Law­mak­ers raise spend­ing for mis­siles to chal­lenge U.S.

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY NASSER KARIMI AND JON GAM­BRELL

TEHRAN | Chant­ing “Death to America,” Iran’s par­lia­ment voted unan­i­mously Sun­day to in­crease spend­ing on its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram and the for­eign op­er­a­tions of its para­mil­i­tary Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, part of a sanc­tions bill mir­ror­ing a new U.S. law tar­get­ing the coun­try.

While of­fer­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in new fund­ing, the law­mak­ers’ bill of­fered a tactic as old as the slo­gan shouted since the 1979 Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion — us­ing America’s own tactics against it.

The vote salves pub­lic anger in Iran over Pres­i­dent Trump’s con­stant threats to rene­go­ti­ate or aban­don the nu­clear deal struck by world pow­ers un­der his pre­de­ces­sor. While law­mak­ers stressed the bill wouldn’t vi­o­late that agree­ment, it en­sures those both home and abroad know Iran will con­tinue con­fronting America ei­ther in the Per­sian Gulf or leg­isla­tively, an­a­lysts say.

“They want to show that the pres­sure that the U.S. is ex­ert­ing on Iran, they can re­spond with sim­i­lar mea­sures,” said Ad­nan Ta­batabai, an Iran an­a­lyst based in Ger­many who is the CEO of the Cen­ter for Ap­plied Re­search in Part­ner­ship with the Ori­ent. “It’s not that im­por­tant that those mea­sures may not hurt the U.S. in the same way. … They want to show they are not just stand­ing still and watch­ing this hap­pen­ing.”

In the ses­sion Sun­day, 240 law­mak­ers voted for the bill, with only one ab­sten­tion from the 247 leg­is­la­tors on hand, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA re­ported. Par­lia­ment Speaker Ali Lar­i­jani after the vote de­scribed the mea­sure as just the first step the coun­try could take.

The bill now heads to an over­sight com­mit­tee called the Guardian Coun­cil, which is ex­pected to ap­prove it. Ab­bas Araghchi, a deputy for­eign min­is­ter and se­nior nu­clear ne­go­tia­tor on hand for the vote, said mod­er­ate Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani’s gov­ern­ment sup­ported the bill.

“The bill has very wisely tried not to vi­o­late the [nu­clear deal] and also gives no chance to the other party to ma­nip­u­late it,” he said in com­ments re­ported by IRNA. “This bill is an as­tute re­sponse to the en­mity and wicked­ness of the United States against Iran.”

Un­der terms of the bill, some $800 mil­lion will be put to­ward sev­eral projects, in­clud­ing the De­fense Min­istry and its in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. Among the agen­cies re­ceiv­ing money would be the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards’ Quds Force, an ex­pe­di­tionary force run by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who has been ad­vis­ing forces in Syria and Iraq.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Law­mak­ers at­tend an open ses­sion of the Ira­nian par­lia­ment in Tehran. Par­lia­ment voted over­whelm­ingly Sun­day to in­crease spend­ing on its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram.

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