On 25 May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 18-3 to pass S. 722, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (CIDA Act). If enacted, the CIDA Act would create new sanctions against Iran with respect to ballistic missiles and the sale of prohibited arms.
The sanctions measures in the CIDA Act are ostensibly mandatory, but the Executive Branch would retain broad discretion in making necessary determinations to trigger the sanctions. The bill would authorise discretionary sanctions for abuses of human rights, although these are largely duplicative of those already authorized under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The bill would also direct the President to impose terrorist-related sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a provision similar to a proposal being considered by the Trump Administration to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organisation. Such terrorism-related designations would have limited legal and practical effects, and are reportedly opposed by US defence and intelligence officials. The bill also contains exceptions to the authorised sanctions, including for certain humanitarian purposes, and a national security waiver provision allowing the President to waive the imposition of sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to economic sanctions, the CIDA Act contains various investigation and reporting provisions. The Act calls on the Secretaries of State, Defense and the Treasury, as well as the Director of National Intelligence, to develop a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities that directly threaten the US and its allies. It would also require reports from the Executive Branch on (1) the level of coordination between the US and the European Union on their respective sanctions programmes, and (2) US citizens currently detained by Iran or groups supported by the country.