In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, Manchin said he was “very concerned” about the ongoing talks and requested a briefing so he could receive details about the latest developments.
“While I support President Biden’s commitment to reengaging the Government of Iran in diplomacy,” Manchin wrote, “we should not reward Iran with sanctions relief before they demonstrate verifiable efforts towards curbing their malign influence holistically; including their nuclear ambitions, terrorism financing, and dual-use-weapons development.”
The West Virginia Democrat specifically pointed to reports that the administration was possibly going to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. Manchin is concerned that the State Department might take such a step in order to open the possibility of using Iran for energy assistance at a time when gas prices are high and Russian oil is banned.
“Let me be clear, the IRGC is a terrorist organization. We must not be shortsighted in the use of sanctions relief to mitigate our present energy challenges,” Manchin said.
The senator said that sanctions are the best way to bring Iran to the negotiating table “and should not be used to achieve non-strategic objectives.”
Manchin recalled that Iran has spent decades working to destabilize the Middle East and Africa by funding terror, while they continue to develop ballistic missiles that could potentially carry nuclear warheads.
“I agree we must halt the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program..” Manchin said. “However, we must continue to negotiate a halt to Iran’s use of state-sponsored terrorism, advancement of its missile program, and the continued proliferation of dual-use technologies.”
In addition to a briefing, Manchin requested that Congress “be given the due process it deserves in weighing in on such an immense foreign policy decision” so he can work to avoid a result like the original 2015 nuclear deal, which he said left him “disappointed.:
“I will do everything in my power to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said.