Category Archives: Iran

IRAN: What you need to know about the Iran nuclear negotiations

from The Huffington Post

Iran-nuclear-deal-1024x576International negotiators in Geneva have just over two weeks left to bring years of talks between Iran and six world powers to fruition by reaching a framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Representatives of Iran and the so-called P5+1 group — the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany — have set a March 31 deadline to reach a basic understanding for a nuclear deal. The parties then have until the end of June to hammer out the remaining details.

The talks stem from international powers’ concern that Iran is using its nuclear enrichment program to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the program is only for peaceful purposes.

The WorldPost spoke with Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group‘s senior analyst on Iran, about the ongoing talks…

Click here to read the interview.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Tell your senators, “Support a negotiated deal with Iran”

from the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

NOTE: Pax Christi USA is a member of the Faith Forum. This is their “Third Thursday for Israel-Palestine” action for March. 

3rd Thurs graphic

A peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue is in the best interest of its neighbors in the region – including the Israelis and Palestinians – as well as the best interest of the United States and the world.  The U.S. and five other nations are currently engaged in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, with the hope of reaching a framework agreement this month and a comprehensive agreement by the end of June.  Such an agreement would offer a mechanism to monitor Iran’s compliance, a major accomplishment that could pave the way for much more robust and deliberate efforts to focus on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking without distraction.

As negotiations proceed, two bills in the Senate threaten to undermine diplomatic efforts.   S. 269 calls for new sanctions if a deal with Iran isn’t reached. S. 615 would require a delay in implementation if a deal is reached, require Congressional approval or disapproval of the deal, and add Congressional oversight on implementation of a deal.    Passing either of these bills could undermine negotiations at this important juncture.

Urge your Senators to support a negotiated solution with Iran. Call on them to oppose S. 269 and S. 615.

Read here a letter from 50 organizations urging the Senate to reject S. 615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

For more information on the proposed legislation, see Americans for Peace Now’s Legislative Round-Up.

Contact your Senators today – urge them to support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. Click here to get their contact information.

Sample Letter, Email, Call Script:

Dear Senator,

As a person of faith who seeks a peaceful world, I urge you to support the current diplomatic effort by the U.S. and five other countries to engage with Iran to reach a resolution regarding its nuclear program.

As negotiations proceed, two bills in the Senate threaten to undermine diplomatic efforts. S. 269 calls for new sanctions if a deal with Iran isn’t reached. S. 615 would require a delay in implementation if a deal is reached, require Congressional approval or disapproval of the deal, and add Congressional oversight on implementation of a deal. Passing either of these bills could undermine negotiations at this important juncture.

I urge you to oppose S. 269 and S. 615, in order to give room for diplomacy to work and to address this important regional issue.  Progress in these negotiations could result in renewed energy and focus on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Your name

IRAN: Bishop Cantu reiterates bishops’ support for dialogue over Iran’s nuclear program

from the USCCB

WASHINGTON—Congress should avoid measures that jeopardize the prospects of a diplomatic solution over Iran’s nuclear program, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

iran-nuclear-weapons-1
In his January 13 letter, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, reiterated his committee’s support for the United States and its P5 + 1 partners in their ongoing dialogue with Iran.

“Our Committee urges Congress not to take any actions that could undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multi-party agreement more difficult to achieve,” wrote Bishop Cantú. “Given the long history of acrimonious and tense relations, it is vital to continue to foster an environment in which all parties can build mutual confidence and trust in order to work towards a final accord that enhances genuine peace.”

Bishop Cantú noted Pope Francis’ expression of support for the negotiations the day before, as well as the Vatican’s statement affirmation of diplomacy in the matter from September 2013…

Read the entire letter here.

TAKE ACTION: Protect nuclear diplomacy with Iran! Netanyahu stay home!

from United for Peace and Justice

[Pax Christi USA is a member organization of United for Peace and Justice.]

The last thing the world needs is another Middle East confrontation. Yet there are politicians in both political parties, who seem determined to create one. Although the international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have made significant progress, Senators Kirk and Menendez are reviving legislation that would threaten Iran with new sanctions.

President Obama made it clear in his State of the Union Address that such legislation would kill the prospects for a deal.  The EU and UK also have called on the U.S. Congress to use restraint so as not to undermine negotiations. Although President Obama is threatening to veto the bill should it be passed in both Houses,there is areal danger that there may be enough Aye votes in the Senate to override a veto. The only way to prevent this outcome is for massive grassroots pressure.

Speaker Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the Congress on this subject and the latter’s acceptance of this invitation attests to the toxic role, which this right-wing Israeli government and its American allies, including AIPAC are continuing to play in American politics. It is high time that thisaggressive intervention in American foreign policy cease. Even if you have already called, pick up the phone and call your Senators again.

DC Congressional Switchboard is 202-224-3121 Ask to be connected toboth your Senators.  Let them know:

  • You are opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intervention in American national security policy.

  • You support the Obama Administration’s diplomacy with Iran and believe it is in the best interest of the United States and the rest of the world.

  • You are strongly opposed to the Menendez-Kirk effort to push a sanctions bill through the Senate.

When you make this call ask the staff member where the Senator stands on these issues. Please pass along any responses to rustiangael@unitedforpeace.org.

REFLECTION: Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States’ fault, that is, at least not entirely.

The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their interests after World War I, and that ruthless dictators past and present have often oppressed their people are major reasons why much of the Middle East is broken and bleeding.  

But the U.S. has made several bad situations in the Middle East far worse.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

In Egypt, according to the Congressional Research Service, since 1987 the U.S. has given that nation $1.3 billion per year in military aid despite the fact that it was long ruled by the dictator Hosni Mubarak.  

Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, its refusal to allow subjugated Palestinians to form an independent nation, and the strangling blockade and brutal invasion of Gaza would not be possible without the approximate $3 billion in annual American aid and the United States’ refusal to demand that Israel reverse course here.

While it is a sad truth that under the dictator Saddam Hussein many Iraqis suffered, it is an even sadder truth that the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, caused even greater suffering to countless Iraqis.

After nearly nine years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women and men are dead, over 4,480 American troops were killed, and Iraq overall is in a far worse state.

Furthermore, the U.S. war with Iraq unleashed deadly Islamist attacks upon thousands of Iraqi Christians.

In a CBS 60 Minutes segment, Rev. Andrew White, an Anglican priest who has a long history of ministry in Iraq, said the situation there was clearly worse for Christians than under the Saddam Hussein regime.

And according to a Fox News report earlier this year, Fr. White said that in the past five years 1,096 of his own parishioners were killed.

He said that out of the 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003, only around 200,000 remain.

And now with the Islamic State controlling a large part of Iraq, the remaining Christian population is suffering even worse.

There can be no doubt that the U.S. invasion of Iraq made a bad situation far worse. 

Please help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ by giving a generous donation to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (www.cnewa.org).  

And urge your congressional delegation and President Obama (www.whitehouse.gov) to grant emergency asylum to at least 300,000 Christians and other minorities fleeing the barbarism of the Islamic State. Yes, this would be a major undertaking, but the U.S. is capable of doing it. It’s mostly just a matter of will – good will.

To its credit, tiny Lebanon, with a population of approximately 6 million people, has according the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, taken in well over 1 million mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers – with over 500,000 more expected by year’s end. That would be equivalent to the U.S. taking in over 50 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

Three years ago, the U.S. led an aerial attack against the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi leaving that nation awash in weapons which continue to help fuel the warring militias that have since been unleashed.

While U.S. bombing helped end Gaddafi’s brutal reign, it didn’t stop the suffering of the Libyan people.

Bombs kill. They do not address the root-causes of conflict. Rather, they perpetuate the cycle of violence. Knowing that full well, and in response to President Barack Obama’s threats to bomb Syria last year, Pope Francis called on people of faith to observe Sept. 7, 2013 as a day of prayer and fasting.

On that day the Holy Father said to over 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and to all of us, “Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition asking our elected officials to employ diplomacy with Iran

Pax Christi USA has signed onto the following letter to Members of Congress asking them to choose diplomacy over sanctions in engaging Iran. We encourage you to add your name to the petition today.

To our elected officials:

iranAs Catholics who love our country and believe in its power to promote peace and stability in the world, we urge you and your colleagues to oppose additional sanctions or take any other action at this time that could undermine the negotiation process with Iran over its nuclear program.

Pope Francis and the Vatican have made it clear: “The Holy See is firmly convinced that the present difficulties [in Iran] can and must be overcome through diplomatic channels, making use of all the means that diplomacy has at its disposal, and considers it necessary to overcome the various obstacles which impede mutual trust.”

Unfortunately, some in the Senate are seeking to immediately impose additional sanctions on Iran. This is an unacceptable approach that will only make the already narrow path towards peace all the more difficult.

Given the complex and difficult relationship our country has with Iran, it is important to take every step necessary to create an environment of mutual trust in order that all parties involved can work towards a solution that promotes authentic and sustaining peace.

We’re encouraged by the recent steps that the Administration has taken to engage the Iranian leadership and hope to see that process continue uninterrupted.

A peaceful resolution in Iran will require tremendous work and sustained negotiations over time. But make no mistake: these ends are much better achieved through the channels of dialogue than through newly imposed sanctions from Congress. Therefore, we encourage you and your colleagues to be patient and to avoid any measures that could threaten the prospects for a diplomatic solution that can advance peace and security in the region.

Click here to sign on.