Sen. Johnson’s Leadership Creates Space for Peaceful End to Decade-Old Conflict

Washington DC – December 13, 2013 – News Release – In recent days, the Senate has shelved legislation that would have killed a first-step deal with Iran to dismantle and verify its nuclear program. This effort was only possible thanks to the leadership of Banking Committee Chairman, Senator Tim Johnson.

“Senator Johnson’s leadership has created an opportunity for one of the most important foreign policy initiatives in a decade to succeed,� said Laicie Heeley, Director of Middle East and Defense Policy at Council for a Livable World. “South Dakota has a long tradition of sending strong leaders to Congress that advocate for a common sense foreign policy; Senator Johnson is a solid example of that tradition.�

In a first-step deal negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran last month, Iran will neutralize its 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile, halt uranium enrichment beyond five percent and open its nuclear facilities for daily inspections in exchange for very limited sanctions relief and the promise of no further sanctions while a long-term deal is negotiated.

“This isn’t a perfect deal, but it’s a good first step. It’s important to remember that this agreement has the support of the international community,� said Heeley. “This deal moves us leaps and bounds ahead of our current position in terms of ensuring the national security of the United States and our allies, especially Israel. If Iran fails to live up to its promises and agree to a final deal, we’ll still have set their program back by six months.�

The Congressional environment was not friendly to Senator Johnson. He ran up against anti-diplomacy factions headed by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) who attempted to push further sanctions that would have dismantled the newly won deal.

“For the moment, there are no new sanctions. But that could change. Senator Johnson has assured the public that his committee would immediately act if the first-step deal collapses,� noted Heeley. “We could also see a new push for sanctions from Kirk and Menendez when the Senate returns in January. For now, though, the space for a diplomatic solution to one of America’s greatest foreign policy challenges remains open.�

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Council for a Livable World is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to increasing national security, particularly through reducing of the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation. The Council advocates for a strong and sensible national security policy and helps elect congressional candidates supporting those ideals.