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Bipartisan Group Introduces Bill to Make Energy Sanctions Against Iran Permanent

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A bipartisan coalition of Congress members has introduced a bill that would make permanent U.S. sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.

The Solidify Iran Sanctions Act—introduced on May 1 by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), and Susie Lee (D-Nev.)—would make the sanctions under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 permanent as the latter is set to expire in 2026.

The Act would eliminate its sunset provision and permit the president to waive sanctions on Iran.

“The Iran Sanctions Act is one of the most important tools in U.S. law to compel Iran to abandon its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” said McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement.

Iran flag
The flag of Iran in front of the building of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Headquarters in Vienna on May 24, 2021. (Michael Gruber/Getty Images)

“This bill takes the long overdue step of striking the arbitrary sunset from the law so that sanctions will only be lifted if Iran stops its threatening behavior. Iran can’t run out the clock on U.S. law.”

This behavior includes Iran’s support for terrorism of which it is the leading state sponsor.

The Solidify Iran Sanctions Act (SISA) has the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies—both influential groups when it comes to U.S. policy on Iran.

“The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act is an important bipartisan effort to solidify critical sanctions on the Iranian regime at a time when Tehran is dangerously advancing its nuclear program and targeting U.S. troops,” said AIPAC in a statement.

Maintaining Pressure

“SISA would help to maintain the backbone of sanctions pressure on Iran for its malign conduct. Since 1996 ISA has been a centerpiece of U.S. efforts to choke off funds going to Iran through the energy sector that were fueling the Islamic Republic’s global terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” said FDD’s political arm, FDD Action, in a statement.

“Extending the legislation would send the message to Tehran that the Congress will continue to impose sanctions on Iran until it ceases its nuclear program and stops engaging in terrorism.”

Iran has produced 3 million barrels of oil daily, according to Iran’s oil ministry on May 2. This is despite U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil.

A companion bill of the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act was introduced in the Senate on May 1 by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Holding Iran Accountable

“The Iranian regime continues to increase its nuclear and ballistic missile investments and its support for terrorism and militancy in the Middle East, as further shown by the recent Iranian-backed drone strike in Syria that killed an American citizen,” said Hagerty in a statement, adding that “the United States should not ease sanctions unless and until the Iranian regime ends its malign and destabilizing behavior.”

“Sanctions have been critical in holding Iran accountable for its destabilizing actions, including support for terrorist proxies,” said Rosen in a statement.

“With Iran closer than ever to a nuclear weapon, I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation that applies pressure on the Iranian regime.”

A Pentagon senior official, Colin Kahl, said in March that Iran could assemble sufficient material for a nuclear bomb in 12 days.

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