US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, last week issued the following statement ahead of pending news on the United States’ return to the Iran nuclear deal.
“After more than 11 months of negotiations, it has become clear that the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are close to reaching a deal for restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“I had serious concerns with the Iran Deal when the US first entered into it. I was concerned about the inspection procedures, the sunset clauses, and sanctions relief. Opposing the agreement, and being the first New York Democrat to do so, was not a popular decision with my colleagues at the time, but it’s one that I continue to stand by.
“However, I also expressed concern when President Trump removed the US from the deal with nothing in its place, eroding America’s credibility and putting the US at odds with our world partners.
“It is without question that Iran has since made notable advances in its nuclear program, and has moved considerably closer to the ability to build a nuclear bomb. Iran’s ballistic missile program has also advanced, its support for terrorism persisted, and regional aggression worsened. A simple return to the JCPOA will not resolve these issues.
“Given this, any new agreement with Iran must be based on the situation that is on the ground today, not the one from seven years ago. This means an agreement that is comprehensive and addresses the full range of threats that Iran poses to the region.
“First and foremost, a new agreement with Iran means billions of dollars in the hands of the ayatollahs. Iran would be able to sell oil freely at higher prices and repatriate the revenues. Tehran will also be able to access more of its approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves held overseas. Iran continues to plan and execute attacks throughout the region, including direct attacks against Israel launched from Syria. This destabilizing behavior is unacceptable and must not go unnoticed.
“If we had stayed in the 2015 nuclear deal, we would be far into renegotiating follow-on agreements. The sunset clauses on much of Iran’s nuclear activity are fast approaching. It is not clear that returning to the nuclear deal without a follow-on agreement would address these concerns. Any new agreement must address three core tenets: Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile program, and its funding of terrorism. It is simply not enough to return to the 2015 agreement while Iran’s oil continues to flow and its centrifuges continue to spin.
“As part of a more effective deal, the array of expiring restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal must be addressed – including sunset provisions that allow Iran to ramp up its enrichment efforts significantly in the coming years.
“I will be watching closely as efforts to revive the agreement move forward, and I will continue to raise my concerns.”