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Yesterday, a group of 23 senators (22D, 1I) today sent a letter to President Obama regarding the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. The letter calls for Obama to include Congress more in the negotiations and says that all options, including military ones, should remain on the table if the deal does not pan out

The letter was organized by Carl Levin (D-MI), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 22 other members of the Democratic caucus signed:

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Barbara Mikluski (D-MD)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
John Walsh (D-MT)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. President:

As your partner in developing the broad-based sanctions that – in bringing Iran to the negotiating table – have played an essential role in your two-track approach to encourage Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, we support your diplomatic effort to test Iran’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions and satisfactorily resolve all critical issues concerning its nuclear program.

Iran’s history of delay, deception, and dissembling on its nuclear program raises serious concerns that Iran will use prolonged negotiations as a tool to secure an economic lifeline while it continues to make progress towards a nuclear weapon.  Iran’s leaders must understand that further sanctions relief will require Tehran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and fully disclose its nuclear activities.

We are hopeful a permanent diplomatic agreement will require dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear weapons-related infrastructure, including enrichment-, heavy water-, and reprocessing-related facilities, such that Iran will not be able to develop, build, or acquire a nuclear weapon.  We do not seek to deny Iran a peaceful nuclear energy program, but we are gravely concerned that Iran's industrial-scale uranium enrichment capability and heavy water reactor being built at Arak could be used for the development of nuclear weapons.

Because we believe any agreement should include stringent transparency measures to guarantee that Iran cannot develop an undetectable nuclear weapons breakout capability, Tehran must fully and verifiably implement its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ratify and implement the Additional Protocol, answer pending IAEA questions, and comply with the transparency measures requested by the Director General of the IAEA, as well as with any additional verification and monitoring measures necessary to ensure Iran is abiding by the terms of any agreement.  Such measures should include an agreement granting the IAEA necessary access to inspect all suspect sites, including military facilities, and providing an unfettered ability to interview Iranian scientists and personnel associated with Iran’s nuclear program.

As negotiations progress, we expect your administration will continue to keep Congress regularly apprised of the details.  And, because any long-term sanctions relief will require Congressional action, we urge you to consult closely with us so that we can determine the parameters of such relief in the event an agreement is reached, or, if no agreement is reached or Iran violates the interim agreement, so that we can act swiftly to consider additional sanctions and steps necessary to change Iran’s calculation.

Finally, although the P5+1 process is focused on Iran’s nuclear program, we remain deeply concerned by Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its horrendous human rights record, its efforts to destabilize its neighbors, its pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and its threats against our ally, Israel, as well as the fates of American citizens detained by Iran.  We want to work with you to address these concerns as part of a broader strategy of dealing with Iran.

We are hopeful your two-track strategy will convince Iran to change course and abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  None of us desires military conflict, but as you yourself have acknowledged, we must keep all options on the table to prevent this dangerous regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.

This follows a letter from earlier this week in which 83 senators (including all of the above save Brown, Harkin, Johnson, and Levin) staked out a hard-line position on Iran.

Of the signers of Levin's letter, only Ben Cardin and Joe Manchin are co-sponsors of the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill.

The number of senators who have not signed one of these letters or co-sponsored the bill continues to dwindle. There are now only 10, 8 from the Democratic caucus and 2 from the Republican caucus:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)

The letter is identical to the letter that 394 members of the House of Representatives (178 D, 216R), organized by Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer, sent to the President earlier this week.

The House letter was first released on March 5th in conjunction with AIPAC's annual conference, but Hoyer and Cantor didn't send it until earlier this week because they were gathering signatures.

Hoyer and Cantor were not courteous enough to include a list of names, and members of Congress have some of the most illegible handwriting I have ever seen. For example, one Democrat's signature consists of two horizontally parallel lines. I'm not joking. I spent two hours trying to decipher the signatures, and there are still quite a few beyond my capability.

Unfortunately, then, I cannot offer you the names of all of the non-signers. I will note that I did not see Nancy Pelosi's name on the list. I did not see Xavier Becerra's name either.

Based on past votes (and the fact that I did not see their signatures—or at least signatures I could tell were theirs—on the letter), I would be comfortable saying that the following 16 Democrats and 3 Republicans are among the non-signers.

Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Rush Holt (NJ-12)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Jim Moran (VA-08)
Beto O'Rourke (TX-16)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
David Price (NC-04)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)

Justin Amash (MI-03)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Tom Massie (KY-04)

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