13 July 2012

On Diplomacy with Iran

As of 7/12/12 I received no responses from Senator Johnson or Rep Sensenbrenner regarding diplomacy with Iran.

To Senator Kohl in response to letter of 7/10/12 sent on 7/12/12:

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

While I appreciate the argument against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons capability and the danger that this presents to our allies in the region, I cannot agree with the approach we have seemingly unanimously decided as the best approach in our efforts to convince Iran to cease their nuclear development programs.

Sanctions and threats of war will not prevent nuclear scientists, many of whom have been trained in the west, from experimentation with nuclear reactions nor enrichment processes.  Indeed, threats and sanctions, while harming the Iranian people, may add fuel to the regime's fire against the west's so called "soft war".  The safest way to eliminate clandestine development is for greater exposure.  This is better achieved with wider visibility than with darker bluffs of violence.

As a matter of historical contention, I would also indicate that the nuclear Safeguards Agreement Iran signed in 1974 has remained honored even though 1979 witnessed the removal of the Shah's government and the rise of the Islamic Republic in it's stead.  The agreement with the IAEA according to Iranian officials has not been broken. 

Further, IAEA reports do not indicate that the Safeguards Agreement has been breached.  The reports only indicate that the agency cannot provide "credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."  The reports go on to point out that progress has been made toward resolving issues.  As you know a negative conclusion does not prove a positive assertion.  Although the IAEA cannot assure the global community that Iran is not developing weapons grade uranium, the IAEA cannot affirm that Iran is.

To many Americans, the last IAEA report was optimistic in its promises of cooperation by the Iranian government.

It's disheartening that US foreign policy for the duration of my life has come down to threats and coercion.  I recall vividly GW Bush referring to the Axis of Evil - immediately ceasing open talks toward diplomatic agreements.  I would hope we could break the cycles of violence we seem to be so stuck in as a country.

I also think that Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya.  They are far better equipped for war and have the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.  Any acts of aggression by the US would lead to large numbers of fatalities and may lead to a wider conflict.  I do not believe the US would actually follow through.  Thus, I believe threats of open war against Iran are vacuous and reckless bombast.

Our goal for Iran should be to reemploy the US embassy closed now for over 20 years and reinvigorate US-Iranian relations.  This will never happen when threats of war cloud the air of open communications. 

In regards to the assassination attempt on the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, there has been no evidence of a direct connection between those charged and the Iranian government.  It may be as similar as the connection between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers of the planes used in the World Trade Center attacks.

I would hope that our elected officials could exercise restraint and courage in order to cease the drum of a military campaign.  Instead the alternative path of peace is before us.  Let's venture toward peaceful negotiations and the best solution for secrecy is open accessibility.



Response from Senator Kohl 7/10/12:

Dear Mr. Bellin:
I appreciate your thoughts about U.S. policy toward Iran.  As you know, tensions between the United States and Iran have run deep for many years, and these tensions have only worsened recently. 
In 2008, the UN Security Council passed a resolution requiring Iran to cease all uranium enrichment and suspend its nuclear program.  The Iranian government did not cooperate, alleging that it was pursuing a peaceful, civilian nuclear program.  A November 2011 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cast doubt on this claim, and since then, international negotiations have broken down.  The United States and the UN Security Council have imposed numerous sanctions on Iran, particularly on its energy and financial sectors.  Most recently, Congress voted to sanction Iran's central bank, a measure I supported.
On top of this, there are widespread concerns about Iran's support for extremist groups throughout the Middle East.  The Iranian regime also has a dismal record on domestic human rights and brutally suppressed the type of popular demonstrations that swept through the region in 2011.  Other recent incidents include government-sponsored mob violence against the British embassy in Tehran, as well as an ill-fated plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
The Obama Administration is carefully evaluating the situation in Iran and is exploring all possible options.  It would be highly destabilizing for a fundamentalist regime like Iran to successfully build a nuclear weapon, and we cannot dismiss military action as a last resort.  However, we should do all we can to avoid another violent and expensive conflict in the Middle East.  We have important priorities to address here in America.
I am closely following developments in the region, and I will keep your views in mind when Iran policy comes before the Senate again.  Thanks very much for contacting me.


                                                                           Herb Kohl
                                                                           United States Senator
Response from Rep Moore on 7/10/12:

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me. Your views are important to me. Hearing from constituents like you helps me develop a more informed opinion on legislation and other federal matters pending before the House of Representatives. I would encourage you to check my website, http://gwenmoore.house.gov/ for news on various issues and their progress in Congress.

Again, thanks for writing.


Gwen Moore
Member of Congress

Sent to Senators Kohl and Johnson and Reps Moore and Sensenbrenner on 6/7/12: 

I am deeply concerned by the increasing prospects of a disastrous war between the United States and Iran. I strongly urge you to support a diplomatic resolution to the standoff and to make clear that there is no Congressional authorization for military action against Iran. 

A diplomatic solution is the only way to prevent war and to ensure Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons. I strongly urge you to support legislation in support of these goals, such as the Lee bill (H.R.4173 - the Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act). This legislation would advance diplomacy by lifting the "no contact policy" that bars U.S. diplomats from speaking with their Iranian counterparts. It would establish a special envoy to lead direct talks with Iran on issues like human rights, Afghanistan, and the nuclear program. And it would make clear that there is no authorization for war with Iran. 

Similarly, I urge you to oppose S.Res.380 and H.Res.568, which would make war far more likely and would obstruct a diplomatic, inspections-based solution. These resolutions effectively call for a military attack on Iran when it obtains a "nuclear weapons capability" -- an undefined term that, by some interpretations, could already apply to Iran and almost any other country with a civilian nuclear program. Congress should not stake questions of war and peace on such shaky foundations and contradict the Commander-in-Chief's existing red line by passing these resolutions. 

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently declared war with Iran would be a "catastrophe." Military and civilian leaders have unanimously echoed this assessment and cautioned that a military attack would ultimately make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. War would also dramatically increase gas prices and hurt our economy. And Iranian human rights leaders have warned that war would severely undermine the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran. 

We can avoid this catastrophe and resolve the standoff with Iran without going to war. Indeed, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran has not decided to actually build a nuclear weapon. But to prevent war, leaders like you must stand against the slow march to war and support diplomacy. 



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