Senate GOP pushes for new Iran sanctions

Greg Nash
Senate Republicans are pushing to impose new sanctions on Iran for a string of ballistic missile tests.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced legislation Thursday the would impose sanctions on individuals who helped Iran’s missile program or are tied to sectors of the economy that support the program and entities that own 25 percent or more of the missile program. 
{mosads}It would also require President Obama to certify that any individuals named in United Nations Security Council resolutions aren’t tied to the ballistic missile program and require the administration to impose sanctions if he can’t make that guarantee to Congress. 
Ayotte’s legislation is supported by nearly a dozen Republican senators so far, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), who is running for president. 
The legislation comes after Republican senators, and some Democrats, pressed the administration to impose new sanctions against Iran after it tested ballistic missiles twice earlier this month. 
Republicans argue that not responding forcefully to the tests sends the message that Iran will be able to get away with cheating on a separate nuclear agreement. 
The administration announced new sanctions against approximately a dozen individuals tied to the missile program earlier this year, in response to a test last year. 
Ayotte, speaking with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), dismissed the action as “just pathetic” and warned at the time that she would introduce new legislation. 
“I have repeatedly called on the administration to impose tough sanctions against Iran for its illicit and dangerous ballistic missile activities. That administration has failed to do so,” she added Thursday. 
McConnell said last year that any Iran legislation would need the support of 67 senators —enough to overcome a potential veto — before he would allow it to come up on the floor. While Ayotte has voiced optimism that she will be able to get enough support, talk of new ballistic missile sanctions has divided Democrats. 
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), however, told reporters that Democrats would get on board. He noted that he’s talking with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, about new sanctions legislation. That proposal could be wrapped together with an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act and ongoing negotiations about security aid for Israel. 
Ayotte’s legislation also includes an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, currently set to expire at the end of the year, through 2031. 
Republicans, lead by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), also introduced separate legislation Thursday over Iran’s support for terrorism and human rights abuses. 
Tags Ben Cardin Bob Corker John McCain Kelly Ayotte Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mark Kirk Mitch McConnell Ted Cruz
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