A 27-page bill that targets companies and entities linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) organisation was introduced in the US congress on Thursday, promising a new set of sanctions on Iran and attempting to block Tehran’s entry to the World Trade Organisation.
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 “authorises 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, Mr 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.” Mr Royce who will retire this November said: “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.”
Mr 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 “marginalises the influence of Iran’s hardliners without undermining US 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.