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Congress Warns Biden of Making ‘Concessions’ to Iran

Congress Warns Biden of Making ‘Concessions’ to Iran

Thursday, 24 March, 2022 - 10:00
Senator Bob Menendez with Senator Jim Risch (File photo: AFP)

Republican and Democratic lawmakers warned the US administration against removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from terrorism lists in exchange for Tehran's possible return to the nuclear agreement.

Lawmakers were furious after a two-hour closed briefing with the US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, on the updates of the Iran nuclear negotiations.

After the meeting, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came out with any questions about the size of the Biden administration's concessions to the Iranian regime.

Top Republican in the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch, issued a scathing statement after the briefing, expressing his extreme anger at "the concessions this administration is considering placating the Iranian regime."

Risch's statement is based on information provided by Malley and US security advisor Brett McGurk.

"A deal that provides $90-$130 billion in sanctions relief relieves sanctions against Iran's worst terror and human rights offenders, and delists the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] does not support our national security interests,” Risch said.

He warned that the agreement would enable Putin to continue to build his nuclear arsenal and benefit financially amid his aggression against Ukraine.

The Senator reiterated his previous calls for the administration to withdraw from the negotiations, pointing out that US allies in the Middle East and bipartisan lawmakers object to efforts to return to the agreement with Iran.

Democratic concern

Malley's classified briefing highlighted significant Democratic disagreements with the Biden administration in its efforts to return to the nuclear deal.

Several Democratic lawmakers are joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez in expressing their concern about the deal, namely in delisting the IRGC.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin publicly criticized the possibility of removing the IRGC from the blacklist.

"I certainly would very much like to maintain that they are a terrorist organization because they are a terrorist organization," Cardin said.

"I recognize that negotiations will do things sometimes that some of us don't like. So, I'm not going to try to draw red lines. But that designation should remain."

Democrats in the House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House warning against delisting the Corps, saying Iran's nuclear program and activities are not limited to the Middle East through Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, but extend to the rest of the world.

Republican pressure

The Republicans intensified their legislative efforts to oppose any agreement with Tehran.

Over 80 Republican Congressmen sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to object to delisting the IRGC as a terror group.

The letter described the IRGC as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world, saying it is responsible for the death of 600 US servicemen during the US occupation in Iraq.

Furthermore, 49 of the 50 Republicans at the Senate told Biden, democrats, and the international community that an Iran agreement without broad congressional support would not survive.

"Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran's path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran's ballistic missile program, and confronts Iran's support for terrorism,” they said in a letter to Biden last week.

They warned that if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more complex, Republicans will do everything to reverse it.

"Unless Iran ceases its support for terrorism, we will oppose removing and seek to reimpose any terrorism-related sanctions. And we will force the Senate to vote on any Administration effort to do so,” the letter concluded.

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