62 National Peace and Security, Faith Groups Against New Iran Sanctions


Kate Gould kate@fcnl.org 202-547-6000

Washington, D.C.--News release: Sixty-two national peace and security and faith-based organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Senate today, urging senators to oppose new sanctions against Iran.

This diverse coalition urged senators to oppose the Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation (S. 1881), warning that "Senate passage of new Iran sanctions would critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war."

“This unprecedented national coalition against new sanctions collectively represents the millions of U.S. voters who are wholly opposed to another U.S. war in the Middle East," said Kate Gould, FCNL’s Legislative Associate for Middle East Policy. “This letter clearly demonstrates that the grassroots, the netroots, the peace and security community, and people of faith are united in pressing our lawmakers to support, not sabotage, the historic diplomacy now underway. "

Along with the multiple Jewish and Muslim groups joining this coalition, the signers included national faith groups representing the Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Methodist, and Baptist traditions, in addition to leaders from the historic peace church traditions of the Quakers and Mennonites.

This broad coalition includes Jewish-American groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now and Iranian-American groups, including the National Iranian American Council. Signers also included Move On, the American Values Network, Daily Kos, Sojourners, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The full text of the letter follows below. ***

To: Members of the U.S. Senate

The following 62 organizations are writing to warn that Senate passage of new Iran sanctions would critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war. We call on you to not cosponsor S.1881 (the “Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act of 2013”) and strongly discourage Senate consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations proceed.

The Joint Plan of Action signed between the P5+1 and Iran in November boosts American and regional security by freezing and rolling back Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade. The agreement also institutes unprecedented transparency for international inspectors, including daily inspection of Iran’s enrichment facilities.

However, as part of the agreement, the U.S. has agreed to “refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions” on Iran. Even with the delay mechanisms included in S.1881, U.S. and Iranian officials warn that new Congressional sanctions would kill the deal. The White House has added that new Congressional sanctions would be perceived as a sign of bad faith by allies critical to the enforcement of the sanctions regime, including the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. As a result, new sanctions will erode rather than strengthen our leverage for negotiations. Further, an unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment warns that, “new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”

S.1881 also sets insurmountable demands for a comprehensive nuclear deal by insisting that Iran dismantle its entire “nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.” Such a demand is a poison pill for negotiations and is not necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Further, any comprehensive deal will require trading in existing sanctions for Iranian nuclear concessions. But the sanctions provisions included in S.1881 could only be waived by the President for a final nuclear deal if Iran agrees to the zero enrichment demand, effectively eliminating the President’s ability to offer sanctions relief. Rather than attack Presidential waiver authority, Congress should ensure that the President has full authority to lift sanctions as part of a comprehensive deal.

By foreclosing diplomatic prospects, new sanctions would set us on a path to war. The American people have made it clear that they do not want another war in the Middle East and strongly support pursuing diplomatic prospects until they are exhausted. It would be the height of irresponsibility to step in and undercut diplomatic negotiations before this opportunity has the chance to bear fruit.

We strongly urge you to withhold co-sponsorship of S.1881 and delay consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing.


National Iranian American Council Friends Committee on National Legislation Win Without War Adventist Peace Fellowship American Friends Service Committee Americans for Peace Now AntiWar.com Augustinians Province of St. Thomas Villanova Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Berim Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University Center for International Policy CODEPINK Come Home America Conference of Major Superiors of Men Council for a Livable World CREDO Daily Kos Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding Evangelicals for Social Action Fellowship of Reconciliation Franciscan Action Network Global Exchange Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ GlobalSolutions.org Havaar Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project Islamic Society of North America J Street Jewish Voice for Peace Just Foreign Policy Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns Mennonite Central Committee U.S. MoveOn.org Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Muslim Public Affairs Voice Muslims for Progressive Values New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good On Earth Peace Orthodox Peace Fellowship Pax Christi International Peace Action Peace Action West Physicians for Social Responsibility Presbyterian Church (USA) Progressive Democrats of America River University Chaplain The Shalom Center Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence Society of the Divine Savior - American Province Sojourners Tikkun/The Network of Spiritual Progressives United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit USAction Veterans for Peace Women’s Action for New Directions Young Democrats of America

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The letter can be viewed online here