A 27-page bill that targets companies and entities linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) organization was introduced in the U.S. Congress on Thursday, promising a new set of sanctions on Iran and attempting to block Tehran’s entry to the World Trade Organisation, The National reports.
The bill sponsored by Republican congressman and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Democratic congressman Eliot Engel constitutes the latest bipartisan effort to ramp up the pressure on Iran. It “authorizes the administration to sanction entities in which the IRGC has an ownership stake of less than 50 percent,” hence “raising the stakes for anyone doing business with the IRGC” according to its authors.
The text strengthens bans on transactions with the IRGC and its affiliates. It also mentions Syria and expands mandatory sanctions against the IRGC for what it calls “its role in shoring up the murderous Assad regime.”
It also requires the administration to send routine reports “on the IRGC’s full influence in the Iranian economy and state-owned enterprises that facilitate terrorism.” The bill makes public opposition as well to “Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organisation so long as Iran remains a state sponsor of terror.”
Commenting on the bill, Royce accused IRGC of bankrolling “terror and Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program” while “hundreds of its front companies have yet to be sanctioned.”
“This bipartisan bill will close that gap. It will cut off cash to a terrorist group that has the blood of hundreds of Americans, and countless Syrians, on its hands,” said Royce, who will retire this November.
Engel described the IRGC as “the driver of Iran’s dangerous presence in Syria.” “Alongside Putin, the IRGC has worked with the genocidal Assad regime – which has killed more than half a million of its own citizens.” He added that the bill “marginalizes the influence of Iran’s hardliners without undermining U.S. commitments under the nuclear deal.”
The bill is the latest bipartisan effort from Congress to pressure Iran without endangering the nuclear deal. If supported by majorities in the house and the Senate and signed by president Donald Trump, it would become law.
Last September, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting 11 companies and individuals accused of aiding Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or cyber attacks on U.S. banks. A month earlier, Trump signed into law a bill which imposes sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards. Iran had blasted the United States over the bill, threatening U.S. military bases in the region.
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – one of the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and widely regarded in western capitals as a moderate interlocutor – praised Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the IRGC’s Quds Corps, which arms and trains Hezbollah, the Assad regime’s forces and Shia paramilitaries in Iraqi Kurdistan.
In a message to a ceremony at Tehran University honoring Soleimani, Rouhani expressed gratitude “for all the efforts of the Quds Force commander in preserving stability in the region and fighting terrorism in neighboring countries.”
The Islamic Republic has promised a “crushing” response if the United States designates the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.