The full text of the letter follows:
Don’t Take the Best Tool to Prevent War with Iran off the Table
OPPOSE H.R. 1905: The Iran Threat Reduction Act
On Tuesday, the House is expected to consider H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act. Proponents of the bill claim it is a last ditch effort to prevent military confrontation with Iran. However, H.R. 1905 takes away the most effective tool to prevent war: diplomacy.
Section 601 of H.R. 1905 prohibits contact by a U.S. government official or employee with any Iranian official or representative who “presents a threat” to the United States. This provision was inserted into the bill during committee markup, after most of the cosponsors had already signed onto H.R. 1905. This language effectively ties the hands of the U.S. government by posing unnecessary restrictions on already difficult diplomatic engagement with Iran. It would pose obstacles for the President to press Iran on its nuclear program in negotiations and would prevent Members of Congress from potential dialogues with Iranian parliamentarians.
Former Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Leurs write in their article, “The House’s Iran Diplomacy Folly ” that this provision is “not only ridiculous, it makes knowing our enemy—the best way to win or avoid a potential war—impossible.”
Former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen has warned :
Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.
As we only now extricate ourselves from devastating military confrontations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must not allow the United States to be plunged into yet another disastrous war. Tensions with Iran are escalating rapidly and it is crucial we do everything necessary to prevent war, not take diplomatic options off the table.
U.S. policy toward Iran for the last three decades has primarily taken the form of economic sanctions, threats and isolationism. None of these things has created meaningful change in the behavior of the Iranian government or achieved the transparency we seek. Please join us in opposing this bill.