J Street Calls on Senate to Give Iran Nuclear Agreement a Chance

January 13, 2014

The agreement signed over the weekend between Iran and six major powers to implement the November Joint Plan of Action marks another important step toward resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis diplomatically.

For the first time in a decade, starting January 20 Iran will rein in and roll back key parts of its program under stringent and intrusive international monitoring and verification. Iran will render its entire stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium – the closest it has to weapons grade – unusable for further enrichment. As diplomacy continues to progress, J Street reiterates its firm opposition to legislative action at this time to impose further sanctions on Iran.

“The U.S. Senate should give this agreement a chance to work, and negotiators a chance to achieve a permanent, comprehensive agreement that resolves the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.

“The door is now open to a peaceful, meaningful resolution of this crisis, and real steps are set to be taken now to roll back Iran’s program. Although success is far from guaranteed, Congress should recognize the sensitivity of this moment and allow the negotiations to proceed without acting in a way that could derail the diplomatic process.

“If diplomacy fails, Congress and the international community can easily impose even tougher sanctions. At that time, J Street would support them as well. Moreover the bill submitted to the Senate imposes conditions, notably a demand that Iran give up even low-level uranium enrichment for peaceful civilian purposes, that are simply unattainable. The bill seems designed to doom the negotiations to certain failure rather than to advance their prospects for success,” Ben-Ami said.

J Street has warned in the past that failure of these negotiations leads to one of two extremely negative options – either military action or Iranian acquisition ultimately of nuclear weapons.

As Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We now have an obligation to give our diplomats and experts every chance to succeed in these difficult negotiations. I very much appreciate Congress’ critical role in imposing the sanctions that brought Iran to the table, but I feel just as strongly that now is not the time to impose additional sanctions that could threaten the entire negotiating process. Now is not the time for politics. Now is the time for statesmanship, for the good of our country, the region, and the world.”