McConnell to Biden Administration on Iran: Don’t Surrender Leverage for Nothing

‘President Biden is the commander-in-chief of a superpower. There are no circumstances -- none -- in which Iran should get money for nothing. And there is no need to rush into talks.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Iran:

“We recently learned that Iran has balked at the prospect of direct nuclear negotiations with the United States and Europe. This sort of resistance and gamesmanship is nothing new.

“Iran has long flouted international restrictions on its nuclear program, played hide-and-seek with U.N. inspectors, and failed to disclose the full scope of its nuclear research. This happened before, during, and after the Obama Administration’s Iran deal.

“Now, thanks to the firm approach taken by the Republican administration, which restored much of the leverage President Obama had thrown away, President Biden inherited a much stronger negotiating position.

“Republicans do not oppose nuclear diplomacy.

“We hope this Administration will secure a better, stronger, and more lasting deal than President Obama’s. 

“But to do so, President Biden’s team must avoid the mistakes of the JCPOA.

“Coordinate closely with the partners and allies who are most immediately threatened by Tehran. Treat Congress as a partner to be consulted, not a problem to be managed.

“And most importantly, don’t give up leverage for free.

“Of course the Mullahs are playing coy. They want concessions before they even come to the table. In December, after President Biden was elected, Iran’s Parliament reaffirmed their intent to continue acting out if sanctions were not eased.

“Well, I hope it is only the Iranians, and not the Administration’s negotiators, who need this reminder: The United States holds the cards.

“President Biden is the commander-in-chief of a superpower. There are no circumstances -- none -- in which Iran should get money for nothing. And there is no need to rush into talks.

“This Administration must take care not to squander our upper hand just to spite the last Administration. Nor should President Biden’s team discount the value of the growing regional unity against Iran that is embodied in the new Abraham Accords.

“Every day, headlines remind the world of the threat Iran and its proxies pose to peace and security.

“The Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam was lured back to the region from Europe, kidnapped, and hanged after a sham trial in December.

“The Lebanese activist Lokman Slim was an outspoken critic of Hezbollah until he was shot dead in his car.

“The regime has kept escalating its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, sending in deadlier, longer-range weapons and inciting terrorist threats.

“The Houthis have escalated attacks on Yemen’s neighbors, including in civilian areas, and launched a military offensive that jeopardizes the peace negotiations being undertaken by U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

“Last week, an Israeli civilian shipping vessel pulled into port with gaping damage from a missile attack.

“And Tehran’s pet militias in Iraq have fired rocket barrages against our own American diplomatic and military facilities. They’re communicating to the Biden Administration in the Mullahs’ preferred language: violence.

“Like I said over the weekend, President Biden was right to respond to this threat by authorizing strikes against targets belonging to Iranian proxy groups. And he is right to recognize the need for new, binding, and enforceable constraints on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“Ultimately, we need a comprehensive approach to confronting Iran. It must be built on bipartisan foundations to endure for Administrations and Congresses yet to come.

“To get there, the Administration must continue to meet Iranian aggression from a position of strength, and consult closely with Congress — for the sake of our own security, and that of our friends and partners in the Ayatollah’s backyard.”

Related Issues: Iran