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August 1, 2015

83 Senators Send Iran Letter to Obama

A toughly worded letter to President Barack Obama on the Iran nuclear negotiations signed by 83 senators lays out principles for any agreement and warns of tough new sanctions on Iran if the talks fail.

“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 states.

The letter was led by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

Here’s the letter (those who signed at the bottom):

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.


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

Comments (32)

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  1. John Johnson

    March 18, 2014
    6:24 p.m.

    Hey at least now we know which senators pledge allegiance to the Israeli flag. Time to pack them up and ship them over to Israel, since that is where their true loyalty lies…

  2. lynnbaber

    March 18, 2014
    6:41 p.m.

    Too bad these 83 aren’t gutsy enough to demand that Harry Reid bring legislation to the Senate floor. They’ll sign their names to a letter but won’t buck the boss. They could oust his sorry behind if they had a backbone. But, don’t hold your breath. Just posturing…

    • Philip Meyer

      March 19, 2014
      11:37 a.m.

      There is nothing “gutsy” about the “war” bill being pushed by almost all of the GOP and a good many Democrats. It is a back door attempt to scuttle diplomacy so war is the only alternative. The sponsors were truly gutsy, they would up and admit they want war.

      • Cliff Davis

        March 19, 2014
        12:47 p.m.

        Mr. Meyer,

        I’ve heard this talking point repeated many times over the past few months, but I still don’t understand how the threat of economic sanctions will inexorably lead to war.

        Granted, I admit I’m not a foreign policy wonk, but sanctions seem to be a pretty diplomatic “stick” to the Obama administration’s “carrot” of further removing existing sanctions (if I’m not mistaken, we already have a strong set of sanctions in place).

        In all seriousness and earnestness, I ask you to please explain why the only possible motivation for a senator to sign this bill is because he/she desires war. Is it possible that these senators believe that sanctions are an effective deterrent of nuclear proliferation?

        Thank you!
        Cliff Davis

        • Philip Meyer

          March 19, 2014
          2:31 p.m.

          Thanks Cliff. Too be clear, I don’t necessarily think every Senator who is pushing the “sanctions” bill desires war, however, if you read the text of the sanctions bill, it obligates the US to assist Israel should it decide on its own to attack Iran and the text stipulates military support. So even if they don’t favor initiating a unilateral American attack, they are essentially giving Israel carte blanche to drag us into a war it may start. Second, there is a certain segment of those pushing this bill have said in the past that they see no possibility of a diplomatic resolution with Iran and that war is necessary. They’ve recently stopped emphasizing that line in an effort to get the bill passed but one only has to peruse statements by members of the Israeli government and those this country who are uberhawks, such as former UN ambassador John Bolton, or are “Israel firsters” such as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post.

          Even those who have not spoken of the need for war make demands that Iran is almost certain to reject. Nationalistic sentiment in Iran would make it very unlikely that even a government sincerely seeking a diplomatic solution could agree to complete suspension of enrichment. One thing the Iran hawks in this country never mention when they eulogize the “Green Movement” in Iran that even those folks were for the nuclear program. Any plausible diplomatic outcome is going to allow Iran some nuclear capacity, albeit with a robust inspection program.

          • Veni

            March 23, 2014
            8:35 a.m.

            The leaders of the ‘Green Movement’ are themselves high value members of, the Islamic government of Iran, which they agree with or are loyal to, as stated by Mousavi. Velayat-e-Faqih

            Your talking points are those of the Iran regimes apologists and lobbyists such as Leverett and NIAC, located in Wash, DC. Your reply even seems scripted by T Parsi, who has been caught using fictitious names on many websites with responses such as yours. So my question is, are you a patriot or do you work for the regimes lobbyist, Parsi or NIAC?
            How do you think negotiations are going? Iran continues attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Gaza, Bahrain and Syria. The IRI is still holding 3 US hostages. Israel just intercepted an arms shipment destined for terrorists Hamas, which included over 100 medium range missiles capable of hitting any target in Israel. This week the IRI kidnapped and tortured a refugee in the Netherlands. A year ago the IRGC plotted to bomb a restaurant in Wash, DC, which is frequented by US House members. In the past 4 years over 650 tons of Iranian weapons, bound for terrorist have been seized by multiple countries.
            With all this in mind, do you really believe religious fanatics wanting to bring about WW III can be trusted with a nuclear program already designed to produce nuclear weapons? We don’t and 83 Senators agree that Khamenei must not be capable of making or delivering a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb to any other nations soil.

  3. ShadrachSmith

    March 18, 2014
    10:35 p.m.

    Like Obama takes advice from them?

    Who do they think they are, Valerie Jarrett :-)

    • Philip Meyer

      March 19, 2014
      11:37 a.m.

      Wow, that’s a really deep comment.

  4. Tina Issavedbygrace

    March 19, 2014
    10:04 a.m.

    Has anyone found out why Rand Paul didn’t sign?

    • Philip Meyer

      March 19, 2014
      11:35 a.m.

      Perhaps because it puts American interests above Israeli demands.

  5. ccpony

    March 19, 2014
    10:53 a.m.

    Who are the 17 that DIDN’T sign?

    • Likely_Suspect

      March 19, 2014
      11:16 a.m.

      Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, & Diane Finestein seem to be absent.

  6. bruce gussin

    March 19, 2014
    1:35 p.m.

    Don’t worry. If they decide to bomb us Obama will block the bomb with a big bag of sanctions.

  7. Mike Conley

    March 19, 2014
    2:45 p.m.

    Obama fought sanctions in the past and was dragged kicking and screaming to go along. He’s going to do more selfies while Iran gets the bomb. He will no more stop Iran than he stopped Assad from murdering over 100,000 Syrians or stopped Putin from conquering Crimea.

    Iran created and supports Hezbollah, which killed over 200 US Marines. Iran with Nukes will run wild and America, not Israel, is the Great Satan.

    Those few Senators who failed to sign onto this modest letter are worse than the isolationists who sat on their butts while Hitler armed Germany and started to conquer Europe. The low information posters here who call the 83 Senators war mongers should understand that this is precisely what the appeasers in England called Churchill when he wanted to stand up to Hitler.

    BTW, anyone who writes that 83 Senators are in the pocket of Israel or Jews is a moron not to mention an anti-Semite. You can take that to the bank.


  8. Six Edits

    March 19, 2014
    8:13 p.m.

    In related news, the Egyptians have filed a credible criminal complaint against Hussein Obama in the international criminal court:

  9. Socialism is Organized Evil

    March 21, 2014
    5:38 a.m.

    In related news, here are the US deaths in Afghanistan, by year:Bush2001: 52002: 302003: 312004: 492005: 942006: 872007: 1112008: 151Total = 558Obama2009: 3032010: 4972011: 4942012: 2942013: 115Total = 1,703Ref:

  10. Reiner Wilhelms

    March 21, 2014
    8:40 a.m.

    It’s amazing and horrifying how this plays out. Please everyone connect the dots: The West helped split Ukraine ideologically, after which Putin stepped in start the first crack by grabbing Ukraine, which was easy with about 80 percent of all its people supporting it. Then they try to tighten the thumb screws by economic sanctions against Russia, automatically increasing Putin’s reputation among Russians. Now he can renew his friendship with Iran and the Assad regime, in retaliation. Next the West talks again of intervention in Syria, and Israel keeps pushing for war with Iran. Now these morons, right wingers and “progressives” united support this AIPAC letter to try to destroy the last straw there was to prevent further escalation on the Iran issue. Israel goes again on the war mongering campaign. In the mean time, NATO moves airplanes in Europe closer to Russia, West Ukraine builds up its military by training more Nazis, which justifies Putin’s further build up. Putin can completely count on the idiocy of the West, so that he believes he will win by loosing. And NATO works on a creating a situation somewhere so Putin fires the first shot.

    War is never inevitable, but our idiot senators do everything to get were it becomes more and more likely. It can not be true that they don’t understand what they are doing. They are paid to be idiots, they act as if drawn by strings, myopic as always, forgetting all history. The only conclusion is that they don’t want peace.

  11. gardenSalsa64

    March 23, 2014
    4:15 a.m.

    In related YouTube video, we find a fairly typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama’s regime has chosen to support in Syria:

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