The spokesman of Iran’s Guardian Council has announced that the influential body has not finalized its assessment of a bill that the Iranian Parliament recently passed to counter U.S. actions in the Middle East. Abbas Ali Kadkhodai said the council studied parts of the bill – titled “Countering America’s Adventurous and Terrorist Actions in the Region” – but added that it has not finalized it because certain members still have reservations about parts of the plan. According to Kadkhodai, the council will report its assessment of the plan to the Parliament after the review process is completed.
The Guardian Council is a powerful body in Iran responsible for vetting legislation and overseeing election processes. Acting in some ways as the upper house of parliament, the 12-member council approves parliamentary bills and has the authority to reject them for inconsistency with the constitution or Islamic law. During every parliamentary and presidential election, the council disqualifies hundreds of candidates and approves only a handful to participate.
Comment: Last month, The Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee approved the “Countering America’s Adventurous and Terrorist Actions” bill in response to the latest U.S. sanctions. According to the text of the bill published by Iranian media, the legislation obliges the ministries of foreign affairs, defense and intelligence as well as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) and its elite Quds Force to work together to prepare a “comprehensive strategic plan” in coordination with the Supreme National Security Council to “counter the U.S. threats and subversive activities” against the Islamic Republic. The bill also requires relevant authorities to take actions against America’s “imperialistic, terrorist and divisive policies” and to report on the implementation of the plan to the parliament on an annual basis. According to the bill, the strategic plan, among other things, should cover the following:
- Summarize the strategic goals and short-term and long-term plans of the United States against Iran
- Identify countries that cooperate with the United States in achieving its goals
- Assess the U.S. military and intelligence capabilities and activities in the region
- Identify and report on U.S. “terrorist and hostile” activities in the region, including providing funding, weapons and training to “repressive” regional governments, particularly Israel
- Document U.S. human rights abuses
- U.S. assistance to terrorist and extremist groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State, al Qaeda and Mojahedin-e-Khalq
In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Quds Force are required to identify and prepare a list of U.S. individuals and entities that “support terrorism” in the region. The bill also obligates the government to allocate more than $300,000,000 to further upgrade the country’s missile capabilities and a similar amount to the Quds Force, which is responsible for the I.R.G.C.’s external operations, particularly in the conflict zones of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The bill came after President Donald Trump signed a congressional legislation that imposes additional sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. Hours after Trump signed the legislation, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that Tehran will take “appropriate and proportionate” retaliatory measures, including further empowering the I.R.G.C. and its elite Quds Force.