Washington, DC – Forty national organizations,* including NIAC, FCNL, Win Without War, and J Street, have sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging that Congress uphold the preliminary nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran and support negotiations towards a final deal that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon and averts an unnecessary war.
As Congress reportedly is considering new action regarding Iran, with the upcoming AIPAC conference and a Washington visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the letter urges that Congress observe three basic principles:
- Congress should ensure Iran is upholding the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and similarly should not consider any measures that cause the U.S. to violate the JPOA, such as by passing new sanctions.
- Congress should refrain from renegotiating the basic terms of a final agreement that are outlined in JPOA, such as by demanding “zero enrichment”.
- Congress and the Administration should work together to ensure necessary authorizations exist for the U.S. to lift nuclear-related sanctions if a final deal is secured.
February 27, 2014
To: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
As negotiations proceed between the P5+1 and Iran, the following organizations urge Congress to uphold the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and refrain from considering any measures that would violate the letter or spirit of the JPOA or renegotiate the basic terms for a final agreement outlined in the JPOA. We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to ensure diplomacy can succeed in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and averting an unnecessary and costly war.
The JPOA advances U.S. national security objectives by freezing and rolling back key elements of Iran’s nuclear program as negotiations towards a comprehensive nuclear agreement proceed. Congress has an important role to play to ensure the terms of the JPOA are upheld by Iran. At the same time, it is critical that Congress not cause the United States to violate our own terms under the deal. The Senate’s decision to abstain from considering new Iran sanctions has helped give diplomacy the best possible chance to succeed. It is critical that Congress not legislate new sanctions while talks are proceeding, which would violate the JPOA and, according to a U.S. Intelligence Community assessment, “would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Furthermore, Congress should refrain from issuing ultimatums that would contradict the broad terms outlined in the JPOA for what may constitute a final deal. The JPOA is clear that a final agreement would “Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs”, albeit one which in the words of Under Secretary Wendy Sherman would have to be “highly constrained, highly monitored, and verified on a quite regular basis.” The issuance of ultimatums through legislation or resolutions expressly or implicitly calling for zero enrichment and complete dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would only contradict the terms of the JPOA and jeopardize negotiations towards a final agreement. Any ultimatums beyond the goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran can only serve to tie the hands of our negotiators, empower Iranian hardliners and prevent creative solutions to resolve the serious issues that remain.
Finally, the JPOA is also clear that, if Iran makes the necessary concessions to meet the terms required in a final comprehensive nuclear agreement, nuclear-related sanctions will be lifted. To ensure a final deal can be reached, Congress and the administration must work together to ensure that, in exchange for verifiable Iranian concessions that provide concrete assurances against nuclear weaponization, the necessary authorities exist to lift sanctions.
The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are an essential opportunity for the United States and its negotiating partners to secure an agreement that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon and averts a war. We are hopeful that Congress and the Administration will work together to ensure diplomacy can succeed so that these important national security goals can be achieved.
American Friends Service Committee
Americans for Peace Now
Arab American Institute
Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
Center for International Policy
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
International Civil Society Action Network
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace
Just Foreign Policy
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
National Council of Churches
National Iranian American Council
Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Peace Action West
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Progressive Democrats of America
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
The Shalom Center
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Veterans for Peace
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
* This letter was initially sent to the Senate with 38 signers – two additional organizations requested to join and have been added.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.