Iran lawmakers raise missile, Guard spending to challenge US

Chanting "Death to America," Iran's parliament voted unanimously on 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.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 13, 2017, 20:47 PM IST

Tehran: Chanting "Death to America," Iran's parliament voted unanimously on 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 US President Donald 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 US 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 Centre for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient. "It's not that important that those measures may not hurt the US in the same way. ... They want to show they are not just standing still and watching this happening."

In the session today, 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 USD 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.

The Guard, separate from Iran's conventional military forces, answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The bill also imposes financial sanctions, as well as a visa and travel ban, on US military and security organisations and their commanders who have provided financial, intelligence, military, logistic and training support to terrorists in the region, naming the Islamic State group and the Syrian branch of al-Qaida.