the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Readout of the President’s Meeting with a Bipartisan Group of Senators to Discuss Iran

Today, the President hosted a meeting at the White House with chairmen, ranking members, and other members of the Senate Banking Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committees, and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss Iran.  The President was joined by members of his national security team, including Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice.  The meeting lasted approximately two hours.

The President made clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is profoundly in America’s national security interest.  The initial, 6-month step of the P5+1 proposal would halt progress on the Iranian nuclear program and roll it back in key respects, stopping the advance of the program for the first time in nearly a decade and introducing unprecedented transparency into Iran’s nuclear activities while we negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution.  The President underscored that in the absence of a first step, Iran will continue to make progress on its nuclear program by increasing its enrichment capacity, continuing to grow its stockpile of enriched uranium, installing advanced centrifuges, and making progress on the plutonium track at the Arak reactor. 

The President noted that the relief we are considering as part of a first step would be limited, temporary, and reversible, and emphasized that we will continue to enforce sanctions during the 6-month period.  He dispelled the rumors that Iran would receive $40 or $50 billion in relief, noting those reports are inaccurate.

The President expressed his appreciation for the bipartisan Congressional support for the most effective sanctions regime in history.  He reiterated that the purpose of sanctions was and remains to change Iran’s calculus regarding its nuclear program.  He indicated that new sanctions should not be enacted during the current negotiations, but that they would be most effective as a robust response should negotiations fail.

The President is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and firmly believes that it would be preferable to do so peacefully.  Therefore, he has a responsibility to pursue the ongoing diplomatic negotiations before pursuing other alternatives.  With this current P5+1 proposal, we have the opportunity to halt the progress of the Iranian program and roll it back in key respects, while testing whether a comprehensive resolution can be achieved.

Participants in today’s meeting included:

  • Senator Dick Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, D-IL

  • Senator Charles Schumer, Vice Chair of the Conference and Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center, Member, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, D-NY 

  • Senator Saxby Chambliss, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, R‑GA 

  • Senator Bob Corker, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, R-TN 

  • Senator Mike Crapo, Ranking Member, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, R-ID 

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, D-CA 

  • Senator Tim Johnson, Chairman, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, D-SD 

  • Senator Carl Levin, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee, D-MI 

  • Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Member, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, D-NJ 

  • Senator John McCain, Member, Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, R-AZ