Rumored Iran Deal Would Mean “Choosing Weakness in the Middle East”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Iran:
“The eyes of the American people and the entire world are fixed on Eastern Europe. Vladimir Putin is continuing his unjustifiable invasion of a sovereign country and his unprovoked killing of innocent people.
“Over the weekend, Senators were honored to speak electronically with Ukraine’s brave leader, President Zelensky. His courageous leadership has helped rally freedom-loving people the world over to the Ukrainians’ cause.
“One of his main pleas was that America and our partners continue providing Ukraine with additional military assistance — and do so very quickly. Long before the invasion began, I was on this floor warning the Biden Administration that we could not let assistance be trickled out at the speed of bureaucracy. I certainly hope that lesson has at last been learned.
“But even while one foreign policy nightmare plays out in Eastern Europe, inexplicably, the Biden Administration is reportedly poised to announce a giant, gratuitous capitulation to our principal adversary in the Middle East as well.
“The nature of the Biden Administration’s approach to Tehran thus far has concerned not just Republicans, but members of both parties.
“Our Democratic colleague, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, recently exhorted the Administration and our partners to, ‘exert more pressure on Iran to counter its nuclear program, its missile program, and its dangerous behavior around the Middle East, including attacks on American personnel and assets.’
“I would note that Senator Menendez also stressed the importance of building bipartisan support for any new deal which the President’s team wants to cook up with the Iranians. This is the same message I conveyed to the President and his top advisors at the beginning of the Administration. If he wants his policy or his deal to endure beyond his Presidency, he must bring Republicans on board.
“Regrettably, President Biden appears to have ignored this good advice. Reports indicate a sequel to the bad 2015 Iran nuclear deal may be imminent, yet the Administration has laid zero bipartisan groundwork.
“Indeed, there are indications the President’s posture is not even supported within his own team. According to public reports, multiple key diplomats recently walked off the Administration’s negotiating team because of concerns the chief negotiator was going much too soft.
“Since the very beginning, I have pushed this Administration to clearly explain its Middle East strategy — if they even have one. I have encouraged them to push back strongly against Iranian aggression and contest growing Russian and Chinese influence in a region of significant interest to the United States.
“Rumors of this impending ‘deal’ — because rumors are all that Congress has — suggest it would be an enormous step in the wrong direction.
“It appears not to be a ‘longer and stronger’ deal than the JCPOA, as was promised, but a weaker and shorter deal.
“It appears not to safeguard and increase our leverage over Tehran and its Revolutionary Guard, but instead to breezily sign our leverage away.
“President Biden appears to want to give Tehran enduring sanctions relief now in exchange for limited and short-term curbs on their nuclear program. A reminder of how bad President Obama’s Iran deal was is the fact that these restrictions will begin to expire as soon as next year. That’ll put more pressure on Western negotiators, not on Iran.
“This is extortion playing out step by step. And this Administration seems prepared to sign onto it.
“Iran gets sanctions relief and expanded trade with Russia and China, their price is even fewer restrictions than the original failed Iran deal, and those restrictions begin to expire within just two years.
“This is wildly reckless. This is an Administration chasing a deal, any deal, instead of pursuing our interests.
“There is some suspicion the Administration is desperate for any excuse to ease sanctions on Iranian oil exports to help blunt the impact of the European crisis on Americans’ pocketbooks.
“This White House seems determined to go hat in hand and beg every bad actor around the world to ramp up their own fossil fuel production, but still will not stop their holy war against our own American energy production here at home.
“If press reports of the deal are accurate, the President and Democrats on Capitol Hill surely understand that it will not be accepted widely or quietly.
“If the President seeks to remove sanctions on Iran, there will be votes. Democrats who now regret their recent vote to protect the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should think twice before voting to help President Biden ease sanctions on Iranian entities that engage in terrorism, missile proliferation, or human rights abuses.
“Given Chairman Menendez’s concerns, I hope and would expect the Foreign Relations Committee will hold major hearings.
“But I know this much for certain: The next time Republicans control the Senate, vigorous oversight will take place over the diplomatic mess that is unfolding in the Middle East.
“The failure to consolidate the historic gains of the Abraham Accords.
“Gigantic unilateral concessions to the most active state sponsor of terror in the entire world.
“Pointless capitulation to Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists that has only yielded even more violence in Yemen, and increased ballistic missile and drone attacks against Saudi and Emirati cities.
“It is bad enough that Democrats in Congress have spent months actively fighting against sufficient funding for our national defense and our Armed Forces.
“But these dynamics are made even more dangerous by a White House that is actively choosing weakness in the Middle East.”
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