- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Republican members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding a congressional review of any nuclear agreements reached with Iran.

The letter punctuated Republicans’ criticism of the administration’s attempt to return to an agreement similar to the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the Trump administration withdrew in May of 2018.

“Any prospective agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran that commits the United States to action clearly constitutes a new agreement that must be transmitted to Congress for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2160e,”  the lawmakers, led by Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, wrote in the letter Monday. “We look forward to the opportunity to review any such agreement, to ensure that it addresses the nuclear and other threats that Iran poses to the United States and our allies and partners.”

U.S. and European negotiators re-engaged in the latest round of nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday in Vienna after ending previous discussions in May.

Mr. Blinken has called for reentering a similar agreement to the JCPOA, which would require mutual compliance from both nations, but he has advocated for stronger terms and longer timeframes than the previous agreement.

In a statement released upon the conclusion of the G-7 summit, the collective leaders reaffirmed their commitment to restoring nonproliferation measures against Iran and urged the United States and Iran to return to their commitments outlined under the JCPOA.

Republicans have argued that a return to the deal would not stop Iran’s advance toward a nuclear weapon, and say Iran’s violations of previous agreements should bar any attempts to return to the JCPOA.

“Even if Iran were to relinquish all of the physical fruits of its violations – such as noncompliant centrifuges and nuclear materials – it cannot unlearn the technical capacity and knowledge that it has gleaned from the prohibited nuclear activities it has undertaken,” they said. “It is farther down the road toward a nuclear weapon than it was when the original JCPOA was concluded.”

Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, introduced legislation last week that would require the administration to submit any deal reached with Iran to Congress as a treaty. The “Iran Nuclear Treaty Act,” as it is known, would also prevent the administration from waiving sanctions on Iran without Senate approval.

“Repeating Obama-era efforts to lift sanctions on Iran and rejoin the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal without approval from Congress will give a free pass to the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism for their recent attacks their proxies have waged against Israel,” Sen. Roger Marshal of Kansas said. “President Biden should work with Congress to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its action and immediately end negotiations with Iran. Sanctions relief will only contribute to more terror attacks against America and its allies, as well as the continued development of Iran’s nuclear program.”

The administration lifted sanctions against three former Iranian officials last week, which some viewed as a conciliatory measure heading into the talks. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the decision was not connected to the negotiations.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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