Senators to Obama: Don’t Ease Up on Iran Sanctions”“They’re Working

John McCain and Chuck Schumer urge President Obama to uphold economic sanctions despite Iran’s willingness to negotiate.

Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Sept. 23, 2013, 1:47 p.m.

Last week, Ir­a­ni­an Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani told NBC that “un­der no cir­cum­stances would we seek any weapons of mass de­struc­tion, in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar weapons, nor will we ever.” Ir­an’s atom­ic pro­gram, he said, is a peace­ful one.

While the White House is warm­ing to fu­ture talks with the Ir­a­ni­an gov­ern­ment about its nuc­le­ar pro­gram, a pair of sen­at­ors re­main skep­tic­al. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz, and Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., wrote in a joint let­ter to Pres­id­ent Obama on Monday that “the Ir­a­ni­ans are only ex­press­ing open­ness to dip­lomacy be­cause they have been com­pelled by the crip­pling con­sequences of the sanc­tions.”

In their let­ter, the law­makers urge the pres­id­ent, who will ad­dress the United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly on Tues­day, to “make it clear that the United States will not scale back sanc­tions un­less ac­com­pan­ied by real, mean­ing­ful ac­tion by the Ir­a­ni­an re­gime.”

The use of eco­nom­ic sanc­tions to pres­sure the Middle East­ern coun­try to halt its nuc­le­ar pro­gram is work­ing, they say, but the U.S. needs to keep the pres­sure on.

However, Mc­Cain and Schu­mer, who have re­cently struck up an un­likely friend­ship, sound pretty wor­ried that the pres­id­ent won’t heed their en­treaty. They fear that, thanks to Tehran’s will­ing­ness to ne­go­ti­ate, the White House may con­sider eas­ing off on some sanc­tions in the name of dip­lomacy. And ru­mors about a pos­sible meet­ing between Obama and Rouh­ani prob­ably didn’t help. The let­ter’s most ur­gent point ap­pears to re­mind the pres­id­ent of his coun­try’s own for­eign policy: “It must be ree­m­phas­ized that it is the policy of the United States that it will not al­low Ir­an to ac­quire a nuc­le­ar-weapons cap­ab­il­ity.”

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