Members of the House Support Extension and Urge Congress Not to Give Up on Diplomacy
WASHINGTONâ€”Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jim McGovern (D-MA), David Price (D-NC), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) released the following statements today after an agreement was reached for an extension on negotiations over Iranâ€™s nuclear program between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia (P5+1) and Iran.
â€œToday's extension is evidence of how far the United States and Iran have come since these negotiations started,â€ Rep. Ellison said. â€œThe investment in patient diplomacy made by both countries is yielding significant progress. Iran has already complied with the requirements in the Joint Plan of Action and reduced their capacity to build a nuclear weapon. We are closer than we have ever been to reaching a peaceful agreement and we canâ€™t give up now. I call on Congress to support President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the P5+1 negotiators to close this deal.â€
â€œThe current framework agreement with Iran is actively reducing Iranâ€™s nuclear program, delaying â€˜break outâ€™ capacity, and providing inspections and verification to prevent the advancement of their nuclear program,â€ said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. â€œThis extension continues these important restrictions and safeguards while moving us toward a long-term deal that will support our national security and global peace. This extension creates the diplomatic space for that deal to be achieved.â€
â€œDiplomacy is the only viable path to prevent a nuclear Iran,â€ said Congressman John Conyers, Jr. â€œAccording to a recent CNN poll, 76 percent of Americans support direct diplomacy as part of a strategy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Americans know that military confrontationâ€”the only alternative to diplomacyâ€”would be, in this instance, counterproductive and carry unacceptable costs in terms of lives and treasure. Congress must support President Obama's continuing efforts to obtain a strong and verifiable agreement to peacefully prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world's most volatile region.â€
â€œI know it's difficult to remain patient, but with a historic agreement within our reach, patience is required,â€ Rep. Jim McGovern said. â€œI believe it is far better to take a bit more time to get a strong verifiable agreement than to have no agreement or a weak one. I urge all sides to demonstrate the political will, flexibility and courage to get the job done, and done well. I will continue to follow this issue closely.â€
â€œI am encouraged by today's news from Vienna. This extension means that the negotiations will continue under the terms of the existing Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), which has verifiably frozen and rolled back Iran's nuclear program over the past year,â€ said Representative Price. â€œWhile I shared the administration's hope that the talks would yield a final agreement by now, the fact is that another extension is vastly preferable to a return to the pre-JPOA status quo -- or worse. Instead of rushing to declare the talks a failure -- or taking actions to derail them altogether -- my colleagues in Congress should do everything possible to support the continuation of negotiations and progress toward a final, comprehensive agreement.â€
â€œIt is welcome news that the U.S. and Iranian diplomats have agreed to stay at the negotiating table by extending talks,â€ Rep. Hank Johnson said. â€œWhile some of my colleagues have objected to negotiations with Iran, it must be noted that thanks to these historic diplomatic efforts the world is further from a nuclear-armed Iran, and the risk of an eventual war over this issue. Now more than ever is the time to commit ourselves to diplomacy. We know the outcome of a rush to war. Too many hardline members and members-elect are already opposing a deal, emboldening hardliners in Iran. What the hardliners do not say, is that failure to reach a deal clears the path to war.â€
â€œDiplomacy takes time. I continue to believe that the benefits of an eventual agreement with Iran will be worth the wait. Congress must not undermine our negotiators with unwise legislative actions,â€ Rep. Jim Moran said.
â€œWe have seen meaningful progress since the Joint Plan of Action was agreed to in November 2013,â€ Rep. Jan Schakowsky said. â€œUnder this plan, Iran has down blended and stopped production of 20% enriched uranium, halted work on its Arak hard water facility, and allowed daily inspections of its enrichment facilities. None of these achievements would be in place without the Joint Plan of Action, and we shouldnâ€™t abandon this progress today.â€