A bipartisan group of six U.S. Senators have written to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell encouraging them to "set aside time" for Senate action on several bipartisan bills strengthening the Obama Administration's position when dealing with Iran.
The senators include Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticut), and John McCain (R-Arizona).
"There are few issues today on which there is as much bipartisan agreement as the need to take steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," wrote the senators. "Nothing could be more destabilizing than a nuclear armed Iran. While we are hopeful that the recent talks between Iran and the United States and our allies will yield positive results, we believe that Congressional action can aid the President and send the right signals to the Iranian regime and our allies.
"The recent disclosure of a covert nuclear enrichment facility in Qom, Iran's increasing efforts to procure nuclear equipment and materials, and advances in Iranian missile technology demonstrate the need for quick action. Moreover, press reports indicating that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes that Iran already possesses sufficient information to build a nuclear weapon reinforce that time is truly of the essence.
"We believe that the Senate should act as soon as possible to provide the President with the tools necessary to impose aggressive and meaningful sanctions on Iran. As you are aware, several bipartisan bills have been introduced to provide these tools, including:
S. 908, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, introduced by Senators Bayh, Kyl, and Lieberman with 76 cosponsors, which would empower the President with the explicit authority to target Iran's dependence on imported gasoline and other refined petroleum products.
S. 1065, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, introduced by Senators Brownback and Casey with 33 cosponsors, which would authorize State and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20 million or more in Iran's energy sector.
S. 1475, the Reduce Iranian Cyber-Suppression Act, introduced by Senators Schumer and Graham, which would prohibit the United States government from doing business with companies that sell technology to the Iranian government that restricts the freedom of speech of the Iranian people.
"Numerous committees have examined policy options with regards to Iran. Most recently, the hearings held by the Banking Committee sent a powerful signal that support exists in the Senate for strong sanctions and swift action.
"Diplomacy is more likely to be effective if backed by the credible threat of strong sanctions. The President should have the ability to impose sanctions on Iran as soon as he chooses to do so. We urge you to set aside time for the Senate to consider these bills and other ideas as soon as possible."