A coalition of progressive activists sponsored by billionaires George Soros, Charles Koch, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund are mounting a secret lobbying campaign to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, according to The Free Beacon, and do so by tying it to the Iranian human rights movement.
According to the internal correspondence obtained by the news outlet, activists from progressive groups like J Street, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund are coming together behind a plan to lobby lawmakers to use human rights bills as cover to revive negotiations for a nuclear deal with Tehran. The information came from a January email from a J Street Lobbyist to several other activists.
“I’m writing to suggest that this group convene virtually next week to brainstorm and hopefully find consensus on the elements of legislation to support the Iranian people that we could propose to diplomacy-oriented lawmakers,” J Street’s Dylan Williams wrote.
“Given the usual need to be discrete [sic], the charged nature of the topic, and the outrageous threats against several members of this group, please do keep this initiative close hold,” said the email.
Speaking to the Free Beacon, officials familiar with the effort explained that these activists groups plan to create a “dual-track legislative agenda, where they would find a way through legislation to give pro-deal Democrats cover by supporting Iranian women and Iranian human rights, without any way challenging the revival of a nuclear deal, while at the same time building a coalition of members of the House and Senate willing to write a very public letter to the president urging him to keep the door to diplomacy over on the nuclear file.”
In December, the activists’ strategy was crafted during a private summit in New York and included pitching human rights legislation to pro-Iran-nuclear deal lawmakers, giving the legislators political cover to sign a letter asking President Biden to resume the nuclear agreement. The private summit was located at the Pocantico Center at the Kykuit, the John D. Rockefeller family’s estate in Westchester County, New York.
According to reports, many of these groups have all received funding from significant progressive billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch.
While many of these groups have stated that they do not take a position on the 2015 nuclear agreement, in the past year, many officials from these organizations have written articles in favor of renewed negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
In October 2022, Ellie Geranmayeh, at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote an article for the Koch-sponsored Quincy Institute in favor of renewed negotiations with Iran.
“As fears intensify over the Iranian government’s increasing use of violence against protesters, Western capitals are under pressure from groups that have long opposed diplomacy with Iran to scrap nuclear negotiations. Europe and the U.S. should not bow to these pressures,” said Geranmayeh.
Kelsey Davenport, an official at the Arms Control Association, was also on the email and wrote an article last year in favor of the nuclear agreement.
“Negotiating with Iran while the regime is brutally repressing peaceful protests is not an attractive option, but an Iranian regime emboldened by nuclear weapons is a far greater threat to the Iranian people, the United States, and its allies and partners in the region.”
“It is time for a diplomatic plan B to stabilize the cycle of nuclear escalation and create space for future diplomacy,” she said.
Following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police and the ensuing protests, Iranian Americans, human rights activists, and representatives in Congress have called on the administration to cease negotiations and stand with the protesters.
Many Iranian-Americans have also called for the administration to fire U.S. Iran Envoy Robert Malley, given his past work supporting the nuclear agreement and pro-Islamic Republic stance.
While the administration has refused to formally announce the end of the nuclear agreement, officials have created some distance by saying that negotiations are currently frozen, calling for officials from Tehran to agree to the terms outlined by the administration.