July 14, 2016

Manchin, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Legislation to Hold Iran Accountable

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-F.L.) today introduced the Countering Iranian Threats Act of 2016. The bipartisan bill expands sanctions for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, and other illicit Iranian actions; sanctions transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran; and extends the Iran Sanctions Act.

“We need to send a strong message to Iran that Congress is monitoring their activity and this commonsense, bipartisan legislation does just that,” Senator Manchin said. “This bill maintains sanctions pressure on the Iranian regime through 2026 to improve its record on human rights and curtail Iran’s acquisition of ballistic missiles, which Iran continues to pursue. These sanctions will also target the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an organization that supports terrorism throughout the Middle East.  Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of terror, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that this regime is not able to continue its deplorable terrorist actions.”

“As many anticipated, Iran continues to test the will of the United States and the international community, and it is very evident that we must push back against their regionally destabilizing activities,” said Senator Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who led the opposition in Congress to the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. “As part of a regional strategy, this bipartisan bill mandates tough sanctions for ballistic missile activity, terrorism, and other illicit behavior. It also reasserts the proper role of Congress, explicitly prohibiting a president from using sanctions relief in the future to implement an international agreement with Iran without Congressional approval. In the absence of resolve from the White House, and with strong support from members of both parties, I am hopeful Congress will act in the coming months to pass this robust legislation to counter Iranian aggression.”

"Over the course of the last year, we have engaged the Administration repeatedly about the need to address Iranian threats to our national interests and the interests of our friends and allies in the region and around the world,” said Senator Menendez. “Iran’s threats extend well beyond nuclear weapons ambitions.  Iran is a supporter of international terrorism, continues to develop its ballistic missile capabilities, actively seeks to destabilize friendly governments, has conducted cyberattacks against the United States and our allies, continues human rights abuses, and does so with impunity.  The United States must reserve the right to hold Iran accountable for its actions and that is exactly what this legislation will do, imposing stricter sanctions tied to the specific actions outside of the nuclear portfolio.  We must speak to Iran in the language they understand:  There will be consequences.”

“We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year.  I am pleased to support this bipartisan bill to address Iran’s ballistic missile activities, support for terrorism, violations of human rights, and cyber activities,” said Senator Rubio. “I call on all of Congress and the Obama Administration to support this bill and make clear to Iran that its nefarious activities that threaten the United States and our allies will not be allowed to continue without repercussions.”

The Countering Iranian Threats Act (CITA) of 2016 contains the following key provisions:

New Mandatory Ballistic Missile, Terrorism and Cyber Sanctions: Imposes mandatory sanctions on persons involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and those that transact with them; against members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and foreign persons that are officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC; and for any significant activities undermining cybersecurity by Iran. 

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.

Restrictions on Financial Transactions: Codifies the prohibition on “U-turn” transactions involving Iran. Also prohibits the use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to issue licenses to conduct offshore dollar-clearing with an Iranian financial institution.

Extension of the Iran Sanctions Act: Extends the Iran Sanctions Act to December 31, 2026.

Prohibition on International Agreements: Explicitly prohibits any president from using relief from sanctions imposed by this legislation to enter into any international agreement with Iran.

Regional Strategy: Directs the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence to submit to Congress every two years a joint, 10-year strategy to counter Iranian activities in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.