Joe Biden Is Encouraging Iranian Terrorism by Backing Nuclear Deal, Republicans Say

Republicans are pushing back on President Joe Biden's bid to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, after the White House said on Thursday it is ready to talk to Tehran and other world powers about returning to compliance with the accord.

Shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his European counterparts on Thursday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price released a statement saying the U.S. was ready for a meeting with the other signatories of the JCPOA, including Iran.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. rescinded former President Donald Trump's claimed restoration of United Nations sanctions on Iran, a move that was opposed by the other JCPOA signatories and the UN Security Council.

Republicans quickly condemned the Biden administration's move towards reviving diplomacy with Tehran. JCPOA critics have long argued that the deal is inadequate and will merely embolden Iran in its malign activities.

But for JCPOA supporters, the deal remains the only feasible way to constrain Iran's nuclear program. Trump's years of "maximum pressure" failed to produce a more restrictive deal, and instead drove Iran to expand its nuclear program and stockpile of enriched uranium.

Foreign policy hawk Sen. Tom Cotton suggested the White House is being taken advantage of. "Iranian-backed forces just attacked American troops in Iraq," he wrote on Twitter, referring to this week's deadly rocket attack on an Iraqi air base hosting U.S. troops.

"Instead of retaliating, what does President Biden do? Prepares to lift sanctions on the regime & begs to reopen diplomatic talks. The Iranian regime will continue to exploit @POTUS's weakness."

Rep. Liz Cheney said Tehran was "committing nuclear blackmail and using its proxies to attack Americans, but President Biden wants to return to the JCPOA and give them billions in sanctions relief," she added. "Emboldening a terrorist regime will only make us less safe."

Other representatives suggested Biden's steps should be investigated. Rep. Greg Steube said Biden's decision to rescind UN sanctions on Iran would open the door for JCPOA signatory Russia to benefit. "Why is Biden lifting UN sanctions banning Putin from selling arms to Iran?" he wrote on Twitter. "Seems to warrant an investigation."

Steube was responding to another tweet from Rep. Joe Wilson, who also framed Biden's moves as a win for Moscow and Beijing. "This is outrageous and dangerous," he said on Twitter. "Biden just legalized Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping selling arms to Iran. Why?"

Two senior State Department officials gave a telephone briefing on the developments soon after the administration's announcement, and rejected Republican criticism of the strategy.

"These are not concessions to Iran," one of the officials told reporters. "These are concessions for common sense, talking to Iran to try to resolve the nuclear issue." The official added: "I think we've seen what four years of maximum pressure and not talking to Iran have yielded: an accelerated Iranian nuclear program and a more aggressive Iranian posture in the region."

The second official said Biden's decision "is about getting back to diplomacy... This gets us back into a position where we can work within that framework and work with our closest allies in particular on addressing our concerns with Iran going forward."

Iranians pictured in Tehran celebrating national day
Iranians take part in a ceremony marking the 42nd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, at the Azadi Square in Tehran, on February 10, 2021. STR/AFP via Getty Images/Getty