Open Letter to Congressional Leaders on Iran
Kali McNutt, FPI Director of External Affairs
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.
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.
|Elliott Abrams||Lawrence F. Kaplan|
|Dr. Fouad Ajami||James Kirchick|
|Michael Allen||Irina Krasovskaya|
|Dr. Michael Auslin||Dr. William Kristol|
|Congresswoman Shelley Berkley||Dr. Matthew Kroenig|
|Josh Block||Dr. Robert J. Lieber|
|Dan Blumenthal||Senator Joseph I. Lieberman|
|Max Boot||Tod Lindberg|
|Ellen Bork||Mary Beth Long|
|Ambassador L. Paul Bremer||Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken|
|Dr. Eliot A. Cohen||Dr. Michael Makovsky|
|Senator Norm Coleman||Ann Marlowe|
|Ambassador William Courtney||Clifford D. May|
|Seth Cropsey||Robert C. McFarlane|
|Jack David||David A. Merkel|
|James S. Denton||Thomas C. Moore|
|Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky||Dr. Joshua Muravchik|
|Dr. Michael Doran||Governor Tim Pawlenty|
|Mark Dubowitz||Dr. Martin Peretz|
|Dr. Colin Dueck||Danielle Pletka|
|Dr. Nicholas N. Eberstadt||John Podhoretz|
|Ambassador Eric S. Edelman||Arch Puddington|
|Douglas J. Feith||Stephen G. Rademaker|
|Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin||Dr. Michael Rubin|
|Reuel Marc Gerecht||Randy Scheunemann|
|Abe Greenwald||Dr. Gary J. Schmitt|
|Christopher J. Griffin||Dan Senor|
|Lawrence J. Haas||Lee Smith|
|John P. Hannah||Henry D. Sokolski|
|Pete Hegseth||Dr. Ray Takeyh|
|Dr. Jeffrey Herf||William H. Tobey|
|Peter R. Huessy||Dr. Daniel Twining|
|Dr. William C. Inboden||Peter Wehner|
|Bruce Pitcairn Jackson||Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein|
|Ash Jain||Leon Wieseltier|
|Dr. Kenneth D. M. Jensen||Dr. Dov S. Zakheim|
|Ambassador Robert G. Joseph||Roger Zakheim|
|Dr. Frederick W. Kagan||Robert Zarate|
|Dr. Robert Kagan|
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.