Creating new perspectives since 2009

US House lawmakers overwhelmingly pass new sanctions on Iran

September 13, 2023 at 4:06 pm

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) speaks at an event to relaunch of the Congressional Friends of Denmark Caucus at the U.S. Capitol Building on June 05, 2023 in Washington, DC [Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images]

The US House of Representatives, on Tuesday, passed a bill aimed at toughening sanctions on top Iranian officials, Anadolu Agency reports.

The bill was passed overwhelmingly, by a vote of 410-3. To become law, it also needs Senate approval and the signature of President Joe Biden.

“We have many sanction laws designed to address Iran’s regime’s human rights violations; however, it is clear that many officials and institutions in Iran have not yet been sanctioned for their role in these abuses,” said Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

McCaul also criticised what he called the Biden administration’s “political agenda” in dealing with Iran’s government.

“We must not sell off the Iranian people to reach a bad nuclear deal,” he said, referring to efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran scaled back its nuclear work in exchange for relaxed sanctions. In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal, despite its overall success.

In response to Iran’s crackdown on protests last fall after the death of a young woman in police custody, McCaul also faulted the international community, saying it had failed to “compel” the Iranian government to “stop this abuse”.

The legislation, known as the Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability Act (MAHSA), mandates that the President must provide Congress with an annual assessment of whether Iran’s President and Supreme Leader should continue to be subject to existing sanctions.

The act was initially introduced this January, shortly after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, while in police custody in Tehran. Her death sparked widespread and unprecedented protests.

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump originally imposed sanctions on Iran’s President and its Supreme Leader through an executive order.

The Mahsa Act seeks to significantly restrict the ability of both the current and future administrations to lift these sanctions.

READ: US says no change to Iran policy after prisoner swap agreement