Congress up pressure over Iran human rights

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz who is running for president, wants to reduce the State Department’s budget for every 30 days that a report on the Iranian regime’s handling of human rights is delayed.

Cruz said having the report is “critical” before Congress votes on a long-term deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The report is required to be released by Feb. 25.

Cruz, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have introduced legislation that would withhold 5 percent of the State Department’s operating budget for every 30 days that an annual human rights report is delayed.

The administration has argued that Iran’s handling of human rights, while a concern, should be separate from the ongoing nuclear talks, though some Senate Republicans have rejected that argument.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said the delayed release “has nothing to do with the Iran negotiations.” 

“That is a completely false notion, absolutely no truth to it at all. We recognize that the report is late by several months. We’re working very hard on that,” he told reporters last week. “And I expect that you will see that report released in the very near future.” 

As the human rights situation in Iran continue to worsen under Hassan in Iran UN experts and human rights organizations and opposition activists warn that ongoing negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program continues to overshadow abuses.