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by
Bridget Johnson

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December 20, 2012 - 12:33 pm

Nearly three quarters of the Senate today wrote President Obama urging that he take four steps before the administration’s possible resumption of nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Seventy-three members of the upper chamber signed the letter led by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

“We believe there is no national security challenge that is more urgent and essential to resolve during your second term than Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” they tell the president.

The four steps laid out in the letter:

  1. “We strongly believe there should be absolutely no diminution of pressure on the Iranians until the totality of their nuclear problem has been addressed. The time for limited confidence building measures is over. Iran must understand that it has a closing window of time in which to show it is serious about wanting to reach a diplomatic solution. This requires Iran to quickly and fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, including the suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing activities. Iran should also permit the removal from its territory of all uranium enriched to the twenty percent level.”
  2. “Until these objectives have been achieved, we believe that the United States must make use of all elements of our national power to pressure Iran. This should include aggressive implementation of existing sanctions and the adoption of new, even stronger ones. We should also work to deepen Iran’s diplomatic isolation by encouraging countries to expel Iranian diplomats and close Iranian missions, as Canada recently did, given Iran’s use of its embassies and consulates to engage in proliferation and terrorism-related illicit activities.”
  3. “We ask you to reiterate your readiness to take military action against Iran if it continues its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. In addition we urge you to work with our European and Middle Eastern allies to demonstrate to the Iranians that a credible and capable multilateral coalition exists that would support a military strike if, in the end, this is unfortunately necessary.”
  4. “We urge you to expand America’s outreach and support to the Iranian people and support of the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran. As we have seen across the Middle East over the past two years, autocratic regimes that appear entrenched and invulnerable can collapse with stunning speed.”

Menendez notes that just this week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reasserted Iran’s commitment to its illicit nuclear program and again prevented IAEA inspectors from visiting the Parchin military base.

“Iran’s nuclear agenda is clear and our policy response must reflect the serious threat we face from Iran. The president has been a partner in enforcing the sanctions regime and in building an international coalition in opposition to Iran’s efforts,” he said. “We urge him to sustain and grow that pressure, make clear to Iran the minimum conditions for any agreement, and reach out to the Iranian people in their pursuit of freedom.”

“At a time when our government is too often paralyzed by partisan divisions, this letter shows that, when it comes to the threat posed by Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, the United States Senate stands united,” Lieberman said. “This letter also sends a clear message that an overwhelming bipartisan supermajority of Senators will not support any diminution in pressure on Iran until the totality of the nuclear problem has been addressed, and that it is critical to demonstrate to the Iranians that a credible and capable multilateral coalition exists that would support a military strike if, in the end, this is unfortunately necessary.”

“We must fully implement the strongest possible sanctions against the Iranian regime and make it clear that the United States cannot and will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability,” Ayotte said.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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