Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is to file legislation this week to fine the US State Department for refusing to release a key report on Iran's rampant human rights violations, which sources say is being withheld so as not to anger Iran during the nuclear talks that are approaching a June 30 deadline.
The administration of US President Barack Obama was required to release a report on Iranian human rights conditions, which have been fraught with horrific hangings, by February 25. That report still has not been released.
Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday that he and other senators petitioned the State Department to comply with federal law and release the report back in May.
"That report was due by law on February 25. The Obama State Department simply ignored the law. They refused to produce the report. Months have gone by and they continue to refuse to produce the report," he stated.
In response, Cruz is seeking to fine the State Department 5% of its budget for every 30 days that it continues to postpone publication of the report.
"It is a penalty for willfully violating federal law. This is also a policy decision that is profoundly counterproductive," he noted. "This simply puts a financial bite into the obligation because the Obama administration has demonstrated a willingness over and over again to violate federal law."
"Obama is swilling chardonnay with Iranian despots"
Explaining the context with the nuclear talks that Obama is keen to have reach an agreement, Cruz added, "it appears that both President Obama and Secretary of State (John) Kerry are trying to sweep under the rug Iran’s horrific human rights record because, presumably, acknowledging that fact would be inconvenient" for the nuclear talks.
He charged Obama with following a policy that appears to be: "surrender everything to the Iranian mullahs in a hope they will accede to a nuclear deal that only accelerates their acquiring nuclear weapons."
"This administration has consistently refused to address the human rights violations" committed by Iran, said Cruz, indicating the imprisonment of Americans including Saeed Abedini and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
Commenting on the high-level talks with Iran going on even as it holds Americans captive, he added, "the Obama administration seems more focused on swilling Chardonnay with Iranian despots then on securing the release of American citizens wrongly imprisoned."
In response to the May petition, the State Department wrote back to Cruz and claimed that the delay has been caused by Kerry's intense travel schedule, which has not allowed him to present the report in person.
Cruz criticized the response, saying, "it has been 115 days since the expiration of the statutory deadline. Secretary Kerry has not been on the road continuously for 115 days."