0219 GMT February 19, 2020
In a letter to US President Barack Obama, more than 75 high-profile signatories praised the nuclear accord, reached last year on July 14, and urged Obama to bring the US and Iran closer together, Politico reported.
The letter’s signatories include retired Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) and Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.), as well as former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.).
The list of signers also includes former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak and Nobel Prize winners Leon Cooper and Burton Richter.
“The US should develop policies that increase the chances of cooperation with Iran and minimize confrontation,” the letter reads.
The letter is part of a flurry of activity and discussion expected this week to mark Thursday’s anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
Outlined within the letter is a three-point plan that the signatories write that will create an “institutional structure” for ongoing communication between the US and Iran. Its suggestions include “emergency communications capability” between the two governments to avoid misunderstandings and escalation of conflicts, as well as a “regular and direct bilateral channel” between the US Treasury Department and the Central Bank of Iran to more easily address questions surrounding the relief of sanctions.
The letter stops short of calling for reestablishing diplomatic ties between the two nations, but does urge Obama to establish a “direct diplomatic channel at the deputy level”.
Ultimately, the letter’s authors argue, it is in America's interest to work more closely with Iran on issues where the two nations' interests intersect. Despite the decades-long history of hostility between the US and Iran, the letter reminds Obama that “persevering patiently in pursuit of careful diplomacy can lead to progress”.
“You have shown that well-conceived and tough-minded diplomacy can protect US national security interests,” they wrote, addressing Obama directly.