House votes to impose non-nuclear sanctions on Iran

Greg Nash

The House passed legislation on Thursday to expand sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile development and support for Hezbollah, weeks after President Trump declined to certify that Tehran is complying with an international accord to curb its nuclear program.

The four measures targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and Hezbollah support all passed easily with bipartisan backing.

For now, GOP lawmakers aren’t moving to impose nuclear sanctions that were lifted as part of the Iran nuclear deal. Congress has 60 days to reimpose those sanctions since Trump’s announcement that he would not recertify the pact.


A bill authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) authorizes sanctions against Iranian government agencies involved in ballistic missile development, as well as any other foreign entities or individuals that provide resources for it. It passed 423-2.

“Iran has no business developing or acquiring intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Royce said during House floor debate.

Iran is one of three countries designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, in part because of its support of Hezbollah, an Islamist group based in Lebanon. Sudan and Syria are the other two countries currently deemed as state sponsors of terrorism.

The House passed two additional bills on Wednesday by voice vote to impose sanctions on individuals and foreign governments that provide financial, recruitment or arms support to Hezbollah or are responsible for using civilians as human shields.

Another measure, also passed by voice vote, would urge the European Union to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

While the sanctions regarding Iran’s use of ballistic missiles and support of Hezbollah drew bipartisan support, Democrats are sure to oppose any measure that threatens to undermine the nuclear deal.

Trump has threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal if Congress doesn’t act.

“It might be a total termination. That’s a very real possibility; some would say that’s a greater possibility. But it could also turn out to be very positive. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting last week.

Royce, meanwhile, has said that enforcing the Iran deal is a better alternative at this point than leaving it.

“As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it,” Royce said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this month before Trump declined to recertify Iran’s compliance.

Congress previously sent a bipartisan sanctions package to Trump in July that included new sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. The legislation approved on Thursday would expand upon those sanctions.

The House also passed legislation on Tuesday making it harder for North Korea to access the global financial system amid its nuclear provocations.

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