Congressional Republicans have condemned a reported plan that would see President Joe Biden’s administration roll back sanctions imposed on Iran ahead of new diplomatic talks with the Islamic Republic.
Politico reported earlier this week that Biden administration officials have proposed a plan "to jump-start the talks" by offering to remove some sanctions on the country in exchange for Iran ending some of its nuclear projects.
"This is a scandal," said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "Why is the Biden team giving in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail and rewarding the regime with sanctions relief for its enrichment of uranium by 20 percent? What message does this send to other countries who want to get nuclear weapons?"
House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., called the report "troubling and bewildering," and said "this decision would threaten American and Israeli national security, undermine our alliance with Israel, and reward the largest state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars for them to reinvest in military weaponry and proxies to kill American service-members and our allies abroad."
His fellow Foreign Affairs members, Reps. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Bryan Steil, R-Wis., also ripped the plan, with Wilson blasting it as "outrageous, and I hope this report is not true."
Steil added: "Lifting sanctions on the Iranian regime in order to return to the failed Iran Nuclear Deal is bad policy. Lifting sanctions on the regime to get them to the negotiating table is even worse."
A senior Biden official declined to confirm to the Free Beacon whether this plan is being considered, saying the administration does not comment on the details of diplomatic communications. But the source did say the administration has "been clear that we are ready to pursue a mutual return to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. We have also been open that we are talking with our partners in the P5+1 and elsewhere about the best way to achieve this, including through a series of initial, mutual steps. We have been looking at options for doing so, including with indirect conversations through our European partners."
A senior Iranian official recently told the country’s state-run media outlet Press TV that "Tehran will stop its 20-percent uranium enrichment only if the U.S. lifts all [of] its sanctions on Iran first."
The official added that Iran intends to "further reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the U.S. does not lift all sanctions," and said the U.S. is "running out of time."
"Iran is poised to blow through additional nuclear deal restrictions in the next few weeks. This is the crucial time to avoid an escalation of the situation," Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the group Arms Control Association, told Politico.
"What [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken or [National Security Adviser] Jake Sullivan need to say is what the U.S. is willing to do if Iran comes back into compliance," he added. "That would provide an important public signal into where the Biden administration wants this to go. The public posturing of the Biden administration right now looks a lot like that of the Trump administration, and that has not been encouraging to the Iranian side."
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