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Risch in Asharq Al-Awsat: Strategic Political Challenges Facing the US in 2023


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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently published an op-ed in Asharq Al-Awsat reflecting on inconsistent U.S. policy towards Iran and charting a path forward for the year ahead.

Inconsistent U.S. policy emboldens the Iranian regime:
“Iran remains one of the United States’ most pressing national security challenges, even while much of the world’s attention in 2022 has been focused on Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. Despite this enduring reality, the lack of a consistent American policy on Iran has only served to embolden the Iranian regime. As legislators look ahead to a new year and a new Congress, there is an opportunity to chart a new path forward.”

U.S. policy towards Iran must have clear diplomatic, economic, and military deterrence components:
“On the economic front, Iran’s resistance economy must once again feel the full weight of the international community’s economic pressure. While the Biden Administration has announced additional sanctions against oil smugglers and Chinese purchases of Iranian oil, more must be done to enforce existing sanctions and close sanctions loopholes in coordination with our allies.”

“Military deterrence has been sorely lacking, largely stemming from efforts to keep nuclear negotiations on life support. With only minor exceptions, the Biden Administration has failed to respond to repeated attacks against Americans and our interests. Moving forward, Iranian leadership must understand that the United States and our partners have the capability and the will to respond forcefully to attacks, and that we will not distinguish between attacks from the regime or the proxies it supports.”

“On the diplomatic front, the death of the nuclear deal and Iran’s rush to enrich uranium provide opportunities for diplomatic incentives and disincentives. Censures of the Iranian regime at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meetings were a good start. As Iran continues to resist the IAEA’s legitimate oversight functions, the United States should hit the regime with more, stronger censures.”

The U.S. must also support the Iranian people:
“Finally, as protests enter their fourth month, the US government must better support the aspirations of the Iranian people. The American response thus far has been embarrassingly muted. The Biden Administration and international community must signal more full-throated support for the Iranian people who are dying on the streets as they march for freedom. Additionally, we must increase efforts to allow ordinary Iranians to access each other, the internet, and the outside world. These efforts must be paired with effective sanctions against Iranian censors and those who enable the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and expand sanctions of human rights abusers.”

To read the full op-ed on Asharq Al-Awsat’s website, click here.