- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said he will push to ensure the U.S. never rejoins the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama and repudiated last year by President Trump.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, told reporters on Tuesday he intends to include language in the next defense authorization act to cement Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal and reinstate harsh economic sanctions on Tehran. Iran and the U.S. partners in the original deal — China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France — are struggling to keep the agreement alive in the face of mounting American economic pressure.

Mr. Inhofe was speaking to a group of reporters in his office on Capitol Hill about his recent congressional delegation overseas trip, which included stops in Germany, Israel, Djibouti, Kosovo and Algeria.

Mr. Inhofe said his trip was intended in part to send a message to nations — both adversaries and allies — who appear to be trying to wait out Mr. Trump in hopes that potential successor in 2020 could reverse some recent U.S. foreign policy moves.

“The Iranians are waiting to reestablish the deal that [Obama administration John Kerry made,” Mr. Inhofe said. “They’re all assuming [Mr. Trump will] be out of office, so everyone’s dragging their feet.”

Mr. Inhofe was confident the Iranian provision could pass in the Senate, but he told reporters, “It’s not going to be quite as easy to pass in the House.”

Last May, Mr. Trump announced plans to pull out of the Obama-era deal that lifted economic sanctions on Iran in return for halting the Islamic regime’s nuclear program until 2025.

The administration has since restored sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 deal aimed at Iran’s shipping, energy and financial industries, but concerns continue about the country’s missile program, support of terrorism and ability to rush into the production of nuclear weapons by the time the deal would have ended.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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