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AIPAC-backed senators letter urges Obama against Iran concessions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A letter signed by more than half the U.S. Senate and backed by AIPAC urged President Obama to keep up pressure on Iran. 

"We strongly believe there should be absolutely no diminution of pressure on the Iranians until the totality of their nuclear program has been addressed," reads the letter, initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and signed by another 54 senators. "The time for limited confidence-building measures is over."

The letter, released Tuesday and backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, says the senators "remain very skeptical of any proposal that would allow the current Iranian government to possess an enrichment capability in any form, given its long track record of deceptive and illicit conduct."

The letter does not refer to reports that the United States, together with the other major powers negotiating with Iran, is prepared to relaunch talks.

However, many of the postures the letter recommends contradict opening gambits leaked to the press over recent weeks — including lifting restrictions on civilian aircraft parts in exchange for verifiable freezes in enrichment activity, as well as a longstanding Western offer to consider allowing minimal enrichment for civilian purposes in exchange for a verifiable end to the weapons program.

Other measures recommended in the letter roughly correspond with Obama administration policies, including enhancing existing sanctions and making clear that a military option is still on the table.

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