United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

44 Senators Warn Obama on Iran Diplomacy

 

June 15, 2012
 
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We are writing to share our views about discussions between the Iranian government and the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear program.  We are concerned that, while the meetings held earlier this year in Istanbul and Baghdad unfortunately failed to produce positive progress, Tehran has continued to expand and accelerate its uranium enrichment activities, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is past time for the Iranians to take the concrete steps that would reassure the world that their nuclear program is, as they claim, exclusively peaceful. Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability. We know that you share our conviction that allowing Iran to gain this capability is unacceptable.
 
Iran must come into full cooperation with the IAEA and full compliance with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, including verifiable suspension of nuclear enrichment.  While many of us believe, based on Iran’s history of deceptive and illicit behavior, that Iran cannot be trusted to conduct any enrichment activities nor retain any quantity of enriched uranium on its soil for the foreseeable future, amongst the absolute minimum steps it must take immediately are shutting down of the Fordow facility, freezing enrichment above 5 percent, and shipping all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country. We understand that this was the very proposal that the P5+1 advanced during the Baghdad meeting. 
 
Were Iran to agree to and verifiably implement these steps, this would demonstrate a level of commitment by Iran to the process and could justify continued discussions beyond the meeting in Moscow.  However, we still must address the totality of Iran’s problematic nuclear activities. Barring full, verifiable Iranian compliance with all Security Council resolutions and full cooperation with the IAEA, including a new, far more intrusive inspections regime under the Additional Protocol, we see no circumstances under which Iran should be relieved from the current sanctions or those scheduled to come into effect at the end of this month.  Only when Tehran is convinced that the sanctions will be both unremitting and crippling is there any prospect for a real diplomatic breakthrough.
 
On the other hand, if the sessions in Moscow produce no substantive agreement, we urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists.  As you have rightly noted, “the window for diplomacy is closing.”  Iran’s leaders must realize that you mean precisely that.
Sincerely,
 
Robert Menendez         Roy Blunt     Charles E. Schumer       Susan M. Collins
Benjamin L. Cardin        Johnny Isakson     Richard Blumenthal       Kelly Ayotte
Joseph I. Lieberman      James E. Risch     David Vitter   Frank R. Lautenberg      Jerry Moran          Mark L. Pryor      John Cornyn       Robert P. Casey Jr.   John Boozman    Kirsten E. Gillibrand         Jeff  Sessions     Sherrod Brown     Scott P. Brown   Debbie Stabenow  Mike Crapo  Amy Klobucher   John Hoeven     Jeff Merkley    Daniel Coats   Christopher A. Coons    Lisa Murkowski     Ben Nelson   Patrick J. Toomey      Michael F. Bennet     Mike Lee    Daniel K. Inouye   Rob Portman    Jon Tester     Barbara A. Mikulski     Kay R. Hagan   Bill Nelson   Ron Wyden     Mark R. Warnder   Dean Heller     Carl Levin    Mark Begich       
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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