US senators unveil bill to impose sanctions on Iran’s aviation

Press TV- Republican US senators have introduced legislation to impose fresh sanctions on Iran’s aviation sector, accusing Tehran of using civilian aircraft to support terrorism.

Senators Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Ben Sasse and David Perdue introduced the “Iran Terror-Free Skies Act,” legislation that would “counter Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of international terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism, or for other illicit military purposes,”according to a press release published on Rubio’s website on Friday.

“As the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran continues to systematically use its commercial airlines to supply the murderous Assad regime in Syria as well as to Hezbollah and other foreign terrorist organizations,” said Rubio.

“If America turns a blind eye to the Iranian terror regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and endanger the lives of innocents worldwide, we risk being complicit,” the Florida senator added.

The legislation would require the US government to regularly report to Congress if Iran uses civilian aircraft to transport weapons, troops and rocket or missile components.

The government would also have to report if Iranian commercial airlines provide financial, material, or technological support to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s armed forces, the Syrian government or organizations blacklisted by the US such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last month by Reps. Peter Roskam, Brad Sherman and Lee Zeldin.

An Airbus A321 bearing the logo of Iran Air is pictured on January 11, 2017 at the Airbus delivery center, in Colomiers southwestern France. (Photo by AFP)

Sanctions on Iran’s aviation sector were removed under a nuclear accord signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.

Since then, the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have on several occasions verified that Iran has complied with the provisions of the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of “supporting terrorism” and described the JCPOA as the “worst agreement” ever negotiated.

“We have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran who’s totally taken advantage of our previous administration,” Trump said Thursday during a press conference at the White House.

“And they’re the world’s top sponsor of terrorism and we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved,” he said.

During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House the day before, Trump accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and vowed to prevent Tehran from ever gaining such weapons.

The president also called Iran’s nuclear program a threat to Israel, which is widely believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.