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Biden clashes with Republican handcuffs and Dem’s skeptics over Iran deal 2.0

And the White House’s growing set of challenges in shaping any deal with Iran 2.0 goes beyond GOP: Democrats they want the president to oppose the desire to seek a wider range of concessions from Tehran, saying it would reduce the US’s chances of re-entering the agreement. But fellow Democrats are also warning of an increasingly shoddy path back to full compliance with Iran’s 2015 deal, especially after recently leaked audio information revealed Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif lamenting the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ influence in the country’s diplomatic corps. your efforts with the West.

“I am in favor of a longer and stronger deal with Iran, but that is only happening after we return to JCPOA,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Said in a brief interview, using the acronym for the 2015 deal. also known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan. “If we insisted on making a comprehensive deal that included their support for terrorist groups, their human rights rights, their ballistic missile programs, that would be a death knell for the JCPOA.”

The leak made headlines for Zarif’s references to climate adviser and former Biden Secretary of State John Kerry, but the Iranian minister’s comments also signaled to lawmakers that moderate forces in Iran are giving way to more extremist hardliners who are hesitant to engage with USA and other western countries. Such a trend shows some senior Democrats that returning the United States and Iran in line with the 2015 agreement will be a Herculean task at best.

“Zarif’s comments certainly at least complicate the picture. You have to wonder what is it that they can agree to and fulfill? Said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (DN.J.), who opposed the 2015 agreement with Iran.

The foreign minister’s remarks raise questions “whether this makes a lot of sense in terms of what he can commit to,” Menendez added. “These are all factors that need to go into this.”

Biden’s team has no illusions about the difficult path to re-engaging with Iran after Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed new sanctions on the Tehran regime, an approach called “maximum pressure.” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said Sunday that “there is still enough distance to bridge the remaining gaps and those gaps are beyond what sanctions the United States and other countries will lift” in exchange for restrictions on the nuclear program. of Tehran.

“Our diplomats will continue to work on this in the coming weeks to try to achieve a reciprocal return to the JCPOA, which is a nuclear deal with Iran, in compliance,” Sullivan told ABC’s “This Week.”

Re-joining the JCPOA will almost certainly require the Biden administration to lift some of the Trump-era sanctions – which could be approved by Congress, including hawk Democrats like Menendez, whose opposition to the 2015 deal made the process politically painful. under then-President Barack Obama. This time, the same key players will be eager to review in Congress.

“The question is, what does ‘longer and stronger’ mean?” Menendez added, quoting a phrase Secretary of State Anthony Blinken coined during his confirmation hearing earlier this year to refer to future plans. the administration for the transaction. “If we get reciprocity about the things we are interested in, from the Iranians, there will have to be easing of sanctions. But the real question is, what are you easing the sanctions for and what sanctions are you talking about?

Biden’s first priority is to bring the United States and Iran back in line with the 2015 agreement, which dealt exclusively with Iran’s nuclear program. Still, his deputies expect a broader agreement that could potentially address the country’s non-nuclear malignancies in the region, including its support for terrorist proxies and the ballistic missile program.

Meanwhile, Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill are worried about the importance of returning to the 2015 deal, even if it means other sources of tension between Washington and Tehran remain on the dining room floor.

“As much as I’m concerned about what they’re doing in support of terrorism in the Middle East, disrupting transport routes and everything else, I think the focus should continue to be on not getting them nuclear weapons.” , added Saint Jeanne Sahin (DN.H.).

Despite Iran’s reluctance to meet face-to-face with US officials in Vienna, there are some early positive signs of the regime’s readiness to reach an agreement, including its recent engagement with its longtime enemy Saudi Arabia on issues relevant to the Biden administration. ceasefire in Yemen.

Republicans, meanwhile, are looking for a 2015 law called the Iran Nuclear Revision Review Act to help thwart all efforts to re-enter this year’s nuclear deal. Adopted to allow Congress to consider a possible deal, the 2015 bill could be key this time around, allowing lawmakers to formally reject efforts to lift the Trump administration’s sanctions.

Republicans, who have been equally opposed to the 2015 deal since Obama reached it, are wasting no time in ruining the Biden administration’s talks as wasteful and potentially dangerous.

“[The Iranians] they did nothing to win indirect or direct conversations. Their behavior has not changed. This will be seen as a reassurance, “said Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) in a brief interview. “This reinforces the story that the West is weak … I see that these negotiations are very destabilizing for the region.”

During his first 100 days in office, Biden was forced to face increasingly aggressive Iran on the fronts, in addition to his nuclear program. The president ordered airstrikes on Iran-backed assets in Syria in February in retaliation for attacks on US forces in the region. Republicans say Trump’s sanctions regime has given the United States tremendous influence, and that unless Iran is willing to compromise on its support for terrorist proxies in the region, the United States should not return to the 2015 agreement.

“At this stage, it is impossible to separate the nuclear program from all other nefarious activities that Iran is undertaking,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Deputy chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a brief interview.

Further extending the existing review law of 2015, a group of GP senators recently introduced legislation aimed at preventing Biden from rejoining the nuclear deal. The bill will ensure that any new agreement reached by the president takes the form of a treaty, thus requiring congressional approval. A cohort of Republicans in parliament has introduced a similar bill that would also impose even more sanctions on the Iranian regime and further complicate Biden’s team in the ongoing talks.

“If they don’t do it as a treaty, it’s just a political agreement that’s as good as the current administration.” said Rubio. “May be changed by future administration.”

Biden’s allies argue that the current gloom over any return to the nuclear pact is not the president’s fault; rather, they argue, Trump made Biden’s task impossible when he went beyond just withdrawing from the 2015 deal to impose brand new sanctions that were not related to Iran’s nuclear program. During talks in Vienna this spring, Iran demanded that all these US sanctions be lifted.

“There has been damage caused by the Trump administration’s approach that will make it more complicated,” said Sen. Tim Kane (D-Va.). “But the right answer is to try to get the Iranians to comply again.” the nuclear deal and then focus on non-nuclear activities. “

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