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No War On Iran

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Give Diplomacy a Chance! 

 

no_war_in_iran

 
 
 
A bill to increase sanctions on Iran was introduced in the US Senate on 12/20/13, click here for overview of the bill to increase sanctions, including updated list of co-sponsors. The good news is that as of February 7, 2014, after an intense campaign by CFPA and allies, it was shelved!

The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) is strongly opposed this bill for the reasons cited in letter and resources below.
 
See Iran: A Good Deal Now in Danger by Jessica Mathews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the February 20 edition of the New York Review of Books 
 
See February 2, 2014 article in the National Journal on How Obama Won the War on Iran Sanctions, which also credits strong organizing by pro-diplomacy peace groups like CFPA with helping turn the tide.
 
Click here to see excellent New York Times Op-ed on January 28, 2014 by US Senators Carl Levin and Angus King against the bill.
 
Click here to see article from January 28 Times of Israel on AP Poll showing 60% of Americans support diplomacy with Iran.
 
Click following to see January 17 story on Rachel Maddow show on MS-NBC Support for New Sanctions Wanes
 
Click here and go to page S320 to see excellent speech by Sen. Diane Feinstein, Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee, giving detailed reasons for opposing.
 
Click here to see January 14 New York Times editorial opposing the sanctions bill 
 
Click here to see 1/6/14 Letter to bill co-sponsors from nine top foreign policy leaders and ambassadors, urging them to not seek a vote.
 
Click here to see excellent critique of the bill by our colleagues at National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
 
Click here to see excellent, in-depth critique by our colleagues at the Arms Control Association.  
 
Click here to see Peter Beinart's January 6 article on ending the "Cold War" with Iran. Click here to see Prof. Hillary Mann Leverett's talk on a similar topic at CFPA's Nov. 10, 2013 Conference on Diplomacy, Not War with Iran
 
Click here to see CNN article by Dr. Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi of NIAC challenging sanctions as a "successful" strategy.
 
Click here to see Alert that can send emails to your US Senators Opposing the Bill.
 
Sign-on Letter to Senators from NJ and PA from grasstops leaders in their states*

*Current co-signers updated regularly at bottom
 

Dear Senator (Menendez/Booker/Casey/Toomey):  

As we begin the New Year, we write to ask your support for continued vigorous diplomacy with Iran to achieve a peace in the U.S. security interest, and one that is durable and fair.  

We support the positive steps that have broken the deadlock in diplomacy with Iran, and produced the Phase I Agreement in November, 2013.  We applaud the fact that efforts by the US State Department with Iran have led to a freeze on Iran’s expansion of its enrichment capacity and on construction of the Arak reactor, and to greater transparency—which can go further in a Final Agreement in six months.  We note that the new restraints include the use or dilution of 20% uranium to 5%, which is much below weapon grade. We are also pleased that Iran has accepted unprecedented levels of daily inspection.  

Congress has not been helpful to date.  While the Cantor bill in the House has been defeated, a victory for diplomacy, the Menendez-Kirk-Schumer bill in the Senate would, if passed, potentially undermine diplomacy.  

The bill calls for “a complete end to Iranian uranium enrichment”. This sounds good, except that the Iranian government has made clear it is non-negotiable and will cause their withdrawal from negotiations.  The U.S. negotiators succeeded in the Phase I agreement in stopping Iranian production of 20% enriched uranium (a real victory); but tacitly accepted that Iran can enrich up to 5%, the level used in nuclear power reactors. To forego all enrichment is viewed by the Iran side as being forced to accept 3rd-class status, below Brazil, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands, which enrich uranium as NPT non-nuclear-weapon states.  

We agree that the spread of enrichment capabilities is dangerous but believe that it is impossible to impose discriminatory rules on a major country like Iran in the modern world. Far better would be to craft a new regime in which all enrichment plants are under multinational control. We note in this connection that the only enrichment operating in the United States today is, in fact, under multinational (German-Dutch-UK) control. Iran has in the past expressed its willingness to be the first in line to join such a regime.  

Senator, as an elected leader for the people of our state, we ask that you not co-sponsor the Menendez-Kirk-Schumer bill, but rather prevail upon the US Senate to give diplomacy a chance.  Secretary Kerry, EU Minister Catherine Ashton, the other members of the P5+1 and the Iranian Foreign Minister are within months of a possible final agreement, which we fear this bill would likely derail.  Why derail a final agreement that could bring us much closer to real peace in the Middle East?  

Success in diplomacy with Iran could bring more real peace for Israel and others in the Middle East, including the end of Iran’s supplying of weapons to Hezbollah.  Further, improved Iran relations can help the US, the UN, and Russia to succeed in bringing about a settlement in the difficult negotiations on bringing a political solution in Syria, which has seen countless civilians suffer, and thousands die.  Stating direct military, diplomatic and economic support for Israel in the case of a unilateral Israeli  strike on  Iran, is in direct opposition to our own administration's goals and efforts thus far in this historic diplomatic process with Iran and needlessly endangers Americans, Israelis, Iranians and others in the region.  If we let these talks fail, we will fail to seize a historic opportunity provided by the election of the current Iranian political leadership.   

Only one thing is clear—if the bill passes, it will make a diplomatic solution to the issues of Iran’s nuclear program, of Hezbollah, etc., nearly impossible.  The likely result would be a war with Iran, and a worsening of any chance for regional peace and stability. Those responsible for blocking moves for diplomacy, peace, and stability, will be blamed by our allies and others in the international community.  

We have been told that the Menendez-Kirk-Schumer bill simply would “keep up the pressure on Iran”, and thereby help the talks succeed.  This bill, if passed as originally written, however, would do something else. Most importantly, it would require “A complete end to Iranian uranium enrichment” which we believe is non-negotiable.  Thus Congressional action would tie the hands of the President’s ability to negotiate, his major initiating power under the Constitution. The President has said he would veto such a bill—as he should because it would undermine U.S. credibility with both the P5+1, and Iran, as well as others we negotiate with in the future.  

We appeal to you to safeguard our Constitutional order, and to support diplomacy with Iran. Our representatives should recognize that, in this case, limiting the powers of the President to negotiate is not in the interest of the Congress, the people, or the peace and security of the United States.

Sincerely,

*Organizations for Identification Only

Mustafa Abdi, Director, Muslims for Peace

Ed Aguilar, Project Director, Coalition for Peace Action PA Office, Philadelphia

Judith Arnold, Board President, NJ Peace Action

Linda D. Bauman, Manager, Fellowship in Prayer, Princeton, NJ

Edith Bell, Chair, Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Pittsburgh

Litsa Binder, Chair, Church and Society Committee, Sparta United Methodist Church

Jessica Camacho, Political Action Coordinator, NJ Peace Action

The Rev. Elizabeth B. Congdon, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Trenton

Bill Deckhart, Co-Coordinator, Buxmont Coalition for Peace Action

Joan Diefenbach, Director, NJ Council of Churches

Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study

Cherie Eichholz, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Philadelphia

Monsignor R. Vincent Gartland, Pastor, Church of St. Ann, Lawrenceville, NJ

David Gibson, Organizing Director, Peacehome Campaigns

Irene Etkin Goldman, Chair, Coalition for Peace Action

Evelyn Haas, Executive Committee Member, NE Philly for Peace and Justice

Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director, NJ Peace Action

Stanley Katz, Professor, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Mary Day Kent, President, United Nations Association-Greater Philadelphia

Cathy Leary, Co-Coordinator, Buxmont Coalition for Peace Action, Bucks County, PA

Peter Lems, Program Office, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia

Diane McMahon, Managing Director, Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh 

The Rev. Isaac Miller, Pastor Emeritus, Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia

The Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director, Coalition for Peace Action Regional Office

Tammy Murphy, LL.M., Director, Project for Nuclear Awareness, Philadelphia

Kathy O'Leary, Pax Christi NJ

Lisa Parker, Co-Founder and Coordinator, Peace Day Philly

The Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash, Pastor, Princeton United Methodist Church

Jo Schlesinger, Western PA Coordinator, Coalition for Peace Action

Maziar Shirazi, MD, Iranian-American Professor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Barbara Simmons, Director, Peace Center, Langhorne, PA

Rabbi Amy Joy Small, Deborah's Palm Center for Jewish Learning and Experiences, NJ

Robert M. Smith, staff/co-founder, Brandywine Peace Community

Dr. Walter Tsou, Chair, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia Chapter

John Vincent, President, Princeton-Trenton Area Chapter, United Nations Association-USA

Frank von Hippel, Physicist and Professor Emeritus of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; former Assistant Director, White House Science Advisor’s Office;  Co-Chair International Panel on Fissile Materials 

Keith Voos, Clerk, New Brunswick Friends Meeting

Scilla Wahrhaftig, Program Director, American Friends Service Committee PA Program 

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

 
We encourage letters to the editor like the one below to be sent by supporters to one or more newspapers in your state. Click here and select your state to submit on line. Click here for more information to consider including in your letter, but remember that most newspapers have a 200 word limit!  

New sanctions measure undermines peace effort
Letter to the editor published in Trenton Times, Bergen Record, and Herald News 
 

 The nuclear deal brokered by the United States and Iran in Geneva is historic. Just as the agreement to peacefully disarm Syria of its chemical weapons demonstrated, diplomacy prevents war and makes the world a safer place.  

 Yet, on Dec. 20, just as this season of peace began, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was a primary sponsor of, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania co-sponsored a bill to increase sanctions on Iran. This shows bad faith and violates the terms of the interim agreement with Iran.  

 As former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft have pointed out, "Additional sanctions now against Iran ... will risk undermining or even shutting down the negotiations." Sabotaging diplomacy would jeopardize the unprecedented progress our diplomats have achieved to guard against yet another war and nuclear-armed nation.  

 I encourage your readers to call on the above senators to "give diplomacy a chance." They can all be reached via the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.  

 The Rev. Robert Moore, Princeton  

The writer is the executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, and Pastor of East Brunswick Congregational Church.

 
  
 

 

Letter to the Editor in Praise of Diplomatic Breakthrough with Iran 

Dear Editor,

The historic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program demonstrates again that sustained diplomacy, not war, solves the most vexing problems of global peace.

As with Syria, diplomacy is solving our concerns about weapons of mass destruction with Iran.  We want to see Iran step back from the possibility of obtaining nuclear weapons, while the U.S. and others ease sanctions that unfairly affect average Iranians.

This deal is supported by most of the world community, is in the best interest of the U.S., and builds the momentum of using diplomacy to successfully reduce and eliminate chemical and nuclear weapons.  

There is real power in diplomacy solving disputes. In September, we were on the verge of the US getting into yet another Middle East war, which would have, at best, destroyed only a small fraction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Turning to diplomacy resulted in a verifiable agreement to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal! 

As diplomacy is working with Iran, we need to sustain and strengthen citizen support for continuing diplomacy.  Readers who want to support the Coalition for Peace Action’s Campaign for Diplomacy, Not War with Iran can visit peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-5022.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Robert Moore
(609) 924-5022 Office
(609) 924-1206 Home
(609) 937-6931 Cell

The writer, who lives and works in Princeton, is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region with over 7,700 member and supporting households in 23 chapters. 

Recent Developments:

 New Hope for Peace with the Election of Hassan Rouhani!


Click Here to read the NY Times Editorial "A Promising Moment in Iran" 


"How to End the Stalemate with Iran," NY Times Editorial by Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian (confirmed speaker for 2013 Conference) and Mohammed Ali Shabani

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.

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What Experts Are Saying

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."

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What Iran and the U.S. are Saying

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.

 

 What You Can Do:  

  • Write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper calling for diplomacy, not war, in Iran.

  • Distribute CFPA's fact sheet among your contacts.

  • Strengthen CFPA's No War in Iran campaign by making a special donation. Click here and use the third option to make a tax-deductible donation online, or mail a check payable to the Peace Action Education Fund (PAEF) to the Coalition for Peace Action office, 40 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542

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CFPA Campaign Timeline

 

  • Ongoing: CFPA members and supporters pressure elected officials to support legislation calling for diplomacy, not war, in Iran.

  • June, 2012: CFPA hosts a discussion on negotations with Iran at Infini-T in Princeton.

  • June, 2012: CFPA holds a second Vigil for Diplomacy Not War in Iran in Palmer Square in Princeton to show support for negotiations.

  • June, 2012: CFPA's 31st Annual Membership Dinner features a keynote by Dr. Trita Parsi, an expert on diplomacy with Iran. Click Here for photos and a video of Dr. Parsi's talk.

  • March, 2012: CFPA holds a Vigil for Diplomacy Not War in Iran in Palmer Square in Princeton

  • March, 2012: CFPA holds its second annual Membership Renewal Party featuring expert speakers on Iran.

  • March, 2012: CFPA co-sponsors Can Diplomacy Prevent War With Iran? Resolving the Nuclear Crisis with Ambassador Mousavian and Dr. Zia Mian at Princeton University.

  • March, 2012: CFPA's Buxmont chapters hold a Say No to War with Iran Vigil in Morrisville.

  • February, 2010: CFPA lobbies in DC against a war on Iran.

 


Myths about Iran
excerpts from National Iranian American Council

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

 

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