Diplomats Urge Congress to Approve Iran Deal

Former undersecretaries of state and former ambassadors to Israel send letter to Congress, urge lawmakers to back the deal with Iran.

Elad Benari ,

US Capitol Building
US Capitol Building

A group of former diplomats on Monday sent a letter to Congress, urging members of both chambers not to reject the deal between Iran and the West, Politico reports.

The letter, signed by former undersecretaries of state and former American ambassadors to Israel, states that the group has determined the deal “will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next 10 to 15 years.”

Signees included five former ambassadors to Israel: James Cunningham, William Harrop, Edward S. Walker Jr., Thomas Pickering and Daniel Kurtzer.

Also on the list, according to Politico, are former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to NATO R. Nicholas Burns and former Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Frank G. Wisner.

Two letters were sent Monday, one to the House and one to Senate, the website reported. The diplomats state that they are motivated by commitment to an “enduring objective of American policy” and aim to quell fears is not strict enough and inadequately protects Israel.

“We acknowledge that [the deal], does not achieve all of the goals its current detractors have set for it,” the letter states. “But it does meet all of the key goals required for high confidence that, should Iran violate it and move toward building a nuclear weapon, the international intelligence community and the [International Atomic Energy Agency] will discover Iran’s actions early and in sufficient time for strong countermeasures to be taken to stop Iran’s activities.”

The letter chastises the agreement’s critics, urging that without the deal, “the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel.”

“Those who advocate rejection of the JCPOA should assess carefully the value and feasibility of any alternative strategy to meet the goal of better protecting the security of the U.S. and Israel and more effectively prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” it states, according to Politico.

Monday’s letter was sent a week after more than 100 former American ambassadors, including some who signed Monday’s letter, wrote President Barack Obama to express support for the Iran deal.

Congress currently has 60 days to review the deal reached between the sides before approving it or rejecting it, though Obama has threatened to "veto any legislation" passed by Congress blocking the deal. 

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, last week urged her colleagues to back the agreement.

"As you may be aware, I believe that this agreement is a major accomplishment. I am pleased that the response thus far from House Democrats has been so positive," she said in a letter to colleagues, which came as congressional Republicans railed against a UN vote on the deal.

On the flip side, House Speaker John Boehner vowed to "do everything possible" to stop the deal between Iran and nuclear powers from being approved by Congress.

"While the president's Iran deal may have been applauded at the United Nations, I think he faces serious skepticism here at home," Boehner asserted.

"Members of Congress will ask much tougher questions this afternoon when we meet with the president's team, and because a bad deal threatens the security of the American people, we're going to do everything possible to stop it," he added.