Vow to uphold missile plan despite US bans

Financial Tribune – Lawmakers reiterated Iran’s stance that it will not compromise on its defense capability in the face of hostile US moves, including a bill moving through the US Congress that would toughen sanctions over Tehran’s missile development.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran proved during the 22 months of nuclear negotiations that it favors reasoning and negotiations, but it does not mean that we should not be equipped with modern weapons for deterrence because by boosting our defense capabilities, we can fend off military threats to the country,” lawmaker Hamid Reza Fouladgar told ICANA on Friday.

The negotiations with major powers led to a nuclear deal in July 2015 that took effect six months later to curb Iran’s nuclear work in return for the removal of international sanctions.

The congressional measure cleared the senate two weeks ago with 98 votes, an overwhelming margin that suggested the bill would speed quickly through the House of Representatives and to US President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

But it hit headwinds almost immediately.

House Republican leaders said the bill ran afoul of a constitutional requirement that legislation involving revenue should start in the house, AP reported.

The senate on Thursday fixed the bill. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said changes have been made to the legislation, a step the senate approved by voice vote and the next move is the house’s to make.

“We’ve done what we need to do,” Corker said. “The ball’s in their court.”

Technical changes that had stalled the bill in the house came as Republicans dismissed Democratic complaints that the delay was at the behest of the Trump administration and intended to weaken the legislation.

The bill would impose mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

It would apply terrorism sanctions to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and enforce an arms embargo.

About two weeks ago, IRGC targeted the positions of the self-styled Islamic State terrorists in the Syrian province of Deir al Zour with six indigenous ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, in retaliation for the June 7 deadly twin attacks in Tehran claimed by the IS.

“The US Congress’s new sanctions on IRGC are a reaction to Iran’s missile strike on IS bases, which delivered a hard slap on the face of the Americans,” lawmaker Shahrouz Barzegar said.

The long-awaited house vote, however, will not come until after Trump meets next week for the first time as president with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The fresh anti-Iran sanctions come as part of a package that also includes additional penalties on Russia over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for its actions in Ukraine and its role in the Syria war.

Iran and Russia are staunch allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against western-backed militant groups seeking his ouster.