Appeal to Sen. Schumer to Reconsider Support for Iran Sanctions Bill

The following is a letter sent by Gary Sick, the Columbia University professor who served as the Iran expert on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan, to Sen. Charles Schumer of his home state, New York, in response to Thursday’s unveiling of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.

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

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  1. Bravo, Gary Sick.

    Is Schumer promoting endless war in the Middle East, to “protect” Israel?

  2. NO ENTITY should be involved in writing legislation for elected officials of the US CONGRESS other than those chosen by vote by the People of the United States….NO LOBBY, NO FOREIGN ENTITY has that right…never before would this ever have been allowed, and I cannot believe that any Senators or Congressmen let alone members of the President’s own party countermand his authority with such an obscene manipulation —handing that power to a foreign govt. This is treasonous.

  3. I agree with Mr Sick entirely. I also am damn tired of these “buffoons” thinking it’s O.K. to send American Military Personnel to war to satisfy some foreign despot’s ego, bar none. The American people are tired of the war[s] that just seem to get worse in so far as casualties, costs, failure are concerned.

  4. Why do we only hear from these voices of sanity and reason in peripheral intellectual blogs like this one? Why is this important other side of the argument which seems to be held by most intellectuals and academics ( not in the pocket of hawkish jewish lobby) not debated openly in mainstream media and public?! So tiered of hearing these blood thirty corrupt senators n congressman destabilizing world peace and stability…..

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