Rob Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran, was depressed this week as he testified to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding prospects for negotiating a new nuclear agreement with Iran that would be worse than the 2015 agreement he helped negotiate during the Obama administration (the JCPOA).
Malley said chances for a new deal are "tenuous at best."
The reason appears to be because President Biden put an end to Malley’s efforts to appease Iran to get this agreement, a decision that may have been spurred by a Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., that passed on a strong bipartisan basis.
Like other Biden officials, Malley erroneously claimed Iran was in compliance with the JCPOA and criticized President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw from this agreement.
Malley did not address the treasure trove of documents on Iran’s nuclear program that Israeli intelligence stole from Iran in 2018, known as the Iran Nuclear Archive, that proved massive Iranian cheating on the JCPOA and numerous covert nuclear facilities that Tehran concealed from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in violation of the agreement.
Malley’s Senate appearance came days after Politico reported President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Bennett that he would not agree to a key Iranian demand blocking a new nuclear deal: taking Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
Moreover, on the same day of Malley’s testimony, the Biden administration imposed new sanctions on the IRGC for oil smuggling and money laundering.
These policy decisions were a surprise since Malley and other Biden administration officials had been discussing ways to take the IRGC off the U.S. terrorism list for the last few months.
For example, on April 26, 2022 Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a Senate hearing, would not deny that the Biden administration was considering this move and suggested it was possible "if Iran takes steps necessary to justify the lifting of that designation."
Blinken also revealed at this hearing that the IRGC was plotting to assassinate current and former U.S. officials.
Many groups and members of Congress strongly oppose taking the IRGC off the U.S. terrorism list and other administration attempts to appease Iran by negotiating a new nuclear agreement.
However, Sen. Lankford may have been the most effective in convincing the president to alter his Iran policy due to a bipartisan resolution he sponsored that condemned the new nuclear agreement.
Lankford’s non-binding resolution passed on May 4 by a margin of 62 to 33.
Sixteen Democratic senators voted for the measure.
It opposed removing the IRGC from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations and called for a new agreement to include "the full range of Iran’s destabilizing activities,” including missiles, terrorism, and sanctions evasion."
Although there were some strong Democratic supporters of Senator Lankford’s resolution, notably Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lankford had to fight to get the Senate to pass the resolution since some Democrats tried to block it.
They relented after Lankford threatened to block Senate proceedings unless there was a vote on his resolution.
Lankford’s resolution may have been a game-changer since it demonstrated strong bipartisan opposition to the Biden administration’s efforts to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran.
Given increasing criticism of President Biden’s abysmal foreign policy and his low poll numbers, the Lankford resolution may have convinced the White House that its strategy of offering controversial concessions to Iran to persuade it to agree to a new nuclear deal was not politically sustainable.
Senator Lankford deserves a lot of credit for passing his bipartisan Iran resolution at a time of stark political divisions in Washington.
For now, at least, it appears to have convinced the Biden administration to halt its efforts to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran that would be worse and more dangerous than the 2015 JCPOA.
But Lankford and other critics of President Biden’s Iran policy should not underestimate the Biden administration’s obsession with getting this agreement and must be on their guard for new efforts in the future by Biden administration officials to appease Iran to get a nuclear deal.
Fred Fleitz is a Newsmax TV Contributor and vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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