Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) slammed the Biden Administration for taking the first step to restart negotiations with Iran in order to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, giving up leverage by providing sanctions relief and its willingness to trust a regime that recently attacked Americans.
“The Biden Administration’s posture toward Iran is nothing short of reckless,” Rubio told The Floridian. “President Biden is desperately trying to re-enter a failed deal and provide sanctions relief to the Iranian regime.”
Rubio’s remark in denouncing the move came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken took part in a videoconference with three of its European counterparts Thursday, informing them they are seeking to restore the nuclear pact with Iran, which he said “was a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy.”
In a joint statement after the videoconference, Blinken reiterated President Biden’s foreign policy desire to re-enter the Iran deal and said it was ready for the first step to enter talks with Iran.
“The E3 and the United States affirmed their shared objective of Iran’s return to full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA. Secretary Blinken reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end,” the joint statement said.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council in advance of Blinken’s video conference that “hereby withdraws” former President Trump’s invocation of the “snapback sanctions” at the United Nations. State Department officials added steps it took to gear up for the talks by easing the tight travel restrictions placed on Iranian diplomats around the United Nations in New York during the Trump administration.
“The U.S. Mission to the United Nations up in New York has notified the Iranian mission that the United States is bringing the domestic travel controls on Iranian representatives back in line with those in place for several other missions to the UN. So essentially, returning to the status quo of the last few years before the last administration,” a senior state department official told reporters in a background briefing.
On top of the surprise announcements, State Department spokesman Ned Price informed reporters that the Biden administration would “accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”
Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal in 2018, saying it didn’t go far enough to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and imposed heavy sanctions that have left the country’s economy in shambles.
Tehran has vowed to restrict the United Nations nuclear inspectors access to inspections of its nuclear sites, imposing a deadline of Feb. 23rd and demanding the United States move first is dropping its sanctions.
“If they want Iran to return to its JCPOA commitments, the U.S. should lift all sanctions in action,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in remarks published on his website earlier this month. “Once this is done, we will resume our JCPOA commitments.”
Rubio argued that the new administration shouldn’t be so trusting in an evil regime to honor an international agreement that won’t agree to curb its nuclear ambition as it ramps up production of nuclear materials.
“The President must make clear that he understands that Khamenei cannot be trusted to honor international agreements and that the United States will not play into the hands of the Iranians for the next four years,” Rubio said.
Iran began resuming production of enriching uranium, exceeding six times the limits imposed in the nuclear pact that limited it to 3.67% purity. Earlier this month, UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors raised the alarm that they found a small amount of uranium metal in one of Iran’s nuclear facilities, which can be used to build the core of a nuclear bomb. Tehran claims its activity is being used to conduct research and development production were part of its “declared aim to design an improved type of fuel.”
The Florida Senator noted the Biden Administration’s willingness to reignited talks so quick also comes shortly after reports earlier this week of “Iranian-backed forces attacked Americans in Iraq.” Fourteen rockets were fired toward an American military base in Iraq with three hitting the facilities where U.S. troops are based, killing a U.S.-led coalition contractor and wounded nine others, including one U.S. service member.
The State Department issued a tepid response, saying the Biden administration is aware that Iranian-linked Iraqi Shiite militias claimed credit for the attack, but would not “base our conclusions solely and exclusively on the claims of a particular group,” adding “we will, in coordination with our Iraqi partners, reserve the right to respond at a time and place of our choosing.”