WASHINGTON – A significant majority of US Senate members have signed a letter to US President Barack Obama outlining terms of a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program they would find acceptable.
Eighty-two senators – 41 Republicans and 41 Democrats – say they hope diplomatic efforts with Iran succeed in Vienna over the next four months – but also call for the “rapid and dramatic” expansion of sanctions if negotiations fail.
The letter began circulating less than two weeks ago, and has attracted 76 signatories since its release. Senate aides told The Jerusalem Post the letter will be sent to the White House early this week.
A source with a pro-Israel organization characterized the letter’s message as “a very significant statement of Senate policy in that it specifies the core principles in final agreement.”
World powers are attempting to reach a comprehensive solution to the long-standing nuclear crisis with Iran, now over a decade old, through peaceful means. The United States has recently bolstered its staff for the negotiations, which the president and Secretary of State John Kerry consider the “best chance” to resolve the crisis.
Support for the letter has been a top priority of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee since its annual policy conference earlier this month.
“We believe that Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” the letter reads. “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.”
The letter also calls for the closure of Fordow, Arak and Parchin – key facilities in Iran’s nuclear program – in its list of demands.
The Obama administration has entered negotiations with a similar list, though senior officials are not demanding the full dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
On a conference call with reporters on Friday, one senior administration official said the White House is willing to tolerate a small, highly regulated Iranian nuclear program that is guaranteed peaceful through strict verification and oversight measures.
The language of the letter does not explicitly rule out these terms: It calls on Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be fully dismantled, not necessarily all of its nuclear work.