Dozens of high profile U.S. personalities penned a letter on Tuesday to President Barack Obama urging him to pursue even closer relations between Washington and Tehran.
In their letter to the president, which was shared with the news agency Politico, the signatories praised the controversial nuclear deal reached with Iran last year, and urged Obama to take further steps to unite the U.S. and Iran.
“The U.S. should develop policies that increase the chances of cooperation with Iran, minimize confrontation, and influence Iran’s actions in the region,” the letter reads. “We acknowledge that opportunities will be limited for testing Iran’s willingness to work directly with the U.S. due to the political uncertainties in both countries in the coming year, but engagement should be the U.S. government’s long-term goal.”
Spearheaded by The Iran Project, the letter entitled “Letter to the President on the Anniversary of the Nuclear Agreement with Iran” was signed upon by a bipartisan group of politicians, diplomats, military leaders, and academics totaling 75 names all together. The Iran Project “seeks to support a balanced, objective, and bipartisan approach to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” according to their website.
The list of signers includes noted figures such as former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak and Nobel Prize winners Leon Cooper and Burton Richter.
Outlined within their letter is a three-point plan to create an “institutional structure” for successful cooperation between the U.S. and Iran. Listed among the suggestions are “emergency communications capabilities” between the two governments, in order to prevent misunderstandings and an escalation of conflict, as well as a “regular and direct bilateral channel” between the U.S. Treasury Department and the Central Bank of Iran, in order to more easily address any uncertainty regarding the lifting of sanctions.
The signers made sure to mention the benefits of deepening relations with Iran for Israel. “As your policies have shown, [remaining in close contact with the negotiating partners on the nuclear deal implementation] will also be essential for the U.S. to continue to assure Israel and the Gulf states of its resolute commitment to their security as our traditional partners in the region,” they wrote.
The letter comes amid plans to mark the one year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name given to the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1)
Ultimately, the signatories argued, working even more closely with Iran on issues where the two nations share mutual interests is in America’s best interest.
Praising Obama for his strong hand in the face of a decades-long history of hostility between America and Iran, the writers said, “You have shown that well-conceived and tough-minded diplomacy can protect U.S. national security interests.”
“Given the stakes, the U.S. will need more, not less, engagement with Iran,” the signers maintained.
As of Wednesday, the White House had not yet released a statement in response.