Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Congressional Letter on Iran (20 March 2015)

Love Letters in the Sand

On 20 March 2015, 367 members of the US Congress send a letter to President Obama on the ongoing negotiations with respect to Iran's nuclear weapons capability. Here are the points made.

1. No Pathway to a Bomb
2. Must Know What Iran Has Already
3. Cannot Trust Iran
4. Negotiations Should Recognize Iran's Support of Terrorism
5 Congress Has a Role

1. No Pathway to a Bomb: A final comprehensive nuclear agreement must constrain Iran's nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting. [This primarily has to do with centrifuges that enrich uranium.]

2. Must Know What Iran Has Already Done: Iran has refused to disclose to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors its past activities to develop nuclear weapons. Unless we have a full understanding of Iran's past program it will be impossible for the international community to judge Iran's future breakout time with certainty. [Breakout time is how long it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if unrestrained.]

3. Cannot Trust Iran: Iran's record of clandestine activity and intransigence prevents any trust in Iran. Given Iran's decades of deception, negotiators must obtain maximum commitments to transparency by Iran. Any inspection and verification regime must allow for short notice access to suspect locations, and verifiable constraints on Iran's nuclear program must last for decades.

4. Negotiations Should Be Broadened: Finally, while the negotiations with Iran have focused exclusively on Iran's nuclear program, it is critical that we also consider Iran's destabilizing role in the region. Iran is boosting Assad in Syria, supporting sectarian elements in Iraq that undercut hopes for a unified and stable country, and providing assistance to Hezbollah, which continues to threaten Israel. And last month, an Iranian-backed militia displaced the government in Yemen, a key countertenor.ism partner. Iran's Supreme Leader has also called for an expansion of his country's ballistic missile program, yet another dimension of the potential threat posed by Iran. Iran's role in fomenting instability in the region-not to mention Iran's horrendous repression at home-demonstrates the risks of negotiating with a partner we cannot trust.

5 Congress Has a Role - Sanctions: Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.

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