WASHINGTON— Seventy-one Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday expressing support for diplomatic efforts to address concerns over Iran’s nuclear activities. The bipartisan effort, led by Reps. David Price (D-NC) and David Dreier (R-CA), calls on the President to continue exerting pressure on Iran through further sanctions and other diplomatic tools.
The letter states the Representatives’ support of the P5+1 talks with Iran, which are scheduled to take place in Baghdad this week. “This letter is an encouraging display of bipartisan support for continued diplomacy with Iran,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Director of Government Affairs. “It is exactly this type of unifying action that strengthens the President’s leverage on Iran going into these discussions.”
The full text of the letter follows below.
J Street lobbied in support of the letter, following a number of recent Congressional actions favoring diplomacy. Just last week the House of Representatives accepted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) declaring unequivocally that nothing in the NDAA authorizes the use of force against Iran, and 77 Representatives voted in favor of authorizing the appointment of a high-level representative for diplomacy with Iran. Both measures were supported by J Street.
“This is yet another showing that Members on both sides of the aisle are supporting the President’s approach of allowing sanctions and diplomacy to work,” said Williams. “J Street applauds Representatives Price and Dreier and their 69 fellow signatories on sending a strong, unified signal that the United States is determined to use every diplomatic tool at its disposal to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
May 21, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama,
We write to convey our strong support for the prevention of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran through diplomacy. We share your commitment to the ongoing multilateral discussions on Iran's nuclear program and urge you to continue working with our P5+1 partners in pursuit of this goal.
We believe that a nuclear weapons-capable Iran poses a grave threat to the United States, to Israel, and to the global community. It is critical that we employ every available tool at our disposal to dissuade if possible—and prevent if necessary—the Iranian regime from developing nuclear weapons or the capability to produce them from stockpiled materials and components.
The latest round of economic sanctions by the United States, members of the European community, and others has demonstrated that such measures can and do elicit a response from the Iranian regime and have contributed to a clear framework for the current multilateral talks. Clearly, continued diplomatic engagement is essential and, as you prepare for the upcoming round of discussions this week in Baghdad, we believe there are two critical factors that support a redoubling of these efforts.
The first is the lengthened roster of partners: China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, and the United States. The P5+1 partners are working together in an unprecedented display of cooperation that demonstrates a collective acknowledgement of the threat of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. The second is the degree to which Iran, under intensified pressures, has appeared willing to engage in a serious and substantive discussion on its nuclear program.
We are aware of the possibility that the Iranian regime is simply "buying time" to further its nuclear ambitions, but we believe that Iran's declared openness to multilateral discussions—coupled with verifiable intermediate steps to bring its program toward compliance with international obligations—is sufficient to warrant renewed determination. Given such facts, the United States and its P5+1 partners must not relent in leveraging pressure on Iran in these upcoming talks. With the looming threat of harsher sanctions due to take effect in July, the P5+1 nations may be in a stronger position to obtain positive results in Baghdad.
Mr. President, as you recently stated, "...both Israel and the United States have an interest in seeing this challenge resolved diplomatically. After all, the only way to truly solve this problem is for the Iranian government to make a decision to forsake nuclear weapons." We agree, and we strongly believe that the United States must take full advantage of opportunities for diplomatic engagement, in concert with sanctions and other appropriate measures, to prevent a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.
Signatories: Price, Dreier, Amash, Bass (CA), Becerra, Blumenauer, Braley, Butterfield, Capps, Clarke (MI), Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Cooper, Courtney, Cuellar, Davis (IL), Davis (KY), DeGette, DeLauro, Dent, Dicks, Dingell, Doggett, Edwards, Ellison, Eshoo, Farr, Filner, Fortenberry, Garamendi, Gonzalez, Granger, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanna, Hastings (FL), Heinrich, Himes, Hinchey, Honda, Jackson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Jones, Kaptur, Larson, LaTourette, Lee, Lewis (GA), Loebsack, Lofgren, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Miller (CA), Moore, Moran, Murphy (CT), Olver, Pingree, Rahall, Rangel, Scott (VA), Speier, Thompson (CA), Tierney, Visclosky, Watt, Welch, Woolsey and Yarmuth