PAST ACTION - Tell Senate: Reject S. 1881, the New Anti-Iran-Diplomacy Bill

Iran-Diplomacy_Collage186x140.jpgUpdate: this action, now closed, ran from December 2013-January 2014. 

We knew the fight to keep Iran-focused diplomacy alive wasn't over - and we were right. Just before the Senate went home for the holidays, Senators Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL) and a group of 25 colleagues introduced a new and highly problematic Iran sanctions bill in the Senate - S. 1881, ironically named the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013." Over the holiday break, this bill was the focal point of a major lobbying effort, with AIPAC and other groups working intensively to get Senators to cosponsor the measure -- and this effort will pick up additional steam in the coming days.

The White House has come out firmly against the measure, including issuing a veto threat, as have 10 Senate committee chairs, including Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Boxer (D-CA) and Levin (D-MI), who in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) stated that, at this time, "'we believe that new sanctions only play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager for negotiations to fail."

Tell your Senators: give diplomacy a fighting chance to succeed where sanctions and saber rattling, on their own, have not, and cannot.

Rather than heeding the wise counsel of these Senate leaders and the objections of the elected president of the United States, an array of powerful outside forces -- both from inside and outside the Jewish community -- are mustering massive pressure to try to get Senators who have not already cosponsored the bill to do so. Their goal is twofold: to get so many cosponsors on the bill that Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) will feel compelled to bring it to the floor for a vote, and to ensure that the bill passes by a veto-proof majority.

Tell your Senators: "pro-Israel" doesn't equal "anti-diplomacy with Iran."

The mere act of introducing this legislation at this delicate juncture represents a reckless, provocative and wholly gratuitous step. The Geneva interim agreement with Iran demonstrates that sincere, determined diplomacy can deliver results. Now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to test whether this interim agreement can lead to a final accord that verifiably curbs Iran's nuclear program. Should Iran prove insincere about achieving such an accord, there is nothing preventing Congress and the Obama Administration from revisiting all its various policy responses, including additional sanctions, at that time.

If the timing of its introduction weren't bad enough, the substance of the bill appears designed to undermine the initiative launched last month in Geneva and, bafflingly, to undermine international cooperation on Iran. In this way, it sends a message that some in the Senate, joined by outside organizations promoting this legislation, may prefer war to diplomacy and a negotiated final agreement with Iran, regardless of its terms. In sending such a message, supporters of the bill are, ironically, making common cause with hardliners in Tehran, who also prefer confrontation to negotiations and compromise; however, they are putting themselves at odds with the majority of Americans, who do not want more war.

Tell your Senators: the American people want effective diplomacy, not reckless grandstanding that could lead to war.

Anyone who is truly concerned about curbing Iran's nuclear program should be outraged by this latest sanctions effort. For the first time in decades, there is an historic and promising diplomatic engagement with Iran, and the entire world is focused on the importance of resolving concerns about Iran's nuclear program and nuclear ambitions. Now is the time for members of the House and Senate to stand up to outside pressure, foreswear partisan and political grandstanding, and get behind the efforts of the Obama Administration and the international community to achieve a negotiated final agreement that does just that.

  • You can see the official list of cosponsors, as recorded in the Congressional record, here. You can see the unofficial list of cosponsors, as recorded on the AIPAC website (including names that may not yet show up in the Congressional Record), here.

Make sure to read Lara Friedman's new Huffington Post article Thwarting Iran Diplomacy: Not Good for the Jews .