WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation Thursday to sanction Russia and Iran for their destabilizing activities worldwide. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote much of the comprehensive package and worked as a chief negotiator to help his colleagues reach bipartisan consensus on the path to final passage today.
“Iran and Russia need to see more than rhetoric from the United States. The action the Senate has taken today sends a clear message to Moscow and Tehran that there will be economic, diplomatic and material consequences for their aggression toward U.S. interests, values and allies,” Senator Cardin said. “I am pleased to have worked so closely with Senate leadership and my colleagues to craft a strong package of measures to hold Iran and Russia accountable.
“I look forward to House passage and President Trump’s signature on this legislation,” Cardin continued.
The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 contains the following key provisions:
- Mandatory Ballistic Missile Sanctions: Imposes mandatory sanctions on persons involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and those that transact with them.
- Terrorism Sanctions: Applies terrorism sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC.
- Enforcement of Arms Embargo: Requires the president to block the property of any person or entity involved in specific activities related to the supply, sale, or transfer of prohibited arms and related material to or from Iran.
The Russia sanctions amendment would:
- Provide for congressional review if sanctions are relaxed, suspended or terminated.
- Codify and strengthen existing sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia, including the sanctions’ impact on certain Russian energy projects and on debt financing in key economic sectors.
- Impose new sanctions on: corrupt Russian actors; those seeking to evade sanctions; those involved in serious human rights abuses; those supplying weapons to the Assad regime; those conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government; those involved in corrupt privatization of state-owned assets; and those doing business with the Russian intelligence and defense sectors.
- Allow broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.
- Authorize robust assistance to strengthen democratic institutions and counter disinformation across Central and Eastern European countries that are vulnerable to Russian aggression and interference.
- Require a study on the flow of illicit finance involving Russia and a formal assessment of U.S. economic exposure to Russian state-owned entities.
Cardin also wrote a provision included in the amendment that would prevent the Trump Administration from returning the compound on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Russia without first seeking Congressional review. The Russians were accused of using the facility for spying purposes when it was shuttered by the U.S. government late last year.
The Russia sanctions amendment is based on various legislation written by Senator Cardin:
- Codifying existing sanctions and mandating the levying of additional sanctions on Russia for its destabilizing actions in Syria, Ukraine, the United States, and elsewhere (derived from S. 94, The Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017.(Cardin-McCain.))
- Countering Russian cyberattacks and propaganda by bolstering democratic and information infrastructure in Eastern Europe (derived from the Cardin-Coons bill S. 1221, Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017, that passed SFRC on May 25th).
- Requiring the Administration to seek Congressional review before it lifts current sanctions on Russia (derived from S. 341, The Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017(Graham-Cardin)).