On the same day U.S. President Donald Trump threatened an attack on Iran, a group of 150 House Democrats on Wednesday sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden endorsing the incoming administration's plan to swiftly rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement—a sufficient number of backers to prevent any congressional effort to undermine the move.
"The letter finalized today from key foreign policy leaders in the House is a strong opening signal that Biden will have the congressional support he needs to restore American compliance with the deal."
—Jamal Abdi, NIAC
The letter (pdf) circulated by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), David Price (D-N.C.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and others, embraces Biden's "call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations."
Drawing attention to how the Trump administration's "incoherent and provocative policy" has increased the risk of a "potentially devastating miscalculation," the lawmakers stressed the need for "reinstating our international agreements and engaging in sustained diplomacy," which they said is the best way to prevent tensions from escalating into full-fledged military conflicts.
As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's Ron Kampeas reported Wednesday, "The sentiments in the letter are in direct contradiction to the urgings of the Israel lobby group AIPAC, others in the center-right pro-Israel community, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
"Those groups," he added, "want Biden to at least renegotiate components of the deal, if not forge a new one, before rejoining" the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which "relieved sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions, monitored by outside observers, on the country's nuclear program."
According to Kampeas, "the intended effect of the letter is to reassure Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama when the deal was negotiated by the United States and others, that he can rejoin the agreement without fear of pushback."
An end to the Trump/Pompeo failed maximum pressure policy cannot come soon enough. We applaud the 150 Members of Congress who are ready to work with Biden to quickly bring the US back into compliance with the #IranDeal. https://t.co/ejd51PWsdc
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) December 23, 2020
With 150 signatories, there are enough representatives who support an unconditional return to the deal that opponents of the pact would be powerless to stop Biden, since they would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a presidential veto of any legislation attempting to block reentry.
Biden announced in November that he is prepared to rejoin the agreement in an effort to reverse the damage done by Trump's violation of the nuclear deal in 2018.
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has committed to returning to the nuclear deal if the U.S. agrees to do so without any preconditions, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on Thursday applauded the Democratic lawmakers' letter supporting an immediate restoration of the pact.
"Returning to the nuclear deal with Iran will be the only credible and proven path for [Biden] to reverse Trump's failures, deescalate across the region, ease the sanctions pressure crushing the Iranian people, and restore long-lasting restraints to Iran's nuclear program," NIAC president Jamal Abdi said in a statement.
Abdi noted that "the letter finalized today from key foreign policy leaders in the House is a strong opening signal that Biden will have the congressional support he needs to restore American compliance with the deal and that the agreement enjoys even more political support today than when it was originally struck."
150 House lawmakers endorsed US return to Iran deal, including some who previously opposed the accord. Compliance for compliance is coming & with last 4 years demonstrating abject failure of pressure-only approach, JCPOA is more popular than ever https://t.co/xqfZ7aMwG5
— Jamal Abdi (@jabdi) December 23, 2020
Pointing out that "the signers include lawmakers who previously opposed the diplomatic agreement," Abdi said "the last four years have clearly demonstrated what works and what doesn't work with Iran."
"The pressure-only approach led to Iran escalating its nuclear program, regional tensions skyrocketing, and sanctions that have devastated the lives of average Iranians," he continued. "On the other hand, multilateral diplomacy removed the twin threats of war and an Iranian nuclear weapon."
In the wake of "Trump's bluster and rejection of the nuclear deal, [which] returned those threats to the fore," Abdi added, "Biden has a narrow window of opportunity at the start of his presidency to undo Trump's mess."