Two Republican senators have joined a growing list of US lawmakers in calling for an end to the nuclear talks with Tehran following an Iranian missile attack in northern Iraq earlier this month.
“It should be a deal-breaker rather than a ‘game, set, match’. There should be no negotiations”, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama told Iran International on Wednesday.
Also speaking to the television station, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, expressed hope that “a deal with Iran…would never happen”, and said US sanctions against Iran must not be “lifted or changed in any way”.
In a major escalation of tensions in the Middle East, ballistic missiles on March 13 landed near the US consulate building in Erbil.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the strikes, saying it targeted Israeli "strategic centers" in the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
In addition to the Erbil attack, Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a fierce drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installation in Jeddah on March 25 that ignited a large blaze. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan condemned the attack blaming Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis fighting a seven-year war against A Saudi-led coalition.
The attack came as negotiations have taken place in Vienna over the past months to bring back the landmark agreement that Tehran signed with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China in 2015, allowing for the easing of sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on the country’s nuclear program.
Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, and started reimposing crippling economic sanctions against Iran, while Tehran began rolling back on most of its commitments under the accord.
Tuberville said the Erbil missile attack “sending a false message to us, obviously. If this group (the IRCG) is acting this way now, how they’re going to act after, if we do happen to sign a deal”.
"The Biden administration's idea that it somehow is a good thing to loosen the screws on Iran and to allow them once again to have the chance to run rampant in the region is absolutely, diametrically wrong," according to Hawley,
In response to the Erbil attack, the US administration on Wednesday enacted new sanctions against an Iran-based person and his companies for procuring parts to help Iran's ballistic missile program.
"Iran's ballistic missile-related activities continue to destabilize the Middle East region, and the United States will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt them," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
Tehran on Thursday condemned the new sanctions as a further violation of the 2015 UN Security Council resolution 2231 that enshrined the landmark nuclear agreement, JCPOA, between Iran and World powers. The JCPOA in fact removed international sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear program and left other sanctions in place.