44 Senators, including many Democrats, sign AIPAC letter to Obama against Iran negotiations

Phillip Weiss | Mondoweiss

A terrifying letter, signed by nearly half the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, pushing Obama toward war with Iran– and let’s see who is telling us about it.

MJ Rosenberg a few days ago:

AIPAC is still worried that there might be a breakthrough in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Accordingly, its staff drafted a letter to President Obama that will be circulated by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Its goal is to have the entire Senate endorse the hardest possible line to kill the next round of negotiations which is slated to convene in Moscow next week.

The letter demands the following as “the absolute minimum steps” which Iran “must take immediately.”

  1. Shutting down the Fordow facility
  2. Freezing enrichment above 5%
  3. Shipping all uranium enriched above 5% out of the country.

In return the AIPAC/Senate letter tells the President to offer NOTHING except the continuation of negotiations. In other words, AIPAC proposes a negotiating framework under which Iran makes tangible concessions in return for our agreeing to… more negotiations. Any easing of sanctions is specifically ruled out.

Foreign Policy yesterday, with no reference to the Israel lobby:

Nearly half the Senate told President Barack Obama today that unless Iran gives three specific concessions at this weekend’s talks with world powers in Moscow, he should abandon the ongoing negotiations over the country’s nuclear program.

“It is past time for the Iranians to take the concrete steps that would reassure the world that their nuclear program is, as they claim, exclusively peaceful,” wrote 44 senators in a Friday bipartisan letterorganized by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). “Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability. We know that you share our conviction that allowing Iran to gain this capability is unacceptable.”

The letter is also signed by Charles Schumer (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), James Risch (R-ID), Ron Wyden (D-OR), David Vitter (R-LA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA), John Boozman (R-AR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Scott Brown (R-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), Daniel Coats (R-IN), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Lee (R-UT), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Mark Begich (D-AK).

“The message of this letter is that Congress’ patience is running out when it comes to meetings that don’t yield results,” said a senior Senate aide. “The Iranians have been given every last opportunity to demonstrate their good faith and step back from the brink. Instead, they keep pushing forward with their nuclear program, and we keep asking for yet another round of talks. This is not sustainable.”

Trita Parsi, in the New York Times, deploring the Congress’s role, but with scant reference to the Israel connection:

For three years, Congress has prevented a sensible American policy on Iran. It was largely Congressional pressure that turned Mr. Obama’s Iran policy in 2009 into “a gamble on a single roll of the dice,” in the words of one senior State Department official. Diplomacy had to work right away or not at all.

Then, in 2010, it was again domestic politics and the activities of Congress that ultimately caused the Obama administration to reject a nuclear breakthrough brokered by Brazil and Turkey, which would have cut Iran’s uranium stockpile in half and deprived it of any pretext for enriching uranium to higher levels.

In Baghdad, Congress succeeded in depriving American negotiators of the political space necessary to reciprocate Iranian concessions. The Iranians focused on what they could get. Mr. Obama had to focus on what he wouldn’t give.

For the sake of peace, Congressional obstructionism must end.

Eli Lake on MSNBC, some weeks back, explains what’s going on:

The one place where there’s less criticism of Israel is in the United States Congress, and that’s because there is a very strong lobby that lobbies Congress–and this is not true for the executive branch– that’s pro-Israel.

Thanks to Alex Kane.