January 16, 2014
January 15, 2014
December 19, 2013

Dear Senator Schumer

Dear Senator Schumer,

I have read the text of the draft legislation that was introduced today under the title “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.” You are prominently named as a supporter.

The bottom line of this bill as written would remove any real negotiating authority from the U.S. government by specifying in advance the terms of an impossible settlement. At the same time, the bill outsources any decision about resort to military action to the government of Israel, by committing the United States in advance to support any military action by Israel.

The bill ignores President Obama’s declared intention of insuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. Instead, it insists on the objective defined by Prime Minister Netanyahu, among others, to eliminate all capability by Iran to ever build a nuclear device. As I’m sure you know, even the most peaceful nuclear activity can be used for military purposes. It is possible to regulate how far a country is away from a nuclear weapon. It is not possible to eliminate the possibility entirely. That is the dilemma at the heart of the nuclear non-proliferation effort.

A decade ago, the United States and some allies attempted to replace a good outcome that was achievable with a perfect outcome that was not. At that time, we rejected an Iranian offer to limit enrichment to 3,000 centrifuges and insisted on zero. As a result, today Iran has some 19,000 centrifuges.

The deal on the table with Iran offers the best opportunity in more than a generation to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. This bill would sabotage that effort before it even begins.

In addition to imposing new sanctions, which the members of the UN Security Council agreed not to do, this bill as written commits the US government to prove a negative. Quite simply it makes it impossible to negotiate any agreement with Iran short of unconditional surrender of its national sovereignty.

In fact, the enforcement of the objectives of this bill would require a permanent US presence in the decision-making process of the Iranian government, because there is no way to insure that someone in Iran is not plotting to build a nuclear weapon except to be omnipresent.

That is what we tried to do in Iraq. It is called occupation, and it is achieved not by negotiation but by war.

I urge you to withdraw your support from this dangerous bill.

Gary Sick
Columbia University

December 18, 2013

NIAC: Extending Hands, Unclenching Fists


The National Iranian-American Council continues its path-breaking effort of combining original analysis, drawing on ground-level access to Iranian business and elite leaders, with practical and imaginative suggestions about where to go from here.

This new publication acknowledges that the hard-liners in both Iran and the West have become infatuated with their own success in producing negative outcomes. Instead, this short document proposes a series of positive steps that are essentially cost-free and available right now.

New thinking that deserves to be heard.

December 3, 2013
November 28, 2013
November 27, 2013

Ten facts you may have overlooked

In the avalanche of reportage and commentary on the nuclear deal with Iran, here are a few tiny facts that may have escaped your notice:

  1.  France’s President Hollande made his triumphal trip to Israel (a hero because he put a speed bump in the way of an agreement); a few days later, France returned to the negotiations and quietly signed the text. Can he still wear his hero medal?
  2. Opponents of the deal denounce the “shredding” of the United Nations Security Council resolutions (which demanded that Iran stop all enrichment) but fail to notice that all five Permanent Members of the Security Council negotiated and signed off on the text. These are the same countries that passed those resolutions.
  3. Netanyahu just a year ago used a cartoon drawing of a bomb to illustrate that Iran was getting perilously close to a nuclear weapon; the agreement moves Iran far away from his famous red line. Is that a “historic mistake?”
  4. Netanyahu in 1992 said that if no one intervened Iran would have a bomb within five years – and he has been saying the same thing ever since. He has been consistently wrong for more than two decades.
  5. If you look carefully at the words of the opposition, you’ll see that they base all their objections on the supposition that Iran will renege on its commitments and the US will acquiesce. Do they have an alternative? Whining is not a policy.
  6. The dog that didn’t bark: since the last Iranian election there has not been one peep from our old friend Ahmadinejad. Several American politicians who relish conflict in the Middle East have said they miss him. I don’t.
  7. The other dog: the strangely silent Revolutionary Guards. Ditto.
  8. Have you noticed how many of the people opposing the nuclear agreement are the same ones who thought invading Iraq was a nifty idea? War good; talk bad.
  9. Iran is so determined to build a nuclear weapon that it renounces them under any and all circumstances, reduces its production of enriched uranium, and invites the largest group of inspectors in history to monitor its activities. Hmmm
  10. Iran has been able to build a nuclear device for at least seven years and has not done so. In the eyes of some that is absolute proof of their deviousness.
November 26, 2013
November 25, 2013
November 17, 2013