Threatening Iran Is Wrong


The antiwar movement everywhere should be extremely alarmed about the Obama Administration’s declaration in April that Washington can target Iran with nuclear weapons.  Although vague “all options are on the table” warnings were also issued under George W. Bush, now the threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran is enshrined in the revised Nuclear Posture Review of the United States.

The new official policy specifies that the U.S. is entitled to drop nuclear bombs on a nation that has no such weapons, if the adversary is deemed to be in violation of non-proliferation rules.  Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Gates, have made clear that the intended victim is none other than Iran.  Coming from a president who promised “change” in Washington, this is especially disturbing.

Threatening the Islamic Republic with nuclear attack is irresponsible and outrageous, not to mention illegal, even if the purpose is only to make a conventional war on Iran seem acceptable.  Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, repeated unequivocally in a message to the International Conference on Disarmament in Tehran last month that the construction, possession, or use of weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear arms in particular, is forbidden in Islam.  This is a stronger pledge than Iran’s accusers have been willing to make to prevent nuclear insanity.

If discouraging the spread of weapons of mass destruction is Washington’s true goal, intimidating a nation that does not have nuclear weapons with a nuclear threat defies logic.  It sends a message to non-nuclear states that they must develop atomic weapons for their own safety.

Iran has not launched war on another country in more than two centuries, and years of UN inspections have found no diversion of nuclear material to military purposes there.  Countless Iranian families still bear the scars of barbaric chemical attacks by Saddam’s Iraq in the 1980s, attacks that were actively shielded from world condemnation by the Reagan Administration.  We remind everyone that, even in a period of national desperation like that, the Iran’s religious leadership ruled against retaliation with chemical or other non-conventional weapons.

Iranians of every political persuasion do not want another war, least of all war with the United States.

All sides in the current power struggle in Iran want normalization of relations with dignity, not confrontation.  Despite the burden of historic grievances on both sides, war is not inevitable.  But we fear that, as in Iraq, the escalating sanctions and threats against Iran can easily pave the way to a disastrous military confrontation.  Only U.S. adventurism is more worrisome in Iran’s case, because the Western antiwar movement is in disarray now.  Distracted by the new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty, few people of conscience are paying enough attention to the nuclear blackmailing of Iran.

Before Barack Obama took office, the United States gained nothing from provoking Iran with the “axis of evil” insult or pretending to rid Iraq of banned weapons.  We believe continuing on that path, whether it is for non-proliferation or for control of oil, is counterproductive.  In the interest of both the U.S. and Iran, and the world, it is time for tension reduction in the Persian Gulf.

Peace seekers in Iran and the region were heartened by Obama’s campaign promises of “change,” because they knew threat perception in Washington was exaggerated under his predecessor.  But a clash of civilizations mindset still seems pervasive in U.S. foreign policy, most evidently in fruitless efforts to isolate and intimidate Iran.  The United States is still funding covert programs to destabilize that country, and now comes Washington’s threat of a pre-emptive nuclear attack.

We hope the Administration can be persuaded to try a different approach.  At the Nuclear Non-Proliferation review conference in New York this month, Washington has an opportunity to support Iran’s long-standing call to designate the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.

We urge peace lovers everywhere to pressure the U.S. and its allies to initiate genuine dialog with Iran.  This is consistently recommended by Brazil, China, Russia, and the 118 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement that feel Iran’s nuclear file is unnecessarily politicized.

We believe U.S. interests are not served, and Americans are not made safer, by unreasonable, all-or-nothing demands on Iran.  Let’s stop wasting opportunities to engage Tehran constructively.  To begin with, and in the name of international law, we ask that the Obama Administration withdraw the threat of nuclear attack on Iran.

Contact: Ross Pourzal,

| Print