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Tipsheet

Another Foreign Policy Catastrophe in the Works? Iran Deal Reportedly Close

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

In the midst of war in Ukraine, another foreign policy catastrophe under President Joe Biden's watch may be brewing. A Fox News report from Friday cited a European diplomat in sharing a deal to restore the Iran nuclear agreement from 2015 would be revived within days. This comes after Iran's chief negotiator told reporters on Thursday that a deal would be done within 24-48 hours. As if this weren't bad enough, Russia is still involved in the deal, after having just invaded Ukraine last week. 

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As Rich Edson and Adam Shaw noted in their Fox News report:

As for the question of Russian diplomats negotiating in Vienna during a European flight embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the diplomat told Fox that there can always be exceptions for diplomats. 

With Russia’s involvement in the deal, it raises the possibility of financial benefit for Moscow in a new deal, like payments to take Iranian uranium. The diplomat told Fox that the West will find a way to enable the deal, and says the concerns are "nothing that can’t be overcome." 

The State Department did not comment when asked whether the Biden administration has concerns about needing Russia’s cooperation or having to carve out sanctions to enable to agreement. 

The United States left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, under then President Donald Trump. Negotiations have seen been in place for the United States to reenter under the Biden administration. 

Writing for The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, Lauren Norman explained that Russia is inserting itself into the deal to make "Fresh demands," which could "derail" the talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday made demands for written guarantees that sanctions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine won't prevent Russia from trading with Tehran under a revived pack. 

A subsequent Fox News report from Marisa Schultz references Republican concerns about Russia's role in the deal. Congress has largely been left out of the discussion, which has led to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spearheading an effort of members vowing to block the deal if Biden doesn't get Senate approval. 

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Last month, before Russia invaded Ukraine, Sen. Cruz and others sent a letter to President Biden promising to make good on such a move, shared by Sen. John Kennedy's (R-LA) office.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) also spoke to Fox News Digital about his many concerns:

"Russia should not be at any table with us right now," Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told Fox News Digital, adding that he's "very concerned" about a new deal. "They're committing egregious acts of terrorism and murder in a free democracy in Ukraine, in Europe right now." 

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Congressional Republicans say they haven't been consulted about any deal the Biden administration is negotiating with the help of the Russians. They are pushing for any new agreement to be reviewed by Congress. 

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in 2015 with bipartisan support requires the administration to submit any deal to Congress for review within five days of it being reached.

A group of 33 Republican senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, already pledged last month to do everything in their power to block a new nuclear deal if President Biden doesn't get Senate approval. 

In addition to Russia's involvement in the Iran nuclear deal, Fitzpatrick said that the Iranian government "does not operate in good faith" and the U.S. doesn't even enforce existing agreements. 

Fitzpatrick, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was referring to the 1994 agreement where Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons after the fall of the Soviet Union in exchange for commitments from Russia and the West to respect Ukraine's sovereignty.  

"Does anybody think that if Ukraine were the third-largest holder of nuclear weapons that Russia would be invading them right now?" Fitzpatrick said. "Of course not. They gave them up based on our word, based on the commitment that the United States, the UK gave to Ukraine and to Kazakhstan as well.  

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Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) has tweeted out concerns over the deal, as has former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley who has continuously criticized the deal. Ambassador Haley warned that this especially "would be a monumental mistake and the worst possible message to Iran, Russia, and all of America's enemies."

Writing for National Review Online earlier on Saturday, Andrew C. McCarthy wrote that "Russia and Iran Taunt Biden in Humiliating Revival of Nuclear Deal." 

"Putin is now delighting in Biden’s self-made predicament: Incredibly, the U.S. president has put himself in the position of needing not one but three banes of U.S. security — Russia, Iran, and the JCPOA. And for Putin it gets even better," he wrote. McCarthy also concluded by calling the deal "a perfect storm of American amateur hour and embarrassment. And what an inexcusable blow to American national security."

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The Biden administration is seemingly failing on taking more concrete action with Russia. In addition to being slow to sanctions, despite pleadings from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to impose them sooner, the United States under Biden is hesitant to stop importing oil from Russia.

This is despite a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showing that 80 percent of Americans are in favor of such a ban on Russian oil, from all sides of the political aisle.

Even Democratic members have gotten involved in introducing bipartisan legislation as the Biden administration fails to act. On Thursday, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act in the U.S. Senate. Companion legislation is forthcoming from Reps. Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has even signaled support for banning Russian imports as well.

On Friday, Sen. Cruz introduced the Energy Freedom Act, which will secure such energy independence by making energy projects and pipelines far easier.

"These policies have poured billions of dollars into countries such as Russia and Iran, which use those funds to attack our allies and undermine the national security of America," Cruz said about the Biden administration. President Biden has imposed more restrictions on U.S. oil companies than he has on Russian oil. With Iran, he has looked the other way as the regime busted through sanctions and raised their exports to more than one million barrels per day for the first time in almost three years."

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