Senior Democrats to President Trump: Don’t Abandon Iran Nuclear Agreement

May 7, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Dear President Trump:

We write today to strongly urge you not to unilaterally withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) absent an unambiguous Iranian violation of its terms.

As you know well, the JCPOA states that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons” and imposes strict, verifiable limitations on Iran’s nuclear activities to ensure compliance with that commitment. Those limitations, vetted by the nuclear scientists at our national security labs, include International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring and verification of activities at all of Iran’s most sensitive nuclear sites, including the Fordow and Natanz enrichment facilities, uranium mines and mills, centrifuge production and storage locations, and heavy water production and storage sites.

According to the IAEA, the U.S. intelligence community, and our closest partners and allies, Iran continues to uphold these commitments. As long as Iran continues to abide by these restrictions, we strongly urge you uphold U.S. obligations as well. Failing to do so would not only profoundly undercut our relationship with key partners and allies, but would severely damage global nonproliferation efforts.

If the United States unilaterally withdraws from the JCPOA, Iran could either remain in the agreement and seek to isolate the United States from our closest partners, or resume its nuclear activities. Either scenario would be detrimental to our national security interests.

If Iran continues to abide by the agreement following a unilateral U.S. withdrawal, the only effective way the United States could regenerate sufficient economic leverage over Tehran would be to sanction the very same nations that helped us negotiate the JCPOA in the first place, namely persons and businesses from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, and India, among others. Under that scenario, it is impossible to imagine the U.S. could rebuild the previous international sanctions coalition that was so effective in getting Iran to the negotiating table.

On the other hand, if Iran chooses to resume its unconstrained nuclear activities in the wake of a unilateral U.S. withdrawal, the United States could face a second nuclear crisis at the same time that your administration is seeking a peaceful resolution with North Korea. U.S. credibility in those denuclearization discussions would be severely undermined if North Korea concludes that U.S. leaders are willing to unilaterally abrogate such nuclear agreements without cause.

We have supported broad, comprehensive sanctions to target Iran’s support for terror groups, its ballistic missile program, and its human rights violations, and continue to support strong measures to counter these destabilizing and troubling actions by Iran. All of us strongly believe that unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement at this time would be a major strategic mistake.

Instead of effectively withdrawing from the JCPOA by refusing to utilize critical waivers of U.S. sanctions against Iran and its purchasers of oil by May 12th, we urge you to work with our partners and allies to address Iran’s other malign activities while preserving and building upon with our allies the strict nuclear limitations of the JCPOA.


Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary

Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Committee on the Armed Services

Sherrod Brown
Ranking Member, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Mark R. Warner
Vice Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence

Patrick Leahy
Vice Chairman, Committee on Appropriations

Richard J. Durbin
Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

Patty Murray
Ranking Member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Bernard Sanders
Ranking Member, Committee on the Budget

Thomas R. Carper
Ranking Member, Committee on the Environment and Public Works

Tom Udall
Vice Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs

Amy Klobuchar
Ranking Member, Committee on the Rules and Administration

Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources