Citing news reports about the yet-to-be-finalized deal, which could be torpedoed by the Russian opposition, lawmakers said in a statement that Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration could reach a deal to weaken sanctions and reduce restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.
They pledged to do everything in their power to overturn a deal that does not “completely block” Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, limit its ballistic missile program and “confront the support of the Iran to terrorism”.
Tehran denies ever researching atomic bombs.
No Republican in Congress supported the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the major powers, reached under Democratic President Barack Obama, which curbed Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for a waiver. international sanctions against Tehran. A handful of Democrats also opposed it.
Aides to Sen. Rand Paul, the only Republican not to sign the statement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Congress may have the right to renew a deal under the Iran Nuclear Deal Review Act of 2015 (INARA), but lawmakers are unlikely to be able to kill a deal after failed in 2015 when Republicans controlled Congress.
Democrats, who now hold slim majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, are unlikely to turn on Biden in sufficient numbers to stop a major initiative like an Iran deal.
The 2015 deal made it harder for Tehran to develop materials for nuclear weapons. It fell apart after Republican President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018, saying it was flawed to benefit Iran.
The talks resumed after Biden became president last year.
Attempts to strike a new deal have been left in limbo after a last-minute request from Russia – at odds with the West over its invasion of Ukraine – forced the powers to suspend talks in Vienna despite a largely finished text.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Washington needs to make a decision to strike a deal.
(This story refiles to remove repeated paragraphs)
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Mark Heinrich)
By Patricia Zengerle