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Senate targets Iran in sweeping measures

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By: Keyvan Salami

Despite its nature of acting mostly in a polarized manner, the US Senate witnessed Republicans and Democrats joining force to pass a bill of sweeping sanctions inflicting strong punishments against Iran involving a long slate of financial penalties.

The overwhelming 98-2 vote for the “The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017” came on Thursday June 15, sending a clearly strong message to Tehran signaling the bipartisan alliance on taking measures against the mullahs’ belligerence inside and abroad. Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for terrorist groups and human rights violations are in the crosshairs of this sanctions package.

This bipartisan vote will be demanding major action from the Trump administration, especially after lawmakers in a recent hearing called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

Tillerson has also upped the stakes recently in his remarks saying Washington will support a peaceful regime change in Iran, while emphasizing the overall Iran policy is under development.

The legislation, now headed to the House, provides more authority to Capitol Hill with a review mechanism blueprinted in the 2015 legislation initiated by Republicans. That bill was also approved by an overwhelming majority in the Senate, providing Congress a vote over whether then President Barack Obama was legally permitted to lift sanctions against Iran. That certain initiative reflected Congress complaints over Obama abusing his presidency power, stressing he is obligated and Congress evaluation was needed.

This new initiative follows two previous sanctions by the US Treasury Department earlier this year slapping measures against Iran and bringing an end to years of Obama’s destructive policy of neglect.

As emphasized by the lawmakers, this new set of sanctions will not impede the imposition of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the JCPOA.

The passing of this bill came at a time when John Kerry, Obama’s former top diplomat and a leading figure involved in the JCPOA, had took to Tweeter last month on the night before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee weighing and voting on the vote. Kerry was seen urging the lawmakers to reevaluate their decision to impose new Iran sanctions considering the then possibility of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reaching a second term.

This is the continuation of Obama’s appeasement legacy continuing to play into Iran’s hands. Such a policy has continuously been warned against by the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), unveiling time and again how Tehran has exploited such a wrong mentality in the West.

The IRGC has been the leading element in this regard, in control of the mullahs’ ballistic missile program, supporting terrorism and meddling in probably all countries across the Middle East, and resorting to human rights violations unspeakable of in the 21st century.

All ballistic missile tests are in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and to this day Iran has refused to acknowledge. The IRGC has also fueled horrendous wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, also ordering Iran’s proxy offspring, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to send its fighters for such purposes. The IRGC paramilitary Bassij units are one of the main elements of harassing and violating the rights of individuals inside Iran.

To this end, one very necessary measure advocated for years now by the Iranian opposition NCRI is for the United Nations, United States, European Union and Middle East to blacklist the IRGC, freeze all assets belonging to any and all of its entities, and prevent any business transactions with the IRGC.

The IRGC and the apparatus linked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now control a reported 40% of Iran’s economy. As a result, doing business with this regime will most likely lead to foreign countries unwantedly funding Tehran’s animosity and belligerent activities both inside its borders, across the Middle East and further beyond.

These are a number of the issues scheduled to the be discussed in the upcoming July 1st annual NCRI convention in Paris, famous for gathering over 100,000 Iranians from across the globe alongside hundreds of senior American, European and Middle East personalities supporting NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her 10-point plan for the future of Iran.

From Tehran’s point of view, these sanctions couldn’t have arrived at a worst timing.

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