A number of US lawmakers warned the administration of President Joe Biden against lifting sanctions imposed on Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi, in any way, given his involvement in human rights violations.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz described Raisi as a “monster and tyrant,” calling on Biden to impose additional sanctions on him under the Magnitsky Human Rights Act.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Cruz indicated that “Raisi was one of 4 judges on the death committees in 1988 responsible for the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners,” adding that he served as a prosecutor and other judiciary positions which he used repeatedly and systematically to prosecute Iranian dissidents.

Cruz also called for imposing Magnitsky sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on charges of corruption and human rights violations.

“Both Khamenei and Raisi richly deserve to be sanctioned under Magnitsky for corruption and human rights abuses.”

“Khamenei has used corruption, violence, and confiscation to amass a conglomerate of approximately $200 billion stolen from the Iranian people,” Cruz added.

The US Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in 2012, which was named after the Russian dissident Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009.

The law initially sought to hold the Russian regime accountable for its human rights abuses, Congress amended it in 2016 and expanded its scope to give the US president the power to impose sanctions on human rights violators around the world.

Cruz’s remarks were met with rare unanimity in Congress, with the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, joining his Republican colleague in calls for maintaining sanctions on the Iranian president not to be lifted, citing his massive human rights violations.

However, the US administration’s assertion that it will continue its policy of holding human rights violators accountable did not succeed in reassuring the lawmakers who question the White House moves, especially in light of the Vienna negotiations.

Both Menendez and Republican Senator Pat Toomey threatened to block the approval of candidates for senior positions at the US Treasury if the administration did not pledge to immediately implement sanctions on Iran and China.

Toomey expressed his concern about lifting terrorism-related sanctions on Iran as part of concessions that the administration might make.

He also emphasized the need for the need for “strong leaders who will stand up to the White House or State Department when they advance policies that undermine America’s national security.”

“For instance, the administration’s Iran policy is extremely concerning. Let me be clear: There are Republicans, including myself, that would work with the administration on a nuclear deal with Iran—but not the JCPOA. We have reached out to the Administration on this—only to be met with silence.”

For his part, Menendez asked the US Treasury to provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for not imposing sanctions on China for importing more than 600,000 barrels of Iranian oil.

“China is fully violating our sanctions,” Menendez told a hearing attended by Biden’s two Treasury nominees, Brian Nelson and Elizabeth Rosenberg.

“When we send a global message that it is okay to go ahead and violate the US sanctions, then every other country will. […] It is not acceptable, not to mention it violates congressional will.”

Menendez warned that if the candidates did not commit to imposing these sanctions, he will not support their candidacy.

Biden nominated Brian Nelson for the position of US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes and Elizabeth Rosenberg for US Treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing.

If approved, the two will have the power to push for lifting sanctions.

Source » trackpersia