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Ernst Punishes Iran for Assassination Attempts

Holds Biden Administration Accountable on Iran’s Attempts to Kill Americans

WASHINGTON – In the face of the Biden administration’s appeasement strategy that has lined the pockets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with $6 billion, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is requiring the United States to fully enforce maximum sanctions on Iran until the regime has ended support for any attempt to kill a U.S. citizen for five years before re-entering a nuclear agreement.

The Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides (PUNISH) Act would codify “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iranian government officials, its financial sector, and Iran’s energy industry. It would also hold the Biden administration accountable by prohibiting the lifting of sanctions on Iran until the State Department can certify that Iran has not supported any attempt or activity in the last five years to kill a U.S. citizen, a former or current U.S. official, or an Iranian dissident living within the United States.

“President Biden’s strategy of appeasement continues to risk the lives of Americans at home and abroad. Iran cannot be allowed to continue to attempt to kill U.S. citizens and Iranian dissidents with impunity,” said Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The world’s number-one state sponsor of terrorism is not to be trusted. I’m holding President Biden accountable by preventing his administration from providing Tehran with another cent of sanctions relief. My PUNISH Act will put an end to this failed appeasement strategy and ensure Iran feels the maximum consequences of their actions from the United States.”

“The Iran Regime continues to back its terrorist proxies who threaten the U.S. and our allies around the world despite the Biden Administration’s desperate attempts at engagement. We saw clear success from the Trump Administration’s maximum pressure campaign against the Regime and know Iran will only back down if met with steel. So long as Iran continues to destabilize the region and target American officials, the regime should feel the full consequences of U.S. sanctions,” said Congressman Michael Waltz, who is introducing the PUNISH Act in the House.

“The PUNISH Act provides Congress with the necessary tools and oversight to ensure Iran is not provided sanctions relief while it continues to engage in terrorism and nefarious activities abroad, which is why this commonsense legislation should serve as the foundation for U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. The regime in Iran has perpetuated a systematic policy of assassination attempts against American officials along with U.S. citizens and Iranian dissidents. As Iran continues to engage in brutal terrorist tactics, it should not be provided additional access to funds that it will use to sustain its malign activity. FDD Action is proud to support the PUNISH Act, which will ensure U.S. policy remains firmly opposed to Iranian maleficence and holding the regime accountable,” said Tyler Stapleton, Director of Congressional Relations FDD Action.

"Handing over billions to the radical regime in Tehran as part of secret negotiations aimed at circumventing congressional authority has left the Iranians enriched and emboldened. The PUNISH Act is an important step forward to ensure that the full force of American sanctions against Tehran will be deployed as they continue their efforts to kill American officials and Iranian dissidents both here at home and abroad,” said Sandra Parker, CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman.

“In view of Iran’s continuing threats to assassinate U.S. officials, kidnap American citizens, launch proxy attacks against U.S. forces and allies in the Middle East, and advance its threshold nuclear weapons program, it is clear that the United States must enforce the strongest possible sanctions against Iran’s hostile regime. Senator Ernst’s bill provides necessary guardrails to prevent the Biden Administration from misguidedly lifting sanctions on Iran, including those that the administration wants to lift to return to the Obama Administration’s flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal,” said Ryan Walker, Executive Vice President, Heritage Action.


As co-chair of the Abraham Accords Caucus, Ernst led the DEFEND Act to strengthen the work of the Accords by combatting attacks from Iranian-backed extremists through air and missile defense capabilities, which was passed into law. This year, she led the bipartisan MARITIME Act to unite Middle East partners against Iranian maritime threats, which wasincluded as a provision in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

In April, Ernst and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a bipartisan push demanding President Biden enforce much-needed sanctions on Iranian oil and gas shipments. She followed up with a bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Biden demanding a response to Iranian threats against Americans and American companies that prevented the transfer of seized oil from the Suez Rajan tanker off the coast of Texas for months. Following her advocacy, the illicit oil began being transferred.