Republican lawmakers are investigating the Biden administration’s private negotiations with Iran that may include sanctions relief.
Republicans sent a letter to the State and Treasury Departments asking officials to “hand over all records of any communications” with Iran that would unwind sanctions. Negotiations in Vienna over the U.S. and Iran rejoining the 2015 nuclear accord are continuing, but the Biden administration says there are no “direct negotiations” with Tehran.
The Republicans are complaining that Iranian officials have been briefed on the talks while the administration continues to ignore Congress.
The latest probe is just one of several investigations led by Republicans in Congress into the Biden administration’s rumored concessions to Iran. State Department officials, including Iran envoy Rob Malley, have rebuffed all GOP requests for a briefing on the state of talks in the last several months. Internal administration records about the scope and scale of sanctions relief for Iran would help congressional opponents of the talks implement countermeasures to ensure sanctions remain in place.
“For months now, I have been pressuring the Biden administration for answers on sanctions relief that they plan to provide to the Iranian regime,” Rep. Bryan Steil (R., Wis.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. Steil is leading the investigation along with Reps. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. All of the lawmakers are also members of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in Congress, which is coordinating the series of probes into sanctions relief.
“It’s concerning that the Iranian Parliament and the Iranian regime have more information on these talks than members of Congress in the United States,” Steil said.
Biden doesn’t trust Republicans to keep a secret, probably for good reason. Nevertheless, it disrespects Congress not to keep them apprised of negotiations when so much is at stake.
Documents provided to the Iranian parliament last month and translated from Farsi by the Free Beacon indicate that in addition to waiving sanctions on Iran’s economy, the Biden administration is likely to cancel sanctions that target Raisi, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and other senior officials for their role in ongoing mass human rights abuses. These measures were issued by the Trump administration as part of its maximum pressure campaign on Tehran.
The letter also gives the Biden administration until Aug. 13 to answer several questions, including whether Trump’s sanctions will be overturned. They say this move is particularly important as the Iranian people participate in widespread anti-regime protests that expanded across the country in the last several weeks.
No wonder they want to keep negotiations secret. Biden wants to give away the few advantages that the U.S. has relating to the Iranian government’s human rights abuses. Those sanctions may not hurt Rauisi and other Iranian officials but it is highly symbolic of our support for the Iranian people in their struggle against tyranny.
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Behnam Ben Taleblu, Iran expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says this is absolutely the wrong time to lift sanctions on Iranian officials.
“Sanctions relief for these individuals, especially at a time of growing domestic discontent is a strategic and moral mistake,” Ben Taleblu told the Free Beacon. “It would be a gutting of the administration’s promise to retain non-nuclear sanctions even as it pursues nuclear diplomacy with the Islamic Republic.”
First Barack Obama and now Joe Biden have intervened to save the Iranian regime from utter economic ruin due to sanctions. Trump’s explicit reason for imposing sanctions was regime change. And while bringing down the Iranian government would be messy and bloody from internal upheavals, it’s better than living in a world with fanatical Muslims having their finger on the nuclear button.