Republican lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden on Tuesday against lifting Washington’s sanctions on Iran to resolve the standoff over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Iran’s malign activities, including its nuclear program, ballistic and cruise missile development, weapons proliferation, support for terrorism, hostage-taking, cyberattacks, and gross human rights violations, are unconscionable. Regime demands for sanctions relief as a prerequisite for the administration’s proposed bilateral negotiations are not made in good faith,” they wrote to Biden in a letter led by Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, John Katko.
Biden’s administration has signaled to Iran its willingness to return to talks to revive the nuclear deal Former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
Biden reversed Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran had been restored. And the State Department eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats in New York.
Yet, Tehran demanded that all Trump-era sanctions on Iran be lifted before taking any real action to return to the deal.
“The United States must apply immense pressure to the Iranian regime and cannot afford to be perceived as weak or wavering on these important national security threats,” wrote the Republican lawmakers. “Appeasement will not effectuate change.”
NEW LETTER: @RepJohnKatko & @HomelandGOP members implore President Biden to reconsider lifting sanctions on Iran.— House Homeland GOP (@HomelandGOP) February 23, 2021
“The U.S. must apply immense pressure to the Iranian regime and cannot afford to be perceived as weak or wavering.” pic.twitter.com/Foaa7RtZ56
“Sanctions are an important point of leverage if we intend to achieve this goal diplomatically and peacefully. Lifting sanctions will only serve to back the US into an inescapable corner and removes any power we hold in our attempts to normalize Iranian and US relations,” they said.
Iran has been upping the ante, trying to pressure the US to lift the sanctions. Tehran officially restricted site inspections by the UN's nuclear watchdog IAEA.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday Iran might enrich uranium up to 60 percent purity if needed, while repeating a denial of any Iranian intent to seek nuclear weapons, for which 90 percent enrichment would be required.
The Iranian regime is trying to get more concessions from Washington before taking any real action, especially in light of growing pressure at home due to economic hardship worsened by the US sanctions.
“Tehran urgently needs sanctions relief.. Iran also holds its presidential elections in June 2021 and, for the outgoing Rouhani administration, securing a quick return to the deal would build back lost economic and political confidence, and perhaps also impact the election outcome,” according to Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow at Middle East and North Africa Program, Chatham House.
- With Agencies