Friday, October 29, 2021

IPN Signs Letter to Biden on Diplomacy in Iran

Iowa Peace Network recently (Thursday, October 28) signed a letter to President Biden along with several other organizations, asking Biden to consider some actions in Iran.  This letter was written by and we were asked by NIAC (National Iranian American Council) to sign.  We are in their network. See below. 

November 2, 2021
 President Joseph R. Biden 
The White House 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden, 

Our organizations write with growing concern regarding the stalled negotiations aimed at restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal.

 It has long been apparent that the Trump administration’s sabotage of the agreement helped empower those in Iran who argue that the U.S. cannot be trusted to honor any diplomatic agreement. Amid ongoing U.S. sanctions and separate sabotage and assassinations inside Iran, Iran has significantly advanced its nuclear program and elevated a new hardline Iranian Presidential administration that is deeply distrustful of the U.S. but also representative of Iran's decision making apparatus.

 Recent suggestions that the U.S. should move on from diplomacy to a “Plan B,” while hinting at the possibility of military strikes, are deeply concerning. Doubling down on the failed path of mutual pressure and recrimination will harm U.S. and regional security, weaken global nonproliferation efforts, undercut vital administration priorities like defeating COVID-19 across the globe and risk a disastrous war. 

All diplomatic options must be on the table at this critical juncture to arrest this dangerous slide. Allowing the window to close on the JCPOA -- or a separate agreement that builds on its strong nonproliferation benefits -- would be a severe blow to U.S. national security interests. Ensuring the JCPOA does not die requires greater flexibility and creativity by all sides. 

There are still diplomatic options available to the United States to change this course and overcome the challenges that Trump's abandonment of the JCPOA have wrought before it is too late. Salvaging the diplomatic path will require steps to overcome the profound distrust between the U.S. and Iran. 

By matching your rhetoric on ending failed "maximum pressure" policies and taking humanitarian steps to ensure sanctions do not exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, your administration can discredit those within Iran who argue there are no differences between your administration and the Trump administration and are eager to match U.S. economic pressure with Iranian nuclear leverage.

These steps can and should be done through goodwill gestures directed at the people of Iran, to demonstrate America’s sincerity in following through on its words and commitments and determination to open a new chapter in diplomacy. They would be in line with new recommendations from the Treasury Department calling for the “careful calibration” of sanctions to “limit the impact of sanctions on the flow of legitimate humanitarian aid to those in need.” 

These clear goodwill steps should include: 

1) Ensuring that sanctions do not block Iran from securing vaccines, including by authorizing restricted Iranian assets to be made available to purchase vaccines, medical supplies and other humanitarian goods through discrete humanitarian channels; issuing comfort letters to vaccine manufacturers; and encouraging vaccines to be made available to distribution hubs that Iran can access.

2) Carving out sanctions relief for Iran’s public health sector by reviewing sanctions designations from the prior administration and identifying Iranian financial institutions that can be delisted to facilitate humanitarian trade; ensuring that all sanctions on Iran have an explicit and enduring humanitarian exemption; and ensuring sanctioned countries like Iran are allowed to access financing for its public health sector through the international fund for global health security proposed by your administration. 

3) Support the growing population of Afghan refugees in Iran by encouraging the EU to surge funding for charitable organizations operating on the ground in Iran and supporting their efforts by opening up a dedicated and functional humanitarian channel. 

Bold action is needed now before it is too late. None of these measures are concessions to Iran's government and can be implemented such that any relief is purely humanitarian and beneficial to ordinary Iranians. Such steps will advance U.S. national security by creating momentum for negotiations while also bolstering global vaccination efforts and the campaign to defeat COVID-19.

These goodwill gestures will demonstrate U.S. seriousness and sincerity in reversing “maximum pressure” and should be communicated to Iran as such. Even if these measures do not break the deadlock in the negotiations, the U.S. will still have taken important steps to combat the pandemic, build goodwill with the Iranian people and demonstrate to the world and our partners the true values that inform U.S. foreign policy -- upholding our commitments and supporting a population as it suffers under a repressive government and global pandemic. 

Any feasible diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis will ultimately require equitable compromise. For the U.S., this means a commitment to adhere to its sanctions relief obligations for as long as Iran is in compliance with the deal. But the steps above will best position your administration for success, both in its efforts to catalyze the diplomatic track, live up to American values and defeat COVID-19. We encourage your administration to follow through with bold, concrete steps to turn the page on the prior administration’s failed approach and salvage the diplomatic pathway to resolving challenges with Iran.


American Muslim Bar Association
 Armenian-American Action Network
 Christian Peacemaker Teams
Coloradans for Middle East Diplomacy & Peace
Common Defense
Elmahaba Center
Episcopal Peace Fellowship Freedom Forward 
Friends Committee on National Legislation 
Friends of Human Rights
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Interfaith Peace Network of WNY 
Iowa Peace Network 
J Street 
Jewish Voice for Peace Action 
Just Foreign Policy 
Justice for Muslims Collective
Justice is Global
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns 
Massachusetts Peace Action 
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Miaan Group 
MPower Change 
National Arab American Women's Association
National Iranian American Council 
New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN) 
Nonviolence International 
Pax Christi USA 
Peace Action 
Peace Corps Iran Association 
Ploughshares Fund 
Presbyterian Church (USA) 
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft 
ReThinking Foreign Policy
 Revolutionary Love Project 
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia 
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society 
Tunisian United Network 
Truman Center for National Policy 
Win Without War 
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) 
Women’s March Women 
Watch Afrika 
World BEYOND War

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