J Street Welcomes Letter to Obama Supporting Diplomacy with Iran & Opposing New Sanctions and Similar Legislation

February 12th, 2014

Bipartisan letter signed by 104 Members of Congress

WASHINGTON - One hundred and four Members of the US House of Representatives declared their strong support for robust diplomacy to resolve concerns over Iran's nuclear program, days before formal talks are set to resume in Vienna.

In a letter delivered to President Barack Obama today, the Members note that "implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the 'P5+1' nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement." Significantly, the letter signers caution against the legislation of new sanctions at this time and avoiding any "bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement[.]"

“J Street applauds the initiative of the letter’s signers to show the President and all interested parties that Congress has the backs of our negotiators as they undertake the difficult task of securing a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program," said J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams. J Street lobbied in support of the letter.

Among the letter’s signers are 11 Members of the Committee on Armed Services, four Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and 12 Ranking Members of other committees.

“This letter reveals a deep understanding in Congress of the seriousness of the talks ahead and the delicacy of the environment in which they are taking place,” said Williams. “It also reflects an overwhelming preference among their constituents-- the American public-- for a diplomatic resolution over military action which would only delay and not eliminate the Iranian program and would have unpredictable costs and consequences for the United States, our allies and the people in the region.”

The full letter is below.


February 12, 2014

Dear Mr. President:

As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.

The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.

We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.

Sincerely,

Members of Congress Bass; Bishop, Sanford; Beatty; Blumenauer; Bordallo; Brown, Corrine; Butterfield, GK; Capps; Capuano; Carson, Andre; Cartwright; Christensen; Clarke, Yvette; Clay, William Lacy; Cleaver; Clyburn; Cohen; Connolly; Conyers; Cooper; Courtney; Cummings; Davis, Danny; DeFazio; DeGette; DeLauro; Dingell; Doggett; Duncan John J., Jr; Edwards; Ellison; Enyart; Eshoo; Farr; Foster; Fudge; Garamendi; Grijalva; Gutierrez; Hanna; Holt; Huffman; Jackson-Lee; Johnson, Eddie Bernice; Johnson, Hank; Jones, Walter; Kaptur; Keating; Kelly, Robin; Kildee; Kuster; Larson; Lee; Lewis; Loebsack; Lofgren; Lynch; Massie; Matheson; McCarthy, Carolyn; McCollum; McDermott; McGovern; McNerney; Meeks; Miller, George; Moore; Moran; Negrete McLeod; Nolan; Norton; O'Rourke; Pastor; Payne Jr.; Pierluisi; Pingree; Pocan; Polis; Price, David; Rahall; Rangel; Roybal-Allard; Ruppersberger; Rush; Ryan, Tim; Sablan; Schakowsky; Scott, Bobby; Shea-Porter; Slaughter; Speier; Takano; Thompson, Bennie; Thompson, Mike; Tierney; Tonko; Tsongas; Van Hollen; Velazquez; Visclosky; Walz; Waters; Welch; Yarmuth