Peace and human rights organizations across the world are urging the U.S. Congress not to pass a resolution which they say will increase the chances of war with Iran.
The resolution before the House of Representatives (H Res 568) ostensibly deals with the views of the House on "preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability." Campaigners however say that the framing of the resolution will significantly lower the threshold for going to war, undermine diplomacy, and take peaceful options off the negotiating table.
British-based CODIR (Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights) says it is concerned that the vote on the resolution is taking place just a week before the U.S. and Iran resume negotiations that many in the pro-war camp want to sabotage.
CODIR says the resolution effectively calls for a military attack on Iran when it obtains a "nuclear weapons capability" - an undefined term that, by some interpretations, could already apply to Iran, not to mention Brazil, Japan, the Netherlands, and any country with a civilian nuclear program.
"We should not stake questions of war and peace on such shaky foundations," said CODIR Assistant General Secretary Jamshid Ahmadi. "Given the resolution's unambiguous statement ruling out containing a nuclear-capable Iran, this resolution could be construed by this president, or a future resident, as an authorization for launching military action against Iran that would have devastating consequences."
Alex Gordon, of Britain's largest specialist transport union RMT, who is also CODIR honorary president, said:
"Once again, in the run-up to a U.S. presidential election, we hear the beat of war drums from Capitol Hill. Bellicose posturing for a U.S. domestic electorate is a luxury the peoples of the world and the Middle East cannot afford. The last decade witnessed dire results of U.S.-led wars of intervention in Iran's neighbors, Afghanistan and Iraq. Now is the time to support workers, trade unionists and others in Iran struggling for equality, rights and political freedom, not ramp up military tension with coded calls for Western military attacks on Iran. Trade unionists in Britain and all those who support peace will continue to speak out against the warmongers and enemies of workers' and human rights worldwide."
Campaigners are arguing that at the absolute minimum, the resolution should clarify that it is not an authorization of force and does not provide a legal authority for the president to initiate war against Iran.
Ahmadi expressed further concern that there appear to be many in the U.S. who are keen to see war as a first option to contain Iran, even though there is little likelihood of the Islamic Republic developing weapons capability without U.S. knowledge.
"The presence of international nuclear inspectors in Iran and U.S. intelligence-gathering operations make it nearly impossible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon undetected," he said. "U.S. and Israeli intelligence has been clear: Iran has yet to decide whether to actually build a bomb. Our aim must be to use diplomacy to implement the verification measures to guarantee Iran cannot take this step."
CODIR has drawn attention to the negotiations scheduled for May 23 with Iran's Supreme Leader for the first time publicly endorsing negotiations and signaling that Iran is prepared to make key concessions to cap its enrichment in accordance with U.S. national security interests. Campaigners fear that the bill could undermine those talks by signaling to Iran that the U.S. is committed to war.
Ahmadi concluded: "Serious diplomacy is the only way to prevent war, prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and destruction of such weapons in other countries of the region including Israel, and put mechanisms in place to effectively address human rights abuses in Iran. Congress should support diplomacy, not undermine it."
Photo: Tolka Rover // CC 2.0