Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and James Lankford (R-OK) announced a bipartisan push with 24 of their Senate colleagues to deter Iran from advancing its nuclear weapon capability. In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported the discovery of nearly weapons-grade uranium particles. This report comes as Iran has made significant progress in its nuclear program, including the capacity to make enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb in as little as 12 days. As Iran continues to suppress dissent among its own people, it is further cementing itself as a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Gillibrand, Lankford, and their colleagues are calling on the Biden administration to work with our allies to secure their commitment to use the power and provisions embedded in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 to restrict Iran’s access to the benefits of international sanctions relief while progressing its development of nuclear weapons, commonly referred to as snapback sanctions.
“It is imperative today that we strengthen our efforts to deter Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We must make Iran understand, in no uncertain terms, that further advances in its nuclear program will be met with unified international action,” said the senators. “Iran cannot be allowed to advance its nuclear program with impunity while reaping the benefits of sanctions relief from the international community. We urge the Biden administration to reinforce this posture of deterrence and provide leadership to strengthen the resolve of the international community.”
The senators continued, “Given the state of the Iranian nuclear program, we encourage you to secure the commitment of our allies to implement the snapback mechanism embedded in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 should Iran advance its program past the weapons-grade threshold.”
In addition to Gillibrand and Lankford, this letter was signed by Senators Bennet (D-C0), Blumenthal (D-CT), Boozman (R-AR), Braun (R-IN), Capito (R-WV), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Crapo (R-ID), Grassley (R-IA), Hassan (D-NH), Hoeven (R-ND), Manchin (D-WV), Moran (R-KS), Kelly (D-AZ), Kennedy (R-LA), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Ricketts (R-NE), Rosen (D-NV), Scott (R-FL), Sinema (I-AZ), Sullivan (R-AK), Warnock (D-GA), and Wyden (D-OR).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear President Biden,
The regime in Iran continues to suppress dissent at home and export its malign influence abroad – further cementing its status as the leading destabilizing force in the Middle East. In February, the IAEA reported the discovery of uranium particles enriched to the 84% level. Iran today is capable of enriching uranium to the 90% weapons-grade level at a time of its choosing. As Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl has publicly stated, Iran could enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in as little as 12 days.
Congress stands united behind the long held bipartisan position that Iran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. It is crucial for your administration to remain aligned with Congressional efforts related to Iran’s nuclear program and not agree to a pact that fails to achieve our nation’s critical interests. We urge you to take meaningful steps to curb Iran’s destabilizing activities and deter the regime from pursuing this nefarious ambition any further.
Tehran is also taking deeply concerning actions beyond the narrow confines of its nuclear program. Iran is drawing itself closer to both Russia and China, reinforcing the connection between the Iranian nuclear issue and America’s global challenges. Russia has procured Iranian UAV’s for use against Ukrainian civilians and the liquidity from those transactions has boosted the development of its nuclear program. Beijing has also boosted Iran’s nefarious activities, purchasing sanctioned petroleum exports on the black market on fraudulently flagged vessels. Iran’s support for terrorist proxies continues to threaten the security of our allies and partners working to counter the regime’s aggression.
It is imperative today that we strengthen our efforts to deter Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. We must make Iran understand, in no uncertain terms, that further advances in its nuclear program will be met with unified international action. Iran simply cannot be allowed to advance its nuclear program with impunity and the PRC cannot be given a pass for accelerating Iran’s destabilizing behavior. We urge you to restore this posture of deterrence and provide leadership to strengthen the resolve of the international community.
Given the state of the Iranian nuclear program, we encourage you to secure the commitment of our allies to implement the snapback mechanism embedded in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 should Iran advance its program past the weapons-grade threshold. Such a move would squeeze Iran’s revenue sources and serve notice that Iran cannot continue to reap the benefits of international sanctions relief while progressing towards the development of a nuclear weapon.