Senators urge Obama to push for strict Iran nuclear curbs deal

WASHINGTON Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:09pm EDT

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Credit: Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twenty-three U.S. senators kept the spotlight on Iran nuclear negotiations on Saturday with a letter to President Barack Obama urging that he stand firm, after a second round of talks wound up in Vienna.

The letter from Democratic senators and one independent, was identical to one sent to Obama earlier this week by the House of Representatives, asking that he insist on a final agreement in which Iran would not be able to build or buy a nuclear weapon.

The House letter was signed by 395 of the 435 members of the chamber and was sent as Iran and six world powers met to persuade Iran to scale back its contested nuclear activities.

The meeting in Vienna was the second in a series that the six nations - United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and UK - hope will produce a verifiable settlement, ensuring that Iran's nuclear program is oriented to peaceful purposes only.

The 23 senators said they embraced Obama's two-track approach twinning sanctions against Tehran with negotiations, but urged strict procedures of transparency and verification to ensure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. Congress has long taken a harder line on Iran than the White House, but Saturday's letter was an indication of how sensitive the issue is, even among members of the same party.

Many in this group of senators, including Carl Levin, whose office released Saturday's letter, did not sign a letter sent earlier this week from 83 of their colleagues.

That letter, spearheaded by Democrat Robert Menendez, took a more aggressive stance, urging Obama to insist that any final agreement state that Iran "has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

That would be a non-starter for Iran, which cites a right under the NPT to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Both the U.S. and Iranian delegations - the two pivotal players in the negotiations - face intense pressure from hawkish critics back home.

(Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (5)
Eideard wrote:
I don’t recall 23 Democrats writing a letter to President Eisenhower [or Winston Churchill] suggesting they stop overthrowing elected governments like that of Mr. Mossadegh in Iran by force and violence.

Must be some sort of ethical lesson in that snippet of history – especially since I doubt if most members of Congress ever pay attention to American history on the world stage, anyway.

Mar 22, 2014 5:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
2Borknot2B wrote:
Just give them the bomb already. Heck, just sell them some of ours, we don’t need them all and they will never be used anyway. That would be great. Get all this BS over with, then we can move onto saving the planet. L.

Mar 22, 2014 10:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
2Borknot2B wrote:
#6 goes to Iran, provisionally. Very best wishes Hassan Rouhani. L.

Mar 22, 2014 10:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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