Senator Manchin Warns Biden Against Lifting Iran's Terrorist Designation

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Posted: Apr 19, 2022 1:30 PM
Senator Manchin Warns Biden Against Lifting Iran's Terrorist Designation

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) renewed his concerns with the Biden administration's attempt to reenter a nuclear deal with Iran on Tuesday in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Saying he's "very concerned" with Biden's "ongoing negotiations with Iran regarding a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," Manchin requested a "detailed briefing on the status of" the negotiations from the State Department. 

"While I support President Biden's commitment to reengaging the Government of Iran in diplomacy, we should not reward Iran with sanctions relief before they demonstrate verifiable efforts toward curbing their malign influence holistically; including their nuclear ambitions, terrorism financing, and dual-use weapons development," Manchin's letter states. 

At the top of Senator Manchin's list of concerns are reports that the Biden administration is considering taking Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off of the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations in an attempt to show good will to the Iranian regime. "Let me be clear," Manchin wrote, "the IRGC is a terrorist organization."

Manchin's letter continues by calling out the Biden administration's "shortsighted" thinking:

Sanctions are our primary leverage to facilitate agreements on halting malign Iranian actions and should not be used to achieve non-strategic objectives. Instead, we should continue to invest in an all-of-the-above domestic energy policy to bolster our national security and our ability to help our allies and partners abroad. Congress has the opportunity to pass additional bipartisan energy legislation to further expand our ability to deliver the energy our allies and partners need. We cannot and should not look to Iran to solve our energy problems.

Due to the Biden administration's apparent willful ignorance of Iran's track record of violence and terror-backing activities, Manchin also reminded Blinken of the regime's status as a bad actor. "For decades, the Iranian leadership has chosen to direct its government's efforts and willpower toward destabilizing the Middle East and Africa through terrorism financing, which has resulted in thousands of deaths, including the deaths of U.S. servicemembers," Manchin pointed out.

"Likewise, the development of dual-use technologies like ballistic missiles that could be used as a delivery system for nuclear warheads remains an going concern," Manchin highlighted before putting an exclamation point on his concerns. "If these activities are allowed to continue, Iran could become a nuclear weapons power leading to a nuclear arms race in the region."

For Manchin, and rightly so, halting Iran's nuclear program is an important priority, but not the only one. "We must continue to negotiate a halt to Iran's use of state-sponsored terrorism, advancement of its missile program, and the continued proliferation of dual-use technologies," he explained in his letter.

"Just as I did in 2015, I respectfully request this detailed briefing to reach as informed a decision as possible," Manchin said to Blinken. "I hope that Congress will be given the due process it deserves in weighing in on such an immense foreign policy decision," he added. "I was disappointed in the outcome of the negotiations in 2015, and I will do everything in my power to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past."

Back in 2015, Manchin ultimately ended up voting against the Obama-Biden administration deal after facing substantial opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action from residents in West Virginia.