A double-emergency bill that seeks to retaliate US Senate’s new sanctions is hogging Iran’s parliamentary news scene. This is not the first time Majlis weighs such measures. Retaliation against Washington-imposed sanctions has been on the agenda for the parliament in the recent years as lawmakers have advocated a ‘bill versus bill’ approach. The approach was first adopted more than 10 years ago when the nuclear talks had become complicated, and facing hurdles in the international scene. However, if we are to find a turning point in the parliament’s retaliatory approach, we should look back at mid-2000s for the starting gun.
While retaliatory efforts give the message that the government is not acting passively against Washington’s punitive measures, the question remains that how precise and executable are suchbills that are submitted to the open session of the parliament as urgent and are passed unanimously, but fail to deliver when it comes to implementation.
Representatives against representatives
Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program moved to a new chapter after a substantial shift, i.e. opening of the door for direct talks between Iran and the United States of America. In parallel, sensitivities raised regarding the intensity of retaliatory measures time. Every decision in the Senate and Congress on Iran because the subject matter of new bills in Iran’s parliament. Majlis’ approach was justifiable indeed, knowing that retaliation is a principle of international relations, potentially capable of forcing an opponent to observe mutua respect.
So far, more than 10 retaliatory bills have been passed by the Iranian parliament, including:
Bill to Achieve Peaceful Nuclear Technology (2004): in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s decision demanding Iran to suspend its nuclear program for an unspecified period.
Bill to Counter US and UK Plots to Protect Iran’s Nuclear Accomplishments (July 2010): in response to Resolution 1929, aimed to restrict Iran’s access to peaceful nuclear energy, despite the Tehran Declaration.
Bill to Obligate the Administration to Pursue Compensation for Hostile US Measures (2016): following the freezing of $2b of Iran’s assets by the decision of a US court, demanding compensation for all material and spiritual detriments including the 1953 coup d’état against Mohammad Mosaddeq, the Nojet coup, the Iraqi-imposed war and the martyrdom of over 223 thousand Iranians, as well as over 600000 wounded in war and prisoners of war.
The bill also calls for compensation for all material and spiritual detriments over 17000 individuals killed in terrorist operations, strikes on Iran’s oil rigs during the later stage of war with Iraq, and espionage against Iran by the US or with the country’s sponsorship and involvement. The legislation also sought compensation for freezing, confiscation, or seizure of the Islamic Republic’s assets, and public and/or governmental institutions or officials as well as hostile measures by Israel, supported by the US.
Bill to Promote ‘Revolutionary Diplomacy’ in order to Boost Foreign Ministry’s Powers (2016): the single emergency bill was not approved, returning to the parliament’s normal agenda. As Kazem Jalali told media, the bill was proposed in response to the United States, who was working on several bills against Iran and in its pursuit of Iranophobia, trying to affect the post-nuclear deal atmosphere and pushing Iran to regret the nuclear deal (JCPOA).
On Tuesday, Majlis worked on a double-emergency bill to retaliate United States’ “adventurous and unconventional measures”, i.e. a Senate bill in the making that obligates the US administration to impose new sanctions on Iran’s missiles program within 90 says.
How effective are the bills?
Chairman of Majlis’ National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi explained the executive power of retaliatory bills to Khabar Online. “When bill turns into law and is notified to the president, it cannot be taken lightly and it must be implemented.” Speaking about the ultimate destiny of previous bills, he reminds of bill passed in the 7th Parliament (2004-2008) calling for termination of Iran’s voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol when Iran’s nuclear dossier was about to be referred to the UN Security Council. “They sent the dossier to the UNSC and we passed the bill in response. It was then implemented, paving the ground for development of the country’s nuclear activities. Parliament legislations are quite serious,” he added. When asked about the impact of such measures in the international scene, he highlighted their impact, saying Iran should stand against excessive demands on the US side.
Bill as Propaganda
More often than not, single and double emergency retaliatory bills are believed to have a propaganda function rather than implementation. Former Iranian diplomat and member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Morteza Saffari agrees. “Just in the same way that most Congress bills have propaganda functions, those brought up in the Majlis do contain a publicity factor,” he said. “We have numerous tools for retaliation, which are less costly and more effective,” Saffari added.
Saffari argued in favor of increased pressure on Israel, which he called “the Achilles’ heel of the US in Middle East”. “Let’s not forget that Washington too has assets in the region. Therefore, we could opt for stronger confrontation through collective measures. We can freeze US assets through our amicable ties with neighboring countries,” he said. Iran’s former ambassador to Madrid stressed that operational measure are better than bills passed in Majlis, saying such bills are not usually well-researched and play a rather propagandistic role.
Spokesman for the parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee told Khabar Online that the parliament does its best for the bills to be well-researched and have executive power. “We do not claim that the bills are flawless. The reason the double-emergency bill was not brought to the parliament is that some parliamentary caucuses proposed some corrections,” Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said.
Speaking about the ultimate fate of bills legislated in the past, he said they have been implemented and quite fruitful in some cases, including indemnity for those affected by US measures. “We have issued decrees worth more than $90b, which will be implemented. The US has issued judgements worth $70b and has failed in full implementation, but they will act as soon as they reach our assets. We will do the same as soon as we find access to their properties,” he added.
“To implement the bills passed, the US has even resorted to Alavi Foundation, while it is a private institution and its seizure is a violation of international regulations,” Naghavi Hosseini reiterated. “Since US is involved in economic ties in our region, bills passed in Majlis will absolutely have operational and deterrent power,” he added.