Dozens of US Republican lawmakers push to stop Biden from return to Iran nuclear deal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows a view of the US Congress in session.

Nearly 50 Republicans in the US Congress have renewed an effort to stop President Joe Biden’s administration from return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and removal of sanctions against Tehran.

Senator Joni Ernst and Congressman Mike Waltz, along with 25 Senate Republican and 20 House Republican co-sponsors, on Wednesday introduced an act, which would prevent the withdrawal of US sanctions on Iran until Secretary of State Antony Blinken certifies to Congress that Iran had not supported any attempts to target US citizens or Iranians living in the country for at least five years.

Ernst said in a statement that “President Biden should not provide a dime of sanctions relief” to Iran, alleging that the Biden administration continues to cozy up to the Islamic Republic in hopes of a nuclear deal.

The new bill is the latest congressional effort to prevent a return to the nuclear deal.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers sent a letter to Biden, expressing opposition to Washington’s return to the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The lawmakers, 34 Democrats and 16 Republicans, referred to several points they believed should sway Washington against the agreement, and urging the Biden administration to provide Congress with the full text of any potential deal.

“We urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress, to provide us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and to consult with all key stakeholders,” the letter, led by Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer, read.

The United States, under former president Donald Trump, abandoned the Iran deal in May 2018 and reinstated unilateral sanctions that the agreement had lifted.

The talks to salvage the agreement kicked off in the Austrian capital city of Vienna in April last year, months after Biden succeeded Trump, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.

Despite notable progress, the US indecisiveness and procrastination caused multiple interruptions in the marathon talks.

Iran FM: Agreement on JCPOA revival possible if US exhibits necessary willpower

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister says an agreement to revive the JCPOA is still available in case the United States shows the necessary willpower.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday evening.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States, on September 22, 2022.

Amir-Abdollahian highlighted that a final agreement in the Vienna talks on the removal of sanctions and revival of the JCPOA is still within reach if there was the necessary will from Washington.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should act on the basis of its technical duties and responsibilities, and distance itself from political approaches and double standards regarding Iran's peaceful nuclear program,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

Amir-Abdollahian also voiced Tehran’s readiness to deepen and expand cooperation with Oslo, stressing the need for the utilization of diverse capacities that exist between the two countries.

For her part, Huitfeldt emphasized her country's willingness in faster revival of the JCPOA and further bilateral cooperation.

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