A bipartisan supermajority of Senators today sent a letter to President Obama laying outfour steps that they urge the Administration to take, as it prepares for the possible resumption of nuclear negotiations with Iran. Led by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), the letter was signed by a total of 74 Senators.
In their letter, the Senators pointed to the significant impact current sanctions are having on the Iranian economy, yet cautioned that "the Iranian government has continued to press forward with its nuclear program. It has quintupled its stockpile of low enriched uranium since 2009. It has taken a significant step closer to possessing weapons-grade uranium by enriching up to 20 percent. And it has raced towards completion of its hardened Fordow enrichment facility, more than doubling the number of centrifuges installed there just since thesummer of this year."
The Senators added: "...we believe there is no national security challenge that is more urgent and essential to resolve during your second term than Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. We share your commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strongly agree with your statement that, "[t]he clock is ticking. If [the Iranians] do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to ensure they don't have a nuclear weapon.'"
Menendez said: "Just this week, President Ahmadinejad reasserted Iran's commitment to its illicit nuclear program and again prevented IAEA inspectors from visiting the Parchin military base. Iran's nuclear agenda is clear and our policy response must reflect the serious threat we face from Iran. The President has been a partner in enforcing the sanctions regime and in building an international coalition in opposition to Iran's efforts. We urge him to sustain and grow that pressure, make clear to Iran the minimum conditions for any agreement, and reach out to the Iranian people in their pursuit of freedom."
Lieberman said: "At a time when our government is too often paralyzed by partisan divisions, this letter shows that, when it comes to the threat posed by Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, the United States Senate stands united. This letter also sends a clear message that an overwhelming bipartisan supermajority of Senators will not support any diminution in pressure on Iran until the totality of the nuclear problem has been addressed, and that it is critical to demonstrate to the Iranians that a credible and capable multilateral coalition exists that would support a military strike if, in the end, this is unfortunately necessary."
Ayotte said: "We must fully implement the strongest possible sanctions against the Iranian regime and make it clear that the United States cannot and will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability."