NIAC Statement on Bolton Seeking War with Iran

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement on reports that John Bolton asked the Pentagon for options to attack Iran in September, rattling officials:

“John Bolton and fellow Iran hawks believe they have two years left to collapse the Iran nuclear deal and trigger a disastrous war that the American people want no part of. We know that Bolton and other administration officials preferred an Iran war to negotiations prior to serving Trump. Now there is confirmation that they are still seeking out opportunities to fulfill their war agenda.

“This administration takes an expansive view of war authorities and is leaning into confrontation with Iran at a time when there are numerous tripwires for conflict across the region. It is imperative that this Congress investigate Bolton’s request for war options and pass legislation placing additional legal and political constraints on the administration’s ability to start a new war of choice with Iran that could haunt America and the region for generations.”

NIAC Statement on Iran Demonstrations

Washington, D.C. – National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi issued the following statement:

“Like many, we have been monitoring the situation in Iran very closely and been in touch with people on the ground. We reiterate our call to the Iranian government to uphold its international human rights obligations, including to allow the right to free expression, to respect the dignity and safety of every Iranian and to refrain from violence. Our thoughts are with our families and friends and the peoples of Iran, who we hope are safe.

“As Iranian Americans, we certainly have our own thoughts about these protests and what they may mean. The vast majority of us yearn for an Iranian government that respects the human rights and dignity of Iranians everywhere and democratically represents its people.

“Ultimately, like any other country,  it is up to Iranians living in Iran to decide their country’s destiny. As outside observers we express our solidarity and hopes for the safety of every Iranian. As Iranian Americans we will also work to ensure that neither our government in the U.S., nor others in the region or beyond, undermine the safety of the Iranian people or exploit the current protests for their own benefit.”

NIAC Statement on IAEA Report Confirming Iran’s Compliance with the JCPOA


Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 206-369-2069

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, Policy Director of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement after reports indicated that the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) issued a quarterly report once again affirming Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal:

“The IAEA has once again affirmed what everyone outside of the White House appears to know: that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. There is a reason why Trump can’t point to any specific evidence to justify his assertions that Iran is noncompliant with the nuclear accord. The IAEA, U.S. intelligence community and our allies in the P5+1 have all affirmed Iran’s compliance. Yet, Trump has violated the JCPOA and continues to hold the fate of the accord in doubt by threatening to withhold a Congressionally-mandated certification of Iran’s compliance in mid-October, which would trigger expedited consideration of snapback sanctions.

“While Iran continues to abide by its nuclear commitments, the evidence is mounting that the U.S. is trying to unilaterally withdrawal from the JCPOA. There appears to be little other way to explain Amb. Nikki Haley’s efforts to stir up controversy in the media over IAEA inspections of non-nuclear military sites in Iran, while at the same time reportedly abstaining from presenting any evidence to justify such inspections at her meeting with the IAEA in Vienna. As IAEA officials affirmed, the agency isn’t going to conduct such activities just to send a political signal, so the administration should halt its efforts to politicize their work.

“The JCPOA is working. Barring any unforeseen events, Iran will be adhering to it on October 15. The Trump administration must halt its transparently political efforts to subvert an accord that is blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and forestalling a disastrous war.”



NIAC Calls for White House Aide Sebastian Gorka’s Resignation or Dismissal

Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325

NIAC’s Trita Parsi released the following statement in response to reports that Sebastian Gorka is a sworn member of the Nazi-affiliated group Vitézi Rend:

“We call on Sebastian Gourka to immediately resign his post as Trump’s top counterterrorism aide. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the same coin and cannot be allowed in the most sacred halls of America’s democracy. Whether Gourka was a member of the pro-Nazi group Vitézi Rend is less relevant at this point since his sympathies and close affiliation with the racist and anti-semitic group is now well established.”

“Moreover, Gorka has also repeatedly made numerous divisive and Islamophobic comments as the former national security editor of Breitbart. He has described profiling of Muslims “common sense” and said accepting Muslim refugees would be ‘national suicide’.”

“Mr. Gorka has made no effort to demonstrate good will to either the Jewish American or Muslim American communities amid growing questions over his espousal of a hateful White nationalist ideology. The Forward reported two senior members of Vitézi Rend affirm that Gorka is a sworn member of the group, which the US Department of State designates as an anti-Semitic organization founded under the auspices of Nazi Germany.”

“Even more suspiciously, Mr. Gorka has signed his name “Sebastian L. v. Gorka” in both his doctoral thesis and in 2011 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. The addition of a ‘v.’ to one’s middle initial is a practice used by Vitézi Rend members.”

“After initially refusing comment, Mr. Gorka is now denying membership in the group, but was photographed wearing a Vitézi Rend medal as recently as President Trump’s inauguration ball in January. Mr. Gorka claims this was a tribute to his father. It is only due to Vitézi Rend’s obscurity in the U.S. that Gorka could use such a preposterous defense. If his father had fought the Soviets as a German soldier in World War II, would it be acceptable for Gorka to wear a swastika in commemoration? Yet, that is the argument Mr. Gorka is hiding behind.”

“It is highly inappropriate and disturbing for an individual with any affiliation—past or present—to a racist group to serve in the capacity of advisor to the President.”

“As long as President Trump continues to employ advisors who espouse racist ideologies, the Trump administration will continue to pursue policies that turn Americans against each other, which in turn makes America less safe.”

“It is critical that minority communities stand in solidarity with one another against discrimination and oppose the normalization of racism and bigotry in government.”


NIAC Welcomes Court Order Halting Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0

Contact: Elham Khatami
Phone: 202-386-6325

Jamal Abdi, Policy Director of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to a judge in Hawaii freezing President Trump’s second executive order to bar the issuance of new visas to nationals of Iran and five other Muslim-majority countries and temporarily halting admission of refugees:

“The court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order barring the latest executive order imposing a Muslim ban is another triumph for American values over discrimination. The Trump administration has now had its attempt to impose a Muslim ban halted by the courts twice. Fortunately, Iranians will once again face a slight reprieve in that the ban will not go into effect tomorrow. Nevertheless, the back and forth struggle has already kept Iranian families apart and imposed turmoil on countless individuals, while doing untold damage to America’s image abroad.”

“We are reassured by Judge Watson’s decision to refuse to stay his restraining order even if the Trump Administration files an emergency appeal. Thus, only a stay from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or Supreme Court would allow the Trump Administration to enforce its Muslim ban while the Hawaii court considers its legality.”

“It is important to recognize that court challenges, including the challenge from NIAC and our partner organizations in the Iranian-American community, will continue for months to come, and that the ultimate outcome is difficult to predict. While we can’t expect President Trump to see the light and withdraw his discriminatory order, Congress must show some spine and stand up for our constitution and democratic principles. The longer Members of Congress stay silent on Trump fulfilling his pledge to ban Muslims, the more emboldened Trump and those behind the ban – like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions – will become in imposing their radical agenda.”

Trump Pays Lip Service on Hate

Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408

Washington, DC – National Iranian American Council Policy Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement in response to Trump’s Congressional address:

“After months of demonizing Muslims, banning Iranians from visiting their families in America, and fanning the flames of hatred in our country, Donald Trump finally went on a limb tonight and condemned acts of hate. It was far too little, far too late. It is unacceptable to pay lip service against hate tonight and ban our families tomorrow.

“As Trump’s speech hinted at and as we expected, the administration plans to issue a renewed Muslim ban as soon as tomorrow that will separate Iranian Americans from their loved ones, punish America’s economy, and make all of our families less safe. The Iranian-American community will redouble its efforts in the courts, the Congress, and across the country alongside our allies to overturn the Muslim ban and rescind this shameful and un-American act.

“Donald Trump is trying to ban ordinary Iranians from this country because of bigotry, not legitimate security interests. No Iranian has ever been implicated in a terrorism-related death inside America. Yet at least one person – the recent hate crime victim in Kansas – has now been murdered because someone thought the man was Iranian. The rhetoric and the policies of the Trump administration are fueling anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, and anti-Iranian hate inside this country. Refusing to connect the dots on this phenomenon, paying lip service to it, or turning a blind eye is no longer an option.

“The Members of Congress who failed to take a firm stand against this ban will soon have to make a choice. Stand up to Trump and stand for your country, or stand on the wrong side of history. They must stop Trump’s bigotry or be defined by it.”


The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. We accomplish our mission through expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building.

NIAC Calls for Grace Period on Inhumane Trump Ban

Contact: Jamal Abdi

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement calling for a grace period on President Trump’s ban on nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen so that they can be reunited with their families:

With more and more reports of visa holders and lawful permanent residents being detained at U.S. airports, the horrific nature of Trump’s Muslim ban is fully apparent for the entire world to see. Families are being ripped apart without warning and with no assurance of when they will be reunited. Students traveling abroad at the time of the ban are horrified that they might not be able to return to continue their studies. Children are being detained along with their parents when they were just seeking to return home. This is a dark day in the history of this country.

If the Trump administration has any shred of humanity and decency, it will institute a grace period without delay in order to enable all lawful permanent residents, dual nationals and visa holders from Iran and the other targeted countries to return to the United States to reunite with their families and return to their daily lives. Anything less is a complete disgrace.

NIAC will continue to fight to overturn this unjust and inhumane ban on Iranians and other nationals.


NIAC Calls for Release of Demonstrators

Washington, DC – National Iranian American Council issued the following statement:

“We reiterate our call on the Iranian government to honor its human rights obligations, including by releasing all prisoners of conscience. The government has detained thousands of Iranians in the midst of the demonstrations and at least 2 have died while in detention. This is in addition to at least 21 who died during the initial protests that began on December 28. Many Iranians continue to demonstrate outside of Evin and other prisons were protesters have been held. The Iranian government needs to answer calls for their release, allow an independent investigation of the detainees’ deaths, and prosecute anyone involved in the deaths of detainees and of Iranians expressing their right to free expression and peaceful assembly.

“We continue to support targeted sanctions against human rights violators in the Iranian government and urge that these measures be carried out multilaterally and in a manner that does not punish ordinary people. We also continue to urge American officials and companies to take necessary steps to ensure that online communications tools are fully available for Iranians and that sanctions are not unintentionally aiding Iran’s government in censoring Internet communications.

“It is up to Iranians living in Iran to decide their country’s destiny. As outside observers, we will continue our efforts to defend their rights and that the international community presses the Iranian government to respect its human rights obligations. We stand in solidarity with all Iranians who seek a government that respects the human rights and dignity of Iranians everywhere and democratically represents its people.”

NIAC Welcomes Humanitarian Benefits of Pending Boeing Sale to Iran

Trita Press Release





National Iranian American Council (NIAC) President Trita Parsi released the following statement after reports indicated that Boeing has reached a preliminary agreement for the sale of civilian passenger aircraft to Iran:

“NIAC applauds the news that Boeing and Iran Air have reached a preliminary agreement for the sale of 100 civilian passenger aircraft and hope that a final agreement can be reached in the near future. For years, NIAC has warned about the deterioration of airline safety in Iran as a result of sanctions and is hopeful that the situation will soon improve.

“The issue is a basic humanitarian one. For too long, ordinary Iranian lives have been placed at risk because sanctions have prevented Iran from repairing and replenishing its civilian airline fleet. This has directly led to Iran suffering from one of the worst airline safety records in the world, with thousands of deaths over the last few decades. This issue has affected American citizens, as well. The Iranian-American community not only has had to fear for the safety of loved ones flying in Iran, but has also flown on many of the outdated craft when visiting friends and family in the country. 

“The Iran nuclear deal wisely removed restrictions on companies selling aircraft and parts to Iran, including American companies like Boeing. The interim deal in place from 2014-2015 permitted Iran to purchase spare parts for its aircraft. Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer, reached a preliminary deal to sell Iran 118 aircraft earlier this year. 

“We encourage the U.S. government to expedite the requisite license authorizations to permit Boeing to effectuate this preliminary agreement, and we urge the Iranian government to ensure that such aircraft are used exclusively for civilian purposes. However, as we have seen with numerous trade deals involving Iran, the most difficult part may be finding banks able and willing to authorize payment while many unilateral U.S. sanctions remain in place.

“There will be Members of Congress and outside groups who will seek to cast this positive news for the Iranian people in a negative light. They are likely the same individuals who opposed the Iran nuclear deal before there was even a deal and are opposed to any warming in U.S.-Iran relations. However, continuing to block the Iranian people from flying in safe aircraft would needlessly threaten innocent people and an accord that prevents both an Iranian nuclear weapon and a disastrous war. We encourage all parties to move forward and honor their commitments under the deal.”


NIAC Applauds Release of Americans Imprisoned in Iran

Contact: Reza Marashi
Phone: 206-383-9173
Washington, DC – NIAC President Trita Parsi released the following statement after high-level U.S.-Iran negotiations led to the release of Americans imprisoned in Iran, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian:

“The agreement to free Americans imprisoned in Iran* – Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi – is a triumph of diplomacy that should be universally commended. Now, the freed Americans can be reunited with their families and friends after an extraordinarily trying time for everyone involved. We hope that they find solace in their freedom from the turmoil that they endured.

“The release of these imprisoned Americans was long overdue. However, it is unlikely that we would be celebrating their release today if not for an improvement in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran brought about by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The U.S. and Iran should deepen their engagement on the serious issues that continue to separate the two countries so that further pragmatic solutions can be reached. NIAC also calls on the Iranian government to ensure that Iranian Americans are not threatened when traveling to Iran and that protections are put in place to ensure these detentions never happen again. 

“The release of earlier Western prisoners in Iran – including the three American hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd – was never due to bombastic threats, but instead to patient diplomacy. Though it was difficult, the Obama administration was right to avoid issuing ultimatums and linking the fate of the imprisoned Americans to the nuclear negotiations, which would threaten the outcome of both.

“The conclusion of the JCPOA altered dynamics in favor of the release of the imprisoned Americans in at least three key ways. First, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif  developed a strong working relationship that has now resulted in diplomatic victories on a number of fronts. From the nuclear issue, to de-conflicting this week’s naval incident, to securing the prisoner swap, Kerry and Zarif have shown the true power of diplomacy. A real test for the U.S. and Iran will be whether this strong personal relationship can be institutionalized.

“Second, establishing a relationship between the U.S. and Iran – even in lieu of formal diplomatic ties – has provided real mechanisms for accountability on both sides. It is far easier to detain prisoners in a vacuum than to imprison the citizens of a country with which you have a relationship.

“Third, the JCPOA has changed the political dynamics inside of both countries, making what was previously inconceivable possible. The nuclear deal has undoubtedly strengthened the hand of moderate voices inside of Iran and increased the latitude for actions such as the release of these American prisoners. Efforts to undermine moderate voices will undoubtedly continue as the various factions jockey for the upper-hand. However, there is now a clear path to greater accountability and rule of law inside an Iran whose government begins to reflect the true wishes of its dynamic people.

“Had the administration listened to the opponents and issued brash ultimatums, none of these dynamics would have emerged and in all likelihood the prisoners would not be free.

“There have been many persistent critics of President Obama and his administration for its commitment to diplomacy with Iran. Some of these critics have worked endlessly to try to subvert the President’s diplomatic efforts. The release of these Americans is the result of that diplomacy, not of threats and sanctions. This should be yet further evidence to the American public that diplomacy is not appeasement; it is the serious, sober approach to solving real problems. Those leaders with the courage to embrace this approach should have the strong backing of the American people.

“While this diplomatic victory should be celebrated, it is impossible to ignore the ongoing systemic human rights violations in Iran. Recent arrests of activists and artists appear aimed at intimidating reformists and moderates ahead of key elections to Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts. Further, an ongoing rise in executions – often for nonviolent drug-related offenses – must be halted without delay. We hope that the moderation that has dramatically impacted Iran’s external relations can now shift inward to produce lasting change.

“Diplomacy is never easy. However, as today’s achievements demonstrate, nothing is impossible when both parties invest in mutually beneficial negotiations. NIAC commends Presidents Obama and Rouhani for their efforts, as well as all of those who pushed for the release of the prisoners.”


*NIAC had earlier been informed that Siamak Namazi was included in the swap. Later reports have contradicted that. NIAC encourages Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif to continue to work for the release of Namazi.

NIAC Condemns Human Rights Violations in Iran

Press Release - For Immediate Release




Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement on the trial of Jason Rezaian, the recent arrests and prosecutions of social media activists, and ongoing human rights violations within Iran:

NIAC condemns the Iranian government’s recent violations of its international human rights obligations, including the closed trial of Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian and the recent actions against social media activists.

NIAC reiterates its serious concerns regarding the Iranian government’s detention of Jason Rezaian, as well as Iranian Americans Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedeni. NIAC calls on Iran’s government to either provide for fair trials or to release them. We are deeply troubled by the opaque nature of Rezaian’s trial, the insufficient access granted to legal counsel, and the fact that news organizations have been punished for publishing details of the proceedings. The Iranian government must at an absolute minimum afford basic human rights as related to their detention and ongoing judicial proceedings, in accordance with Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.

NIAC condemns the arrest on June 7th of five bloggers, as well as the recent prosecution of Iranians for their presence on social media–including artist Atena Farghadani and filmmaker Mostafa Azizi. NIAC calls for their immediate release. These arrests and prosecutions were made under the auspice of tighter Internet controls as announced by the deputy interior minister and are a gravely concerning development that runs contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party. These actions show disrespect for basic freedoms of expression and dissent within Iran and must be reversed.
It is clear that the progress on multilateral negotiations between Iran and UN powers has provoked fear among hardliners within Iran’s government. These arrests are further evidence, in addition to the continued high rate of executions and other high profile detentions, that hardliners seek to commit abuses to undermine efforts to improve Iran’s external relations and intimidate political opponents and silence dissent inside of the country.
We remain hopeful that, as human rights defenders inside Iran have attested, a nuclear deal can open new opportunities to begin improving the human rights situation inside the country. We hope that those within Iran’s government who have promised a new direction, both in Iran’s foreign relations as well as in the relationship between the state and its citizens, utilize the political capital gained from a prospective nuclear deal to end these violations and secure a brighter future for the Iranian people.