November 13, 2015

Lawmakers Address 2015 NIAC Leadership Conference

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Washington, DC – “Thank you for the work you have been doing,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), discussing the Iran nuclear deal before the 2015 National Iranian American Council leadership conference. “I really don’t think this would have happened without the really exceptional grassroots movement that took place during the summer.”

Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI)

“This is a moment to tell the true story of the Iranian people,” Murphy observed, “and link together the American people and the Iranian people.”

Joining Murphy were Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Dan Kildee (D-MI), who discussed their support for the Iran nuclear agreement.

Representative Kildee discussed his efforts to secure the release of his constituent, Amir Hekmati, an Iranian American who has been detained in Iran since August 2011. Kildee noted that some called for the U.S. to condition its support for a nuclear deal on the release of American prisoners. However, he said, doing so would have been a grave mistake that only ensured the U.S. achieved neither goal. 

Kildee promised to continue his efforts to secure the release of Hekamati and other detained Americans, and urged the audience to utilize social media to raise the profile of these cases. He said the lifting of sanctions under the deal will also help increase scrutiny of Iran’s human rights behavior. “How likely is a multinational corporation to place…an individual into Iran when they have a pattern and history of apprehending presumably innocent individuals to have leverage?” 

Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD)

Kildee also emphasized the need to understand that there is a political spectrum in Iran just as there is in the United States. “One mistake [is to] think of Iran as a monolithic society and to take the most extreme voices which gather the most tension…as if it is somehow representative of the Iranian people and I know that it is not,” he explained. “Imagine if the rest of the world accepted as a reflection of American political sentiment some of the commentary that you might be hearing in the context of the American presidential campaign.”

Representative Edwards applauded the work of U.S. negotiators in securing the deal, while noting the deal remains vulnerable to spoilers. She argued that the deal could be challenge the international community to think about weaponized nuclear capacities and move towards denuclearizing the rest of the world. Edwards also noted that the next President will need to actively implant the deal. “We will need a president who understands that not only did we get a deal but for our vision of the world we cannot afford to move away from it.”

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