What is your position on the Iran Nuclear Agreement?
Thank you letters sent to Elected Official Responders below:
Senator Gary Peters (D), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D), Representative Bill Huizenga (R)
Dear Senator Stebenow:
Thank you for your recent letter regarding your decision to support the Iran Nuclear Agreement. I believe that supporting this agreement is an important step toward moving forward in keeping the door open for continuing negotiations on other issues with Iran. As with any compromise, no one walks away completely satisfied, so the best deal is negotiated to obtain the primary objectives. Foreign Policy issues are an important agenda item; however, it should not serve as a distraction from pressing domestic issues which the citizenry will be focused on in the 2016 election. It's time for the U.S. to apply its energies and resources to improving the quality of life for the Middle Class (M.C.) and those Striving to Enter the Middle Class (S.T.E.M.s) including climate change, comprehensive immigration reform, voting rights, infrastructure, public safety, wage equality, education, financial protection and housing. Your record has shown that you are mindful of the plight of the Middle Class and those striving to enter. I appreciate your support and your work on behalf of the State of Michigan and the M.C. and S.T.E.M.s. I look forward to contacting you in the future as a private citizen and a co-founder of MceZ.org. Thank you.
Eunice Beck, Co-founder
From Senator Peters:
September 25, 2015
Dear Ms. Beck,
Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. foreign policy toward Iran. I appreciate you taking the time to express your views on this important matter. Your input is, and will always be, welcomed and appreciated.
I believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a serious and unacceptable threat to both the United States and our allies, especially Israel. During my time in Congress, I have consistently supported robust and crippling sanctions against Iran in order to isolate and weaken its economy. I believe strong sanctions are what brought Iran to the negotiating table, and the threat of additional sanctions, which I supported, strengthened the U.S. negotiating position.
On July 14, 2015, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union announced an agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Prior to this announcement, I cosponsored and voted for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which was passed by the Senate by a 98-1 vote and was signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2015. The law provided for a 60-day congressional review period of the agreement.
I have undertaken a thorough review of the JCPOA, evaluating the arguments both for and against the deal very carefully. During my review, I attended classified and unclassified briefings and spoke directly with President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and numerous Administration officials, as well as representatives from other countries, including Israel, the Gulf nations, and our negotiating partners. I have heard from Michiganders with strong beliefs on both sides of this issue, all of whom share the goal of a more peaceful and secure world.
Under the terms of the JCPOA, Iran is required to ship out or dilute 98 percent of its enriched uranium and greatly limit its number of centrifuges. For the next 15 years, Iran can only enrich uranium to 3.67 percent, a level far below what is needed to develop a nuclear weapon. The agreement requires Iran to redesign and rebuild its heavy water reactor so it cannot be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, and to ship any spent fuel from this reactor out of the country. All of these key nuclear-related steps must be completed before Iran receives any sanctions relief.
The agreement also provides for the most intrusive inspections and verification regime ever negotiated. Iran's key nuclear facilities will be subject to around-the-clock monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran's centrifuge manufacturing facilities and uranium mines and mills will be under constant surveillance for the next 20 and 25 years, respectively. If Iran is found to be violating the terms of the agreement, there is a procedure for international sanctions to snap back into place.
I have serious concerns about aspects of the agreement. First, I have reservations that Iran, as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, will soon be able to access billions in assets that could potentially finance activities threatening the security of the United States and Israel, one of our closest allies. America must reaffirm our longstanding commitment to Israel's security by renewing our Memorandum of Understanding and bolstering Israel's ability to initiate deterrence against Iran.
Second, my core concern centers on Iran's ability to enrich uranium. It has been a longstanding policy of the United States not to recognize enrichment as a right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory, and it is clear that a domestic enrichment capacity is not needed for a country to operate a peaceful nuclear program. I am concerned that other nations will view the JCPOA as a new precedent that may lead to the increased proliferation of nuclear enrichment. I find it especially disconcerting that after fifteen years, the restrictions on how much uranium and to what level Iran can enrich will expire, and the United States may again be faced with the threat of Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
However, in spite of my serious concerns, I have unfortunately become convinced that we are faced with no viable alternative. I have met with representatives for each of our negotiating partners, all of whom have stated that they will not return to the negotiating table if Congress rejects this deal. Further, I believe a rejection of this agreement will damage the international credibility of the United States, and that attempting to go it alone and implement unilateral sanctions without a coalition of nations will only weaken our standing.
Consistent with the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, on September 8, 2015, Senator Mitch McConnell introduced a congressional resolution of disapproval of the JCPOA (H.J. Res 61). I reluctantly oppose a resolution of disapproval because I believe that doing so will protect the ability of the United States to hold Iran accountable to adhere to every single obligation in the JCPOA.
I firmly believe the JCPOA cannot mark the end of our multilateral efforts against Iran and its illicit behavior. America must continue working with our allies to initiate multilateral sanctions against Iran for its terrorist activities and its efforts to destabilize the Middle East, especially for its funding of Hezbollah and Hamas. I also believe we must continue pressing for the release of all U.S. hostages currently imprisoned in Iran, including Michigander Amir Hekmati.
As the JCPOA moves forward, Congress should ensure the Iran Sanctions Act is not allowed to expire, so that the statutory sanctions architecture remains as a backstop if sanctions are snapped back into place. If Iran fails to meet its international obligations, I will support the immediate reinstatement of Congressional sanctions. Please be assured that I am fully committed to working with my colleagues in the months and years ahead to ensure that the United States retains every option, including the potential use of military force, to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Thank you again for contacting me. I always enjoy hearing from you and hope that you take the time to contact me again soon. For more information, please feel free to visit my website, http://www.peters.senate.gov.
Gary C. Peters
From Senator Stabenow
I wanted you to get a copy of my statement on the Iran nuclear agreement as soon as I
released it. This has been a complicated and very serious issue to resolve in my own
mind. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and views.
I have repeatedly supported strong sanctions, backed by the international community,
to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. Those sanctions have
succeeded in isolating the Iranian regime, crippling their economy, and forcing them to
the negotiating table. But sanctions by themselves have not stopped Iran's nuclear
program. In 2003, Iran had just 164 centrifuges for a nuclear weapon. Today, they have
over 19,000 and have the capacity to acquire enough nuclear material to build a nuclear weapon by the end of this year.
This is a dangerous regime that kidnaps Americans such as Michigan's Amir Hekmati, who needs to be released immediately, and sends weapons and other support to Hezbollah and other terrorists who seek to destroy the United States, Israel, and our other allies.
The only thing worse than Iran being the largest state sponsor of terrorism would beIran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism with a nuclear weapon. That's why getting this right is essential for the security of America, Israel and the entire Middle East.
I have had extensive classified and unclassified briefings, extensive discussions with our U.S. negotiators and leaders from every country involved in negotiating this agreement. I have met with leaders representing the current Israeli government as well as former military and civilian Israeli leaders. And, I have heard from so many people in Michigan, with passionate feelings on both sides of this critical issue.
I have determined that the imminent threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon outweighs any flaws I see in the international agreement. For this reason, I must support the agreement.
For me, the decision comes down to this: without this international agreement, Iran will
have enough nuclear material for a weapon in three months. With this agreement, and the international coalition committed to it, we have the opportunity to stop Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon, certainly for at least 25 years.
I completely understand the deep fear and emotion involved in this debate. When Iranian extremist leaders chant 'death to America' and 'death to Israel,' the first question we have is 'how in the world can we trust them to live up to an agreement?' The answer is: we cannot. That is why this agreement is not based on trust in any way. It's based on strict inspections and verification coupled with the fact that America keeps all of our current options, including military action, if Iran in any way continues down the path of creating a nuclear weapon.
Under the agreement, Iran must reduce their stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98
percent and the number of centrifuges from over 19,000 to 6,104 with those centrifuges only being allowed to be used for medical research or other peaceful purposes. Iran will be subject to an intrusive inspections regime under continuous monitoring. If Iran violates this agreement in any way, America will know about it and be able to snap sanctions back into place.
And critically important to me, we will have additional information about the movement of uranium and component parts needed to make nuclear weapons for at least 25 years.
Again, most importantly, if Iran tries to develop a nuclear weapon, the United States continues to have every option on the table, including military action. I do share concerns about parts of the agreement, including how Iran could use funds from sanctions relief to continue funding Hezbollah and other terrorists around the world. It is clear that they have been funding these activities despite the crippling sanctions. And we are right to be concerned that additional funds from sanctions relief, or any other sources from other countries if this agreement is not approved, could be used to continue these outrageous activities.
That is why it is critical that the White House and Congress redouble our efforts to stop Iran's support for terrorism in addition to this crucial and essential effort to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I strongly support strengthening our sanctions on terrorism and human rights violations, with more aggressive targeting and enforcement; tracking any new spending on Iran's non-nuclear activities from new sources; and ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.
This agreement is not perfect, but I have personally spoken to leaders representing the P5+1 countries and the European Union who have said quite clearly that if the United States rejects this agreement, they will not join in new negotiations for a better deal. Instead, I believe that other countries will lift their sanctions on Iran, and the United States will be isolated in the international community.
And, regrettably, it is clear to me that other countries will no longer trust our great country to negotiate and work with them in good faith. So America must choose between the following: an international coalition working together to stop a nuclear Iran while increasing our joint efforts to stop their non-nuclear terrorist activities, or no international effort, no surveillance, no accountability and a nuclear Iran within a few months.
By agreeing to this deal, the international community will continue to be united against Iranian aggression. And if they violate the agreement and we need to use military force, the international community will be with us, rather than against us.
A final note: I am deeply concerned that national security decisions and foreign policy have become highly-charged partisan issues, including our relationship with our longtime friend and democratically, Israel.
I'm reminded of a very distinguished and highly-honored Republican U.S. Senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, who once said, 'politics stops at the water's edge.' He was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1940s and an ardent opponent of President Franklin Roosevelt's domestic policies. Senator Vandenberg set the Congressional standard of patriotism and statesmanship for over 70 years in our country. I am committed to continuing his legacy on behalf of the people of our great State.
As always, please continue to share your views on issues of concern to you and your family.
United States Senator
From Representative Bill Huizenga
Dear Ms. Beck:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent Iran nuclear deal. I appreciate hearing from you.
Like you, I agree that the United States must continue to pursue means to dissuade the Iranian government from their nuclear ambitions. Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. I am deeply concerned and extremely skeptical of the deal struck between the Obama Administration and the Iranians. We know from past experience that Iran has cheated, lied, and ignored previous agreements to curtail its nuclear program.
With that in mind, I plan to thoroughly review the details of this agreement, which, among other things, allows Iran to keep enriching uranium. We cannot afford a bad deal that allows Iran to attain nuclear weapon capabilities. Such a scenario would likely spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Additionally, in March, I joined 367 of my colleagues and cosigned a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to keep all options on the table in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Specifically, our letter made it clear that any agreement with Iran must include a dramatic reduction of centrifuges as well as intrusive inspections and verifications measures. This agreement proves that our concerns were ignored, our requests went unanswered, and it fails to meet Congressional standards.
You might be interested to learn the House of Representatives overwhelming supported the Iran Threat Reduction Act. The bill declares that it is U.S. policy to deny Iran the ability to support acts of foreign terrorist organizations and develop unconventional weapons and ballistic missiles. The bill supports the use of diplomatic efforts and sanctions, among other things and passed the House of Representatives 410-11.
Please know I will continue to monitor this important issue. Again, thank you for sharing your suggestions with me.
Member of Congress