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Congress & the Middle East:
House Letter Urging Increased Pressure on Iran to Dismantle Nuclear Program

(July 1, 2013)


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Following Iran's presidential election, 44 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter urging President Obama to increase the pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.
The letter highlighted the International Atomic Energy Agency report that Tehran is dramatically expanding its nuclear infrastructure, writing: "Iran's election unfortunately has done nothing to suggest a reversal of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capacity ... It is important that you leave no doubt in the minds of the Iranian government that the United States will do all it can to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."
The letter was sponsored by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

Dear Mr. President:

Recently, the Iranian people voted for their next president, Hassan Rouhani. The President-elect was widely perceived to be the most moderate of the candidates allowed to run under Iran’s extremely restrictive election process. Indeed, more than 600 potential candidates were disqualified by an unelected body of Islamic jurists, leaving only those approved by government-appointed clerics. But while this was not a free and fair election, judged by international standards, its outcome reflected considerable dissatisfaction by the Iranian people with an autocratic and repressive government that has internationally isolated Iran. 

Iran’s election unfortunately has done nothing to suggest a reversal of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capacity. President-elect Rouhani, who served as a nuclear negotiator for Iran at a time its illicit program was well underway, indicated his support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions in his first post-election press conference. Indeed, there appears nothing “moderate” about his nuclear policies, which are a continuation of the policies that have been roundly opposed by the international community. Moreover, decisions about Iran’s nuclear program and foreign policy rest mainly in the hands of Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamene’i. Khamene’i has recently reiterated his view that Iran has no reason to normalize relations with the United States. 

According to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is accelerating its nuclear efforts. Tehran is dramatically expanding its nuclear infrastructure: installing advanced centrifuges which would quadruple the speed with which Iran can enrich uranium, while continuing construction of a heavy water reactor which will permit a plutonium option. Our diplomacy and sanctions strategies must reflect these dangerous realities.

Our diplomatic goal must be to reach a negotiated settlement in which Iran agrees to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program. For this outcome to be realized, Iran must face intensifying pressure. This means the full implementation of current sanctions available to your administration, and further legislative steps to close loopholes and broaden our sanction’s reach.

As Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, we appreciate your recent imposition of new sanctions and urge you to increase the pressure on Iran in the days ahead. An added positive action would be extending sector-based sanctions to the mining, engineering, and construction-based sectors of Iran. We plan to strengthen sanctions with additional legislation already approved unanimously by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and now pending in the House of Representatives. It is important that you leave no doubt in the minds of the Iranian government that the United States will do all it can to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

Sincerely,

Edward R. Royce
Eliot L. Engel
Christopher H. Smith
Brad Sherman
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Gregory W. Meeks
Dana Rohrabacher
Albio Sires
Steve Chabot
Gerald E. Connolly
Joe Wilson
Theodore E. Deutch
Michael T. McCaul
Brian Higgins
Ted Poe
William Keating
Matt Salmon
David Cicilline
Tom Marino
Alan Grayson
Jeff Duncan
Juan Vargas
Adam Kinzinger
Bradley S. Schneider
Mo Brooks
Joseph P. Kennedy III
Tom Cotton
Ami Bera
Paul Cook
Alan S. Lowenthal
George Holding
Lois Frankel
Randy K. Weber, Sr.
Grace Meng
Scott Perry
Joaquin Castro
Steve Stockman
Tulsi Gabbard
Ron Desantis
Karen Bass
Trey Radel
Doug Collins
Mark Meadows
Ted S. Yoho
Luke Messer

Sources: House Foreign Affairs Committee

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