02.23.21

Markey, Senate Colleagues Back President Biden’s Return To Nuclear Diplomacy With Iran

. . . . Senators support U.S. and Iran returning to their commitments under Iran Nuclear Deal

Washington (February 23, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led 10 of his colleagues in the reintroduction of the Iran Diplomacy Act. The legislation supports President Joseph Biden’s diplomatic effort to return all sides to full-compliance with their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Last week, the Biden administration formally accepted an invitation by the European Union to join talks with the remaining parties to the JCPOA, an initial step on the road to restore full-implementation of the 2015 agreement, one which had closed off all of Iran’s uranium, plutonium, and clandestine pathways to a nuclear weapon.  

Co-sponsoring the Iran Diplomacy Act are Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“President Biden is right to pursue diplomatic steps that verifiably shut the door on an Iranian nuclear weapon,” said Senator Markey. “President Trump’s 2018 exit from the Iran Nuclear Deal alienated the United States from allies whose support is needed to confront the full-range of Tehran’s bad behavior. Trump’s 'maximum pressure' campaign brought us to the brink of war and allowed Iran to edge ever closer to nuclear weapons capability. All sides must return to their commitments under the Iran Nuclear Deal so we can take the existential threat of a nuclear Iran off the table and provide the momentum to advance multilateral and bilateral diplomatic efforts to address Iran’s burgeoning ballistic missile program, extend elements of the Iran deal due to expire, and combat the Iranian government and its proxies’ malign activities throughout the region.” 

Prior to President’s Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. intelligence community both verified that Iran had lived up to its end of the agreement – which extended the “breakout time” for an Iranian nuclear bomb from a span of weeks to over one year. However, Iran responded to the U.S. exit from the JCPOA with concerning, but reversible rollbacks of its commitments under that agreement and it increased its provocative behavior that increased the risk of armed conflict with the United States and its allies. The Iran Diplomacy Act backs Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s January 19, 2021 position that full-implementation of the JCPOA provides a: “platform, working with our allies and partners to build a longer and stronger agreement that will also capture some of the other issues that need to be dealt with regard to missiles and with regard to Iran’s activities and destabilizing activities in the region.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.  

Specifically, the Iran Diplomacy Act states that:

  • Full implementation of the JCPOA would represent a meaningful step to both preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and a costly future armed conflict
  • The United States and Iran should promptly return to full-compliance with all of their commitments under the JCPOA
  • After such time that all sides return to their commitments under the JCPOA, the United States should lead international efforts to—
    • strengthen the restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and counter the proliferation of such technology;
    • address the sunset of select provisions of the JCPOA and other elements of the agreement that merit strengthening; and
    • advance any other diplomatic measures that promote United States, regional, and international security.
  • The United States should reaffirm its commitment to United Nations Security Resolution 2231 (2015)
  • President Biden’s National Security Memorandum -1, and other steps, will help create an environment in which financial institutions and entities can make practical use of existing exemptions and mechanisms “allowing for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran,” and help Iran battle the COVID–19 pandemic. 

“J Street welcomes the introduction of the Iran Diplomacy Act of 2021, a bill that seeks to return the United States and Iran to full compliance with the JCPOA and then build on the deal. As the Biden administration takes steps to re-engage in multilateral diplomacy with Iran, this bill is an important signal of support from leading voices in the Senate. We commend their pro-diplomacy leadership and encourage other Senators to support this legislation.” — Dylan Williams, Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy, J Street

“The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, followed by inhumane ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, have created instability in the Middle East, put us on a war footing with Iran, and caused untold human suffering for Iranian people, who now lack access to many critical life-saving medicines. This approach was a maximum failure and did little to advance peace, national security, or human rights. The American people want a restrained foreign policy, and it's welcome news that the Biden administration is attempting to find a pathway for peace and diplomacy with Iran, which is exactly what Senator Markey’s bill supports.” — Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Manager for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

“Iran's nuclear program is undeniably a national security challenge that must be addressed in partnership with our allies. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) effectively did that, and President Trump's withdrawal from the agreement only exacerbated the Iranian nuclear threat. Foreign Policy for America thanks Senator Markey for introducing this bill which makes it clear that Congress supports President Biden's efforts to address Iran's nuclear program diplomatically, and that a mutual return to the JCPOA is in the national security interest of the United States.” — Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America

“U.S.-Iran relations are at a crossroads. In one direction is Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy, which the past four years have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be utterly disastrous. In the other is the proven path of diplomacy. It’s a no-brainer. Only diplomacy — beginning with swift reentry into the nuclear deal — will create lasting security for people of the United States, Iran, and globally.” — Erica Fein, Advocacy Director, Win Without War 

“Now is the moment for the United States to put diplomacy at the fore and address one of the more serious proliferation threats facing us today. Congress should support the Biden administration in negotiating a return to the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA), so that we can restrain the Iranian nuclear program and lay the foundation for resolving other major issues in the region diplomatically. This path will make the region and the world, a safer place.” – Former Congressman John Tierney, Executive Director, Council for a Livable World

"Senator Markey's timely bill sends a strong message that the US Senate fully recognizes the strategic imperative of the US rejoining the JCPOA and resolving other points of tensions with Iran through diplomacy. Trump's exit from the JCPOA was one of his most damaging moves to American security and credibility. Correcting that mistake is imperative, and Congress can play a critical role in reviving the agreement.” – Trita Parsi, Executive Vice President, Quincy Institute  

“The Iran Diplomacy Act is an important signal that Congress will back President Biden's efforts to return the U.S. and Iran to compliance with the nuclear deal. The Trump administration's withdrawal from the deal and it's 'maximum pressure' policy were abject failures and brought the U.S. to the brink of war twice. A swift and clean return is the only viable option for Biden to avert an escalating nuclear crisis, ease pressure on the Iranian people and set the stage for future diplomacy.” – Ryan Costello, Policy Director, National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action

“The best way to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb is for all parties to get back into compliance with the Iran nuclear deal. This legislation expresses the support of the Senate for the United States to return to the deal in coordination with Iran. Thank you Sen. Markey for your leadership on this issue.” – Tom Collina, Policy Director, Ploughshares Fund

“Diplomacy with Iran and return to the nuclear agreement that Trump destroyed will make everyone safer. Sen. Ed Markey continues to push for diplomacy first and to make sure that U.S. sanctions do not affect innocents and thwart efforts to solve the pandemic.” – Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action

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