May 21, 2009

Rep. Harman Retracts Statement on Iran, Expresses Regret

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes Rep. Jane Harman’s retraction and clarification of her statement regarding the “separation” of Iran’s ethnic groups and regret for the concern it caused.

“I was not and am not calling for the creation of ethnic tensions or separation in Iran – nothing would be less productive,” said Harman in a statement to NIAC. “Although my comments on Iran were taken out of context, I regret any concern they might have caused.”

“My point was that the diversity of views in Iran should be better understood in order for the United States to formulate the best strategy for persuading the Iranian government not to pursue nuclear weapons development,” Harman added.

The controversy arose from statements Harman made during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference. While answering a question about how to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Harman said “The Persian population in Iran is not a majority, it is a plurality. There are many different, diverse, and disagreeing populations inside Iran and an obvious strategy, which I believe is a very good strategy, is to separate those populations.”

NIAC initiated a campaign Tuesday seeking a retraction from the California Congresswoman. Discussions were held yesterday between NIAC and Harman’s office.

“This is an important statement from Rep. Harman,” said NIAC Chairman Reza Firouzbakht. “It makes clear that while there are many opinions about how to address the Iranian nuclear challenge, some options are simply not acceptable.”

NIAC President Trita Parsi welcomed the retraction and the Congresswoman’s expression of regret. “Though we take exception to the idea that the statement was taken out of context, the important thing is that Congresswoman Harman responded quickly to retract it and stated clearly that she opposes creating ethnic tensions in Iran. This is a testament both to the Congresswoman’s openness and to the increasing political engagement of the Iranian-American community.”




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