MEDIA ADVISORY: Experts Available to Discuss First Congressional Hearing on Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 23, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi, Communications Director – 202.386.6325 x103,
Jamal Abdi, President – 202.386.6408, 
Ryan Costello, Policy Director – 202.386.6319,
Shervin Ghaffari, Policy Associate – (202) 386-6325,

WASHINGTON DC – Experts from the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) will be available to the media to offer commentary on the first ever Congressional hearing on the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban. The hearing will be held by the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and will include witness testimonies from individuals impacted by the ban.

The Muslim Ban has for nearly three years succeeded in preventing persons from pre-dominantly Muslim countries from coming to the United States. Iranian nationals have been hit particularly hard by the ban. The September 24 hearing will provide Congress and the public long overdue information on and oversight over the implementation of the Muslim Ban. 

The hearing will take place on September 24, 2019 at 10:00am in 2141 RHOB (Rayburn House Office Building).

NIAC analysts available in Washington DC:

Jamal Abdi is President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the Executive Director of NIAC Action. He leads NIAC’s advocacy and education on civil rights and immigration issues, as well as diplomacy with Iran. He formerly served as a Policy Advisor on foreign affairs, immigration, and defense issues in the U.S. Congress. Abdi has written for The New York Times, CNN, Foreign Policy, and blogs at The Huffington Post.  He is a frequent guest contributor in print, radio, and television, including appearances on Al Jazeera, NPR, and BBC News. Follow Jamal on Twitter: @jabdi

Ryan Costello joined NIAC in April 2013 as a Policy Fellow and now serves as Policy Director. In this role, Ryan monitors legislation, conducts research and writing, and coordinates advocacy efforts on civil rights and U.S.-Iran policy. Ryan previously served as a Program Associate at the Connect U.S. Fund, where he focused on nuclear non-proliferation policy. He has published in American Foreign Policy Interests, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, CNN GPS, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Huffington Post and Roll Call. Ryan graduated from American University’s School of International Service with a Master of Arts in U.S. Foreign Policy, and from Ursinus College where he majored in history and international relations. Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RN_Costello

Shervin Ghaffari joined NIAC as a Policy Associate in August 2019. Shervin conducts research and writing on the Middle East, analyzes and monitors legislation, and supports advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. His expertise includes Iran, U.S. national security issues, and immigration.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) with a concentration in Middle East Studies and International Economics. Shervin was also an organizer during the 2016 Presidential campaign. He has also spent time with the California Governor’s D.C. office and at the Council on Foreign Relations. Shervin received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in Philosophy in Ethics and Government.

Recent NIAC press hits:

Jamal Abdi in The New York TimesIranian Students Set to Start at U.S. Universities Are Barred From Country – September 20, 2019

Ryan Costello in The Davis EnterpriseIranian students barred from boarding U.S.-bound flights – September 19, 2019

NIAC Applauds House for Pulling U.S. Back from the Brink of War with Iran via Khanna-Gaetz Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday July 12, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 |

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to bar funding for an unauthorized war with Iran. The amendment passed with a final vote count of 251-170. The Khanna-Gaetz amendment was offered as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and builds on the momentum from last month’s Senate vote on the Kaine-Udall amendment, which also would have also blocked the Trump administration from launching an unauthorized war with Iran.

In response to the passage of the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, NIAC Action President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“The House of Representatives should be applauded for its vote today to stop an unauthorized war with Iran before it starts, and we call on the Senate to follow suit. With the passage of the amendment from Representatives Ro Khanna and Matt Gaetz, legislators moved one step closer to pulling the U.S. back from the edge of a war that the American people do not want and that Congress has never authorized. With nearly all of the 2020 presidential candidates calling for the U.S. to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and now with the House passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, a bipartisan consensus against the Bolton-Pompeo approach to Iran has clearly emerged.

“Such safeguards would not be necessary if the Trump administration were not recklessly endangering American security with its incoherent maximum pressure approach toward Iran. Last month, the President took us ten minutes from war, which would have been certain to trigger Iranian reprisals and a long trail of consequences not confined within Iran’s borders. Both the President and his Secretary of State have intimated that they do not need Congressional approval to launch a war, with many Members of Congress alarmed by the administration’s transparent attempts to justify a war with Iran under the 2001 authorization to use military force.

“The Iranian-American community and the broader American public know that war with Iran would be a disaster. That’s why a majority in the House and Senate now are on the record voting for provisions to rule out an unauthorized war with Iran. It is imperative that legislators ensure that the final defense authorization bill includes the Khanna-Gaetz amendment.

“We applaud Reps. Khanna and Gaetz for their leadership. Without the help of Chairmen Eliot Engel, Adam Smith and Jim McGovern as well as Reps. Anna Eshoo, Seth Moulton, Anthony Brown, Barbara Lee and countless Americans who spoke out against war with Iran, this vote would not have been possible.”

NIAC Statement on Senate Vote on Udall-Kaine Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 28, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 |

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the Senate voted on a bipartisan amendment spearheaded by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) that would block President Donald Trump from using funds from the defense bill to launch a war with Iran without Congressional authorization. The amendment received 50 votes in favor to just 40 opposed, but fell short of the 60 vote threshold set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposed the amendment. 

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the majority of the Senate that supported today’s amendment to shut down an unauthorized war with Iran. Senators Udall and Kaine deserve particular credit for forcing a vote and convincing a majority of the Senate to go on record against a march to war with Iran. 

“The depths to which McConnell and his allies like Tom Cotton went to oppose this amendment and vote against Congress’ own Constitutional power to declare war is deeply concerning. Voters did not elect Trump king so that he could send our troops into harm’s way whenever he felt like it. Yet, the vast majority of Republicans are either so cowed by Trump or eager for war that they decided to play defense for him. Critically, if not for Mitch McConnell, there could have been a straight up and down vote that inserted this amendment into the defense authorization bill ahead of the House. 

“It is a dereliction of duty for those Senators to have looked at the past several weeks and done nothing. Trump and his deputy Bolton have routinely threatened Iran, taken major provocative steps designed to trigger Iranian reprisals, and barely stepped back from the edge of starting a major war with Iran. 

“Every single Democrat who cast a vote supported the amendment, and four Republicans – Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Jerry Moran – made clear through their votes that President Trump does not have authorization for war against Iran. The Iranian-American community, our allies, and all pro-peace and diplomacy advocates should take heart that there is a strong, bipartisan group of lawmakers determined to block an unauthorized Trump war on Iran. Yet, far more is needed.

“Critically, by securing majority support, this has now built momentum for the House of Representatives to pass its own bipartisan Khanna-Gaetz amendment to restrict Trump’s ability to start a war with Iran when Congress returns from the July 4th recess and resumes consideration of its defense authorization bill.”

Senator Warren and the Return to the JCPOA

At NIAC Action, we’re advocating for a return to the Iran nuclear deal to bring back diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran. Recently, 2020 presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has been vocal about her support for returning to the JCPOA. 

In the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, Senator Warren called for returning to the Iran nuclear accord and advocated for extending New START Treaty. See the full video:

Last November, NIAC released a report calling for Congress and 2020 candidates to commit to returning to the Iran Deal.  We are hard at work with allies like J Street to ensure each 2020 candidate makes a commitment to return to the JCPOA.

Congress Must Rein in Trump’s War Cabinet

Trump has stacked his cabinet with Iran warhawks, withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal that is successfully guarding against Iranian nuclear weapons and – according to recent reports – Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton and the President himself sought plans from the Pentagon to attack Iran.

These developments are dire and, barring Congressional intervention, the U.S. may launch yet another ill-advised war of choice that could haunt the U.S. and Middle East for generations.

The 116th Congress must investigate the Trump administration’s war plans for Iran, impose legal and political restraints to block an unconstitutional war with Iran and take steps to salvage the nuclear accord.

Bolton Asked for War Options Against Iran

  • John Bolton asked the Pentagon to prepare options to strike Iran in September – an act of war that has not been authorized by Congress.
  • The options considered reportedly included “a cross-border airstrike on an Iranian military facility” as well as “options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria as well.”
  • The response rattled national security officials, with one former official warning that it was “mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
  • voicing deepening fears” that Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran.”

Mattis Scuttled Bolton’s War Push

  • The strikes were contemplated after two attacks in Iraq attributed to Shia militias tied to Iran – neither of which led to damage or casualties. It is unclear if Iran knew of the attack or to what extent it is tied to the militias involved.
  • In one attack, “mortar bombs landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located.” A second involved a rocket attack on the airport near Basra, near to where the U.S. consulate was located. That incident followed raucous protests in Basra that led to the torching of the Iranian consulate.
  • U.S. officials warned it would hold Iran accountable, saying “Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.”
  • The push to strike Iran directly over this murky affair was strongly opposed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis and other Pentagon officials, who argued successfully that the attacks were “insignificant.”

The President Reportedly Pushed Mattis to Sink Iranian Ships

  • In 2017, “Trump repeatedly asked his national security team for plans to blow up Iranian fast boats” patrolling the Persian Gulf.
  • Following a promise on the campaign trail to shoot Iranian ships “out of the water,” Trump was “incredulous” that the U.S. hadn’t sunk Iranian boats that have often had close run ins with U.S. ships, which he thought was a “humiliation and sign of weakness.”
  • Fortunately, 2017 saw fewer run ins between Iranian and U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf, as the sinking of an Iranian ship could spark a major regional conflagration.

Trump Is Seeking to Kill the Iran Nuclear Deal

  • Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and snap back sanctions – which was finalized in November – puts at risk severe limitations and comprehensive inspections over Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Iran has warned that it could respond to the provocation by expanding its nuclear program or limiting the access of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • By killing Iran’s benefit from the deal, the Trump administration appears to be baiting Iran to escalate its nuclear program – which Bolton could use to put his war plans in motion.
  • By targeting our allies with sanctions for seeking to uphold a UN Security Council-endorsed agreement that the U.S. negotiated, Trump has undermined U.S. leadership and sapped America’s diplomatic power.
  • In order to forestall a push to war, re-secure vital nonproliferation safeguards and restore U.S. diplomatic credibility, Congress should push for the U.S. to return to compliance with the deal.

Trump Has Assembled A War Cabinet

  • Bolton previously published an op-ed entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” and promised a cult-like group that was designated as a terrorist organization until 2011 that they would celebrate regime change in Iran by the end of 2018.
  • Mike Pompeo pushed 2,000 bombing sorties on Iran as an alternative to nuclear negotiations in 2014, suggested that the U.S. pursue regime change in Iran, and  encouraged Trump to first decertify and then kill the nuclear accord.
  • James Mattis, the so-called “adult in the room,” is no longer there to push back on ill-advised military strikes in Iran.

Trump Has an Expansive View of War Powers

  • The Trump administration did not seek Congressional authorization prior to launching strikes on the Assad regime in Syria both in 2017 and 2018.
  • In later justifying its strikes, the Trump administration stated that the action did not risk rising up to the level of a “war” and that the administration could conduct strikes in the national interest, thus the administration did not seek approval from Congress.

Congress Must Rein in Trump on Iran

  • Failure to rein in Trump and his war cabinet could lead to a military confrontation with a nation of 80 million that is nearly four times the size of Iraq.
  • Congress should investigate Bolton’s request for war options against Iran as well as the murky events in Iraq that precipitated the request. Sec. Mattis is no longer in a position to scuttle Bolton’s half-baked plans for war.
  • Congress should impose political and legal restraints on the administration’s ability to start a war with Iran. Last year, legislation was introduced (the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act – S. 3517/H.R. 7277) to prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval.
  • Congress should push for a return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal in order to shore up vital nonproliferation safeguards and restore American diplomatic credibility.
  • The American people do not want another war under a reckless administration – the 116th Congress must act without delay to rein in Trump on Iran.

NIAC Action Statement on Senate Passage of Iran Sanctions Bill

Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: (202) 386-6319

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, Executive Director for NIAC Action, issued the following statement in response to Senate passage of S. 722, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017:

“Giving Trump any new toys to wreak havoc in the Middle East is complete recklessness. We hope Members of Congress come to their senses and reconsider this ill-advised bill before it is too late.

It is the height of folly to expect Trump to show restraint with these new authorities when he is openly hostile to the nuclear deal and diplomacy in general. Numerous former administration officials, including Sec. Kerry, had cautioned against moving forward with this bill at this time. These warnings have gone unheeded in part due to the desire to pass new sanctions on Russia, which were inserted into the bill via amendment.

“The U.S. has now moved one step closer to a potential war with Iran. It is now the responsibility of those Senators – in particular those who asserted contrary to evidence that this bill is wholly consistent with the nuclear deal – to ensure that Donald Trump does not use these authorities to undermine the accord or spark conflict with Iran. If they fail to do so, they will end up bearing a large portion of the responsibility for an unnecessary geopolitical disaster.”


Former Official Highlights Risks of Iran Sanctions Bill S. 722

Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President under the Obama administration, highlighted his concerns with Iran sanctions bill S. 722 (the ‘Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017’) in a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this morning.

Additionally, later in the afternoon, Kahl joined with six other former Obama administration officials – Antony J. Blinken, Avril Haines, Jeff Prescott, Jon Finer, Philip Gordon and Robert Malley – to warn against the bill in an article published on Foreign Policy. The officials cautioned that “[a]ny marginal benefit of this legislation is outweighed by the risk of giving an impulsive president license to take steps that could undermine a deal that is working, isolate the United States, and put U.S. troops at risk.”

At the panel discussion at CSIS, Kahl noted: 

  • The language in section 4 is “overly broad” and risks complicating JCPOA implementation and dividing the P5+1 coalition;
  • Section 5 “effectively designates the IRGC a terrorist organization,” which would be “gratuitous” and could risk putting U.S. troops in harm’s way;
  • Section 8 would complicate sanctions lifting on Transition Day, conveying that the U.S. is ”unilaterally renegotiating the terms of the agreement.”
Critically, Kahl warns that the bill risks loosening the restraints on the Trump administration to avoid activities that would explicitly undermine the deal, as the administration would be able to point to consensus in Congress to justify its activities:
Section 4 – ballistic missile sanctions:
“The problem there is how overly broad the sectors or the contributions to the ballistic missile program that could be sanctionable are, and there’s a real risk that it could be so overly broad it could complicate the execution of say, the procurement channel that’s part of the JCPOA, or it could run sideways from European interests in a way that splits the P5+1 coalition.”
“As staff and Members of Congress tweak the legislation, they should make sure that any steps they take on the ballistic missile front aren’t so overly broad that it unintentionally runs sideways from basically our commitments under the deal or consensus that underlies the implementation of the deal.”
Section 5 – IRGC designation:
The concern there is that it effectively designates the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and the problem with that is not that the IRGC are good folks and we shouldn’t be mean to them. We can already designate and sanction any member of the IRGC and the IRGC as an organization under existing authorities, so the bill actually does nothing beyond being a symbolic gesture to basically rub it in the nose of the IRGC, so it’s gratuitous.” 
“And, I understand politics and the need to show that you’re tough on Iran, but in this case the symbolism could have the inadvertent effect of triggering a response by the IRGC, and if that response by the IRGC is something that actually puts our troops, our men and women, in harm’s way – it strikes me that’s a price that’s not worth paying for a symbolic or political thing that won’t make any difference to our ability to actually do what we can already do against the IRGC. In areas like this, I get the politics but politics should not be the reason to do it.”
Section 8 – Transition Day:
“Section 8 of the bill, which I think in some ways is the most problematic as it relates to the JCPOA…the problem there is it puts a new condition on us lifting sanctions on Transition Day.”
The problem with the bill is it adds a new condition – it says you can’t lift those sanctions unless the administration at the time can certify that actors are not engaged in objectionable behavior in non-nuclear areas, which is again completely unnecessary because if they’re engaged in non-nuclear malicious activities – cyber, terrorism, human rights violations – we can designate them under other authorities…So it doesn’t get us anything, but what it does do is it conveys that we are unilaterally renegotiating the terms of the agreement and that we are looking for a way, a loophole to not lift nuclear related sanctions by recasting them as non-nuclear sanctions. And I worry that Iran will say, ‘Well, screw us, then screw you – here are all our conditions for us living up to’ – and they’ll start unilaterally renegotiating the deal.”
“I agree with Mike that the deal is imperfect, that there are problems with when it sunsets and how long it is and what the constraints are and there are things that are outside the four corners of the deal – but you don’t solve that problem by putting unilateral conditions and unilaterally renegotiating the terms that were negotiated in the deal. You solve that by actually sitting with our European allies…plus the Chinese and the Russians – and the Iranians – and trying to figure out ways to smooth out or clarify the ambiguities and make some corrections.
“So I am very worried about this…In the Obama administration, you could almost be assured that they would use the national security waivers if they thought that implementing things that Congress did would run sideways from the implementation of the deal. The Trump administration is not going to use those waivers, and in fact they may see this as a bipartisan permission slip to be even more assertive, because in a world where the Trump administration owns the failure of the deal, then they may be restrained in pushing past the boundaries of the deal. In a world where they think they have permission from the Congress on both sides of the aisle to dial up enforcement and other activities against Iran to 11, then suddenly they can say look it’s not us, there’s a bipartisan consensus…I say this to my Democratic friends, you will own this too, if you sign up to this and things go sideways.”

12 Organizations Write Congress on Potential Iran Sanctions Act Debate


Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408

Washington, DC – A dozen national organizations that have supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) delivered a letter to Congress today outlining key considerations for any potential debate over legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA), which is set to expire at the end of the year. 
The battle over extending ISA may be exploited by opponents of the JCPOA, who have been stymied in their attempts to pass deal-killing measures over the past year. The letter urges Congress to only consider renewing ISA as a clean reauthorization. As the administration will retain full authority to snap back sanctions with or without the extension of ISA, the letter states that ISA should be allowed to expire in lieu of passing legislation that could unravel the JCPOA. Finally, it urges Congress to reaffirm that the U.S. is fully committed to uphold its sanctions relief obligations and that lawmakers should defend and support further action to ensure that relief under the JCPOA moves forward. 
The full text of the letter, including a list of signers, is available below.

View in PDF.
September 16, 2016
To: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
CC: Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge the 114th Congress to continue to maintain the United States’ commitment to upholding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has succeeded in blocking Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon while averting a disastrous war. We understand that Congress may soon focus its attention on a potential renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA), which is set to expire on December 31, 2016. In deciding whether and how to extend this legislation, we urge Congress to observe several important considerations.
First, Congress should only consider renewing ISA as a clean reauthorization. Many, but not all, of the legislative proposals to extend ISA introduced thus far include poison-pill provisions and measures that would seek to re-impose sanctions lifted under the JCPOA, albeit under a different justification. Shifting the goalposts midway through implementation would be viewed as an outright violation by our international partners in the P5+1 and by Iran, and must be rejected.
Second, it is important to note that the administration will retain full authority to snap back sanctions in order to respond to a potential Iranian breach of the accord with or without the extension of ISA under the authorities established by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). While some have asserted that ISA should be extended in order to ensure snapback authorities, the President retains virtually unlimited authority to impose or re-impose sanctions under IEEPA, rendering an extension of ISA largely duplicative of existing authorities. Therefore, if opponents of the JCPOA are unwilling to allow for a clean renewal of ISA, it should be allowed to expire rather than moving forward with legislation that could unravel the JCPOA and free Iran from its nuclear constraints under the accord.
Third, if ISA is extended beyond the date of the JCPOA’s “Transition Day,” Congress should reaffirm that the U.S. is fully committed to upholding its commitments to terminate nuclear-related sanctions on that date so long as Iran upholds its own obligations. The latest potential date for “Transition Day” under the JCPOA is October 18, 2023. Many of the current proposals to renew ISA go well beyond that time frame, departing from past ISA renewals that have extended the authorization by just five years. An act of Congress will therefore be necessary to terminate nuclear-related sanctions, including ISA sanctions, and Congress should make clear that this remains its intent. Further, lawmakers who support the JCPOA must also defend and push for further action by the U.S. government to ensure that businesses receive due assurance that they will not face U.S. legal repercussions for engaging in transactions allowable under the JCPOA.
There have been numerous efforts to undermine confidence in the JCPOA, both from Congressional opponents of the JCPOA and hardliners in Iran.  Any consideration of an ISA extension must not become an opportunity for opponents of the JCPOA on either side to re-litigate or renege on the accord. We urge you to take these important considerations into account to preserve the important national security achievements of the JCPOA. We will be monitoring this debate closely as it moves forward and look forward to working with you.

Americans for Peace Now
Council for a Livable World
Friends Committee on National Legislation
J Street
Just Foreign Policy
NIAC Action
Peace Action
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Women’s Action for New Directions
Win Without War


Statement: Mikulski Protects Iran Deal But Veto Battle Should Be Avoided

Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: (202) 386-6408

NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement after Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced that she will support the Iran nuclear deal:

“Senator Barbara Mikulski’s support is a major milestone that ensures the Iran agreement can move forward despite the millions of dollars and misinformation pumped out by opponents in an effort to kill the deal. With 34 votes secured, there are enough votes to protect the agreement through a presidential veto so that the U.S. will not be forced to renege on its commitments.
“The work for the agreement’s supporters is not done. Nearly the entire Republican presidential field has pledged to nullify the agreement if they take the White House. The opposition is now hoping to set the stage for further efforts to undermine and eventually unravel the deal, and passage of a disapproval resolution could provide that opening. 

“Forty-one votes are needed to prevent Congress from passing a disapproval resolution. Everyone who wants this deal to work should seek to ensure that 7 of the 11 undecided Senators support the deal so that the President does not need to use his veto to protect the agreement.

“Senator Mikulski’s significant Iranian-American constituency thanks her for her decision and hopes that her colleague Senator Cardin follows suit. NIAC and the Iranian-American community have worked for over a decade urging negotiation instead of war and endless isolation. All of those who said that you can’t negotiate with Iran, that war was inevitable, that the nuclear issue can never be resolved, and that Congress would surely reject any accord have been proven wrong. Those who have believed that peace is possible and who have worked to achieve that dream have been proven right.”


Congress Should Support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

View as PDF

The Deal Cuts Off Iran’s Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon

  • The time it would take Iran to enrich sufficient uranium for a single nuclear device is increased from 2-3 months to a full year for a decade.
  • Iran reduces its installed centrifuges by two-thirds for a decade.
  • Iran’s enrichment level is capped at 3.67%, far below weapons grade.
  • Iran’s uranium stockpile is cut by 97% to 300 kg for fifteen years, a fraction of the amount needed for a single nuclear weapon with further enrichment.
  • The core of the Arak reactor is destroyed and Iran redesigns the facility so that it will not produce weapons grade plutonium.
  • Iran foregoes reprocessing and ships out all spent fuel from Arak and future reactors.

The Agreement Imposes the Strongest Inspection Regime Ever Negotiated

  • The agreement is fully verifiable. If Iran tries to break out, it will be detected.
  • Iran’s entire nuclear fuel cycle will be closely monitored, including via a dedicated procurement channel and IAEA inspections of enrichment facilities, the Arak reactor, uranium mines and mills, and centrifuge production facilities.
  • Iran will implement and eventually ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol, ensuring that inspectors can access any suspicious site – including military sites – when they need to.
  • If Iran objects to IAEA access to a suspicious site, Iran has 24 days to permit access or have the matter referred to the UN Security Council, which can snap back sanctions.
  • 24 days is not sufficient to hide evidence of a covert enrichment facility, where traces of nuclear material could be detected months or years thereafter.
  • “Anytime, anywhere” access – as demanded by some critics – is neither necessary nor achievable.

Key Provisions of the Deal Last for Decades, and Some Forever

  • The ratification of the IAEA Additional Protocol will lock in intrusive inspections indefinitely, including at suspicious sites. This measure will last forever.
  • Iran’s commitments not to ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, to forego reprocessing, and to ship out spent fuel at the Arak reactor or any future reactors do not end.
  • The IAEA will have continuous monitoring of Iran’s uranium mines and mills for 25 years, and at centrifuge production facilities for 20 years.
  • Many limitations on enrichment – including the cap on enrichment threshold and on the size of Iran’s uranium stockpile – last for 15 years.

The Deal Could Facilitate New Diplomatic Opportunities

  • This deal depends on verification, not trust, to ensure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. But it does open many opportunities to advance U.S. interests and security beyond the nuclear issue if further diplomacy is pursued.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader, Foreign Minister and head of the Supreme National Security Council have all indicated that if the nuclear agreement is successful, Iran is willing to negotiate on other matters, including regional security issues.
  • Such openness could extend to areas of potential strategic convergence, like Afghanistan and Iraq, and divergence, such as Syria and Yemen. 
  • A successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.

The Alternatives are Grim

  • Without a deal, Iran’s breakout timeline could shrink from 2-3 months to less than a month, approaching an undetectable threshold.
  • Without a deal, the Arak reactor could come online in about a year without alterations and produce sufficient plutonium, if separated, for multiple nuclear weapons each year thereafter.
  • Rejecting a deal would unravel international enforcement of the sanctions regime. Constraints on and inspections of Iran’s nuclear program would diminish, or disappear altogether if Iran pulls out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
  • Military strikes cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear know-how, could only set Iran’s nuclear program back by a year or two, and would likely incentivize Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent.

Members of Congress Welcome the Iran Deal

Dozens of Members of Congress have issued statements welcoming the announcement of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran:

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)

“The historic agreement reached today proves the power of engagement over isolation — we can choose peace over war. The world is safer thanks to the patient diplomacy and determination of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and our P5+1 negotiating partners. In the coming weeks, the focus will be on the U.S. Congress to see if Republicans take this deal away from the world. We will stop those who want to push us closer to war.” >> Full statement

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA):

Today President Obama announced  an historic agreement with Iran negotiated by Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, and the other P5+1 nations.  Over the next few months, I look forward to reviewing the details of the proposed agreement with my congressional colleagues.

The United States is under no illusion about the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the global community.  Continuing to operate in the dark, however, is unsustainable.  An agreement that makes the process of demilitarization and nuclear disarmament more transparent, in the long-term, can lead to greater national security for all members of the world community. >> Full Statement

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):

“Two years ago, the United States and the other P5+1 nations began negotiating with the Republic of Iran with the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I applaud President Obama and his team for their effort to achieve this vital objective at the negotiating table. In the days ahead, I will carefully review and scrutinize this more than 80-page agreement to determine whether it meets that goal. In doing so, I intend to confer with people with competing views and perspectives. I will then exercise my best judgment as to whether the agreement achieves its goal and serves the best interests of the United States and our friends and allies. If we can achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon through peaceful means, it would be a very welcome result.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA):

“I congratulate President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for completing the P5+1 negotiations and achieving a final proposed agreement to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Over the next several weeks, I look forward to reviewing the details of the agreement and becoming further informed through classified briefings, experts in the field, and considering the views and analyses of concerned stakeholders. I will carefully weigh all of this information and form my own judgments on whether the agreement adequately addresses the security interests of the United States and our allies, including, Israel in blocking Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. I will compare the agreement against the realistic alternatives available to us if the agreement is rejected. I expect to take full advantage of the 60-day review period before deciding how to vote on this important matter.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT):

“I commend President Obama and Secretaries Kerry and Moniz on their leadership in reaching a comprehensive agreement. As I begin to review the agreement, my priority is ensuring that this deal can verifiably prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As with any nuclear arms deal, we must evaluate this proposal not based on trust and faith, but on cold, hard analysis of what best advances the national security interests of the United States and what best enhances global stability.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT):

“The agreement announced this morning is the result of two years of negotiations over profoundly important issues of national security. Under no circumstances should anyone rush to judgment. Those who do show their lack of bona fides. Over the coming days, I will review the full agreement, solicit input from experts and my constituents, and will support or reject the deal based on the best security interests of the United States, Israel, and our allies. I will now focus in particular on the strength of the proposed verification regime, the mechanisms for accountability if Iran cheats, and the scenarios should Congress reject this deal.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV):

“With the announcement today of an agreement with Iran, I stand strong in the belief that no deal is better than a bad deal and a nuclear-armed Iran is simply unacceptable. As I join my colleagues in closely examining the details of the agreement, I want to commend the Obama Administration for their diplomatic efforts and tireless work through the negotiations.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA):

“The proposed agreement with Iran is historic, with the power to shape not only the Middle East but the entire world. As a dad of two little girls, I want us to take a path that will make it less likely that Iran ever develops a nuclear weapon and that protects America and its allies abroad. With that in mind, my sincere hope is that all members of Congress will take a deep breath, review the details of this accord, and make a fully informed judgment. I intend to use the next sixty days to carefully review this agreement to make sure it puts us on a path toward a safer and more peaceful world.” >> Full Statement

Del. Eleanor Homes-Norton (D-DC)

During the question period, I asked Secretary Clinton about the anticipated opposition to the nuclear deal and how it should be handled.  I told her I thought the deal would be difficult to attack head-on considering its air-tight qualities, such as continuous international monitoring of Iraq’s nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency, daily access to all facilities, including military facilities, among others.  I added that arguments about Iran cheating appear to be met with mandatory international inspections and monitoring through Iran.  Instead, I said, opponents are likely to switch the basis for their disagreement. >> Full Statement

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL):

“I commend the efforts of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and their team in securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. To be sure, it is not in the interest of the United States or its allies for Iran to ever develop a nuclear weapon. I agree with President Obama that no deal is better than a bad deal and it is through that prism that I will thoroughly review and evaluate this agreement.  We cannot sign any agreement with Iran based on trust, nor should sanctions be loosed unless Iran meets its obligations and such compliance can be verified. We must remain ever vigilant in our insistence that Iran never reaches nuclear capability.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA):

“Congress must ensure that this deal provides sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, including the right measure of sanctions and international inspections to keep Iran in line with the terms of the agreement. While this agreement is an important step toward a more peaceful world we must remain watchful to ensure that Iran continues to act in good faith without deviation.  We should only advance an agreement with Iran that is in our best national interest, and protects the security of the American people – both at home and abroad.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA):

“An agreement to halt nuclear proliferation cannot be built on trust but on verifiable, enforceable requirements. The hard work of President Obama, Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Ernest Moniz has brought us a step closer to an historic opportunity to prevent Iran’s nuclear weapons development. The unity of the international community has made the economic and trade sanctions work in pressuring Iran to negotiate a deal.  >> Full Statement

Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA):

“Today’s historic announcement is a culmination of years of hard work by many people. While initial reports indicate that the agreement is what we sought, in that it prioritizes peace and safety over aggression and isolation, I plan to read the agreement in its entirety, confer with experts and meet with the Administration about how it achieves our goals.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO):

“I am encouraged by the deal reached today with Iran and our international partners.  I will carefully read and review the terms of the agreement over the next 60 days, but I believe this agreement aligns with the initial framework reached several months ago.  We must make sure Iran holds up its end of the bargain at every step of the way through strict verification requirements, but this is a positive step toward reducing the nuclear threat that exists in the Middle East and gives peaceful diplomacy a chance to succeed.” >> Full Statement

Rep. John Larson (D-CT)

“I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Moniz for taking this tremendous step towards addressing one of the biggest international security threats – a nuclear-armed Iran. This is a historic moment, and I look forward to reviewing these details and discussing them with my constituents. To that end, I will be hosting a forum on Sunday, July 19th at the West Hartford Town Hall.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT):

“Secretary of State Kerry, Energy Secretary Moniz, President Obama and all the P5+1 negotiators should be applauded for their tireless dedication that got us to where we are today. In a region where armed conflict is all too common it is critical that we use our strength as an international leader to promote our interests, the security of our allies and prevent a nuclear Iran. We must not allow the proliferation of nuclear weapons, particularly in a region embroiled in turmoil.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI):

“The accord announced in Vienna today marks a watershed moment in our pursuit to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.  I will review the final deal to ensure that it effectively prevents Iran from acquiring the material it would need to develop a nuclear bomb, has sufficient limits on Iran’s nuclear weapons-related infrastructure, and that the inspection and transparency regime for holding Iran accountable is robust and will protect the interests of the United States and its allies, especially Israel.  If this is a good deal, it is the first step in a long road to blocking Iran’s access to a nuclear weapon, and we must remain vigilant to ensure Iranian compliance.  Our guiding principle must continue to be distrust but verify.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA):

“I have always hoped for a negotiated resolution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The general outlines of the deal, made public this morning, appear reasonable and encouraging. However, I will carefully review the details and discuss the scientific aspects of the agreement with qualified scientists. I have never expected a perfect agreement because that is an impossible standard. For me, the most important question is, if this deal is not acceptable, then what does the United States do next? Some argue for continued sanctions but it’s clear to me that Russia and China won’t go along with that. Moreover, I fear Europe would not support the U.S. in continued sanctions so we would be left with unilateral sanctions and historically these have been ineffectual. Nor do I think a military option is prudent or feasible at this time. Congress has 60 days to review this agreement and I will carefully consider all aspects of it before making a final decision.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI):

“I would like to thank President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the countless U.S. officials who have been dedicated to this crucial task over the past two years. While Congress has a great deal of work ahead regarding the review of this agreement, we must not fail to recognize the historic achievement made today. I congratulate all those involved for their valiant efforts to stabilize the Gulf region and pave the path for peace and prosperity for the United States, for Israel, and for the world.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX):

“Negotiations have already made our families safer.   While demanding thorough scrutiny, this agreement appears to mark genuine progress for all who believe that peace will make us more secure than war with Iran.  The bomb-Iran naysayers for whom the only good deal is a dead deal will unceasingly raise obstacles, but ultimately reason will prevail and the President’s leadership will be sustained.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA):

“This is an historic accomplishment for President Obama, Secretary Kerry, the American negotiators, and the diplomatic process to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I commend our diplomats for skillfully averting a global showdown and blocking Iran’s efforts to obtain the bomb.”

“We cannot allow a nuclear Iran and this deal will serve as a lasting deterrent to keep the United States out of another devastating war in the Middle East.  Now I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure this deal goes forward unhindered.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT):

“It is essential to America’s national security and to stability in the Middle East that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.  The United States and our allies have two options to achieve this vital objective – a diplomatic agreement, or military action.  Preventing a nuclear Iran through a verifiable and enforceable diplomatic solution is far preferable to yet another war in the region.  No one should doubt that Iran is a bad actor. It will not change its behavior overnight.  But it is far superior for America and our allies to challenge the belligerent foreign policy and human rights record of a non-nuclear Iran than one in possession of nuclear weapons.  I am optimistic, based on early reports, that the agreement announced this morning by President Obama includes aggressive and intrusive inspections.  And that, should Iran cheat, it will again be slapped with the same tough economic sanctions that brought it to the table in the first place.  I will be reviewing the agreement to confirm these reports and to ensure that it embraces the essential, clear-eyed approach to Iran of ‘distrust and verify’.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX):

“After years of negotiating, the President announced an historic agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program. I believe America and its international partners are taking an important first step in the right direction. In doing so, we are expanding the reach of our nation’s diplomatic powers and hopefully, eliminating the spread of nuclear arms. I applaud President Obama’s commitment to diplomacy and peace-building strategies and commend Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Ernest Moniz for their skilled leadership during the negotiations.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX):

“I commend Secretaries Kerry and Moniz for their tireless efforts negotiating this agreement and for their and President Obama’s steadfast commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This agreement has the potential to position the United States and our allies toward a future of peace and security. Initial readings of the deal’s text indicate it contains stringent accountability measures that protect against the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. Congress will now have a say in how the United States proceeds, and I hope that my colleagues will take time to thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate the details of the agreement our negotiators achieved.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):

“We will carefully scrutinize the terms of this agreement. The stakes are high, and the details of this deal matter. A good deal could bring greater stability to the Middle East, more security throughout the world, and help avoid escalation in the region. Congress has an important responsibility in this process, and playing politics right now is the last thing we need.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

“Americans prefer a diplomatic solution that ensures Iran cannot develop or obtain a nuclear weapon. If early reports are correct, it appears the agreement the U.S. and other U.N. Security Council nations have finally reached with Iran is the kind of durable and verifiable agreement that is far preferable to further escalation and possible military action.”

“I have not seen the details, and look forward to being briefed on its terms. Congress must now review the agreement to ensure that it will cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, and that the sharp limits it imposes on Iran’s nuclear program can be verified by international inspectors. This is one of the most significant national security issues Congress will face in a generation; it should not be subject to the kinds of partisan attacks and political ad wars we have seen in recent months. Congress should give this agreement the careful consideration and serious debate it deserves.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

“It would be ‘a catastrophe’ for us to walk away from the deal.” >> Full statement

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Il)

“The United States, working with our allies, has reached a historic agreement with Iran that, according to President Obama and Secretary Kerry, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I commend our negotiators for this critical effort. Finding a diplomatic solution will make our country, our allies, and the world a safer place.” >> Full statement

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

“After many years of painstaking negotiations, I am very encouraged by President Obama’s announcement this morning.  Diplomacy is far preferable to war, and if this agreement can achieve its goal and in so doing prevent the United States from being drawn into another open-ended and potentially catastrophic war in the Middle East, that will be a monumental achievement.

“It is unfortunate that some in Congress and elsewhere sought to derail this difficult and extraordinary diplomatic effort from the start, ignoring the fact that Iran’s nuclear program surged ahead despite U.S. sanctions, until these negotiations froze it in place.  The President has been unwavering in his insistence that the goal of this agreement is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and I applaud him for his vision and his resolve.  It is now up to Members of Congress to carry out their oversight responsibility with hearings and a full debate, before reaching our own conclusions.  We should keep our focus on the national security interests at stake for our country, and for our allies.  To truly serve our national interests and the people we represent, congressional leaders should want to do everything possible to make it work, not to do everything possible to undermine it, even before they have a chance to read it.” >> Full statement

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)

“Today’s historic nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran is a major step forward for American diplomacy. This deal is built on the framework reached in April and the product of months of principled negotiation. I commend the President as well as Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz for their courage, determination, and leadership in working with the P5 + 1 partners to make this deal a reality.

“Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is essential to the security of the U.S., the Middle East, and countries around the world. With this agreement we have an opportunity to avert the unthinkable alternative of yet another war in the region and advance the broader goal of containing nuclear weapons globally. Along with my colleagues in Congress, I look forward to carefully reviewing the agreement and having a robust debate.” >> Full statement

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)

“Almost immediately, this agreement- which none of my colleagues has read- has been denounced for any number of reasons. To the harshest critic among us, let me say this. Cool your jets. Let’s read the document. Let’s meet with the Americans who’ve negotiated it and ask them the tough questions that need to be asked. And while we’re doing that, let’s ask ourselves, ‘What are the alternatives?’ At first blush, this agreement appears to track the framework laid out several months ago. If that’s true- and I hope it is- the most critical element of the deal for me is likely to be our ability, and the ability of the world, to verify strict Iranian compliance with the agreement. But for now, let’s hold our fire. Let’s do our homework and, then, engage over the next 60 days in a thoughtful, respectful debate that an opportunity like the one before us deserves. >> Full statement

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)

“The road leading up to tonight’s announcement has been long and arduous, but the P5+1 have returned a strong, verifiable nuclear deal with Iran. While I plan to thoroughly examine the final agreement, the terms announced today are in line with the positive framework agreed to back in April. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ensures that Iran can move forward with an exclusively peaceful nuclear program, subject to an unprecedented level of intrusive and permanent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our negotiators, led tenaciously by Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Sherman, have shown tremendous grace under pressure. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif also deserve enormous credit for their resolve and earnest pursuit of an agreement. The U.S. and Iran are burdened by a history of distrust, fraught with dissension and cynicism. Let us hope this nuclear deal proves to be the first stepping stone toward a more peaceful future for us both.” >> Full statement

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

“I commend Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and the entire U.S. diplomatic team for their tireless and committed work at these historic negotiations. I plan to carefully examine the language of the proposed agreement and look forward to hearing from our nation’s top current and retired national security leaders about how this agreement will improve regional and global security. We need to ensure that this agreement has the most invasive inspections possible, the most intensive enforcement provisions possible, including expedited ability to reinstate sanctions if Iran violates the agreement, and the most aggressive means to remove the technological capability for Iran to quickly make a nuclear weapon. Our continuing and ultimate goal must always be to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from ever emerging.” >> Full statement

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

“This agreement is an historic achievement. Three years ago, it was hard to imagine an Iran capable of coming to, and staying, at the negotiating table to make these concessions. Iran has consistently adhered to the Joint Plan of Action, and it appears the agreement aligns with April’s framework. We now have a path to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran that would unravel what little stability remains in the Middle East.” >> Full statement

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

“This agreement demonstrates the power of American-led diplomacy and establishes a strict and robust monitoring and verification system.  If fully implemented, this deal will help control Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”

“As President Obama points out, the accord is not built on trust, but on verification.  Any attempt by Iran to break the rules or covertly pursue nuclear weapons must be met with swift, forceful, and decisive action by the United States and the international community. It has taken nearly two years of persistent, rigorous negotiations to reach this point.  President Obama and his negotiating team – at every echelon, including our scientists and nuclear experts – deserve the nation’s thanks.” >> Full statement

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

“Whenever possible, I believe the U.S. should seek to advance our security goals through diplomacy rather than force. The President and his team, particularly Secretary Kerry, deserve tremendous credit for pursuing this diplomatic solution to one of our world’s most pressing security challenges. I now look forward to reviewing the details of the proposed deal in the weeks ahead to determine whether it truly meets our nation’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” >> Full statement

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)

“Rejecting this landmark agreement would be a flagrant rejection of the tremendous progress our diplomats and our allies have made to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, and the leadership our country has shown on the international stage.

In the coming weeks, both chambers of Congress are expected to vote on whether or not this agreement moves forward. I will be voting in support of this monumental diplomatic achievement and in support of peace. More than 30 renowned nuclear non-proliferation experts have concluded that the parameters of the deal are a “net plus for non-proliferation.” Additionally, US and Israeli security experts have long called for a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear program.

We have an opportunity to choose peace. It is time for Congress to be on the right side of history.” >> Full statement

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

“As the President has said all along, ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’ However, it is also true that a good deal is better than no deal. It is clear that pursuing these negotiations was the best way to address the dangers that a nuclear Iran poses to the United States and our allies, especially Israel. I am glad that we insisted on giving diplomacy a chance. The alternatives to diplomacy risked tying the United States into another lengthy and costly conflict in the Middle East.”

“This agreement will not solve every problem – and I stand with the President in his pledge to do even more to protect Israel’s security and combat ISIS. But this deal will prevent Iran from posing the most serious problem – a nuclear threat. Now that our negotiators have succeeded, I stand ready to make sure this agreement moves forward.” >> Full statement

Rep. Raúl D. Grijalva (D-AZ)

“The historic agreement struck today between the United States, our allies, and Iran is a triumph of international relations. President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our P5+1 partners have proven that there is a better paradigm for foreign engagement than the constant threat of military action: it’s called diplomacy.  This deal is the responsible way to avert nuclear ambitions, and to ensure that we all share a safer and more peaceful world.” >> Full statement

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

“Today’s announced deal with Iran, if fully implemented, will prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon while ensuring greater stability in the Middle East. I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our P5+1 partners for their tireless work to obtain a deal that promotes global peace and security. In the coming weeks, the world’s attention will shift from Vienna to the halls of Congress. I hope my Republicans colleagues will put partisan politics aside and support this deal instead of pushing us one step closer to another war.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“The historic nuclear agreement announced today is the product of years of tough, bold and clear-eyed leadership from President Obama.  I commend the President for his strength throughout the historic negotiations that have led to this point.  I join him in commending Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz for their leadership.

“A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel, and unacceptable to the world.  Aggressive restrictions and inspections offer the best long-term plan to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  Congress will closely review the details of this agreement.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

“I am pleased that the White House worked with Senators Cardin and Corker to ensure that Congress will have the opportunity it deserve to review this agreement. As Congress now turns to the business of examining this agreement with great scrutiny, I want to express my appreciation to the countless U.S. officials who have been working tirelessly on these negotiations.” >> Full Statement

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

“Concluding an agreement will not only promote long-term security in the Middle East, but also remove the short-term specter of a destructive military confrontation. While I plan to meticulously examine the proposed deal and consult closely with administration officials and the intelligence community in in the coming days, we have every reason to believe that this deal will make the Middle East and the broader world safer.”

“The American people have been clear—they strongly prefer a negotiated agreement to the alternative of war and bloodshed.  Today’s announcement is an important step towards achieving peace.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN)

“The best way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is through diplomacy, not war. At a time when the Middle East is awash in crippling violence, we have an opportunity to address one of the most dangerous threats to the United States and the region through a negotiation, and I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and their team for the agreement that was reached today. I know it was a long road.”

“Over the coming hours and days, I will carefully review the terms of the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action ‎to ensure the agreement adequately protects the interests of United States and our allies. And as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I look forward to a congressional review process that is fair and deliberative.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

“I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the leaders of other major nations for producing a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to learning more about the complex details of this agreement to make sure that it is effective and strong.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

“Today’s announcement is a historic step for international cooperation and our shared goal of reducing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. I have always believed that constructive diplomacy is the best way to achieve a safer Middle East, and I congratulate our team of negotiators on reaching this agreement.”

“The next critical step is for Congress to review the agreement, and I will be carefully considering the details, as well as the alternatives. It is vital for Congress to hear from our experts, including those at New Mexico’s national labs, in order to understand how this deal will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I urge Congress to study the agreement thoughtfully – not with an eye to U.S. politics but on what will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or the materials to develop one. We all agree that a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat that must be prevented. This is the greatest nuclear nonproliferation challenge of our time, and it is a challenge that we must meet.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM):
“Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is absolutely critical to the safety and security of our allies in the Middle East.  We must stop the spread of nuclear weapons.  I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and our allies for their commitment to halting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.  Congress must carefully consider the terms of this agreement, and I will take a close look at all of the details.  It is critical that it includes strong safeguards and transparency provisions that hold Iran accountable.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)

“I look forward to thoroughly reviewing the agreement announced today. We cannot let our desire for a deal allow us to accept a bad deal. And we cannot allow politics to stand in the way of a good deal. In the coming days, Congress will have the opportunity to scrutinize the deal presented today. It is my hope that Congress takes advantage of this time to honestly review the deal and determine whether it is in the best interest of the United States to move forward. This potential agreement comes on the heels of a long history of mistrust and cheating by Iran. Consolation with our allies and a strong inspections and verification regime will be vital to the success of this agreement.”

Again, I applaud the Obama Administration for the progress it has made thus far and look forward to reviewing this agreement in far greater detail.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

“Throughout negotiations, I’ve been adamant that the United States must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that hardnosed diplomacy is the preferred means of doing so. Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation, which I supported, that allows the House and Senate to consider this weighty agreement in all its detail.  It is critical that Congress take the time necessary to conduct this review. My support for this deal hinges on whether we can verify that Iran’s paths to obtaining a nuclear weapon are thoroughly blocked. I want to congratulate Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and the rest of the negotiating team for their tremendous persistence in reaching this agreement, and I look forward to a thorough review with my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA)
“As the terms and consequences of this agreement become clear during the period of Congressional review, I would urge my colleagues to give the measure the serious thought it deserves.  If the agreement is flawed it should be rejected; at the same time, we must not compare the proposal to an ideal, but rather to any credible alternative. Will rejection of the deal lead to additional sanctions and an «Iran» willing to concede more, or to renewed enrichment and a path to war?  These are the stakes and our decision should be made with sober thought and a minimum of partisan demagoguery.” >> Full Statement (CQ subscription needed)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

“I applaud the U.S. negotiating team for its hard work to find a diplomatic solution to peacefully limit Iran’s nuclear program.  A nation’s commitment to diplomacy is every bit as important as its commitment to military strength.  Now that the negotiations have concluded, Congress must give the deal a thorough and independent review to ensure it cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE):

“Under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. This agreement must demonstrate in a verifiable manner that it will stop and reverse Iran’s march toward the bomb. The deal will be met with much skepticism from Congress, and we should be circumspect about the limits of what we can achieve with—or without—an agreement. It is my job to scrutinize the details of any deal, debate the merits, and examine added options. There are two risks involved: the risk of an agreement, and the risk of no agreement.” >> Full Statement 

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM):
“I welcome the fact that this accord will prevent Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon and threaten its neighbors and the world. This deal breaks each and every pathway to a weaponized nuclear device, including any potential covert effort. In the first eight years of this century, Iran’s nuclear program surged ahead rapidly, adding thousands of centrifuges, building complex nuclear facilities, and stockpiling enough highly enriched uranium to build a number of bombs. Today’s accord slashes that stockpile to a mere fraction of the material necessary to build a single device, unplugs thousands of centrifuges, and it opens those facilities to international inspection. We should welcome each of those developments as a major step toward regional and international security.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):
“A nuclear-armed Iran represents a significant threat to the United States, to our allies in the Middle East, and to the world. Diplomacy represents our best hope of ending that threat, far better than the alternative of escalating tensions and war. President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Moniz deserve great credit for working with our allies to reach a negotiated solution to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without resorting to military action. In the coming weeks, I look forward to reviewing the details of this agreement to determine whether they are tough, verifiable, and effective.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):

“I’m proud that America led six countries toward an historic international agreement with Iran.  I will now take the time to carefully review this diplomatic agreement and make a judgement on it based on whether it is built on verification, achieves the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and serves America’s national security interests.” >> Full Statement

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY):
“This historic agreement is a victory for American diplomacy and international security. We now have a clear plan to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which ensures a safer world and a more stable Middle East. As President Obama stated this morning, this agreement is not built on trust—it is built on verification. I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, and our entire negotiating team for their hard work, and I thank our fellow P5+1 nation partners for their dedication in reaching this landmark deal.” >> Full Statement
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI):
“Over the past several months, I’ve engaged with the White House on the status of the negotiations and just this morning received an update on the specifics of the deal, which comes after years of tireless work by President Obama and his Administration. While Congress will spend the next several weeks using our authority to thoughtfully examine the agreement with great scrutiny, Iran will have to earn sanctions relief through consistent compliance. The pathway to implementing a deal to effectively prevent Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon is in sight.” >> Full Statement
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):
Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in the effort to preclude Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. It is essential for the surety of the United States and for our allies, that this agreement foreclose every possible path that Iran might have to a nuclear weapon. The devil is in the details. I will be deeply engaged in examining the details in preparation for the upcoming review by Congress.” >> Full Statement
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):
“The agreement announced today between the world’s major powers—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany—and Iran is historic. It offers a verifiable, diplomatic resolution to one of our most pressing national security challenges. This is a strong agreement that meets our national security needs and I believe will stand the test of time. I stand behind the U.S. negotiating team and will support this agreement in the Senate.” >> Full Statement
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL):
“I am encouraged by the President’s comments this morning. It is imperative that members of Congress and the general public not rush to judgement on an agreement that will have enormous consequences not only for the Iranian nuclear program, but for U.S. national security interests throughout the region.” >> Full Statement
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN):
“I applaud the President, Secretary Kerry, and our international allies for reaching this agreement. While the announcement of the deal is indeed historic, and the Administration and our allies should be commended for their tireless work, the people, through their elected representatives in Congress, will have the final say. We cannot accept a bad deal, nor can we allow ideology to undermine a good one. Congress must act in good faith, make the hard choices, and do the job we were elected to do. Over the coming days and weeks, I look forward to reviewing the deal vigorously.” >> Full Statement
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA):
“I congratulate President Obama and Secretary Kerry on the painstaking effort required to reach a nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community. The framework under which the current deal was negotiated is the best available option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
“We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Without this deal, Iran would be able to resume development of its nuclear program without international supervision and enrich enough uranium for a bomb in as little as three months. Furthermore, if America were to simply walk away from this deal, it’s likely that the strong multilateral sanctions regime would collapse. The military option is just as bad: it would only set Iran’s program back by a few years, destabilize an already volatile region, and possibly lead to a wider military confrontation.” >> Full Statement
Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI):
“I have consistently advocated for diplomatic solutions to our nation’s foreign policy objectives, and appreciate the Administration’s efforts to reach an agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear program.  In May, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which gives Congress 60 days for review of the agreement before it can be implemented.  I look forward to an open debate on the merits of this deal, and hope that in the end it will meet standards that will help improve the regional security in the Middle East.  The objectives of verification and dismantlement must be of the highest quality, which will in turn improve the national security of both the United States and our allies.” >> Full Statement
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY):
“The Obama Administration has shown tremendous leadership on the world stage in a challenging process that could have been derailed if the Administration was not firmly committed to a multiparty process.  This demonstration of strength and willingness to engage multilaterally enhances America’s leverage now and for future generations. While all options must remain on the table, the announced deal is a positive development that deserves the thoughtful consideration of Congress so that we can give diplomacy and peace the chance to prevail over conflict that could lead to war.” >> Full Statement
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA):
“Absent the implementation of an acceptable nuclear agreement with Iran, the Iranian nuclear program would once again be opaque and no longer restrained by strict limitations. The countries of the world that have a strict policy of preventing a nuclear Iran, including the U.S. and a number of our allies, would be left with a scenario that could demand immediate and decisive action. Our remaining options would be limited in both variety and efficacy. During General Michael Hayden’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa in November 2014 he affirmed that the euphemistically termed “kinetic” option would ‘guarantee that which we are trying to prevent, an Iran that will stop at nothing, in secret, to develop a nuclear weapon.’”
“The diplomacy conducted by Secretary Kerry and his negotiating team has offered the world a potential alternative to the “kinetic” option. As a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will be carefully reviewing the text of the agreement to determine if it meets the high standard to which we should hold a nuclear agreement with Iran.” >> Full Statement

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN):
“This is a complex issue, and I’m glad that our negotiators have been able to reach an agreement. In the days to come, I will have to review the deal closely. Obviously, a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program is preferable to military action. I hope that the deal will verifiably block Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI):

“The goal of negotiations between world powers and Iran has always been to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Secretary Kerry and his team should be commended for their hard work to achieve this goal. It is important to remember that an alternative to a diplomatic resolution is at best uncertain and at worst very dangerous.I am encouraged about today’s development and will examine this nuclear agreement with Iran closely, ultimately judging the agreement on if it makes the world a safer place. >> Full Statement

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV):

“Today’s historic accord is the result of years of hard work by President Barack Obama and his administration. The world community agrees that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable and a threat to our national security, the safety of Israel and the stability of the Middle East. Now it is incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)

“Since this process began nearly 20 months ago, I believed we must give diplomacy a chance. I salute President Obama and Secretary Kerry for their relentless pursuit of diplomacy with verification. I look forward to reading the details of today’s historic announcement and working with my colleagues to ensure that Iran and the international community meet all promises and commitments to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)

“The best way to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program is through a comprehensive, international agreement like this one.  We will get a chance to talk about the details in the days ahead, but I hope my colleagues in Congress don’t let partisan politics stand in the way of approving what could be a historic deal to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.” >> Full Statement

Rep. Luis V. Gutérrez (D-IL)

This is a matter of war and peace.  With the agreement, we are giving peace a chance.  War is almost never the right answer to any question, but it is always an option.  Skeptics and critics need to give this a chance to work because the consequences are so high and the prospects for a peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear ambitions are fragile.  If actions by Iran invalidate the agreement and necessitate a different, aggressive, military strategy, there is nothing that prevents that in the future.” >> Full Statement

Rep. David Price (D-NC)

“The JCPOA isn’t perfect, but it is remarkably strong in its surveillance and enforcement provisions.  This isn’t just my opinion:  it is the view of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, and Russia; the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Energy, and Treasury; members of the Iranian diaspora; prominent academics and regional experts; current and former diplomats; and many Israeli military and intelligence experts.  No other viable diplomatic alternatives exist.

“For the U.S. Congress to unilaterally reject the JCPOA would likely destroy the multilateral sanctions regime and leave Iran free to resume its nuclear program. Doing so would threaten not just our credibility on the international stage, but also our national security and that of our allies.  That is not a risk I am willing to take.”  >> Full Statement


NIAC Action Welcomes Historic Iran Nuclear Deal

Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408

NIAC Action’s Executive Director, Jamal Abdi, sent the following statement to Congress urging support for the comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran:

The comprehensive nuclear deal that has been secured by the United States, Iran and UN powers is a historic achievement. Diplomacy has made the U.S. and our allies safer by cutting off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and averting a disastrous war. Additionally, a separate roadmap was announced between the IAEA and Iran to resolve outstanding questions regarding past possible military dimensions (PMD) by December 2015.
While we continue to review the agreement, our initial assessment is that the final deal is indeed in line with the April framework agreement struck in Lausanne, which exceeded expectations and received significant Congressional support:
  • Iran moves down to 5,060 first generation centrifuges for ten years. It currently has over 19,000 installed.
  • No accumulating enriched uranium through advanced centrifuges for 10 years. Afterwards, Iran will phase out its first generation centrifuges.
  • All enrichment will be at the Natanz facility for fifteen years.
  • Enrichment capped at 3.67% for fifteen years.
  • Fordow will be converted into a research facility, and no centrifuges will accumulate enriched uranium.
  • Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile will be reduced by roughly 97%, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg for a full fifteen years.
  • Iran will redesign and rebuild the Arak heavy water reactor so that it does not produce weapons grade plutonium, and Iran will ship spent fuel out of the country and forego reprocessing. This will shut down the plutonium route.
  • Iran implements the Additional Protocol and moves to ratify it, locking it (and intrusive inspections, including at suspicious sites) in place indefinitely.
  • Iran and the IAEA move to a speedy resolution of the investigation into prior, possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Iran permits intrusive monitoring throughout Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain for decades. 
Members of Congress who have backed U.S. negotiators and blocked efforts to undermine these negotiations deserve tremendous credit for preserving the political space necessary to strike a deal. However, there is still more work to do.
The forthcoming Congressional review period will be a minimum of sixty days and begins as soon as the agreement and its annexes, as well as a verification assessment and certifications, are submitted to Congress. The Congressional review, and potential vote on a deal, is a decision between peace and war. It will determine whether the U.S. peacefully achieves its goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, or burns important bridges with some of its closest allies and rejects the diplomatic option. 
It is imperative that Congress undertake a substantive review, factoring in the significant benefits of a deal and the likely costs of voting down an accord negotiated by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and Iran. If an agreement fails due to Congressional action, Iran’s nuclear program would be unshackled, IAEA monitoring over the program would diminish, and international support for the sanctions regime would crumble. With diminished leverage and an advancing, unconstrained Iranian nuclear program, the U.S. and Iran would be on a path to war.
NIAC Action, the new 501c(4) organization to the National Iranian American Council, will be organizing across the country with other organizations supportive of a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis to ensure that Congress votes for peace in the weeks ahead. We look forward to providing Congress with tools it needs to make the right decision on this deal, and to ensure lawmakers hear from their constituents who are among the overwhelming numbers of Americans who support a deal and do not want a war. We will be in touch to help ensure that the U.S. and Iran make the most of this vital opportunity.