A group of 33 Republican lawmakers launched an investigation Thursday into President Joe Biden’s administration’s decision to lift sanctions earlier this month on entities linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Republicans in Congress suspect that the Biden administration’s Treasury decision is part of a package of concessions intended to entice Iran to resume negotiations with the goal of securing a return to the nuclear deal, although senior US officials dispute the claim.
Diplomatic talks with Iran have stalled since the inauguration of President Ebrahim Raisi, who demanded that America cancel all sanctions imposed on the regime before discussions continued. Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s envoy on Iran, said last week that the United States was “prepared to remove all sanctions imposed by the (Donald) Trump administration.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
On October 8, the US Treasury lifted sanctions against the Mammut industrial group and its affiliated entities, which the Trump administration has designated as “principal producers and suppliers of military-grade dual-use goods to Iran’s missile programs.”
Iran’s ballistic missile program, the largest in the Middle East and capable of carrying nuclear warheads, has long been a source of international concern. Severe sanctions were imposed on it before the 2015 nuclear agreement and again after former President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.
“We are committed to investigating all sanctions relief provided to Iran and its allies and working to thwart the regime’s long-range strike capabilities,” the lawmakers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.
“We would like you to verify that the removed entities are no longer engaging in sanctionable behavior under United States law, and we ask about other steps the United States government is taking to impede Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities, which pose a significant risk to forces and facilities,” the letter added. and personnel in the Middle East, as well as key regional allies.
The letter gives the Biden administration 15 days to provide this information to Congress. The call for an investigation into the ballistic missile program comes as part of a larger effort by the Republican RSC, the largest Republican grouping in Congress, to expose what they say are the administration’s secret dealings with Iran.
The Parallel Securities Commission is also investigating the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil sectors.
“The recent decision to write off entities linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program raises serious national security concerns,” Representative Brian Steele told Free Beacon. “We must continue to investigate any sanctions relief offered to Iran and its allies to ensure that we are fighting terrorism in the region and thwarting the regime’s ballistic missile capabilities,” he added.
For his part, Behnam Bin Taleblu, an Iranian expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that the addition and subsequent removal of Mammut from the US sanctions list raises questions about the effectiveness of the Treasury’s decision.
“The repercussions surrounding the recent delisting are not healthy for US sanctions policy,” BenTaliblu said. “The delisting, which was done under a legal file from November 2020, appears to imply that either there was insufficient evidence for the original listing in 2020 or that the delisting in 2021 may be influenced by current US policy.”
The case also raises greater concerns about what the Biden administration is doing “to combat Iran’s advanced ballistic missile capabilities and the network of people, banks, and companies that support the purchase, production, and proliferation of Iranian missiles,” BenTaliblu said.