Republican Senators Introduce Bill To Sanction Iran's Khamenei, Raisi
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 16 other Republican Senators have introduced legislation on Thursday [July 15] to impose human rights sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the President-elect Ebrahim Raisi.
Congressional Republicans have pushed back against President Joe Biden’s policy of negotiating with Iran to revive the Obama-era nuclear agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Former president Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 accord saying it was inadequate and imposed heavy sanctions on Iran.
Senator Cruz said on his website that “The Biden administration has rushed to dismantle sanctions on the Iranian regime and is looking to remove what's left of American pressure. They have publicly committed to revoking Trump-era sanctions, including sanctions against Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran's President-elect.”
Reports in the past two weeks have said that the Trump-era sanctions on Khamenei and his close network is a sticking point in the Vienna talks that the Biden administration started in April. Iran demands sanctions to be lifted from top officials and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), for its support to groups designated as terrorist.
Sen. Cruze added, “They should both be subject to the full force of American sanctions. I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure we continue imposing critical sanctions to isolate the Iranian regime and block their malign activities."
It is not clear to what extent the Republican initiative can secure Democratic support. One ominous development this week can make the Republican case strong. On Tuesday [July 13] the Department of Justice indicted four men said to be Iranian intelligence agents for a plot to kidnap an American Iranian journalist and activist living in Brooklyn and take her back to Iran. The audacious plan on American soil has shocked many and has put the Biden Administration in an uncomfortable situation.
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the 16 Republican Senators supporting the measure said the Biden Administration should sanction “two of the world’s biggest human rights offenders”. He added, “Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and new President Ebrahim Raisi both have atrocious human rights records. They've presided over the executions of thousands of political prisoners and the mass arrests of journalists, lawyers and American citizens.”
Khamenei is the ultimate decision maker in Iran on all key issues, including decisions to use lethal force against protesters. He controls the military and all intelligence services and the judicial system.
His handpicked new president, Ebrahim Raisi has spent most of his life in the country’s notorious Judiciary, where prosecutors and judges work under one umbrella and easily convict dissidents without due process of law. The new president is accused by international human rights organizations of having played a key role in the killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also criticized Biden’s policy of negotiating with Iran and possibly lifting sanctions. "Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Instead of addressing the threats it poses President Biden is crawling back to the negotiating table and lifting sanctions to appease the Iranian regime.”