Government of Iran any cause to back away from its commitments under the JCPOA.” They further pointed out that the act is backed by members of Congress who both supported and opposed the nuclear deal with Iran.

While Russia is continuing to block any efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported Thursday that the U.S. and its European allies intend to present a “technical” case to the Security Council explaining how the missiles tests violate Security Council resolutions.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R – N.H.) introduced legislation on Thursday to target the sectors of Iran’s economy that support its ballistic missile program. The measure is backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.), which could ensure that it is taken up quickly. “Tough words alone will not deter the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism from continuing to develop its ballistic missile program,” said Ayotte.

[Photo: CongressmanTedDeutch / YouTube ]