Open Letter to Congressional Leaders on Iran

January 9, 2014

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Kali McNutt, FPI Director of External Affairs
Phone: 202-296-3322

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Seventy-seven former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts have signed a bipartisan open letter to Congress, urging Senate and House leaders to work together to enforce Iran’s full compliance with the Joint Plan of Action, the interim nuclear deal that Iran agreed to in Geneva on November 24, 2013. The group supports "the use of diplomacy and non-military pressure, backed up by the military option, to persuade Iran to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions and verifiably abandon its efforts to attain nuclear weapons-making capability."

“Congress now has the opportunity to make clear the consequences for Iran if it violates the interim nuclear deal or fails to conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement,” the group urged in the letter.  “Congressional action can thus substantially improve the prospect that Iran’s growing nuclear threat will be verifiably and irreversibly halted without the use of force.  We urge Congress to seize this opportunity.”

The full text of the letter follows below. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.


January 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Pelosi:
 
We write in support of efforts to enforce Iranian compliance with the Joint Plan of Action that Iran agreed to on November 24, 2013, and in support of the ultimate goal of denying Iran nuclear weapons-making capability. Congress has a chance to play an important role in making clear the consequences of Iranian violations of the interim nuclear deal, in clarifying expectations with respect to future nuclear talks with Tehran, and in creating incentives for Iran to conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement that protects the national security interests of the United States and its allies.
 
We support the use of diplomacy and non-military pressure, backed up by the military option, to persuade Iran to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions and verifiably abandon its efforts to attain nuclear weapons-making capability.  Congressional leadership has been indispensable in creating the framework of U.S.-led international sanctions that brought Iran back to the negotiating table.  However, given Tehran’s long history of violating its international nuclear obligations—and the lack of any explicit enforcement mechanisms in the Joint Plan of Action’s text—congressional leadership is once again required to set clear standards for enforcing Iranian compliance with the interim nuclear deal.
 
As talks go forward, it is critical that Iran not use diplomatic talks as subterfuge for continued development of various aspects of its nuclear program.  It is worth recalling Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s claim that, when he served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator a decade ago, he used diplomatic talks to buy time for Iran to advance its nuclear program.  Congressional leadership can help prevent Iran from using future negotiations as cover to further the growth of its nuclear weapons-making capability.
 
Congress should also use this opportunity to describe its expectations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.  Such an agreement would irreversibly close off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon through uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations for full transparency and cooperation regarding its nuclear program, and permit extraordinary inspection measures to safeguard against any undeclared Iranian nuclear activities.
 
Commenting on the likelihood of getting Iran to agree to a comprehensive nuclear agreement, President Obama recently commented, “I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50/50.”  We can do better than a coin-toss.  Congress now has the opportunity to make clear the consequences for Iran if it violates the interim nuclear deal or fails to conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Congressional action can thus substantially improve the prospect that Iran’s growing nuclear threat will be verifiably and irreversibly halted without the use of force.  We urge Congress to seize this opportunity.
 
Sincerely,

 Elliott AbramsLawrence F. Kaplan
 Dr. Fouad AjamiJames Kirchick
 Michael AllenIrina Krasovskaya
 Dr. Michael AuslinDr. William Kristol
 Congresswoman Shelley BerkleyDr. Matthew Kroenig
 Josh BlockDr. Robert J. Lieber
 Dan BlumenthalSenator Joseph I. Lieberman
 Max BootTod Lindberg
 Ellen BorkMary Beth Long
 Ambassador L. Paul BremerDr. Thomas G. Mahnken
 Dr. Eliot A. CohenDr. Michael Makovsky
 Senator Norm ColemanAnn Marlowe
 Ambassador William CourtneyClifford D. May
 Seth CropseyRobert C. McFarlane
 Jack DavidDavid A. Merkel
 James S. DentonThomas C. Moore
 Ambassador Paula J. DobrianskyDr. Joshua Muravchik
 Dr. Michael DoranGovernor Tim Pawlenty
 Mark DubowitzDr. Martin Peretz
 Dr. Colin DueckDanielle Pletka
 Dr. Nicholas N. EberstadtJohn Podhoretz
 Ambassador Eric S. EdelmanArch Puddington
 Douglas J. FeithStephen G. Rademaker
 Dr. Jeffrey GedminDr. Michael Rubin
 Reuel Marc GerechtRandy Scheunemann
 Abe GreenwaldDr. Gary J. Schmitt
 Christopher J. GriffinDan Senor
 Lawrence J. HaasLee Smith
 John P. HannahHenry D. Sokolski
 Pete HegsethDr. Ray Takeyh
 Dr. Jeffrey HerfWilliam H. Tobey
 Peter R. HuessyDr. Daniel Twining
 Dr. William C. InbodenPeter Wehner
 Bruce Pitcairn JacksonDr. Kenneth R. Weinstein
 Ash JainLeon Wieseltier
 Dr. Kenneth D. M. JensenDr. Dov S. Zakheim
 Ambassador Robert G. JosephRoger Zakheim
 Dr. Frederick W. KaganRobert Zarate
 Dr. Robert Kagan 

 

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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