President Obama has received praise from a group of 79 bipartisan national security officials for his commitment to diplomacy with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program.
The letter, signed and published Thursday on the Iran Project website, congratulates Obama for pursuing a diplomatic dialogue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The newly elected Rouhani has shown a willingness to negotiate over Iran's highly contentious nuclear program, a move that Obama seems to have embraced. Signers of the letter include former ambassador John Beyrle, former Assistant Secretary of State Thomas L. Hughes and Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Les Gelb.
“We applaud your decision to use diplomacy vigorously in an effort to reach agreements with Iran, particularly given President Hassan Rouhani’s apparent openness to greater transparency and internationally accepted and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program,” the letter opens.
“The hard work of diplomacy begins now,” it continues. “Decades of distrust and lack of contact between the two countries will complicate the task of reaching agreements that will provide us the assurance we require that Iran’s nuclear program will be used only for peaceful purposes.”
The Iran Project’s letter comes just one day before Secretary of State John Kerry appeared in Geneva to meet with Iran and other P5+1 world leaders to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Leaders from the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have all agreed to meet in Geneva this week to discuss loosening sanctions against Iran in exchange for concessions regarding Iran’s nuclear capability. Based on initial reports from the P5+1 talks, it seems likely that Iran and the P5+1 nations could reach a significant agreement soon.
While Obama’s efforts at reaching a diplomatic solution with Rouhani have received praise from many national security officials, some in Washington are still opposed to the idea of opening relations with Iran.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) has announced his intention to stop Obama from loosening sanctions on Iran through a new bill that places extreme limits on when and how the United States can lift sanctions. Corker’s proposed bill insists that sanctions against Iran can only be lifted if the nation agrees to stop any and all nuclear enrichment and processing and ballistic missile testing.
We’ve crafted an amendment to freeze the administration in and make it so they are unable to reduce the sanctions unless certain things occur,” Corker told The Daily Beast. “They have the ability now to waive sanctions. But we’re very concerned that in their desire to make any deal that they may in fact do something that is very bad for our country.”