On 15 June 2017, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted to adopt new sanctions against Iran. The new sanctions are framed in the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S.722). Text of S.722 can be found here.
The main theme of the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (CIDAA) is to expand existing U.S. Iran sanctions on any non-U.S. parties:
- that conduct business with any entity already blacklisted by the U.S. Government linked to Tehran’s ballistic missile program;
- that supply arms to Iran;
- Iranian human rights violators;
Further, the CIDAA also requires the imposition of sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – regarding it’s involvement in terrorism and other activities already subject to U.S. sanctions.
Finally, the CIDAA also requires the Administration to provide:
- a comprehensive strategy for deterring what the U.S. considers Iran’s destabilizing activities against the U.S. and it’s allies in the Middle East and North Africa
- reports on sanctions coordination between the U.S. and the EU on U.S. citizens detained in Iran.
Unsurprisingly, Iran has denounced the CIDAA as a violation of the JCPOA.
In a technical sense, this might not be the case, given that Iran’s missile program is not part of the JCPOA; and that the U.S. only committed itself not to impose secondary-sanctions on non-U.S. companies owned or controlled by U.S. persons which honor the JCPOA. Thus, such parties violating the JCPOA or non-U.S. foreign parties supplying weapons to Iran, can be sanctioned.
However, from a symbolic perspective, it’s not the best signal to send to Iran. Firstly, the timing of the Senate’s vote on CIDAA can be considered misplaced given that Iran was a victim of international terrorism. In this context, whatever we think about Iran, it demonstrates that all countries face the threat of terrorism. Secondly, it again signals confusion by the Trump Administration – which despite the pledge of President Trump to rip-open the JCPOA – it has not done so. On the contrary, it has certified that Iran is complying with the JCPOA. This in turn reinforces the uncertainty to engage in business with Iran for private companies.
To be continued.