Four top Senate Republicans called on President Joe Biden on April 6 not to reenter the Iran nuclear deal and to continue sanctions against the Islamic Republic, on the day of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna.
Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), leaders of several Senate committees or subcommittees, sent an open letter (pdf) to Biden expressing their concerns about the United States returning to the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“The United States must not relinquish its leverage over the Iranian regime just to return to the JCPOA, a severely flawed agreement that undermines our national security interests due to its arbitrary sunsets and limited scope,” the senators said in the letter, referring to the sanctions as “an enormous amount of leverage.”
“Unfortunately, recent comments from Administration officials suggest that is exactly what the U.S. intends to offer Tehran.”
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told the BBC last month: “The maximum pressure campaign has failed. … It hasn’t brought us any closer to this better deal that President [Donald] Trump spoke about. It’s been bad for the U.S., for Iran, and for the region.”
Trump imposed “maximum pressure” on Iran after he officially withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran deal in May 2018, calling it “a horrible one-sided deal” and “defective at its core.”
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said last month that rejoining the Iran deal would make America and the Middle East less secure.
“We urge your Administration to reset its approach immediately. Members of Congress rejected the JCPOA on a bipartisan basis in 2015,” the four senators continued in their letter. “Returning to the JCPOA is not a recipe for a sustainable Iran policy, and will not protect U.S. national security interests.”
The White House didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment by press time.
Sanctions relief is what “the United States would need to take in order for us to return to compliance with the JCPOA,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on April 5. The other part is nuclear steps that Iran would need to take.
“That is what we aspire over the longer term to achieve—that mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA. It’s precisely what President Biden—then-candidate Biden—laid out on the campaign trail,” Price said.
On the other hand, Iran has insisted that Washington lift the sanctions first because it violated the deal first with its withdrawal.
After the talks in Vienna on April 6, Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, said the negotiations are on “the right track,” according to The Washington Post.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “a diplomatic path is the right path forward, and there are benefits to all sides.”
The talks are expected to resume on April 9.