Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017

March 23, 2017
June 15, 2017
Passed in Senate

Among a series of bills introduced around the time of the American Israel Public Affairs Comm.’s (AIPAC) annual conference, this bill would strengthen and expand sanctions on Russia and Iran with respect to the latter’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses, and acquisition of other specified military equipment.

Regarding Iran, it would require the president to impose new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, affiliated persons, and any person that either contributes to Iran’s ballistic missile or nuclear weapons programs, or the provision of specified military equipment or assistance to Iran. The president would also be authorized to impose sanctions on persons deemed responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations in Iran. Under certain conditions, the president would be permitted to waive these sanctions on a case-by-case basis in the name of national security.

In terms of new oversight procedures, the president would be required to report to Congress any information related to U.S. citizens being detained by Iran, U.S. coordination with the EU on sanctions, persons contributing to Iran’s ballistic missiles program, and any use of his abovementioned waiver authority. Furthermore, the State Dept., Treasury, and director of national intelligence would be required to submit to Congress every 2 years a strategy for deterring any Iranian activities that threaten the U.S. or its key allies, including Israel.

During the Senate’s consideration of the bill during the week of 6/12, 33 amendments were offered, including 2 containing the full text of anti-BDS bills S. 720 of 3/23 and S. 170 of 1/17/17. Only the following 4 were adopted:

S.A. 232, submitted by Mike Crapo (R-ID), 17 cosponsors.

This amendment would codify and strengthen 6 of Pres. Obama’s executive orders imposing sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian cyber activities and impose new congressional oversight procedures to deter the president from suspending or terminating sanctions on Russia, inter alia.

S.A. 255, submitted by Bob Corker (R-TN), no cosponsors.

This amendment altered the bill’s title. It was previously dubbed “Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.”

S.A. 250, submitted by Cory Gardner (R-CO), 10 sponsors.

This amendment would make an exception on the new sanctions against Russia for NASA, allowing U.S. missions to space to continue uninterrupted.

S.A. 240, submitted by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), 33 cosponsors.

This amendment conveyed the sense of the Senate that Article 5 of the NATO charter “continues to serve as a critical deterrent to potential hostile nations and terrorist organizations.” Article 5 states the principle of collective defense: “An armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

After the Senate passed this bill, it got bogged down by procedural delays in the House. Its backers then included the full text of the bill in a new, broader sanctions bill (see *H.R. 3364 of 7/24/17), which passed into law on 8/2/17.

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