Iran is using the coronavirus pandemic to sneak around sanctions to acquire a nuclear weapon, Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis told Newsmax TV.
Steil recently penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner saying Iran is using the global health crisis to avoid following nuclear sanctions it agreed on. In 2015, Iran had economic sanctions against it removed in exchange for limiting its nuclear program and allowing more monitoring from U.S Allies in the European Union.
But in 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out of that deal and reimposed economic sanctions against Iran.
"We've seen Iran trying to use a public and relations campaign related to coronavirus to wiggle their way out of these sanctions," Steil told Newsmax TV Monday's "Spicer & Co." "We need to make sure that we continue to enforce our sanctions, make sure that our allies abide by those sanctions and ultimately, put pressure on the Iranian regime, such that they do not ever develop a nuclear weapon."
Iran has had the sixth-highest number of deaths of any nation in the world. So, European countries have stepped in to provide aid to Iran through a measure known as INSTEX, which allows EU nations to provide aid to the Middle Eastern nation without breaking U.S. sanctions.
But Steil insists using INSTEX isn't necessary since providing aid doesn't go against any sanctions against Iran.
"We definitely need to make sure that the people of Iran are receiving the medical things that they need, no problem with that, but what Iranian leadership is trying to do is use the coronavirus as a move so that they can drive toward using a nuclear weapon," Steil said.
Steil recently introduced a bill to sanction European nations who give any money to Iran.
"What Iran's trying to do, in working with their European friends, is to try to get around the U.S. sanctions regime. The best part of the United States sanctions is through our banking and through our insurance regulatory framework," Steil said.
He added: "So Iran is working with Europe to try to work their way around this. They're using this auspice that they need medical supplies. Those are allowed under the sanction. That's a completely false premise. But what we need to do is make sure that Iran is not using end runarounds, and this bill that I've introduced gives the treasury secretary the power to enforce our sanctions as they were written, to continue to apply pressure to Iran, bring them to the table and prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon."
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