The Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice urges the Obama administration to curb the alarming actions and ultimatums that could lead us into war with Iran. We also urge American citizens to be skeptical of the media’s hostile and often inaccurate representation of Iranian actions and intentions. We were deceived once about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Let us not be fooled again.
Here are the known facts. Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon, and it has the right under international law to develop nuclear energy for civilian use. Unlike Israel, India and Pakistan, which have nuclear weapons, Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is authorized to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities, Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon. On the contrary, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both speaking in recent television interviews, as well as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. David Petraeus, Iran has not yet resolved to become a nuclear power.
Under the U.N. Charter and the plain language of international law, the United States is obligated to settle its disputes with other countries “by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security are not endangered.” If the United States takes this pledge seriously, it must reject the threatening first-strike “preventive war” doctrine that led the country into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. It should also end its boycott campaign against Iranian oil exports. These measures hurt the Iranian people and only increase the Iranian government’s resolve to repress its internal opposition, making their struggle for human and political rights more difficult.
There is clearly a better approach. The United States should open direct talks with Iran to create a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, including Israel’s existing nuclear warheads, in exchange for a U.S. and Israeli non-aggression guarantee.
We also believe that the United States is morally obligated to publicly condemn all countries that commit acts of terror, no matter who they may be. In particular we refer to the recent assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostaf Ahmadi-Roshan and three others in the past two years. According to senior U.S. officials reporting on NBC News, as well as Western intelligence officials speaking to Time magazine, Israeli intelligence operatives were involved in these deadly assaults. In our view, no country engaged in such blatant criminal activity should receive U.S. arms, training and military intelligence support. Peace in the Middle East requires the end of double standards. If these murders were committed or assisted by Israeli operatives, the termination of all U.S. military aid to Israel is warranted.
We urge the Obama administration to change course in the Middle East. The U.S. should abandon policies that for the past several decades seem intended to destabilize independent governments and to assert U.S. and Israeli dominance in that region. Threats, sanctions, assassinations and other acts of aggression only hurt innocent Iranians and increase the chance of another disastrous war that will cause great suffering to the people of Iran and Israel and impose heavy burdens on us in the United States.
To see our sources for this column, as well as other information on Iran and current U.S. policy, interested readers can visit at our website: www.mapj.org.
Ellen Welti is chair and Anne Cowan and longtime member in the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice. Both are Manhattan residents.