WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pushed for new sanctions against the Iranian regime following news that Iran’s Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani defied a United Nations resolution forbidding him from leaving his country.
“General Soleimani, who is responsible for the deaths of nearly 500 Americans as a consequence of him heading up the Quds Forces… was just caught in Moscow, violating the existing sanctions that we have on his travel,” Royce said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, ahead of a hearing in his committee on Iran.
“When the President of the United States [Donald Trump] says that this was a badly negotiated deal, we now see that not only are they developing these these ballistic missiles, but they are in consultation with the head of their terror network in Moscow obviously for additional weapons of war.” Royce added, “And we have to move now.”
“Now is the time for the [Trump] administration to move on establishing and pushing new sanctions,” Royce said.
According to Fox News, Soleimani “arrived in Terminal A of Vnukovo airport outside Moscow on Feb. 14 on Mahan Air WD084 at 12:13 p.m. local time and was scheduled to remain in Russia for a few days for meetings.” This was his third visit to Moscow.
Fox reported that the purpose of this trip was for him to “express his displeasure with the Russian government over their relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, mainly regarding weapons deals and strengthening economic ties.”
On Tuesday, an exiled Iranian opposition group released a report detailing the expansion of the IRGC and Quds Forces terrorist training camps throughout their country.
Hemmer asked Royce, “Does the U.S. stand up to Iran on anything?” He was referring to what was perceived as a capitulation to Iranian leadership during negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal, which has been in effect for nearly one-and-a-half years.
“That is what has to change,” Royce responded. He said the question now is: “Do we move now and do we hit Iran with all the sanctions that we have at our disposal. And, do we begin to organize the international community behind us?” He said America “lost a lot of ground” under the Obama administration, noting that over $1 billion in cash and gold was sent to the Iranian regime on pallets.
That move was believed to be a ransom payment for the release of four Americans who were held hostage in Iran: Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari.
Student Matthew Trevithick, a fifth American, was released separately from the deal.
Seven Iranian prisoners were also returned to Iran in exchange for the release of the Americans. In addition to that, Obama dropped extradition proceedings against 14 more Iranians.
Royce said Iran’s government does not take the United States “seriously” as a result of the last eight years, which is why they continue with their development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
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