AIPAC Doubles Down Focus on Iran


Organizers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee told attendees of its Policy Conference 2015 that unlike previous years –where a number of issues and pieces of legislation made up the slate of lobbying initiatives – this Tuesday delegates should focus solely on “stopping Iran.”

“When we go to the Hill on Tuesday, we will stress the urgency of the Iranian nuclear issue,” said Ambassador Brad Gordon, director of policy and government affairs at AIPAC. “And we will ask Congress, first: to support diplomacy by increasing economic pressure on Iran. Second: to insist on a good agreement, one that truly prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. And third: to play a key role in reviewing any agreement.”

Once again, AIPAC’s policy specialist called on attendees to convince their representatives that additional economic sanctions on Iran would give the administration more leverage during its negotiation, a tactic to which President Barack Obama’s administration objects.

The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2015, also known as the Kirk-Menendez bill (S. 269) will be AIPAC lobbyists’ primary objective when they meet with members. The bill calls for cascading monthly increased in sanctions that will begin if a final deal is not completed by the July 1 deadline.

“How do we do this?” Gordon asked. “It starts with our first message to Congress: Support diplomacy by increasing pressure. We believe negotiations have the best chances to succeed if Iran understands the economic and political price it will pay for refusing to abandon its nuclear ambitions.”

AIPAC attendees were further urged to advocate for the new Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 – known as the Corker bill – which was co-sponsored by 11 other senators and introduced this past Friday.

President Obama has long been clear about his intensions to veto Kirk-Menendez, and added Saturday that he intdends to do the same with Corker’s bill. The bill would prohibit the president from suspending or waiving sanctions on Iran for 60 days post-agreement; would require the agreement’s text to be submitted to Congress five days prior to the potential final deal’s signing; and calls for an assessment of Iran’s compliance every 90 days.

Concluded Gordon, “[We’ve] seen America make every effort to resolve this issue peacefully and we’ve seen Iran refuse to waver on its dangerous nuclear program. … On Tuesday we will urge Congress to take immediate action.”

JT Editor-in-Chief Joshua Runyan will be live tweeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Monday morning via @jewishtimes. Netanyahu speaks at the morning plenary, which runs from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.


Melissa Apter is a reporter for Baltimore Jewish Times.

Dmitriy Shapiro is the Political Reporter at the Washington Jewish Week.

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