J Street Welcomes Dent-Price Letter to Obama Urging Renewed Diplomatic Efforts to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran

July 19th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2013

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, 202.448.1600 or 202.279.0005, Jessica@jstreet.org

J Street Welcomes Dent-Price Letter to Obama Urging Renewed Diplomatic Efforts to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran
The bipartisan effort led by Representatives Charles Dent (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC) was co-signed by 131 Members of Congress

WASHINGTON – 131 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are calling on President Obama to test whether the result of the recent Iranian presidential election represents an opportunity to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

In a letter initiated by Representatives Charles Dent (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC), the members urge that the United States redouble diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The signers also call for sanctions to be “calibrated in such a way that they induce significant and verifiable concessions from Iran at the negotiating table in exchange for their potential relaxation.”

“J Street applauds the Dent-Price letter’s affirmation of the widely held, bipartisan opinion that diplomacy remains the United States’ preferred route to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran,” said J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams. J Street lobbied in support of the letter.

Among the letter’s signers are 17 Members of the Committee on Armed Services, five Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and nine Ranking Members of other committees. With 131 signers, the letter far exceeded the 71 signatures garnered by a similar letter led by Representative Price and former Representative David Dreier (R-CA) in May 2012.

“Public support in Congress for engaging Iran at the negotiating table has grown markedly since Rouhani’s election,” said Williams. “This letter sends a clear signal—both here and overseas—that there exists a politically viable path to resolving concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy.”

The full letter is below.

July 19, 2013
Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.

Even so, we believe it would be a mistake not to test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that ensures the country does not acquire a nuclear weapon. In order to test this proposition, it will be prudent for the United States to utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks. In addition, bilateral and multilateral sanctions must be calibrated in such a way that they induce significant and verifiable concessions from Iran at the negotiating table in exchange for their potential relaxation.

We must also be careful not to preempt this potential opportunity by engaging in actions that delegitimize the newly elected president and weaken his standing relative to hardliners within the regime who oppose his professed “policy of reconciliation and peace.” Likewise, it will be critical for the United States to continue its efforts to foster unprecedented international cooperation on this issue so that the international community remains united in its opposition to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. We look forward to working with your administration on this important issue in the months ahead.

Sincerely,

Dent, Price, Barber, Bass, Becerra, Bera, Sanford Bishop, Tim Bishop, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Bordallo, Braley, Bustos, Campbell, Capps, Capuano, Cardenas, Carson, Cartwright, Christensen, Clay, Cleaver, Clyburn, Coble, Cole, Cohen, Connolly, Conyers, Courtney, Cuellar, Cummings, Danny Davis, DeFazio, DeGette, DeLauro, DelBene, Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Duckworth, Duffy, John Duncan, Edwards, Ellison, Enyart, Eshoo, Esty, Farr, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Foster, Fortenberry, Garamendi, Grijalva, Grimm, Gutierrez, Hanna, Hastings, Heck, D., Higgins, Himes, Holt, Honda, Jackson-Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Jones, Kaptur, Kind, Robin Kelly, Kuster, Larsen, Larson, Lee, Lewis, Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Lujan Grisham, Matheson, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Meeks, George Miller, Moore, Moran, Napolitano, Neal, Nolan, Norton, Nugent, O’Rourke, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne Jr., Perlmutter, Scott Peters, Peterson, Petri, Pingree, Pocan, Polis, Rahall, Rangel, Roybal-Allard, Ruiz, Runyan, Rush, Tim Ryan, Sablan, Bobby Scott, Schakowsky, Serrano, Shea-Porter, Sinema, Slaughter, Speier, Takano, Glenn Thompson, Mike Thompson, Tiberi, Tierney, Tonko, Tsongas, Visclosky, Walz, Waters, Welch, Whitfield, Yarmuth.
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