Talks with Iran in Vienna
Talks with Iran in ViennaReuters

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said on Sunday that he would support a broader diplomatic deal and negotiations between the US and Iran that would eventually freeze progress in Iran’s nuclear program, The Hill reported.

“But the terms of the deal are absolutely important, because you know, last time we had an insufficient inspection regime, we had terms that were critical that expired,” he told CBS in an interview, referring to the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“In this instance, they appear to be careening toward a deal that would be informal, not subject to congressional oversight, because we wouldn’t know all the terms,” Turner added, noting that lawmakers don’t want a secret deal with Iran.

Asked if Congress should implement a travel ban to Iran, Turner replied that a travel ban should be under consideration.

“I think it should be certainly considered,” Turner said. “I know you’re going to have coming up one of the family members of one of the detainees and I think her message is incredibly important, people should not be going to Iran.”

Turner’s remarks came two days after the Biden administration reached a tentative agreement with Iran that would see the release of five detained Americans and an unknown number of Iran prisoners in the US.

On Friday, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby offered caution about the deal, saying that “the deal is not done” and that active discussions on how to bring home the five Americans are taking place.

Kirby also defended the deal from Republican criticism, saying the release of $6 billion will be tightly controlled for the purchase of food, medicine and medical equipment that does not have a dual military use.

“There would be a rigorous process of due diligence and standards applied with input from the US Treasury Department,” he told reporters.

Asked about the tentative agreement in Sunday’s interview, Turner said that lawmakers want the administration “to work diligently to bring American home- Americans home, whether Iran or Russia or elsewhere, and our hearts certainly go out to them.”

“But in this instance, the administration is signaling that this is part of a broader deal concerning Iran’s enrichment program and if that becomes a secret deal, then that’s obviously a great concern to Congress,” Turner added.

Despite speculations that the new deal with Iran could lead to talks on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Kirby on Friday said that the administration is not focused on talks to renew the nuclear deal.

“If Iran were to take deescalating steps with respect to their nuclear ambitions again, that would all be to the good,” he said. “We are not in active negotiations with Iran, akin to the Iran deal, we’re not in active negotiations about the nuclear program. But certainly, those sorts of steps if they were to be true, would be welcome.”

Iran responded to then-President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal by scaling back its compliance with the agreement. The Biden administration, however, sought to return to the deal and held indirect talks with Iran on a return to compliance.

While the talks were stalled in September after the sides failed to reach an agreement on IAEA probes of Iran’s nuclear activities, recent reports indicated that the US and Iran held indirect talks on a new agreement.

Later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied that an agreement had been reached between the Biden administration and the Iranian government on Iran's nuclear program.