Lawmakers Tell Biden No More Secret Meetings With Iran

( Some Republican lawmakers are pressing Biden administration officials to brief Congress on the ongoing secret talks US officials are conducting with Iran and what concessions the Biden administration has offered to get Tehran to return to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.

In a letter to the White House last week, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees told the White House that the American people have the right to know what US diplomats have agreed to in the negotiations taking place in Vienna.

The lawmakers blasted the secrecy surrounding these talks and Iran’s demand for billions in sanctions relief, calling them unacceptable. They expressed concern that the Biden administration is prepared to enter a deal that is even weaker than the original deal secured by Obama in 2015.

As the negotiations stall amid Tehran’s demand that all US sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp be lifted, Republican lawmakers, Claudia Tenney (NY), María Elvira Salazar (FL), Greg Steube (FL), Ronny Jackson (TX), and Don Bacon (NE) are urging administration officials to publicly brief Congress on the status of the negotiations.

Despite negotiations dragging on for over a year, the Biden administration has refused to brief Congress in a public hearing, only consenting to classified briefings. In their letter, the Republicans chastised the White House for keeping Congress out of the negotiations, arguing that classified briefings are no longer tolerable.

The lawmakers demanded that US/Iran envoy Robert Malley and other senior officials involved in the negotiations appear before Congress in a public hearing “to provide crucial transparency about your plans and efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran.”

Too much of what this White House does is behind closed doors. Joe Biden campaigned on the promise of “transparency,” but that certainly hasn’t been the case in this administration.

While working to restore some sort of deal with Iran, this administration has quietly stopped enforcing US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, giving Tehran billions in oil revenue. Since Biden took office, China has imported $22 billion in sanctioned Iranian crude oil.

Likewise, in a move to cajole Iran back to the negotiating table, the US dropped some nuclear sanctions against the country, permitting China and Russia to build portions of Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Most of the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts, however, remain secret, taking place behind closed doors in Vienna with Russia serving as the lead negotiator for the deal, even as it wages a war in Ukraine.