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Congress Gets Briefed on Radical New Idea As Alternative to War: Talking

Washington D.C. (February 16, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday hosted a briefing regarding the status of diplomatic negotiations with Iran to prevent war and to address Iran’s nuclear program.

Kucinich welcomed Dr. Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, to discuss the diplomatic options that remain on the table to prevent war and resolve the nuclear dispute.  They discussed the critical need to create the political space for sustained diplomatic engagement between the U.S. and Iran as the only way to prevent war.  With Congress and United Kingdom imposing sanctions on Iran, both spoke about the lack of evidence to support claims that such sanctions are a successful tool to avoid war with Iran.  

Congressman Kucinich’s Opening Statement is available here. Dr. Parsi’s opening remarks are available here. The text of Kucinich’s prepared remarks follows.

I would like to thank you all for joining me today for this very important briefing.

I would especially like to thank Dr. Trita Parsi for coming here today to brief us on the diplomatic options that remain on the table to prevent war and resolve the nuclear dispute. Dr. Parsi is the founder and President of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on U.S.-Iran relations.  He is the author of “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States,” which won the silver medal of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.  His new book “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran” uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama's early years as president.

Since President Obama’s inauguration, the United States and Iran have engaged in less than one hour of direct talks.  If the crippling sanctions that the U.S. and Europe have imposed are meant to push the Iranian regime to negotiations, it hasn’t worked.  U.S. sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy and ordinary Iranian people.  They have not created any meaningful change in the behavior of the Iranian government.  Simply put, U.S. policy toward Iran has failed to ensure a peaceful Iran that aids regional stability. 

As the war of words between the U.S. and Iran escalates, it is more critical than ever that we highlight alternatives to war to avoid the same mistakes we made in Iraq.  That is why I have been a leader in opposing the sanctions bills such as the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 and the Iran Threat Reduction Act that I believe will only lead us down the path to war. 

Many of us know that the United States cannot afford to embroil itself in another military campaign.  The U.S. has thus far spent over 1.2 trillion dollars of borrowed money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Military action against Iran would be disastrous for the region and for U.S. moral standing.  U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has himself warned against the use of military force in Iran, stating that it would cause “unintended consequences” in the region and “could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region.”  A military strike on Iran is also unlikely to produce the result we want, and will only delay Iran’s nuclear program. 

A serious diplomatic track based on mutual trust is the only way to achieve increased transparency we seek. 

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