National Security & Defense

Cruz Leads GOP Hawks in Calling for Harsher Sanctions Against Iran

Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas) in Dallas, September 21, 2018. ( Tom Fox/Reuters)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is leading a contingent of hawkish Republican senators in a campaign to drive President Trump toward a more aggressive approach to U.S.-Iran relations.

The Republican hawks plan to introduce legislation this month that would ramp up Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran by implementing further economic sanctions, Politico reported Friday.

The State Department is holding a call Friday morning to announce the latest round of sanctions, which national security adviser John Bolton believes are insufficient. Bolton reportedly dropped off the Friday morning call in protest.

Cruz is joined by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida in introducing legislation designed to sway the White House toward Bolton’s hawkish approach to relations with Iran. The bill will ensure that Iranian banks do not have access to the global banking network known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

President Trump has said repeatedly that the goal of the latest round of sanctions is to coerce Tehran into renegotiating the 2015 trade deal, but Republican hawks in Congress believe the administration has only taken half measures thus far.

“The administration’s maximum pressure campaign will not succeed if the Islamic Republic remains connected to SWIFT,” Cruz wrote in an August letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, co-signed by 15 other Republican Senators.

Trump’s more liberal critics, meanwhile, have argued that the commitment to sanctions will only harden Tehran’s position with respect to the 2015 deal, which is still adhered to by its European signatories.


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