Letter: More than 70 Senators to Push Obama on Preventing Nuclear Iran

Circulating letter from bipartisan group urges president to 'reinforce the credibility of our own option to use military force'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / AP
• August 2, 2013 2:20 pm


More than 70 senators are gearing up to urge President Obama to "reinforce the credibility of our own option to use military force" against Iran if it does not immediately cease its nuclear enrichment activities, according to a letter circulating on Capitol Hill.

"Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end," the lawmakers write, in a letter that has been circulating through the Senate since Tuesday and is scheduled to be sent later today. "We implore you to demand immediate, serious moves on Iran’s part."

The letter, which is being spearheaded by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), urges Obama to make "a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe."

"We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared," the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

The senators also adopt a skeptical view of newly installed Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, a so-called moderate who came under fire Friday for calling Israel a "wound" in the Middle East.

"Until we see a significant slowdown of Iran’s nuclear activities, we believe our nation must toughen sanctions and reinforce the credibility of our own option to use military force at the same time as we fully explore a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran," the letter reads.

Iran is teetering on the edge of nuclear capabilities, according to the senators.

"Iran has used negotiations in the past to stall for time, and in any event, [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei is the ultimate decision-maker for Iran’s nuclear program," the letter says.

"Moreover, Iran today continues its large-scale installation of advanced centrifuges. This will soon put it in the position to be able to rapidly produce weapons-grade uranium, bringing Tehran to the brink of a nuclear weapons capability," the letter states.

The senators demand that Obama push Iran to immediately suspend its enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, and suspend its work on a heavy water reactor in the city of Arak.

"We urge you [Obama] to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process," the senators write. "We need to understand quickly whether Tehran is at last ready to negotiate seriously."

The letter comes just days after House lawmakers passed a tighter Iran sanctions bill in an overwhelming 400-20 vote.

The bill, which the Senate will consider after its August recess, would cut off Iran’s access to foreign currency and further choke its oil exports, the regime’s primary source of income.

Pro-Iran lobbying groups in America, such as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), attempted to kill the legislation in the days leading up to the vote. They maintained that the anti-Iran mood in Congress was abating.

However, pro-Israel insiders view the Senate letter as a sign that Iran’s nuclear program is again becoming a top Congressional item.

"In a few days, it is truly extraordinary that this many senators from both parties signed this strong letter calling for more pressure on Iran and also raising the threat of the use of force," one official with a pro-Israel organization told the Free Beacon.

"Combined with the House sanctions vote, the Senate letter demonstrated this was a pivotal week in showing Congressional determination to stop the Iranian nuclear program," the source said.

Another senior official at a pro-Israel group said the Congress is not "fooled by the engineered election of Hassan Rowhani, who in any case has no power to change Iran’s position on nuclear negotiations."

Congress knows "that the clock is ticking on Iran’s push for nuclear weapons, and that by 2014 Iran will be able to dash across the finish line without be detected by the West," the official said. "There’s a reason why suddenly everyone is talking about Iran again. Time is running out."