Forty-nine US Republican Senators have told the Biden Administration they oppose a revived Iran nuclear deal as it can reduce limits on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Recent reports, claiming to be based on insider information, have indicted that the Biden Administration plans to lift non-nuclear sanctions in the Vienna talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions, or JCPOA. Sanctions said to be lifted include terrorism related designations, possibly including entities and individuals affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
“According to press reports, the Biden Administration may soon conclude an agreement with Iran to provide substantial sanctions relief in exchange for merely short-term limitations on Iran’s nuclear program. By every indication, the Biden Administration appears to have given away the store,” a statement from Senate Republicans released on Monday said.
Republicans have been warning the Biden Administration from the time it assumed office not to seek to revive the JCPOA, which they regard as a weak agreement that would not stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons in the future and does not address other threats the Islamic Republic poses to regional countries.
“The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, as per its constitutional obligation, or for review under statutory requirements that passed on a bipartisan basis in response to the 2015 deal. Additionally, despite earlier promises to the contrary, the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress,” the statement said.
The issue that might make an agreement in Vienna more controversial is what it would allow Iran to do with advances it has made in the past two years, including deploying more sophisticated uranium enrichment machines and the highly purified fissile material it has stockpiled. Some reports say that Tehran will be allowed to keep the machines called centrifuges, which would allow for a quick resumption of enrichment.
It is also expected that an agreement will require Iran to ship the highly enriched uranium to Russia, which on March 5 made demands to be exempted from Ukraine sanctions in its dealings with Tehran. The sudden request forced diplomats to freeze the Vienna negotiations indefinitely. The United States and its European allies have refused the Russian demand.
These are new elements beyond the Obama-era deal concluded 7 years ago and critics argue that it is could be considered a new agreement, which would need Congressional review of some sort.
“Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program, and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism. But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it,” the Senate Republicans said.
Some Democratic lawmakers have recently joined the opposition to the Biden Administration’s drive to reach a new agreement with Iran. The Russian invasion of Ukraine seems to have raised more concern about the Vienna talks in which Moscow has played an important mediating role.