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House Passes Sanctions on Iran's Ballistic Missile Program

Iran President Hassan Rouhani, left, briefs the media as Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan listens after unveiling the surface-to-surface Fateh-313, or Conqueror, missile on Aug. 22, 2015. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly today to approve a resolution to expand sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program, activity that was not covered under the P5+1 nuclear deal with Tehran.

The Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act passed 423-2, with two Republicans casting the “nays”: Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.).

The bipartisan bill, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), requires the president to submit a report to Congress about Iran’s ballistic missile supply chain, specifically identifying the people and companies involved.

“This week, the House has taken two critical steps toward addressing the full range of threats Iran poses to the United States and our partners. Yesterday, the House cracked down on Iran’s leading terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, which Iran uses to spread terror and undermine regional stability,” Royce said in a statement. “And today, we passed my bill targeting Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missiles program. These sanctions will squeeze Iranian and foreign companies, banks and individuals that support the Iranian regime’s illicit weapons programs. Iran must know that the United States will not tolerate its dangerous behavior.”

The resolution, which was introduced in March, doesn’t touch on President Trump’s request to link bad behavior in Iran’s ballistic missile program to reimposing sanctions under the nuclear deal.

“The chairman and I share the view that when it comes to the nuclear deal — which we both opposed — the best path forward is to ‘enforce the hell’ out of it, even while we work to hold Iran’s feet to the fire on all these other harmful activities,” Engel said on the House floor Wednesday.

“I’m happy that we keep passing the sanction bills. But Congress’s role can only go so far. It’s up to the administration to lay out its goals, devise a strategy, and implement the tough sanctions Congress has passed,” he added. “It’s more than 60 days since we passed the sanctions bill and the president has not implemented it. And according to the bill, which the president signed, it was supposed to be implemented within 60 days.” Engel was referring to the nearly unanimous sanctions legislation covering Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“And so it sends a mixed message that talking tough is not enough,” Engel said. “If Congress sends a bill to the White House and the president signs it, it really should be implemented.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif fired off digs at Washington and at Trump’s electoral margin on Twitter late Wednesday. “US changed one elected govt in Iran— in 1953. It has tried a repeat since 79. Iranians not fooled by US game & unmoved by fake sympathy,” he wrote. “Faux sympathy for Iranians belied by Trump’s use of fake name for Persian Gulf, calling them terrorist nation& banning them from visiting. Lose the ‘standing with the Iranian people’ mantra. They elected their president w/ 6 million more popular votes & 73% turnout. Compare?”

Zarif was referring to Trump’s Oct. 13 speech announcing his new policy on the Iran deal in which he referred to the “Arabian Gulf.”