Antiwar Petition and Talking Points on Iran

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Bush is considering a nuclear strike on Iran – what are we going to do about it?


Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker that President Bush is considering using nuclear weapons as part of a U.S. military strike against Iran.


Despite the disaster in Iraq, there has been almost no Congressional opposition to attacking Iran. Senators John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, and Joseph Lieberman have all said they would support using military force as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. When lawmakers say that, “last” resorts tend to come first, after the dance of non-negotiable negotiations has quickly played out.

On May 6, 2004, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution authorizing President Bush to use “any and all appropriate means” to prevent Iran from prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Given Bush’s sweeping view of his power as Commander in Chief, it is not clear whether he would feel he needed any further Congressional authority to bomb Iran. Congress must reclaim its Constitutional authority immediately.

The consequences of bombing Iran could be as far-reaching and ultimately devastating as the invasion of Iraq. Iran today is far stronger than Iraq was in 2003, and it might retaliate by trying to mine the Strait of Hormuz (through which much of the world’s oil passes), attack Saudi oil production, and create greater chaos in Iraq, especially among its majority Shiites. In response, the United States could find itself drawn further into war. A U.S. attack could kill many thousands of Iranians. It would also incite retaliation and terrorism in the Middle East and globally.

Thank you.

David Keppel
Bloomington, Indiana

Charles Jenks
Deerfield, MA
Traprock Peace Center

Please sign a petition initiated by Cindy Sheehan at:

This petition is hosted by After Downing Street and supported by Gold Star Families for Peace, CODE PINK, Progressive Democrats of America,, Traprock Peace Center, Global Exchange, Velvet Revolution, Democracy Rising, Truthout, OpEdNews, the Backbone Campaign and National and International organizations are invited to join this list. Email

The Petition reads:

Dear President Bush and Vice President Cheney,

We write to you from all over the United States and all over the world to urge you to obey both international and U.S. law, which forbid aggressive attacks on other nations. We oppose your proposal to attack Iran. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, just as Iraq did not possess nuclear weapons. If Iran had such weapons, that would not justify the use of force, any more than any other nation would be justified in launching a war against the world’s greatest possesor of nuclear arms, the United States. The most effective way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons would be to closely monitor its nuclear energy program, and to improve diplomatic relations — two tasks made much more difficult by threatening to bomb Iranian territory. We urge you to lead the way to peace, not war, and to begin by making clear that you will not commit the highest international crime by aggressively attacking Iran.


Talking Points for Congress on Iran

We are gravely concerned by reports that President Bush is considering a military strike on Iran to set back its suspected nuclear weapons program. We are particularly alarmed to learn that such a strike reportedly might involve bunker busting U.S. nuclear weapons. For the United States to use nuclear weapons would break the taboo on their use that has existed since Nagasaki and open Pandora’s Box to nuclear wars, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear terrorism. Whatever the weapons used, such an attack would be provocative and reckless. We strongly oppose it. We call for vigorous diplomacy, including direct U.S. – Iranian negotiations, and toughened inspections under the International Atomic Energy Agency.

• Under Article One of the Constitution, Congress has the responsibility to vote on declarations of war. Congress disastrously abdicated that responsibility in October 2002 when it voted to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq. Members of Congress afterwards claimed they thought the President would use that authority to negotiate. It must not repeat this mistake with Iran. On May 6th, 2004, the House of Representatives authorized the President to use “any and all appropriate means” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Congress must make clear that President Bush does not have authority to bomb Iran without coming to Congress and seeking a declaration of war.
• As in the Iraq case, hard liners are making highly selective use of partially leaked intelligence information of dubious reliability – often, as in the Iraqi case, from exiles. Meanwhile, many independent experts believe that Iran is at least several years and perhaps a decade away from being able to produce nuclear weapons. As Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has suggested, Congress should insist that intelligence information be declassified and made available for scrutiny.
• The Administration and Congress appear to have thought even less about the possible consequences of attacking Iran than they did with Iraq. Yet these could include ten thousand casualties in the American air strike, as well as Iran’s mining the Strait of Hormuz, attacking Saudi oil production, and creating greater chaos in Iraq. A CIA report finds that terrorism would grow in the aftermath of a strike. Congress must hold rigorous, open hearings on the possible costs – human, political, economic, fiscal – of attacking Iran.
• The United States must give priority to non-proliferation, engage Iran in direct negotiations, and renounce the policy of regime change. We cannot expect to reach a diplomatic solution with a government we are trying to destabilize. The regime change agenda also weakens international support for our concern about proliferation. Authentic Iranian dissidents such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi warn that U.S. support risks making them look like traitors. Congress must defeat bills such as the Iran Freedom and Support Act (S.333), which are provocative and are a hidden gift to the regime. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that Israel should be “wiped off the map” is totally unacceptable. A U.S. attack on Iran, however, would only make Mr. Ahmadinejad a hero in Iran and beyond and would incite Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and globally.
• To persuade Iran to forgo nuclear weapons, and to curb proliferation globally, the United States must change its own military and nuclear policies. President Bush’s preemption doctrine gives countries such as Iran an incentive to get nuclear weapons as a deterrent: after all, Mr. Bush invaded non-nuclear Iraq, not nuclear North Korea. The Nuclear Posture Review endorses U.S. nuclear attacks against non-nuclear states, in violation of all the understandings of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty is a grand bargain, in which non-nuclear countries renounce nuclear weapons and in return existing nuclear states are obliged to work towards nuclear disarmament. Yet the Bush Administration is exploring a new generation of “usable” nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran is both motivated and – in the eyes of many in the Middle East – legitimized in its possible pursuit of nuclear weapons by the Israeli arsenal of (an estimated) 200 nuclear weapons. United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, sponsored by the U.S. and Britain, commits us to seek a nuclear weapons free Middle East. (Israel is far better able to defend itself by conventional weapons than it was when it first sought a nuclear arsenal.)


Congressional votes on Iran and pending legislation: See and type “Iran” in the search field. To find the 2004 vote, specify May 2004 in the time entry.

Dubious intelligence information: See the article, “Exiles,” by Connie Bruck in the March 6th issue of The New Yorker. A governmental National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2005 estimated that Iran is a decade away from a bomb. See For the analysis of independent expert Joseph Cirincione – and a call to declassify intelligence information behind nuclear allegations – see

Consequences of war: See Paul Rogers, “Iran: Consequences of a War,” Oxford Research Group, March 2006. See also Michael J. Mazarr (of the National War College), “Attacking Iran Is a Bad Idea.” The New Republic, August 15, 2005 Dana Priest, “Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2006.

Negotiate on the nuclear issue rather than pursuing regime change: See Jessica Tuchman Matthews, “Speaking to Tehran, With One Voice,” The New York Times, March 21, 2006. See also F. Stephen Larrabee (RAND Corporation), “Defusing the Iranian Nuclear Crisis,” Orange County Register, March 9, 2006. For Iranian dissident (and Nobel Laureate) Shirin Ebadi’s views, see See also Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, “The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran,” The New York Times, February 8, 2005 An account of the CIA-sponsored 1953 coup against Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadegh appears in Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.

To curb nuclear proliferation, the United States must change its own military and nuclear policies. For information on preemption, see Steven C. Welsh, “Preemptive War and International Law,” Center for Defense Information, March 16, 2006 For an analysis of the Bush Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, see Jaya Tiwari, “Dr. Strangelove Meets the Pentagon,” Physicians for Social Responsibility On how U.S. nuclear policy undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, see Eric Weiss (of, “Nonproliferation Treaty at Risk,” The Decatur Daily (why wasn’t this in The New York Times?), May 21, 2005 For an analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991, calling for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, and its relevance to the Iran crisis, please see Peace Action’s briefing See also the Federation of American Scientists’ briefing

David Keppel

The article, with talking points and references, is posted at David Keppel’s blog at