KENNEDY INTROS BIPARTISAN BILL TO COMBAT IRANIAN WEAPONS TRAFFICKING
Washington, D.C. – In the wake of multiple seizures of Iranian weapons shipments by the United States and international community, Congressman Joe Kennedy III has introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat this illegal arms trafficking. The Interdictions Assistance Act would authorize the United States to provide assistance to foreign governments that offer logistical or military support in interdicting arms shipments from Iran. Kennedy also introduced a version of the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is scheduled to be considered by the full House of Representatives next week.
Since the beginning of 2016, three shipments of Iranian arms bound for insurgents in Yemen have been seized in the Arabian Sea by the United States, France and Australia. Such shipments are in violation of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution which restricts the transfer of arms from Iran except in cases pre-approved by the UNSC. The resolution was adopted in advance of last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to help hold Iran accountable for violations of international law outside the nuclear agreement.
“Limiting Iran’s ability to incite violence and inflame conflicts in their region requires a coordinated international response,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “By supporting foreign governments that help disrupt illegal arms shipments, the Interdictions Assistance Act will help handicap Iran’s destabilizing actions. Whether weapons shipments or ballistic missile tests, we must remain vigilant in holding Iran accountable for violations of international law outside the bounds of the Iran Nuclear Deal.”
The Interdictions Assistance Act was introduced with Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY), Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA), and Congressman Brad Ashford (D-NE) as original co-sponsors. All four original co-sponsors serve on the Armed Services Committee where the legislation will be referred.
“International agreements are only as good as the ability of states to enforce them,” said Congressman John Garamendi. “The UN Security Council calls on the entire international community to enforce resolutions, but often states don’t have the resources to act effectively. That’s why I am proud to join Congressman Kennedy in introducing the Interdictions Assistance Act. This bill will authorize our military to provide assistance to other countries to seize shipments of weapons, supplies, and technology that assist Hezbollah or violate our nuclear agreement with Iran. I’m proud to support legislation that will help hold Iran accountable, build the capacity of the international community to enforce sanctions, and protect our regional allies and partners against terror.”
“It is imperative that our allies and partner nations join the United States in ensuring that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not proliferating domestic arms and benefiting from international arms sales banned by international law,” said Congressman Chris Gibson. “In recent years, the United States and other nations have already found and interdicted millions of dollars in illegal arms going to and from Iran, yet there is evidence that there is significantly more of this type of trade occurring. I appreciated Representative Kennedy’s leadership on this bill and look forward to it becoming law.”
"Maintaining stability and supporting our allies in the Middle East requires a tough, smart approach to cracking down on Iran's sponsorship of terror and development and sale of conventional weapons,” said Congressman Scott Peters. “This proposal will help us engage with our allies to keep Iran from trafficking weapons to terrorist groups in the region and develop advanced technologies to protect against possible missile attacks."
“It has become clear that we can do more to assist our allies in curbing illegal arms sales,” said Congressman Brad Ashford. “By giving the Defense Department the tools they need to aid in seizing these shipments before they reach their targets, we are protecting our allies and Americans around the world. This commonsense proposal sends a strong message to our allies that we will stand by them to fight against radical terrorism and not tolerate violations to international agreements. I applaud Representative Kennedy for his leadership and I am proud to cosponsor this legislation.”
Earlier this year, Congressman Kennedy introduced the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Terror Act that would allow for expedited consideration of Congressional sanctions against Iran for violations of international law related to ballistic missile development and acts of terror. He also joined Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) in introducing the Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act that would impose sanctions on the transfer of ballistic missiles to or from Iran. Both pieces of legislation followed a letter he sent with Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) urging President Obama to respond to Iran’s illegal ballistic missile launches in October and November 2015.