Bipartisan letter urges Biden: No Iran Deal before consulting Congress

Bipartisan letter to Biden: "Do not return to the JCPOA before consulting with Congress"

 US President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a U.S. drone strike, in Washington, US August 1, 2022. (photo credit: JIM WATSON/POOL VIA REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a U.S. drone strike, in Washington, US August 1, 2022.
(photo credit: JIM WATSON/POOL VIA REUTERS)

WASHINGTON –  As Iran and the superpowers move closer to reviving their 2015 nuclear agreement, a bipartisan group of 50 House Members – 34 of them Democrats – sent a letter to President Joe Biden, expressing deep concern over the deal and urging the administration to consult with Congress before signing it.

“We are writing to respectfully request that your Administration provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including any side agreements, and consult with Congress prior to reentering that agreement,”

House Members wrote to the President

Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) and Andrew Garbarino (R-New York) led the bipartisan letter. Among the members who signed: Elaine Luria (D-Virginia), Juan Vargas (D-California), Fred Upton (R-Michigan), Lois Frankel (D-Florida) and Ritchie Torres (D-New York).

What did they write in the letter to the President?

“We are writing to respectfully request that your Administration provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including any side agreements, and consult with Congress prior to reentering that agreement,” the House Members wrote.

European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora, Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi and Iran's ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog Kazem Gharibabadi wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria May 1, 202 (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora, Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi and Iran's ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog Kazem Gharibabadi wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria May 1, 202 (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

They wrote that they were “deeply concerned” about multiple provisions “that reportedly may be contained in the final language of any agreement with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

For example, they said, the new agreement reportedly states that, “Non-US persons doing business with Iranian persons that are not on the [US sanctions list] (and) will not be exposed to sanctions merely as a result of those Iranian persons engaging in separate transactions involving Iranian persons on the [US sanctions list] (including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its officials, or its subsidiaries or affiliates).”

“While we commend you for refusing to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) – one of our most powerful tools used to compel state sponsors of terror to change – the aforementioned reported provision creates a troubling precedent,” they continued. “We are concerned that it could significantly dilute the effectiveness of terrorism-related sanctions on the IRGC, Iran’s paramilitary terror arm and provides the organization with a pathway for sanctions evasion.”

“If the regime in Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, has proven anything, it’s that it can’t be trusted,” the letter reads. “The IRGC has directly, or through its proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah (Houthis), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and scores of Shiite militias in Iraq, killed hundreds of Americans, and attacked our bases and our allies in the region.”

 They also argued that strengthened with an estimated one trillion dollars in sanctions relief over a decade, Iran and the IRGC would be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to US’s allies. “Additionally, it has been reported that under this proposed deal, Russia will be the de facto judge of compliance and the keeper of Iran’s enriched uranium, without any oversight mechanisms by the United States or our European partners,” they added.

“We must address the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, stand strong against terrorists, and protect American values and our allies.”

House members in letter to the President

They “strongly” urged Biden not to permit Russia to be the recipient of Iran’s enriched uranium, nor to have the right to conduct nuclear work with the Islamic Republic, including a $10 billion contract to expand Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

“We should not let war criminal Vladimir Putin be the guarantor of the deal or the keeper of massive amounts of Iran’s enriched uranium,” they wrote. “Iran supports the illegal war in Ukraine and has been supplying Russia with drones used to kill Ukrainians.”

“Amid Iran-sponsored terror plots to assassinate former US officials and Iranian-American dissidents on American soil, this is no time to remove, suspend, or dilute US terrorism sanctions on Iran or the IRGC,” they added.

 “We urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress, to provide us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and to consult with all key stakeholders,” the letter reads. “We must address the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, stand strong against terrorists, and protect American values and our allies.”