Massachusetts Leaders Urge Sen. Markey to Reject Corker Iran Bill

34 prominent Massachusetts leaders called on Sen. Markey today to reject S.615, the bill proposed by Sen. Corker that would require Congressional approval of a nuclear deal with Iran before the deal was completed.  

The signers included professors of physics, nuclear engineering, international affairs, and political science; leaders of labor, community and peace organizations; and philanthropists.

The letter, organized by Massachusetts Peace Action, was presented to Sen. Markey’s staff at a meeting in Boston on April 13.   Sen. Markey is expected to vote on the Corker bill, perhaps as early as April 14, at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Download Letter in PDF Format.  The text of the letter follows:


Re:       S. 615: Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

Dear Senator Markey,

We thank you for your longstanding leadership in Congress regarding nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.  By spearheading efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, you have helped to build a safer future for generations to come.  

Thus, we hope you agree, as we do, with President Obama’s assessment that the newly unveiled parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) represent “a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

In a matter of days, you will have the opportunity to protect the extraordinary diplomatic progress that Secretary Kerry and his colleagues have made in reaching this milestone.  Their accomplishment is praised by large segments of the diplomatic and scientific communities (see statements enclosed).

Senator Corker’s proposal, as embodied in S. 615, to subject the fully-negotiated accord to Congressional approval has some appeal at first sight, but careful examination shows it to be counterproductive.  In the current political climate, when 47 of your Senate colleagues have acted to subvert the emerging agreement even before the outline was known to them, and when provision for the “snap-back” of sanctions is completely ignored, passage of S. 615 would be tantamount to a de facto rejection of the diplomatic route.  In that event, what may be the most far-reaching achievement in the cause of nonproliferation for more than a generation would be lost.

We support your leadership in championing policies of peaceful, strategic engagement, especially when nuclear arms control is at issue, and we ask that you not let this happen.

The JCPOA envisions a cautiously sequenced process unfolding over many years.  This process will provide the current and future Congress ample scope for long-term monitoring and – if the need arises – intervention.  By contrast, S. 615 would mandate a vote later this summer that would be premature at best, bellicose at worst, and in any case needlessly onerous for lawmakers who are duty-bound to exercise the utmost prudence in matters as grave as the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This week, Jewish, Arab and Iranian Americans registered their joint approval for what they termed “an important first step towards de-escalating regional tensions and pav[ing] the way for resolving the many conflicts that still persist.” [“Arab American Institute, J Street and NIAC Welcome Iran Framework Agreement.”]  

In a similar vein, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, after President Obama’s statement, announced “the JCPA reiterates its support for the earnest efforts of the Administration to find a diplomatic solution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”  

Three successive Directors of Mossad, Israel’s national security service, have warned that Congressional initiatives outside the negotiating track risk a return to the pre-2009 stand-off. Director Efraim Halevy, who is also a former head of the Israeli National Security Council, has warned that Prime Minister Netanyahu “is signaling that he doesn’t want the agreement and has his eyes on an aggressive solution.”

We trust you to look past the inflammatory partisan rhetoric asserting that President Obama would put Israeli security at risk by promoting an impotent agreement, and to discount the scare talk of an “existential threat” to Israel.  A key lesson of the Nuclear Era is that responsible leaders must take a calm, long-term view, balancing strategic factors.  The JCPOA embodies a judicious balance that offers the best current prospect of enhancing the security of all parties, including Israel.  

Any effective resolution of Iran’s nuclear status will involve cooperation by the world’s major powers, extending over decades.  Progress to date with the JCPOA reflects such cooperation, demonstrating that the United States retains respect as a responsible power.  Yet, that respect could be undermined.  If Congress is seen as obstructing further progress and as steering the United States toward confrontation and violence, cooperation by other powers will decline.  Outcomes could include a weakening of the sanctions regime, an expansion of Iran’s nuclear capability, and a weakening of the global nonproliferation regime.

As constituents and concerned citizens who share your intense devotion to the cause of negotiated nonproliferation and disarmament, and who see a dramatic vindication of the diplomatic process near to hand, we ask that you continue to withhold your support for S. 615 and other misguided measures that threaten to unravel the promising JCPOA framework and that could reverse significant Iranian concessions that were unimaginable only a few years ago.

Sincerely yours 


Coleman Harrison    

Executive Director    

Masachusetts Peace Action


Shelagh Foreman

Program Director

Massachusetts Peace Action


Caitlin Forbes

Co-Convener of Mid-East Action Group

Massachusetts Peace Action


David Zackon 

Mid-East Action Group

Massachusetts Peace Action


Gordon Thompson

Executive Director

Institute for Resource and Security Studies

Nuclear Engineer


John Tirman   

Director, Center for International Studies     

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Robert Zevin  


Zevin Asset Management, LLC.

Pioneers in Socially Responsible Investing


Wayne T. Jaquith       


Peace Philanthropy Project


David Wright

Co-Director, Global Security Program

Union of Concerned Scientists


Lizbeth Gronlund

Co-Director, Global Security Program

Union of Concerned Scientists


Elisabeth King


Boston Council


Harris Gruman

Former Chair

Boston Democratic Socialists of America


Pat Hynes

Traprock Center for Peace and Justice


Joel Wool

Jewish Voice for Peace Boston

Boston Ward 15 Democratic Committee


Stephen Lewis           

Treasurer (retired)      

SEIU Local 509


Jeff Klein       

President (retired)      

SEIU-NAGE Local R1-168

Boston Ward 13 Democratic Committee


Donna Blythe-Shaw  


United Steel Workers International


Marie Elena Letona    

Executive Director     

Neighbor to Neighbor


Susan Shaer    

Executive Director     

Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) Education Fund


Joseph Gerson, Ph.D. 

Director of Programs 

American Friends Service Committee


Paul F. Walker           


Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International


Gary R. Goldstein      

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Tufts University


Paul Joseph    

Professor of Sociology           

Tufts University


Elsa Auerbach   

Professor Emeritus   

University of Massachusetts Boston

Steering Committee Member        

Jewish Voice for Peace Boston


Ramsay Liem

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Boston College


Jonathan King

Professor of Molecular Biology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Prasannan Parthasarathi         

Professor of History

Boston College


C. Heike Schotten      

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Massachusetts Boston


Paul Shannon 

Adjunct Faculty in Behavioral Science

Middlesex Community College


John Hess

Senior Lecturer in English

University of Massachusetts Boston
























John C. Berg  

Director of Environmental Studies    

Suffolk University


Subrata Ghoshroy      

Research Affiliate, Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Nan Levinson 

Author of War Is Not a Game           


Pat Salomon, MD

Monterey, MA