Senate passes new economic sanctions against Iran, Russia

Both Iran and Russia would face new economic sanctions under legislation that cleared the Senate on Thursday with support from U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act would sanction individuals tied to Iran’s ballistic missile program, and it would hand down new sanctions in response to Iranian support for illegal arms transfers to terrorist organizations.

The bill also includes an amendment to sanction Russia for its actions in Syria, cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election, and aggression toward Ukraine and Crimea.

“Putin has meddled in the elections of the United States and other democracies and has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of Russia’s neighbors,” said Tillis, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “The Iranian regime remains the chief state sponsor of global terrorism and continues to develop their ballistic missile capabilities, which threatens the security of America and our allies. These sanctions send a clear and unified message to the Russian and Iranian regimes that America will hold them accountable for their transgressions.”

The president would be required to block the property of any individual or entity associated with prohibited arms and materials transfers from Iran, and new terrorism sanctions would be applied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, under the bill.

“This legislation is critical to showing that the United States will not tolerate the aggression exhibited by Iran and Russia,” Roberts said. “Economic sanctions are a strong signal that the U.S. will not allow Iran’s support for terrorist activities and its hostile behavior that threatens our national security. In addition, this bill will continue to hold Russia accountable for its continued aggression in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, and its malicious cyberattacks that threaten to interfere with U.S. democracy,” said Roberts, a member of the Senate Committee on Finance.

The bill would require congressional review of any effort to suspend, terminate or relax sanctions against Russia. Existing sanctions outlined in executive orders would be codified, and new sanctions would also be imposed on individuals involved in arms transfers to Syria, cyberattacks, or dealings with Russian intelligence of defense sectors.

“The United States needs to respond to Iranian and Russian aggression with strength,” Wicker said. “The past administration was too passive in its approach, emboldening belligerent regimes that continue to destabilize Europe and the Middle East. This legislation is an important step to hold these two adversaries accountable for their actions and misdeeds,” said Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Senate approved the bipartisan measure with a vote of 98-2.