Washington: As Iran prepares for possible resumption of negotiations over its nuclear programme, a bipartisan group of 73 senators have urged US President Barack Obama to take more stringent steps against the Islamic Republic to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"As you begin your second term as President, we ask you to reiterate your readiness to take military action against Iran if it continues its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon," the Senators said in a letter to Obama.
"In addition we urge you to work with our European and Middle Eastern allies to demonstrate to the Iranians that a credible and capable multilateral coalition exists that would support a military strike if, in the end, this is unfortunately necessary," the letter said.
Besides this, the senators urged Obama to take three other concrete steps against Iran. "We urge you to expand America`s outreach and support to the Iranian people and support of the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran," they said.
"As we have seen across the Middle East over the past two years, autocratic regimes that appear entrenched and invulnerable can collapse with stunning speed," it said.
"We believe that the current government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will eventually end up in the ash heap of history, not because of the efforts of the United States, but because of the desire of the Iranian people to enjoy the basic freedoms that are their universal right, and that many of their neighbours increasingly are demanding," the senators said.
The lawmakers said they strongly believe there should be absolutely no diminution of pressure on the Iranians until the totality of their nuclear problem has been addressed."The time for limited confidence building measures is over. Iran must understand that it has a closing window of time in which to show it is serious about wanting to reach a diplomatic solution," the senators said.
"This requires Iran to quickly and fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, including the suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing activities. Iran should also permit the removal from its territory of all uranium enriched to the twenty percent level," they argued.
Noting that the United States must make use of all elements of its national power to pressure Iran, the Senators said this should include aggressive implementation of existing sanctions and the adoption of new, even stronger ones.
"We should also work to deepen Iran`s diplomatic isolation by encouraging countries to expel Iranian diplomats and close Iranian missions, as Canada recently did, given Iran`s use of its embassies and consulates to engage in proliferation and terrorism-related illicit activities," they wrote.
In their letter, the senators pointed to the significant impact current sanctions are having on the Iranian economy, yet cautioned that "the Iranian government has continued to press forward with its nuclear program. It has quintupled its stockpile of low enriched uranium since 2009. It has taken a significant step closer to possessing weapons-grade uranium by enriching up to 20 percent."
"We believe there is no national security challenge that is more urgent and essential to resolve during your second term than Iran`s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. We share your commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strongly agree with your statement that, `[t]he clock is ticking. If [the Iranians] do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to ensure they don`t have a nuclear weapon," the senators said.