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Progressive Caucus Calls on Congress to Let Diplomacy Work on Iran Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), John Conyers (D-MI) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) released the following statements today after an agreement was reached for a four-month extension on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia (P5+1) and Iran.

“News of a four month extension in negotiations with Iran means the prospect for an Iran without nuclear ambitions is still very possible,” Rep. Grijalva said. “It also means peaceful and normalized relations are well within the scope of possibility. I am encouraged to see all parties involved continue the momentum towards that goal, and encourage them to take the time, space and steps needed to succeed where others have failed.”

“We are on the edge of a significant moment in the history of diplomacy,” Rep. Ellison said. “Congress should not undermine our diplomats during negotiations with Iran’s representatives in Vienna. Since negotiations began, Iran has complied with the Joint Plan of Action. Transparency and access have increased. We now know more about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. If negotiators need more time to reach a comprehensive agreement, we should support them, not make it harder for them to do their jobs by passing more sanctions. It is in America’s best interest to continue on the path of diplomacy.”

“Last year's first-step deal addressing Iran’s nuclear program was a diplomatic victory that directly reduces Iran’s ability to achieve breakout capacity,” said Rep. Lee. “This extension will continue to restrict Iran’s nuclear capability while creating the diplomatic space and time for a long-term deal that supports U.S. national security interests and a more peaceful and secure world.”

“It is critical that Congress take no action that undermines the Administration’s diplomatic efforts during this extension which was provided for under the Joint Plan of Action,” Rep. Moran said. “I continue to be hopeful that an agreement can be reached which will avert the threat of a militarized Iranian nuclear program.”

“There’s only one safe and sensible way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon—diplomacy,” Rep. Conyers said. “The temporary agreement reached last year has yielded real benefits for the US and the broader world. The choice is whether we continue to build on this success or return to mutually destructive confrontation.  Denying our negotiators the time they need to secure an agreement would simply result in Iran unfreezing its nuclear program.  While some advocate for additional sanctions, these measures would counterproductively embolden hardliners in Iran’s government and put us back on a path to war.  Americans oppose the use of military force against Iran by a margin of 70 to 22, and for good reason: War with Iran would be disastrous for US interests and carry unacceptable costs in terms of lives and treasure. Americans know that we must give diplomacy a full opportunity to succeed so we can direct our limited resources towards urgently-needed rebuilding here at home.”

“Our families are safer from any potential Iranian nuclear weapons today than we were prior to these ongoing negotiations,” Rep. Doggett said. “Those who so loudly criticized the interim agreement were wrong. Regular, intrusive inspections have given us much more information and have frozen nuclear weapon development. Iran has received just enough sanctions relief to demonstrate the potential benefits of cooperation but not enough to rejuvenate its economy. With continued careful monitoring and more tough negotiating, this extension offers an opportunity to advance our security objectives by finalizing a solid alternative to war. Congress must not impede the progress.”