February 23, 2021

Duckworth Joins Markey, Senate Colleagues in Supporting President Biden’s Return to Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and of nine their colleagues in the reintroduction of the Iran Diplomacy Act. The legislation supports President Biden’s diplomatic effort to return all sides to full-compliance with their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Last week, the Biden administration formally accepted an invitation by the European Union to join talks with the remaining parties to the JCPOA, an initial step on the road to restore full-implementation of the 2015 agreement, one which had closed off all of Iran’s uranium, plutonium and clandestine pathways to a nuclear weapon. 

“While the JCPOA nuclear agreement was far from perfect, it was successful in halting Iran’s dangerous development of nuclear weapons—but ever since Trump’s misguided decision to unilaterally back out of the agreement, Iran has been able to make progress on the very same nuclear weapons development the agreement was successfully preventing,” said Senator Duckworth. “Thankfully we once again have a President who is willing to take steps to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions through diplomatic efforts that have already proven effective. I’m proud to support this goal by joining my colleagues on reintroducing the Iran Diplomacy Act.”

Prior to President’s Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. intelligence community both verified that Iran had lived up to its end of the agreement – which extended the “breakout time” for an Iranian nuclear bomb from a span of weeks to over one year. However, Iran responded to the U.S. exit from the JCPOA with concerning, but reversible rollbacks of its commitments under that agreement and it increased its provocative behavior that increased the risk of armed conflict with the United States and its allies. The Iran Diplomacy Act backs Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s January 19, 2021 position that full implementation of the JCPOA provides a “platform, working with our allies and partners to build a longer and stronger agreement that will also capture some of the other issues that need to be dealt with regard to missiles and with regard to Iran’s activities and destabilizing activities in the region.”

Joining Duckworth and Markey are U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Specifically, the Iran Diplomacy Act states that:

  • Full implementation of the JCPOA would represent a meaningful step to both preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and a costly future armed conflict
  • The United States and Iran should promptly return to full-compliance with all of their commitments under the JCPOA
  • After such time that all sides return to their commitments under the JCPOA, the United States should lead international efforts to—
    • strengthen the restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and counter the proliferation of such technology;
    • address the sunset of select provisions of the JCPOA and other elements of the agreement that merit strengthening; and
    • advance any other diplomatic measures that promote United States, regional, and international security.
  • The United States should reaffirm its commitment to United Nations Security Resolution 2231 (2015)
  • President Biden’s National Security Memorandum -1, and other steps, will help create an environment in which financial institutions and entities can make practical use of existing exemptions and mechanisms “allowing for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran,” and help Iran battle the COVID–19 pandemic

A copy of the legislation can be found here.