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Rep. Stewart's Latest Op-Ed in The Hill

The full op-ed is available here and below.

America should send a powerful message to Iran by terminating nuclear negotiations

By Rep. Chris Stewart, Sen. Mike Lee, and Khosrow Semnani

Mass protests recently erupted in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman arrested by Iran’s morality police for incorrectly wearing her head covering. She was kidnapped from the streets, beaten in custody, and died without a credible explanation from the Iranian government. 

As protests surged, the Iranian regime cracked down. They fired indiscriminately at protestors and left hundreds dead. This is the reoccurring face of an ugly regime we cannot forget. 

In light of the government’s violent retaliation, we find it inexcusable that the Biden administration has been intent on reviving the weak Iran Nuclear Deal. The deal would strengthen the Ayatollah’s geopolitical grip and further perpetuate their consistent pattern of abuse within the region. When the Ayatollahs win, America loses. 

Though inexcusable, it is not surprising. As Isaac Schorr observed in National Review, Biden has surrounded himself with devotees of former President Obama’s progressive foreign policy, who are “so blindly committed to the mistaken belief that the Iranian regime can be anything but an enemy of the United States that they are willing to throw the Iranian people under the bus amidst a brutal crackdown on protesters.” 

While the State Department announced recently that the pursuit of the Iran Nuclear Deal is “not our focus right now,” America should send a powerful message to Iran by terminating nuclear negotiations altogether. 

Failure to do so will only embolden the Ayatollahs. They are encouraged in their execution of trade deals with America’s foreign adversaries; they fuel China’s ambitions to become a global superpower and fill gaps in Russia’s military infrastructure deployed in its war against Ukraine, including deadly drones and other hi-tech military hardware. If the Biden administration attempts to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal, it will award Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, global legitimacy. 

We cannot allow that to happen. 

The next time this administration attempts to revive a deal with the Iranian regime, we must remember the faces of the brave Iranian women as they stood up against their oppressors. They risked their lives pursuing the freedoms and values that make up the foundation of our republic. They fight for free speech, the freedom to determine their destiny and to worship as their conscience dictates. We must ask ourselves if it’s right to legitimize a regime capable of inflicting cruelty and violence on their people because they pursued values so familiar to ours. 

To be clear, we must respect the sovereignty of Iran. But we can respect the sovereignty of Iran while recognizing the heroic bravery of those protesting against a repressive government. We can speak out against injustice when a hostile government abuses its power. It is in America’s best interest to recognize the brave women of Iran for standing up against their oppressors. 

Iran has so much untapped potential. The people of Iran are young, educated, and completely at odds with their government. Despite this, Iran’s parliament reports 70 percent of Iranians live below the poverty line. Rather than harnessing the true potential of the Iranian people, the Ayatollahs perceive their youthful exuberance as a threat to their political survival. This perspective is incompatible with peace in the region. 

We hope the Biden administration will recognize that the current Iranian regime is not a partner the United States can trust. To stand with the people of Iran is to stand against the legitimization of a brutal dictator. We expect that when this administration says the revival of the Iran Nuclear Deal is no longer a focus, it remains out of focus indefinitely. 

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