House lawmakers sharpen the message on Iran by asking Europe to cut ties

House lawmakers met once again on Wednesday to unveil a resolution in support of Iranian protesters, but this time they did so in a way that signaled a serious hardening of the US Congress’ tone against the government in Tehran.

A resolution unveiled the morning after Joe Biden addressed a joint session of the House and Senate for his state of the union would once again declare US Congressional support for democratic governance in Iran, including language which implicitly invites the European allies of the United States to cut ties with Tehran by closing the consulates and recalling diplomats to their country of origin.

The call for such aggressive action is significant for one reason: the bipartisan nature of the event, in which the legislation was released. According to a source familiar with its elaboration, the new House resolution has more original co-sponsors than any previous Iran-related resolution to push through the lower house.

While it has no practical effect, the legislation signals one thing: The US Congress is fast approaching a consensus, at least between the conservative right and the moderate Democratic left, on the Iran issue. Progressives seem almost entirely absent from the conversation: There have been few, if any, public calls from the left wing of the Democratic Party for a renewed effort to bring Iran back to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal signed under the Barack Obama administration.

Calls for an alternative to the maximum pressure campaign employed by the Trump administration and continued, to some extent, by the Biden administration are few and far between. And even some of the most prominent progressives in the House and Senate are derided as utterly uninterested in issues of Iranian politics by some supporters who find themselves partnering with right-wing and conservative Democrats out of necessity.

Wednesday’s announcement marks the second House resolution aimed at supporting Iranian protesters – and, by extension, delegitimizing the government in Tehran – that the 118th Congress has pursued in less than two months.

Protests have continued for months across Iran following the death last year of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody. She was arrested and severely beaten after being accused of improperly wearing a head covering.

In addition to the Iranian government’s frequent condemnations and statements of support for the demonstrations, the Biden administration has also responded with a series of sanctions against security officials responsible for cracking down on protesters.

White House officials, including Biden, have said talks focused on resuming the 2015 nuclear deal are stalled, but it’s unclear what the administration’s new strategy is to prevent the Iranian government from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon.

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