Earlier this month, the US Senate voted in favour of new sanctions on Iran and Russia set out in the Countering Iran’s Destabilising Activities Bill (see previous blog). The US constitutional requirement that any bill that raises revenue for the government originates in the House delayed its passage, but the Senate has now sent a revised version to the House that resolves this issue. Because of the delay, the House will not vote on the bill until after the G20 summit on 7-9 July.
The bill mandates the imposition of sanctions against people and entities who materially contribute to Iran’s ballistic missile programme (the President currently has a discretion to impose those sanctions by executive order). This provision includes the imposition of secondary sanctions, which apply to non-US people and entities. It also authorises the President to impose asset freezes and travel bans for human rights violations in Iran, and asset freezes on people and entities associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps or anyone that knowingly contributes to the sale or transfer of arms or related services to Iran. In addition, it requires the President to account for any discrepancies between US and EU sanctions on Iran in a report to Congress every 180 days.
The bill would expand existing sanctions on Russian people involved in human rights abuses, impose sanctions on people conducting cyberattacks on behalf of the Russian government, supplying weapons to Syria’s government or who interfered in the 2016 US elections, and consolidate sanctions on Russia’s energy and financial sectors currently imposed by executive order. It would also restrict the US President’s ability to ease sanctions on Russia without Congressional approval.