Coats, Donnelly back bombastic bill 

  • Courtesy of Simon Strandgaard via Flickr Creative Commons

Sick of saber rattling

Indiana peace activists are upset that their U.S. senators are supporting a bill that they feel undermines improved relations with Iran. The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S.1881, includes a provision that "if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide ... diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence ... "

Note the preceding splice of the bill's language strips with the first set of ellipses the boilerplate language "in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress."

And, to the bill's supporters, that language is likely where the wiggle room is to be found - especially since so many recent presidents have been content to run off on any number of military engagements not authorized by Congress. But peace activists and others interested in diplomatic progress with Iran do not welcome any provocation as a multi-nation concession on $7 billion worth of economic sanctions is kicking in for the next six months in exchange for International Atomic Energy Agency access to Iran's nuclear development sites - and a commitment to stick to low-grade development only.

Several scholars from around Indiana spoke against S. 1881 at a press conference in Indianapolis last Friday. Their comments are archived at tinyurl.com/INpeaceIran.

Here is a sampling of one the speakers archived: Ed Towne, professor emeritus of theology at Christian Theological Seminary, with a nice introduction slamming all 13 Indy news outlets that received word of the press conference and none of which - including NUVO - showed. But a citizen journalist captures the action and the press conference proceeded without the assistance of corporate media.

In short, local peace activist Carl Rising Moore later explained to NUVO via phone, at a time when the U.S. State Department is working to enable international supervision of the Iran's nuclear program, S. 1881 relies on further sanctions and bellicosity which could cause Iran's hardliners to undermine the new agreement to ease certain nuclear activities in exchange for eased economic sanctions. Activists also expressed dismay that, as of Jan. 15, neither of the senators would agree to meet with them to discuss their concerns with the bill.

When requesting statements from the senators on their justifications for support of such language, NUVO went 1-1 with their media liaisons.

Donnelly's communications director provided the following statement attributed to Senator Donnelly, who is a co-sponsor of the bill:

"I am very hopeful that the discussions underway will result in a successful final agreement. I support diplomacy, and I look forward to the day when the U.S. and Iran have improved relations. Until that day, however, I believe the best strategy for working with Iran must include both diplomacy and sanctions. I have consistently supported smart, tough sanctions against Iran and believe that they have led us to the point where a lasting agreement is possible. I am a cosponsor of the Iran sanctions bill, The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, because the prospect of future sanctions provide crucial leverage to help reach an acceptable final agreement, as well as acting as an important deterrent."

Sen. Dan Coats's office did not respond to a request for comment.


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