Biden’s allies, rivals in Senate unify to call for comprehensive US deal with Iran
“Democrats and Republicans may have tactical differences, but we are united on preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior,” the group of 43 senators said
In a letter obtained by Al Arabiya English, Senators Bob Menendez and Lindsey Graham led the group of over 40 senators “outlining the pillars of a comprehensive diplomatic Iran strategy that will garner bipartisan support in Congress.”
Democrats and Republicans have been at odds over ties with Iran. Biden and his Democratic Party have sought to reenter the JCPOA, an acronym for the Iran deal signed under former President Barack Obama in 2015.
But Republicans argue that the deal fell short of addressing Iran’s proxies across the globe and its ballistic missile program. The 2015 deal also failed to include Washington’s Gulf allies and Israel.
The letter sent to Biden urged him to consult with European allies and include Israel and Gulf security partners on “a path forward with Iran.”
The senators admitted that they had “differing views” on the JCPOA and the maximum pressure campaign imposed on Iran by the Trump administration. This included withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018 and slapping crushing economic sanctions on Tehran.
“While we may have differing views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015 and the overall approach of the Trump Administration’s maximum pressure campaign, we must confront the reality that Iran has accelerated its nuclear activity in alarming ways, including increasing its centrifuge research and production and enriching uranium up to 20 percent,” the letter read.
Nevertheless, the senators highlighted that Iran poses a threat to the US and international security through more than just its nuclear program.
Examples given by the senators were Iran’s exporting of arms, supporting Shia militias that target US service members, and supporting terrorist organizations and other malign actors throughout the region.
Iranian threats to US assets and personnel in Iraq are also of concern, they added.
Iran’s “increasing size and capabilities of its ballistic and cruise missile programs” are also of concern, the senators said.
But Iran’s ballistic missiles, its nuclear program and its support for militias were not the only things of concern, according to the senators.
“Finally, we believe it is critically important to prioritize the release of all American citizens unjustly detained in Iran, including Baquer Namazi, Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, and Emad Shargi,” the senators said.
Thursday’s letter was the latest in a string of messages to Biden from lawmakers and senators from both parties.
However, the significance of this letter was those who signed. Fierce political rivals came together to agree on a unified approach to Iran.
It was a rare incident where Chris Coons, one of Biden’s closest confidantes, agreed with harsh critics of the president such as Lindsey Graham or Marsha Blackburn.
“Iran should have no doubt about America’s policy. Democrats and Republicans may have tactical differences, but we are united on preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior,” the group of 43 senators said.
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