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Congress & the Middle East: Iran Sanctions Letter

(January 6, 2016)

Seven Democratic lawmakers, both opponents and supporters of the JCPOA, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on January 6, 2016, urging his administration to impose punitive sanctions on Iran in response to their recent ballistic missile tests. The letter was signed by Representatives Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Albio Sires, Gerry Connolly, Susan Davis and Jerry Nadler. Please find the full text of the letter below.

January 6, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our serious concern with Iran’s recent violation of international law by test-firing medium-range ballistic missiles in October and November 2015.

As you know, the United Nations (UN) Security Panel of Experts concluded that the October test was a blatant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929. While the UN Panel has yet to characterize Iran’s second medium range ballistic missile test in November as a violation, both exercises foster insecurity in surrounding countries about Iran’s military capabilities and intent.

Additionally, an Iranian rocket—fired by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during live-fire exercises—came within just 1,500 feet last week of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman that was operating in the Strait of Hormuz.

Such aggressive and destabilizing behavior is deeply troubling, particularly preceding implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and demands a U.S. response. While not all of us share the same opinion on the JCPOA, we are united in our desire to ensure it is vigilantly enforced and to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

For this reason, the United States and our allies must take immediate, punitive action and send a clear message to Iran that violating international laws, treaties, and agreements will have serious consequences. We understand the Administration is preparing sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and we urge you to announce such sanctions without further delay.

Inaction from the United States would send the misguided message that, in the wake of the JCPOA, the international community has lost the willingness to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its support for terrorism and other offensive actions throughout the region—including in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. This behavior—including these ballistic missile tests—poses a direct threat to American national security interests and those of our allies.

As Members of Congress committed to regional and international security and stability, we stand ready to assist you in holding Iran accountable for its actions. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter, and we look forward to your response.

Source: Kornbluh, Jacob. “Democratic lawmakers call for immediate sanctions on Iran,” Jewish Insider, (December 6, 2016)