US Senators Urge Biden Not To Return To Iran Nuclear Deal And Lift Sanctions
Four senior United States Senators have written to President Joe Biden on April 6 urging him not to remove any Iran sanctions "in order to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" or JCPOA as the 2015 nuclear deal is called.
As multilateral talks began on the same day in Vienna among JCPOA pariticipant countries and the United States representatives on the sidelines, the four Republican Senators, James Inhofe, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey and Todd Young criticized statements by Administration officials to the effect that US sanctions have failed and have done no good for the Iranian or the American people.
US Special Envoy Rob Malley in interviews with the NPR and and BBC recently voiced criticism of the sanctions, imposed by former President Donal Trump who withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018. Earlier, the Biden Administration had assured the public that it is pursuing a broader agreement and concessions from Iran on other issues, such as Iran's ballistic missiles and regional interventionism. Critics now feel that the White House might lift sanctions before any of these objectives are achieve and lose the leverage sanctions present for the US to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic.
The Senators make it clear in their letter that they are deeply concerned about giving up the sanctions tool. “The sanctions Mr. Malley criticized are not new. They include sanctions that Democrats and Republican administrations have implemented to punish the Iranian regime for its support for terrorism, nuclear enrichment program, and ballistic missile program. The current sanctions in place provide your Administration with an enormous amount of leverage…and they should be used as a toll to address all aspects of Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” the Senators say.
They also remind the President of promises made by Administration officials to choose a different path from that of the Obama Administration that signed the nuclear deal, dubbed as "flawed" by critics. The lawmakers offer cooperation with the White House to “on a path forward that prevents Iran from possessing nuclear weapons capabilities, addresses the regime’s support for terrorism, hold it accountable for its egregious human rights violations, and ends its hostage-taking of American citizens. But we oppose any attempt to return to the failed JCPOA, or any deal that offers one-sided concessions…”
All four Senators are ranking members of important committees and sub-committees, with Senator Inhofe in the Armed Services Committee and Senator Marco Rubio in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have written several times to President Biden since his inauguration urging him not to rush into a return to the nuclear deal and give up the sanctions. To what extent Congress can impede the Administrations diplomacy to return to the JCPOA, meaning lifting sanctions, is not clear.