US Republicans Continue Criticizing Biden's Iran Approach
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed the Biden administration on Thursday for its intention to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, saying that "Adopting the European Union model of accommodation ... will guarantee Iran a path to a nuclear arsenal."
In comments in the past three days, Pompeo has defended the Trump administration’s record in dealing with Iran dismissing assertions by the Biden team that the previous administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord has brought Iran closer to a nuclear weapon.
Pompeo told Fox news on Thursday that it was the “flawed deal” allowing Iran to get closer to a nuclear capability. He also warned that in face of concessions Tehran will renew attacks against US interests in the region. He added that the Obama administration “cuddled the Iranian regime” and the United States cannot “go back to those policies.”
Iran began violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the JCPOA, in 2019 when the Trump administration imposed full sanctions on its oil exports. After US elections in November, Tehran accelerated those violations, beginning to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent and it set a February 23 deadline for lifting all US sanctions, threatening that otherwise it would limit inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Speaking to The Washington Free Beacon, Pompeo said the European powers (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), "wanted to appease the Iranian theocracy for my entire time as secretary of state. We refused. The ayatollah understands only strength. I led a response to the Iranian threat that protected the American people from its terror and supported the Jewish state of Israel."
As the Biden administration holds intensive discussions with European allies for the revival of the JCPOA, other Republicans continue to voice concern and criticism that the Democratic administration will “squander” the leverage Trump built against Tehran by his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign of sanctions.
Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is concerned the Biden administration is "already making concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal,” Free Beacon reported.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said it recognizes that other issues related to Iran, including its ballistic missile program and it regional role, also need to be addressed and it plans to reach a comprehensive agreement with Tehran, but critics say that once sanctions are lifted the Islamic Republic will have no incentives to negotiate any further.
Pompeo told Fox that the Trump administration established a deterrence against Iran that made it clear they could not harm Americans, adding that “I expect this administration to do the same.”
A group of four GOP House members sent a letter February 17 to the Foreign Affairs Committee requesting a hearing “to examine Iran’s nuclear program, their support for terrorism, and their attempts to intimidate our allies. Iran’s recent provocations pose a range of threats to U.S. national security and the security of our regional allies and partners.”
This followed earlier letters by more than 100 Republicans to President Joe Biden expressing similar concerns. To what extent Republican Congressional criticism would have an impact on the White House is not clear, but Biden needs to work with his opposition lawmakers on many domestic issues.