More than three-fourths of the Senate urged President Obama to put some “credibility” behind a military threat in order to stop Iran’s march to nuclear-weapons capability.
The letter, sent to the White House on Friday, was circulated by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
The senators said they hoped the election of Hassan Rouhani “will persuade Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to abandon Iran’s nuclear weapons quest.”
“But until we see a significant slowdown of Iran’s nuclear activities, we believe our nation must toughen sanctions and reinforce the credibility of our option to use military force at the same time as we fully explore a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran,” they stressed.
The administration congratulated Rouhani on his inauguration yesterday with similar hopes that he could help stem the nuclear drive, but the new president’s inaugural address reflected the same rhetoric as his predecessor.
“We note that President-elect Rouhani has pledged re-engagement with the P5+1 and promised to bring transparency to Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, Iran has used negotiations in the past to stall for time, and in any event, Khamenei is the ultimate decision-maker for Iran’s nuclear program. Moreover, Iran today continues its large-scale installation of advanced centrifuges. This will soon put it in the position to be able to rapidly produce weapons-grade uranium, bringing Tehran to the brink of a nuclear weapons capability,” the senators continued.
In what now plays like a broken record on the Hill, the lawmakers urged Obama “to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process.”
“We believe there are four strategic elements necessary to achieve resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe. We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared,” they wrote.
The House passed new Iran sanctions before recess in an effort to dry up the mullahs’ revenue.