The letter to the editor below was published on March 11, 2015 in the Princeton Packet
An Open Letter to Pennsylvania Senators:
It seems that some 47 U.S. Senators don't quite get the Constitution's separation of powers on foreign policy. What's more, they seem to fear a peaceful deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran, more than they fear an Iran War, which could ensue from a failure to agree to a fair deal.
We commend Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania for restraint in not signing on to the "Tom Cotton Letter", named for the freshman Senator from Arkansas who wrote it. It has basic errors, such as claiming the Senate "ratifies" treaties. Actually, the Executive Branch, the President, ratifies treaties, with Senate advice and consent. Besides, this deal is not a treaty-- just two of a number of basic factual errors.
Unfortunately, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), did sign the Cotton letter, perhaps in haste. We hope he will reconsider.
This letter is only the latest embarrassing attempt to undermine the President in his job as commander-in-chief, in peace as well as war. The Corker-Menendez Bill, "Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015", is a poison pill that would again undermine a deal, by making it seem revocable.
We exhort our Senators to give diplomacy a chance, to read the Iran Framework Agreement when concluded, weigh the alternatives, and support a verifiable, long-term agreement that can keep Iran nuclear-arms-free, and will keep other nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt from wanting a bomb of their own.
Ed Aguilar, J.D.
Coalition for Peace Action (PA)
1515 Cherry Street
The writer is director of the Pennsylvania office of the Coalition for Peace Action, with regional headquarters in Princeton, NJ. Previously, he has worked as a lawyer and taught history and law.
Iran Diplomacy Update! March 2015
CFPA has continued to work intensively in support of Diplomacy, Not War in Iran. The multilateral negotiations with Iran look increasingly promising, but are threatened by Congressional opponents whose bills would undermine them.
We just learned from a staffer to Sen. Cory Booker that communications from constituents are counted and taken very seriously. If you haven't yet done so, click here to send quick emails to your Congresspersons.
If you live in NJ Congressional District 12,I also urge you to contact Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, successor to Rep. Rush Holt, for her courageous pro-peace stand of refusing to attend last week's anti-diplomacy talk by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Letter to the Editor by CFPA, Philadelphia Director Ed Aguilar January 29, 2015
ISSUE | IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS
Congress should go easy with sanctions
The Kirk-Menendez bill on Iran sanctions is seriously flawed, and, as Prime Minister David Cameron noted during his visit, such congressional action would undermine the unity of the United States with the allied powers at the Iran nuclear talks. Because it's coming from the British prime minister, a close ally, Congress should pay close attention.
This bill is flawed for both legal and strategic reasons. First, it would violate the painstakingly negotiated Joint Plan of Action by Iran and the allies. Rather than isolating Iran, its passage would isolate and weaken the U.S. position at the upcoming talks. These negotiations are critical to keeping Iran's nuclear program a peaceful one, not a strategic threat to the United States, Israel, and the region. (To view in the Philadelphia Inquirer online, Click Here and scroll to the bottom.)
|Edward A. Aguilar, Pennsylvania director, Coalition for Peace Action, Philadelphia, Peacecoalition.org
Urge US Senators from NJ and PA to
oppose new sanctions and support
diplomacy, not war with Iran.
January 15, 2015
The Obama Administration and its international partners are in the home stretch of negotiations with Iran to resolve concerns over its nuclear ambitions via patient, persistent diplomacy. A framework agreement to ensure Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons is within reach over the next few months, and a final deal could be reached by a June deadline.
The US Senators from NJ and PA have previously supported bills to impose new sanctions on Iran. Unless they and others change, this would probably scuttle negotiations and ultimately lead to military action against Iran. That’s right, just what we don’t need, another Middle Eastern war!
An agreement to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully could well have other benefits in improving U.S.-Iranian economic and political relations, including working together more closely to bring badly needed stability to the region, a key shared interest of the U.S. and Iran.
I urge your readers to contact their two US Senators at 202-224-3121 right away urging them to oppose new sanctions and support diplomacy, not war with Iran. For further information, visit peacecoalition.org or call the Coalition for Peace Action at 609-924-5022.
The Rev. Robert Moore
(609) 924-5022 Work
(609) 937-6931 Cell
The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action regional office, and Co-Pastor of Christ Congregation, also in Princeton.
The Republicans’ Senate victory offers Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu new hope for outmaneuvering President Barack Obama on Iran; in the coming weeks, he could use a Republican-led Congress to sabotage negotiations with the Islamic Republic on its nuclear program. But the victory would be short lived. By scuttling the talks, Netanyahu could empower Iran’s hardliners.
By now, it is clear that Israel’s current Iran strategy—bluffing war to push the world to ratchet up the economic siege on Iran—is no longer working. “Chickenshit-gate,” revelations that a senior Obama administration official had privately stated that Netanyahu does not have what it takes to take on Iran, leaves little doubt about that. (to read complete article Click Here)
How Congressional hawks plan to kill
Obama's Iran deal
By Trita Parsi October 27, 2014 Analysis & Opinion | The Great Debate Reuters
Negotiations with Iran over the future of its nuclear program have not even concluded yet some members of Congress are preparing to manufacture a political crisis over a deal. Their beef? President Barack Obama may initially bypass Congress and suspend sanctions imposed on Iran to make a deal possible and only later ask lawmakers to end them permanently when it is determined that Iran has complied fully with its obligations under the deal.
Of course, many of the lawmakers complaining about the potential presidential end run voted to give him the right to waive sanctions when they passed sanctions legislation in 2010 and 2011. And, of course, only Congress can lift the sanctions permanently, so there wouldn’t be any circumventing to begin with.
So what’s really going on? (to read complete article Click Here)
As American and Iranian officials meet June 9 in Geneva, a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators, Seyyed Hossein Mousavian, and several physicists at Princeton are proposing a possible solution to the dispute over how many centrifuges Iran can retain under a long-term nuclear agreement.
Their draft proposal, prepared for publication by the magazine Arms Control Today and made available to Al-Monitor, would permit Iran to transition from the rudimentary machines it currently employs to enrich uranium to more-advanced centrifuges over the course of five years. This would reduce the numbers of centrifuges Iran would require to meet the needs of even an expanded civilian reactor program, but it still raises concerns about Iran’s ability to “break out” and produce fuel for nuclear weapons. (to read complete article Click Here)
Policy makers tasked with cutting a deal with Iran over its nuclear program by the November deadline may find a set of useful lessons from the French nuclear-weapons program. Scott Sagan points out that France was largely motivated to pursue the bomb to restore the grandeur it lost during the Second World War. For de Gaulle and his predecessors, the bomb was an important symbol of French independence; after France lost Algeria, it demonstrated that France was still a great power. A similar dynamic may be at play with Iran over its demands concerning the right to engage in the enrichment of uranium.
When it comes to proliferation, many scholars and policy makers have largely ignored the possibility that status, rather than insecurity, is a primary motivation driving the behavior of states seeking to cross the nuclear Rubicon. Status refers to “an attribute of an individual or social role relating to rank.” States that are content with their standing in world politics are unlikely to pose problems for the prevailing international order. The states that pose a challenge are the ones that are dissatisfied over their rank in the international hierarchy. While these states may excel along one or more observable dimensions, from military prowess to economic strength to possessing a geographic sphere of influence, conflict is likely to ensue when the leading international powers refuse to recognize dissatisfied states’ claims to prestige. Conflict can come in the form of crises as well as war. Such conflicts are believed to resolve contests over status. The status dilemma resolves itself with either the leading powers granting a state’s status claims or the contestant backing down. (to read complete article Click Here)
The United States is still striving to complete a comprehensive agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program by the Nov. 24 deadline, though “substantial work” remains to be done, a senior State Department official said Wednesday after high-level talks.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, met here for more than six hours with Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, in an effort to advance the lagging negotiations on an accord that would trade significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear activities for a lifting of onerous economic sanctions. (to read complete article Click Here)
Click here to watch a video of Zia Mian, Director of Princeton University's Project on Peace and Security in South Asia, talk about Iran’s nuclear program and the challenges of keeping nuclear materials and stockpiles secure from terrorist groups on C-SPAN/Washington Journal.
Iran Responds to Flexibility, Not Pressure
The U.S. Could Be Less Likely to Uphold a Final Deal Than Iran
Nuclear Talks Aren’t About Trust, But Verification
A Final Nuclear Deal Can Be Struck Within Six Months
The National Iranian American Council, of which CFPA's 2012 Membership Dinner Dr. Trita Parsi is president, issued the following June 16, 2013 Statement regarding the election of Hassan Rouhani to be the next President of Iran:
The election of Hassan Rouhani to be the next President of Iran signals a potential opening for progress on human rights inside Iran as well as nuclear diplomacy. The lone moderate in the race, Rouhani has criticized the securitized environment in Iran and indicated he will work for the release of prisoners of conscience detained after the 2009 elections, including the leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since 2011. Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator under former reformist President Khatami, has also called for a more constructive approach to nuclear diplomacy, sharply criticizing the confrontational approach Iran has adopted under President Ahmadinejad and the current nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.
While Supreme Leader Khamenei is expected to have the final word on major policy decisions, and conservatives are likely to retain control of many key aspects of Iran's political system, reformists appear to have the backing of the Iranian people and as a result can still prevail in achieving many of their political goals. Many have doubted that the Supreme Leader and his allies would allow a reformist or moderate to win election given the outcome of 2009. If the election of Rouhani stands, the Western narrative stating that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the IRGC are all-powerful needs to be revisited. It would also signal that the underlying forces of discontent with the direction of the country, repression, and mismanagement that surfaced with the Green Movement in 2009 are still intact as they manifested again with the election of Rouhani.
Rouhani is likely to try to deliver on many of his campaign promises, including to relax the securitized political atmosphere and to take a more constructive approach to nuclear negotiations. But the reaction of the United States and the West could make or break Rouhani and the reformists' ability to push for change in Iran. Particularly, if the Obama administration and Congress persist in amplifying economic sanctions on Iran, it could undermine prospects of a deal before Rouhani is even inaugurated. Now is the time to give forces for moderation in Iran space and put major sanctions relief, including for Iran's oil and financial sectors, on the table.
The Iranians missed a major opportunity in 2009 when they assumed that President Barack Obama would be no different from previous US leaders and then acted according to that assumption. Tehran's non-responsiveness rendered Obama's job to change the relationship more difficult. Washington should be careful not to commit that same mistake.
Vali Nasr: "Rowhani's election should give Congress pause in further intensifying sanctions. Washington need not lift any sanctions yet, but simply being willing to discuss the possibility in exchange for Iranian concessions would be a sea change in the nuclear negotiations. Failing that, nothing will change in the nuclear impasse and the reformist moment could just be that. The ball is in Washington's court."
Paul Pillar: "The Iranian electorate has in effect said to the United States and its Western partners, "We've done all we can. Among the options that the Guardian Council gave us, we have chosen the one that offers to get us closest to accommodation, agreement and understanding with the West. Your move, America."
Trita Parsi: "The Iranians missed a major opportunity in 2009 when they assumed that President Obama would be no different from previous US leaders and then acted according to that assumption. Tehran's non-responsiveness rendered Obama's job to change the relationship more difficult. Washington should be careful not to commit that mistake."
Mark Fitzpatrick: "In October 2003, (Rouhani) agreed to a partial suspension of the enrichment programme, and a year later, to a greater halt. To domestic audiences, he bragged at the time and again in this year's campaign interviews that the suspension was only a tactical ploy to enable the nuclear programme to advance in other ways. This explanation was partly true, but it was gilding the lily. Any deal has to be viewed as a victory for both sides. A further reason for optimism is to be found in last week's Reuters report that Khamenei had given a guarded OK to a request by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to engage bilaterally with the United States. There has been little evidence of such flexibility toward engagement to date, but Salehi will surely be kept on after Rowhani takes office on 3 August."
President-Elect Hassan Rouhani: "Relations between Iran and the United States are a complicated and difficult issue. It's nothing easy. This is a very old wound that is there, and we need to think about how to heal this injury. We don't want to see more tension. Wisdom tells us both countries need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things... [Talks] should be based on mutual respect and interests, and should be [held] on equal footing... The Americans must expressly state that they will never interfere in Iran's domestic affairs. Secondly, all rights of the nation need to be recognized by the Americans... Unilateral bullying policies need to be scrapped... [If these conditions are met] the ground will be paved for settlement... But everyone should realize that the future government will definitely defend the rights of the Iranian people. We will never dispense with that. We are prepared to see tensions alleviated. If we see goodwill we can also take some confidence building measures..."
"We have to enhance mutual trust between Iran and other countries... There is a fresh opportunity for interaction on the global level."
Secretary of State John Kerry: "President-elect Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians. In the months ahead, he has the opportunity to keep his promises to the Iranian people. We, along with our international partners, remain ready to engage directly with the Iranian government. We hope they will honor their international obligations to the rest of the world in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
White House statement: "We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard. Yesterday's election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly. However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future. It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians. The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program.
Pervasive myths, distortions, and oversimplifications continue to distort perceptions about Iran. To confront these myths, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), together with Just Foreign Policy, has launched Iranfact.org, a site devoted to fact-checking these myths and promoting honest and accurate debate about Iran policy in the U.S.
Myth #1: Iran has fissile material for five nuclear weapons
At the Vice Presidential debate, Congressman Paul Ryan said, “When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material, nuclear material, to make one bomb. Now they have enough to make five.’ However, Iran does not have any fissile nuclear material that could be used in a nuclear weapon. Iran has quantities of low and medium-enriched uranium, but does not possess weapons-grade uranium, which would be required to build a nuclear weapon.
Myth #2: The U.S. and Israel believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons
The United States intelligence community says Iran has not made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon. Instead, the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that Iran is engaged in a strategy of nuclear hedging developing the capabilities that would be necessary to build a nuclear weapon if such a political decision were made. According to multiple credible media reports, Israeli intelligence agencies agree with the U.S. intelligence community that Iran has not decided to develop nuclear weapons.
Myth #3: An Iranian nuclear weapon is imminent
An Iranian nuclear weapon is not imminent. U.S. and Israeli intelligence assess that Iran is not actively building a bomb, and that it would take Iran at least two to three years to have a deliverable weapon.
Myth #4: Israel and the U.S. consider Iran irrational.
Top Israeli and U.S. officials agree Iran is a rational actor. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told CNN, We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor. Senior Israeli officials, such as Meir Dagan, the former chief of Israel’s Mossad, have made similarly unambiguous statements. The regime in Iran is a very rational regime, Dagan told CBS News in March.
Myth #5: Israel considers Iran an existential threat
While many media outlets and politicians often state that Iran is an existential threat to Israel, many senior Israeli defense officials argue this simply isn’t true. Prominent Israeli defense and intelligence officials have stated that Iran poses some threat to Israel, but that it is not an existential threat.
About NIAC: The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community.
For more information, visit www.niacouncil.org