A U.S. congressional panel on Tuesday approved a Russia-sanctions bill with language that may lead to tightened penalties against Iran’s supporters.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation by voice vote that would aim to punish Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, in part by tightening enforcement of a 2005 law targeting suspected proliferators to Iran, North Korea and Syria. The 2005 measure authorizes Obama to penalize foreign individuals and groups suspected of supplying any of the three nations with sensitive materials covered by one of several export-control regimes.
“Russian companies have been sanctioned in the past for proliferation to Syria and Iran,” but the State Department “has been delinquent in implementing” the 2005 legislation, says a committee summary of the bill passed on Tuesday.
The Ukraine Support Act draft would give President Obama 30 days to develop “a plan to fully implement the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, including sanctions against Russian companies,” according to the report on the bill, introduced by panel Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
A House Foreign Relations Committee spokesman did not respond to requests for details on the bill’s intended targets. But the legislation text specifically identifies Rosoboronexport, a sanctioned Russian firm accused of supplying Iran with possible components for its missile program.
Congressional efforts to ramp up Iran sanctions have taken on particular sensitivity amid multilateral negotiations on the Middle Eastern nation’s nuclear program. The United States and five other governments are seeking to address fears that Tehran’s nuclear program is geared toward arms development, and Iran has threatened to pull out of discussions in response to new sanctions in coming months.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee decided earlier in March against including a separate Iran-sanctions proposal in a Ukraine aid bill it was considering.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."