After several months of negotiations in the Committee on Foreign Relations, the full Senate on June 15, 2017 considered and passed a bipartisan bill by a vote of 98-2 seeking to hold both Iran and Russia accountable for their recent destabilizing activities in world affairs. S. 722 at Title I contains the Iran component of the legislation and was authored by Senators Corker (R-Tenn.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Rubio (R-Fla.), Cardin (D-Md.), Cotton (R-Ark.) and Casey (D-Pa.). It expands sanctions on Iran for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, transfers of conventional weapons and human rights violations. The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 contains the following key provisions:
- New mandatory ballistic missile sanctions: imposes mandatory sanctions on persons involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and those that transact with them.
- New terrorism sanctions: applies terrorism sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and codifies individuals who are currently sanctioned due to Iranian support for terrorism.
- Enforcement of arms embargo: requires the president to block the property of any person or entity involved in specific activities related to the supply, sale, or transfer of prohibited arms and related material to or from Iran.
The text of Title II of S. 722 maintains and substantially expands sanctions against the government of Russia in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria. This portion of the bill will:
- Provide for a mandated congressional review if sanctions are relaxed, suspended or terminated.
- Codify and strengthen existing sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia, including the sanctions’ impact on certain Russian energy projects and on debt financing in key economic sectors.
- Impose new sanctions on: corrupt Russian actors; those seeking to evade sanctions; those involved in serious human rights abuses; those supplying weapons to the Assad regime; those conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government; those involved in corrupt privatization of state-owned assets; and those doing business with the Russian intelligence and defense sectors.
- Allow broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.
- Require a study on the flow of illicit finance involving Russia and a formal assessment of U.S. economic exposure to Russian state-owned entities.
S. 722 will shortly cross over to the House of Representatives, where it will be assigned to the appropriate committee(s) for consideration. As such, this legislation, while significant, is not yet a law.