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  • 31 July 2014
  • Posted By Wright Smith
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

The Best Protection Against “Sneak Out” is an Iran Nuclear Deal

As negotiations with Iran have continued, one issue that has been raised is the concern of an Iranian “sneak out” to a bomb. Skeptics of the diplomatic process have even claimed that, under a nuclear agreement that increases inspections and verification mechanisms over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran could still maintain undeclared nuclear facilities that would give it a secret pathway to weaponization. However, far from making the case against a nuclear deal, these concerns strengthen the case for diplomacy because the best way to protect against “sneak out” is through stringent inspections and monitoring mechanisms–which can only be achieved through a diplomatic agreement.

There are several measures that can be taken to drastically decrease the possibility of an undeclared Iranian nuclear site and its breakout potential. Already, under the current Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), measures have been taken to monitor Iran’s uranium procurement and prevent it from being used for covert activities. An important part of the Additional Protocol which was included in the JPOA is the ability of IAEA inspectors to visit Iran’s uranium mines and milling facilities. This is crucial because it allows inspectors access to Iran’s uranium holdings, allowing them to judge whether or not Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful or whether some amount of their uranium has been diverted to a covert facility. This is just one of the many types of inspections that Iran has agreed to under the JPOA, and can be increased under a final deal.

To start with, any final deal will require that Iran implement and ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol. The Additional Protocol will allow IAEA inspectors to investigate all aspects of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle–from uranium mines, fabrication of fuel rods, enrichment sites, and waste dumps–and to access all declared nuclear sites without prior notification. Measures like these will not just enable the IAEA to ensure that declared nuclear sites are limited to exclusively peaceful purposes, but to detect attempts to divert any materials if there is an undeclared site.

Beyond the Additional Protocol, the P5+1 will likely push for further inspection measures to protect against undeclared nuclear activities. The IAEA could monitor the importation of nuclear related goods, and then compare this with the amount being used by the Iranian program to ensure that there are no discrepancies between what is being imported and what is being used at declared facilities. Measures such as these will drastically reduce the risk that Iran will pursue covert nuclear research through making such actions very difficult to achieve without detection by the international community.

Based on previous Iranian actions, the concern about protecting against undeclared nuclear facilities is not unreasonable. But these concerns demonstrate why a deal that is strong on inspections and monitoring mechanisms is so important. The alternative to a deal is less inspections, less verification, and less eyes and ears to detect and deter against “sneak out.” If negotiations break down, even the increased access granted to inspectors under the interim JPOA will disappear, leaving the IAEA with few options to verify that Iran no longer has covert sites and increasing the danger of military action. The bottom line: unless you want to put boots on the ground, you should support negotiations to put more inspectors on the ground.

  • 31 January 2014
  • Posted By Shervin Taheran
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file

The Impracticality of the Zero Enrichment Stipulation

The Israel Project has recently launched a website which aims to convince the public that if Iran is allowed to enrich uranium at all, then Iran will certainly develop a nuclear weapon. However, holding on to such notions is a fallacy that will undermine diplomatic progress. While it would be great to have zero risk of Iranian proliferation, which the zero enrichment proposal seeks to attain, such a situation is neither attainable nor necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Further, with sufficient safeguards in place, risks of Iranian weaponization can be diminished to reasonable and acceptable levels. Therefore, it is in America’s interest to sacrifice the long-gone idea of “zero enrichment” and instead focus on securing concrete and verifiable transparency from the Iranian regime. Insisting on unprecedented monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program, rather than deal-killing stipulations such as “zero enrichment,” will ultimately prove more effective in guarding against an Iranian nuclear weapon.

The expectation and the feasibility of a zero-enrichment clause in any final deal with Iran is not realistic. As George Perkovich said, “Iran has already paid tens of billions of dollars in direct costs; lost more than $100 billion in sanctions; and suffered a cyberattack, the assassination of key scientists and engineers, and the perpetual threat of war to protect its self-proclaimed right to enrich uranium. There is no reason to think that more sanctions or military strikes would change Tehran’s stance now.” Further, an insistence on zero enrichment has precluded the possibility of viable nuclear deals in the past, including in a potential 2005 bargain with European powers that would have capped Iran’s enrichment at 3,000 centrifuges.

Moreover, Iranians frequently bring up the argument that they want to have the capability to enrich their own nuclear fuel because they don’t want to be dependent on other nations whom they don’t trust. For example, Iranians mention the event in which France reneged on a deal with Iran after Iran had already provided a billion-dollar investment in the multinational enrichment consortium, Eurodif. France refused to deliver the nuclear fuel previously promised to Iran, thus giving the Iranians ammunition to strengthen their own nuclear program.

Additionally, Iran is currently one of fourteen countries that enrich uranium on their own soil, including non-nuclear weapon states like Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Under the NPT, parties are recognized as having the “inalienable right…to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.” Any enrichment capabilities – which are neither granted nor denied by the NPT – are subject to full and thorough inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And under the NPT and IAEA inspection, no country has ever obtained a nuclear weapon.  This is why it is a more valuable use of our time to expand the access of international inspectors than insisting on “zero enrichment”.

As far as the interim agreement, as signed by the P5+1, enrichment is actually explicitly defined and permitted. The preamble of the agreement says, “[T]his comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the program.” Even in a final deal, enrichment would not violate the intent of the Security Council resolutions. As Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl Kimball said, “the first step Geneva deal effectively accomplishes the original goal of the U.N. Security Council resolutions by capping the total amount of 3.5% material [low-enriched uranium] and it goes further by requiring Iran to neutralize its 20% stockpiles and to cease all enrichment to 20% levels while a comprehensive agreement that further limits Iran’s enrichment capacity below current levels is negotiated.”

Since a final agreement with Iran would likely include the ratification and implementation of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol and potentially further voluntary measures, insisting on zero enrichment while the Iranians hold firm in their opposition against the demand is a waste of time, diplomatic energy, and political capital. We should be focusing our energies into creating practical demands which we can get the Iranians to agree to in order to ensure Iranians cannot develop a nuclear weapon. And this is a fact that America’s highest ranked diplomats and politicians have already recognized.

In 2009, when current Secretary of State John Kerry was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said, “The Bush administration [argument of] no enrichment was ridiculous… it was bombastic diplomacy. It was wasted energy. It sort of hardened the lines, if you will. They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose.” Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has traditionally held a hard line in regards to Iran, said to BBC while she was American’s top diplomat that once Iran has shown that their nuclear program is thoroughly responsible, peaceful and in accordance to international standards, they can possibly enrich for civilian purposes in the future. And just on Tuesday, Senator Angus King [I-MI] said at a Council of Foreign Relations event that, “some of our allies want success to be no nuclear capacity at all, no enrichment capacity at all. The indication from Iran is that they’re not going to accept that, so the question is, what between zero and something is going to be acceptable in the agreement.”

Regardless of whether you support the Geneva agreement or not, we will not obtain zero Iranian enrichment.  Military strikes can’t bomb away nuclear know-how and would only enhance desires for a nuclear deterrent.  Sanctions have failed to alter Iran’s nuclear calculus.  Diplomacy, however, can provide sufficient assurances so that Iranian enrichment is used for peaceful purposes, and that’s where the US and the rest of the P5+1 need to focus their efforts.

  • 26 September 2013
  • Posted By Mina Jafari
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Congress races to distort facts and kill Iran opening

From IranFact.org

At the UN this week, the world saw a very different exchange between the U.S. and Iran than in the past years. Iranian President Rouhani declared that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons and seeks to remove “mutual uncertainties with full transparency,” saying Iran “does not seek to increase tensions with the United States.” President Obama welcomed recent positive signals from Iran and said, “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.”

Yet some in Congress are saying something much different. Since Rouhani and Obama’s speeches, those who are not interested in peace with Iran have been warning against any change in relations, and have often resorted to many false arguments  to maintain that Iran is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” to use President Netanyahu’s description of the newly elected President.

Shortly after Rouhani’s speech, during an interview with CNN, Mike Rogers (R-MI) expressed his skepticism towards further nuclear talks and demanded that Iran first end its production of “over 20% enriched uranium.” The demand was odd given that Iran is not enriching above 20%. As is well documented by the IAEA, Iran has produced only low-enriched uranium (between 3.5%-19.75% concentration). Anything beyond 20% would be news indeed, and Rogers should present his evidence to the IAEA, ASAP.

But I suspect that Rogers, as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has more than sufficient understanding of what levels Iran is enriching to, and merely misspoke on this point. Yet, in the same sentence, Rogers also demanded that –before any talks continue–Iran must open the Fordow plant for inspection. This again is odd. While Fordow facility may be deeply fortified against potential military strikes, there are indeed UN inspections there. The IAEA visits the Fordow plant almost weekly and knows well what is going on in there. A quick glance at any of the IAEA’s quarterly reports on Iran’s nuclear program will tell you as much. Shouldn’t the head of the House Intelligence committee be aware of these simple and well documented facts?

Meanwhile, the heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee–Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Elliot Engel (D-NY)–responded to Rouhani’s speech by setting an arbitrary deadline of 100 days for Iran to fix the nuclear issue. To put this in perspective, even Royce and Engel were unable to get sanctions legislation marked up in a committee very amendable to such bills in their first 100 days as its chairs. Yet they want Rouhani to fix all of the problems with Iran’s nuclear program in 100 days.

Then there is Senator Bennett of Colorado, who in a letter to a constituent stated, “Iran recently installed 180 advanced centrifuges at its production-scale uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz… [which] could be used to produce enriched uranium suitable for nuclear reactors.” Yes, that is in fact what centrifuges do. That’s what we want to make sure Iran is doing–instead of potentially using enriched uranium for weapons. The level of confusion on this fundamental point is embarrassing.

And then you have Ted Cruz (R-TX). Further complicating potential peace negotiations between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, the Senate’s new maverick introduced a  resolution which sets pre-conditions for such a meeting. In the text, Cruz misquotes Rouhani, claiming the Iranian President referred to Israel as a “a wound…on the body of the Muslim World.” This well documented false translation came from Iranian news sources that embellished a segment of Rouhani’s speech in which he said “Quds day […] is a day that people present the unity of Islam against any type of oppression or aggression. And in any case, in our region, it is an old wound that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds.” He made no direct mention of Israel or Zionism–in fact, even Obama has referred to the lack of Israel-Palestine peace as a wound in the region. The misquote, however, has been exploited by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who does not want the U.S. to fall for Rouhani’s “charm offensive” and is desperate to get back to the days when he could claim Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Then we have legislators who are just plain freaking out. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are pushing for a bill which declares war on Iran. Franks even claims Iran has enough low enriched uranium that (if Iran kicked out IAEA inspectors and rapidly enriched it to weapons grade) could produce 20 nuclear bombs. I have no idea where he gets this number. The IAEA’s accounting of Iran’s total enriched uranium, according to the latest Arms Control Association brief, is that Iran has enough low enriched uranium for four bombs–though building a bomb would require many, many more steps. Franks made the exact same exaggerated claim in 2010. So by his estimate, Iran has not enriched any uranium since 2010.

These Congressional hawks apparently have no qualms taking extreme liberty with the facts, all in an unabashed effort to drag the country into another unwanted, unnecessary war.

  • 26 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Almaty and Prospects for Iran Negotiations

Initial reports out of the on-going P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan suggest optimism on behalf of diplomats and hints of concessions by both sides. The first day of talks concluded with Western diplomats presenting Iran with what they say is a “real, serious, and substantive” proposal that creates a pathway towards sanctions relief. Recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium was alluded to as something that can in time be reached after a series of higher “technical-experts” level meetings. Likewise, Iranian diplomats have signaled their desire for a step by step based proposal.

The Iranians are coming to Almaty with their own proposal that they say is flexible. “Our proposal includes a wide range of options. Depending on what we hear from the other side, we will present a suitable version of our proposal. But anyways, Iran is presenting a new proposal,” an Iranian diplomat in Almaty has said.

pertinent report released yesterday by the International Crisis Group outlines steps that can be taken to resolve the impasse with Iran. The report, entitled “Spider Web: The Making and Unmaking of Iran Sanctions,” gives point-by-point recommendations on how negotiations can proceed while also analyzing the efficacy and consequences of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran. In its recommendations for how negotiations should proceed, the report highlights the need for “intensive, continuous, technical-level negotiations to achieve a step by-step agreement.” It states that in order to sustain diplomacy, Iran’s right to enrichment on its own soil should be recognized, while Iran should give stronger guarantees as to not weaponizing its nuclear program. Successful negotiation strategy should be principled, the report states, on an understanding that “the real measure of efficacy is not sanctions imposition. It is sanctions relief.”

  • 11 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Round Up: June 11, 2012

Recap from Last Week:

After IAEA inspectors and Iranian negotiators failed to reach an agreement in Vienna last week, doubts have surfaced that suggest that talks between the P5+1 and Iran scheduled for next week might fall through. (ABC News 6/10/12) An Iranian negotiator stated Sunday that the talks could stall as a result of “faulty preparation”. This comment comes only days after representative from the P5+1 insisted that further preparatory talks weren’t necessary in response to an Iranian complaint that an agenda had not been finalized for the upcoming talks. (The Guardian 6/7/12) The P5+1 is apparently united in its goal of halting Iran’s enrichment at 20%.  Ahmadinejad said the parties must explain what concessions they will provide in exchange for such an Iranian concession. (ABC News 6/10/12)

IAEA Inspections:

US-Iranian relations were over the weekend further agitated when reports by the UN nuclear watchdog surfaced claiming that Iran had demolished buildings at the Parchin military base in an alleged attempt to cover up nuclear testing. (Boston Globe 6/11/12) Iranian officials have denied the reports, calling the allegations “irrelevant and unwise”. The IAEA claims that satellite images reveal “a cleanup of the site, saying the photos depicted water streaming out of one building, the razing of several other buildings and removal of earth at the facility.” (The Times of Israel, 6/11/12; Boston Globe 6/11/12) Iran maintains that Parchin is a “conventional military base”. Additionally, despite failed talks last week, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran would “not block assess of the IAEA inspectors to Parchin, ‘if both Iran and the agency reach an agreement on the modality of a visit”. (Boston Globe 6/11/12)

IPS published an article suggesting that the “sanitized” site is merely part of a ploy by Iran to gain more bargaining power in Moscow. The article claims, “the activities shown in those satellite images show activities appear to be aimed at prompting the IAEA, the United States and Israel to give greater urgency and importance to a request for an IAEA inspection visit to Parchin in the context of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA”. (IPS 6/8/12)

  • 3 May 2012
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy

Dysfunctional Congress Threatens Iran Talks

As the United States and Iran look for an exit ramp off the road to war, they may find a surprising new obstacle: the very sanctions legislation that many credit for bringing Iran back to the negotiating table. As a result of that sanctions bill, Congress now has the de-facto power to block any diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. And the scary reality is that the same dysfunctional institution that almost drove the nation into default last summer can exercise this veto power over diplomacy by doing what it does best: nothing at all.

Congress created this dilemma when it passed draconian sanctions on Iran’s financial system and oil exports, but failed to give the President the power to repeal those sanctions under any conditions, regardless of whether Iran makes major concessions. Unlike all previous Iran sanctions, Congress did not make these new sanctions conditional on Iran’s behavior. If Iran agrees to certain criteria at the negotiating table, the President does not have the power to lift the sanctions. Now, only Congress can lift the most severe sanctions ever imposed on Iran.

  • 30 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

News Roundup 01/30

Iran invites IAEA inspectors to extend visit

Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi told journalists that the three day inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency can be extended “if they desire”. Iranian officials have insisted that Iran’s quest for nuclear energy is for peaceful purposes and “the remarks appear to be part of a show of flexibility and transparency by Tehran”. (Time 01/30)

Panetta: It would take Iran 2-3 years to have deliverable nuke

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on 60 minutes this past weekend and said, “the consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”  Panetta has previously made it clear that Iran has not decided to go forward with building a nuclear weapon and that this is the U.S. redline. (The Hill 01/30)

  • 26 January 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/26

Iran unlikely to begin building nuclear weapon in 2012

 According to a report drafted by the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran is unlikely to take steps toward building a nuclear weapon in 2012 due to their inability to produce a sufficient amount of weapons-grade uranium.  According to the report, “Iran’s essential challenge remains developing a secure capability to make enough weapons-grade uranium, likely for at least several nuclear weapons.”  The effectiveness of airstrikes was also disputed by the report, which said strikes would be “unlikely to destroy Iran’s main capability,” and would allow Iran to rapidly rebuild their capabilities.  (Reuters 01/26)

IMF warns Iran sanctions could increase price of oil 20-30%

 The IMF has stated that Western financial sanctions on Iranian oil could result in a 20-30% hike in global pricing.  According to an IMF statement to the G20, “ A blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would constitute, and be perceived by markets to presage, sharply heightened global geopolitical tension involving a much larger and unprecedented disruption.”  The IMF says this shock could be significantly greater if Iran goes ahead with its threat to blockade the Straits of Hormuz.  (BBC 01/26)

U.S. Joint Chief Chairman: Talk of Military Options on Iran “Premature”

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with National Journal, discussed his recent trip to Israel and his current thinking regarding Iran.  “I do think the path we’re on—the economic sanctions and the diplomatic pressure—does seem to me to be having an effect,” he said. “I just think that its premature to be deciding that the economic and diplomatic approach is inadequate.”

He also warned, “A conflict with Iran would be really destabilizing, and I’m not just talking from the security perspective.  It would be economically destabilizing.”  Dempsey explained the U.S. position on Iran as, “We are determined to prevent them from acquiring that weapon, but that doesn’t mean dropping bombs necessarily.  I personally believe that we should be in the business of deterring as the first priority.”  (National Journal 01/26)

  • 23 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/23

European Union agrees to Iran oil embargo

All 27-member states have agreed to impose a ban on Iranian oil. Full implementation begins on July 1.  In response, an Iranian member of Parliament urged Iran to immediately cut off sales to the EU, in order to disrupt EU oil supply before the planned July date. (Reuters 01/23)

In addition, two other Parliamentarians again warned that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for oil sanctions. (AP 01/23)

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 1.2% to $111.14 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US reference, rose 1.3 per cent to $99.59 a barrel. (Financial Times 01/23)

Iranian bank Tejarat sanctioned 

The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Iran’s third largest bank, Bank Tejarat.  All of Iran’s largest state-owned banks have now been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.  In addition, an affiliate, Belarus-based Trade Capital Bank, was also sanctioned. (Reuters 01/23) 

IAEA confirms visit to Iran, aims to “resolve all outstanding substantive issue” 

“The Agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA told Reuters last week the visit would take place from January 29-31 and that his country was open to discuss “any issues” of interest for the U.N. agency. “The overall objective of the IAEA is to resolve all outstanding substantive issues,” the IAEA statement added. (Reuters 01/23)

Russia hopeful for renewed Iran talks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that he believes there is a good chance that talks between global powers and Iran could resume, despite a planned EU oil embargo and other sources of tension.  (Reuters 01/23)

Rial Declines Sharply

Iran’s currency, the Rial, has fallen sharply to 23,000 per $1 US dollar — a 15% decline.  Gold prices have also increased significantly. (Enduring America 01/23)

Notable Opinion:

Time magazine’s Tony Karon examines the package that the U.S. is expected to offer Iran should diplomatic talks commence, and finds it unlikely to succeed:

Yahoo diplomatic correspondent Laura Rozen reported last week that insiders were suggesting  that Western powers will measure Iran’s “seriousness” in the coming talks by its willingness to halt enrichment of uranium to 20%, and turn over its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to that level.

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see that Iran is highly unlikely to accept a deal under which it gives Western powers something they want but leaves the latest, most damaging sanctions on Iran’s oil exports still in place, instead simply holding off on another round of UN sanctions — which are far less painful, and which the Western powers are unable to persuade Russia and China to substantially tighten.

Click here to read in full.

Other Notable News:

Muhammid Sahimi suggests that a growing rift can be seen developing in the Revolutionary Guard.

  • 18 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/18

Israel acknowledges Iran has yet to decide to pursue a nuclear weapon

Israeli officials will reportedly present an intelligence assessment next week that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon. This comes as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey visits Israel next week. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel is “very far off” from making a decision about a military strike against Iran. (Haaretz 01/18).

Obama has followed Bush’s Iran policy says former top State official

Nicholas Burns, the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the George W. Bush administration said that the Obama administration’s policy “has been very tough with Iran,” and “has essentially followed President Bush’s policy towards Iran in President Bush’s second term.” The statement comes amidst allegations by the GOP presidential candidates that president Obama’s Iran policy has been weak (Think Progress 01/17).

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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