Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - A few weeks after US President Trump rolled out a new strategy to counter the "fanatical regime" of Iran, and announced his decision to decertify the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, on Wednesday, the US House of Representatives will vote on four bills aimed at ramping up the pressure on Tehran and its Lebanese ally, Hizbollah.

These four bills will target Iran’s ballistic missile program, put pressure on Europe to designate Hizbollah as a terrorist organization as well as impose sanctions on the group, if passed.

The first bill is called the “Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act", and is sponsored by Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This bill has bipartisan support.

An expert on Iran at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank, Amir Toumaj, said that the resolution “is meant to tighten sanctions on [the] IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) missile programme and disruption of procurement.”

The US treasury department designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “supporter of terrorism” on October 13th, shortly after Trump’s announcement that he was decertifying the nuclear deal.

Mr Toumaj added that the resolution, “specifically seeks to prevent Iran from undertaking any activity related to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.”

The House will next vote on three bills related to Hizbollah sanctions. The first bill is the "Sanctioning Hizbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act”. The second, which is the most critical, is the “Hizbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act” (HIFPA), which targets the group’s financial and social network. The third bill is a non-binding resolution “urging the European Union to designate Hizbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and increase pressure on it, and its members.”

According to Mr Toumaj, these four pieces of legislation “are expected to have bipartisan support” and are not in violation of the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He said of the bills, “they express US intent to curb non-nuclear activities, specifically ballistic missiles and Hizbollah — two arenas the Trump administration perceives as serious threats from Tehran.”

Lebanese army chief General Joseph Aoun is set to visit Washington during the same time as the voting on these important bills. He will meet with US military commanders, as well as National Security Adviser HR McMaster.

The Lebanese government is concerned about repercussions from the Hizbollah sanctions on the country’s fragile economy. If passed, HIFPA will require the US president to release an annual estimate of the net worth of Hizbollah leaders and backers, including its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah and other backers.

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