NIAC Applauds “Give Diplomacy a Chance” Congressional Letter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: Jamal Abdi


Phone: 202-386-6408


Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) commends the 104 Members of Congress who signed the bipartisan “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter sent to President Obama today. NIAC applauds the efforts of Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. David Price (D-NC) and everyone who worked to make this letter a success.

“This letter is a strong signal of support for U.S.-Iran diplomacy and opposition to Congressional measures that would undermine a final deal,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi. “These Members of Congress don’t want our negotiators tied up in the political disputes of Washington, they want them focused on preventing war and resolving the nuclear dispute.” 

NIAC has opposed the Senate sanctions bill (S.1881) from Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) that was recently halted and strongly supports negotiations towards a final deal that ensures that Iran’s nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes. NIAC urges Congress to ensure negotiators can exercise full diplomatic leverage by offering credible sanctions relief for Iranian nuclear concessions.

“This effort is another important step in the right direction to ensuring hardliners on either side do not sabotage a negotiated settlement,” said Abdi. “It is critical that our negotiators have a strong mandate not only from the American people and the Administration, but also from the Hill because it is Congress who will ultimately decide whether we lift sanctions to finalize a deal.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. President,

As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our
unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The
proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security
of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.

The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of
Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases
the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We
understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down
or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be
compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions
legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy
a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international
coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and
jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.

We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that
robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you
and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or
falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the
possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.

Sincerely,

 

1         Bass

2         Beatty

3         Bishop,
Sanford

4         Blumenauer

5         Bordallo

6         Brown

7         Butterfield,
GK

8         Capps

9         Capuano

10       Carson

11       Cartwright

12       Christensen

13       Clarke, Yvette

14       Clay

15       Cleaver

16       Clyburn

17       Cohen

18       Connolly

19       Conyers

20       Cooper

21       Courtney

22       Cummings

23       Davis, Danny

24       DeFazio

25       DeGette

26       DeLauro

27       Dingell

28       Doggett

29       Duncan Jr (R)

30       Edwards

31       Ellison

32       Enyart

33       Eshoo

34       Farr

35       Foster

36       Fudge, Marcia

37       Garamendi

38       Grijalva

39       Gutierrez

40       Hanna (R)

41       Holt

42       Huffman

43       Jackson-Lee

44       Johnson, EB

45       Johnson, Hank

46       Jones, Walter
(R)

47       Kaptur

48       Keating

49       Kelly, Robin

50       Kildee

51       Kuster

52       Larson

53       Lee, Barbara

54       Lewis

55       Loebsack

56       Lofgren

57       Lynch

58       Matheson

59       Massie (R)

60       McCarthy

61       McCollum

62       McDermott

63       McGovern

64       McNerney,
Jerry

65       Meeks

66       Miller, George

67       Moore

68       Moran, Jim

69       Negrete McLeod

70       Nolan

71       Norton

72       O’Rourke

73       Pastor

74       Payne

75       Pierluisi

76       Pingree

77       Pocan

78       Polis

79       Price, David

80       Rahall

81       Rangel

82       Roybal-Allard

83       Ruppersberger

84       Rush

85       Ryan, Tim

86       Sablan

87       Schakowsky

88       Scott, Bobby

89       Shea-Porter

90       Slaughter

91       Speier

92       Takano

93       Thompson,
Bennie

94       Thompson, Mike

95       Tierney

96       Tonko

97       Tsongas

98       Van Hollen

99       Velazquez

100     Visclosky

101     Walz

102     Waters

103     Welch

104     Yarmuth

 

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Former Officials Urge Congress and White House to Work Together for Iran Deal

Burns Einhorn

Washington, DC – “If the President is able to negotiate an agreement with Iran, he would need to come back to the Congress because some of those sanctions can’t be lifted without Congress agreeing,” said Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat who served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the Bush Administration. 

Speaking at a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by Partnership for a Secure America, Burns stressed that the Constitution gives the President a great deal of authority to decide and execute foreign policy, but urged that the White House and Congress work together towards a final nuclear deal. “We would want to see . . . an integration between the Executive and Legislative branches on this very important issue. This is not a trivial matter.” 

Burns was joined by Robert Einhorn, who played a leading role in Iran negotiations as the State Department’s Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control during President Obama’s first term in office. Einhorn criticized a Senate sanctions bill that he said contained “poison pills” for a final deal. He noted that the bill “specified in great detail what the outcome of negotiations had to be.”  In this context, he said, if the Iranian government deemed the Congressionally-mandated outcome unacceptable, it would have little incentive to negotiate. Some flexibility is essential to give diplomacy a chance, he said. 

Einhorn’s comments came just as the Senate legislation, S.1881, was all but halted after its top sponsor – Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – and the major organization lobbying for it – the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC) – indicated they would not seek a vote. Nonetheless, speculation remains that Congress could consider a resolution as soon as March, during AIPAC’s annual Washington conference, that establishes Congressional demands for what a final nuclear deal must look like. 

While Burns and Einhorn were critical of recent Congressional efforts to impose sanctions or set terms for a final deal, they were also tough on the level of cooperation that they expect from Iran. Burns stressed that, as the talks move forward, “the pressure is going to be on Iran,” because negotiators will eventually have to agree “to a significant rollback of their current civil nuclear program.” According to Burns, the U.S. cannot accept the idea of 19,000 centrifuges spinning. It will need to see significant changes regarding the Arak heavy water reactor in order to ensure that the Iranians will not use the facility to produce plutonium. 

Einhorn recommended the P5+1 to focus on the practical needs of a civilian program to eliminate the threat that it can pose to the world. One solution, he said, would be to convert the Arak facility to a light water research reactor, which would be more appropriate to produce medical isotopes. Iran has indicated that it may be amenable to such a step. It is unclear if Congress, however, would deem such a step as acceptable.

 

 

 

 

Bloomberg: Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei Dismisses Any Compromise With U.S.

 

“Khamenei is signaling, primarily to his domestic audience, that the nuclear deal doesn’t change the larger picture — Iran still distrusts America… It’s a mirror image of what is said in Washington: The nuclear deal doesn’t mean that the U.S. has begun trusting Iran,” said Trita Parsi.

 

 

 

Huffington Post: The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility

 

The defeat of AIPAC’s ill-advised push for new sanctions on Iran in the midst of successful negotiations is nothing short of historic. The powerful and hawkish pro-Israeli lobby’s defeats are rare and seldom public. But in the last year, it has suffered three major public setbacks, of which the sanctions defeat is the most important one.

 

 

 

NIAC Applauds Sanctions Halt, Time to Focus on Diplomacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jamal Abdi

Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Policy Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement regarding Senate Iran sanctions bill, S.1881:

“In the face of overwhelming support for diplomacy, Senator Menendez and AIPAC have halted their push for new sanctions that would torpedo negotiations. Congress has heard the message loud and clear that the American people, including Iranian Americans, do not want another war and instead support U.S.-Iran diplomacy.

“What happens in the next six months between the U.S. and Iran could define the Middle East for the next twenty years. Now is the time for everyone who sincerely supports a peaceful resolution rather than a war to focus on supporting diplomacy, securing a final deal, and lifting sanctions that punish ordinary Iranians.

“NIAC has consistently supported diplomacy and opposed broad sanctions and welcomes the historic developments underway. NIAC applauds its members and supporters who, in just the past month, sent thousands of letters, organized visits to 32 Senate offices across the country, and led over a dozen phone banks to ensure this bill would not move forward.

“NIAC commends President Obama, the twenty-five Senators who came out publicly in opposition to this bill, and the diverse coalition of organizations who have all been working intensely to advance U.S.-Iran diplomacy and secure a peaceful resolution to this decades-long standoff.”

###

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.

 

 

 

Call Leader Pelosi to “Give Diplomacy A Chance”

Call Leader Pelosi’s office and encourage them to sign onto the “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter to support Iran diplomacy. It takes just two minutes and can make a huge impact–so don’t delay, pick up the phone and give them a call.

Call Leader Pelosi’s office and encourage them to sign onto the “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter to support Iran diplomacy.  It takes just two minutes and can make a huge impact–so don’t delay, pick up the phone and give them a call.

Here’s what you need to do:

If calling with a NIAC intern:

> We’ll dial the office. When someone answers, please ask to speak with Leader Pelosi’s office.
> Tell the staff member (or leave a voice mail): “Hi, I am [your name] calling from [neighborhood] in San Francisco and I am calling on Leader Pelosi to sign the “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter to support U.S.-Iran diplomacy. To sign on, please contact Representative Doggett’s office.”

If calling on your own, later today:

> Dial (415) 556-4862. When someone answers, please ask to speak with Leader Pelosi’s office.
> Tell the staff member (or leave a voice mail): “Hi, I am [your name] calling from [neighborhood] in San Francisco and I am calling on Leader Pelosi to sign the “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter to support U.S.-Iran diplomacy. To sign on, please contact Representative Doggett’s office.”
> Report your call here:

 

 

 

 

U.S. News: An All-Out Assault on Diplomacy

When a group of Senators introduced new sanctions legislation just weeks after the U.S. signed an interim deal with Iran explicitly committing not to pass new sanctions, it became clear that our diplomats’ greatest challenge may not be getting a final deal with Iran, but rather getting a final deal with Congress.

The effort to pass new sanctions is not a mere difference of opinion on what are the best diplomatic tactics. It is a full scale assault on the notion that we should be engaging in diplomacy in the first place. You can’t be for diplomacy and also for blowing up the talks.

Thankfully, once Senators started reading the sanctions bill and realizing its consequences, the effort gained no new supporters and has been put on ice. But instead of wasting weeks debating whether or not to violate the interim Iran deal with sanctions, Washington should have been focused on the real issue: how and when do we trade in the existing sanctions for a final nuclear deal?

The new sanctions effort was not just an attempt to renege on the deal, it was an attempt by sanctions hawks to renege on the stated rationale behind the sanctions — that sanctions were only intended as a form of diplomatic leverage to compel Iran to change its behavior in exchange for having the sanctions lifted. 

Meeting Iran’s change in behavior by piling on more sanctions would have sent the opposite message — the message that Iranian hardliners claim is the real American agenda: that the U.S. seeks only to keep Iran weak and will never relinquish the sanctions no matter what Iran does.

Instead of feeding into that narrative, we must do the opposite and make our offer of sanctions relief in exchange for Iranian nuclear concessions credible. This is where the real problem lies: while the president is empowered to conduct U.S. foreign policy, it is Congress who has legislated the sanctions into law and who holds the keys for lifting those sanctions. For most sanctions, the president has only modest authority to waive them on a temporary basis.

That Congress would waste months considering new sanctions undermines the credibility of U.S. negotiators going into the talks — if the U.S. would consider torpedoing an interim deal that merely called for Congress to not pass new sanctions, how will Congress ever deliver on the terms of a final agreement that would require lifting sanctions?

That is why Congress and the president must work together to ensure our diplomats have full credibility to offer real sanctions relief to get a strong nuclear deal. Congress should provide the president with this authority. If the president does not have this authority, and relies solely on executive orders and temporary waivers, the Iranians are unlikely to to trade in anything beyond temporary, reversible concessions. Any nuclear deal will be weak and fragile, and will likely go the way of the Kyoto Protocol, the Mexico City Policy or any other initiatives led solely by the executive that quickly evaporated once the sitting president was no longer holding the pen.

Originally published in U.S. News.

 

 

 

NIAC Presents Bethesda “Before the Revolution” Sceening March 5th

On March 5th, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is hosting a screening of the Critically acclaimed documentary Before The Revolution in Bethesda, Md. The film follows director Dan Shadur’s journey into the last days of the Israeli community in Iran, who woke up one morning to find their paradise lost.

On March 5th, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is hosting a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary, Before The Revolution in Bethesda, MD. The film follows director Dan Shadur’s journey into the last days of the Israeli community in Iran, who woke up one morning to find their paradise lost. His compelling account features new and unseen footage of the 1979 revolution, including interviews with diplomats, Mossad agents and Israeli’s personal accounts of the movement that took Iran by storm. The film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival.

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Before The Revolution ScreeningWednesday, March 5 @ 7pm Bethesda Row Cinema 7325 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda, 20814

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NIAC Research Director Reza Marashi will be leading a Q&A session with director Dan Shadur after the film. Tickets are available for $12 with all proceeds benefitting Heymann Brothers Films. If you would sign up to attend please fill out the application below. For more information, contact Yasmin Radjy at yradjy@naicouncil.org.

 

 

 

NIAC Presents New York “Before the Revolution” Sceening March 6th

 

On March 6th, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is hosting a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary, Before The Revolution in New York, NY. The film follows director Dan Shadur’s journey into the last days of the Israeli community in Iran, who woke up one morning to find their paradise lost.

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On March 6th, NIAC is hosting a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary, Before The Revolution, in New York, NY. The film follows director Dan Shadur’s journey into the last days of the Israeli community in Iran, who woke up one morning to find their paradise lost. His compelling account features new and unseen footage of the 1979 revolution, including interviews with diplomats, Mossad agents, and Israeli’s personal accounts of the movement that took Iran by storm. The film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival.

Before The Revolution
Screening

Thursday, March 6 @7pm

Anthology Film Archives

32 Second Ave, New York, NY 10003

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The film’s production staff will be leading a Q&A session with director Dan Shadur after the film. Tickets are available for $12 with all proceeds benefitting Heymann Brothers Films. For more information, contact Yasmin Radjy at yradjy@naicouncil.org

 

 

 

Intelligence Director Warns Against New Iran Sanctions, Supports Diplomacy

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Washington, DC – “Right now, the imposition of more sanctions would be counterproductive” to protecting the national security of the United States, according to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper. Testifying before the House and Senate intelligence committees, Clapper said that the interim nuclear agreement with Iran has diminished the nuclear threat and he cautioned against Congressional action that could derail efforts towards a comprehensive deal.

Speaking at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, Clapper said that the interim deal had reduced Iran’s nuclear breakout capability, significantly prolonging and complicating any ability to produce a nuclear weapon. He stated that the intelligence community’s primary concern had been Iran’s enrichment of uranium to the 20% level, which Iran agreed to eliminate as part of the interim deal. Clapper confirmed that Iran has so far fully complied with the Joint Plan of Action and that he is satisfied with America’s diplomatic efforts that had significantly reduced the threat of a potential Iranian nuclear breakout capacity.

Senator King (I-ME), an outspoken critic of the newly proposed sanctions bill (s.1881), asked if the intelligence community believed that new sanctions would “undermine” American diplomatic engagement with Iran. Clapper responded by saying yes, that passage would jeopardize a comprehensive agreement and would put compliance with the current agreement at risk. According to Clapper, there is no need for new sanctions, even if they included a delay mechanism. Prior to the hearings, the intelligence community directors delivered an unclassified assessment to Congress that “new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”

At Tuesday’s House Committee on Intelligence Hearing, Clapper further explained the the intelligence community’s opposition to any resolution or measure threatening new Iran sanctions. The Iranian leaders’ in-depth understanding of the US political system, he said, has already made it evident that sanctions will move forward if negotiations fail. 

In his appearances, Clapper restated the intelligence community’s assessment, publicly held since 2007, that Iran has not made a decision to pursue a nuclear weapon. According to Clapper, “Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.” If Iran did make the political decision to pursue a nuclear weapon, Clapper said, “Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered.”

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Invited: Chicago Norooz Party

 

Norooz is right around the corner! Our Chicago board members — Ali Fatemi, Lyric Hughes Hale, Kaveh Mirani, and Karim Pakravan  — are excited to invite you to two events celebrating Norooz and a successful year for NIAC. As the saying goes, “Sali ke nekoo ast, az baharash peydast” (A good year to come is evident from its spring).

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Start a year filled with laughter, health, loved ones, and happiness and help us make this an even more memorable evening with the presence of you and your family. Celebrate Norooz with Persian food, music, entertainment, family and friends at Mirani’s restaurant on Sunday, March 16, 2014.

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Also, please SAVE THE DATE for NIAC’s Day of Service on March 8, from 9:00am to 2:00pm, at Top Box Foods. Stay tuned next week for more logistical details and the link to register!

Questions? Please contact NIAC Outreach Director Yasmin Radjy at yradjy@niacouncil.org.

 

 

 

You’re Invited: San Francisco Phone Bank to Stop Sanctions!

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We need your help to stop new Iran sanctions legislation from being considered in Congress.

Join us next Thursday, February 13 at 6:30pm in San Francisco to take ACTION to make this happen! We will be meeting at The Metropolitan, 2nd Floor Conference Room (333 First St, San Francisco, CA 94105).

During this event, we’ll be calling NIAC members and supporters in key Congressional districts, asking that they sign on to our petition addressed to their Senator/Representative.

No experience needed! Please just bring your own cell phone (and charger!) and we’ll train you on all you need to know.

Hope to see you there!