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Rubio, Cornyn, Sasse, Perdue Introduce Iran Terror-Free Skies Act

Feb 17, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the Iran Terror-Free Skies Act, legislation that would counter Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of international terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism, or for other illicit military purposes. The companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) last month. 

“As the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran continues to systematically use its commercial airlines to supply the murderous Assad regime in Syria as well as to Hezbollah and other foreign terrorist organizations,” said Rubio. “If America turns a blind eye to the Iranian terror regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and endanger the lives of innocents worldwide, we risk being complicit. This legislation ensures the United States takes decisive actions to stop Iran’s diversion of civilian aircraft in support of terrorism and militancy.”

“Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism threatens the safety of our homeland and our friends around the world,” said Cornyn. “The guise of Iran Air – and the supportive role it plays spreading terror – isn’t fooling anyone, and it’s time to act. I’m thankful for Senator Rubio’s leadership on this, and look forward to working with the White House to get it done.”

“This is a no-brainer: Of course we should be preventing Tehran from militarizing civilian aircraft to support terrorists; of course we should be stopping Iran from getting around sanctions; and of course the American people should demand that Washington get a clear-eyed understanding of how Iran is undermining stability in the Middle East and what must be done to stop them,” said Sasse. “I’m proud to work with Senators Rubio and Cornyn on legislation that meets these common-sense expectations.”

“Iran has been unwavering in its goal to drive up angst in a region that is already very volatile,” said Perdue. “The rogue nation’s use of commercial aircraft to supply terrorist groups and the Assad regime with weapons and skirt international sanctions is a direct threat to our interests and strategic allies. It’s time to call out this nefarious behavior and put a stop to it immediately.” 

The Iran Terror-Free Skies Act would require the Executive Branch to regularly report to Congress whether Iran Air and other Iranian commercial airlines:

  • Have used civilian aircraft for illicit military purposes, including to transport illicit cargo to or from Iran, such as military goods, weapons, military personnel, military-related electronic parts and mechanical equipment, or rocket or missile components; and
  • Have provided financial, material, or technological support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s armed forces, Syria’s Assad regime, or any foreign terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Kata’ib Hezbollah.

If the president determines that Iran Air or other Iranian commercial airlines have engaged in any of these illicit military activities after the Iran nuclear deal’s implementation day of January 16, 2016, the legislation would also require the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to impose new sanctions against these designated Iranian commercial airlines.