Late last week, over three dozen Iran-born activists and prominent members of the Iranian-American community in the United States, Canada and the UK released a scathing letter to Congress and the Obama administration, urging them to reject the Iran Deal (known officially as the JCPOA).
Their letter is reprinted below:
Honorable members of the US Congress & Obama Administration,
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with its many possible interpretations has provided valid points of argument for all those in favour and against the deal. Fears of war and military action and continuing economic hardship for the Iranian people have prompted a few Iranian scholars and experts to write to you, the honourable members of the Congress, in support of the JCPOA. We, the undersigned, share these most serious and legitimate concerns and condemn any use of force against Iran. However, we do not believe that the JCPOA will realise the desired objectives either for the Iranian people or the global community.
As concerned Iranians for the future of Iran we, too, believe that a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic poses a serious threat to the security and stability of Iran, the region and the greater international community. As many have pointed out and argued, there are loopholes and ambiguous sections that allow for duplicitous interpretation by the Islamic Republic. They have demonstrated this with their successful sanction busting efforts.
The JCPOA will in effect lift international embargoes on Iran’s access to advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missile technology. Since the 14 July, 2015 agreement with the United States and five other countries the following are among actions taken by the Islamic Republic which have increased our concerns and make us doubt the lasting functionability of the JCPOA:
— secret side deal with the IAEA,
— ongoing construction at Parchin, a military site linked to nuclear weapons work, and
— resumption of negotiations over the purchase of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
In addition to the above, we would like to draw your attention to the following three crucial issues:
The first issue is: The primary question before the American people and the US Congress is: who are the parties the United States and its allies are making a “Deal” with?
— Constitutionally, power is divided into the executive, legislative and judicial offices. However, as we are sure you are aware, the Office of the Absolute Supreme Leadership has the final say on all matters. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Absolute Supreme Leader (ASL), has his own inner cabinet with control over armed forces, security establishment, judicial, state media, and Sepah Pasdaran (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – IRGC) who operate their own independent business enterprises, including export & import dealings without the knowledge or control of the government.
— The members of the government who have been party to the drafting of the JCPOA are therefore powerless in its execution and enforcement without the support and authority of the ASL.
— The members Islamic Consultative Assembly (the Parliament) who are preparing to vote on the JCPOA will not have the power of an independent vote and must vote as instructed by the ASL. Thus, the only way the will and voice of people can be heard is through protests and demonstrations which, as the world has witnessed, due to the brutal nature of the regime is not possible.
The enforcement and execution of the agreement requires political power which is lacking in the office of the President. Any agreement with the government has no jurisdiction or any value as it can be rejected by the ASL. It must not be forgotten, however, that Mr Rouhani is a major cog in the wheel that keeps the Islamic regime turning. Meanwhile, the people of Iran remain hostages to the will of Ayatollah Khamenei and the factional fighting amongst various power bases. The Iranian people’s hope for any deal is to have the threat of war removed yet they remain at constant threat of military strikes and sanctions under the ‘snap back’ provisions in the JCPOA as flawed as they may be.
The second issue is: While harsh economic sanctions have adversely affected the lives of ordinary Iranians, those in the circles of power have benefited greatly:
— Billions of dollars of Iran’s income has been squandered, embezzled and mismanaged;
— The Islamic Republic is implicated in international money laundering.
As state figures indicate, today, 40% of Iranians live below the poverty line; nevertheless, since the creation of the Islamic Republic its proxies have been well funded in their terrorist activities.
It is a known fact that the Islamic Republic is an active state sponsor of terrorism and in the last thirty seven years US citizens have repeatedly fallen victim to their heinous acts. The released funds would also make it easier for the regime to continue its destabilising activities in the Middle East and increase its influence in the region.
It is worthy to note that this terrorism is also practiced at home and abroad. Iranian people have not been immune from the regime’s ruthless and violent activities either with assassinations of Iranians inside and outside of Iran’s borders.
As such, we are gravely concerned about the revenue that is going to be available to the regime. We are also outraged at the fact that individuals and companies listed in the JCPOA that have been active in such activities will have access to funds held outside Iran and will be free to travel once the agreement is implemented. Smart sanctions are a powerful and effective tool and should be applied here. Experience of the last thirty seven years has shown that whenever there is an international rapprochement with the regime, Iranians citizens suffer the most terrible human rights violations.
The third issue is: Regardless of the JCPOA and the sanctions relief, the volatile and unstable political situation in Iran will go on to threaten any foreign investment. Without a doubt, Iran remains a profitable consumer market and foreign investors can take full advantage of the regime’s desperate need for finance and investment. It concerns us that, anxious for quick profits, the irresponsible regime will enter into deals which will not be in the best national interest of Iran and its future.
The alternative to JCPOA is not war – it is support for the establishment of a secular and democratic rule in Iran. It is investing in the will of a nation tired of living under a religious tyranny as demonstrated during summer of 2009, after the disputed presidential elections and before it was brutally beaten into silence. It is thinking strategically and long term. For Iranians the road to democracy, respect for the rule of law, justice and human rights is full of obstacles not least because of deals with the regime such as JCPOA with its bountiful rewards. A secular and democratic Iran will prosper, benefit its people and will be an effective positive ally in regional peace and security.
Can the Islamic regime with its feuding factions, military ambitions of the Sepah Pasdaran and history of deceit and lying to its own people and the international community be trusted? Due to the deceitful, untrustworthy and adventurous nature of the Islamic regime, as Iranians working towards a better future for Iran, our unequivocal and expressed concern remains that even with the implementation of JCPOA the threat of war, military action and sanctions will not been removed. To reiterate, we do not believe that the JCPOA will realise the desired objectives either for the Iranian people or the global community.
During the US hostage crisis President Carter made the mistake of negotiating with the government. Thirty seven years later let us not make the same mistake.
Afshin Jam Afshin, Human Rights and political activist, Canada
Nazanin Afshin Jam-Mackay, Human Rights activist, Canada
Maryam Akbari, Civil Rights, UK
Mahvash Alasavandi, Mother against Execution, Canada
Dr. Roya Araghi, Human Rights activist, Canada
Shabnam Assadollahi, Human Rights activist, Freelance Journalist, Canada
Dr. Bahram Bahramian, Political Activist, Professor at University of Maryland, USA
Anni Cyrus, Human Rights activist, USA
Soheyla Drostkar, Human Rights activist, Canada
Dr. Steven Ebbin, Bethesda, MD
Roozbeh Farahanipour, President of West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Founder of Marze Por Gohar, USA
Bijan Fathi, Mothers Against Execution, Canada
Shahla Ghafouri, Teacher, Canada
Akhtar Ghasemi, photo Journalist, Germany
Maziar Ghavidel, Political Activist, Researcher, Iran’s culture and History, Sweden
Parviz Haddadzadeh, Political Activist, USA
Mahboobeh Hosseinpour, Human Rights activist, University Instructor, Turkey
Dr. Javid Javan, former Associate Dean at National University of Iran, USA
Sheema Kalbasi, Human Rights activist, USA
Farahmand Mahmoud Kalayeh, Political Activist, USA
Marjan Keypour, Human Rights activist, USA
Dr. Hooshang Lahooti, Senior Scientist, University of Sydney- Australia
Dr. Hossein Lajevardi, Economist, France
Ahmad Mazahery, Political Activist, VA, USA
Reza Mehrabian, Political Activist, VA, USA
Dr. Ahmad Mostafalou, Political Activist, Canada
Dr. Avideh Motmaen Far, Political Activist, Canada
Shahram Namvarazad, Human Rights activist, Canada
Partow Nooriala, Poet, Writer, USA
Shadi Paveh, Human Rights activist, Canada
Guiti Pourfazel, Lawyer, Human Rights activist, Iran
Banafsheh Pourzand, Zand Foundation, USA
Koroush Radmanesh, Senior Economy Specialist, EU
Kaveh Taheri, Human Rights activist, journalist, Turkey
Dr. Reza Taghizadeh, Lecturer, Political Activist, EU
Hamed Tehrani, Cologne, Germany
Dr. Borzumehr Toloui Semnani, Professor of Physics, Canada
Elham Yaghoubian, Political Activist, Co-founder of Marze Por Gohar, USA
Manda Zand-Ervin, Zand Foundation, USA