71 Organizations Warn Senate Against New Iran Sanctions

Last Updated on January 14, 2014.

Seventy-one organizations delivered a joint letter to the Senate urging the Senate to oppose new Iran sanctions legislation, S.1881, that they say would “critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war.” The letter, organized by the National Iranian American Council, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Win Without War, was signed by progressive groups including CREDO, MoveOn.org and Daily Kos; pro-Israel groups including Americans for Peace Now and J Street; and religious organizations including the United Methodist Church.

The letter comes just two days after the United States, Iran and other members of the P5+1 agreed on terms to implement the Joint Action Plan struck in November, which will freeze and roll back Iran’s nuclear program and facilitate negotiations toward a final deal.

You can see the letter below or in PDF form.

January 14, 2014

To: Members of the U.S. Senate

The following 71 organizations are writing to warn that Senate passage of new Iran sanctions would critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war. We call on you to not cosponsor S.1881 (the “Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act of 2013”) and strongly discourage Senate consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations proceed.

The Joint Plan of Action signed between the P5+1 and Iran in November boosts American and regional security by freezing and rolling back Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade. The agreement also institutes unprecedented transparency for international inspectors, including daily inspection of Iran’s enrichment facilities.

However, as part of the agreement, the U.S. has agreed to “refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions” on Iran. Even with the delay mechanisms included in S.1881, U.S. and Iranian officials warn that new Congressional sanctions would kill the deal. The White House has added that new Congressional sanctions would be perceived as a sign of bad faith by allies critical to the enforcement of the sanctions regime, including the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. As a result, new sanctions will erode rather than strengthen our leverage for negotiations. Further, an unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment warns that, “new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”

S.1881 also sets insurmountable demands for a comprehensive nuclear deal by insisting that Iran dismantle its entire “nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.” Such a demand is a poison pill for negotiations and is not necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Further, any comprehensive deal will require trading in existing sanctions for Iranian nuclear concessions. But the sanctions provisions included in S.1881 could only be waived by the President for a final nuclear deal if Iran agrees to the zero enrichment demand, effectively eliminating the President’s ability to offer sanctions relief. Rather than attack Presidential waiver authority, Congress should ensure that the President has full authority to lift sanctions as part of a comprehensive deal.

By foreclosing diplomatic prospects, new sanctions would set us on a path to war. The American people have made it clear that they do not want another war in the Middle East and strongly support pursuing diplomatic prospects until they are exhausted. It would be the height of irresponsibility to step in and undercut diplomatic negotiations before this opportunity has the chance to bear fruit.

We strongly urge you to withhold co-sponsorship of S.1881 and delay consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing.


National Iranian American Council

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Win Without War

Adventist Peace Fellowship


American Baptist Churches

American Friends Service Committee

American Values Network

Americans for Peace Now


Arab American Institute

Augustinians Province of St. Thomas Villanova

Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America


Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University

Center for International Policy

Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness


Come Home America

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Council for a Livable World


Daily Kos

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding

Evangelicals for Social Action

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Franciscan Action Network

Global Exchange

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ



Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project

International Civil Society Action Network

Islamic Society of North America

J Street

Jewish Voice for Peace

Just Foreign Policy

Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.


Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice

Muslim Public Affairs Voice

Muslims for Progressive Values


New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

On Earth Peace

Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Pax Christi International

Peace Action

Peace Action West

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Progressive Democrats of America

Roots Action

The Shalom Center

Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence

Society of the Divine Savior – American Province


Tikkun/The Network of Spiritual Progressives

Unitarian Universalist Association Witness Ministries

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United for Peace and Justice

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

U.S. Labor Against War

U.S. Peace Council

U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit


Veterans for Peace

Women’s Action for New Directions

Young Democrats of America


* This letter was initially sent to the Senate with 62 signers – four additional organizations requested to join and have been added.


January 14, 2014