Pressure is growing on the Biden Administration to walk away from Vienna talks after reports that Iran's IRGC may be removed from the US terror designation.
Opponents of the restoration of the 2015 nuclear agreement, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), believe that restoring the JCPOA at the cost of delisting the IRGC without curbing Iran's ballistic missile program is too high a price for the United States to pay to bring Iran back to compliance with the deal.
In a statement Tuesday after a briefing with from the State Department’s main JCPOA negotiator Rob Malley, Senior Republican Senator Jim Risch called the reports out of Vienna "unsettling at best" and strongly criticized the Biden administration for pursuing a deal with Iran despite objections from US partners in the Middle East and urged the administration to walk away from the talks.
“A deal that provides $90-$130 billion in sanctions relief, relieves sanctions against Iran’s worst terror and human rights offenders, and delists the IRGC does not support our national security interests. Worse, this deal could enable Putin to continue to build out his nuclear arsenal and benefit financially in the midst of his assault against Ukraine. The administration should walk away,” he said in his statement.
Eighty-six Republican Representatives have signed a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express their opposition to the Biden administration's possible move to delist the IRGC. "We are united in strong opposition to any move to legitimize the IRGC's reckless, destabilizing, and anti-Semitic actions throughout the Middle East," the letter says.
"The President is the guy who’s managed to lose two sovereign nations in 6 months: The Afghanistan debacle and Ukraine, and now he's out there to find ways to enable Iran," Republican Senator Josh Hawley told Iran International correspondent in Washington on Tuesday.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, however, believes relations with Iran could become normal. "If we have arrangements [with Iran] that force us to communicate, we could expect trust to be rebuilt & eventually get to normalcy. There's nothing unrealistic about it: Japan & Germany are among our closest allies, but we were at war with them," he told Iran International.
The Senate Democratic Party whip Dick Durbin also cautiously defended the administration. He 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.”
Answering a question about the concerns of other regional states, particularly Israel, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, Durbin 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.”
"The onus is on Tehran to make difficult decisions that it might consider difficult, but we have negotiated for the better part of a year – of course, indirectly through our allies and partners – in good faith in a constructive manner to get us to this point. We are still at a point where if those decisions are made, we could reach a mutual return to compliance very soon, but it will take some decisions," the State Department Spokesman Ned Price said at his daily briefing Tuesday.