Dear President Obama:
As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.
As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.
Even so, we believe it would be a mistake not to test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that ensures the country does not acquire a nuclear weapon. In order to test this proposition, it will be prudent for the United States to utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks. In addition, bilateral and multilateral sanctions must be calibrated in such a way that they induce significant and verifiable concessions from Iran at the negotiating table in exchange for their potential relaxation.
We must also be careful not to preempt this potential opportunity by engaging in actions that delegitimize the newly elected president and weaken his standing relative to hardliners within the regime who oppose his professed “policy of reconciliation and peace.” Likewise, it will be critical for the United States to continue its efforts to foster unprecedented international cooperation on this issue so that the international community remains united in its opposition to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We look forward to working with your administration on this important issue in the months ahead.
Charles Dent David Price Ron Barber Karen Bass Xavier Becerra Ami Bera Sanford Bishop Tim Bishop Earl Blumenauer Suzanne Bonamici Madaleine Bordallo Bruce Braley Cheri Bustos John Campbell Lois Capps Michael Capuano Tony Cardenas Andre Carson Matthew Cartwright Donna Christensen Lacy Clay Emmanuel Cleaver James Clyburn Howard Coble Steve Cohen Tom Cole Gerald Connolly John Conyers Joe Courtney Hennry Cuellar Elijah Cummings Danny Davis Peter DeFazio Dianna DeGette Rosa DeLauro Suzan DelBene John Dingell Lloyd Doggett Michael Doyle Tammy Duckworth Sean Duffy John Duncan Jr. Donna Edwards Keith Ellison William Enyart Anna Eshoo Elizabeth Etsy Sam Farr Stephen Fattah Michael Fitzpatrick Bill Foster Jeff Fortenberry John Garamendi Raul Grijalva Michael Grimm Luis Guttierez Richard Hanna Alcee Hastings Denny Heck Brian Higgins James Himes Rush Holt Michael Honda Sheila Jackson-Lee Eddie B. Johnson Hank Johnson Walter Jones Marcy Kaptur Robin Kelly Ron Kind Ann Kuster Rick Larsen Tom Larson Barbara Lee John Lewis David Loesback Zoe Lofgren Ben Ray Lujan Michelle Lujan Grisham Jim Matheson Betty McCollum Jim McDermott James P. McGovern Gregory W. Meeks George Miller Gwen Moore James P. Moran Grace F. Napolitano Richard E. Neal Richard Nolan Eleanor Holmes Norton Richard B. Nugent Beto O'Rourke Bill Pascrell Jr. Ed Pastor Donald M. Payne Jr. Ed Perlmutter Scott H. Peters Collin C. Peterson Thomas E. Petri Chellie Pingree Mark Pocan Jared Polis Nick J. Rahall II Charles B. Rangel Lucille Roybal-Allard Raul Ruiz Jon Runyan Bobby L. Rush Tim Ryan Gregario Sablan Janice Schakowsky Robert C. Scott Jose E. Serrano Carol Shea-Porter Kyrsten Sinema Louise Slaughter Jackie Speier Mark Takano Glen Thompson Mike Thompson Patrick Tiberi John Tierney Paul Tonko Niki Tsongas Peter Visclosky Timothy Walz Maxine Waters Peter Welch Ed Whitfield John Yarmuth
Sources: Weekly Standard