November 2, 2015 | Quote

What To Do About Iran

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported:

U.S. lawmakers, angered by the recent arrest of an Iranian-American, demanded Friday that the White House take a tougher line against Tehran and impose fresh sanctions on its elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The arrest of Siamak Namazi , a prominent oil executive and the fourth Iranian-American to be detained in Iran, emerged as the newest roadblock to President Barack Obama’s efforts to build on the nuclear accord world powers and Tehran reached in July and foster cooperation with Iran on regional issues, including ending Syria’s war.


There is certainly a strong argument that “targeted” pressure either against the bad actors involved or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is the very least the administration should do. Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has explained sanctioning the IRGC is entirely doable:

The easiest way would be for the U.S. administration to use Executive Order 13224, the same instrument that Treasury used in 2007 against the [Quds Force]. Executive Order 13224 “is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of terrorists and their supporters, and at isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems.” An IRGC designation under the order for its financial, military and logistical support of Syria’s regime would also lay the foundation for a blanket targeting of the Guard’s vast economic empire, the revenues of which help finance its military operations.

The secretary of State could also designate the IRGC as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (2011). As a foreign organization engaged in terrorist activity that threatens U.S. national security and the security of U.S. nationals, the IRGC fully qualifies. There are thus two pathways for the administration to target the IRGC and exact a price for its complicity with war crimes in Syria.

Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert at FDD, concurs that Congress needs to step up. “While the JCPOA lifts sanctions on Iran’s nuclear activities, it does not preclude the United States from using economic tools to address the full range of Iran’s illicit activities—despite statements from Iran that it will view any imposition of sanctions, nuclear or non-nuclear, as a violation of the deal,” he tells me. “Congress should act to defend the sanctions architecture established to address the full range of Iran’s illicit activities. Even within the confines of the JCPOA, there are significant ‘non-nuclear’ measures, including through the use of the tax code, that Congress should consider to prevent the enrichment of those in the Iranian regime who continue to engage in terrorism and other activities inimical to U.S. interests.” Specifically he recommends the U.S. act to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group and apply sanctions to additional IRGC entities and individuals and foreign companies that do business with the IRGC. He also recommends sanctioning the Supreme Leader’s financial empire for its use of funds from corruption to support terrorism and preventing tax breaks for companies doing business in Iran.

Read the full article here.  


Iran Iran Sanctions