RELEASE: Bipartisan Group of 50 Sound the Alarm on Looming Iran Deal

Urges Administration to Immediately Consult with Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, September 1, 2022, a bipartisan group of 50 Members of Congress, 34 Democrats and 16 Republicans — led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Andrew Garbarino (NY-2) — wrote to President Joe Biden expressing deep concerns about reported provisions in a potential agreement with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Concerns include weakening the effectiveness of terrorism-related sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and allowing Russia to have a role in Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The bipartisan group urged the Administration not to act before consulting with Congress first.

The signatory list of 50 bipartisan Members includes Reps. Gottheimer (NJ-5), Bacon (NE-2), Boyle (PA-2), Brown (MD-4), Cárdenas (CA-29), Cline (VA-6), Costa (CA-16), Crist (FL-13), Cuellar (TX-28), Demings (FL-10), Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Frankel (FL-21), Garbarino (NY-2), Garcia (CA-25), Golden (ME-2), Gonzales (TX-23), Gonzalez (OH-16), Gonzalez (TX-15), Herrera Beutler (WA-3), Johnson (SD-AL), Joyce (OH-14), Katko (NY-24), Lamb (PA-17), Lee (NV-3), Levin (CA-49), Luria (VA-2), Malliotakis (NY-11), Maloney (NY-12), Manning (NC-6), Meijer (MI-3), Meng (NY-6), Meuser (PA-9), Norcross (NJ-1), O'Halleran (AZ-1), Panetta (CA-20), Pappas (NH-1), Phillips (MN-3), Schrader (OR-5), Schrier (WA-8), Smith (MO-8), Soto (FL-9), Spanberger (VA-7), Stevens (MI-11), Suozzi (NY-3), Titus (NV-1), Torres (NY-15), Trone (MD-6), Upton (MI-6), Van Drew (NJ-2), and Vargas (CA-51). 

“The IRGC has directly, or through its proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah (Houthis), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and scores of Shiite militias in Iraq, killed hundreds of Americans, and attacked our bases and our allies in the region,” the Members of Congress wrote in a letter to President Biden. “Strengthened with an estimated one trillion dollars in sanctions relief over a decade, Iran and the IRGC would be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to our allies. Additionally, it has been reported that under this proposed deal, Russia will be the de facto judge of compliance and the keeper of Iran’s enriched uranium, without any oversight mechanisms by the United States or our European partners. Therefore, we urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress, to provide us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and to consult with all key stakeholders.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

September 1, 2022
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden Jr. President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to respectfully request that your Administration provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including any side agreements, and consult with Congress prior to reentering that agreement.

We are deeply concerned about multiple provisions that reportedly may be contained in the final language of any agreement with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

For example, the new agreement reportedly states that, “Non-U.S. persons doing business with Iranian persons that are not on the [U.S. sanctions list] will not be exposed to sanctions merely as a result of those Iranian persons engaging in separate transactions involving Iranian persons on the [U.S. sanctions list] (including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its officials, or its subsidiaries or affiliates).”1

While we commend you for refusing to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) — one of our most powerful tools used to compel state sponsors of terror to change — the aforementioned reported provision creates a troubling precedent. We are concerned that it could significantly dilute the effectiveness of terrorism-related sanctions on the IRGC, Iran’s paramilitary terror arm and provides the organization with a pathway for sanctions evasion.

If the regime in Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, has proven anything, it's that it can’t be trusted. The IRGC has directly, or through its proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah (Houthis), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and scores of Shiite militias in Iraq, killed hundreds of Americans, and attacked our bases and our allies in the region.

Strengthened with an estimated one trillion dollars in sanctions relief over a decade, Iran and the IRGC would be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to our allies. Additionally, it has been reported that under this proposed deal, Russia will be the de facto judge of compliance and the keeper of Iran’s enriched uranium, without any oversight mechanisms by the United States or our European partners.

Additionally, we strongly urge your Administration not to permit Russia to be the recipient of Iran’s enriched uranium nor to have the right to conduct nuclear work with the Islamic Republic, including a $10 billion contract to expand Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. We should not let war criminal Vladimir Putin be the guarantor of the deal or the keeper of massive amounts of Iran’s enriched uranium. Iran supports the illegal war in Ukraine and has been supplying Russia with drones used to kill Ukrainians.

Iran has also offered to help Russia evade sanctions through its manifold channels of illicit finance around the globe. Iran, Russia, and China have increased their cooperation on diplomatic, economic, and defense fronts, including high-level meetings and joint naval drills earlier this year.

Amid Iran-sponsored terror plots to assassinate former U.S. officials and Iranian-American dissidents on American soil, this is no time to remove, suspend, or dilute U.S. terrorism sanctions on Iran or the IRGC. As Secretary Blinken said in his confirmation hearing, America should do “everything possible, including the toughest possible sanctions, to deal with Iranian support for terrorism.” When asked specifically if the U.S. should maintain terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company, Blinken answered in the affirmative.2 Concerningly, news accounts suggest that the agreement may suspend terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, the National Development Fund, and the National Iranian Oil Company, designated by the previous administration for supporting terrorism.3

Therefore, we urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress, to provide us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and to consult with all key stakeholders. We must address the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, stand strong against terrorists, and protect American values and our allies.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to receiving your expeditious response. 

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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1https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-propose-lift-pressure-iran-revolutionary-guard-revive-nuclear-deal/

2https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nominations-011921 

3https://www.iranintl.com/en/202208182659

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