150 House Democrats support Biden push to reenter Iran nuclear deal

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images
US President-Elect Joe Biden looks on while delivers remarks, before the holiday, at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on December 22, 2020

At least 150 House Democrats have signed a letter expressing support for President-elect Joe Biden’s push to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, a key number of lawmakers that could block congressional attempts to prevent the move.

The Democrats say Biden’s push to reenter the international agreement if Iran returns to compliance should be used as a starting point for further negotiations addressing Tehran’s “other malign behavior.”

“We are united in our support for swiftly taking the necessary diplomatic steps to restore constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and return both Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a starting point for further negotiations,” the lawmakers wrote. The letter was led by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.); Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

President Trump withdrew from the Obama-era deal in 2018 and instituted a “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions that Democrats say have failed to constrain Iran’s nuclear program and contributed to increasing confrontations in the region.

The new letter puts the House Democrats in opposition with critics of Biden’s push to reenter the 2015 international agreement, including center-right and right-wing pro-Israel organizations, nearly all Republicans, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that “we shouldn’t go back to business as usual with Iran.” Opponents would need a two-thirds majority in Congress to override a Biden veto of any legislation aimed at blocking reentry to the Iran deal, a percentage that may be unattainable with so many House Democrats supporting the move.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Gulf Arab countries that have recently opened diplomatic ties with Israel, have also said they expect to be included in any negotiations for future talks with Iran.

The conflict over reentering the deal comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran following the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, widely believed to have been carried out by Israel, and the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-ordered drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Trump on Wednesday said Iran was responsible for a large-scale rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place on Sunday. The attack, which killed an Iraqi civilian and damaged the embassy compound, was called the largest strike on the facility in a decade.

“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” Trump tweeted.

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” he added.

— Updated at 10:51 a.m.

Tags Abigail Spanberger Barbara Lee Benjamin Netanyahu Biden transition Brad Sherman David Price Donald Trump Gregory Meeks Iran Iran nuclear deal Jan Schakowsky Joaquin Castro Joe Biden
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