WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to express his concern about recent demands by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and urged the Administration to “suspend negotiations rather than accept a bad deal” should Iran insist on such conditions.
“Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech on Iranian state television in which he stated that ‘All financial and economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. Congress or the U.S. government should be lifted immediately when we sign a nuclear agreement,’ that ‘inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines,’ and that freezing Iranian research and development ‘for a long time, like 10 or 12 years, is not acceptable,’” Menendez wrote. “Only days before, the Iranian parliament voted to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of any future deal with the P5+1 countries.”
“These demands are unacceptable – they presuppose that the government of Iran will act in good faith, when it has shown itself in the past to be an untrustworthy negotiating partner,” he added. “If Iranian negotiators intend to adhere to the provisions demanded by Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s parliament, I urge you to suspend the current negotiations with Iran.”
This letter follows yesterday’s introduction of the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions Relief Oversight Act of 2015 (S.1682), a bipartisan bill to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172) for ten more years. With the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 set to expire next year, the Kirk-Menendez legislation would renew the Act’s critical sanctions measures designed to defund the Iranian regime’s nuclear program and support for terrorism, thereby ensuring that Congress retains leverage to snap back sanctions if Iran cheats on any nuclear agreement. The legislation would also require the Administration to report to Congress whether any Iran sanctions relief has supported terrorism, nuclear or missile proliferation, or human rights violations, or has enriched any senior Iranian official’s personal finances.
“If a deal is reached with Iran, it is critical that should Iran violate the terms of an agreement, severe penalties will follow and a forceful snapback of sanctions will occur,” Senator Menendez said regarding the legislation introduced on Thursday. “For me, the trend lines of the Iran talks are deeply worrying, our red lines have turned into green lights, leaving snapback as one of the few tools available to demand Iranian compliance with an agreement. The Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes a majority of the sanctions in place on Iran, expires next year. Absent renewal we would be unilaterally lifting sanctions on Iran and hence unilaterally disarming. It stands to reason that if negotiators are serious about snapback, then they should support the immediate extension of the Iran Sanctions Act to ensure there is no question for Iran about the consequences of non-compliance. Furthermore, because Iran is the foremost sponsor of regional terrorism, any sanctions relief must be monitored closely, and this legislation ensures that regular reports will be provided to Congress to confirm that Iranian-backed terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah or the murderous Assad regime in Syria aren't the beneficiaries of newly accessed Iranian funds. This bill is a clarifying action for all parties and this legislation should move forward now.”
Menendez’s letter to Secretary Kerry can be downloaded here and follows:
June 26, 2015
The Honorable John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I am writing to express my grave concern about recent demands by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iran’s parliament rejecting critical elements of an agreement for a possible nuclear deal. If Iran insists on these redlines in negotiations, then I strongly urge you to suspend negotiations rather than accept a bad deal with Iran.
On June 23, 2015, Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech on Iranian state television in which he stated that "All financial and economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. Congress or the U.S. government should be lifted immediately when we sign a nuclear agreement," that "inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines," and that freezing Iranian research and development "for a long time, like 10 or 12 years, is not acceptable." Only days before, the Iranian parliament voted to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of any future deal with the P5+1 countries.
These demands are unacceptable – they presuppose that the government of Iran will act in good faith, when it has shown itself in the past to be an untrustworthy negotiating partner. The Iranian regime had spent decades deceiving the international community, it stands in violation of its international commitments, and it continues to deny the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its facilities and answers to questions about its nuclear-related military activities
Given Iran’s past deceptions, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program must not be lifted until the Iranian regime has demonstrably met their obligations under any prospective deal. Furthermore, significant limitations on research and development and resolution of military dimensions of Iran’s program, through access to scientists, documents and places and anytime, anywhere inspections are critical to the viability of a nuclear agreement with Iran.
In the past, you have correctly stated with regards to the negotiations with Iran that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” A deal that allows sanctions to be lifted before Iran’s government meets their obligations, without intrusive inspections to safeguard against a continued covert nuclear program, and that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear state, is a bad deal that threatens the national security of America and our allies, and must be rejected.
I ask that you clarify whether these newly-imposed Iranian conditions are understood to be objectives that must be met at the P5+1 negotiations for any agreement to be achieved. If Iranian negotiators intend to adhere to the provisions demanded by Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s parliament, I urge you to suspend the current negotiations with Iran.
I look forward to your response.