Bipartisan US Congress Letter Looks For Full Compliance From Iran
A bipartisan letter circulating in the United States House of Representatives addressed to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken suggests that Washington maintain economic sanctions in order to keep pressure on Iran.
The letter initiated by Reps Anthony Brown (D-Md) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) calls on the Biden administration to “engage Iran through a combination of diplomatic and sanction mechanisms to achieve full compliance of international obligations and a demonstrated commitment by Iran to addressing malign behavior,” the Jewish Insider reported on Tuesday [March 2].
The letter states that measures preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons should continue – it is unclear whether this refers to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which President Donald Trump left in 2018 – and adds a demand that Iran scrap ballistic missiles: “Over the past five years, Iran has defied the international community with respect to its ballistic missile program and continued its development of technology that could be used for a [nuclear weapon] delivery system.”
The co-sponsors of the letter emphasize Iran’s “malign behavior throughout the Middle East,” including support for its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and sowing “chaos in Syria and Yemen.” They state that Iran has supplied Hezbollah with “precision guided missiles to attack Israel.”
The Jewish Insider notes that the letter is vague “about whether those steps should take place prior to reentering the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” and whether the US should rejoin the existing nuclear agreement or insist on a wider agreement.
The letter portrays “de-escalation” with Iran as a goal. “We call upon the administration to address these actions by Iran, de-escalate tension in these conflicts, and ensure the security of all nations in the region.”
Jewish Insider says that while the letter has attracted Republican signatories, others “have raised eyebrows” at the recommendation that the US “de-escalate tension in these conflicts,” viewing it as acceptance of the lifting of sanctions. It quotes a congressional aide who said ‘de-escalation’ would be read by officials in the Biden team as sanctions relief, which Republicans are reluctant to endorse. “That is how the community of people who do Iran stuff use that word… de-escalation is a dog whistle for sanctions relief. That’s what it means,” the aide told Jewish Insider.
Republican lawmakers have written and appealed to the Biden administration since his inauguration not to give up sanctions against Iran. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who oversaw President Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ aimed at Iran ending all uranium enrichment and scrapping missile defense, has argued the Biden administration is “already making concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal.” Pompeo repeated the Trump mantra that “the ayatollah understands only strength.”
Some analysts have argued that President Biden would need Congressional support for a wider deal with Iran covering regional defense and security issues and that many Democrats would be apprehensive if the White House adopted a conciliatory approach toward Tehran in order to secure an agreement.