A bipartisan group of senators sent President Obama a letter on Friday warning the commander in chief to not let Iran “buy time” for its nuclear program’s advancement with hollow proposals and supposed diplomatic overtures.
The letter comes as Iran recently sent a brief letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing willingness to engage in new talks with the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and bring “new initiatives” — on which they didn’t elaborate — to the table.
“The recent, sudden interest of Iranian leaders in multilateral negotiations is most likely a direct consequence of this pressure track and in particular, measures that will deny the regime the ability to derive revenue from oil sales,” the letter states. “…We hope you will continue to mobilize the full weight of the U.S. government in this effort, and stand ready to support you in Congress.”
The letter also asks that the U.S. government “make clear” to Tehran that it will keep ratcheting up the pressure “until there is a full and complete resolution of all components of illicit Iranian nuclear activities.”
It was signed by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“We remain extremely concerned that the Iranian government will seek to buy time or otherwise dilute the focus of our diplomacy through proposals that either suspend or reverse the current momentum of the pressure track in exchange for partial measures by the Iranians that fail to address the totality of their nuclear program,” the letter states. “Such tactical maneuverings are a dangerous distraction and should not be tolerated.”
It concludes that the U.S. government also needs to drive home the point that “given the current Iranian regime’s pattern of deceptive and illicit conduct, it cannot be permitted to maintain any enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory for the foreseeable future, or continue to possess its current stockpile of both 3 percent and 20 percent low enriched uranium.”
“We would strongly oppose any proposal that recognizes a ‘right to enrichment’ by the current regime or for a diplomatic endgame in which Iran is permitted to continue enrichment on its territory in any form,” the senators wrote.
The letter also comes on the heels of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introducing a resolution Thursday that puts the Senate on record as ruling out a strategy of containment for a nuclear-armed Iran. Lieberman, Menendez, McCain, Risch, Rubio and Schumer are among the co-sponsors.