Celebration in DC of Victory in the Senate on Iran Accord

September 10, 2015

Dupont Circle, Washington DC, vigil (which was a celebration since the Senate vote this afternoon to uphold the Iran peace agreement). Photos by Eric Swanson, Peace Action’s Database Manager (for nearly 20 years!)dupont circle rally km

Peace Action Applauds Senate Vote to Uphold Iran Peace Deal

September 10, 2015


September 10, 2015




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.”



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

More Cowbell? Yeah! More Economic Sanctions on Iran? Nah!

January 30, 2015


After weeks of rumors, Iran sanctions legislation has materialized in Congress. The philosophy behind the bill is reminiscent of a certain iconic Saturday Night Live sketch.

As you may remember, in the sketch a stern Christopher Walken plays the music producer that eggs on Will Ferrell as the over-exuberant cowbell player. In the studio, Walken declares “I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is … More Cowbell!”. In take after take, the cowbell grows louder and louder. The band members are scratching their heads.

For Congressional Iran hawks the only prescription for fevered relations with Iran is “More Sanctions”. As the clang of “more sanctions” emanates from D.C. and is heard in capitols from London to Berlin, our allies are scratching their heads.

U.S. diplomats have spent long hours in negotiations that are as complex technically as they are politically. They are in a far better position than electeds on Capitol Hill to know whether Congressional action weakens their hand.

Comments from some Senators have displayed a lack of knowledge about how negotiations have already made the world safer. Iran has stopped enriching uranium to the more problematic 20% level, capped overall uranium enrichment, and took steps to neutralize its stocks of 20% enriched uranium.

As importantly, U.S. negotiators got Iran to agree to intrusive inspections – in some cases daily inspections – at nuclear facilities. If Iran wanted to use their programs to build a weapon — a decision that the intelligence community says they have not yet made – it’s stringent inspections, verification, and intelligence that can to prevent that. Congress has crucial role to play in oversight and compliance with any deal and they need turn their focus to that role.

Despite progress, ten hawkish Democratic Senators broke with the President and pledged support for a triggered sanctions bill if there’s no framework deal by March. That’s a slap in the face of U.S. allies after British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the E.U. all spoke against Congressional meddling.

Our allies know that Iranians will be unlikely to make compromises with a negotiating party from a house divided. Why should Iranian pragmatists like President Rouhani drain political capital by making controversial concessions when it looks like Congress could undermine the administration’s promises?

The credo of more-cowbell diplomacy is this: Since sanctions brought Iran to the table more sanctions will result in a stronger deal. It’s the kind of logic that makes sense if you don’t think about it too deeply. Simply upping pressure will not cause a proud nation of 77 million people to knuckle under. Endless sanctions didn’t bring Cuba democracy or eject Saddam Hussein from power.

These Senators are half-right. Years of sanctions against Iran play a role in Iran’s motivation. But during the 2005 to 2013 period of ratcheting up sanctions Iran’s nuclear technology program sped up. Overreliance on sanctions is as responsible for Iran’s nuclear advances as it is for “bringing Iran to the table.”

If a return to a sanctions-first derails negotiations gone will be the daily inspections and rollbacks in enrichment and other nuclear technologies. Iran would then be likely to retaliate by ramping up their programs.

Both of the main Congressional interventions into negotiations are dangerous. The sanctions bill by Senators Kirk and Menendez could cause Iran to walk away from the table. If all the parties stay at the table and finish a deal, the “up-or-down vote” approach championed by Senator Bob Corker could amount to a hyper-politicized veto of a deal. Congress would be vetoing almost the entire international community. Then what? Senator Elizabeth Warren was right when she said this week, “undermining negotiations risks escalation and the possibility of war”.

A solution to the nuclear issue could address a major piece of the Middle East puzzle. As with Nixon’s opening to China, détente around the nuclear issue wouldn’t solve all tensions with Iran. But as China and Russia’s constructive role in current Iran diplomacy proves, smart diplomacy can reap dividends on issues of converging interest — even in the tensest relationships. In just one example, Iran could play a role in addressing the conflict engulfing Syria.

Congress shouldn’t let sanctions monomania blind them to a historic opportunity in the toughest of neighborhoods. If Iran hawks don’t hold their fire and let U.S. negotiators do their jobs, the only thing drowning out the cowbell will be the all-too-familiar drums of war.

Peace Action Op-ed and letter to the editor on Iran in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today!

January 21, 2015

peace girl

Quite a two-fer, unusual to have an op-ed and letter to the editor in the same paper on the same issue on the same day! Well done Norman and Nina!

Letter to the editor: Imposing new sanctions on Iran would scuttle nuclear program negotiations

To the editor:

Via patient, persistent diplomacy, the Obama administration and its international partners are in the home stretch of negotiations with Iran to resolve concerns over its nuclear program. A framework agreement to ensure Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons, in exchange for lifting punishing U.S. and international economic sanctions, is within reach by the July 1 deadline.

Unfortunately, some senators are now introducing a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if negotiations fail. This bill will almost certainly scuttle negotiations and lead to calls for military action against Iran. Why would any reasonable person want to risk another Middle East war when a peaceful resolution is possible?

While Senator Portman will vote for sanctions, Senator Sherrod Brown has not yet taken a position. 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.

Senator Brown would be wise to support the President and stand up for diplomacy, not more war.

Nina McLellan,

Shaker Heights

McLellan is Co-President of Cleveland Peace Action.


Op-ed: Brown and Portman should not support Iran sanctions that would derail critical nuclear weapons negotiations

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are fast approaching a major battle — not with Iran, but within the United States.

On one side, the Obama administration has created conditions for productive talks with Iran, with tougher sanctions, an agreement that Iran could continue to enrich uranium for peaceful nuclear power, and outreach to a new more moderate Iranian president. The strategy by President Barack Obama is apparently to negotiate a final package that provides far better insurance against Iran developing a nuclear weapon than any obtained during the previous 12 years of futile negotiations. Since polls of Americans (including American Jews) have consistently supported a negotiated solution, the Obama strategy would make it difficult for hard-liners to wreck a reasonable final agreement.

On the other hand, a senatorial challenge is taking shape: A bill which would impose new sanctions if negotiations fail includes a “Sense of Congress” section demanding that Iran “reverse” its development of nuclear infrastructure so that it is “precluded from a nuclear breakout capacity.” Since any peaceful enrichment of uranium or related technology could be considered building “capacity” and thereby could be “precluded,” the clause amounts to a poison pill. The same section of the bill preserves other sanctions unless Iran opens up its military facilities to inspection, improves its human-rights record, and stops supporting Hezbollah and the Syrian government. Thus, the extent of presidential waivers of sanctions could be greatly constrained.

If this bill achieves a veto-proof majority of 67 votes, administration officials believe Iran will consider this a violation of the interim understanding that promised no new sanctions during negotiations. In addition, the bill delays any new sanctions relief for a number of months (per the bill’s timetable), and it indicates to Iran that most sanctions will not be relieved for the foreseeable future. If, as a result, Iran walks away from negotiations, many of our sanctions partners would blame the United States and might resume trade with Iran.

This potential disruption of negotiations is of no concern to many senators who are not interested in any agreement with Iran. Freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas summarized that view, saying that ending the negotiations “isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it is very much an intended consequence.” But the biggest problem with this hard-line position is that it takes no account of the consequences of scuttling the negotiations.

First, the gains in security already agreed on under the interim agreement will be canceled. During this interim period, Iran has fully complied with its commitments to freeze its stock of low-enriched uranium, to eliminate or make less usable its stock of higher (20 percent) enriched uranium, to stop construction and alter the design of a plant that could generate plutonium, and to allow more inspections. If the new Senate bill passes and Iran leaves the table, these major concessions would be lost. Worse yet, if negotiations collapse, Iranian leaders have threatened to respond to new sanctions by ratcheting up uranium enrichment. Will the hard-line senators argue that losing the gains already achieved through negotiation and facing a recalcitrant Iran increases the security of the United States or Israel?

Then again, the underlying agenda of some hard-liners is really regime change — using Iran’s refusal to accept draconian terms for relief of sanctions as a justification to bomb Iran. For instance, without repudiation by their parties, a major Republican funder, Sheldon Adelson, proposed dropping nuclear bombs on Iran, and a major Democratic Party donor, Haim Saban, reportedly said he would “bomb the living daylights out of Iran.”

Unfortunately, the possible Iranian reaction to a military attack has been heedlessly downplayed by those who would undermine the negotiations. Iran’s population is three times Iraq’s, is highly nationalistic when it comes to outside attack, is heavily armed and adept at unconventional warfare, has 30,000 American sailors and soldiers within range of its missiles and attack boats, and could temporarily block transport of 20 percent of the world’s oil through the Persian Gulf.

Thus, if hard-liners win this Senate battle with the administration, the result will be far less security for the United States and Israel, and far greater risk of another ruinous trillion-dollar war. Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman should take heed and vote against the new sanctions bill.

Norman Robbins is an emeritus professor at Case Western Reserve University and an Iran consultant for Cleveland Peace Action.

Tell the Senate to support patient, persistent diplomacy with Iran

January 16, 2015


The U.S. and its international allies are within reach of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program look very promising, with a framework agreement likely by March and a final deal possible by a June deadline. You may have seen promising media reports in the last day or two about negotiations in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, which is very good news.

However, conservative senators and even some supposed liberals are dead set on imposing new economic sanctions on Iran, which will risk scuttling the talks and putting us on a reckless path toward yet another Middle East war.

Contact your senators today and tell them diplomacy is the only answer, not more sanctions and threats of war.

We stopped sanctions last year, and intend to do it again, but your senators need to hear from you today. The new sanctions bill is scheduled to move through the Senate Banking Committee starting next week, with a full Senate vote expected in February or March. That may sound like we have a bit of time, but, unfortunately, pro-sanctions forces are lobbying hard, and senators may well decide their positions on this issue very soon, so this alert is extremely urgent.

While some senators claim their push for new sanctions is intended to support diplomacy, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) let the cat out of the proverbial bag, stating “The end of negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it’s an intended consequence.”

Please take a few minutes to contact your senators today.

This may be one of the most important actions for peace you could take this or any year. After you’ve sent your email to your senators, if you want to do more, please visit our Peace Blog for a target list of Democratic senators and sample letters to the editor for you to write a letter to your local newspaper, still one of the best ways for us to get our views out to a wide audience (and to senators as well, their staffs monitor the letters to the editor pages religiously).

Humbly for Peace,


Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – When you go to our action page please take a few minutes to edit the letter to your senators in order to personalize your message.


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