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A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during an official ceremony to kick-start work on a second reactor at the facility. (Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

A picture taken on November 10, 2019 shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during an official ceremony to kick-start work on a second reactor at the facility. (Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran Nuclear Deal Advocates Say GOP Senate Measure Should Be 'Wake-Up Call' for Biden

"If President Biden wants to save the agreement, roll back Iran's nuclear program, and prevent a war, then he has to fight for it. Regrettably, we have not seen that fight."

Jessica Corbett

Advocates of resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal responded with alarm after the U.S. Senate late Wednesday approved a nonbinding measure to block President Joe Biden from lifting his predecessor's designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

"Unless and until he steps up, he is on the same disastrous course that Trump set."

Sixteen Democrats joined with the GOP to support the motion from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), which also instructs senators negotiating final legislation with the House to "insist" that any deal not be limited to nuclear concerns and include provisions "addressing the full range of Iran's destabilizing activities."

Ryan Costello, policy director at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action, said in a statement that "this was a nonbinding vote, but it should be a wake-up call for the Biden administration that the deal won't save itself."

"If President Biden wants to save the agreement, roll back Iran's nuclear program, and prevent a war, then he has to fight for it," Costello continued. "Regrettably, we have not seen that fight from the president. Instead, he has let the agreement twist in the wind for opponents in Washington and Tehran to mobilize against. That is a recipe for failure."

He warned Biden against following in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump, who not only withdrew from the deal—formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—but also ramped up sanctions and tensions with Tehran throughout his time in office.

"Unless and until he steps up, he is on the same disastrous course that Trump set," Costello said, "and he is likely to pay the disastrous consequences if he allows the diplomatic window to close on his watch."

The Senate vote and subsequent alarm followed Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, telling reporters Wednesday that "because a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is very much an uncertain proposition, we are now preparing equally for either scenario."

Price's comments came after Reuters reported Monday that that though Western officials "have not completely given up on the pact, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, there is a growing belief it may be beyond salvation."

According to the news agency:

"They are not yanking the IV out of the patient's arm... but I sense little expectation that there is a positive way forward," said one source, who like others quoted spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

Four Western diplomats echoed the sentiment that the deal—which Iran struck with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States in 2015 but which then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018—is withering away.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz pointed out after the Senate's Wednesday vote that "the IRGC's removal from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations has been the primary sticking point in the Vienna negotiations' final stages, with the U.S. insisting that it will not take such action unilaterally."

Asked about the potential elimination of the Trump-era terrorist label during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that "the only way I could see it being lifted is if Iran takes steps necessary to justify the lifting of that designation. So it knows what it would have to do in order to see that happen."

"Irrespective of the nuclear negotiation," he told lawmakers, removing the label "would require Iran to take certain actions and to sustain them. And of course, if it purported to do something and then didn't and any kind of designation were lifted, it can always be reimposed."

Blinken also noted that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama didn't impose such a designation due to fears it could be dangerous and when Trump did so, "it was against the advice of his chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, his military, and the intelligence community—because in the judgment of the two administrations and senior leadership in President Trump's administration, the gain was minimal and the pain was potentially great."


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