London- Iran’s parliament voted yes on Sunday to a bill increasing government funds backing the Revolutionary Guards’ paramilitary unit, Quds Force, and the national ballistic missile program.
The increase is meant to counter recent US sanctions imposed against the Guard.
If the Guardian Council approves the bill, which is expected to do, the Iranian foreign ministry, the defense ministry, the Guards and the army will be asked to provide a “comprehensive and strategic program” to counter US threats and “anti-Iran activity.”
The plan should be presented within six months at most. A parliamentary committee is also tasked with monitoring US government and Congressional moves and proposing appropriate reciprocal measures to the Parliament.
Under terms of the bill, some $700 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 Ali Khamenei.
Visas for American officials involved with the Iranian exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq will be banned.
Gulf Cooperation Council Assistant Chief for political affairs and negotiations Dr. Abdul Aziz al-Owaishek told Asharq Al-Awsat that the GCC will soon sit over a US-held meeting to discuss ways to “deter Iran and Hezbollah activity,” adding that the they will mull future approaches on dealing with those blacklisted.
State-run IRNA news agency also said the bill referred to the money being used to improve Iran’s defense against a nuclear attack and develop nuclear propellers. In December, Iranian President Rouhani ordered officials to draw up plans on building nuclear-powered ships, something that appears to be allowed under the nuclear deal, over an earlier dispute on US sanctions under the Obama administration.
IRNA reported that 247 lawmakers attended the voting session, with 240 approving the spending plan and one lawmaker abstaining.
Iran denies that it had violated a UN resolution which endorsed Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, preventing them from conducting activities related to ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.