President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We are alarmed by recent developments in your administration’s policy toward Iran, including reports that your administration plans to circumvent Congress and unilaterally provide significant sanctions relief under a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Reported plans to circumvent Congress suggest that your negotiators may be concluding a weak and dangerous deal which will prove unacceptable to the American people. Such a course would ensure the ultimate failure of any agreement, and runs directly counter to Secretary of State John Kerry’s April 2014 statement to the Senate that your administration was absolutely obligated by law to come back to Congress in order to lift sanctions as part of a final deal with Iran, and that any final deal would “have to pass muster with Congress.”
We have watched with concern as your administration has hinted at “creative solutions” that abandon the clear requirements of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and shifted course away from essential requirements Congress has stressed in order to meet Iran’s unreasonable demands. Your negotiators appear to have disregarded clear expressions from the Senate emphasizing the need for a multi-decade agreement requiring Iran to fully suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, to dismantle its illicit nuclear infrastructure, and completely disclose its past work on nuclear weaponization. We see no indication your negotiators are pressing Iran to abandon efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach American soil. Iran’s refusal to seriously address these issues raises fundamental questions about the sincerity of its participation in this process.
We also remain concerned about the full range of Iran’s threatening behavior. As the State Department has reported, Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran’s military forces, terrorist proxies, and illicit financial activities are perpetuating slaughter in Syria, and sowing extremism and instability throughout the region. We are also troubled that you are apparently seeking to cooperate with Iran in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, especially given that Iran and its proxies have killed Americans in the past. Moreover, despite hope about the supposed change represented by President Hassan Rouhani, the human rights of the Iranian people are still not respected. On the contrary, executions are on the rise, political prisoners remain behind bars, and U.S. citizens continue to be held as hostages by the Iranian regime.
Given Iran’s growing nuclear and non-nuclear threats, we therefore urge your administration to firmly insist that Iran meet the requirements that Congress and members of your administration have previously outlined. The negative consequences of a bad deal to the United States are immense, and will impact the security and safety of Americans and send a message of U.S. weakness to our allies and partners in the Middle East and beyond, including Israel.
As you know, Congress has a long history of bipartisan cooperation on Iran policy. The Senate enjoys a broad consensus for continuing to increase the pressure on Iran, as evidenced by the bipartisan support for the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881). We will continue to seek to impose additional pressure on Iran in the months ahead unless Tehran abandons its nuclear ambitions and pursues a genuinely constructive path in its relations with the world.
We urge your administration to cease efforts to circumvent Congress and work with us on a smarter approach that will decisively end Iran’s nuclear threat. Unless the White House genuinely engages with Congress, we see no way that any agreement consisting of your administration’s current proposals to Iran will endure in the 114th Congress and after your presidential term ends.
In addition to Kirk and Rubio, the letter is signed by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), James Risch (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).