UK Foreign Minister Cleverly says Akbari was ‘lured back’ to Iran
Britain’s Foreign Minister James Cleverly makes a statement in the House of Commons on the execution of British-Iranian Alireza Akbari, who was accused of spying by Tehran. (CREDIT: Reuters)
The Biden’s administration’s Iran policy, beset by criticism that it is too dovish on Tehran’s bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters and the clerical’s regime ambition to build a nuclear weapons device, is facing new blowback from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, former American ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, and European politicians.
Critics say the Biden administration’s statements over this month show its fealty to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal, that, according to one U.S. think tank study, would funnel $275 billion in benefits to Tehran in its first year and $1 trillion by 2030.
A spokesman for Senator Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital that “Sen. Cruz believes that the Biden administration is ideologically obsessed with reentering a nuclear deal with Iran, and that they are doing everything possible to keep that possibility open. He believes that they prioritize the deal above other critical interests they claim they have, including supporting the women-led protests against the Iranian regime and helping our Ukrainian allies take out the Russian and Iranian forces using drones to devastate Ukrainian military and civilian targets.”
The spokesman added that the senator “fully expects the administration to deepen their obsession, including continuing to enable nuclear cooperation between Iran and Russia despite Congressional sanctions if they think it’s politically possible.”
Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran, Oct. 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Middle East Images, File)
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The London-based Iran International news organization reported that Biden’s Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley recently conducted meetings with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N., Saeed Iravani, “at least three times in the last two months.”
When asked about the meetings State Department spokesperson Ned Price told Fox News Digital that “We have made clear that we have the means to deliver specific and firm messages to Iran when it is in America’s interest to do so. We have consistently conveyed three messages to Iran: stop killing peaceful protesters, stop selling weapons to Russia to kill Ukrainians, and release the Americans you have wrongfully detained. We also use every available opportunity to make clear that we will take necessary steps to protect American citizens.”
Price added, “I am not going to get into details about how we deliver these messages, but we do so in close coordination with allies and partners and make no apologies for delivering them firmly and consistently.”
Haley told Fox News Digital, “The IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] is a terrorist organization, plain and simple. Europe should have blacklisted them years ago. Every day the farce of reviving the Iran deal continues is another day the world is less safe.”
The Trump administration classified the IRGC a terrorist entity in 2019.
In response to criticism by Cruz and Haley, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “The JCPOA has not been on the agenda for months. It is not our focus. Since September, our focus has been on standing up for the fundamental freedoms of the Iranian people and countering Iran’s deepening military partnership with Russia and its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
The spokesperson added, “President Biden is absolutely committed to never allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal on a sustainable and verifiable basis, and that the alternatives are worse.”
IRAN GOVERNMENT’S PROTEST CRACKDOWN KILLS DOZENS OF CHILDREN, PROMPTS CALLS FOR REMOVAL FROM UNITED NATIONS
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council echoed the State Department.
“The JCPOA is not our focus right now. It’s not on the agenda. Iran is killing its young people and selling UAVs to Russia to kill Ukrainians. Our focus is on practical ways to confront them in these areas. Regardless of the nuclear talks, we will continue to confront Iran’s behavior in the region, protect our troops, including with military forces when necessary, and support the brave Iranian people demanding their basic rights and dignity – which this regime has long denied them. We will continue taking action to impose costs on those who commit violence against peaceful protesters or otherwise seek to suppress their rights,” said the N.S.C. spokesperson.
The European Union (EU) on Monday declined to sanction the massive 125,000-strong military without a court decision from an EU nation that declares the IRGC is engaged in terrorist activities.
“It is something that cannot be decided without a court… decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you,” Josep Borrell, the top EU diplomat, said.
EU diplomats told Reuters last week the bloc was set to add 37 names to a blacklist of Iranian people and entities banned from traveling to Europe and subject to an asset freeze.
The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution last week, urging that IRGC be included on the bloc’s terror list. The commander of the IRGC and Iran’s parliamentary speaker threatened the EU with consequences should it proscribe the IRGC a terrorist organization.
File photo shows the flags of the member states of the European Union blow in the wind at dusk in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution last week urging the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be added to the bloc’s terrorism list.
(Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Charlie Weimers, a conservative Swedish member of the European Parliament (MEP), told Fox News Digital with respect to classifying the IRGC a terrorist entity: “The henchman of the Islamist Regime should face the toughest possible measures from the West.”
Weimers, a strong supporter of Iranian dissidents who oppose the clerical regime, added, “The Obama Iran deal [JCPOA] softens pressure on the Mullah’s and hurts our ally, Israel. Continuing JCPOA negotiations undermines European and American security interests by granting Russia influence through a seat at the table. It is unfathomable that some in Europe still cling to deal from a bygone area.”
Nile Gardiner, the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, told Fox News Digital, “The EU remains stuck in a terrible appeasement mindset toward Iran. The refusal to add the IRGC to the terror blacklist is shameful but not surprising. The EU has been kowtowing to Iran for years.” He said it is “inexcusable and a disgrace” for the EU to not confront the “world largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
The U.S. State Department has routinely designated Iran’s regime the planet’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.
The IRGC, which oversees the Basij militia, has played a key role in smashing protests against the clerical regime sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September.
The Iranian regime’s notorious morality police arrested and allegedly tortured to death the 22-year-old Amini for reportedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code that she cover her hair with a hijab.
Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley speaks at the Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Malley spoke as negotiations between Iran and world powers of its tattered nuclear deal appear to be nearing their end.
(AP Photo/Lujain Jo)
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Question marks over the sustainability of reviving the JCPOA are coming from quarters that previously were wedded to the Iran deal. Hannah Neumann, a German Green member of the MEP, said “How can we speak about reviving the JCPOA if the only thing that comes out is the international recognition that the regime urgently needs? The time for an ambiguous policy is over. As long as the brutal protests continue, we should not negotiate. As long as the IRGC terrorize their own people and the region, we should treat them as terrorists.”
The German Green party has long been a zealous supporter of the JCPOA. Germany’s Green Party Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock advocates the JCPOA and is now facing criticism from the opposition Christian Democratic Union Party for her alleged failure to sanction the IRGC.
Fox News Digital sent a press query to the German foreign ministry.
A huge mural of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Iran’s Supreme Leader painted next to a smaller one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, right, seen on Motahari street on March 8, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. The message on the wall reads, "The power and influence and dignity of America in the world is on the fall and extermination" and on top of the building, another slogan reads "We are standing till the end."
(Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
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The United Kingdom is also reviewing the worth of returning to the JCPOA following the regime execution of a dual British-Iranian national, Alireza Akbari, in January, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph. The paper wrote “The U.K. is reconsidering its support for the Iran nuclear deal following the execution…The Sunday Telegraph understands.”
A British withdrawal from the deal would mean a severe setback to one of President Biden’s top foreign policy goals.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.