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July 22, 2013

Bipartisan House letter to Obama urges more diplomacy with Iran

U.S. Reps. David Price, D-N.C., and Charlie Dent, R-Pa., got nearly one-third of the members of the House of Representatives to sign onto a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to renew diplomatic efforts with Iran now that the country has a new president-elect.

The letter spearheaded by Price and Dent (see letter and list of those who signed it here) says that the actions of president-elect Hassan Rouhani will speak louder than words. Then it adds:

“Even so, we believe it would be a mistake not to test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that ensures the country does not acquire a nuclear weapon.  In order to test this proposition, it will be prudent for the United States to utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks.”

The letter was sent to the president on Friday. On Saturday, Rouhani tweeted about it: “131 Congressmen have signed a letter calling on President #Obama to give peace a chance with Iran’s new president #Rouhani.”

The letter doesn’t take a position on sanctions or the possible use of military force. But it signals backing for diplomacy from a significant portion of House members. The 131 who signed it were 114 Democrats (out of 200) and 17 Republicans (out of 234).


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Change Iran Now

While I applaud the enthusiasm of some members of Congress to re-open negotiations with Iran, they shouldn't be blinded by the media's efforts to popularize Rouhani and his calls for moderation when the recent evidence shows that Iran is still firmly in the control of the ruling mullahs and Khamenei. Since Rouhani's election, over 108 prisoners have been executed publicly in what some media have termed an extraordinary speeding up of hangings. Iran also continues to pour money, arms and support into the Syrian conflict on behalf of Assad and now word comes out that Iran is manuvering for a role in Afghanistan following the US pullout. All disturbing signs that call for the US to approach Rouhani with caution and hold him accountable for deeds and actions, not simply rhetoric.

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