0815 GMT April 03, 2020
Murphy met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last weekend, prompting the president to accuse the Connecticut senator of violating the Logan Act, which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments, thehill.com reported.
Murphy defended the trip on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying he informed the State Department ahead of time that he was meeting with Zarif. He added that it’s a part of his job as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on the Middle East and Counterterrorism.
“And the fact of the matter is it’s dangerous that this administration is not talking to the Iranians,” he said. “The Trump policy on Iran has been a total disaster. Iran is more powerful today than they were at the beginning of the Trump presidency.”
The Democratic senator commented on Iran’s suspension of its nuclear deal obligations and its retaliatory attacks on the US airbase.
The US president, a stern critic of the landmark deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the toughest ever sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade.
In response to the US move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments five times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.
“I’m not negotiating with Iran, but it does make sense for somebody to be listening to them and to be engaged in some level of outreach as perhaps a means of trying to advert crisis and disaster down the road,” Murphy said.
The senator has been critical of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord with Iran and others.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been increasing since Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.
This year, the president authorized the attack that killed Iranian Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, prompting Iran to vow retaliation. A week later, Iran launched strikes against the US military base in Iraq, causing dozens to experience brain injuries.
Last Tuesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi posted a tweet to comment on the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference between Zarif and a delegation of Democratic congressmen headed by Murphy.
“Zarif has always said that he would meet with some members of the US Congress, who would ask to meet him, and detail the Islamic Republic of Iran’s vantage points and the realities of the region,” Mousavi explained.
He said the meeting took place within the framework of Iran’s “general diplomacy.”