“My Thoughts Turn to Them”

A deal has been reached between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil, in which Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for nuclear fuel rods to power a medical research reactor.  Deprived of the uranium, Iran cannot process it to the higher levels needed for weapons production. In addition, the fuel rods returned to Iran for Tehran’s research reactor cannot be processed beyond their lower, safer levels.

In addition, Iran has finally released French academic Clotilde Reiss, who has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for more than ten months on charges of espionage as well as participation in rioting and civil strife. Her 10-year jail term was commuted to a fine of 3 billion rials ($300,000). Reiss was welcomed by President Sarkozy on her return home early Sunday afternoon.

Of course, Iran’s cooperation on these two fronts should not discount its lack of cooperation on an issue even more important, that of human rights. While many in the West can now rest assured that Iran now does not have enough uranium to build the nuclear bomb, at least for now, the Iranian people continue to be held in prisons throughout Iran. Iran’s human rights abuse has only increased since the June 2009 presidential elections and can be seen as recently as the very controversial execution of five Iranians just last week.

As Reiss said on her return to France,

I am thinking chiefly of two men who were executed in January 2010 and who were pretty much at my sides during the public trial. They treated me like a sister. I am thinking about them because I was overwhelmed by their stories. Now that I am free in my country, my thoughts turn to them.

Many others continue to be detained in prison in Iran, including women and children. Now that there has been some initial progress on the nuclear concern, at least temporarily, it is finally time for other powers to focus an equal amount of attention on the rights of the Iranian people.

Photo credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier; Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images

Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie

    One Response to ““My Thoughts Turn to Them””

  1. Pirouz says:

    Setareh, your LEU figures are from last October. As of today, it is estimated that Iran currently has closer to 2300 kilograms of low enriched uranium. Therefore, sending out 1200 kg today would still leave it with just enough low enriched uranium for a breakout capability — the quantity of low enriched uranium that if higher enriched, would be enough for one nuclear weapon. However, keep in mind Iran has no detectable nuclear weapons program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified (again this spring) that no nuclear material at the Natanz plant has been diverted for non-civilian purposes. So any alarmist sentiment in this regard is merely playing into the hands of those who would wish harm upon the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    The Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal appears to be fantastic news. All I can say is Viva Lula!

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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