Special to WorldTribune.com
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives, in a near-unanimous vote, approved legislation to impose new sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic-missile program, an issue separate from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran.
The bipartisan measure, which passed by a 423-2 vote, requires the U.S. administration to sanction Iran for undertaking “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic-missile technology.”
It also calls on the U.S. government to identify and impose sanctions on companies and individuals — both inside Iran and internationally — that aid or supply materials to the missile program.
The bill was sponsored by Republican Ed Royce and Democrat Eliot Engel. It must now pass the Republican-controlled Senate and go to President Donald Trump for his signature.
“Iran has no business developing or acquiring intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Royce said during the House debate.
“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,” he added after the vote.
Royce and Engel opposed the landmark nuclear agreement when it was signed in 2015, but both have said it is best to continue with the deal now that it is in place.
Under the terms of the accord, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
The vote in the House comes after Trump on October 13 refused to certify that Iran is complying with the deal, accusing Tehran of violating the “spirit” of the agreement.
Trump did not immediately pull the United States out of the deal, instead pushing the matter to Congress and instructing lawmakers to strengthen a related U.S. law to put additional pressure on Iran and asking international partners to modify the original agreement.
The president threatened he would pull out of the accord if significant changes were not made.
On October 25, the House passed three other Iran-related measures, including one placing new sanctions on the Iranian-backed Hizballah militia in Lebanon, which lawmakers have described as Tehran’s “terrorist proxy.”