September 27, 2023

NIAC Statement on Senator Menendez Indictment

On September 27th, the National Iranian American Council issued the following statement in response to the indictment of Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez:

“For years, those of us who have championed a principled position towards U.S. policy on Iran — one that prioritizes peace and the well-being of the Iranian people — have run up against the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez.”

“For over a decade, Senator Menendez has been one of the most powerful proponents of society-crushing sanctions and embargoes on Iran, Cuba, and others. His opposition to the Iran deal was arguably one of the most important factors in dissuading the Biden administration from swiftly returning to it when they took office. Through the years, he allied with the MEK and other fringe groups promoting hawkish Iran policies and worked with Republicans to try to kill diplomacy under Obama.”

“The revelations that Menendez was indicted on corruption charges linked to a foreign government are a very big deal, and raise serious concerns about Menendez’s past and the extensive influence of foreign governments on our national security policies. Authorities released damning evidence of Menendez’s corruption: hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes at his residence, including gold bars, a sash, and a luxury convertible, all in exchange for favors for the authoritarian Egyptian government.”

“This is particularly hypocritical, as Menendez has often cast himself as a principled opponent of negotiations with authoritarian governments like Iran, including by citing human rights violations to argue against diplomatic openings that could bring economic relief to ordinary people. It turns out that, as Menendez was publicly working to prevent Biden from restoring the Iran deal, and ensure that broad sanctions remain in place, he was simultaneously hiding gold bars in his house after doing favors for another authoritarian government.”

“This is not the first time Menendez has been indicted for corruption. The first time, right-wing pro-Israel groups that advocate for sanctions and military options on Iran literally funded his legal defense. This is demonstrative of how vast influence networks help drive hawkish and pro-authoritarian Middle East policies in Congress, through both legal and illegal forms of influence.

“This time, Menendez got caught red-handed, and a majority of his colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus have rightly called on him to resign. While it is unclear if Menendez will heed those calls, it is likely safe to conclude that his time as the lead Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee is over. That is a good thing for the integrity of our democracy and for the formulation of policy toward Iran in particular, for all the reasons outlined above.”

“Regrettably, the debates on Iran policy in Washington have been extremely acrimonious. Menendez himself was no exception, as he once falsely accused Obama officials of using “Talking Points from Tehran” amid the nuclear negotiations. Likewise, the architects of Trump’s failed maximum pressure approach toward Iran have been engaged in witch hunts against Iranian Americans and independent experts accusing them of loyalty to the brutal authoritarian government in Iran. In reality, there are many foreign governments seeking to shape U.S. policy toward the Middle East who perceive independent voices like ours as a threat.”

“The Menendez revelations should underscore just how important it is to have independent and people-powered organizations like ours who stand up for people and will tell the truth to policymakers. We are proud to be a community-supported organization telling the truth about the situation in Iran and the true impact of U.S. policies on both our loved ones in Iran and here at home.”


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