On Monday night (Indigenous Peoples Day), Washington, DC area peacemongers from groups including the National Iranian American Council, Institute for Policy Studies, CODEPINK Women for Peace and others joined Peace Action for a celebration of the Iran Peace Accord at Busboys and Poets restaurant. Our hosts were Busboys and Poets owners Marjan (originally from Iran) and Andy (originally from Iraq) Shallal. Here are a few photos from a festive, fun evening! It was certainly a long time coming! Peace Action has worked for diplomacy and peace, and against threats of war, with Iran since at least 2004! Photos by Eric Swanson, Peace Action’s Database Manager.
Peace Action board member Larry Wittner on History News Network
Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?
When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons.
But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions. The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability. The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons. Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
What has been the record of the nuclear powers when it comes to compliance with the NPT?
The good news is that there has been some compliance. Thanks to a variety of nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements negotiated among the major nuclear powers, plus some unilateral action, the world’s total nuclear weapons stockpile has been reduced by more than two- thirds.
On the other hand, 45 years after the NPT went into effect, nine nations continue to cling to about 16,000 nuclear weapons, thousands of which remain on hair-trigger alert. These nations not only include the United States and Russia (which together possess more than 90 percent of them), but Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. If their quarrels—of which there are many—ever get out of hand, there is nothing to prevent these nations from using their nuclear weapons to lay waste to the world on a scale unprecedented in human history.
Equally dangerous, from the standpoint of the future, is that these nations have recently abandoned negotiating incremental nuclear disarmament agreements and have plunged, instead, into programs of nuclear weapons “modernization.” In the United States, this modernization—which is projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years—will include everything from ballistic missiles to bombers, warheads to naval vessels, cruise missiles to nuclear weapons factories. In Russia, the government is in the process of replacing all of its Soviet era nuclear weapons systems with new, upgraded versions. As for Britain, the government has committed itself to building a new nuclear-armed submarine fleet called Successor, thereby continuing the nation’s nuclear status into the second half of the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, as the Arms Control Association recently reported, China, India, and Pakistan “are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based delivery systems.”
Thus, despite the insistence of the nuclear powers that Iran comply with the NPT, it is pretty clear that these nuclear-armed countries do not consider themselves bound to comply with this landmark agreement, signed by 189 nations. Some of the nuclear powers, in fact, have been quite brazen in rejecting it. Israel, India, and Pakistan have long defied the NPT—first by refusing to sign it and, later, by going ahead and building their own nuclear weapons. North Korea, once a signatory to the treaty, has withdrawn from it.
In the aftermath of the Iranian government’s agreement to comply with the treaty, would it not be an appropriate time to demand that the nuclear-armed nations do so?
At the least, the nuclear nations should agree to halt nuclear weapons “modernization” and to begin negotiating the long-delayed treaty to scrap the 16,000 nuclear weapons remaining in their arsenals. Having arranged for strict verification procedures to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, they should be familiar with procedures for verification of their own nuclear disarmament.
After all, isn’t sauce for the goose also sauce for the gander?
If by the end of tomorrow no legislation is passed to oppose the Iran agreement, it will move forward. Republicans have tried to ditch the accord but Democrats in the Senate have blocked them twice now. Even if such a bill passed, President Obama would veto and it is very clear that there is enough support for the Iran accord to sustain the veto.
Nevertheless, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to play games by forcing useless votes.
Last night, after the Democrats blocked an opposition vote, McConnell introduced an amendment prohibiting the Iran accord from proceeding until Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist and frees the American prisoners in Iran. These are important issues but completely separate from the nuclear agreement.
Clearly, this is a last minute attempt by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and kill diplomacy with Iran that six countries negotiated over several years to limit Iran’s nuclear program and keep it peaceful.
We expect votes to occur tomorrow night, so please dial (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free) to reach both your Senators now and say:
I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is. I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.
While we are pretty sure we have the votes to move the Iran deal forward, we will not declare victory until tomorrow’s votes are finished. Even then, we expect hawks in Congress to continue to make implementing the Iran agreement difficult. With your calls, we will prevail.
P.S. – Efforts by Senate Republicans to kill the Iran accord must be stopped. Though they have been defeated twice, several votes will occur tomorrow to thwart the Iran agreement. Please call both your Senators now and say:
“I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is. I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.”
After calling, please forward this important email.
*Thanks to Friends Committee on National Legislation for the toll-free number.
Who knows why, but the Senate is again “debating” (I’d say speechifying) the Iran nuclear accord. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled another cloture vote for 6:00 today (with the vote being held open for several hours because of Rosh Hashanah) less than a week after the last vote failed 58-42 (60 votes are needed to invoke cloture, end debate and move to a vote on a piece of legislation). Even worse, they may do it again on Thursday.
UPDATE, 6:45 Eastern time — Majority “Leader” McConnell a short while ago said if cloture failed again as expected, he will file an amendment (to what is TBD) stopping the president from lifting sanctions on Iran until it formally recognizes “Israel’s right to exist” (his words) and releases all US prisoners. Grandstanding? I guess we’ll see.
This is a waste of time, as the House action was last Friday. The Iran nuclear agreement will go into effect once the Congressional review period expires in two days. Republicans want to:
a. embarrass the president and force him to veto their disapproval of the accord (not happening);
b. stage a show vote for the benefit of AIPAC, Netanyahu and the “pro-Israel lobby”;
c. avoid doing the peoples’ business (like, say, passing funding bills to keep the government functioning);
d. all of the above?
To me this isn’t even the real question. It’s what are the opponents of diplomacy afraid of? To hear their speeches, Iran is the worst threat to life on Earth ever, and even more, the most fiendishly clever country ever to engage in diplomatic negotiations. Somehow Iran was able to hornswoggle the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia at the bargaining table to get an agreement that will let Iran run amok over the security concerns of everyone else in the region, more or less.
Time to reject fear, which is the only tool the opponents of the Iran peace accord have.
Diplomacy, and Peace, are greater than Fear.
September 10, 2015
NATION’S LARGEST PEACE AND DISARMAMENT ORGANIZATION
HAILS SENATE VOTE TO UPHOLD IRAN PEACE ACCORD
Washington, DC—Peace Action, the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization, founded in 1957, hailed today’s Senate vote to uphold the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the U.S. and its allies with Iran.
“What a great day for those who support diplomacy as the best way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons,” exclaimed Kevin Martin, Executive Director. “Peace Action chapters, affiliates, associates, members and supporters have worked for diplomacy and against war with Iran since 2004, and are very gratified to see our hard work pay off. May this be the start of a new era for U.S. policy in the Middle East.”
Martin noted there may well be further twists and turns as Senate and House opponents of the nuclear agreement resort to parliamentary and legal gymnastics to try to kill the accord.
“Diplomacy rejectionists are on the wrong side of not just of this issue, but of history. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPOA, as the Iran accord is formally known) will go forward and provide a strong foundation for enhanced security in the region, and hopefully a new relationship between the peoples of Iran and the United States.”
…are still the two things one doesn’t want to watch being made (well I’ve had some very good vegan sausages lately which one probably could watch being made but that’s beside the point). Opponents of the Iran nuclear peace accord are in a lather to try anything and everything to kill it, and they don’t have much time, what with other important congressional business staring them down, including another possible government shut-down at the end of the month. (Tempted to ask, all in favor say “Aye!”)
Long story short-ish: In the Senate, we have 42 senators (all Democrats) in favor of the Iran accord, which is better than we expected. This means the Iran deal will most likely survive. If both Houses actually vote to disapprove the deal, which is now somewhat in question as the next paragraph will explain, the 42 Senate supporters would uphold a presidential veto of the disapproval vote, and we expect we will have similar support of at least 1/3 of the House of Representatives (a 2/3 majority vote is needed to override a presidential veto).
The Senate plans to vote on the Iran accord tomorrow, 9/11, very cynical. There is some (un-) senatorial to-ing and fro-ing about procedure that is too arcane to bother with, so let’s just keep it simple. Please call your senators to make sure they know you support the agreement as negotiated with no funny business, no amendments. The Capitol Switchboard is at 202/ 224-3121. Calls only take a minute or two, ask to speak to your senators (this means two calls) and just let them know you support the Iran peace deal.
In the House, there is a revolt by members of the Liberty Caucus who claim, absurdly, at the 11th hour, that the vote cannot take place, and as a matter of fact that the congressional time period for acting (or not) on the agreement is in fact not over September 17th, as previously agreed all around, but that the 60 day clock has not even started since the Obama Administration did not transmit to Congress two “side agreements” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the White House doesn’t even have access to, as is customary in IAEA agreements with countries where it is inspecting nuclear facilities. Scratching your head? Don’t blame you.
This plan was hatched Tuesday night at a Republican conference meeting in the basement of a Tortilla Coast restaurant on Capitol Hill, overturning the Rules Committee’s agreement from that very afternoon on how to treat the vote. One is tempted to speculate it was after several pitchers of margaritas.
So now instead of the expected resolution to disapprove the agreement, it appears the House will vote Friday on the following three pieces of sausage, I mean legislation:
- H. Res. 411—Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (the bill that established the congressional review process and 60 day period). This is a non-binding resolution meant to set up a lawsuit against the president.
- H.R. 3460—To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran (this would effectively kill the deal, but if passed would be vetoed by the president and upheld if an override vote were held).
- H.R. 3461—To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (this of course will fail since all Republicans at this point oppose the deal, and is meant to embarrass the president and the deal supporters).
Again, this is more than one could be expected to understand, even many of us who have done this kind of work for a long time. To simplify, just call your representative (same number as above) and tell her or him to ignore the tomfoolery and sausage slicing and dicing and support the diplomatic accord with Iran that is supported by most of the world.