Letter to Elected Officials on the Iran Deal

Photo Credit: Des Moines Register

The following message was sent to Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, and to Congressman Dave Loebsack:

I urge you to protect and support the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations. Please refrain from any actions that would undermine it and encourage your Senate colleagues to do likewise.

I understand President Trump is expected to declare the Iran Deal is not in the U.S. national interest and withhold re-certification before the Oct. 15 deadline. If he does so, he would increase the threat of nuclear proliferation in an already dangerous world.

Four brief points:

1. A deal is a deal. There is no realistic option for renegotiating the current agreement, which is working effectively to block Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.
2. Congress should not re-impose nuclear-related sanctions so long as the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms Iran is meeting its commitments under the agreement.
3. President Trump should focus on solving the North Korean nuclear crisis rather than provoking a proliferation crisis with Iran.
4. The administration should also focus efforts toward strengthening the Iran/P5+1 agreement with our international partners.

Thanks in advance for considering my message. Good luck with your deliberations on this complex topic.

Regards, Paul

Response from Senator Joni Ernst on Oct. 25, 2017:

Dear Mr. Deaton,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the “Iran deal.” It is important for me to hear from folks in Iowa on policy matters such as this.

On July 14, 2015, the Obama Administration announced they had reached a final deal with Iran on its nuclear program. At the time, I expressed concern that this agreement, which was reached as sanctions were crippling the Iranian economy, capitulated to Iran’s demands and threatened the security of the United States and our allies.

Overtly, the Iranian regime continues to exploit loopholes in JCPOA to advance its ballistic missile capability. Covertly, Iranian weaponization efforts are unknown, as military leaders have stated publicly they will refuse to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of their sites. All the while, sanctions relief has fueled Iran’s support for its terrorist organization proxies engaged in malign activities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – places where these groups are engaged in direct combat with American service members or our partners. Indisputably the JCPOA failed to meet its requirements to appropriately and proportionally contain Iran’s nefarious activities – the original purpose of the agreement.

As you may know, President Trump decided not to certify the deal under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act on October 13, 2017. This action does not withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA, but rather, it provides an opportunity for Congress to work with the Trump administration and our allies to fix the failures of the original agreement. I support the president’s decision and believe we will maintain a position of global leadership by upholding our obligations, while finally beginning to hold Iran accountable for not meeting the expectations of the international community.

I look forward to working with the Trump administration, my congressional colleagues and overseas partners to formalize a strategy that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and protects American interests. Feel free to contact my office with any further information, as I always enjoy hearing from Iowans.

Sincerely,

Joni K. Ernst
United States Senator

Response from Senator Chuck Grassley on Nov. 8, 2017

Dear Mr. Deaton:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns. As your senator, it is important to me that I hear from you.

I appreciate hearing of your support for maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. First, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the tenants of the Iran nuclear deal and why I have been against it from the beginning.

On April 2nd, 2015, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced the parameters for a potential deal with the Iranian government to end the country’s nuclear enrichment capabilities and attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry both made important statements about the goal of negotiations leading to the conclusion of the JCPOA – the goal was to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary Kerry himself said, in the fall of 2013, that Iran has “no right to enrich” and that a good deal with Iran “would help dismantle its nuclear program.”

In reality, the deal has failed to achieve its key objective of a denuclearized Iran. This deal, as it stands, puts Iran in a position of strength – economically and militarily – from which to further destabilize the Middle East.

The nuclear deal granted Iran a series of continuous sanctions relief in exchange for a reduction in nuclear enrichment capabilities while requiring the access of international inspectors to certify the country’s compliance with the deal’s terms. However, although the United States has granted Iran sanctions relief upwards of $160 billion dollars, the architecture of the agreement only requires Iran to temporarily reduce its nuclear weapons program. This temporary reduction in activities grants massive sanctions relief to a country which could ultimately decide to pursue its threatening activities once the agreement’s sunset clauses expire without any additional punishment.

Despite assurances that the deal would include “anytime, anywhere” inspections, the Obama administrated negotiated away from these provisions and provided Iran with a 24-day inspection delay following an announcement from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigators of intent to inspect a site. Furthermore, the IAEA has not been able to conduct adequate inspections of Iranian Military sites where nuclear research is conducted. To a large extent, this deal requires the United States to accept, without good reason, that the Iranians are engaged in a good faith effort to not cheat.

On May 7th, 2015, the Senate passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act by a vote of 98-1 which provided an opportunity for Congress to express its approval or disapproval of the deal. Despite 98 Senators voting in favor of reviewing the agreement, a minority of Senators lead by then minority leader Senator Reid, voted to block debate, consideration and a vote on a resolution of disapproval.

Following the JCPOA’s implementation on January 16th, 2016, Iran has continued to engage in a number of activities violating key provisions of the agreement. Most notably, these include cheating on provisions requiring the country to limit its nuclear enrichment activities through centrifuge development, prohibitions on research technology procurement, and not adhering to limitations on the amount of heavy water that the JCPOA sets forth for Iran’s nuclear reactors.

On October 13th, 2017, President Trump announced his decision to decertify the JCPOA. President Trump asserted that the JCPOA does not address the full range of potential threats posed by Iran, or permanently ensure that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon. In short, Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal and that continued sanctions relief provided to Iran is not “appropriate and proportionate” to the measures taken by Iran to terminate its illicit nuclear program.

President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal is in full accordance with the statutory requirements imposed on the deal by Congress under the Iran Nuclear Review Act. Under the Iran Nuclear Review Act, the President is required to recertify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA every 90 days. The Iran Nuclear Review Act provides Congress 60 days to consider whether to re-impose sanctions waived under the JCPOA and or to modify the deal to ensure Iran’s compliance.

The United States has not formally withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. Rather, President Trump’s decision to decertify the deal now puts the onus on congress to address the shortcomings of the deal. Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and President Trump is right to point out the failings of the deal. I look forward to working with my colleagues to further curtail Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing behavior.

Rest assured, that as your senator I will continue to follow these developments.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley

Response from Congressman Dave Loebsack on Nov. 2, 2017

Dear Mr. Deaton,

Thank you for contacting me about the Iran Nuclear Agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Your opinion is very important to me and my priority is to provide Iowa’s Second District with the best representation possible.

From the beginning, I have made it clear that I believe it is unacceptable for Iran to be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Today, it is more important than ever that we continue to work towards that commonly held goal and ensure the safety of the American people.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), the President is required to publicly certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the terms of the JCPOA. On Friday, October 13, 2017, President Trump announced that he is formally decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran. Decertification does not put the U.S. in violation of the JCPOA, but it does give Congress a 60-day window to reimpose the sanctions that were suspended by the deal.

I believe that the administration should be focusing its efforts on ensuring the conditions of the agreement are being thoroughly enforced. Instead, the administration has chosen to ignore the warnings of the White House’s own national security staff, sow uncertainty, and undermine our national security. I appreciate you reaching out to share your thoughts with me on the importance of the U.S. remaining part of the JCPOA. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will keep your thoughts in mind should legislation related to the JCPOA come before the House of Representatives for a vote.

Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. I encourage you to visit my website at http://www.loebsack.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletters to stay informed of the work I’m doing in Congress. I am proud to serve Iowa’s Second District, and I am committed to working hard for you.

Sincerely,

Dave Loebsack
Iowa’s Second District

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