On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Alabama) joined Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and 13 colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an update on U.S. action to hold Iran accountable for multiple violations of nuclear program restrictions.
The letter comes after this weekend’s multi-pronged attacks on the people of Israel by Hamas fighters that killed over 1300 Israelis and wounded 3,200 more. According to Secretary Blinken, at least 25 Americans are among the dead. Hamas has taken well over 100 hostages, and the White House believes that Americans are among the hostages. Republicans believe that the government of Iran financed and likely helped plan those attacks.
“We respectfully request that the U.S. Department of State provide information regarding the status of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigation into Iran following the recent IAEA’s Board of Governors meeting,” the Senators wrote. “The Iranian regime is intent on fomenting terror across the region, as evidenced by its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah’s, brutal attacks this weekend on our ally, Israel. Now more than ever, you must ensure that you hold the regime accountable for its failure to comply with obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Further, we were disappointed that the administration did not call for a formal censure of Tehran given its continued non-compliance with the IAEA.”
“The Biden Administration has failed to press for concrete action against Iran in Vienna,” the Senators continued. “We are especially disturbed by reports that the United States led efforts to oppose a censure of Iran. As Iran violates its commitments and refuses to comply with the IAEA, your business-as-usual approach to resolving the situation is tantamount to an endorsement of the Iranian regime’s activities.”
“It is regrettable that the September 11-15, 2023, IAEA Board of Governors meeting achieved no progress in resolving key questions related to the Iranian regime’s nuclear program,” the Senators wrote. “Once again, Iran was able to escape any shred of accountability. As you know, since 2018, the IAEA has been investigating Iran’s undeclared nuclear material and activities related to a secret 2003 effort to produce atomic weapons called the Amad Plan. Despite the IAEA’s repeated requests to access several Iranian sites, it has not been able to determine whether Tehran retains covert nuclear weapons activities, nor has it investigated all sites, personnel, and documentation related to the Amad Plan and its successor entities, such as Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).”
Joining Senators Britt and Rubio in signing the letter were Senators Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
In 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by the Obama Administration. Iran and other countries agreed to place restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. One condition included the JCPOA tasking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the regime in Tehran adheres to nuclear restrictions. The Senators claim that even with the signed agreement, Iran has remained non-compliant and continues its nuclear programs.
Senator Britt has been an outspoken critic of the Biden Administration’s controversial decision to free up $6 billion of seized illicit oil sales revenue to Iran to facilitate a prisoner exchange with Iran. The five Iranian-Americans appear to have been wrongfully jailed solely because they were American citizens. Britt warned at the time that the ransom payments would only result in more Americans being taken hostage.
When the Administration formally notified Congress of the deal on September 11th, Britt warned, “This irresponsible, weak appeasement sends a terrible message across the globe and only incentivizes further hostage taking in the future.”
Today, countless Israeli hostages have been taken into Gaza by Hamas.
Senator Britt this week joined a letter led by Senator Blackburn (R-Tennessee) calling on the Biden Administration to re-freeze the $6 billion.
Sen. Britt was elected to the Senate in 2022.
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