Under Questioning from Sen. Britt, Secretary Blinken Refuses to Rule Out Return to JCPOA Talks

October 31, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 31, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today during a Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing pressed both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the Biden Administration’s posture towards the Iranian regime.

This was the committee’s first hearing since the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas, which is primarily funded, equipped, and trained by Iran.

“We’ve got to take the threat of Iran seriously and look at what they’ve been doing across the globe, what they’ve been funding, and who they have been training,” Senator Britt said in her remarks.

During questioning, Senator Britt stated that the Biden Administration’s consistent appeasement of the Iranian regime, including the Administration’s decision to ease sanctions enforcement on Iran and engaging in talks about re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has emboldened the regime in Tehran. Since President Biden took office, Iran has been able to more easily sell oil on the international markets, making nearly $80 billion in revenues. For comparison, during the last year of the Trump Administration, Iran’s oil sales declined to only $7.9 billion.

Asked by Senator Britt if he agrees that the Administration’s appeasement of Iran contributed to the current war in Israel, Secretary Blinken said, “It won’t surprise you that I wouldn’t agree with that statement.”

“We have to go back to a strategy of maximum pressure. I hope you’ll work with the other countries in the G-7 to actually do that,” Senator Britt responded.

When then pressed by Senator Britt, Secretary Blinken refused to commit that in light of the attacks on Israel, the Biden Administration would not go back to the table with Iran to re-enter the JCPOA, the feckless nuclear deal with Iran that was signed during the Obama Administration and discontinued by President Trump due to its lack of teeth and the fact that it allowed Iran more access to the financial means needed to develop nuclear weapons.

“I can simply say that it was a big mistake to walk away from the JCPOA because at least it took one problem off the table, which was Iran’s nuclear program,” Secretary Blinken said.

Secretary Blinken’s refusal comes after Iran in September notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the regime was expelling several senior inspectors from the country, in what the IAEA decried as an “unprecedented” move. Senator Britt last month joined Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in sending a letter to Secretary Blinken regarding Iran’s failure to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Senator Britt’s entire exchange with Secretaries Blinken and Austin can be found here. A high-quality version for media use can be downloaded here.