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US Senate Passes MAHSA Act, Other Iran Sanctions Bills

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The US Senate on Tuesday night unanimously passed a foreign aid package which includes several Iran-related sanctions bills especially the MAHSA Act which targets Iran’s Supreme Leader.

During the voting session on Tuesday night, 79 senators voted for the landmark $95-billion aid package for Israel and Ukraine, which also includes Iran-related sanctions bills.

Eighteen senators voted against the bill, but it was finally passed by the Senate and now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature before it can be implemented.

Immediately after the Senate’s adoption of the bill, Joe Biden said he will sign the bill passed by the Senate into law on Wednesday.

“Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history’s call at this critical inflection point. Congress has passed my legislation to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the power of American leadership: we stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression,” he said.

During an unusual Saturday session, the US House of Representatives had passed the $95 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel, which also incorporated three bills targeting the Iranian government.

The main bill targeting the regime, dubbed the MAHSA Act, was introduced after nationwide protests rocked Iran in 2022-2023. The unrest began after a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died in hijab police custody in September 2022. During the protests, regime forces killed around 550 protesters, injured hundreds and arrested over 22,000 people.

The Mahsa Amini Human rights and Security Accountability Act, or simply the MAHSA Act, will see the imposition of sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader’s office, its appointees and anyone affiliated with the office and its work. It is a huge nod to the impact that the 22-year-old’s death has had globally since September 2022.

Iranian-American activists campaigned persistently for the past year, as the Senate Democrats delayed putting the measure to a vote, while it had overwhelmingly passed the House. Earlier this month. A watered-down versions of the bill finally passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before the original version of the Act has been incorporated into the larger aid package and is expected to pass the Senate.

The Mahsa Act requires the US government to impose applicable sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, his Office and his appointees, Iran’s president and a number of entities affiliated with Khamenei.

The bill also requires the US President to report to Congress every year whether those officials should remain under existing sanctions, making it much harder for the current and future administrations to unilaterally lift the sanctions.

Another bill incorporated into the legislative package on Saturday is Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act or the SHIP Act, which targets Tehran’s illicit oil exports in defiance of US sanctions.

This bill requires the President to impose visa- and property-blocking sanctions against foreign persons that knowingly transport, process, refine, or otherwise deal in petroleum and petroleum products (including petrochemicals) originating in Iran.