Iranian Arash suicide drones on display. Undated

US Lawmakers Propose Bipartisan Bill To Stop Iran's Drones

Wednesday, 12/01/2021

A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives presented a bill Tuesday to restrict proliferation of Iran's military drone.

The lawmakers behind the proposed legislation, the Stop Iranian Drones Act (SIDA), say it clarifies that US sanctions on Iran’s conventional weapons program under CAATSA (The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) include the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of drones.

The draft legislation was presented to the House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) Tuesday.

Iran’s military drone program has expanded in recent years and UAV’s have been more frequently used in attacks in recent months both on land and at sea.

The legislation also states that it is US policy to "prevent Iran and Iranian-aligned groups from acquiring unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones)" that can be used in attacks against the United States or its partners and stipulates that those who cooperate with Iran in the field of drone activities should be punished.

“Deadly drones in the hands of the world’s greatest exporter of terrorism, Iran, jeopardizes the security of the United States and regional peace. Recent Iranian drone attacks on U.S. troops, commercial shipping vessels, and against regional partners, along with the export of drone technology to conflict zones, pose a dire threat,” Meeks said, adding that the legislation will send "a strong signal to the international community" that supporting the Iranian drone program will not be tolerated by the US.

"Whether the [drone] attack is launched by Iran, the Houthis, Iran-backed militia groups or any other Iran-sponsored entities, these attacks are intolerable,” McCaul, one of the two Republican lawmakers behind the proposed legislation said.

Admiral Mohammad Mousavi said earlier this month, after claiming a confrontation with the US navy in October, that Iran's drones some of which, including a suicide drone named Arash, were used in Zolfaghar 1400 wargames are capable of reaching even farther than its missiles which have a range of 2,000km.

"In fact, there is nothing such as iron domes to deter our drones. These drones can easily escape these [air defense systems] and hit their targets," Mousavi told Sobh-e No daily apparently in reference to Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

US and allied officials say that Iran's proxies and allies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon use Iranian-made drones against the US and its allied targets and argue that Iranian drones pose a threat to commercial navigation. Israel has also repeatedly warned about Iran's drone activities. Last week Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, accused Iran of carrying out drone attacks on maritime targets from bases in Chabahar port and Qeshm island.

Iran has widely been accused of attacking tankers in the Persian Gulf region since 2019 when several vessels were hit by what was described as limpet mines. Iranian naval forces have also seized tankers, most recently in late October, when they forced a Vietnamese-flagged tanker into Iranian waters. In January the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) seized a South Korean Tanker in the Persian Gulf.

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