Eighty-three Senators Outline Core Principles of a Final Agreement with Iran in Letter to President Obama

Press Contact : 

adam_sharon@foreign.senate.gov


WASHINGTON, DC – Eighty-three U.S. Senators wrote President Obama to outline core principles they believe should define any final agreement with Iran on its nuclear weapon program.

The letter was spearheaded by Senators Menendez (D-NJ), Graham (R-SC), Schumer (D-NY), Kirk (R-IL), Coons (D-DE) and Ayotte (R-NH).

In their letter, the eighty-three senators write: “Most importantly, Iran must clearly understand the consequences of failing to reach an acceptable final agreement.  We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products.” 

The letter appears below and here.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We all hope that nuclear negotiations succeed in preventing Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapons capability.  For diplomacy to succeed, however, we must couple our willingness to negotiate with a united and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime.

We believe, as you do, that the pressure from economic sanctions brought Iran to the table, and that it must continue until Iran abandons its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.  We also agree pressure will intensify if Iran violates the interim agreement, uses the talks simply as a delaying tactic, or walks away from the table. 

For twenty years, Congress has consistently focused attention on the threat of the Iranian program and taken the lead in initiating sanctions.  Congress has repeatedly stated that preventing an Iranian nuclear capability is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy.  Nine separate pieces of sanctions legislation have passed Congress since 1996.  We appreciate your continued commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and your efforts to implement the sanctions, which isolated and pressured the regime into negotiations.

We believe that Congress has a continuing role to play to improve the prospects for success in the talks with Iran.  As these negotiations proceed, we will outline our views about the essential goals of a final agreement with Iran, continue oversight of the interim agreement and the existing sanctions regime, and signal the consequences that will follow if Iran rejects an agreement that brings to an end its nuclear weapons ambitions.

We write now to express our support for the following core principles we believe are consistent with your administration’s positions, and urge you to insist on their realization in a final agreement with Iran:

  • We believe that Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • We believe any agreement must dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb. 
  • We believe Iran has no reason to have an enrichment facility like Fordow, that the regime must give up its heavy water reactor at Arak, and that it must fully explain the questionable activities in which it engaged at Parchin and other facilities. 
  • We believe Iran must fully resolve concerns addressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions, including any military dimensions of its nuclear program.
  • We believe Iran must also submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime to achieve the goal described in the Joint Plan of Action of “reaffirm[ing] that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.”
  • Finally, we believe Iran must not be allowed during these negotiations to circumvent sanctions.  We view this period as one fraught with the danger of companies and countries looking to improve their commercial position in Tehran, especially given recent reports of rising purchases of Iranian oil.  Iran cannot be allowed to be open for business. As you have stated, we must come down on those who are undermining sanctions “like a ton of bricks.” 

We also believe that any agreement with Iran that could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or nuclear enrichment programs in the region should be rejected.

As you have said, Congress has always been a partner in presidential efforts to impose economic sanctions on Iran.  Should an acceptable final agreement be reached, your administration will need to work together with Congress to enact implementing legislation to provide longer term sanctions relief beyond existing waiver authorities – either through suspension, repeal or amendment of statutory sanctions.  Should negotiations fail or Iran violate the Joint Plan of Action, Congress will need to ensure that the legislative authority exists to rapidly and dramatically expand sanctions.  We need to work together now to prepare for either eventuality.

Most importantly, Iran must clearly understand the consequences of failing to reach an acceptable final agreement.  We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products. 

Mr. President, the negotiations with Iran are likely to be arduous. We look forward to working with you on a bipartisan basis to protect America and our allies by preventing Iran from ever developing or building nuclear weapons.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez

Lindsey Graham

Charles E. Schumer

Mark Kirk

Christopher A. Coons

Kelly Ayotte

Richard J. Durbin

Mitch McConnell

Tim Kaine

John McCain

Mark Begich

James E. Risch

Benjamin L. Cardin

Dan Coats

Kay R. Hagan

Susan M. Collins

Barbara A. Mikulski

Orrin G. Hatch

Michael F. Bennet

Pat Roberts

Mark L. Pryor

Rob Portman

Debbie Stabenow

Mike Crapo

Sheldon Whitehouse

Patrick J. Toomey

John Walsh     

John Boozman

Heidi Heitkamp

Roger F. Wicker

Mazie K. Hirono

Mike Johanns

Martin Heinrich          

Dean Heller

Joe Donnelly

Tim Scott

Angus S. King, Jr.

Jeff Sessions

Mary L. Landrieu

David Vitter

Cory Booker

John Hoeven  

Patty Murray

Richard Burr

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Ron Johnson

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

Jerry Moran

Jeanne Shaheen

Chuck Grassley

Al Franken

Johnny Isakson

Christopher Murphy

Lisa Murkowski

Mark Udall

Michael B. Enzi

Claire McCaskill

Thad Cochran

Jon Tester

Ted Cruz

Elizabeth Warren

Mike Lee

Edward J. Markey

John Cornyn

Lamar Alexander

John Thune

Mark R. Warner

Deb Fischer

Richard Blumenthal

Jeff Merkley

Joe Manchin III

Saxby Chambliss

Amy Klobuchar

Richard C. Shelby

Maria Cantwell          

John Barrasso

Tom Coburn   

Ron Wyden    

Roy Blunt      

Tom Udall

Jack Reed

Marco Rubio

Bill Nelson

###