US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington. April 26, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington. April 26, 2022

US Senators Tell Blinken To Walk Away From Iran Deal

4/26/2022

Iran is hellbent on having nuclear weapons, Senator Mitt Romney told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken Tuesday.

The Republican Senator added, “they'll negotiate and delay as long as they can, the negotiations with us, but that they ultimately intend to have a nuclear capacity.” He went on to say that the way the United States deals with Iran is important because some other nations would also be pursuing nuclear weapons and counting on a temporary restraint by Tehran “is not the right course.”

The Biden administration has held more than one year of talks with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, JCPOA, but the diplomatic process is at a standstill since March. Iran is demanding the removal of its Revolutionary Guard from the US list of terrorist organizations, something the administration has so far not accepted.

Romney, who unlike other Republicans has been generally silent about the issue, also urged Blinken that if an agreement is reached it should pass Congressional review.

“And I would encourage the administration to once again bring this matter to Congress for an up or down vote,” he reiterated a demand by most Republicans and some Democrats.

“Iran asks for more and more and more. The answer is no,” Romney said at the hearing called for discussing the 2023 budget.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez (NJ), chairman of the committee also expressed doubts whether reviving the JCPOA is the best option for the United States. “It will do nothing about the destabilization of the region,” he said and added that the deals sunset clauses are fast approaching, and that is a challenge.

Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) who opposes a return to the JCPOA said “No agreement is better than a bad agreement,” emphasizing that a deal over the nuclear issue does not stop Iran from its destabilizing regional activities. He told Secretary Blinken, “I urge you to move on.”

Blinken defended the JCPOA saying that "agreement was working by all objective accounts." He said that under the nuclear accord the breakout time to Iran producing material for a nuclear weapon was a year. That time frame, he said, has now sped up to a "matter of weeks."

Senator Ted Crus (R-Texas) focused on Iran’s threat to harm former senior Trump administration officials to avenge the killing of IRGC General Qasem Soleimani, asking Blinken if it is true that Iranians have refused to renounce any intention of killing former US officials. Blinken replied that there are threats against present and former officials, and the administration is determined to protect them, but he avoided a direct answer if Iran has refused to renounce its intentions.

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later in her press briefing said that the administration is worried Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in weeks.

"Yes, it definitely worries us," Psaki said, adding the time needed for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon is down from about a year.

News at a Glance
Chand Chand
News/Sport (27)

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