A senior Russian official announced on Thursday that a new nuclear deal with Iran will be announced within 24 to 48 hours, signaling the Biden administration's continued reliance on and cooperation with Moscow even as it wages a full-scale war in Ukraine.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's ambassador for Iran negotiations, made the announcement in a video now circulating on social media. Ulyanov also said that he does not see the deal falling apart as a result of Russia's war, and that the two issues remain separate.
The terms of the deal remain unknown as the Biden administration has sought to cut Congress out of the deal and prevent it from performing its legally mandated oversight. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, Congress must give its approval of any new agreement with Iran. While the Biden administration has promised to follow this law, Congress has not been presented with details of the deal or been asked to approve it before the United States signs.
VIDEO: Mikhael Ulyanov, the Russian Ambassador for Iran negotiations says that the deal is "24, maybe 48 hours" away from completion.
The Chinese, Russian, and Iranian governments know what's in this deal. The U.S. Congress and the American people are being kept in the dark. pic.twitter.com/3ZmUFi7osO
— Gabriel Noronha (@GLNoronha) March 3, 2022
Russia has served as the United States' key interlocutor in the talks even as the Biden administration and Western nations attempt to isolate Moscow as punishment for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress criticized the Biden administration earlier this week for its reliance on Russia in the talks.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
"Russia's further invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible, but we can't lose sight of the next national security crisis as it forms before our eyes: The Biden administration is reportedly rushing to finalize a deal with Iran, brokered by Russia, that it does not want Congress to review, in violation of U.S. law," Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.
"Congressional review of any Iran nuclear deal was enacted with broad bipartisan support to ensure legislative oversight of any dealings regarding the nuclear program of the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," McCaul said. "If the administration circumvents Congress, that is a blinking red light for the American people that this is a bad deal."
Iranian officials have also signaled that a deal is all but finished.
Mostafa Khoshcheshm, one of the Iran negotiating team's advisers, told the country's state-controlled press on Thursday that "the U.S. has accepted Iran's conditions to reach an agreement."
Khoshcheshm claimed that the Ukraine conflict has forced the Biden administration to "retreat" from its tough negotiation stance.
"There are now even stronger indications that the Ukrainian crisis has forced [the] West to retreat in Vienna talks as several [European Union] states have started demanding" that sanctions on Iran's crude oil trade be walked back, the official was quoted as saying. He also said a deal could be announced as soon as the weekend.