American Elephants


Congress Calls Obama’s Attention to a Matter of Backbone.. by The Elephant's Child

Eighty-three U.S. senators got together yesterday to demand that President Obama meet with core principles, including unmistakable consequences, in any final nuclear agreement with Iran. Leaders in the bipartisan letter were Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE) Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

The number of senators included serves as a warning to the administration that they have the support to override a veto on tougher Iran sanctions.  Harry Reid (D-NV) who held up a sanctions vote at the request of the White House, did not sign the letter. The letter stated:

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.

They enumerated these core principles:

  • We believe 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 submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime to achieve the goal described in the Joint Plan of Action “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.”

If negotiations failed, or if Iran violated the Joint Plan of Action, Congress will ensure that the legislative authority exists to rapidly and dramatically expand sanctions.

A similar letter was sent to President Obama from the House, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer(D-MD) and signed by 395 lawmakers.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who previously opposed unilateral military action against Iran, is losing faith in America’s ability to keep it secure. Israel is one of America’s staunchest allies in the region. Other regional U.S. allies are already making contingency plans. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, worried about the U.S. withdrawal from the region, have forged closer ties than before. Turkey is less willing to work with the U.S. and has even made moves to improve ties with Iran. Israel will go to great lengths to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, with or without Washington’s blessing.

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