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Stability, Diplomacy, Peace: Scholars Say Benefits of Iran Deal Go Beyond Nonproliferation

Prominent academics laud deal as 'strong and positive step towards stabilizing the Middle East'

Iranian ForeignMinister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in pictured in Geneva on January 14, 2015. (Photo: RICK WILKING/AFP/Getty Images)

Just one day after people across the United States took to the streets to demonstrate their support for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, over 70 prominent international relations scholars took to their pens on Thursday, signing an open statement declaring the pact to be a "strong and positive step towards stabilizing the Middle East, beyond its undeniable non-proliferation benefits."

One of numerous declarations backing the deal in the lead-up to the U.S. congressional vote, Thursday's missive stands out for looking beyond the nuclear component of the deal by speaking to broader benefits such as the deescalation of conflict and opening of pathways for diplomacy.

What's more, the statement is signed by some of the most renowned experts in the world, including Middle East historian Rashid Khalidi and scholar and activist Noam Chomsky. Its signatories include experts in Iranian history and Middle Eastern social movements, as well as economics and religious academics.

"The Middle East is in turmoil. It is suffering from a broad range of problems that all, one way or another, contribute to the instability plaguing the region," states the letter, which was organized by the National Iranian American Council. "While the region’s problems have many sources, one critical driver of instability has been the dysfunctional relationship between the West and Iran in general, and U.S.-Iran tensions in particular."

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The scholars argue that the deal "can prod constructive diplomacy in ever wider circles across the region," including regarding the conflict in Syria. "Clearly, the nuclear deal will not automatically or immediately bring stability to the region. But reactivating diplomatic channels between the United States and Iran is a necessary first step," the letter states.

"Conversely," the declaration warns, "a Congressional rejection of the deal will further destabilize the region. Such a move will isolate the United States while Iran will be freed from the nuclear constraints the deal would impose on it. Beyond the proliferation risk this would entail, US-Iran tensions will increase once more and reignite Washington and Tehran’s gravitation towards a military confrontation."

The academics join a growing chorus in support of the deal, including a joint letter, also released Thursday, from more than 70 U.S. organizations calling on Congress to take the path of "diplomacy, not war."

The missives come as Congress nears the conclusion of its August recess, after which it will hold a key vote on whether to approve the deal, which was reached between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union in mid-July. As per recently-passed legislation, the U.S. House and Senate were given a total of 60 days to review the final accord.

Amid a well-heeled campaign to reject the diplomatic agreement—backed by legislative hawks, AIPAC, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—people in Iran, the United States, and across the world have been escalating a campaign in support of the deal. 

In an article published last week, Chomsky argued that the rogue nations that actually pose the "gravest threat" to world peace: the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, organizers in the Iranian diaspora have staged rallies around the world backing the agreement, and numerous Iranian dissidents, former political prisoners, and civil society organizers, have thrown their weight behind the pact, which they argue paves the way to much-needed relief from devastating sanctions and government repression.

In the words of Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, activist and wife of Iranian political Prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh: "The highest cost imposed by the sanctions is paid by the people, particularly the low-income and vulnerable groups."

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