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APN to Bush: Time to Engage Iran

APN urged President Bush to embark on a course of serious, determined, and unconditional diplomacy with Iran.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 11, 2007
CONTACT: Lara Friedman - (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C. - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today urged President Bush to embark on a course of serious, determined, and unconditional diplomacy with Iran. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization committed to peace and security for Israel.

In a letter to Bush, APN Chair Franklin M. Fisher and President and CEO Debra DeLee note that "The recent publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran.bolsters our conviction that the best interests of both the U.S. and Israel require direct, sustained, and unconditional U.S.-led diplomacy and engagement with Iran to resolve issues surrounding Iran's nuclear program. Clearly, the NIE does not exonerate Iran. Serious concerns remain about Iran's intentions with respect to the development of a nuclear weapons program in the past, present, and future. However, the NIE underscores the fact that there has long been an opening to engage directly and seriously with Iran to potentially resolve this and other issues of concern to both sides." The letter goes on to urge Bush to view the new NIE "as an opportunity to shift course, and to demonstrate the kind of real leadership and diplomacy necessary to deal effectively and responsibly with the challenge posed today by Iran."

Copies of the letter will be sent to all members of Congress and major presidential campaigns. The letter reflects APN's longstanding position that a U.S. policy toward Iran consisting almost solely of sanctions and saber-rattling is insufficient and potentially harmful to the interests of both the U.S. and Israel. Please contact Lara Friedman at (202) 728-1893 for the full text of APN's position on Iran.

Following is the full text of the letter:

Dear President Bush:

On behalf of Americans for Peace Now (APN), we are writing to urge you to embark on a course of serious, determined, and unconditional diplomacy with Iran. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization committed to peace and security for Israel.

We have long argued that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons represents a dangerous and alarming scenario - one that neither the U.S. nor Israel can afford to ignore, and one that the international community must exert all efforts to avoid. We have also believed that your administration's longstanding policy toward Iran - consisting almost exclusively of sanctions and saber-rattling - is insufficient to the task and potentially harmful to the interests of both the U.S. and Israel.

The recent publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran only reinforces this view, and only bolsters our conviction that the best interests of both the U.S. and Israel require direct, sustained, and unconditional U.S.-led diplomacy and engagement with Iran to resolve issues surrounding Iran's nuclear program. Clearly, the NIE does not exonerate Iran. Serious concerns remain about Iran's intentions and behavior with respect to the development of a nuclear weapons program in the past, present, and future. However, the NIE underscores the fact that there has long been an opening to engage directly and seriously with Iran to potentially resolve this and other issues of concern to both sides.

The interests of both the U.S. and Israel demand that the utmost effort be invested in the success of direct engagement and diplomacy. In this regard, it should be emphasized that while sanctions are a potentially powerful tool for putting pressure on Iran, sanctions alone cannot replace diplomacy as a means of resolving differences between nations. An effective policy would combine sanctions with diplomacy.

In this regard, mere half-hearted or ephemeral efforts at engagement and diplomacy will at best be ineffective, and at worst will disclose a transparently cynical approach, one that is designed to fail. Such an approach must be rejected. The goal of U.S. engagement and diplomacy should not be to make a show of exhausting all non-military options in order to build a case for war; rather, the goal must be to capitalize on non-military options in order to resolve the differences and avoid war.

Finally, we urge you to discard casual rhetoric about U.S. first-strike options, and to discard the notion that the guiding policy of the U.S. must be that "all options are on the table." Clearly, the option for military action is always available, but it must be reserved as the option of truly last resort, and no military action should be threatened or contemplated, let alone taken, which violates the Constitution of the United States or international law. For the sake of both Israeli and American national interests, we urge you to view this new NIE as an opportunity to shift course, and to demonstrate the kind of real leadership and diplomacy necessary to deal effectively and responsibly with the challenge posed today by Iran.

Sincerely,

Franklin Fisher Debra DeLee
Chairman President & CEO