Iran sanctions could be tightened if nuclear talks fade, Biden administration officials tell senators


Biden administration officials told senators that current sanctions against Iran would be kept at a minimum. Asked whether the administration was considering additional punitive measures to curb Iran’s nuclear program, Menendez replied: “I’ll keep watching.”

Senators attending Wednesday’s briefing described a range of possible next steps for US policy toward Iran, from continuing to search for a diplomatic solution to imposing new sanctions and negotiating with partners in the region. President Joe Biden is due to travel to those two partner countries, Saudi Arabia and Israel, next month for talks on a range of issues, including Iran and global energy prices.

State Department officials either declined to comment or did not respond to questions about the briefing. Officials have previously said they have all the legal authority needed to impose sanctions for both nuclear and non-nuclear activities, such as Iran’s support for terrorism in the region and its illegal oil sales.

At Wednesday’s briefing, top White House Middle East official Brett McGurk and top Iran negotiating envoy Rob Malle updated senators after members of both sides say it is a near-impossible task of turning back Iran’s clock. nuclear capabilities.

“Not much clarity [on a] Plan B,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.). “Some of that is a function of the fact that there aren’t a lot of great options out there.”

Efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal suffered a setback earlier this year after Biden Decided to retain terrorist designation For Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iranian negotiators were demanding that the IRGC be removed from the US government’s blacklist, but the administration refused unless Iran was willing to make concessions on non-nuclear issues.

Menendez, who has opposed the Obama administration’s deal, has already publicly said Iran “now has enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon” and urged the White House to acknowledge that a return to the original deal is now the most not a good way. Almost all Republicans agree with him.

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of reviving the 2015 agreement, “I don’t think it will accomplish the results they think it’s going to get.” “All Iran wants is some short-term sanctions relief so that they can invest more money in their military capabilities – not just their nuclear programs.”

This is not the first time that the Biden team’s Iran policy has faced bipartisan rebuke. last month, majority of senators Voted in favor of a symbolic measure that called for the IRGC’s terrorist designation to be retained and that any diplomatic agreement with Iran should also address its support for terrorism in the region.

However, many Democrats maintain that the only way to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to re-enter the 2015 accord, which imposed sanctions on the country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“There is no backup. For those who think that some military option is possible, they simply haven’t studied the facts on the ground,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn), who heads the Biden administration on Iran policy. “Diplomacy is the only viable route, and I have yet to hear of a single Republican or even an opponent. [2015 deal] Explain a viable alternative route.”

Nahal Tosi contributed to this report.


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