Academics, Retired Diplomats and Military Officers Call on Obama To Renew Diplomacy with Iran

17 July (LPAC) Twenty-nine former diplomats, military officers, other high government officials and academics have signed a letter, apparently organized by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), calling on President Obama to renew diplomacy with Iran once Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, is sworn into office. As NAIC’s press release notes, the letter comes just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has is calling for further tightening the sanctions on Iran and ratcheting up military threats, and while the U.S. Congress is considering a new round of sanctions. The letter reads as follows:

“The election of Hassan Rouhani to be Iran’s next president presents a major potential opportunity to reinvigorate diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. We strongly encourage your Administration to seize the moment to pursue new multilateral and bilateral negotiations with Iran once Rouhani takes office and to avoid any provocative action that could narrow the window of opportunity for a more moderate policy out of Tehran.

“Once the new president has been inaugurated, the United States should pursue coordinated multilateral engagement on the nuclear issue through the P5+1. Additionally, the U.S. should prepare to redouble its efforts to pursue direct, bilateral negotiations with Iran to engage on issues beyond the nuclear file, such as human rights and regional security. After assessing the orientation of the new Iranian government, the U.S. and partners should prepare to offer a new set of proposals to limit Iran’s enrichment and nuclear materials stockpiles combined with stringent oversight and verification measures.

“While it will take time to secure an agreement to resolve all concerns, diplomacy will only succeed if we are prepared to leverage existing sanctions and other incentives in exchange for reciprocal Iranian concessions. Further, in the lead-up to Rouhani’s inauguration, it is critical that all parties abstain from provocative actions that could imperil this diplomatic opportunity. For the U.S., no further sanctions should be imposed or considered at this time as they could empower hardliners opposed to nuclear concessions at the expense of those seeking to shift policy in a more moderate direction.

“It remains to be seen whether this opportunity will yield real results. But the United States, Iran, and the rest of the international community cannot afford to miss or dismiss the potential opportunity before us. In the past, when one side has failed to seize an opportunity to resolve the standoff between the U.S. and Iran, it has only produced worse outcomes and diminishing options. Given the current state of Iran’s nuclear capability, the heightened tensions in the region, and the potential for a confrontation, all parties involved should be ready and willing to seize this opportunity to achieve diplomatic progress towards a peaceful resolution of the standoff.”

Among the signers of the letter, are former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Joseph Hoar, former Amb. Chas Freeman, LTG Robert Gard, former president of the National Defense University; Dr. Trita Parsi, president of NAIC; former Iran hostage Gary Sick; former CIA analyst Paul Pillar; Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, and many others, including French and British retired diplomats.

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