San Francisco, CA – NIAC members in the Bay Area delivered a thank you card signed by over 2,000 people to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) San Francisco office last week in an impressive showing of support for diplomacy. The thank you card, also delivered to President Obama and Secretary Kerry in Washington, expressed gratitude to three officials for playing key roles in the recent diplomatic breakthrough with Iran and “working towards a brighter future without war and sanctions, with respect for human rights and with a true friendship between the Iranian and American people.”
Ahmad Kiarostami, who was among the team to deliver the card to Feinstein’s office, said he got involved to make sure elected officials understood there is strong support within the Iranian-American community for the diplomatic approach. “I’m very happy that Senator Feinstein is taking a strong stand in favor of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran,” said Kiarostami. “It’s important that those of us who support peace and diplomacy do our part and show our support.”
In recent months, President Obama and Secretary Kerry launched intensive diplomatic efforts to secure a first phase nuclear agreement, while at the same time working to lessen the plight of sanctions on the Iranian people and block new sanctions that could sabotage hopes for a comprehensive agreement. Senator Feinstein, meanwhile, has been one of the most outspoken champions of the nuclear agreement with Iran, calling it a “significant step toward solving one of the most difficult security challenges facing the world today.” She also worked to block a sanctions push that could have sunk the agreement, calling the insistence by some to undermine the deal “baffling”.
In recent weeks, a number of lawmakers have also shown their strong support for the nuclear deal and opposition to new sanctions. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), on the Senate floor, stated that the interim agreement with Iran “is an encouraging first step, and I urge my colleagues not to put it at risk by passing new sanctions right now.” Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, warned that this could be the last, best chance to resolve the issue diplomatically, and that he would only move forward with new sanctions if Iran violates the agreement or if the first phase agreement expires without a comprehensive deal. In the House, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), David Price (D-NC), and Peter Welch (D-VT) all spoke on the floor in praise of the agreement and against new sanctions.
It is also increasingly clear that the American people have rallied in support of the nuclear deal with Iran. Reuters recently released a poll showing Americans support the deal with an incredible 2 to 1 margin. Further, a Hart research poll indicated that Americans favor legislators who would give the agreement and negotiators time to work before deciding on new sanctions by a 67% to 25% margin.
As a result, new sanctions that could undermine the talks appear to be held up in the Senate, at least until next year. And in the House, a resolution that would have attacked the deal has also languished after it failed to attract key supporters. However, as the battle shifts not just to defending against new sanctions, but repealing existing sanctions as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, the Iranian-American community will be an important voice to provide not just pressure against those who could undermine a deal, but support for those working to finally secure a peaceful solution.