Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge President Obama to Make Iran "Top Priority" in Next Week's Russia Summit
Warn Against "Unilateral Gestures" Toward Moscow
Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent the following letter to President Obama today about Iran, in advance of his summit with Russian President Medvedev in Moscow next week:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Dear Mr. President:
As you travel to Russia next week we strongly urge you to put preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability as the top priority in your discussions with Russia's leadership. Negotiations over bilateral arms control, missile defense in Europe, civilian nuclear cooperation, WTO accession and other issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship must be conducted with an eye towards Russian policy on Iran. We believe that the United States should not make unilateral gestures without specific understandings that Moscow will support tougher measures against Iran if Tehran does not soon suspend its enrichment program.
Russia and the United States have a common interest in ensuring that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons, including the fact that Iran is situated close to Russia's southern border. Russia has supported previous United Nations resolutions demanding that Iran cease its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities, but these resolutions need to be made even tougher to ensure that Iran's regime makes the proper choice in suspending its enrichment program.
Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is and must remain a top foreign policy objective of the United States. Given the unfolding events in Iran following its presidential elections, when and if engagement with Tehran can happen is an open question. Meanwhile Iran's nuclear program continues. Our ability to impact that program will increase if Russia signals its support for tougher measures against Iran.
We hope you will use your visit to Moscow to express the deep concern the U.S. has over Iran's nuclear program and make it known that Russia should not expect progress on issues of concern to Moscow if it does not take a tougher stance on Iran.
Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Joe Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)