United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Europe Reaches Out to Iran

After the final nuclear deal was announced on July 14, European officials began reaching out to Iran with several high-profile phone calls and visits. The following is a rundown of European outreach since the deal.

Austrian President Heinz Fischer visited Tehran from September 7 to 9, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, and Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner. Fischer said that he expected bilateral trade between Austria and Iran to reach $335 million in 2015.
Fischer met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during his visit. Khamenei praised Austria for not complying with "the United States' hostile policies towards Iran."
Fischer had spoken to Rouhani by phone on July 15, following the announcement of the final nuclear deal. Rouhani said the deal “will lay the groundwork for the expansion of ties between Tehran and Vienna.”


Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo met with Iranian officials in Tehran from September 7 to 9. He was accompanied by Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria, Public Works and Transport Minister Ana Maria Pastor Julian, and a delegation of business officials.

Following a meeting with Soria, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said the two countries discussed the possibility of exporting crude oil and natural gas to Spain. Additionally, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Garcia-Margallo, and said that Iran and Spain "agreed to negotiate about human rights and refugee issues.”


United Kingdom

On August 23, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond traveled to Tehran to reopen the British Embassy, which had been closed since 2011. The Iranian embassy in London was reopened the same day. In a joint press conference with Hammond, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran and Britain had “entered a new phase of relations based on mutual respect.”
Hammond was the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Iran in 12 years. He met with Rouhani, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, and other officials during his visit. Hammond was accompanied by a group of British business leaders hoping to reestablish ties in Iran.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had called Rouhani to congratulate him on the nuclear deal on July 16. "You (President Rouhani) had a very constructive role in striking this final deal," he said. During the conversation, Rouhani added that “I think there exists the necessary potential to rebuild relations between Iran and Britain.”
The British government also relaxed its travel warnings for Iran shortly after the deal was announced. “The risk to British nationals has changed, in part due to decreasing hostility under President Rouhani's Government,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on July 25.

European Union

On July 28, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrived in Tehran for a one-day visit with senior Iranian officials. She was accompanied by deputy E.U. foreign policy chief Helga Schmid. Mogherini said the nuclear deal “has the capacity to pave the ground for wider cooperation between Iran and the West.”
After meeting with Mogherini, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran and the European Union had agreed to hold talks “over different issues, including energy cooperation…human rights, confronting terrorism, and regional issues.”
Mogherini’s visit coincided with her op-ed in The Guardian, in which she argued that cooperation between Iran and the West could help defeat ISIS. The following is an excerpt.
“The Vienna deal tells us that we all have much to earn if we choose cooperation over confrontation. Making the most out of this opportunity is entirely up to us. But nothing good will happen if we do not work hard for it. We Europeans have a long tradition of cultural and economic relationship with Iran. Before sanctions began in 2005, cooperation between our parts of the world spanned many areas, from energy to trade. But our shared interests go well beyond the economy.
“Last week Europe’s foreign ministers tasked me with exploring “ways in which the EU could actively promote a more cooperative regional framework” in the wake of the Vienna deal. Isis (also known as Da’esh) is spreading its vicious and apocalyptic ideology in the Middle East and beyond. There is nothing more worrisome to Isis than cooperation between “the west” and the Muslim world, for it defies the narrative of a clash of civilisations the group is trying to revive. An alliance of civilisations can be our most powerful weapon in the fight against terror.”
—July 28, 2015, in an op-ed published by The Guardian
On July 23, French President Francois Hollande and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discussed increasing bilateral cooperation in a phone conversation. A statement released by Hollande’s office “expressed the wish for Iran to contribute positively to the resolution of crises in the Middle East.” Hollande also emphasized increasing tourism between the two countries, since it "can play a major role in advancement of cooperation between Iran and France."
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius visited Tehran on July 29, meeting with Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, and other senior officials. He also extended an invitation for President Hassan Rouhani to visit President Hollande in France in November. "Things will, we hope, be able to change," Fabius said during his visit.
On July 20, German vice chancellor and economics minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Iran for a three-day visit, hoping to resume “economic contacts with Iran, which were traditionally good.” He was the first high-ranking Western official to visit Iran since the final nuclear deal was announced on July 14.
Gabriel also emphasized the need to cooperate with Iran on issues like human rights and its relationship with Israel. "You can't have a good economic relationship with Germany in the long-term if we don't discuss such issues too and try to move them along,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced on August 24 that he planned to visit Iran in October.



On August 4, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi arrived in Iran for a two-day visit, accompanied by Italian businessmen and economic activists. They met with Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh and other officials. Italy, which used to be one of Iran’s major trade partners, has been trying to revive economic ties with Iran. During the visit, investment back Mediobanca, Italy’s development ministry, and export credit agency SACE signed a memorandum of understanding “to facilitate future economic and commercial relations between the two countries.”
Swiss Deputy Foreign Minister Yves Rossier arrived in Tehran on July 21 for a four-day trip to meet with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and Rouhani’s chief of staff Mohammad Nahavandian. “Iran welcomes the expansion of economic and banking relations with Switzerland,” Nahavandian said.
On August 12, Switzerland became the first nation to lift sanctions on Iran after the nuclear deal was announced.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic arrived in Tehran on August 3 for a three-day visit. Dacic held a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials and explored opportunities for greater economic cooperation with Iran. Zarif welcomed a proposal by Dacic to hold the 14th Iran-Serbia Joint Economic Committee, adding that an Iranian delegation would visit Belgrade in the future.

Where the House Stands on Iran Deal

In July and August, members of the House of Representatives began indicating how they plan to vote on the final nuclear deal. Lawmakers have until September 17 to review the agreement, and if the majority disapprove, they can pass a resolution to block the deal from being implemented. President Obama, however, has said he will veto any efforts to block the deal. Congress would need a two-thirds majority to override the veto.

The following is a rundown of U.S. Representatives on the deal.


Supporters of the Deal
Opponents of the Deal
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
"This is a diplomatic masterpiece."
—Aug. 6, 2015, according to the press
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
"Although it was a difficult choice, I have decided to oppose a resolution of disapproval, albeit with serious concerns."
—Sept. 9, 2015, in a statement
Foreign Affairs Committee
Brian Higgins (D-NY)
"This agreement will do more than any plausible alternative to accomplish America’s objective of blocking Iran’s pathway to a bomb in a way that we can verify."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
“[The JCPOA] is the product of earnest diplomacy, and Congress should support it.”
 —Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Robin Kelly (D-IL)
"This agreement blocks a nuclear-armed Iran, achieving the goal of strengthening global security without conflict. It is important that we now come together as a nation in support of our shared goal of peace."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Armed Services Committee
Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA)
"I have decided to support this agreement because I believe it ends the otherwise unmonitored and unrestricted continuation of the Iranian nuclear program and it halts the surely destructive effects of a nuclear Iran in the Middle East."
—Sept. 1, 2015, in a statement
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
“After careful review, I have concluded that this agreement accomplishes the difficult objective we have been working towards for years: a verifiable way to halt Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 14, 2015, in a statement
Joe Courtney (D-CT)
“Like any agreement negotiated among several parties, the JCPOA is not perfect – but it is very strong and deserves support.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement

Seth Moulton (D-MA)
“It is not a perfect deal, and it is easy to point out the many ways in which it could theoretically be stronger. That being said, it is by far the best viable option before us.”
—Aug. 1, 2015, in a statement

Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
“This deal is not perfect and it is not without risk…But it is the best option before us, and I will support it because it improves the safety of our country and that of our allies.”
—July 31, 2015, in a statement
Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
“I do not believe Congress should reject this agreement, and I will oppose any effort in Congress to block its implementation.”
—Aug. 12, 2015, in a statement
Scott Peters (D-CA)
"After weeks of careful study, it is clear to me the JCPOA is our best tool to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon for at least the next 15 years. I will vote to support the agreement."
—Aug. 27, 2015, in an op-ed
Rick Larsen (D-WA)
"While the agreement is not perfect, it is a major step in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
"I support the JCPOA because the national security of the United States, Israel, and the entire international community would be at risk should Iran ever obtain a nuclear weapon." 
—Sept. 2, 2015, in a statement
John Garamendi (D-CA)
“We are in a situation where we are a whole better off with this deal than without this deal and that is how we ought to move forward.”
—July 27 ,2015, in a statement
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 
Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA)
“In the absence of a credible alternative, Congress should accept the deal and work with the Administration to strengthen its impact.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement
André Carson (D-ID)
“For our national security and international stability, it is critical that we accept the agreement.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Jim Himes (D-CT)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“After careful thought, I have decided to support the JCPOA.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
“I have concluded this agreement is the best available opportunity for a nuclear-weapon-free Iran.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in an op-ed
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
The nuclear agreement with Iran is good for America, crucial for Israel, and an important step toward a more peaceful Middle East.”

—July 29, 2015, in an op-ed

Patrick Murphy (D-FL)

"The deal on my desk is flawed, but after searching my own soul and conscience, I have decided I will support this agreement as the best available option to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 31, 2015, in a statement
Financial Services Committee 
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
“I clearly prefer diplomacy over warfare, and if we don’t do this deal, I don’t see how we can avoid military conflict.”
—July 22, 2015, in an interview
Daniel Kildee (D-MI)
“After careful review and consultation, I will support the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Nydia Valazquez (D-NY)
"I will support the agreement when it comes before the House for a vote.”
—Aug. 31, 2015, in a statement
Other Committees
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
"After a thorough and careful review of the facts and deep, personal reflection and soul searching, I will vote to support moving the Iran agreement forward and to sustain the President's veto if necessary."
—Sept. 6, 2015, in a statement
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
“It is far better...to make the agreement work, monitor and enforce, and build on this international partnership.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Lois Capps (D-CA)
“I have decided to support the JCPOA because it is the best way forward to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and advance the national security interests of the United States and our allies.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
Katherine Clark (D-MA)
“After studying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), I am convinced that it is our best opportunity to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and provide for the safety of the United States, Israel and the world.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
“Through my intense study of this agreement, I am convinced that it is the most effective way to ensure Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 19, 2015, in a statement
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
“I have decided that the agreement is the best option that the global community has to ensure that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon and I will lend it my full support when it comes to the House of Representatives for consideration.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
"I support the efforts of Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz to secure this agreement, which I believe meets the goal of our negotiations to deny a dangerous Iranian regime access to a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
“In the face of a legitimate threat of immense magnitude from a nuclear-capable Iran, I believe this agreement is the right path forward.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement
Sam Farr (D-CA)
“After two decades in Congress, this is the first time I will be able to vote for peace, not just against war.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Sander Levin (D-MI)
“I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the Agreement is the best way to achieve that.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Doris Matsui (D-CA)
“I firmly believe that the consequences of walking away from this deal are greater than the risks of accepting it.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
James McGovern (D-MA)
“Above all else, this deal must be judged on its merits and whether it is the strongest available option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I firmly believe that it is.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
“This nuclear agreement is a historic opportunity to permanently block a nuclear-armed Iran and bolster our national and global security. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this deal.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
“I firmly believe we now have the opportunity to verifiably prevent a nuclear Iran by supporting and implementing this deal.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
David Price (D-NC)
“I am confident that this deal will verifiably prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and make the world a safer place.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Mark Takano (D-CA)
“I believe that our nation is safer with this deal than without it, and I will oppose any effort in Congress to block its enactment.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
Mike Thompson (D-CA)
“This deal is in the best interest of the United States and our allies, Israel included. I will support the deal when it comes before Congress for a vote.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
"Because a bad deal threatens the security of the American people, we're going to do everything possible to stop it.”
—July 22, 2015, according to the press
Foreign Affairs Committee 
Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“By granting sweeping sanctions relief, we have lessened our ability to challenge Iran’s conduct across the board. As Iran grows stronger, we will be weaker to respond.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a press release

Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)
“I’m grateful for the tireless efforts by President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, Secretary Lew, and Undersecretary Sherman…Unfortunately, I cannot support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
"That is a dangerous gamble for us to make with U.S. national security, and it is not a gamble I or any of us should be willing to take. And that is why we must reject this deal."
—July 28, 2015, in a press release
Mo Brooks (R-AL)
Also a member of the Armed Services Committee
“It makes no sense that America would enter into an agreement that helps arm Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, when, as Secretary Kerry confirms, Iran’s history suggests they are likely to use those weapons against us.”

—July 28,2015, at a hearing

Paul Cook (R-CA)
Also a member of the Armed Services Committee

“If this deal becomes law, we’ll face an even tougher struggle to prevent Iran’s nuclear capability, while Iran grows stronger economically and entrenches their disruptive influence on their neighbors."
—July 21, 2015, in a statement

Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“A strong Congressional vote against the Agreement is the best way to make it clear that the Agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.”
—Aug. 7, 2015, in a statement
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
“Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement. I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in an op-ed
Grace Meng (D-NY)
“I strongly believe the world could and should have a better deal than that set forth in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which I will therefore oppose.”
—July 29, 2015, in a statement
Albio Sires (D-NJ)
“I am opposed to the current proposed nuclear agreement with Iran, I do not feel the agreement will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
—July 31, 2015, in a statement
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
“We must forcefully reject this fatally flawed nuclear deal with Iran.”
—July 30, 2015, in an op-ed
Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
“I have been in all the hearings and seen all the classified documents and I see no reason why we should be pursuing this deal. I think it’s good for Iran and bad for America.”
—Aug. 21 , 2015, according to the press
Daniel Donovan (R-NY)
"I don't see how anyone can support this disastrous agreement."
—Aug. 20, 2015, according to the press
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
“When the time comes to vote on the Iranian nuclear accord, I intend to vote against the deal, and strongly encourage my esteemed colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same.”
—July 26, 2015, in an op-ed
Armed Services Committee 
Brad Ashford (D-NE)
“If that’s what we get to vote on, I’m not going to vote for it the way it is."
Aug. 20, 2015, according to the press
Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
I believe Congress can stand united and defeat this bad agreement. 
July 20, 2015, in a statement 
Chris Gibson (R-NY)
I want to see us reject this agreement and go back to the negotiating table.”  
Aug. 12, 2015, in a statement 
Joe Heck (R-NV)
I believe this deal is bad for America and our allies in the region, especially Israel. 
July 29, 2015, in a statement
Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
"It is a horrible deal. Obama gave away the store and got very little in return. Iran is the world's largest supporter of state-sponsored terrorism and is getting a signing bonus of up to $150 billion, without any requirement they change their behavior in any way." 
Aug. 16, 2015, according to the press 
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
"This deal falls far short from warranting my support. 
July, 29, 2015, in a statement
Martha McSally (R-AZ)
“The final agreement includes provisions dangerous to Americans and our allies. It should be rejected, and the administration should be directed back to the negotiating table. 
—Aug. 22, 2015, in an op-ed
Richard Nugent (R-FL)
"I cannot look the people I represent in the eye and say this deal makes us safer. I can’t tell them that the world will be more secure. 
—July 25, 2015, in a statement 
Steve Russell (R-OK)
"We have to scuttle itIt's terrible for our national security. It's terrible for international security." 
Aug. 5, 2015, according to the press
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
"I think it is a bad deal and I think no deal is better than a bad deal.” 
—July 31, 2015, in a statement 
Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
“It is far less than adequate and the notion of no deal to me is actually more adequate than the deal that is on the table.”  
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement 
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Peter King (R-NY)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
"It is definitely my intention to vote no on this deal with Iran."

—July 22, 2015, according to the press

Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

“This agreement is the worst of backroom deals."
—July 21, 2015, in a press release
Financial Services Committee 
Luke Messer (R-IN)
“I’ll be voting against the Iran deal because it doesn’t make America safer and it doesn’t make the rest of the world safer."
Aug. 23, 2015, according to the press 
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
“Among its many flaws, President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran requests that the United States and the other negotiating nations help develop, modernize and protect Iran’s nuclear program. This is unacceptable.”
—July 29, 2015, in a press release
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
“It is the wrong thing for security and stability in the Middle East. Doing nothing is better than doing this something.”
—Aug. 29, 2015, in a press release
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
“It is not a good deal for the US, it is a really good deal for Iran.”
—Aug. 25, 2015, in a statement 
Steve Pearce (R-NM)
"I don't understand the basis for the agreement, I can't see how we got anything out of it.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, according to the press
Dennis Ross (R-FL)
“I will vote against this dangerous deal, and I call on my colleagues to do the same."
—Aug. 7, 2015, in an op-ed
Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) 
“I firmly disagree with President Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."
—Aug. 28, 2015, in a press release
Other Committees 
Ralph Abramson (R-LA)
“As details about the Iranian nuclear deal emerge, it is clear to me that Congress must prevent the deal from becoming policy.”
—July 30, 2015, in a press release
Brian Babin (R-TX)
"I’ll be leading the charge to expose and defeat this terrible deal to protect the safety and security of the American people.”
—July 21, 2015, in an opinion piece
Lou Barletta (R-PA)
“I cannot support the nuclear agreement with Iran, which I fear was rushed into existence with visions of Nobel Peace Prizes dancing in the heads of our negotiators.  I plan to vote against it on the floor of the House.”
—July 29, 2015, in a press release
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
“After careful review, I have decided that I cannot support this deal.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
“I remain hopeful that the Administration and Congress, in concert with our P5+1 and regional allies, can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, I cannot support this agreement before Congress.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
“I hope that history will ultimately prove President Obama right in his gamble on diplomacy and social progress in Iran. But for me, it is a risk I cannot support.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in an op-ed

Photo credit: Capitol Dome via Wikimedia Commons

Khamenei: Parliament Must Review Deal

On September 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that lawmakers must weigh in on the nuclear deal. Khamenei announced his decision one day after President Barack Obama gained enough votes in the Senate to prevent opponents of the agreement from scuttling it. “I have no advice to Parliament regarding review of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and approval or disapproval of it. The representatives of the nation must decide about it,” the supreme leader told members of the Assembly of Experts.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration had long argued that the agreement was not a treaty, and therefore it did not require parliamentary approval. In August, lawmakers selected 15 members for a panel to review the deal. Rouhani's government has yet to submit a bill for approval. But Khamenei’s latest remarks ensure that parliament will rule on it. “I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal,” he said.
The supreme leader also warned that the deal would be off if sanctions are not totally removed. “We urged removal, not suspension, of sanctions,” he said. The following are excerpts from Khamenei’s remarks posted on his Twitter account.
Nuclear Deal
The United States and the West

Iran: A Done Deal

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

President Obama today won the riskiest gamble of his presidency. He now has enough support in the Senate to ensure that the Hill cannot kill the White House deal with Iran. Some will still try. Cheney has joined the noisy opposition and will give a big speech next week. Trump, Cruz and Glenn Beck have scheduled a "Stop the Deal" rally on Capitol Hill next week. The debate still to come - as Congress goes through the motions - will be (memorably) nasty. But Obama has now basically ensured that the Iran deal will be the centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy.

Click here to read the full article in The New Yorker.

The Final Pitch: New Appeal to Congress

On September 2, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to U.S. Senators and Members of Congress emphasizing the Obama administration's commitment to support its Gulf partners and Israel. "We will continue to provide Israel and our GCC partners the robust assistance and support they need to deter and combat Iranian destabilizing activity in the region," he wrote. The following is the full text of the letter.

As Congress continues to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that will peacefully and verifiably cut off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, important questions have been raised concerning the need to increase security assistance to our allies and partners in the region and to enhance our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. We share the concern expressed by many in Congress regarding Iran’s continued support for terrorist and proxy groups throughout the region, its propping up of the Asad regime in Syria, its efforts to undermine the stability of its regional neighbors, and the threat it poses to Israel. We have no illusion that this behavior will change following implementation of the JCPOA. That is precisely why we have been so focused on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon – because it stands to common sense that any country with a nuclear weapon presents a different challenge than a country without one.
As we and our partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed in Doha in August, “once fully implemented, the JCPOA contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing or acquiring a military nuclear capability.” But it is far from the only action we are undertaking to address regional security concerns. I want to detail key steps the Administration has taken and will continue to take to enhance our support for and commitments to the security of Israel and our Gulf state partners.
The President has made clear that he views Israel’s security as sacrosanct, and he has ensured that the United States has backed up this message with concrete actions that have increased U.S. military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel to their highest levels ever. Our assistance ensures that Israel can better meet its security challenges and protects Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). The Departments of State and Defense regularly engage at the highest levels with our Israeli counterparts to ensure Israel has the capabilities it needs. Since 2009, with bipartisan congressional support, the United States has provided over $20.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Israel. Currently, our assistance averages approximately some $8.5 million per day in FMF alone. In addition, we provide Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and penetrating munitions. Israel’s first F-35 aircraft will be delivered in 2016, making it the only country in the region with a U.S. fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
We have also provided vital funding – an additional $3 billion – for Israel’s life-saving missile defense systems. This includes $1.3 billion for the Iron Dome system, which saved hundreds of Israeli lives in 2014. In addition, we recently offered Israel a $1.89 billion munitions resupply package that will replenish Israel’s inventories and will ensure its long-term continued access to sophisticated, state-of the-art precision-guided munitions.
We are prepared to further strengthen our security relationship with Israel. First, we will continue talks with Israel on a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on FMF that would cement for the next decade our unprecedented levels of military assistance. Second, the Administration is prepared to enhance the already intensive joint efforts underway to identify and counter the range of shared threats we face in the region, as well as to increase missile defense funding so that Israel and the United States can accelerate the co-development of the Arrow-3 and David’s Sling missile defense system. Third, our governments should identify ways to accelerate the ongoing collaborative research and development for tunnel detection and mapping technologies to provide Israel new capabilities to detect and destroy tunnels before they could be used to threaten Israeli citizens. Fourth, President Obama has proposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we begin the process aimed at further strengthening our efforts to confront conventional and asymmetric threats. President Obama and this Administration firmly believe we have an opportunity now to build on and fortify the United States’ historic and enduring commitment to Israel’s security.
The United States has been partnering with the countries of the Arabian Peninsula for nearly eight decades. These relationships will remain at the core of our regional security strategy. We are actively expanding the strong foundation of defense cooperation with the GCC countries, building on the $129 billion in authorized sales of advanced military systems since 2009. Out of the Camp David Summit in May, the Departments of State and Defense and our GCC partners have created working groups to strengthen our security cooperation with Gulf partners. As part of this effort, our arms transfer working group is working to expedite the delivery of capabilities needed to deter and combat regional threats, including terrorism and Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. In July, we formally notified to Congress proposed major sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that will provide long-term strategic defense capabilities and support for their ongoing operations.
Our security initiatives with the GCC states span a range of issues, reflecting our comprehensive approach to bolstering our partners’ ability to deter and counter threats from Iran and regional terrorist groups. Additional U.S.-GCC working groups are focused on counterterrorism, military preparedness, cyber security, maritime security (including interdiction of illicit arms transfers), and the critical goal of building political support for multilateral U.S.-GCC ballistic missile defense (BMD) cooperation. BMD is a strategic imperative and an essential component to deterring Iranian aggression against any GCC member state. We have already made significant progress and are working with the GCC to propose a robust BMD early warning architecture to meet our partners’ needs. As part of our expanded counterterrorism cooperation, we are increasing our information sharing to ensure we and our GCC partners remain postured effectively to counter new threats. To continue the momentum from our August 3 meeting in Doha, the GCC foreign ministers and I will meet again in September in New York to review the progress we have made in enhancing our security cooperation.
I would also point out that under this deal, the international community and the United States will retain a wide range of other tools to enable us to push back against Iran’s destabilizing activities. These include UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting arms transfers to Iranian-backed Hizballah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen, and Shia militants in Iraq, as well as transfers involving North Korea. We will also continue to use the full range of tools at our disposal to counter Iran’s missile program, including the Missile Technology Control Regime, whose guidelines are strongly weighted toward denying transfers of sensitive systems like ballistic missile technology, and the Proliferation Security Initiative, whose more than 100 members are committed to limit missile related imports and exports. We also retain a host of authorities under United States law, including multiple statues and executive orders under which the Administration will continue to impose sanctions to counter missile proliferation. Perhaps our most effective tool, however, will be continued bilateral cooperation with our partners in the region, who work with us to block Iranian access to their territory, air space, and waters for illicit shipments.
Many of our steps we have already taken to reinforce our commitment to the security of Israel and our Gulf partners have been made possible by strong bipartisan support in Congress. Just as Congress is now undertaking an important role in reviewing the JCPOA, we also believe that Congress must play a central role in moving forward with the increased security cooperation outlined above. Accordingly, the Administration stands ready to work with Congress on appropriate legislation that would endorse these measures and provide such authorities and resources as may be necessary. U.S. support for Israel and our Gulf partners has never been a partisan issue, and we believe these proposals would receive wide, bipartisan support.
The Administration negotiated the JCPOA to peacefully and verifiably deny Iran any pathway to a nuclear weapon, because the security of the United States, of Israel, and of our Gulf partners demands that Iran not acquire such a capability. At the same time, we will continue to provide Israel and our GCC partners the robust assistance and support they need to deter and combat Iranian destabilizing activity in the region. I welcome your continuing support for these efforts.
John F. Kerry

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