July 23, 2013, Washington, D.C. – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House on July 19th, encouraging President Barack Obama to reinvigorate diplomatic negotiations with Iran in the wake of the election of Hassan Rouhani as the country’s new president.
The letter was authored by Congressmen Charles Dent (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC) and signed by 131 representatives, more than a quarter of the House. Most were Democrats, but seventeen Republicans also signed the letter. A number of signatories hold positions of leadership in the House. Both Dent and Price are senior members of the Appropriations Committee, and James Clyburn (D-SC), who also signed the letter, is the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat.
The letter expresses cautious optimism that under Rouhani, the U.S. and the international community may be able to reach a satisfactory agreement with Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear program. While acknowledging the “limitations of Iran’s presidency within the country’s political system,” the letter argues that the U.S. will be making “a mistake” if it does not “test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement” on the nuclear issue.
In order to maximize the possibility of a settlement, the letter states, the U.S. should “utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks,” and should also be careful not to engage in “actions that delegitimize the newly elected president” and weaken his position within Iran.
The letter does not take a stance on whether sanctions against Iran should be strengthened or relaxed, nor does it take a position on the potential use of military force against Iran’s nuclear sites and other facilities. However, it does indicate that there is growing support in Congress for diplomatic engagement of Iran over its nuclear program since Rouhani’s election.
The letter has received the backing of a number of organizations including Americans For Peace Now, Friends Committee on National Legislation, J Street, and the National Iranian American Council.
Click here to read the Dent-Price letter to President Obama.