The U.S. insists Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is not.
With the U.S. engaged in three wars, the potential for a military strike on Iran may seem remote. But the threat of another military action is looming. Peace Action is closely following recent efforts by the U.S. and European allies to force Iran to stop enrichment of uranium it claims are not part of a nuclear weapons program. Iran's President Ahmadinejad has said there is "no brake and no reverse gear" to Iran's nuclear program, setting in motion another round of sanctions and quashing hopes for a resumption of talks, the only path to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
For four years now, Peace Action has been advocating for a diplomatic solution to the conflict over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. In 2007, the Bush administration dispatched two carrier groups to the Persian Gulf in what turned out to be nothing more than an exercise in saber rattling. It is debatable whether or not that was all Bush intended, but the pressure generated by Peace Action put the Bush administration on notice, the American people did not support another war.
In May, 2008, war hawks in Congress introduced a resolution calling for stiffer sanctions and a naval blockade. In July, Peace Action organized a citizen lobby day in Washington where, joined by our allies, groups of local activists from our chapters and affiliates met directly with their Congressional delegations, presenting over 60,0000 petition signatures opposed to military actions against Iran We prevailed and the resolution was rejected.
The election of President Barack Obama ushered in a new commitment to a diplomatic solution to the conflict. But it's a solution that has evaded their less than impressive efforts. When Turkey and Brazil offered a plan almost identical to Western demands, the administration rejected it out of hand, offering a weak and unsatisfying explanation that killed the initiative without the benefit of further negotiation.
So why not pursue the best available option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons program and a war with Iran?
The mainstream media emphasize only sanctions or war as the way to deal with Iran, while the best available option receives almost no coverage. Sanctions will not work and could be a prelude to a disastrous and counterproductive war. So far, Western offers of negotiation, narrowly focused on the nuclear issue, have excluded any acknowledgement of Iran's insistence on its right, spelled out in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich Uranium. As far as Iran is concerned, this is a dead end, and it is no surprise that "negotiations" to date have failed. On the other hand, if we allowed Iran to enrich Uranium for peaceful purposes but only along with intrusive and vigorous inspections, we could have a deal that effectively eliminates the possibility of a clandestine nuclear weapon. Arms control experts say this would provide far more security for Israel and the US than we have now. The US could also offer incentives such as lifting of sanctions and security guarantees. This arrangement is best set in the context of an overall rapprochement between the US and Iran, including areas of mutually beneficial cooperation (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, and drug smuggling). This "grand bargain" would reinforce the nuclear agreements.
Peace Action activists have been working to get this message into the media and to their national legislators, before it is too late. We must not allow "sanctions or war" thinking to prevail, because war could be the result.