150 Democrats urge Biden to rejoin Iran deal

150 House Democrats sign letter sent to Biden which expresses support for renewed diplomacy to halt and reverse Iran’s nuclear program.

Elad Benari ,

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

A group of 150 House Democrats have signed onto a letter sent on Wednesday to US President-elect Joe Biden and which expresses support for renewed diplomacy to halt and reverse Iran’s nuclear program.

The letter expresses support for both Iran and the US returning to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“With respect to Iran, we agree that diplomacy is the best path to halt and reverse Iran’s nuclear program, decrease tensions in the region, and facilitate our nation’s reincorporation into the international community,” the letter says.

“We are united in our support for swiftly taking the necessary diplomatic steps to restore constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and return both Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a starting point for further negotiations,” it adds.

The letter argues that US President Donald Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran “has left Iran with an unconstrained nuclear program, failed effectively to address Iran’s other malign behavior, and greatly increased the likelihood of violent confrontation and conflict. This incoherent and provocative policy has increased regional tension and attacks against our troops and our partners and emboldened Iranian hardliners. As a result, the risk of potentially devastating miscalculation remains unnecessarily high. Re-engaging multilaterally on preventing the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon and re-opening channels of communication are essential to reversing these dangerous developments.”

“The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the internationally negotiated and UN-endorsed JCPOA undermined global non-proliferation efforts, fractured US relationships with key allies, diminished US leadership and influence, and reduced US leverage in addressing other national security issues with Iran,” the letter continues.

“Iran’s other destabilizing activities in the region, such as its support for terrorism, development of ballistic missiles, human rights violations against its own people, and holding of foreign political prisoners, including Americans, warrant strong and coordinated international diplomacy. The JCPOA does not prevent our ability to address these destabilizing activities. An unrestrained Iranian nuclear program would exacerbate these other threats posed by Iran and inspire a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” the lawmakers warn in the letter.

“We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations. We understand that returning to the agreement will require the selective lifting of some sanctions and rigorous implementation to verifiably ensure Iranian compliance,” they further say.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

Biden has taken a different approach to the Iran deal than Trump and has expressed a desire to rejoin the deal. He recently told The New York Times that he would do so if Iran returned to compliance with it.

The Iranian government has ruled out the possibility of renegotiating the nuclear deal, saying it was fully discussed in detail five years ago and needs no renegotiations.