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The United States should engage Iran for peace. Threats of sanctions and military confrontation will further isolate Iran and increase threats to U.S. interests in the region. Military action will leave the international community with other unforeseeable threats and concerns.  PSR supports a diplomatic solution (Click here to read PSR's strong statement on Negotiating with Iran) to the Iran problem which begins with direct dialogue and confidence building measures. This will help reduce tension in Iran’s relations with the West and reduce Iran’s perceived need for a self made nuclear security assurance.  

Sanctions and Iran

A Congressional testimony, called “Changing Iran’s behavior” by Dr. Trita Parsi, is one of the most concise and comprehensive explanations of why more sanctions (in the form of divestment) will not provoke positive change in Iran’s government.  Key points:

  • Sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy, but have failed to change the government’s behavior.
  • The government can use oil revenues as a cushion to offset the effects of sanctions.
  • The people of Iran are directing their anger over economic distress towards the United States not their government.
  • Absent competition from international companies and the demands for transparency and efficiency, sanctions strengthen the hard-line elements’ hold and control over the economy.
  • Entities connected to the government, such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, profit from their involvement in the smuggling trade.
  • The Iranian government’s success in circumventing sanctions makes Iran less sensitive to new sanctions. There is a diminishing return on additional sanctions.
  • Economic sanctions weaken the emerging middle class, whose income is dependent on the advancement of the non-state economy. As long as the lion’s share of the economy is controlled by the state, room for pushing for political liberalization will be severely limited.
  • What has been lacking, is confidence in Tehran that a change in behavior would lead to the lifting of sanctions.
  • Reality is that Washington has significant leverage over Tehran if willingness exists to trade away existing sanctions for extensive changes in Iranian policies.
  • It is not the threat or imposition of new sanctions that is likely to achieve the desired changes in Iranian behavior, but the promise of lifting existing ones.
  • Neither threats nor promises are likely to succeed if they are made from a distance.
  • In this atmosphere of mistrust, neither side has much room for error… Congress passing additional sanctions before diplomacy has begun…would only reduce the prospects for diplomacy by poisoning the atmosphere and further increasing mistrust.
  • After a decade-and-a-half of failed sanctions and economic pressure, and three decades of hostility, it is not sanctions or divestment that deserves another chance. It is diplomacy and the opportunity to use the leverage that sanctions provide in the context of a negotiation that should be given the space and time to succeed.

See the full text here.

War and Iran

Threatening Iran with a military attack only increases tension in U.S.-Iranian relations and increases the possibility of war.  A military attack on Iran would have enormous human costs.  Military and civilian deaths in just the first wave of attacks against Iran would be expected to be in the thousands.   Furthermore, an attack on Iran would likely plunge the entire Middle East into further chaos and violence, disrupting public health services and putting the well-being of thousands more civilians at risk. An attack on Iran would validate the arguments of those in Iran that support nuclear weapons acquisition for security reasons.




  • Trade Restrictions Not Answer to Iran
    Posted on March 5, 2009

    Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the Senate's Republican whip, offered up an amendment to the Omnibus Bill today which would push Iran one step closer to total isolation from the international community. It is doubtful that any amendments will be passed, since if they did, the House would have to reconsider the Bill. Read more »

  • Obama on Iran
    Posted on February 2, 2009

    More hints on what new U.S. policy on Iran will look like from an interview President Obama did on Al-Arabiya Arab TV Network January 26. Read more »

  • Iran Divestment Legislation
    Posted on October 22, 2008

    Let’s say that legislation promoting divestment in companies that have a 20 million or higher investment in Iran’s energy sector, as offered by Senator Obama, gets through Congress next year. Read more »

  • Press on Iran Driving up Tension in Negotiations
    Posted on July 28, 2008

    By starting off last week with articles which poked fun at the Iranians for spelling mistakes and negotiating tactics, and ending the week with false claims that Iran planned to halt negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the press is hurting efforts to reduce tension in both US-Iranian relations and the greater dialogue between Iran and the International Community. Read more »

  • Stop Typecasting Iran as a Threat
    Posted on June 27, 2008

    Rhetoric and threat propaganda on Iran need to stop if we are to make peace with the nation. There is absolutely nothing new to Iran’s nuclear achievements which would demonstrate that the Iranians have enriched low grade fuel closer to bomb grade levels. The international community cannot stop Iran from having a nuclear energy capability. However, it can drive Iran to becoming a nuclear weapon state by continually typecasting the nation as a threat and increasing the nations insecurity. Read more »

  • Italy Trading Its Way to the Negotiating Table on Iran
    Posted on June 20, 2008

    Italy now seeks a stronger position in negotiations over Iran, but is hitting resistance from key players like the United States and Germany. Regardless of the outcome, due to strong economic ties, Italy will continue to play an important role in resolving the Iran crisis. With the rise of Italy's recently elected Prime Minster, Silvio Berlusconi, a harder stance on Iran has emerged with hope that Italy will win a seat at the P5+1 negotiating table. "Now Italy will push forward to be really in the club on Iran...Italy will not be left isolated by a restricted group of European partners plus the US," stated Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini in May. Read more »

  • Hearing Proves Need for Comprehensive Approach on Iran
    Posted on June 12, 2008

    Acknowledging the failure of the Bush Administration’s current Iran policy and the need to surface new policies which will reduce the chance of another conflict in the Middle East, US Representative Gary Ackerman (NY-D), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled, “More Than Just Enrichment: Iran’s Strategic Aspirations and the Future of the Middle East” June 5. Read more »

  • Engagement Without Preconditions Needed in Wake of Iran Report
    Posted on June 3, 2008

    With a new international watch dog report out on the nation, tension heightens between Iran and the international community pointing to the immediate need for a new policy of engagement…one without preconditions. In 2003, Iran provoked international outcry with the exposure of a clandestine nuclear program. While the United States dismissed a chance to negotiate with Iran over this issue, the EU-3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) decided on a policy of engagement. Read more »

  • War on Iran Is Not the Answer
    Posted on May 27, 2008

    The United States needs to stop focusing on a policy which includes: sanctions, preconditions and threats of attack. A new US policy must include direct engagement, in order to successfully swap incentives for concessions. This new policy must be future oriented, so to deal successfully with future threats to the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Read more »

  • Tail-Wagging America
    Posted on May 20, 2008

    The National Intelligence Estimate (November 2007) proclaimed that Iran stopped a nuclear weapons program in 2003, undermining Bush Administration claims that Iran is an imminent threat to US and international security due to its nuclear program. The US military recently changed Iran threat rhetoric in the media, asserting costly and threatening Iranian involvement in Iraq, allegations corroborated by...nothing. Read more »

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