House Democrats Express Alarm as Nuclear Deal With Iran Looms

House Democrats Express Alarm as Nuclear Deal With Iran Looms House Democrats Express Alarm as Nuclear Deal With Iran Looms Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

By Nicole Wells | Wednesday, 06 April 2022 05:55 PM

With negotiators in Vienna reportedly close to a deal, even Democrats are expressing alarm at a renewed nuclear deal with Iran, the Daily Mail reports.

On Wednesday, a group of 18 House Democrats warned that the Biden administration's weak negotiating position meant there were no guarantees that the Islamic republic would not eventually develop nuclear weapons. According to the Mail, the group also said that lifting economic sanctions would allow money to flow to the state's terrorist proxies.

Though details have yet to be publicized, lifting some sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear program is said to be on the table.

At a press conference, the Democrat lawmakers said the Biden administration should be briefing lawmakers more about the deal's progress.

"We understand that while the recent negotiations have not concluded, we feel that we can't stay quiet about the unacceptable and deeply troubling turn that these talks have reportedly taken," Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told reporters.

Luria added that the Israeli ambassador to Washington communicated to her that the agreement "places Iran and Israel on a collision course."

Referring to Iran's demand that the U.S. remove the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), the Virginia congresswoman said that "it's completely unacceptable" to lift the FTO label as part of negotiations.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Obama-era nuclear accord in 2018, accusing Tehran of not abiding by the terms of the deal and sponsoring terrorism.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors reported last month that Iran's supply of 60% purity enriched uranium had grown by more than 80% in three months, the Daily Mail reports.

Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., said Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an example of how nuclear weapons can embolden world leaders.

"We need only look to today's headlines to see what happens when you have mad men with nuclear weapons – and what they can do and what they can threaten – to know that we cannot allow this under any circumstances," he said.

In a statement obtained by The Hill, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., raised concerns that the deal would allow Russia to continue doing energy business with Iran.

"Are we seriously going to let a war criminal, Vladimir Putin, be the guarantor of the deal?" he said. "We must address the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, stand strong against terrorists, and protect American values and our allies."

But supporters of a deal say an imperfect one is better than no deal at all.

Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, reportedly said that even if some sanctions were lifted as part of a renewed deal, many of the individuals and organizations would remain sanctioned under other authorizations.

"Do we want Iran to slow down their nuclear program or not?" Slavin said recently. "This deal is worth having."

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said Iran represented the biggest threat to regional security and would become much more dangerous if it were able to acquire nuclear weapons.

"My concern is, first of all, that they not have that nuclear weapon, but I am also very concerned about the remarkable growth in number and efficiency of their ballistic missile force, their [unmanned aerial vehicle] program, their long-range drones and their land-attack cruise missile program," he said. "All of those concern me."

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