New US sanctions imposed for Iran’s ballistic missile program and support of Hezbollah

Officials in US Congress and figures working in the US administration called on Qatar to find a resolution between its allies on one hand and Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other.

:: The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed new sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile program, Bloomberg reported.

The 423-2 vote represented the first action from Congress against Iran since US President Donald Trump earlier this month refused to certify the country is complying with the terms of the nuclear pact.

The House passed two sanction bills on Wednesday, including one that imposes penalties on Iran for supporting Hezbollah.

President Trump previously called for a tougher stance from Congress that could include renegotiating or pulling out of the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known.

The legislation however does not give Trump what he requested: trigger points that would automatically re-impose the sanctions eased under the nuclear deal unless Iran meets a list of US demands, including to curb its ballistic missile program.

Iranian officials have said there is no room to renegotiate the nuclear deal. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran wouldn’t move first to abandon the nuclear deal but “will tear it to pieces” if the US violates its side of the agreement.

Congress in July passed a sanctions package to impose penalties on Iran, as well as Russia and North Korea.

The bill that passed on Thursday, H.R. 1698, would expand those Iran sanctions and require the administration to create an implementation plan.

Sanctions options

This bill also would impose additional sanctions on individuals or entities that help Iran develop ballistic missiles and other conventional weapons, but wouldn’t apply to any nuclear activity. Sanctions options include freezing US assets, denying entry into the US, barring imports and exports, restrictions from participating in federal contracts and imposing criminal or civil penalties.

One of the two bills passed on Wednesday, H.R. 3329, would require the administration to impose penalties on entities, including financial institutions and foreign government agencies, that support Hezbollah, considered by the US to be a terrorist organization.

According to the US State Department, Iran’s listing as a state sponsor of terrorism is based, in part, on its support of Hezbollah.

The other bill passed on Wednesday, H.R. 3342, would direct the president to impose economic sanctions on members of Hezbollah who have used human shields, and bar those individuals from entering the US The legislation spells out how the administration would be required to identify and punish militants that orchestrated the use of civilians as cover in armed conflicts.

Also Wednesday, a United Nations inspector said in a report that violations of human rights and oppression of dissidents, ethnic minorities and women in Iran “have continued in many areas and on a wide scale,” despite the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani.

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