European Leaders: GOP Letter Helped Iran in Nuclear Negotiations

By Sarah Lazare | ( –

An open letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators has provoked sharp rebuke from European countries that are party to the nuclear talks.

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier blasted the U.S. GOP senators on Thursday, telling journalists, “This is not just an issue of American domestic politics, but it affects the negotiations we are holding in Geneva.”

“Obviously mistrust is growing,” he added.

In addition, the Associated Press reported Thursday that unnamed diplomatic officials in France and London made similar criticisms of the open letter. “In Paris, a senior French diplomat said the letter made it hard on the American negotiators, who have been leading the talks with Iran on behalf of the rest of the group,” wrote journalist Matthew Lee.

The letter, organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-signed by 46 other Republican senators, directly threatened Iranian leaders that, if a nuclear deal were reached, it would not last after President Barack Obama leaves the presidency.

It immediately sparked broad censure—from from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to U.S. President Barack Obama to grassroots movements—with many charging it amounted to a call for military escalation and potentially war.

The missive was released less than a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a controversial congressional address aimed at derailing ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany.

As foreign policy expert Jim Lobe recently pointed out, a majority of major media coverage has focused on U.S. and Israeli machinations relating to the deal, even though Israel is not officially party to the talks.

Lobe explained, “[E]ven if you combine all the citations of the leaders of our three major NATO allies—and the three West European partners in the P5+1 negotiations—on the question of Iran’s nuclear program and the negotiations to curb it, the media has gone to Bibi Netanyahu nearly five times more often.”

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[Ed. note from IC: Steinmeier also said that Iran can now ask “how credible” the Western negotiating position is, i.e. implying that the Iranian position has been strengthened.]


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Statesmen’s Forum: H.E. Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister”

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9 Responses

  1. Perhaps a letter campaign to European and Security Council members to enriches their knowledge and promotes mutual understanding and clarity.

  2. Obama was right. These 47 GOP congresspeople are siding with the hardliners in Iran.
    To think they went against their own President for that.

    • They don’t consider President Obama – or any Democrat – to be “their” President. These Republicans don’t think a Democratic President could EVER be legitimate.

  3. The latest from the loons on the right is that Obama isn’t taking action against ISIS because he wants them to establish their own country so they can be recognized by the UN.

    You just can’t make this stuff up folks, and now the rest of the world is realizing just how detrimental the Republican party is to our country and the world. Perhaps that explains Britain petitioning to become a member of the new Asian Bank being established by China.

    • The letter certainly helped the Iranian dissidents and the human rights advocate in Iranian prisons. They will have a better chance to be heard later. I respect both the administration for working for a deal and the 47 for obstructing it. The process and not the final agreement will force the The US government and the Islamic republic to take into account the human right also.

      • Please elaborate. It isn’t obvious to me how the obstruction would have any effect on human rights one way or the other.

        • According to some versions of game theory the multiplicity of actors, what they want, and hence the multiplicities of ways that things can happen or be obstructed will decide the outcome. The actors are motivated either for or against. Specially the stakes are high for Iran that needs the sanctions to be removed in its financial competition against Saudis. All US and Iranian actors will be forced to be more transparent to identify paths to the end result. Transparency is the same as human rights.

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