Thirty six retired US generals and admirals published an open letter Tuesday giving their full backing of the Iranian nuclear deal, hailing it as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
“The international deal blocks the potential pathways to a nuclear bomb, provides for intrusive verification, and strengthens American national security. America and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world, will be safer when this agreement is fully implemented,” they wrote.
In the two-page letter, the retired brass urged the American people and the US Congress — which is set to vote on the deal next month — to support the controversial accord lest Iran build a nuclear weapon in less than a year, and argued that diplomacy should be given a chance before the military option is considered.
“If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones,” the letter read.
“For the security of our nation, we call upon Congress and the American people to support this agreement,” the generals wrote, adding that “if the deal is rejected by America, the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.”
The signatories to the letter include General James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, a former Commander in Chief of the Central Command; and Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Chief of Staff of the US Air Force and Read Admiral Harold L. Robinson, with the US Navy.
“As a lifelong Zionist, devoted to Israel, and a retired general officer and a rabbi for over 40 years, and operating without institutional encumbrances, I have a unique perspective,” Robinson told the Washington Post.
“Those of us who love Israel in the United States are not of one mind and one voice on this matter. I thought it was important to represent some of the diversity within the American Jewish community,” he said.
The letter gives the administration additional backing as it fights for every Democratic vote in Congress, even as the highest-ranking Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer, said he would vote against it.
The release of the letter came Tuesday after US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Congress were to vote down the deal, the US would lose the moral high ground and the US dollar would suffer.
“Are you kidding me?” Kerry said at an event in New York. “The United States is going to start sanctioning our allies and their banks and their businesses because we walked away from a deal? And we’re going to force them to do what we want them to do, even though they agreed to the deal we came to?”
“We will have left Iran free to go do its program, without restraints, without inspections, without knocking down its stockpile, without knowing what they’re doing,” he added.