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The US House of Representatives is tightening the screws on Iran with a sanctions package in the foreign aid bill

Vaseline 1 month ago

On April 20, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a foreign aid package that included a significant tightening of sanctions against the Iranian regime. The bill, titled the “21st Century Peace Through Strength Act, (HR 8038),” passed by a vote of 360 to 58, showing strong bipartisan support for a more assertive stance toward the Iranian regime.

Extensive sanctions package

This legislation represents the most comprehensive set of sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime by the US Congress in recent years. It includes a number of key measures championed by Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Unveiling the package last week, McCaul emphasized the need for fundamental policy changes to counter the generational threat from the Iranian regime.

Main parts of the bill

  • Reintroduction of the “Mahsa Law”: The package includes the ‘Mahsa Law’, which imposes sanctions on Iranian regime officials responsible for human rights abuses. This provision, which originally passed the House in September 2023, was previously stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The law specifically targets senior regime officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi. In addition, it requires the U.S. government to submit regular reports detailing the human rights violations committed by these individuals and their associated entities.

  • Extensive oil sanctions: The bill significantly expands existing US sanctions against the Iranian regime’s oil exports. The “SHIP ACT” targets foreign entities – ports, ships and refineries – that knowingly facilitate the Iranian regime’s transportation, transfer, trade or processing of crude oil and other petroleum products. These sanctions go beyond primary restrictions, including “secondary sanctions” that penalize transactions involving Iranian oil purchases, even if they involve Chinese financial institutions.

  • A summary of the proposed sanctions legislation shows that about 80% of Iran’s daily oil exports, about 1.5 million barrels, go to independent Chinese refineries, often called “teapots.”
  • Duration and impact of sanctions: News outlets such as Reuters report that these sanctions will be reviewed annually and will remain in place until 2029. Experts expect the measures to further disrupt the Iranian regime’s oil exports. The Washington Post highlights the potential for imposing sanctions on Chinese companies involved in the Iranian regime’s oil imports, which have been a crucial source of revenue for that regime.

Next steps: Senate approval and implementation

The House-approved package now heads to the Senate for consideration. If passed and signed by US President Biden, these sanctions will become law, marking a significant escalation of US pressure on the Iranian regime. The potential economic impact on the Iranian regime remains the key point to watch in the coming weeks.