On December 23, 150 House Democrats sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden expressing support for renewed diplomacy with Iran to curb its nuclear program. “We are united in our support for swiftly taking the necessary diplomatic steps to restore constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and return both Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a starting point for further negotiations,” they said. Representatives David Price (D-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Abigail D. Spanberger (D-VA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) spearheaded the letter. The following is the full text and list of signatories.
Dear President-elect Biden:
Congratulations on your election to become the next President of the United States, and we wish you success on behalf of our nation. We particularly welcome your commitment to the restoration of American leadership and diplomacy. With respect to Iran, we agree that diplomacy is the best path to halt and reverse Iran’s nuclear program, decrease tensions in the region, and facilitate our nation’s reincorporation into the international community. We are united in our support for swiftly taking the necessary diplomatic steps to restore constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and return both Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a starting point for further negotiations.
The JCPOA, an agreement you helped champion, verifiably constrained Iran’s nuclear program until after the United States’ unilateral withdrawal. Since 2019, Iran has changed course by increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and enriching uranium to a higher purity level, while also installing advanced centrifuges beyond the agreement’s limits. As a result, Iran’s breakout time of one year, as estimated under the JCPOA by the U.S. intelligence community, has decreased to a few months.
The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign has left Iran with an unconstrained nuclear program, failed effectively to address Iran’s other malign behavior, and greatly increased the likelihood of violent confrontation and conflict. This incoherent and provocative policy has increased regional tension and attacks against our troops and our partners and emboldened Iranian hardliners. As a result, the risk of potentially devastating miscalculation remains unnecessarily high. Re-engaging multilaterally on preventing the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon and re-opening channels of communication are essential to reversing these dangerous developments.
The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the internationally negotiated and UN-endorsed JCPOA undermined global non-proliferation efforts, fractured U.S. relationships with key allies, diminished U.S. leadership and influence, and reduced U.S. leverage in addressing other national security issues with Iran. Iran’s other destabilizing activities in the region, such as its support for terrorism, development of ballistic missiles, human rights violations against its own people, and holding of foreign political prisoners, including Americans, warrant strong and coordinated international diplomacy. The JCPOA does not prevent our ability to address these destabilizing activities. An unrestrained Iranian nuclear program would exacerbate these other threats posed by Iran and inspire a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
We know preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon through diplomacy will be a top priority of your administration, and we strongly believe that the JCPOA provides a critical framework to achieve this goal effectively. We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations. We understand that returning to the agreement will require the selective lifting of some sanctions and rigorous implementation to verifiably ensure Iranian compliance.
Americans have seen first-hand how withdrawing from multilateral agreements and abandoning our allies jeopardizes our national security goals. As a result, it is critical to not be discouraged by efforts to preclude diplomacy. Reinstating our international agreements and engaging in sustained diplomacy are the best ways to achieve long-term non-proliferation and urgent national security objectives, including the prevention of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon and the laying of a foundation for progress on other critical issues.
We look forward to working with you on these important matters.
David Price, Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Gregory Meeks, Joaquin Castro, Abigail D. Spanberger, and Brad Sherman, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Pete Aguilar, Colin Allred, Cindy Axne, Karen Bass, Ami Bera, M.D., Donald S. Beyer Jr., Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, G. K. Butterfield, Salud O. Carbajal, André Carson, Sean Casten, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., Katherine M. Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, Jim Costa, Joe Courtney, TJ Cox, Jason Crow, Sharice L. Davids, Danny K. Davis, Peter A. DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Suzan Delbene, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Mike Doyle, Veronica Escobar, Anna Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Abby Finkenauer, Lizzie Fletcher, Bill Foster, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia, Vicente Gonzalez, Al Green, Raúl M. Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Josh Harder, Jahana Hayes, Denny Heck, Brian Higgins, Jim Himes, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Marcy Kaptur, William R. Keating, Robin L. Kelly, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Andy Kim, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ann McLane Kuster, James R. Langevin, Rick Larsen, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Dave Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen F. Lynch, Tom Malinowski, Carolyn B. Maloney, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gwen Moore, Seth Moulton, Jerrold Nadler, Richard E. Neal, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jimmy Panetta, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Ed Perlmutter, Chellie Pingree, Stacey E. Plaskett, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Harley Rouda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Adam Schiff, Kim Schrier, M.D., Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, José E. Serrano, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Jackie Speier, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Lori Trahan, Lauren Underwood, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velázquez, Peter Visclosky, Maxine Waters, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Jennifer Wexton, and John Yarmuth.