Feb 09, 2022
An anti-war coalition composed of 20 U.S.-based organizations on Wednesday encouraged President Joe Biden's administration to swiftly finalize a revival of the Iran nuclear deal as "diplomatic momentum builds" in Vienna.
"It is vital that the United States continue to press toward a successful conclusion of negotiations."
"The only thing that has a history of success around Iran's nuclear program is diplomacy," Sara Haghdoosti, executive director of Win Without War, said in a statement. "That's why it's crucial for the Biden administration to continue talks so that we can secure an outcome that is good for the people of the US and in Iran."
For the ninth time since negotiations began last April, diplomats from Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States reconvened this week to pursue a restoration of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which promised sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for a roll-back of its nuclear program.
The U.S. abandoned the deal in 2018 when former President Donald Trump's administration imposed devastating sanctions against Iran, after which Tehran resumed uranium enrichment--though below the level required to develop nuclear weapons.
"There is no doubt that the JCPOA enhances U.S. national security as it prevents Iran's pathways to a bomb as well as a disastrous confrontation with Iran," said Trita Parsi, co-founder and executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
"The previous administration did a massive disservice to the security of Americans by pulling out and the Biden administration should be commended for seeking to right this wrong," Parsi added. "The administration has the public's support in this and should not be deterred by those who prefer confrontation over a deal."
Although the U.S. and Iran are not engaging in direct talks, the two countries have "bridged some gaps" since the start of the eighth round of talks in November, Al Jazeerareported Tuesday. "Differences remain," however, "especially on what sanctions the U.S. must lift."
Most of the crushing sanctions first imposed by Trump remain in place--depriving Iranians of food and medicine and exacerbating the nation's Covid-19 death toll. While Iran wants all sanctions lifted, Biden has said he is willing to lift those "inconsistent" with the accord.
Last week, the Biden administration restored sanctions waivers enabling international cooperation on Iran's nuclear sites. While welcoming the move as a step in the right direction, Tehran called it insufficient.
In a Wednesday letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the anti-war coalition wrote that "all parties in the negotiations now acknowledge that a path to returning to the deal is within reach, which presents the Biden administration with a stark choice: Finalize a restoration of the JCPOA and restore far-reaching constraints on Iran's nuclear program, or risk being trapped in the failed maximum pressure policies the Trump administration enacted."
\u201cWith Vienna negotiations in the final stage, @POTUS has a choice: restore the JCPOA and far-reaching constraints on Iran\u2019s nuclear program, or risk being trapped in the failed maximum pressure policies of the Trump administration. Time to #ReSealtheDeal https://t.co/sqsib5Z2Gg\u201d— Ryan Costello (@Ryan Costello) 1644419128
"Many of those who cheered as Trump sabotaged the JCPOA have already made clear that the maximum pressure road ends in a full-blown war between the U.S. and Iran," wrote the coalition, which includes Peace Action, Demand Progress, and VoteVets, among other groups that together represent millions of people in the U.S.
"A turn away from diplomacy toward a war of choice with Iran would be incredibly detrimental to U.S. national security," the groups warned. "Such a war would likely engulf the region in chaos, involve substantial civilian and military casualties and ultimately incentivize Iran to drive firmly toward a nuclear deterrent."
In addition, "those who have cautioned delay and prioritized pressure over good-faith diplomacy have been proven wrong," the coalition continued. "Trump's coercive approach has led to a harmful stalemate and predictably triggered dramatic escalation in the Iranian nuclear program. For the people of Iran, U.S. sanctions amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have exacted a harsh toll."
"A strong majority of Americans support a return to the Iran deal."
With the notable exception of war hawks like Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)--who one week ago called for harsher sanctions and endorsed the possible use of military force against Iran--"nearly every Democratic lawmaker in Congress has supported your diplomatic efforts and given your administration ample space to strike a deal," wrote the coalition.
Given that the previous White House withdrew from the deal in 2018, the groups pointed out, "it is vital that the United States continue to press toward a successful conclusion of negotiations."
"As you seek a diplomatic breakthrough, you should consider the very real sources of Iran's reticence over lack of clarity on how long sanctions relief can last," the coalition told Blinken and Sullivan. "This reticence will not be overcome by military bluster or the already-failed approach of maximum pressure. It can only be overcome by ensuring sanctions relief is restored fully and in a durable manner."
The coalition also called for "assurances and mechanisms that deter against any future unjustified exit" from the deal, emphasizing that this would "ultimately serve U.S. interests" because "it would be tremendously detrimental to American security if Iran is once again incentivized to ignore restrictions on its nuclear program."
"Thanks to the diplomacy of the past few months, the JCPOA may miraculously survive Trump's exit from the agreement," added the groups. "There is no reason to believe, however, that the agreement could survive a second American exit."
National Iranian American Council policy director Ryan Costello stressed that "the Biden administration has a green light from the public and from Congress to restore a vital nonproliferation agreement that is overwhelmingly in the U.S. interest."
"President Biden," said Costello, "must seize this opportunity, veer off the path to military confrontation with Iran, ease crushing sanctions, and restore the most significant agreement between the U.S. and Iran in decades."
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