J Street Backs Kerry’s Diplomatic Approach to Iran

October 30, 2013

J Street welcomes Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on October 28th affirming the United States’ commitment to exploring a diplomatic resolution to international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. The Secretary was correct to say that “the idea that the United States of America [as] a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore [diplomacy] would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself.”

We support the Secretary and his understanding both of the serious threat to US, Israeli and global security that would be posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, and that the best way to prevent that is through a combination of diplomacy and economic pressure that could lead to a negotiated agreement. We oppose any rash steps that might be taken by Congress or other actors that threaten to derail the negotiations with Iran before that process has been allowed to run its course.

Moving forward with new sanctions now could severely undermine prospects for a diplomatic solution. It will create cracks in the international coalition the United States has built to enforce the sanctions. It will provide an excuse for those in Iran who want to resist any deal. And it is unnecessary now, since the sanctions we are implementing have led to extraordinary pressure and remain strongly in place.

J Street further notes that, by 62-36%, Jewish Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling Iran’s nuclear program (according to the just-released American Jewish Committee 2013 Survey of American Jewish Opinion).

The White House and Congress should know that the moderate majority of the pro-Israel community, which of course adamantly opposes Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, would support a meaningful, verifiable deal under which Iran abandons pursuit of a nuclear weapon, complies fully with international requirements and submits to intrusive inspections.

Once again, the more hawkish views expressed by some long-time spokespeople for Jewish communal organizations should not be mistaken for the broader body of American Jewish opinion.

There is significant support in the Jewish and pro-Israel community for the Obama Administration’s request that the Senate defer consideration at this time of even-deeper sanctions against Iran. The Administration should be given the limited time it needs to explore the chances of successful diplomacy before further sanctions are imposed.

The window for negotiation is not open-ended, and if progress isn’t made, there may be a time when more sanctions are, in fact, necessary.