Iran has attacked no one, yet both the United States and Israel continue to threaten Iran with a military attack unless Iran agrees to halt uranium enrichment. While it appears that the imminent danger of war has receded, during the Presidential debates, President Obama flatly denied reports that the US had agreed to hold direct talks with Iran, declaring “…the clock is ticking, if they do not meet demands of the international community, we will take all options necessary.” Tell the President and Congress to “take ‘all options are on the table’ off the table”!
Israeli and US threats of war on Iran are being justified in the name of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East. Yet, the International Atomic Energy Agency and US National Intelligence Estimates have repeatedly concluded that Iran has no nuclear weapons and has made no decision to build them. In fact, it is nuclear-armed Israel and the US that are responsible for the presence and proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, in total disregard for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and thirty years of United Nations resolutions calling for the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.
Whether or not one agrees with Iran’s interpretation of its rights under the NPT, this is a matter to be resolved by diplomacy, not war. Unilateral threat or use of military force against Iran, including covert force, would be a violation of International Law and of the U.N. Charter. We want no part of another illegal war in the Middle East.
Yet, the United States has just set back prospects for a very significant diplomatic breakthrough. The May 2010 5-year Review Conference of the NPT called for a UN-sponsored conference in 2012 to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, to be attended by all States in the region. The proposed Conference, to be co-sponsored by the US, Britain and Russia, and facilitated by Finland, was set to take place in mid-December, in Helsinki.
As summarized by the British American Security Information Council: “[A November 23] announcement by the US claimed that the conference could not be convened, blaming ‘present conditions in the Middle East’ and the lack of agreement over the ‘conditions for a conference’. The US announcement called on states ‘to take a fresh look at the obstacles’, placing its support clearly in the Israeli camp that the conference needs a ‘broad agenda that covers regional security’. It pointedly gives little hope that the conference will be convened anytime soon, and leads some analysts to conclude that this is actually a cancellation rather than a postponement. The UK calls for the conference to be convened as soon as possible in 2013, and Moscow deplores the fact that not all Middle East nations have agreed to attend the conference and said that the conference must happen before April 2013, the date of the next NPT Preparatory Committee.”*
The United States’ lack of good faith support for this conference is unacceptable and a cause of deep concern. The Helsinki Conference provides an opportunity for a Middle East without nuclear weapons. It can lead to further discussions for securing a lasting peace in the Middle East.
In response to the postponement of the Conference, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: “I wish to reaffirm the collective responsibility of the conveners to make every effort to convene the conference, as mandated. I will continue to work with them on that basis. I fully support the proposal by the facilitator to conduct multilateral consultations in the shortest possible time which will allow the conference to be convened at the earliest opportunity in 2013.”
We agree with the Secretary-General, who concluded: “I also appeal to [all States in the region] to seize this rare opportunity to initiate a process that entails direct engagement on security issues – a critical shortcoming at the moment – and follow-on steps leading to achieving the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region, nuclear, chemical and biological and their delivery systems.”
Tell the President and Congress to stop threatening and start talking! Click here to sign the Open Letter to President Obama and the U.S. Congress, calling on them “to actively, and visibly, support the Helsinki Conference for a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.” We are seeking as many organizational and individual signatures as possible – please help us spread the word! We are planning to “deliver” and publicize this letter in mid-December, around the time the Helsinki Conference was to have been held.
United for Peace and Justice believes that the problem of nuclear weapons in the Middle East must be solved regionally, as well as globally. We support the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction in parallel with a global call for immediate negotiations to abolish all nuclear weapons.
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