An overwhelming majority of US senators have signed a letter to President Barack Obama, warning against a new round of diplomacy with Iran as Hassan Rohani, the Islamic Republic’s new president, takes office.
The letter, signed by 76 senators, calls for stiffer sanctions against Iran and insists that the window for diplomacy “is coming to an end.”
Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican from South Carolina, spearheaded the letter.
"Iran has used negotiations in the past to stall for time," the letter reads.
The senators also assert that the US must reinforce the credibility of Washington’s option to use military force against Iran.
The senators' move is in contrast to the Obama White House that has said it favors diplomacy with the Islamic Republic.
The letter was sent to Obama on the last day of the Senate session before summer recess and just a day before the House of Representatives approved a bill of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports and other economic sectors including mining and automobile industries.
The bill, which overwhelmingly passed, 400-20, late on Wednesday, would cut Iran's oil exports by one million barrels per day over a year. The bill must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama to become law.
The White House this week declined to publicly back the bill.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of potentially pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Tehran has categorically rejected the accusation, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.