WASHINGTON - Crippling sanctions imposed by President Trump have catapulted Iran's economy into a deep recession. Now with the Islamic regime on its financial knees, some Christian and political leaders say it's time to demand Iran release American hostages and come clean on its egregious human rights abuses.
Simply reinstating the original 2015 nuclear deal will put the world in grave danger Rev. Johnnie Moore tells CBN News, speaking in his capacity as a human rights activist.
"The Iranians were cheating on the deal from the very beginning – $150 billion the United States gave to them, and they used it to fund terrorist activity around the world," says Moore who serves as president of the Congress of Christian Leaders.
He also serves on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom which, in its annual report released last week, recommends the U.S. "raise religious freedom and other human rights abuses in any discussions with Iran."
In an addendum, Moore goes even further.
"I'm appalled by reports that certain Biden administration officials would, in effect, reward Iran for its bad behavior by eliminating sanctions prematurely... Negotiations with Iran must involve the release of arbitrarily detained Americans and address Iran's gross human rights abuses," he writes in the report.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says the Biden administration has communicated with Tehran over Americans languishing in Iranian prisons, but there's no indication they've been raised as part of a new nuclear deal.
Wang Xiyue, an American who spent three years detained in Iran, tweets that Biden officials "should explain to American hostages' families if the US negotiation team is talking about our hostages in Vienna."
.@POTUS, @SecBlinken, @jakejsullivan, @USEnvoyIran should explain to American hostages’ families if the US negotiation team is talking about our hostages in Vienna after signaling massive sanction relief, and whether US hostages will remain in IRI jail while US lifting sanctions. https://t.co/JBtC55Wh7q
— Xiyue Wang (@XiyueWang9) April 22, 2021
"Biden's Iran policy appears self-righteous and lacks a moral compass," he writes in a separate tweet.
But more importantly, Biden’s Iran policy appears self-righteous and lacks a moral compass.
— Xiyue Wang (@XiyueWang9) April 23, 2021
Legislation introduced in both houses of Congress opposes lifting sanctions without "addressing the full scope of Iran's malign activities, including... hostage-taking and gross human rights violations."
And a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 140 lawmakers asks the secretary of state to address Iran's "full range of threats."
Moore told CBN News, the Biden administration can't "allow the United States government to fall in the arms of an Islamist regime that wants to take over the entire world, kill every American they can, destroy the state of Israel - that cannot happen on our watch."
However, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow with The Brookings Institution, tells Faith Nation the nuclear deal isn't the right vehicle to address these wrongs.
"If you try to get everything into the deal and right every wrong with Iranian behavior today I think you're just guaranteed not to have any progress at all," he contends.
No doubt many Americans will be watching intently as negotiators restart talks this week.