Fourteen Senators Call On Trump To Toughen Sanctions On Iran

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a foreign relations hearing in Washington, DC on January 9, 2018.

Fourteen United States senators, led by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Todd Young (R-IN), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are asking President Donald Trump to impose tough new sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran for its ballistic missile program.

In the letter the senators write, “Iran has actively pursued a ballistic missile program that threatens our forward deployed troops, our allies, and our interests.” In addition, they say that Iran’s growing missile capability can put the rest of the world, including the U.S. in direct danger, especially if Iran acquires a nuclear capability.

The senators “applaud” Trump administration’s latest sanctions announced on January 4, 2018 against five Iranian entities that support the ballistic missile program.

“However, we call upon the administration to immediately designate – using authorities under Executive Order 13382 – all remaining agents, affiliates, and subsidiaries associated with the designated entities and their parent companies.We also believe that more robust sanctions are necessary.”

The senators ask for new sanctions on “all remaining agents, affiliates, and subsidiaries associated with the designated entities and their parent companies.” These should include Iranian domestic entities that in any capacity, large or small, assist the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in its ballistic missile program.

In addition, they argue for more robust sanctions and suggest that the administration should work with Congress “to impose sanctions on any sector of the Iranian economy that is directly or indirectly associated with the development or transfer of ballistic missile parts, components, or technology.This includes designating or otherwise sanctioning the foreign and domestic supply chains associated with Iran’s ballistic missile programs. We encourage the administration to work with allies and partners to make these sanctions multilateral where possible.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about Iran and the Iran nuclear deal in front of a portrait of President George Washington in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2017.

The Islamic Republic insists that its missile program is for defensive purposes and poses no threat to those who do not harm Iran. But on numerous occasions, several hardline politicians and especially IRGC commanders have made threats against regional countries and even U.S. forces, brandishing their missile capability.

President Trump has adopted a much tougher approach toward Iran and has been very reluctant to renew the Obama-era suspension of previous sanctions, imposed to force Iran to curtail its nuclear program.

Trump has said that Iran has not been living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) reached in 2015 by continuing its missile projects, and by its destabilizing activities in the region including Syria and Yemen.

Last month President Trump extended the suspension of nuclear sanctions against Iran for another 120 days, but said that it was the last time he was extending the suspension and that “catastrophic” flaws in the agreement must be corrected.

Donald Trump has set four conditions for the United States continued commitment to the JCPOA; including international inspectors immediate access to all Iranian nuclear establishments, making existing limitations on Iran’s nuclear program permanent, guaranteeing that Iran will not approach a nuclear weapons plan, and limiting Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Trump has said that this program and Iran’s nuclear weapons program are “inseparable.”

Iran is insisting that the nuclear deal was intentionally separated from other issues and disputes and there is no way it would agree for a review of the international agreement. Russia and China strongly support Iran’s position and the European countries have so far insisted the nuclear deal should remain intact.

In addition to Rubio and Young, the following senators also signed the letter: Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Dean Deller (R-NV), David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and James Risch (R-ID).