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Risch: Mr. President, Stop Doing Business with the Russians, Walk Away from Iran Deal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today co-led his Republican colleagues in a press conference to discuss the Biden Administration’s efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran.

Watch Senator Risch’s full opening remarks on YouTube here.

Download Senator Risch’s opening remarks on Google Drive here. 

On JCPOA negotiations:

“The first thing we need to do about this is walk away. As Senator Cruz said, it is absolutely stunning that this deal is being negotiated by two of our worst enemies on the planet. You’ve got the Iranians and you’ve got the Russians. They won’t even let the Americans in the room. Would any of you sign a deal or go into negotiations where they wouldn’t let you in the room when they were negotiating? These two are negotiating the deal and our people are out in the hall at the kids table looking through a keyhole at what is going on in there. This is not right.”

“We should walk. This doesn’t need to be done right now. And particularly, it doesn’t need to be done when we have the problems going on that we have in Ukraine. We should walk. Mr. President, you are the only one in America doing business with the Russians. Stop doing business with the Russians. Don’t have them negotiating for us. Walk on this deal.”

On the threat of nuclear war:

“In the last 10 days, we have seen a direct threat by a nuclear power country against the United States of America – a threat to actually use nuclear weapons on us. We all heard, all of you heard, Putin say that, if indeed we did anything to interfere in Ukraine, that we would see death and destruction and the kind of harm here in the United States that this country has never seen before. He was talking about nuclear weapons of course. That puts this into perspective.”

“The magnitude of what we are talking about here, of having another country, another bad country, have nuclear weapons is a colossal problem for the world. And, particularly colossal problems for its enemies, of which we are of course listed.”

On the Biden Administration’s consideration of Iranian and Venezuelan oil:

“Prior to the Ukrainian war, in the last two weeks of February, there was zero Russian oil that came in. The private sector shut it off themselves and said we’re not going to do it. Prior to that, we were bringing in 600,000 barrels a day from Russia into the United States of America – prior to them cutting it off in February.

“I went up, as did my friends here, and watched Biden get sworn in on the front steps. An hour later, he walked into the president’s room, he took his papers and started signing executive orders. One of them was he shut down the Keystone Pipeline. 700,000 barrels a day. Would you rather have 600,000 come in from Russia that you’re paying Russians for, getting them rich. Or, would you rather have 700,000 barrels coming in from Canada and having our workers be employed by that. This is outrageous. Absolutely outrageous for them to try to point the finger and say this is somebody else’s fault. This is the Biden Administration’s fault. You guys are smarter than this, I know you are.”

Watch Senator Risch’s Q&A part 1 on YouTube here.

Download Senator Risch’s Q&A part 1 on Google Drive here.

Watch Senator Risch’s Q&A part 2 on YouTube here.

Download Senator Risch’s Q&A part 2 on Google Drive here.

 These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity – a full transcript is below:

“Let me put this in to perspective a little bit. We usually talk about nuclear weapons in very subjective terms and theoretical terms. There are seven countries on the planet that have nuclear weapons – seven [that have] admitted. This is a situation again where we don’t talk about it much, they’re strategic weapons and everybody knows that assured mutual destruction is what happens when somebody presses the button. So, they are really talked about more theoretically than anything else.

“But in the last 10 days, we have seen a direct threat by a nuclear power country against the United States of America – a threat to actually use nuclear weapons on us. We all heard, all of you heard, Putin say that, if indeed we did anything to interfere in Ukraine, that we would see death and destruction and the kind of harm here in the United States that this country has never seen before. He was talking about nuclear weapons of course. That puts this into perspective.

“When a country has nuclear weapons, the stakes are entirely different, and obviously you have to treat them differently. Each country has to take the threat of nuclear power seriously. And if unreasonable people are in possession of nuclear weapons, this is where you get.

“So, the magnitude of what we are talking about here, of having another country, another bad country, have nuclear weapons is a colossal problem for the world. And, particularly colossal problems for its enemies, of which we are of course listed.

“Look, any dispute can be settled by two parties if there’s two things present – you only need two things. Number one, you need a common objective. And number two, you need to have parties acting in good faith. You have neither with Iranians.

“Their objective is to have a nuclear weapon. Our objective is, and the world’s objective is, that they do not have a nuclear weapon. Now, they will do what they have to do to get there. Time means nothing to them. This is a population that has been around for hundreds of years. 10 years, 15 years, 100 years – doesn’t mean anything to them, as long as they can get to their objective and have a nuclear weapon.

“And secondly, they would need to actin in good faith. Look, I don’t speak Farsi. If I did, I doubt I could use the words “good faith.” I don’t if they exist because I have never seen good faith on the part of the Iranians.  

“So, what do we do about this? Well the first thing we need to do about this is walk away. As Senator Cruz said, it is absolutely stunning that this deal is being negotiated by two of our worst enemies on the planet. You’ve got the Iranians and you’ve got the Russians. They won’t even let the Americans in the room. Would any of you sign a deal or go into negotiations where they wouldn’t let you in the room when they were negotiating? These two are negotiating the deal and our people are out in the hall at the kids table looking through a keyhole at what is going on in there. This is not right.

“What should we do? We should walk. This doesn’t need to be done right now. And particularly, it doesn’t need to be done when we have the problems going on that we have in Ukraine. We should walk. Mr. President, you are the only one in America doing business with the Russians. Stop doing business with the Russians. Don’t have them negotiating for us. Walk on this deal.”

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“You guys are smarter than that, you really are. Can’t believe you let them get away with that kind of baloney that they’re peddling. I’m going to use just one narrow part of it that the American people will understand.

“Prior to the Ukrainian war, in the last two weeks of February, there was zero Russian oil that came in. The private sector shut it off themselves and said we’re not going to do it. Prior to that, we were bringing in 600,000 barrels a day from Russia into the United States of America – prior to them cutting it off in February.

“I went up, as did my friends here, and watched Biden get sworn in on the front steps. An hour later, he walked into the president’s room, he took his papers and started signing executive orders. One of them was he shut down the Keystone Pipeline. 700,000 barrels a day. Would you rather have 600,000 come in from Russia that you’re paying Russians for, getting them rich. Or, would you rather have 700,000 barrels coming in from Canada and having our workers be employed by that. This is outrageous. Absolutely outrageous for them to try to point the finger and say this is somebody else’s fault. This is the Biden Administration’s fault. You guys are smarter than this, I know you are.”

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“A first-year law student will tell you that the Constitution is crystal clear. The Founding Fathers were really smart. They said an agreement with a foreign country is so important that two-thirds of the Senate has got to ratify it. That’s what needs to be done here – that’s how it should be submitted.

“What kind of shenanigans they will use to get there, I can’t tell you come November. But we’ll see what November brings. Thank you so much. Thank you all for coming today.”

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