Democrats and Republicans agree on curbing Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but they disagree over whether the 2015 nuclear deal should be revived.
The United States Senate Democratic Party whip Dick Durbin told Iran International’s correspondent Arash Aalaei on Monday that “the premise” of reviving the 2015 deal, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions) was “sound to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.” This, Durbin said was “obviously in the best interests of regional and world peace.”
Durbin cited Russia as a nuclear-armed power. “We learned every single day in our calculations on Ukraine that the threat that Russia poses to the world with its nuclear weapons changes the equation,” he said.
Answering a question about the concerns of other regional states, particularly Israel, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, Durkan reiterated that peace required “a credible, enforceable plan to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” which he said would be a “threat to every nation in the region…including Israel.”
Listing and Delisting
Many American and Israeli politicians oppose the JCPOA on the grounds that it does not require unilateral reductions in Iran’s ballistic missile capability Iran has developed for lack of an effective air-force. They also argue that restoring the JCPOA at the cost of removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) from the US list of ‘foreign terrorist organization’ is too high a price.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently called on Washington not to lift the designation, the only one of part of the armed forces of a sovereign state, even though a raft of other US sanctions would remain on the IRGC.
In response to another question by Iran International’s correspondent, Durbin said Iran had to prove that a restored JCPOA would not mean resources being available for the IRGC. “The Iranians have to forswear the terrorism that threatens the stability of many other countries too, and if they will do that and prove it with their conduct, I think there are chances we can move toward normalcy,” he claimed, without explaining what ‘normalcy’ might mean.
Republican senators remain steadfastly opposed to renewing the JCPOA, from which former president Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018, imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions. Republican Bill Hagerty, a close Trump ally, told Fox News Monday that “reviving the disastrous Iran nuclear deal” was “a vanity project for John Kerry [former Secretary of State) and [President] Joe Biden. They're putting America's strategic interests in the rearview mirror while doing anything they can to cut a deal with the largest state sponsor of terror.”
Opposing removing the IRGC from the list of ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ Hagerty argued that “we saw what happened when we took [Yemen’s] Houthis [Ansar Allah] off the list…they immediately went back to their terrorism.” The Biden administration delisted Ansar Allah in February 2021 in “recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen” following criticism from aid organizations.
The Wall Street Journal suggested Monday that efforts to revive the JCPOA, which have been going on for 11 months, hinge on the designation of the IRGC. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that “there has been significant progress in recent weeks, but I want to be clear that an agreement is neither imminent nor is it certain.”