Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is slamming President Biden for sidestepping congressional calls for a full accounting on how Iranian sanctions relief bolsters terrorist groups.
“It is irresponsible and downright dangerous for President Biden to go against Congress to get back into the Iran deal,” she said. “The American people have every right to know if we are funneling money into the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. We deserve answers and Congress must hold Biden accountable.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Mrs. Haley, who served two years as U.S. ambassador under President Trump and was the first female governor of South Carolina, is considered a prospective Republican presidential contender for 2024.
Mr. Biden is refusing to fully comply with new disclosure mandates in this year’s annual defense authorization bill. It required the director of National Intelligence to provide to Congress an assessment of the “impacts that the imposition or revocation of unilateral United States economic sanctions” have on Iranian-backed militias and other entities that pose a threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond.
Mrs. Haley’s remarks were in response to Mr. Biden’s pushback to the reporting requirement while signing the National Defense Authorization Act into law in late December.
The president said it would force the administration to reveal “highly sensitive classified information, including information that could reveal critical intelligence sources or military operational plans.”
“It has been the common practice of the executive branch to comply with statutory reporting requirements in a way that satisfies congressional needs pursuant to the traditional accommodation practice and consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters,” he said.
The comments raised eyebrows among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The Republican measure, introduced by Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas and Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, sought transparency in White House negotiations with Iran. Since taking office, Mr. Biden has been attempting to revive nuclear talks modeled after the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for slowing their nuclear program.
Mr. Trump tore up the deal and reimposed sanctions.
The lawmakers say the sanctions relief, which has come back on the table, directly benefits Iranian-backed militants who pose a direct threat to U.S. interests. Under the reporting requirement, the White House would be forced to publicly come clean about it while negotiating sanctions.
As ambassador to the U.N., Mrs. Haley was highly critical of the deal reached by the Obama administration. She said Iran continued to skirt requirements to curtail its weapons programs despite its agreements with the U.S. and other nations.
In 2017, Mrs. Haley hosted members of Congress and U.N. officials in Washington to show firsthand evidence of Iranian weapons violations. At the time, the U.S. had uncovered ballistic missiles and other weapons the administration said Iran had exported to Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of a U.N. resolution passed concurrently with the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Trump administration said the exports proved that the deal had not curtailed Iranian aggression and later withdrew from the agreement.
Mr. Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that had previously been lifted as part of the accord.
“The president absolutely made the right decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal,” Mrs. Haley said in 2018. “This was a terrible deal that only allowed Iran’s bad international conduct to worsen. We must never allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, and we must resist their support for terrorism that continues to threaten America and our allies.”
Mr. Biden also is slow-walking compliance with NDAA requirements that the administration discloses details of military cooperation with the Taliban and the disposition of classified material and U.S. cash left behind, destroyed or removed from Afghanistan as the U.S. withdrew from the country.
• Joseph Clark can be reached at email@example.com.
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