Senate

Republicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq

Republicans are pressing the State Department to back an arms embargo on Iran amid strikes on coalition forces in Iraq that are believed to be from militias with ties to Tehran. 

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.) urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week to work with U.S. allies to impose the embargo, noting that a similar ban from the United Nations implemented in 2016 expired in October. 

"We must impose a meaningful and effective arms embargo, complete with secondary sanctions, to prevent countries and businesses from selling weapons and arms to Iran as well as preventing Iran from selling its weapons abroad," they wrote. "We are increasingly concerned with Iran's illicit and destabilizing activities around the globe.

"Iran is not only a threat to U.S. security, but also to our allies and partners. Unless we act, Iran will continue bolster extremist groups and militias throughout the Middle East."

The letter comes amid an escalating situation in the Middle East. Iran-backed militias have launched several rocket attacks on U.S.-led coalition troops, most recently Wednesday when at least 10 rockets struck Al Asad air base in Iraq's Anbar province. A U.S. contractor suffering a fatal heart attack during the bombardment.

The move followed President Biden last week ordering a strike on a militia in Syria that is suspected of having attacked U.S. troops.

The back-and-forth comes as the Biden administration looks to rekindle diplomatic talks with Iran in the hopes of hammering out a new deal to curtail Tehran's nuclear program. Democrats have been supportive of the efforts, though Republicans have pressed Biden to take a tougher stance against Iran.

"Iran has made it clear that they are a threat to our nation, our allies, partners, and the entire global community," wrote Ernst and Hagerty. "As we face ever increasing challenges with Iran attempting to build nuclear weapons, terrorize its neighbors, and expand its influence across the Middle East, we must prevent Iran from further threatening the international community."

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