A bipartisan group of members of Congress have taken a stand in support of the ongoing nuclear talks between the US, Iran and five other nations.
Some have made public statements, while others have signed pro-diplomacy letters. Should we add anyone to the list? Email us at foreignpolicy_at_fcnl.org.
PDF here, Last updated 2/2015.
District of Columbia
Rep. Wasserman Schultz
Rep. Van Hollen
Rep. Lujan Grisham
Northern Mariana Islands
Rep. Duncan Jr.
Rep. Bernice Johnson
[...]at this time, as negotiations are ongoing, we believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail. We note that the Intelligence Community's December 10, 2013 assessment states that "new sanctions would undermine the prospects of a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran."
The negotiations, which now have been extended, will continue to be governed by an agreement that secures from Iran concessions that amount to the first meaningful limits on its nuclear program in nearly a decade. Progress was made during this negotiating period, so I believe it’s better for our national security to continue working for an agreement and keeping the pressure on Iran, than to walk away.
The current negotiations with Iran represent a historic shift in Iran's relations with the United States and the West. We are hopeful that a deal can be reached and that Congress will be sufficiently consulted throughout this process.
I support this extension because it maintains a strong sanctions regime, keeps Iran’s program frozen in place and subject to rigorous inspections, and continues talks toward a peaceful end to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, which is in the best interests of America and the world.
I am deeply disappointed by the negative reactions we have been hearing from some of my colleagues to the preliminary agreement. No one should underestimate the enormity of this breakthrough, which provides for daily inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities.
The Administration has left every option on the table should this agreement falter, but we should work as hard as possible across party lines to support a diplomatic solution.
I have a concern that reaches across party lines that some colleagues are pushing to enact new sanctions while our negotiators are still at the table. I don’t believe that strengthens us. It doesn’t strengthen our position at all. And these negotiations are going on right now. In fact, I think if we enacted that legislation, we would jeopardize a chance, a once in a lifetime perhaps chance of having a far-reaching, final comprehensive agreement, which we know is going to be hard.
There's not a rush on this. These negotiations are going forward. I don't want to disrupt the negotiations...
I think for now it’s appropriate to wait.
While I remain skeptical of the regime’s intentions and mindful that they have negotiated in bad faith before, it is in our national security interest for the parties to continue their efforts towards reaching a comprehensive agreement. The Administration should work expeditiously to conclude negotiations sooner than the allotted time period; the longer we negotiate, the more sanctions relief the Iranian regime enjoys without having to make new concessions.
Now is not the time for a vote on the Iran sanctions bill.
I don’t believe that passing new sanctions or threatening new sanctions at this point is productive. We ought to let the negotiating process get underway.
Let’s go forward with the negotiation with our eyes wide open, but with inspectors on the ground we’ll be able to tell whether they’re in fact doing what they say they’re going to do.
I urge my colleagues in Washington to be patient, carefully evaluate the progress achieved thus far and provide U.S. negotiators the time and space they need to succeed. A collapse of the talks is counter to U.S. interests and would further destabilize an already-volatile region.
I strongly support the president’s call to Congress to refrain from imposing additional sanctions on Iran. New sanctions now would violate the interim agreement, collapse the negotiations and take us out of lockstep with the international community.
I've not signed onto the new sanctions bill here. I believe that if diplomacy can work, we ought to allow it to work.
“I am sensitive to the administration’s concern that Congress move ahead now with additional sanctions, even triggered, that might upset the negotiations and fracture the coalition, the effective coalition that we have.”
I really support the ongoing negotiations with Iran. I think diplomacy is the best way to deal with this. I think we’ve set back their ability to get a nuclear weapon already.
4/2/2014: Remarks at Constituent Breakfast
The President strongly believes it would gravely harm negotiations, and therefore, I am willing to give him more time before supporting this bill.
The U.S. intelligence community has made clear that 'new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.' I remain firmly committed to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon and to exhausting every option before resorting to military force," Heinrich said in a statement. "The interim agreement made on Nov. 24, 2013 is such an option.
The agreement reached today is a positive first step to limit Iran's nuclear program. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, and the European Union have all worked to negotiate strict oversight, enforcement mechanisms, and daily inspections that are critical to overseeing this agreement.
While I am disappointed the P5+1 missed today’s deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, I believe the extension announced today is better than the alternatives: an inadequate agreement that fails to sufficiently curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or a complete collapse of negotiations. The Joint Plan of Action has proved to be a successful interim measure, and I believe some extension is appropriate to allow time and space for further negotiations. Moving forward, I expect to see demonstrable progress toward a robust deal that blocks all potential pathways to a bomb and lays out a comprehensive inspections and verification regime, with no ambiguity on the consequences should Iran cheat.
This deal could bring us closer to a world less threatened by weapons of mass destruction. We should now press forward to do even more in pursuit of peace.
While the announcement of another extension is disappointing, I look forward to hearing the details of the extension from Administration officials to determine if we are on the right path to achieving our objectives. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but the issues are complex. I encourage our negotiators to stay at the table and explore every pathway to an acceptable resolution.
“I see very little upside and a huge downside” to new sanctions legislation.
I strongly support diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive agreement that addresses all outstanding issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.
Constituent Letter, 7/3/2014
I strongly support the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran and hope that a verifiable agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon can be reached by the November 24th deadline. I recognize that some of our allies in the region have voiced concerns about the process. I urge all parties to engage in a constructive dialogue, which is crucial for progress and for the integrity of any outcome. Over the past year there has been progress toward eliminating the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, and any actions taken should not undermine that progress. I look forward to reviewing the outcome of the negotiations.
...we’ve got to give peace a chance here and we’ve got to support this process.
I have always said that being a superpower means more than super military might; it means super diplomacy and super restraint...When a possibility for peace presents itself, no matter how distant or unlikely, we have an obligation to pursue it.
At this time I do not support additional sanctions legislation because I share the views of many foreign policy experts that it could undermine the ongoing negotiations and weaken our multinational coalition, ultimately making less likely our goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Constituent Letter, 1/10/2014
While I am disappointed that there was not a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached today in Vienna, the decision to extend the negotiations is a far better outcome than a bad deal or no deal at all. President Obama has consistently said the United States would not accept an agreement that did not place sufficient constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. The US negotiating team and our partners in the P5+1 made significant progress over the last year, but significant gaps remain on key issues. It is worth taking the time to continue these negotiations in the interest of achieving a better deal.
“The U.S. and our partners have been making significant progress, and it would be deeply harmful for Congress to impose new sanctions now and risk giving the Iranians an excuse to walk away from the table.
I believe the Administration should be given time to negotiate a strong, verifiable comprehensive agreement.
The secretary of State has said that [sanctions] will hurt him in the negotiations, and I believe the secretary of State.
It is a choice between a pause or imminent war. I choose a verifiable pause.
I see more optimism in continuing to negotiate than I see pessimism.
New sanctions in the middle of negotiations is a huge mistake and may well break up the sanctions coalition, may well drive Iran away from the table. I have been one who wants sanctions because I don’t want war, frankly.
...I think that any negotiation has to be a give and take and you have to allow the negotiators to reach a position and then evaluate if it is effective.
We all have to acknowledge that it’s an important first step.
I think we should, on Iranian sanctions, let the dust settle. I think we should all feel good that an agreement was reached to move further. Now, I don’t know if there’s going to be a final agreement. I certainly hope so, but I don’t know...But before we start talking about additional sanctions, let’s just let the dust settle for a little while.
Clearly the sanctions have brought Iran to the table, but if increased sanctions end up driving them from the table, helping the hard-liners in Iran, that would be negative.
Members of Congress are right to remain vigilant about ensuring Iran’s full and substantiated compliance with any final deal. Anything less is non-negotiable. But we ought to refrain from taking premature legislative action during these final months that could permanently derail negotiations, undermine the tough multilateral sanctions on Iran, and lead the regime to restart the unrestricted and unmonitored nuclear program that we are determined to end.
Interim deal...is a promising first step towards achieving our goals in the region.
I am concerned that imposing additional sanctions while the United States is in the midst of negotiations risks undermining our negotiators and reducing both Iran's willingness and its ability to strike a long-term agreement.
Constituent Letter, 1/17/2014
It is only an opening step, as two sides begin to emerge from decades of enmity. Ultimately the Iranian nuclear weapons program must be fully shut down, and blind trust on our part would not be wise. With proper follow-up, however, this could mark an historic turning point toward a more peaceful world. I commend Secretary Kerry and the President.
...I have come to the conclusion that enacting additional sanctions now would risk jeopardizing the progress that has already been made. While I remain skeptical that this Iranian regime will ultimately make the tough choices necessary to reach a longer-term deal, I believe the United States must take this opportunity to avert a more serious confrontation.
Constituent Letter, 9/29/2014
"As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement".
See 131 Reps who signed in the 113th Congress.
"[...]we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance [with Iran]. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided".
See 104 Reps who signed in the 113th Congress.
...we were told about the agreement, and I think it's an important step forward... This is the first step toward a broader comprehensive deal that is going to be negotiated over the next 6 months. So, I think, I am in favor of peace, I want them to not have the nuclear capacity, and I think this is an important step forward.
We agree that we should try [the deal] because the outcome of failure is probably one we don't want to see.
...one item should not be on the [House] agenda: an attempt to undermine the diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, the most encouraging development with that country in 34 years.
I absolutely support the president's diplomatic approach including targeted sanctions rather than military action.
Town Hall, 6/3/2014
I am disappointed that the negotiations have not produced an agreement to end Iran’s nuclear program in the year since the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action in Geneva in 2013. However, I remain hopeful a diplomatic solution will ultimately be achieved with the announced extension and commitment to continue negotiating until the new deadline, June 30, 2015. Iran must recognize that negotiations cannot continue indefinitely. Congress and the American people cannot accept a deal that does not prevent an Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. There must be independent verifiable evidence that Iran is living up to its end of the bargain in any agreement that is reached.
While the delay in negotiations relating to Iran's nuclear disarmament is disappointing, it is vital that the lead negotiators -- United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- continue to press for a diplomatic resolution to ensure that Iran fully commits to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
This tentative agreement with Iran, reached in Geneva, is a positive step towards halting Iran's nuclear program. This interim agreement allows the international community to continue to work to ensure that no further progress is made toward Iran's nuclear capability and that Iran reverses some past actions that have enhanced this capability. After years of tension between our two countries, this appears to be a step in the right direction and I am hopeful and even cautiously optimistic that Iran will fully comply with the requirements of this interim agreement.
I urge the p5+1 to continue pursuing negotiations so long as those efforts halt Iran's nuclear program in the interim and prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It is my hope that Congress can play a constructive role in this process...
Diplomacy is the only viable path to prevent a nuclear Iran. According to a recent CNN poll, 76 percent of Americans support direct diplomacy as part of a strategy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Americans know that military confrontation—the only alternative to diplomacy—would be, in this instance, counterproductive and carry unacceptable costs in terms of lives and treasure. Congress must support President Obama’s continuing efforts to obtain a strong and verifiable agreement to peacefully prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world’s most volatile region.
There’s only one safe and sensible way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon—diplomacy. The temporary agreement reached last year has yielded real benefits for the US and the broader world. The choice is whether we continue to build on this success or return to mutually destructive confrontation. Denying our negotiators the time they need to secure an agreement would simply result in Iran unfreezing its nuclear program. While some advocate for additional sanctions, these measures would counterproductively embolden hardliners in Iran’s government and put us back on a path to war. Americans oppose the use of military force against Iran by a margin of 70 to 22, and for good reason: War with Iran would be disastrous for US interests and carry unacceptable costs in terms of lives and treasure. Americans know that we must give diplomacy a full opportunity to succeed so we can direct our limited resources towards urgently-needed rebuilding here at home.
Today’s historic announcement, coupled with continued diplomatic progress on Syria, is extremely encouraging. I applaud the President for pursuing a diplomatic approach with Syria and Iran. As the President also noted, while we must be cautious and we must keep all options on the table, negotiations and diplomacy should be the way forward.
The obstinate objections to the Interim Agreement were proven to be unjustified. The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that Iran has taken verifiable actions to halt the progress of its nuclear program and roll back key aspects. Let’s give peace a chance.
With continued careful monitoring and more tough negotiating, this extension offers an opportunity to advance our security objectives by finalizing a solid alternative to war. Congress must not impede the progress.
“Today’s extension is evidence of how far the United States and Iran have come since these negotiations started. The investment in patient diplomacy made by both countries is yielding significant progress. Iran has already complied with the requirements in the Joint Plan of Action and reduced their capacity to build a nuclear weapon. We are closer than we have ever been to reaching a peaceful agreement and we can’t give up now. I call on Congress to support President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the P5+1 negotiators to close this deal.”
We have a chance to set a new course, a new path instead of the collision course. We have an off-ramp, an off-ramp of peace, diplomacy and international cooperation and we must take it. This is our best opportunity in 30 years to advance the interests of the United State vis-à-vis Iran. It is our best chance to make sure that the Middle East is free and as safe as possible of nuclear weapons.
Yes, this [deal] is a very significant step. It's filled with risk but I think it's always important to try diplomatic solutions as best you can.
I support the talks and negotiations currently taking place with Iran.
Congratulations to President Obama, Secretary Kerry and everyone involved in the successful Iranian nuclear negotiations. Diplomacy, not invasion - that's what real leadership is about.
News of a four month extension in negotiations with Iran means the prospect for an Iran without nuclear ambitions is still very possible. It also means peaceful and normalized relations are well within the scope of possibility. I am encouraged to see all parties involved continue the momentum towards that goal, and encourage them to take the time, space and steps needed to succeed where others have failed.
The agreement reached one year ago – the result of strict sanction regimes by the United States and our allies that I have supported – was a sign of real progress and has helped control Iran’s nuclear program. The extension of this system is preferable to agreeing to a bad deal or walking away empty-handed, which would threaten the future security of the United States, Israel and the region.
Today’s agreement to keep negotiating an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program will permit the Administration to continue its two-track approach to dismantling Iran's nuclear weapons capability and ensuring robust and aggressive verification of any agreement.
[FCNL Note: Israeli and U.S. intelligence has verified that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program]
It is welcome news that the U.S. and Iranian diplomats have agreed to stay at the negotiating table by extending talks. While some of my colleagues have objected to negotiations with Iran, it must be noted that thanks to these historic diplomatic efforts the world is further from a nuclear-armed Iran, and the risk of an eventual war over this issue. Now more than ever is the time to commit ourselves to diplomacy. We know the outcome of a rush to war. Too many hardline members and members-elect are already opposing a deal, emboldening hardliners in Iran. What the hardliners do not say, is that failure to reach a deal clears the path to war.
Today’s agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, albeit short-term, is potential progress. This development represents an opportunity for Iran as it seeks to rejoin the global community.
The current framework agreement with Iran is actively reducing Iran’s nuclear program, delaying ‘break out’ capacity, and providing inspections and verification to prevent the advancement of their nuclear program. This extension continues these important restrictions and safeguards while moving us toward a long-term deal that will support our national security and global peace. This extension creates the diplomatic space for that deal to be achieved.
On tonight’s announcement from President Obama on the deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program, we must note the significance, but also recognize that there are challenges ahead. This is indeed a triumph for diplomacy, and I’m pleased that President Obama reasserted Congress’ role in these negotiations. It is my hope that this deal is a step towards a more peaceful and secure world.
It is critical that a comprehensive and verifiable agreement be reached to halt any capacity for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. While I am disappointed that the P5+1 nations have not yet reached a permanent agreement with Iran, I do support an extension of the talks. However, it is absolutely imperative that we maintain the economic sanctions that continue to hold Iran accountable.
I support the President's efforts to negotiate an agreement...
I applaud President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, along with our international partners, for negotiating a significant step towards peacefully achieving a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. With on-going sanctions in place, improved verification, and real accountability demanded from the Iran regime, this initial deal is a triumph for engagement and tough diplomacy. Getting to a comprehensive agreement will be difficult, but this deal allows Iran to demonstrate to the world that they reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
I welcome the news that American, Iranian, and P5+1 negotiators will extend their talks until June 30, 2015 with the hope of organizing a framework as early as March. U.S.- Iranian relations have markedly improved since negotiations began one year ago; it is imperative we maintain that positive momentum.
Many in Congress will see this as the end of the road, the signal to toughen up already crippling sanctions. That would be the wrong move, a slap in the face to a year’s worth of hard fought and honest negotiations by U.S. diplomats. Worse still, it could prompt Iran to drive its nuclear program back under ground, bringing us right back to the perilous situation we were faced with one year ago.
I know it’s difficult to remain patient, but with a historic agreement within our reach, patience is required. I believe it is far better to take a bit more time to get a strong verifiable agreement than to have no agreement or a weak one. I urge all sides to demonstrate the political will, flexibility and courage to get the job done, and done well. I will continue to follow this issue closely.
The interim framework agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran is a critical first step toward a comprehensive deal to address Iran's nuclear program. I am encouraged by this progress after a decade of impasse. The agreement addresses the most pressing areas of immediate concern and will verifiably freeze Iran's nuclear program, diminish its capabilities, increase transparency, and allow daily access and increased monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is reasonable that in exchange for this modest breakthrough to limit and curb Iran's program there will be modest and reversible sanctions relief. This historic understanding is a diplomatic breakthrough that enhances the value of multilateral cooperation, and directly advances the security interests of the United States and our allies. That is why it deserves support that will allow forward movement in the near term as work continues toward a more comprehensive deal.
Nadler also sided with the president on the question of increased Iranian sanctions, saying Obama was right that a bill to ratchet up sanctions now, while the administration is in the midst of a six-month negotiating period, "doesn't make sense."
"I think the president is exactly right," said Nadler.
There are no guarantees that diplomacy will succeed, but I believe that we owe the citizens and soldiers of our country, as well as those of our regional partners like Israel, a responsible chance for it to work. It is a far better option than simply placing more sanctions on Iran, driving them away from the negotiating table and making plans for a costly and destabilizing military strike.
...Secretary Kerry and our international negotiating partners have set the stage for a permanent deal in the months ahead.
The problem is that it could seriously undermine the delicate diplomacy that is at work. We cannot have it fail because Congress wants to flex its muscle unnecessarily… And so, what is the point of the sanctions? And if that’s the purpose of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit, two weeks before his own election, right in the midst of our negotiations, I just don’t think it’s appropriate and helpful.
I am encouraged by today’s news from Vienna. This extension means that the negotiations will continue under the terms of the existing Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), which has verifiably frozen and rolled back Iran’s nuclear program over the past year. While I shared the administration’s hope that the talks would yield a final agreement by now, the fact is that another extension is vastly preferable to a return to the pre-JPOA status quo — or worse. Instead of rushing to declare the talks a failure — or taking actions to derail them altogether — my colleagues in Congress should do everything possible to support the continuation of negotiations and progress toward a final, comprehensive agreement.
Imposing new or less flexible economic sanctions – which has been proposed by a number of my congressional colleagues, including Senators Kirk and Menendez – could do great damage to our prospects for a nuclear agreement with Iran. New punitive action could strengthen Iranian hard-liners and make their withdrawal from the negotiations more likely. Acting unilaterally could also undermine the stability of our international alliance, and thereby actually weaken the existing international sanctions regime.
Congress must also adhere to its commitments under the JPOA by holding off on passing any new sanctions. That is why it is such a crucial victory for diplomacy that the deal-breaking sanctions bill in the Senate remains stalled.
This growing support for a diplomatic solution in Congress was further evidenced by over 100 members of Congress signing the bipartisan “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter earlier this year, endorsing the JPOA and negotiations toward a final deal.
"...he was not bothered by the fact that Iran can continue to enrich low level uranium as world powers work toward a comprehensive deal. "You're talking (about) a situation where most of the sanctions are still in place," he said adding that the agreement allows nuclear inspectors better access than they had before."
We have seen meaningful progress since the Joint Plan of Action was agreed to in November 2013. Under this plan, Iran has down blended and stopped production of 20% enriched uranium, halted work on its Arak hard water facility, and allowed daily inspections of its enrichment facilities. None of these achievements would be in place without the Joint Plan of Action, and we shouldn’t abandon this progress today.
Yesterday’s deal is an important step toward preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability, and a major win for U.S. national security.
...if Iran’s new President can make good on his stated intention, the next six months could mark a turning point in our relations with Iran of historic significance
While I had hoped that we would have been able to reach a final deal, I support the extension of the interim deal that maintains a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program and makes progress towards a final deal. The President has made it abundantly clear through his words as well as his actions, that under his leadership the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. I firmly support that goal, which is why I support the extension of negotiations.
This deal is a..."positive step in the right direction. The deal also puts in place an improved inspection, monitoring, and verification regime. This preliminary step should serve as a bridge to a long-term deal. This interim agreement gives us the chance to make significant progress towards the goal we and our allies seek: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
This is a very important first step toward the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
To put it simply, our national security interests and that of our allies are better served with this interim agreement. But it remains just that, an interim agreement, while the parties continue to find the essential elements for a long-term deal.
I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Under Secretary Sherman and their team for the tremendous amount of work they put into these negotiations. This agreement provides a framework to stop the development of a nuclear weapon in Iran while we work to negotiate a broad, comprehensive deal to permanently dismantle their nuclear weapons capability.
I support the recently announced extension of talks to dismantle large parts of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Under no circumstances can Iran acquire nuclear weapons, and I hope that the extra time allotted will allow for tough discussions so that the parties involved reach an acceptable solution.
People have well-warranted suspicions of Iran, but the question is do we want to talk and see if diplomacy works, when we have a guarantee that we're not giving them permission for a nuclear break-out?
So as a first step where we have these enforceable, intrusive inspections as a guarantee that there is no breakout, I think that is a worthwhile effort.
I welcome the opportunity for diplomacy, it is always preferable to sending our sons and daughters into harm's way. Let it never be forgotten that military action has its costs, certainly on the American taxpayer, but most importantly on the lives and families of the brave men and women we send into the battlefield. For that reason I am hopeful for peace, however President Rouhani's past actions and statements require a skeptical eye.
...I think that diplomacy is the big thing we need to do” [with Iran].
This article was originally published on November 25th, 2013.
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