Call Your Rep. Today to Support Diplomacy with Iran! 202-224-3121

April 21, 2015

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It can be argued that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week passed legislation that might make it harder for the international community to reach a final agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
Dozens of Representatives on the other side of the Capitol are taking a much more positive step to support the historic framework reached with Iran on its nuclear program.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and David Price (D-NC) are getting other members to sign a letter that supports diplomacy with Iran over war.

Call your Rep. today at 202-224-3121 and ask them if they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports the current negotiations with Iran.  If they have, thank them. If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent. 
This letter is important as it shown support in Congress for the historic framework reached by the international community and Iran that will keep it from making a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so.  The details and final technical points still need to be negotiated and a final accord signed by the June 30th deadline.

Opponents of the deal fail to provide a better alternative.  We could break off negotiations, but that would put Iran in a place where it could make the materials need for a crude nuclear bomb within weeks.  We could push for more sanctions.  The U.S. has almost maxed out on its sanctions and there isn’t the appetite for more sanctions from other countries.  And the greatest folly would be to use military intervention that would only set Iran back a few years and push them to definitively obtain a nuclear warhead as soon as possible.

Dial your Rep. now at 202-224-3121 and make sure they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports diplomacy with Iran.  If they have, thank them.  If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent.

We’re on the verge of a historic breakthrough for peace. As the letter states: “This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire.”

Please call today!

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. Call your Rep. today at 202-224-3121 and ask them if they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports the current negotiations with Iran.  If they have, thank them.  If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent.  Then, forward this important email to your friends, family and colleagues.


Thoughts on the way forward for the Iran nuclear deal

April 16, 2015

Geneseo chapter

-Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Starting with a great statement by journalist Robert Parry:

“The April 2 framework agreement with Iran represents more than just a diplomatic deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It marks a crossroad that offers a possible path for the American Republic to regain its footing and turn away from endless war.”

Now some musings about our message focus and framing moving forward:

1. While we need to continue arguing the merits of a nuclear deal with Iran from various angles, I think it’s time to be a bit assumptive, play some offense, and help create an air of inevitability, which can help us dig in more on the politics, which are clearly going to be more important than the policy. The argument goes something like this:

“Like it or not, a nuclear deal with Iran is extremely likely to happen. Iran, the Obama Administration, P5+1 and international community has invested too much for it to fall apart at this point. Just about the only way a deal could get scuttled is by the U.S. Congress.  How could that happen? Who would benefit, or perhaps better asked as in whose interests would killing the deal be?

Most Republicans want to kill anything that has Obama’s name on it out of blind partisan loathing. No news flash there. But we shouldn’t let them off the hook. When push comes to shove, to they really want to undermine the President of the United States for their partisan gain, or for their perceived notion of the interests of Israel or Saudi Arabia? I don’t see the harm in raising those questions, not likely to move them, but to help isolate them if they don’t budge.

The key to supporting or upholding a deal (in case there is the need for the President to veto any deal-killing legislation passed by Congress) will be Democrats, even more likely liberal/progressive Dems, some who have been either silent, insufficiently supportive of the Administration’s diplomacy, or outright opponents of a deal. Some are frankly disingenuous, saying they want peace and support diplomacy while advocating completely unrealistic conditions for a deal (Alan Grayson stands out right now). Some are, acknowledged or not, “pro-Israel hawks” or at least highly susceptible to AIPAC et al pressure. They’ll have to be smoked out – do they support the president of their party, and what their base wants, what the world wants, or what AIPAC wants? If the latter, they are helping make a war more likely.

Here is a pretty good analysis going more deeply into some of the political questions, both domestic and international:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Iran-Deal-Who-is-agai-by-Steven-Jonas-Iran_Iran-Arms-Industry_Iran-Embargo_Iran-Russia-Alliance-150415-150.html

2. Back to the policy, which reinforces our message on the politics (I think)

We might want to consider broadening our messaging to address re-balancing regional concerns and U.S. policy so it’s not all about Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the possibility of a new, transformed, positive relationship between the American and Iranian peoples (perhaps phrased like that, rather than between governments).

The latter is fairly self-evident I think, emphasizing that a deal on the nuclear issue could open up all kinds of economic and social benefits to the peoples of the two countries. It’s positive, peaceful, visionary. We should also emphasize the sanctions mostly hurt ordinary Iranians, not the mullahs or oligarchs. I don’t think we’ve gone far enough in “humanizing” the Iranian people, which I know seems simplistic but the level of demonization of an entire country for decades is tough to overcome.

The former is harder, maybe out of our reach. Certainly many elites and Members of Congress advocate Iran remaining in the penalty box forever, regardless of what happens with the nuclear program, and want U.S. policy to continue to privilege Saudi/Gulf states and Israeli interests indefinitely. I doubt they’d see it this way, but Obama, Kerry and co. have actually gone pretty far in bucking that elite consensus with the Iran negotiations.

Perhaps the way to frame this is to get the U.S. on the right side of inevitability. Iran is going to get out of the penalty box, we may become isolated from our allies if we hew to a hard line. Iran is going to play a key role in the region, there are already common interests between the U.S. and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel are not going to dominate considerations of US policy in the region forever. There may well be a democratic revolution in Iran in the next decade so let’s be on good terms with the Iranian people, and a deal on nukes is the first step in all of this.

As the sign above says, Peace Demands Action, so we need to stay very engaged as the Congressional deliberations and international negotiations proceed.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts, criticisms, alternative suggestions.


Call the Senate today – Don’t Ditch the Iran Nuke Deal

April 14, 2015

peace girl

Last week, I sent you a very similar email that asked you to email Congress and ask them not to kill the historic Iran deal.  It’s working!  Some Senators’ extreme language has softened.  Nonetheless, this week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up legislation (S.615) that could kill the Iran deal before it has a chance to become final.  It may be voted on by the full Senate in short order.

Call both your Senators now at 202-224-3121 and tell them to support the Iran framework and to vote against any Iran legislation before the deal is final, especially S. 615.

Senators Corker (R-TN) and Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S.615 that would require Congress to take an up or down vote on any final deal, bar the President from relieving sanctions for months and require the nearly impossible task of guaranteeing that Iran is not funding any violent extremists.

You have worked with us for nearly a decade to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, and that result comes via diplomacy, not war.  Our efforts, in coordination with a large coalition of organizations, combined with President Obama’s determination, led to a historic framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

Make two quick, crucial calls to your Senators at 202-224-3121.  Ask them to support the Iran framework and to vote against any Iran bills before the deal is final especially S. 615.

This critical agreement achieves two important things:

  1. If Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon (and that is a big if) the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a crude weapon would be at least one year, giving the international community plenty of time to act.
  2. The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) will have unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program from soup to nuts and can inspect any suspected covert sites as well.
    In exchange for the above Iran would receive economic sanctions relief.
    Dial 202-224-3121 now.  Demand that your Senators support the Iran deal and to vote against any Iran bills before the agreement is final, especially S. 615.

This agreement extends the time it would take Iran to make enough fissile material for one crude nuclear by four to six times by reducing Iran’s centrifuges by 2/3 and allowing it to use only old technology for 10 years, reducing its stockpile of low enriched uranium by 97% for 15 years and by reconfiguring its nuclear reactor so no weapons grade plutonium will be made, nor could be reprocessed, indefinitely.

Let’s not forget what the alternatives are.  We could stop negotiating with Iran and it could lower its time to get enough materials for a crude nuclear bomb to two months or less.  This might threaten Israel enough that it would take military action.  The U.S. could take military action that might push back Iran’s nuclear program by a few years, start a major war in the Middle East and encourage Iran to produce a nuclear weapon as soon as possible.

Speaking of war, already neocons like Sen. McCain, Bill Kristol and John Bolton have either alluded to or directly called for U.S. bombing of Iran.  We all remember the Iraq war.  Iran is nearly four times the size of Iraq with almost three times the population and a much larger military.  This is a horrific option and why the vast majority of Americans oppose military intervention with Iran.

Contact your Senators at 202-224-3121.  Insist that they let negotiators get a signed accord with Iran based on the strong framework already agreed to.  And vote against any Iran bills, especially S. 615.

Thanks again for your help in getting us this far and so very close to solving one of the national security conundrums of the decade.  Please take a brief moment to call now.

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. Call 202-224-3121 before the Senate votes to torpedo the Iran deal.  Demand that your Senators support the Iran framework and to vote against any Iran bills (especially S. 615) before the agreement is final.


Iran Deal Good for Israel

April 13, 2015
Paul Kawika Martin at a pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians

Paul Kawika Martin at a pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians

Washington, DC — April 13, 2015 — In response to the meetings President Obama will have with Jewish leaders today where the Iran framework reached by the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran will be on the agenda, Paul Kawika Martin the political director of Peace Action (the largest peace group in the U.S. founded on abolishing nuclear weapons) who has been working on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran and has also visited Israel made the following statement:

The historic framework reached by the international community with Iran on their nuclear program, when finalized, will make Americans, Israelis and the world safer by thwarting all of Iran’s pathways to make a nuclear weapon and using unprecedented inspections and monitoring to ensure compliance.  Without an agreement, Iran, if it chose, could produce enough fissile material to make one crude nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks and the threat of war increases dramatically.

Though Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to take an extreme hard line on Iran, former Israeli military and intelligence directors, some Israeli media and some American Jewish groups are more realistic and support the Iran framework and ongoing negotiations.

Another benefit to Israel is that a finalized agreement with Iran on its nuclear program may pave the way for more talks on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions.

At the very least those skeptical that an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is in the best interest of Israel should wait until the June 30th deadline to see what is in the final agreement and give some time to see how Iran complies with the agreement.

An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative.  Military strategists have said repeatedly that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst start another Middle East war and force Iran to build a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.

Any letters or legislation from the U.S. Congress that offers more sanctions or ties the hands of the negotiators are clearly meant to kill the talks.  Poison pill bills like Senator Bob Corker’s (R-TN), poised to be marked up within days, could delay implementation of an agreement for months and puts certification hurdles nearly impossible to clear, should be defeated.  Scuttling the accord would be very short sighted as an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program would likely lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government.  More sanctions on Iran are likely to only embolden Iranian hardliners rather than solving the problem.

###

Notes to Editors:

Statements from former Israeli military and intelligence directors:

Amos Yadlin, Fmr. Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence- “Considering that Iran now has 19,000 centrifuges, the agreement provides quite a good package. One has to think what might have happened if, as aspired to by Netanyahu and Steinitz, negotiations had collapsed. Had that happened, Iran could have decided on a breakout, ignored the international community, refused to respond to questions about its arsenal, continued to quickly enrich and put together a bomb before anyone could have had time to react. And therefore, with this in mind, it’s not a bad agreement.”

Efraim Halevy, Fmr. Director of Mossad and Head of Israeli National Security Council- “Obama was right, Iran capitulated. Netanyahu should accept the American offer of dialogue on the draft agreement reached in Lausanne, instead of signaling his intent to scupper it out of hand.”

Amos Yadlin, an Israeli general and former head of military intelligence, expressed cautious optimism about the deal- “There’s no reason for panic. Israel’s fate has not been sealed, our freedom is not in danger and all in all, we’re talking about an agreement with quite a few achievements.”

Israeli media support:

Haaretz, diplomacy reporter Barak Ravid

Ron Ben-Yishal, a veteran Israeli war and military affairs correspondent

Large American Jewish groups that support Iran framework:

Americans for Peace Now

J Street

What the Iran framework does:

The agreement includes five major components.  Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material.  Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.  Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium.  Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring.  And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran.

About Peace Action:

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace- Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika


Tell Congress: Don’t Kill the Iran Deal

April 8, 2015

peace girl

You have worked with us for nearly a decade to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, and that result comes via diplomacy, not war.  Our efforts, in coordination with a large coalition of organizations, combined with President Obama’s  determination, led to a historic framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, announced last week.

Take a quick moment to tell Congress not to torpedo this framework that will make us safer.

This critical agreement achieves two important things:

  1. If Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon (and that is a big if) the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a crude weapon would be at least one year, giving the international community plenty of time to act.
  2. The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) will have unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program from soup to nuts and can inspect any suspected covert sites as well.
    In exchange for the above Iran would receive economic sanctions relief.

Write Congress now to support this Iran deal that will avert war and lesson Middle East tensions.

If we stopped negotiating with Iran and it reversed the cutbacks in its nuclear program it would have the capacity to make enough nuclear bomb material for one crude weapon in only two to four months.  This agreement extends that four to six times by reducing Iran’s centrifuges by 2/3 and allowing it to use only old technology for 10 years, reducing its stockpile of low enriched uranium by 97% for 15 years and by reconfiguring its nuclear reactor so no weapons grade plutonium will be made, nor could be reprocessed, indefinitely.

Let’s not forget what the alternatives are.  We could stop negotiating with Iran and it could lower its time to get enough materials for a crude bomb to two months or less.  This might threaten Israel enough that it would take military action.  The U.S. could take military action that might push back Iran’s nuclear program by a few years, start a major war in the Middle East and encourage Iran to produce a nuclear weapon as soon as possible.

Speaking of war, already neocons like Sen. McCain, Bill Kristol and John Bolton have either alluded to or directly called for U.S. bombing of Iran.  We all remember the Iraq war.  Iran is nearly four times the size of Iraq with almost three times the population and a much larger military.  This is a horrific option and why the vast majority of Americans oppose military intervention with Iran.

Congress needs to hear from you that we need to let negotiators get a signed accord with Iran based on the strong framework already agreed to.

Even though the negotiators have until June 30th to finalize an agreement, some in Congress want to take legislative action that would most likely kill the bill.  Next week, Sen. Corker will mark up and try to bring to the floor a bill that would require Congress to take an up or down vote on any final deal, bar the President from relieving sanctions for months and require the nearly impossible task of guaranteeing that Iran is not funding any violent extremists.

Thanks again for your help in getting us this far and so very close to solving one of the national security conundrums of the decade.  Do take a moment to write your congressional delegation and ask them to support this agreement.

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. By sending a quick letter to Congress to oppose any legislation around Iran diplomacy, it will give the international community the best chance to finalize the historic framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.  Please edit the letter with your own words to give voice to your concerns and hopes for peace!


Peace Action’s Paul Kawika Martin on MSNBC.com – Why Congress should give a nuclear deal with Iran a chance

April 3, 2015

 peace girl

04/02/15 07:09 PM—UPDATED 04/02/15 07:21 PM

Today the United States, Iran, and other world powers announced significant progress on reaching a final agreement regarding Tehran’s nuclear program. The agreement is historic – initiating steps that will keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the country. But some in Congress seem determined to kill the deal.

RELATED: Obama praises Iran nuclear framework: ‘It is a good deal’

The arrangement between the international community and Iran on its nuclear program will keep Iran at least a year away from having the fissile material needed to make a crude nuclear weapon for at least ten years. Without an agreement, that timeline shrinks to a matter of weeks and the threat of war increases dramatically. If you think that a year is too short, note that is the time to make the weapons-grade material and leaves out time for testing, building a bomb, developing technologies to miniaturize the weapon to fit on missiles or other delivery systems. Governments will have plenty of time to act if Iran breaks the accord.

The success of these talks again proves that diplomacy works.
This agreement – which the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus Germany (known as the P5+1) and Iran hope to finalize by a deadline of June 30 – will undoubtedly make Americans and the world safer by removing the possibility that another country will acquire nuclear weapons and possibly start an arms race in the Middle East.

Several recent polls show that Americans oppose military intervention with Iran by as much as 71% and support reaching an entente by nearly 60%. The success of these talks again proves that diplomacy works. The negotiations have already worked by rolling back Iran’s nuclear program and implementing intrusive inspections and thorough monitoring.

VIDEO: Solid foundation reached for ‘good deal’ with Iran, Kerry says

Instead of isolation, sanctions that don’t affect leaders, or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure and untold long-term costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. continues to use dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict. These negotiations may pave the way for more discussions on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions.

The finalized agreement will include five major components:

  • Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material for 15 years.
  • Limiting the quantity (by two-thirds) and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb for 10 years.
  • Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it won’t produce any weapons-grade plutonium.
  • Implementing unprecedented and exhaustive inspections and comprehensive monitoring for 20 years or more.
  • And lastly, implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran that, if Iran breaks the deal, will snap back into place.

An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative. Military strategists have said over and over again that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.

An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative.

Any letters or legislation that offer more sanctions or tie the hands of the negotiators are clearly meant to kill the talks.  Poison pill bills like Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s, which could delay implementation of an agreement for months and throws up nearly-impossible certification hurdles, should be defeated. Scuttling negotiations would be short-sighted, considering an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program would likely lead to productive negotiations on other items of mutual concern.It is clear that the negotiations with Iran are headed toward an agreement that benefits all parties. Americans already support an agreement. Now Congress needs to show its support and refrain from thwarting an accord with any legislation.

Paul Kawika Martin is the political and policy director of Peace Action, and has been working on the Iran issue for more than eight years.


Nuclear Weapons Group Praises Historic Iran Agreement

April 2, 2015

Nuclear Weapons Group Praises Historic Iran Agreement

Washington, DC — April 2, 2015 — The United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran reached an historic framework agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program in Switzerland today.  The “Common Understanding On Principles” claims to take steps that will keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the country.

“This historic agreement between the international community and Iran on its nuclear program will ensure it will not produce a nuclear weapon making the U.S. and the world a safer place.  This agreement promises to keep Iran at least a year away from having the fissile material needed to make a crude nuclear weapon.  Without an agreement, that timeline shrinks to three months and the threat of war increases dramatically,” commented Paul Kawika Martin the political director of Peace Action (the largest peace group in the U.S. founded on abolishing nuclear weapons) who has been working on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran and enjoyed hospitality from its people and its vast culture.

Recent polls show that Americans oppose military intervention with Iran by 71% and support reaching an agreement.  The parties conducted marathon negotiations past their self-imposed deadline of March 31 to develop the solutions that will create the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA).  The parties have until June 30th to agree to all the technical and implementation specifics and sign the CJPOA that will last ten years with parts lasting longer like inspections and monitoring set to occur indefinitely.

“The success of these talks, again proves that diplomacy works.  Instead of isolation, sanctions that don’t affect leaders or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure and untold longterm costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. used dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict.  These notable negotiations may pave the way for more discussions on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions,” added Kevin Martin, executive director, of Peace Action.

The agreement includes five major components.  Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material.  Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.  Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium.  Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring.  And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran.

“An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative.  Military strategists have said over and over again that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.  Any letters or legislation that offers more sanctions or ties the hands of the negotiators are clearly meant to kill the talks.  Poison pill bills like Senator Bob Corker’s that could delay implementation of an agreement for months and puts certification hurdles nearly impossible to clear should be defeated.  Scuttling the accord would be very short sighted as an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program would likely lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government.  More sanctions on Iran are likely to only embolden Iranian hardliner rather than solving the problem,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.

###

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace- Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika


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