The Biden administration is facing new pressure from Congress to immediately end its negotiations with Iran in the wake of continued missile attacks on Israel by Tehran-armed-and-funded terrorist groups.
More than 40 Republican senators led by Marco Rubio (Fla.) petitioned the White House late Wednesday to "immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided," according to a copy of that letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "The United States must not do anything to enrich Israel's enemies, such as by offering sanctions relief to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel," they write.
The 44 senators—including foreign policy leaders like Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Jim Risch (R., Idaho), and John Cornyn (Texas)—say the Biden administration should abandon its diplomacy with Iran to send a message that terrorism will not be tolerated by America. The letter sends a clear message that the majority of Republicans serving in the Senate see the Biden administration's diplomacy with Iran as a danger to U.S. national security, as well as the alliance with Israel.
Israel has been hit with more than 1,000 missiles during the past two days, all of them fired by the Iranian-backed terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Leaders of both groups recently bragged that Iran is funding and arming them with weapons significantly more sophisticated than the crude rockets typically shot at Israel. Since the violence erupted earlier this week, both terror groups successfully launched missiles into major Israeli cities, putting millions of civilians at risk. At least six Israelis have been killed so far and more than 200 wounded.
Iran, the senators note, "is a longtime financial and material supporter of Hamas. The United States engaging in active negotiations with Iran and potentially providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief will no doubt contribute to Iran's support of Hamas and other terrorist organizations who attack Americans and our allies."
The Biden administration remains engaged in talks with Iran that would provide the hardline regime with access to billions in cash resources. Iranian leaders are demanding the United States unwind scores of crippling sanctions that have brought the government to the brink of collapse.
The senators say that Iran's role in the violence is "troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism." Instead of giving in to Iran's demands, the United States should "take all steps necessary to hold Tehran accountable and under no circumstances, provide sanctions relief to Iran."
A State Department official confirmed to the Free Beacon last week that major sanctions relief is on the table for Iran. The sides are still discussing the scope and scale of this relief, which is likely to include rolling back sanctions on Iran's banks, oil trade, and other key sectors. The United States is open to removing every sanction that is viewed as counter to the original 2015 nuclear agreement. Iran maintains that every American sanction must be lifted for the sides to agree on a new deal.
Iran's leaders publicly celebrated the terror attacks on Israel, with Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei writing in a Twitter post that Hamas and PIJ should "use the tools of their disposal." Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who is leading the negotiations for Tehran, also expressed support for the terror strikes on Israel.
Just days before the bombing began, a PIJ leader said the group's funding and weapons are provided by Iran.
Ramez al-Halabi, a PIJ official, disclosed in a May 7 interview on Iraqi television that the "mujahideen [terrorists] in Gaza and in Lebanon use Iranian weapons to strike the Zionists."
"We buy our weapons with Iranian money," al-Halabi said. "An important part of our activity is under the supervision of Iranian experts." He added, "The contours of the victories in Palestine as of late were outlined with the blood of [former Iranian military leader] Qassem Soleimani, Iranian blood." His remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadist activity.