US House of Representatives passes the Stop Iranian Drones Act

The Stop Iranian Drones Act makes it the responsibility of the US to prevent Iran and Iranian-aligned terror groups from acquiring drones.

 A drone is seen during an Iranian Army exercise dubbed 'Zulfiqar 1400', in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in this picture obtained on November 7, 2021 (photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA/REUTERS)
A drone is seen during an Iranian Army exercise dubbed 'Zulfiqar 1400', in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in this picture obtained on November 7, 2021
(photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to pass the Stop Iranian Drones Act.

“It shall be the policy of the United States to prevent Iran and Iranian-aligned terrorist and militia groups from acquiring unmanned aerial vehicles, including commercially available component parts, that can be used in attacks against United States persons and partner nations,” the bill says.

The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Gregory Meeks (D-New York), Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina).

It clarifies that US sanctions on Iran’s conventional-weapons program under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act include the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of unmanned combat UAVs.

While there are various laws that deal with arms transfers to or from Iran, they do not explicitly mention drones. This bill would cover both drone sales to Iran and Iranian transfers of drones to the Houthis, Hamas and Hezbollah.

 A drone is launched during a large-scale drone combat exercise of Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Semnan, Iran January 6, 2021.  (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS) A drone is launched during a large-scale drone combat exercise of Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Semnan, Iran January 6, 2021. (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Currently, the law specify that the president shall impose sanctions with respect to any person that the president determines “knowingly engages in any activity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer directly or indirectly to or from Iran, or for the use in or benefit of Iran, of any battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, or related materiel, including spare parts.”

The bill adds the phrase “unmanned combat aerial vehicles” to the list, meaning they would be included as sanctionable arms transfers.

AIPAC commended the House for passing the bill.

“Continued aggression by Iran and its terrorist proxies endangers US security interests and our Middle East regional allies,” it said in a statement. “Today’s overwhelming House vote is a strong demonstration of bipartisan determination to prevent Iranian aggression. We urge the Senate to rapidly complete action on this important legislation.”

Deutch tweeted: “Time and again, Iran has used UAVs to threaten global stability and US interests. Congress countered this destabilizing behavior and passed the Stop Iranian Drones Act.” He said he hoped to see the Senate pass the bill soon.