SHAHEEN AND CARDIN VOICE STRONG OPPOSITION TO ILL-ADVISED IRAN VISIT
October 17, 2012
Senators call on European Parliament to cancel planned trip to Iran
(Washington, D.C.) —A visit to Iran by members of the European Parliament would send the wrong message to Iranian leaders at a critical juncture in diplomatic relations, wrote U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen Shaheen (D-NH) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) in a letter sent today to European Parliament President Martin Schulz. The senators urged President Schulz to reconsider a planned visit by a group of European Parliamentarians given Iran’s continued refusal to suspend its nuclear program.
“While we applaud the European Union’s decision to increase sanctions and to more closely align our efforts, we are concerned over reports from Europe that some members of the European Parliament are planning to visit Iran later this month,” the senators wrote. “Given Iran’s failure to comply with the United Nations Security Council and suspend its nuclear enrichment program … sending a delegation to Iran for a seven-day visit sends the wrong message at this particularly sensitive time.”
Both Shaheen and Cardin have been active in their roles on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in calling for increased sanctions against Iran. As the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, Shaheen has pushed for a strong consensus between the United States and the European Union on imposing such sanctions. Cardin, the co-chair of the Helsinki Commission, has called on the Obama Administration to enforce a more aggressive and comprehensive sanctions strategy. Both members co-sponsored legislation pushing the United Nations to take action against Iranian leaders for inciting genocide against Israel.
The full text of their letter is below:
October 17, 2012
The Honorable Martin Schulz
President of the European Parliament
Cc: The Honorable João Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the United States
Dear President Schulz:
We wish to express our deep appreciation for the decision of the European Union earlier this week to expand existing sanctions on Iran, including in the energy and banking sectors and to continue to stand with the United States and other responsible world powers to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.
While we applaud the European Union’s decision to increase sanctions and to more closely align our efforts, we are concerned over reports from Europe that some members of the European Parliament are planning to visit Iran later this month. It is our understanding that on October 18 the Conference of Presidents of the EU Council will decide whether to approve this delegation trip.
Given Iran’s failure to comply with the United Nations Security Council and suspend its nuclear enrichment program, the lack of progress to date on the P5+1 nuclear negotiations, Iran’s increased interference inside Syria on behalf of the Assad regime, its state sponsored terrorist activities around the globe and its abysmal human rights record, sending a delegation to Iran for a seven-day visit sends the wrong message at this particularly sensitive time.
As you know, we strongly support increased ties between the United States Senate and the European Parliament, and we believe it is critical that we work together to present a strong, united front in our efforts regarding Iran at this critical juncture. We continue to support a united diplomatic effort, but that effort should be under the auspices of the P5+1 framework. With these concerns in mind, we respectfully ask that the delegation reconsiders its visit and that you do what you can to indefinitely postpone this ill-advised trip to Iran at this sensitive time.
Thank you for your time, your consideration, and your continued leadership in deepening our transatlantic ties.
JEANNE SHAHEEN BENJAMIN L. CARDIN
United States Senator United States Senator
Press Office, (202) 224-5553