US lawmakers are pushing for stricter enforcement of Iran’s oil sanctions, adding to the growing pressure on the Biden administration following a deadly attack on a US base in Jordan.
In a letter addressed to the President, more than 60 House members from both parties are calling for “immediate action” to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining “additional financial resources that it can use to continue supporting terrorism.”
Iran’s oil revenue has significantly increased in the past year or two, partially due to the Biden administration’s more lenient approach compared to Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.
Earlier this year, there were reports that the administration had reduced enforcement efforts against Iranian oil shipments as part of negotiations with Iran. The representatives are now urging the reversal of this policy.
The Republican-led House has been advocating for a tougher stance against Iran since the Biden administration initiated back-channel talks with the regime three years ago to pursue another nuclear agreement. Several bipartisan initiatives have passed the House on this issue, but none have been successful.
However, the dynamic shifted against Biden after Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7. In the three months following the Israeli response to Gaza, armed groups supported and trained by Iran’s IRGC conducted over 150 attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, exposing the failure of Biden’s Iran policy.
Last week, before the killing of US troops, reports indicated that the Biden administration was in discussions with European countries to increase sanctions on Iran in response to its destabilizing activities in the Middle East, particularly its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
This was perhaps the first clear indication that the administration was contemplating a shift in its Iran policy. The recent drone strike may have made this shift inevitable. The loss of American lives has put immense pressure on Biden to take action against Iran, and it has emboldened both Republican and Democrat critics to push for a policy change.
The House letter to President Biden emphasizes the need to crack down on Iran’s expanding and lucrative illicit oil trade, which provides crucial funding for Hamas and other terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah.
While President Biden holds Iran responsible for supplying weapons to those who carried out the attack on American soldiers, he has not revealed the specific course of action. However, experts speculate on potential targets, which could include IRGC personnel and facilities outside Iran. Still, it is unlikely to involve military action within Iran itself, as the Biden administration seeks to avoid war with the country.
Targeting Iran’s financial resources, particularly its oil trade, appears to be a more feasible and effective strategy in influencing its behavior. The House representatives are calling on the administration to take swift action to halt Iran’s illicit oil trade, which sustains and expands Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups seeking Israel’s destruction.