A group of Republican legislators on Wednesday released legislation to support sanctions on Iran, distance Congress from agreements made by President Joe Biden, and reinforce demands made by the previous administration.
“In the first 100 days, President 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 Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who chairs the Republican Study Committee Caucus, said at a press conference introducing the Maximum Pressure Act before 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.”
“We’re seeing Biden’s weak approach take route with regards to Iran,” he added later.
“That’s why we’re here today, 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,” Banks said.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined lawmakers during the press conference, telling reporters: “I’m here in my status as a private citizen. As a private citizen, I care deeply that Iran never has a nuclear weapon and when I saw this legislation forming, I talked to Congressman Banks. I said I wanted to be part of making sure that this is successful.”
“It’s equally special to be here supporting a piece of legislation that matters an awful lot for the security of every one of the constituents of every member of Congress that’s behind me. We’ve got to get this right, our administration did just that,” he said.
“You saw us build out an enormous coalition, Israelis, Saudis, Bahrainis, Arabs from all of the Gulf states understood that Iran was the central bad actor creating instability in the Middle East and they joined together alongside of us to push back against them,” Pompeo added.
Behnam Taleblu, Iran expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told SaraACarter.com that this “legislation signals that many members of Congress do not think the talks in Vienna,” where the Biden administration is renegotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with Iran and several other countries, “as well as the more conciliatory and pale green light approach taken by the Biden administration towards Iran will bear fruit.”
“The Trump administration’s 12 points was not a departure from long-standing U.S. goals or national strategy towards the Islamic Republic,” he added, accusing former President Barack Obama’s administration of having 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.”
Taleblu also said “it is unclear if this bill will become law,” and 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,” he added. “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.”