Senators to Obama: Pressure Iran


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan slate of senators urged President Obama to increase pressure on Iran in nuclear talks.

The major powers, including the United States, concluded talks Tuesday in Geneva aimed at getting Iran to make transparent its nuclear program. The parties agreed to reconvene in Istanbul in January.

In a letter Monday, six U.S. senators — three from each caucus, and all continuing into the next Congress — called on Obama  to increase the pressure.

"It is absolutely essential that the United States and its partners make clear to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that we intend to keep ratcheting up this pressure through comprehensive enforcement of existing sanctions as well as imposition of new measures," it said.

The Obama administration has led the international community in imposing a broad range of sanctions targeting Iran’s financial and energy sectors.

In recent days, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the United States again is ready to switch to a posture of engagement.

The letter, signed by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), also called on the Obama administration not to strike a deal that would allow Iran to enrich uranium. Obama this year rejected such a deal proposed by Turkey and Brazil.

Separately, another bipartisan and bicameral letter urged Obama to pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to conduct "special inspections" in Syria because it has resisted routine inspections.

Signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are required to accommodate such exceptional inspections.

"Failure to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Syria will destabilize further a region already troubled by Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons-making capability in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions," said the letter. "It will also encourage states with ambitions for weapons of mass destruction programs to follow the models for nuclear misbehavior created by Iran and Syria."

Kyl, Gillibrand and Lieberman also signed this letter, along with Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).

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