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Menendez, Graham Op-Ed: The way forward on containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions

WASHINGTON —  As indirect talks in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran continue, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), today published an op-ed for the Washington Post laying out the case for a broader, bipartisan and comprehensive diplomatic approach to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions and curb its regional aggressions.  

“We believe there is a way to achieve a compromise that will find support among the countries of the region, meet Iran’s stated goal for peaceful nuclear power and avoid an arms race in the Middle East. We believe that countries that desire a peaceful, responsible nuclear power program to provide electricity and jobs to their people should be able to do so safely,” wrote the senators. “We must begin by confronting the reality that, following the Trump administration’s withdrawal and Iran’s escalatory nuclear advancements, the deal itself is all but broken. Even though we opposed the original deal, we warned in 2018 that the world needed a diplomatic path to a solution, and that withdrawal without a diplomatic plan would lead to a more dangerous Iran.”

The senators continued: “If we are seeking more from Iran, we should be willing to give more sanctions relief in return. The United States and the international community should capitalize on potential new regional diplomatic engagement, and encourage broader negotiations to curb malign Iranian influence in the region…The art of diplomacy is difficult, but the path to a better deal is clear. We strongly encourage the Biden administration, the Iranians and our international negotiating partners to think beyond the past and look toward what we can achieve for the future. Refusing to do so would risk a tremendous opportunity for peace.”

In the column, Menendez and Graham also announced their support for the creation of a nuclear fuel bank for the Persian Gulf region to guarantee that Iran and any gulf state can fuel its commercial nuclear reactors from an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) fuel bank on the condition of forgoing domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing.

“A regional nuclear fuel bank could provide a reliable, affordable and transparent source of nuclear fuel for any state that sought a peaceful commercial nuclear program. This approach could multilateralize the nuclear issue and stop a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” added the senators.  

Click here to read the op-ed in full.