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Bryan, TX – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul sent a letter to President Biden underscoring the need to take urgent and decisive action to combat Iranian weapons proliferation, particularly in light of reports that Iran intends to increase its support for Moscow’s illegal war against Ukraine through the provision of ballistic missiles.

“Iran’s proliferation of weapons to its proxies and partners remains a serious challenge for U.S. national security, as well as that of our allies and partners,” Rep. McCaul wrote. “As Iran seeks to deepen its support for Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine, I urge you to take immediate action to combat and deter the proliferation of Iran’s conventional and non-conventional weapons, including through the use of sanctions and enforcement of U.S. export controls.” 

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear President Biden,

Iran’s proliferation of weapons to its proxies and partners remains a serious challenge for U.S. national security, as well as that of our allies and partners. As Iran seeks to deepen its support for Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine, I urge you to take immediate action to combat and deter the proliferation of Iran’s conventional and non-conventional weapons, including through the use of sanctions and enforcement of U.S. export controls.

Since Russia launched its illegal war of aggression, Iran has transferred hundreds of lethal Mohajer-6 and Shahed-136 drones, as well as related technology and military advisors, to Russia as it seeks to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Iranian weapons have not only helped fuel Russian war crimes against innocent Ukrainian civilians, but also offset critical Russian munitions supply shortfalls. Reports now indicate that Iran is preparing to step up its support to Moscow, including through the provision of Fateh-100 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles. This would represent a serious and dangerous escalation with respect to Iran’s complicity in Russia’s illegal war and threaten to stall Ukrainian successes just as the Kremlin appears to be at a breaking point.

I am alarmed that despite our commitment to prevent and prohibit Iranian weapons proliferation, as reaffirmed in my Stop Iranian Drones Act, your administration has thus far failed to make full use of its authorities to deter, degrade, and prohibit Iranian arms transfers. This includes those provided under Executive Order (E.O.) 13949, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to the Conventional Arms Activities of Iran”. E.O. 13949 permits the broad application of sanctions against individuals who have engaged, or attempted to engage, in the manufacture, acquisition, possession, development, transport, transfer, or use of military items to and from Iran, and should accordingly play an important role in any counterproliferation strategy.

Given the threat Iranian weapons pose to Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as global security more broadly, I urge your administration to treat this matter with the severity and urgency it merits. In this respect, it is also notable that your administration has failed to take sufficient action to curb the transfer of Iranian drones and related technology to the Ethiopian government, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Nicolás Maduro, as well as a host of malign terrorist proxies, despite repeated promises to hold parties to account.

To counter the persistent threat of Tehran’s military support and arms transfers to multiple countries and malign non-state proxy groups, it is imperative that your administration not only make full use of all sanctions authorities, including those provided under E.O. 13949, but also commit to fully enforcing U.S. export controls. To that end, I welcome the U.S. Commerce Department’s September listing of Boeing 747s operated by Mahan Air, Qeshm Fars Air, and Iran Air for violating U.S. export controls. However, I note with alarm that these same aircraft continue to operate freely in countries around the world, including countries in Europe, as they ferry weapons and restricted technology to Russia, Ethiopia, Syria and elsewhere. I urge your administration to appeal to these countries to join the U.S. in imposing sanctions on these aircraft for contributing to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorism.

For sanctions to be used to their full effect, they must be proactive, forward-looking and integrated into a wider counterproliferation strategy designed to deter and prevent Iran’s malign activity, rather than simply be responsive to it. This requires a commitment to fully implementing and enforcing existing sanctions, in addition to continuing to issue new ones. Accordingly, there must be strong outreach to allies and partners, as well as third parties to include airports and aviation companies, on the irresponsibility of engaging with, or authorizing overflight for, air transport providers linked to sanctioned persons and entities, and the risk of exposure to U.S. sanctions should they continue to do so.

Iran’s material support for Russia’s war against Ukraine is a reminder of its 43-year history of supporting violence and terrorism across the world. Moving forward, I urge your administration to ramp up its economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran to prevent future conventional and unconventional weapons transfers by Iran to Russia and other regimes, as well as its proxies.

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