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Amid growing rumors that the US’s return to the JCPOA is now a “when” and not “if” scenario, it is critical that Congress supports President Joe Biden as he progresses closer to restoring US and Iranian compliance with the 2015 multilateral deal.
Biden has a narrow window of opportunity to prevent a new nuclear crisis with Iran — a situation created in 2018 when former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement — and congressional support from Democrats will help ensure diplomacy is victorious.
The JCPOA closed all pathways by which Iran could secretly build nuclear weapons. It is the best mechanism we have in stopping a new global nuclear crisis and preventing another devastating war in the Middle East.
With the Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, it seems like Biden would have the support to continue on his path of reversing the egregious errors of the maximum pressure campaign adopted by the previous administration.
And he does, somewhat. Back in December, over 150 members of the House endorsed a rapid return to the deal. And just this month, a group of more than two dozen senators led by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Connecticut), called on the president “to return to the JCPOA and use a ‘compliance for compliance’ approach as a starting point to reset US relations with Iran.”
But unfortunately, Biden’s pragmatic approach — which benefits US security and nonproliferation interests — does not have the full support of Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and he is trying to take other Democrats with him.
Menendez has gone out of his way to undermine Biden’s diplomacy by joining forces with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — a stalwart Trump ally — to press the Biden administration to maintain existing sanctions against Iran.
Menendez, Graham and their allies believe that the sanctions will leverage a more ambitious and comprehensive agreement that extends current limits on Iran’s nuclear program, adds new restrictions on Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and somehow addresses Tehran’s disruptive actions in the region, including its support for proxy militias hostile to US allies.
That may sound good on paper, but it is unrealistic, counterproductive, and would be a continuation of the failed policy of Donald Trump. There is no path to resolving those important issues that does not begin with a restoration of the 2015 agreement that Trump violated.
Pressure and punishment through sanctions are not the same as “leverage.” In the real world of diplomacy, a key component of leverage is “credibility.”
US diplomatic credibility on the Iran issue took a plunge during the Trump years, particularly after he unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 even though Iran was complying with the deal. All the pressure in the world won’t accomplish your goals if the other side, and your best allies, have no reason to believe you will keep your word.
Trump’s irresponsible decision in 2018 …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Politics
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