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GOP lawmakers introduce bill pushing back on Biden’s Iran policy

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Members of the Republican Study Committee Caucus on Wednesday, joined by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced the introduction of a bill to push back against the Biden administration with regards to Iran, especially sanctions.

“In the first 100 days, President [Joe] Biden has exhibited a troubling pattern. He’s talked a big game while returning to the same Obama-era weakness that emboldened our adversaries and made American families less safe,” said Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, the group’s chair, at the RSC press conference unveiling the Maximum Pressure Act in front of the U.S. Capitol. “His foreign policy seems to be defined by the approach of ‘speak loudly and carry a twig,’ which is in stark contrast to the tree limb that [Pompeo] and President [Donald] Trump carried on a daily basis.”

“And we are seeing Biden’s weak approach take root with regards to Iran,” the Indiana Republican added. The reason, he said, for why the RSC was gathered for the noontime conference on Wednesday, is “to communicate to the Biden administration that we will fight to maintain sanctions on Iran and show our adversaries that if Joe Biden temporarily lifts sanctions, we will reimpose them later.”

The Maximum Pressure Act, in the words of Banks, does three things. Firstly, it shows that Congress “is not bound to agreements by the president that purports to speak on our behalf”. Secondly, it “modifies the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy until Iran meets the 12 demands laid out by [Pompeo] in May of 2018,” which Banks said “Biden’s State Department refused to say that they support.” And thirdly, it “expands the existing bipartisan Iran sanctions mandated by Congress.”

The legislation—which has 83 cosponsors for the bill as of Wednesday, according to the Indiana congressman—is “the toughest sanctions bill ever introduced in Congress on Iran,” he said.

Saying he’s “proud” of the bill, Pompeo, who was consulted on it, said “it talks about things that need to be done for Iran to rejoin the community of nations and says ‘If you don’t do that, sanctions are going to […] remain in place.’ This is what Congress quintessentially has the responsibility to do.”

Former President Trump’s secretary of state, hoping for the bill to become a bipartisan one in the Democrat-controlled House, went on to say that “this isn’t about Republicans, or conservatives, or Democrats; this is about the security of America.”

Behnam Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who focuses on Iranian security and political issues, told SaraACarter.com on Wednesday that the “legislation signals that many members of Congress do not think the talks in Vienna, as well as the more conciliatory and pale green light approach taken by the Biden administration towards Iran will bear fruit,” referencing the ongoing talks between the U.S., Iran, and a host of other countries in Vienna over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—that Trump withdrew the U.S. from, to much scrutiny from Western allies.

“The Trump administration’s 12 points was not a departure from long-standing U.S. goals or national strategy towards the Islamic Republic,” he said, then arguing that the Obama administration turned “a blind eye to Iran’s regional threat networks and permitting domestic enrichment, which enabled and sustained the fatally flawed JCPOA, represented the departure in U.S. policy.”

“Any attempt to restore the importance of those 12 points, as well as integrate human rights for a critical ’13th point’ should therefore be seen as a restoration of long-standing U.S. policy aims towards Tehran.”

Also saying “it is unclear if this bill will become law,” Taleblu added that “the message it sends, coupled with a flurry of other bills, bipartisan letters, and statements is clear. The U.S. Congress believes in a more comprehensive pressure policy to impede Iran’s revenues, call out its human rights abuses, and change its behavior. Attempts to resurrect the JCPOA will do none of that.”

“I would consider this legislation to be the beginnings of a more cohesive Congressional ‘ground-game’ on Iran led by the RSC,” the FDD senior fellow continued. “The range of diverse sanctions options discussed in the bill should serve as a reminder that the U.S. has more room to grow its peaceful pressure policy, rather than trade it away for limited concessions at the negotiating table.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Iranian Americans and exiles increase pressure on Biden to end negotiations with Iran

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As the world rallies around the women’s rights movement protesting the Islamic regime following the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, the pressure on Biden to cease nuclear negotiations intensifies.

“Iranian Americans have held rallies in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and many other places in the U.S., chanting for the downfall of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, while calling on the international community to help” writes the Foreign Desk.

During a Sunday rally at the Los Angeles Federal building in Westwood, many young and old attendees spoke to the Foreign Desk and explained their reasons for being against a nuclear agreement while speaking on condition of anonymity:

While many Iranians have been vocal on social media and are attending solidarity protests, most are still fearful of retribution against their friends and family in Iran and requested that their actual names not be used in writing this piece. 

Some Iranian Americans stated that negotiations with Iranian officials would “legitimize the regime and their actions.” Other rallygoers explained that by negotiating with Iran’s regime and removing the economic sanctions, the regime could “build a nuclear bomb against Israel and the U.S..” Instead, they argued that the President should “do more” to punish the Islamic regime and “target its leadership.”

Young Iranian immigrants at the rally argued that instead of removing economic sanctions as stipulated in the nuclear negotiations, the President should actually “put more economic sanctions on the regime,” and that by placing harsher sanctions on the regime, their friends, family members, and the whole country would suffer, but it would significantly “hurt the regime.” 

When asked if they were confident that President Biden would stop negotiations with the regime, many believed that the administration would continue their talks, no matter how big the outcry.

The Foreign Desk  explains that the Iranian regime continues to crack down on protesters without relent. However, the State Department has again confirmed its intention to pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran’s regime.

“We are doing everything we can not only to support the human rights and the aspirations for greater freedom of the Iranian people, but also to hold accountable those within the Iranian system that are responsible for violence against the Iranian people,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “When it comes to Iran, though, there would be no greater challenge to the U.S., to our partners, and to the broader international system than an Iran with a nuclear weapon,” said Price.

Price acknowledged that while a deal is not guaranteed to come together, he stated that America has been “sincere and steadfast” in negotiating a potential return to the nuclear agreement but reiterated that the U.S. is “not willing to bend.”

Many experts are comparing the President’s decision to negotiate with the regime amid the crackdowns to President Obama’s actions during the 2009 Green Revolution, where Iranian citizens took to the streets to protest the rigged presidential election results.

Iranian leaders like exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi stated that a nuclear agreement with Iran would be “worse” than the one signed in 2015.

“The Iranian regime has the capability, the technology, and the material to fabricate a bomb,” Pahlavi said. According to the Prince, the failure of the original Iran nuclear agreement would result in “the regime becoming even more radical.”

“Repeating the same mistake with hindsight is even worse than the first one,” he added.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have called on the administration to cancel nuclear negotiations with Iran and enact a maximum pressure campaign against the regime just like the former Trump administration did. Members of Congress from both political sides have vowed that they will not vote to lift sanctions from Iran or officially finalize a nuclear agreement should one come through.

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