Republicans Aim To Undermine Biden's Bid To Revive Iran Nuclear Deal
Congressional Republicans are confident they can derail any efforts by the Biden administration to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, according to an article published this week by the conservative website Washington Free Beacon.
The Beacon, which has close connections in the Republican Party, has obtained a document agreed on Tuesday [March 2] by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – a large caucus – and has interviewed a range of Senators and Congresspeople. The document vowed to “fight against and work to reverse any and all sanctions relief,” and is described by the Beacon as one piece of wider Republican Party effort “to stymie the Biden administration as it moves towards direct talks with Iran.”
Range of Tactics
Republicans interviewed by the Beacon outline a range of tactics to be followed despite their party being a minority in both houses of Congress. These include pushing anti-Iran legislation designed to attract support from some Democrats, including Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Tuesday the Jewish Insider reported the circulation of a bipartisan letter supporting continued sanctions.
Republicans will also seek to undermine any international talks with Iran by making it clear that any US sanctions lifted would be reimposed by a subsequent Republican administration. The Beacon cited Representative Greg Steube that this would undermine “the [Biden] administration’s leverage as it negotiates with Tehran” – presumably by bolstering those in Tehran opposing the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, who argue the US cannot be trusted.
The RSC makes clear its continued backing for the ‘maximum pressure’ of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which set 12 demands on Iran, including abandoning missile defense, ending links with regional allies, and stopping uranium enrichment.
The Beacon quoted Richard Goldberg, a former official involved with Iran in Trump’s National Security Council, that Republican efforts would “send a message” not just to Biden but to “banks and companies around the world” to stay clear of Iran, even if it re-entered the 2015 nuclear deal.
‘Under A Cloud’
Goldberg, now at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies opposing the Iran deal, said that even if Biden lifted sanctions “the moment Republicans take control of Congress or the White House pendulum swings back to a Republican, US sanctions will return in full force if Iran hasn't stopped its malign activities. Would you want to sign a contract in Iran under that cloud?"
While president Biden has said he wants to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, administration officials have suggested the onus is on Tehran to reverse moves taken in its nuclear program since 2019 beyond JCPOA limits. On Monday, Richard Nephew, seen as the architect of US Iran sanctions under President Barack Obama, joined the administration as Deputy Special Envoy for Iran.
Ahmad Naderi, a principlist member of Iran’s parliament, tweeted on Tuesday that Nephew’s appointment was proof of the “maliciousness” of the Biden team: “The Americans’ grudge against Iran is not limited to Republicans or Democrats. The only way to confront the economic war of the enemy is to…rely on domestic capabilities.”
The US is also pressing at this week’s governors’ meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency for a resolution criticizing Iran’s recent restriction on IAEA inspectors, introduced by parliamentary legislation following last year’s killing of the nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. According to Reuters, the European JCPOA signatories – France, Germany and the UK – are backing the US against Russian and Iranian opposition.