McConnell: Rewarding Terrorist Sponsors Is Not Coherent Iran Policy
‘If President Biden hopes to earn bipartisan support for an Iran policy that could outlast his time in office, he needs to start explaining how he intends to respond as Iran ramps up threats against the United States and our closest partners in its backyard.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Iran:
“Over the weekend, Iran held what its Supreme Leader might call a presidential election. To the rest of the world, including millions of Iranians, what actually happened was quite clear.
“The regime’s favored choice was selected from a limited field of approved candidates in a carefully controlled bit of political theater.
“There’s no doubt this charade works as intended. The Ayatollah got a president-elect with a record of strict adherence to his regime’s revolutionary orthodoxy. Meanwhile, former presidential candidates who emerged as leaders of the popular 2009 Green Movement remain under house arrest.
“Like his predecessors, Ebrahim Raisi will serve as a figurehead while the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps run the show.
“But even rigged elections have consequences. And the new most visible figure in Tehran has a proven history as a hardline theocrat.
“For decades, from his time on a so-called ‘death committee’ in the 1980s, the president-elect played an intimate role in the trial, conviction, and summary execution of political prisoners and peaceful protestors.
“There is no question he is an extreme hardliner, even in the Iranian context.
“And now, he’s set to be the so-called “counterpart” to President Biden as this administration re-engages eagerly with the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.
“In some circles, a looming turnover in the top ranks of Iranian leadership is being spun as a reason for the White House to rush even faster than it already is toward restoring the Obama Administration’s failed nuclear deal.
“One particularly eager assessment in the New York Times called the next six weeks, quote, ‘a unique window for clinching an agreement,’ like some sort of liquidation sale in which President Biden needs to take whatever he can.
“Meanwhile, rational observers know that the fundamental reality of U.S.-Iran relations has not changed.
“If the selection of a new hardline figurehead in Tehran sends any signal, it’s a reminder that showering the regime with sanctions relief and expecting a change in behavior is a reckless and damaging approach.
“In fact, President-elect Raisi has already said as much, himself. Iran’s ballistic missile program is, quote, ‘not negotiable,’ and meeting with President Biden is not on the table.
“Of course, Iranian politicians and diplomats are known to lie and dissemble. So we should pay closest attention to this regime’s actions.
“Here’s the truth: domestic political developments in Tehran don’t absolve the Biden Administration of its responsibility to confront Iran’s nuclear and missile proliferation, its support for terrorism, its abuses of human rights, and its relentless efforts to destabilize the entire region.
“If President Biden hopes to earn bipartisan support for an Iran policy that could outlast his time in office, he needs to start explaining how he intends to respond as Iran ramps up threats against the United States and our closest partners in its backyard.
“Remember, the thousands of rockets Hamas fired at Israel last month were made possible by Iran. So were the precision-guided munitions in Hizballah’s arsenal. And the ballistic missiles and UAVs launched into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis in Yemen.
“And the dozens of militia attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq? Carried out by Tehran’s reliable acolytes.
“The Biden Administration has had months to develop a coherent rationale for its eager engagement with the Iranian regime… Months to hash out a better plan than rewarding terrorist sponsors with sanctions relief.
“An explanation to Congress is long overdue.”
Related Issues: Iran