Sen. Ted Cruz is leading 31 of his fellow Republican senators in threatening to block the Biden administration’s attempts to return to the Iranian nuclear deal. In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, Cruz and his colleagues stated that any agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program has to be submitted to Congress.
“The submission of such materials then triggers a statutorily-defined review process, and includes the possibility of Congress blocking implementation of the agreement,” read the letter.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign. Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. In spite (or perhaps because) of the Trump administration reimposing sanctions, Iran’s nuclear program advanced considerably after the United States pulled out of the deal.
Supporters of Biden’s push to reenter the JCPOA argue that the congressional review requirement does not apply as the administration is returning to the deal that already went through a thorough congressional review.
Cruz has been a vocal opponent of the JCPOA since it was negotiated by the Obama administration in 2015. Regardless of what Cruz and his fellow Senators do, returning to the JCPOA will be a major challenge for the Biden administration. The Trump administration’s withdrawal has made Iran skeptical that the United States will honor any agreements made. Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi is also more of a hardliner than his predecessor. With U.S. officials warning of a “closing window,” diplomatic and political complexities may be an even bigger obstacle than Republican senators.
Ted Cruz Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons