SEN MENENDEZ URGES BIDEN AND EUROPE TO ABANDON WEAK APPROACH TO NUCLEAR TALKS

As Iran continues to rapidly escalate its nuclear program, which has brought it to the brink of having enough material for a nuclear weapon, The Democratic Head the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate Urges Return to Maximum Pressure - Reimposition of Harsh Sanctions to Regain Leverage. He also calls the Biden Administration to Enforce Existing Sanctions on Iran Sales of Oil to China.

Message to the brutal murderous theocracy in Tehran, the appeasers in Europe and their corrupt, souless complicitors is clear:

The US Congress and the American people - on a bipartisan basis - demand maximum pressure on the Iranian regime to truly prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to deter its malign and unconscionable activities -

Any capitulations of the Biden Administration are only temporary and do not reflect the will of the American people or our values which transcend partisan politics.

The Biden Administration cannot and must guarantee the longevity or permanence which the Iranian regime demands. We are a Constitutional republic and we do not bow down to murderous tyrannies.


The highlights of Senator Menendez's Remarks.......


“Madam President, for nearly 30 years, first as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and to this day as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have had the privilege of engaging in the most pressing foreign policy and national security issues facing our nation.

While we are all rightly focused on the crisis unfolding around Ukraine, we must not lose sight of how dangerously close Iran is to becoming a nuclear-armed state, for we know that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an unacceptable threat to U.S. national security interests, to our allies in Europe and to overall stability in the Middle East.

As someone who has followed Iran's nuclear ambition for the better part of three decades, I am here today to raise concerns about the current round of negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and Iran’s dangerously and rapidly escalating nuclear program that has put it on the brink of having enough material for a nuclear weapon.

Three to four weeks. A month or less.

That’s how long most analysts have concluded it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if they choose to do so.


That is not a timeline we can accept.

That is why I’m calling on the Biden administration and our international partners to exert more pressure on Iran to counter its nuclear program, its missile program, and its dangerous behavior around the Middle East, including attacks on American personnel and assets.

Before I continue, let me set the record straight.

While some have tried to paint me as belligerent to diplomacy – or worse – I have always believed that multilateral, diplomatic negotiations from a position of strength are the best way to address Iran’s nuclear program.

And I have always advocated for a comprehensive diplomatic agreement that is long lasting, fully verifiable, and with an enforceable snapback system of sanctions should Iran breach any terms.

It was for very specific reasons that I opposed the JCPOA back in 2015, as well as an underlying concern that I just could not shake: a sense that the deal itself was a best-case scenario hinging on good faith actors and overly-optimistic outcomes without enough consideration for the worst-case scenarios that might arise from the behavior of bad actors.

Today, many of the concerns I expressed about the JCPOA back in August of 2015 are coming back to haunt us in the year 2022.

First and foremost, my overarching concern with the JCPOA was that it did not require the complete dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Instead, it mothballed that infrastructure for 10 years, making it all too easy for Iran to resume its illicit nuclear program at a moment of its choosing.

The deal did not require Iran to destroy or fully decommission a single uranium enrichment centrifuge.

In fact, over half of Iran’s operating centrifuges at the time were able to continue spinning at its Natanz facility.

The remainder – more than 5,000 operational centrifuges and nearly 10,000 not yet operational – were to be merely disconnected. Instead of being completely removed, they were transferred to another hall at Natanz where they could be quickly reinstalled to enrich uranium, which is exactly what we have seen happen over the past year.

Nor did the deal shut down or destroy the Fordow nuclear facility, which Iran constructed underneath a mountain to house its covert uranium enrichment infrastructure. Under the JCPOA, it was merely repurposed.

Now, Iran is back in business at Fordow; spinning its most advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium to a higher level of purity than before it entered the JCPOA.

Iran has resumed its research and development into a range of centrifuges, making rapid improvements to their effectiveness. Huge strides that we will never be able to roll back.

Today, Iran has more fissile materials – 2500kg, more advanced centrifuges, and a shorter breakout time – three to four weeks – than it had in 2015.

This is exactly why I was so concerned over the JCPOA framework of leaving the vast majority of Iran’s nuclear program intact.

This is how Iran was able to rapidly rebuild and advance its enrichment capabilities once the agreement fell apart. That was a serious mistake.

Back in 2015, I also expressed my grave concern that Iran only agreed to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The Additional Protocol is what allows the International Atomic Energy Administration to go beyond merely verifying that all declared nuclear material and facilities are being used for peaceful purposes and provides it with a verification mechanism to ensure states do not have undeclared nuclear material and facilities.

The Additional Protocol was particularly important because Iran has never fully come clean about its previous clandestine nuclear activities.

For well over two decades, mounting concerns over Iran’s secret weaponization efforts united the world.

The goal that we have long sought, along with the international community, is to find out exactly what Iran accomplished in its clandestine program – not necessarily to get Iran to declare culpability – but to determine how far they had advanced their weaponization program so that we would know what signatures to look for in the future.

David Albright, a physicist and former nuclear weapons inspector, and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, said: Addressing the IAEA’s concerns about the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programs is fundamental to any long term agreement… an agreement that sidesteps the military issues would risk being unverifiable.’

The reason he said that ‘an agreement that sidesteps the military issues would be unverifiable,’ is because it makes a difference if you are 90 percent in terms of enriched material down the road in your weaponization efforts or only 10 percent advanced. It makes a big difference.

The state of Iran’s weaponization efforts significantly impacts the breakout time for the regime to complete an actual deliverable weapon.

So, this verifiability is critical. And in 2015, I explained the JCPOA did not empower international weapons inspectors to conduct the kind of ‘anywhere, anytime inspections’ needed to get to the bottom of Iran’s previous weaponization program.

In February 2021, we saw the consequences of not insisting Iran permanently ratify the Additional Protocol.

Iran simply decided they were done with the Additional Protocol and refused to allow the IAEA to fully investigate locations where it found traces of uranium enrichment.

It is now obvious that the IAEA is significantly limited in its ability to determine the extent of Iran’s previous nuclear program and whether further militarization activities have continued all this time. Without the complete adoption of the Additional Protocol, the JCPOA did not empower the IAEA to achieve this task.

So that was then and this is now.

Now, we can’t live in a counterfactual world where all parties remained in full compliance, but we do know that even for the first couple years of the JCPOA, Iran’s leaders gave absolutely no indication they were willing to look beyond the scope of these limited terms, and fought vigorously to keep their highly advanced nuclear infrastructure in place.

That was under a more ‘moderate’ regime.

They continued their destabilizing activities and support for terrorism in the greater Middle East with abandon. So today, I ask why we would try to simply go back to the JCPOA – a deal that was not sufficient in the first place – and still doesn’t address some of the most serious national security concerns we have.

Let me lay out specific concerns about the parameters of the JCPOA, which it appears the Biden administration is seeking to reestablish.

For decades now, Iran has pursued all three elements necessary to create and to deliver a nuclear weapon.

Producing nuclear material for a weapon. The fissile material. That is basically what we just talked about – being three to four weeks away.

The scientific research and development to build a nuclear warhead. That’s why we don’t know the full dimensions of what they were doing in terms of how advanced they got to the weaponization, the ability to have the nuclear warhead that makes the bomb go ‘boom.’

The ballistic missiles to deliver them. That, they already had.

If you think about it, they have the missiles capable of delivering, they are on the verge of having the fissile material necessary to create an explosion. The only question is the warhead. At what point are they there? And we don’t fully know.

Since the Trump administration exited the deal, Iran has installed more than 1,000 advanced centrifuges, enabling it to enrich uranium more quickly.

While the deal the U.S. and our partners are pursuing in Vienna would ostensibly seek to reverse technological advancements, the acquisition of knowledge is never reversible.

As Kelsey Davenport of the Arms Control Association has said, Iran’s nuclear program hit new milestones over the past years. ‘As it masters these new capabilities, it will change our understanding about how the country may pursue nuclear weapons down the road.’

Madam President, this is exactly why the United States’ and our partners’ starting position, during our original negotiations, was the complete dismantlement of Iran’s enrichment facilities and capacity.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has produced uranium enriched to more than 60 percent purity at the Natanz facility.

Why is 60 percent purity so alarming?

Well, as the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Association – the UN international watchdog on these issues – Rafael Grossi has stated, Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to 60 percent to produce uranium metal has no justification for civilian purposes. Iran says, ‘we only want nuclear energy for domestic energy consumption.’ But as the IAEA’s head says, it has no justification to enrich uranium to 60 percent for civilian purposes.

In other words, Iran has already done most of the heavy lifting.

Furthermore, the IAEA reports that Iran’s nuclear stockpile has grown to nearly 2,500 kilograms. That’s nearly two and half a tons of enriched uranium and eight times the cap agreed to in the JCPOA.

More and more advanced centrifuges, a much larger nuclear stockpile, and vastly higher levels of enrichment are a dangerous combination.

As I noted before, Iran’s breakout time is now a mere three-to-four weeks.

And according to a report from David Albright and others at the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran could enrich enough uranium for a second weapon in less than four months.

Once they hit this breakout period, which is four weeks away, then to get their second bomb, we are talking about four months.

So, while the U.S. has recognized Iran’s right to civilian nuclear power, Iran’s behavior continues to indicate that it is actively moving towards developing nuclear weapons capabilities.

Adding to the alarm is the fact that we don’t even have the full picture of exactly how far it’s gone. Again, that’s why full access was and is such a critical component of any kind of deal.

As the original deal was being negotiated, we started from a place of ‘anywhere, anytime’ inspections that we want. But that’s not where the deal landed.

And while I realize that other factors have contributed to Iran’s efforts to block inspectors, simply put, I was not satisfied in 2015 with the level of visibility the agreement afforded. And today, indeed, the IAEA readily states it does not have the necessary level of access.

In fact, in September 2021, IAEA Director Rafael Grossi warned that Iran’s failure to fully cooperate and communicate with the IAEA is ‘seriously compromising’ the IAEA’s ability to have full insight into Iran’s program.

IAEA inspectors were denied access three times to the Karaj centrifuge component production facility in their efforts to install new surveillance cameras to monitor Iranian activities.

In addition, Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA’s ongoing two-year-old investigation into the presence of nuclear materials found at four locations outside of Iran’s declared nuclear program sites.

Iran has allowed access to two of these locations but has denied or delayed access to the other two.


The IAEA has warned Iran multiple times that their ‘lack of substantive engagement’ in resolving these issues ‘seriously affects the agency’s ability to provide assurance of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.’

But Iran’s obstruction has gone beyond reneging on the inspection protocols agreed to in the JCPOA.

As I mentioned previously, in February of last year Iran suspended implementation of the Additional Protocol.

Following that suspension, the IAEA managed an arrangement where Tehran agreed to certain surveillance activities.

But, even though there was an agreement, it refused to transmit any data from that surveillance until it got all the sanctions relief the regime felt entitled to under the JCPOA.

Never mind their own repeated failure to meet their obligations under the JCPOA.


Madam President, we are not dealing with a good faith actor here.

Iran’s consistent obfuscation, continual stalling, and outlandish demands have left us flying blind.

Especially when it comes to verifying that Iran is not engaged in activities related to the weaponization process – activities related to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device – activities which were explicitly banned in Section T of the JCPOA.