Two Senate Democrats say it isn’t news that the Iran was trying to make nuclear weapons in the past, reiterating that the 2015 deal was the best way to stop it.
On the sidelines of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Virginia’s Tim Kaine and Maryland’s Ben Cardin told Iran International that former president Donalds Trump’s move to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) made Iran move closer to nuclear breakout capacity.
In reaction to remarks by a former senior Iranian lawmaker who disclosed that Iran’s aim from the beginning was to produce nuclear weapons, they concurred that regular “intrusive inspections” and finding “an enforceable deal” is the way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Kaine said that the 2015 nuclear agreement, “provided a significant window of time before they could break out”, calling for returning to intrusive inspections to enable the world to know if Iran is going to violate its pledges under the JCPOA and “to make sure that they are honoring their commitments”.
“The Trump decision to terminate the JCPOA has now put Iran right back at the threshold of the breakout capacity, which anyone would have predicted”, he said.
US Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. February 15, 2022
Cardin said, “We never thought they were giving up their desire to be a nuclear-weapon state. But it was put in check, it was put on hold. We have lost that now”.
About Iran’s demand for removing the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO), Cardin said it is a proper concern to question whether there will be some relaxation on that.
On the sidelines of the session, Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz also told Iran International’s Arash Alaei that it is a positive step that Blinken acknowledged terrorist activities by the IRGC, but expressed disappointment that he “wasn't willing to answer straight out” if it is true that Iranians have refused to renounce any intention of killing former US officials.
“Three times I asked Secretary Blinken that question, three times he refused to answer the question. I think the reason is obvious, because the answer... is yes”, he said.
Cruz said it is “utterly indefensible” to delist the IRGC and give the Islamic Republic billions of dollars even when it is “actively trying to murder former US officials”. “The IRGC is a vicious terrorist organization”, he stated.
During the committee session earlier in the day, several Senators told Secretary Blinken to walk away from the Vienna negotiations to restore the nuclear deal with Iran.