End the secrecy around the Iran deal negotiations

End the secrecy around the Iran deal negotiations
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

We’ve been complaining here pretty much since the beginning of the Biden administration about the way the “most transparent administration ever” has shrouded its negotiations with Iran over the Obama/Biden nuclear deal in secrecy. On the rare occasions where some hints about those proceedings have seeped out, the news has not been good. This week, the handling of this looming debacle apparently became too much for congressional Republicans and they sent a letter to the President calling for public briefings on what’s been going on in secret over in Vienna. The letter, obtained by the Free Beacon, insists that the White House let the American people know what sort of promises are being made on their behalf and what types of benefits President Biden plans to shower upon the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If Biden doesn’t agree to this, you can expect to see the issue raised in the upcoming midterm debates.

Republican lawmakers in Congress are fed up with the Biden administration’s secret diplomacy with Iran and refusal to inform the American public about what concessions will be granted to the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism as part of a new nuclear deal.

With negotiations stuck in their final stage amid Iran’s demands that all U.S. sanctions be lifted on its chief terrorist outfit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Republican foreign policy leaders are pressing top Biden administration officials to publicly brief Congress on the state of diplomatic talks.

“With uncertainty surrounding the status of the negotiation, the American people have a right to know what their diplomats agreed to in Vienna, what alternatives your administration is considering, and how you intend to address the wider range of threats from Iran—including its increasingly dangerous missile and drone programs and taking American hostages.”

Republicans Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), María Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Greg Steube (Fla.), Ronny Jackson (Texas), and Don Bacon (Neb.) all signed off on the letter, along with others. They point out that Iran has been demanding billions of dollars in sanction relief and very likely another shipment of pallets of cash such as they received from the Obama administration. In return, they believe we’ll be getting an even weaker deal than the one that Obama and Biden worked out in 2015.

Of course, we don’t know any of that for sure because the White House has been treating this subject like they’re protecting the nuclear launch codes. What we do know is one of our own negotiators walked off the job and later left government service over how badly Robert Mallery had been fumbling the negotiations. We also know that our relationship with Israel, one of our closest allies, has been suffering because of suggestions that Biden might remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the terror watch list in his desperation to get the Mullahs back to the table.

One of the only other things we know is that the negotiations have been served up by Russia. You know… the country that’s probably been deploying forbidden chemical weapons on the civilians in Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong?

The authors of the letter want Robert Malley to testify in public hearings, a request that Antony Blinken previously denied. Blinken continues to insist that they’re not going to “negotiate in public,” but that’s not how any of this is supposed to work. This is not classified information we’re talking about here. They are working on something that is essentially a treaty in all but name. Releasing the details after they’ve already signed off on it is useless. That’s how we got stuck with the original deal seven years ago.

It’s time to end the secrecy and obfuscation. Even if you think we should be making deals like this with state sponsors of terrorism, you should at least insist on it being a good deal for the United States and not some massive giveaway to a member of the New Axis of Evil just so Joe Biden can tick off another checkbox on his list of campaign promises. We clearly do not have the best people possible negotiating on our behalf and there needs to be some form of checks and balances on this process before we are stuck with something even worse than we had before.

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