Defense

140 lawmakers call for Biden administration to take ‘comprehensive’ approach to Iran

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A bipartisan group of 140 House lawmakers is urging the Biden administration to take a “comprehensive” approach to threats posed by Iran beyond just reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“As the Biden administration considers negotiations with Iran, we write to express our bipartisan and shared view that we must seek an agreement or set of agreements with Iran that are comprehensive in nature to address the full range of threats that Iran poses to the region,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“As Democrats and Republicans from across the political spectrum, we are united in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior,” they added.

The letter, which was organized by Reps. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), is signed by 70 Democrats and 70 Republicans.

It comes as the Biden administration has expressed a willingness to talk with Iran about rejoining the nuclear pact between Tehran and several world powers that was negotiated by the Obama administration.

Former President Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions. Since then, Iran has breached the deal’s limits on stockpiling and enriching uranium.

President Biden has said he would rejoin the deal if Iran comes back into compliance, but Iran is demanding sanctions relief before it returns to compliance.

Tuesday’s bipartisan letter comes after one from 150 Democrats in December urging Biden to “swiftly” re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and one from 120 Republicans in February warning Biden not to rejoin the nuclear deal without significant changes.

Some of the same lawmakers signed both Tuesday’s bipartisan letter and one of the partisan letters.

Tuesday’s letter acknowledged that differences of opinion continue to exist about “what the parameters of a final deal should entail and the process by which it is reached,” but it said there is a “bipartisan consensus” on several issues.

“Three core tenets – their nuclear program, their ballistic missile program, and their funding of terrorism – must be addressed from the outset,” the lawmakers wrote.

While the Biden administration has expressed concern about other Iranian activities, including support for proxy forces in the region and its ballistic missile program, it has argued the nuclear program is the top threat that should be addressed first.

Once the existing nuclear deal is secured, Biden has said he would seek a “longer and stronger” deal that further tightens nuclear constraints and addresses Iran’s other concerning behavior.

“There is consensus within Congress that allowing one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism to obtain nuclear weapons is an unacceptable risk,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “We recognize that there is not a singular diplomatic path forward on these objectives and we look forward to working with you as partners to achieve lasting peace in the region.”

Tags Anthony Brown Antony Blinken Congress Donald Trump Iran Joe Biden Michael Waltz Nuclear pact sanctions

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