UCC JPANet action alert
The standoff with Iran over its nuclear program is highly volatile. Urge the Obama administration to commit to active diplomacy, giving inspections and targeted sanctions time to work in Iran, and telling Israel not to make a pre-emptive attack on Iran.
In a recent interview President Obama said the U.S. “will do everything we can” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He would not rule out military action, but he added, “[o]ur goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically. That would be preferable.”
There is still room for diplomacy to work. Iran is not determined to go to war. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has allowed UN inspectors on the ground to investigate its nuclear facilities.
However pressure is building in the region. The U.S. is sending a third aircraft carrier group to the region to prevent Iran from disrupting the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. This waterway facilitates up to a quarter of the world’s oil, and a blockade would have a severe global impact, perhaps doubling the price of oil.
Even if the U.S. averts a confrontation at sea, Israel may not wait for United Nations’ nuclear inspectors before deciding to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Israel took unilateral strikes against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 to knock out their nuclear facilities. But an Israeli airstrike against Iran risks enflaming the region. Hezb’allah could attack Israel from Lebanon. Syria’s regime, currently divided against its people, may regain support if it joins the fight. The U.S. would enter the war if Israel is attacked. Widespread conflict in the Middle East would cause massive deaths, as well as jeopardize the fragile global economy and the tenuous reforms of the “Arab Spring.”
The UCC General Synod 27 resolution “Solidarity and Friendship with Iran” (2009) upholds the principles of Just Peace and “promotes and works for friendship between the people of Iran and the United States of America.” As people of faith and members of the United Church of Christ we should urge the U.S. to do everything possible to avoid armed conflict with Iran, including advising Israel against unilateral airstrikes. If the U.S. can avoid war and successfully constrain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomatic negotiation and inspections, then Washington will gain much-needed support for addressing more urgent situations in the region and around the world.
Tell President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Panetta to urge Israel not to strike Iran and risk provoking a widespread conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. should give UN nuclear inspections and targeted and specific economic sanctions time to work.