150 Democrats in Congress call on Biden to rejoin Iran nuclear deal

J-Street claims Democrats have enough support to prevent any legislation that would block the move.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Seven Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden Wednesday urging him to have the U.S. unconditionally reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

The seven – Representatives David Price (D-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Abigail D. Spanberger (D-VA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) – convinced 143 other members of Congress to sign, including anti-Israel Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

“We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations,” says the letter, which concluded its signature-gathering phase on Wednesday and is set to be sent to Biden.

The letter was endorsed by the left-leaning J-Street organization, which said it “applauds” the move.

“By securing over 146 signers, the letter also makes clear that House Democrats have the votes needed to prevent the enactment of any legislation designed to obstruct President-elect Biden from returning the United States to the JCPOA,” J-Street said in a statement on its website, claiming that in an election night poll it commissioned 74% of American Jewish voters support re-entering the agreement.

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 and restricted the Iranian nuclear program for 15 years, but at the end removed any restrictions on the Islamic Republic, which is widely believed to have been developing nuclear weapons.

Opponents of the nuclear deal, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointed out its shortcomings and noted that for years Iran had blocked inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog group, which repeatedly complained that Iran was not fully cooperating and the agency could not account for all nuclear material.

Critics of an unconditional return to the deal have called on Biden to not blindly resume American participation, but to renegotiate key components of the deal and not lift sanctions against the rogue regime until stronger terms are in place to ensure Iran’s compliance.

Although Biden has said he wants to renegotiate some components of the deal after the U.S. rejoins, a former top American security official, Elliot Abrams, said earlier this month that the new Biden administration should be in no rush to cater to the Iranians.

“My hope is that the next administration recognizes that we have the upper hand. Iran’s economy is reeling. Iran’s people despise this regime, as they showed in November of last year. There is no reason that we have to make all sorts of concessions to Iran,” Abrams said.