Home / European Community / JCPOA with Iran will increase global security: An open letter to uncommitted Democrats

JCPOA with Iran will increase global security: An open letter to uncommitted Democrats

Editor’s Note: The fol­low­ing mes­sage regard­ing the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action to pre­vent Iran from obtain­ing a nuclear weapon is being sent today to North­west Democ­rats Maria Cantwell, Ron Wyden, Suzan Del­Bene, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, and Kurt Schrad­er, who have not yet com­mit­ted to tak­ing a posi­tion on the agree­ment with Iran nego­ti­at­ed by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s admin­is­tra­tion. We are pub­lish­ing our mes­sage to them here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate as an open let­ter.

Dear Sen­a­tors and Rep­re­sen­ta­tives:

Sev­en years ago, at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Den­ver, Col­orado, Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton gave a speech in sup­port of our cur­rent Pres­i­dent, Barack Oba­ma, dur­ing which he astute­ly not­ed, “Peo­ple the world over have always been more impressed by the pow­er of our exam­ple than by the exam­ple of our pow­er.”

Those words res­onat­ed then, and they con­tin­ue to res­onate today.

In coop­er­a­tion with the oth­er four per­ma­nent mem­bers of the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil as well as Ger­many and the Euro­pean Union, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s admin­is­tra­tion has nego­ti­at­ed a his­toric agree­ment with Iran that will increase glob­al secu­ri­ty by pre­vent­ing Iran from obtain­ing a nuclear weapon.

Our recent P5+1 talks with the admin­is­tra­tion of Has­san Rouhani, which pro­duced an accord that the world com­mu­ni­ty enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­ports, demon­strates our abil­i­ty to lead by exam­ple through diplo­ma­cy.

As Repub­li­cans in Con­gress move for­ward with plans to sched­ule a vote on a res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval against this his­toric Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action with Iran, we ask that you join your col­leagues Pat­ty Mur­ray, Jeff Merkley, Jim McDer­mott, Den­ny Heck, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Peter DeFazio in endors­ing it with­out delay. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma at least ne the sup­port of his own par­ty in Con­gress to show the world that he is not the only Amer­i­can elect­ed leader com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing the agree­ment we nego­ti­at­ed.

Con­trary to what many Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have sug­gest­ed, going back to the nego­ti­at­ing table is not an option. They should heed the words of fel­low Repub­li­can Brent Scow­croft, who served Pres­i­dents Ford and George H.W. Bush as Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er. In a recent op-ed for The Wash­ing­ton Post, Scow­croft wrote:

There is no cred­i­ble alter­na­tive were Con­gress to pre­vent U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in the nuclear deal. If we walk away, we walk away alone. The world’s lead­ing pow­ers worked togeth­er effec­tive­ly because of U.S. lead­er­ship. To turn our back on this accom­plish­ment would be an abdi­ca­tion of the Unit­ed States’ unique role and respon­si­bil­i­ty, incur­ring jus­ti­fied dis­may among our allies and friends. We would lose all lever­age over Iran’s nuclear activ­i­ties. The inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions regime would dis­solve. And no mem­ber of Con­gress should be under the illu­sion that anoth­er U.S. inva­sion of the Mid­dle East would be help­ful.

Twen­ty-nine lead­ing Amer­i­can nuclear sci­en­tists also believe this agree­ment is a sig­nif­i­cant accom­plish­ment. In an August 8th let­ter to Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, they offered their enthu­si­as­tic endorse­ment and con­grat­u­la­tions, writ­ing:

As you have stat­ed, this deal does not take any options off the table for you or any future pres­i­dent. Indeed it will make it much eas­i­er for you or a future pres­i­dent to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb, and the detec­tion of a sig­nif­i­cant vio­la­tion of this agree­ment will pro­vide strong, inter­na­tion­al­ly sup­port­ed jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for inter­ven­tion.

Over sev­en­ty nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion experts have care­ful­ly inspect­ed the text of the JCPOA and deter­mined that it is “strong, long-term, and ver­i­fi­able agree­ment”:

The JCPOA is effec­tive­ly ver­i­fi­able. The agree­ment will put in place a mul­ti-lay­ered mon­i­tor­ing regime across Iran’s entire nuclear sup­ply chain, includ­ing cen­trifuge man­u­fac­tur­ing sites (for 20 years), ura­ni­um min­ing and milling (for 25 years), and con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing of a larg­er num­ber of nuclear and nuclear-relat­ed sites.

Dozens of respect­ed retired mil­i­tary lead­ers — includ­ing Gen­er­als James Car­tright (U.S. Marine Corps), Mer­rill McPeak (U.S. Air Force), and Lloyd New­ton (U.S. Army) — agree. In a recent­ly released open let­ter, they state:

There is no bet­ter option to pre­vent an Iran­ian nuclear weapon. Mil­i­tary action would be less effec­tive than the deal, assum­ing it is ful­ly imple­ment­ed. If the Ira­ni­ans cheat, our advanced tech­nol­o­gy, intel­li­gence and the inspec­tions will reveal it, and U.S. mil­i­tary options remain on the table. And if the deal is reject­ed by Amer­i­ca, the Ira­ni­ans could have a nuclear weapon with­in a year. The choice is that stark.

Sev­en­ty-five for­mer mem­bers of Con­gress, includ­ing Repub­li­cans Richard Lugar, Paul Find­ley, Philip Ruppe, Daniel Ham­burg, and Wayne Gilchrest, have like­wise eval­u­at­ed the JCPOA and have con­clud­ed it is worth sup­port­ing.

In a let­ter dat­ed today, they write:

We agree that no deal is bet­ter than a bad deal. But we also agree that a good deal is bet­ter than no deal. Con­gress has played an impor­tant role in mak­ing this agree­ment pos­si­ble through bipar­ti­san sup­port of sanc­tion­ing and iso­lat­ing the gov­ern­ment of Iran. We urge you and your col­leagues to take the next steps by sup­port­ing this agree­ment and then exer­cis­ing your over­sight role through the robust mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion of its imple­men­ta­tion.

Three hun­dred and forty U.S. rab­bis (includ­ing ten from Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon)  recent­ly added their voic­es in sup­port as well, not­ing that research shows a major­i­ty of Amer­i­can Jews are in favor of the JCPOA. They write:

Now that a nuclear agree­ment has been reached, we call on the Unit­ed States and its inter­na­tion­al part­ners to strength­en their resolve and ded­i­cate addi­tion­al resources to con­front Iran­ian threats to Israel and oth­er states. Most espe­cial­ly, we are deeply con­cerned with the impres­sion that the lead­er­ship of the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty is unit­ed in oppo­si­tion to the agree­ment. We, along with many oth­er Jew­ish lead­ers, ful­ly sup­port this his­toric nuclear accord.

You have doubt­less already received many let­ters, phone calls, emails, and fax­es gen­er­at­ed by the well-orga­nized lob­bies fight­ing for the rejec­tion of this agree­ment. Sad­ly, oppo­nents of Amer­i­ca’s suc­cess­ful diplo­ma­cy are spend­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in an effort to sway pub­lic opin­ion and mem­bers of Con­gress to their side. If they win, Amer­i­ca’s com­mit­ment to the piv­otal agree­ment that our diplo­mats pro­vid­ed a lead­ing role in bring­ing about will be in jeop­ardy.

Amer­i­ca has a noble tra­di­tion of doing the pub­lic’s busi­ness in pub­lic; the free­doms guar­an­teed to us in the Bill of Rights, includ­ing the free­dom of the press, have long per­mit­ted our pol­i­tics to be more eas­i­ly fol­lowed and stud­ied from afar.

The oth­er par­ties to this agree­ment, the Unit­ed Nations, and observers through­out the world com­mu­ni­ty are watch­ing the debate we are hav­ing now about the JCPOA. They under­stand that the cur­rent crop of Repub­li­cans in Con­gress are reflex­ive­ly (or almost reflex­ive­ly) opposed to what­ev­er Pres­i­dent Oba­ma does or pro­pos­es.

What they want to know is whether Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the Unit­ed States Con­gress will step up and sus­tain this piv­otal agree­ment.

We believe that there is only one respon­si­ble posi­tion to take on the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action, and that is to ful­ly sup­port its imple­men­ta­tion.

Last week, as men­tioned, your col­league Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray took such a posi­tion. She said, “I will be vot­ing to sup­port the agree­ment to pre­vent Iran from devel­op­ing a nuclear weapon. I will vote against the res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval, and, if need­ed, I will vote against over­rid­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s veto.”

We ask you to make this same com­mit­ment with­out delay.

We do not have the lux­u­ry of start­ing over. The JCPOA is an agree­ment pro­duced by months and years of mul­ti­lat­er­al nego­ti­a­tions. As Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has said, it is an agree­ment that is based on ver­i­fi­ca­tion mea­sures, not trust or hope. For it to work as intend­ed, Democ­rats in Con­gress must endorse it.

Time — and our intel­li­gence — will tell if Iran lives up to its com­mit­ments under the JCPOA. But we must at least live up to ours. And we also must rec­og­nize that imple­ment­ing the JCPOA puts us in a bet­ter posi­tion to respond if Iran does not ulti­mate­ly fol­low through on its oblig­a­tions.

As Sen­a­tor Mur­ray said in her state­ment of sup­port, “I believe it puts us in a bet­ter and stronger posi­tion to pre­vent Iran from devel­op­ing nuclear weapons now and in the future — even if they con­tin­ue down their cur­rent extreme path, and even if they get worse. This deal gives us more tools to respond – not less, and it keeps the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty behind us in that effort.”

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, Sec­re­tary Ker­ry, and our hard­work­ing diplo­mats have done their part to advance the cause of nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion by nego­ti­at­ing the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action with Iran and oth­er world pow­ers. Amer­i­ca’s com­mit­ment to this incred­i­bly impor­tant accord is now in your hands. We urge you to pub­lish a state­ment emphat­i­cal­ly declar­ing your sup­port for the JCPOA and pledg­ing to vote accord­ing­ly before this com­ing Labor Day week­end.

Thank you for your ser­vice to our coun­try.


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