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  • 1 June 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file

Iran, Nonproliferation Experts Support Fuel Swap as Basis for Engagement

Contact: Phil Elwood, (917) 379-3787

Today, a group of Iran experts and non-proliferation experts are releasing a statement urging Western powers to use the recently-negotiated fuel swap deal as a first step towards a larger agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue and beyond.

The experts — which include Former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq David Kay and Former US Ambassador to the UN Thomas Pickering — do not endorse or reject the deal outright; rather, the statement urges the Unites States and its allies to use the proposal as an opportunity for further engagement with Iran.

Full text of the statement:

June 1, 2010

On Monday, May 24, 2010, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran delivered a letter to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outlining Iran’s commitments to export 1200 kg of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) to Turkey in exchange for fuel assemblies to power the Tehran Research Reactor. This marked a significant concession from Iran’s previous position, which demanded the exchange take place in small batches, inside Iran’s borders, and simultaneous to the delivery of reactor fuel.

The political paralysis inside Iran that scuttled the fuel exchange proposal when it was first offered in October seems now to have subsided. The proposal currently being considered has the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader as well as centrists, reformists, and leaders of the Green Movement in Iran, making it more likely that Iran will abide by the terms of its commitments.

Left unresolved in the current proposal is the troubling matter of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium up to levels approaching 20%. Additionally, even after a successful fuel exchange, the need for Iran to fully satisfy the IAEA and accept a more rigorous inspections regime will remain, as will concerns about the size of its LEU stockpile. Notwithstanding these issues, Iran’s agreement to export a large portion of its LEU outside of its borders for up to a year is worthy of consideration. If enacted, this proposal would begin the process of addressing a major — but not the only — aspect of the strained relationship between Iran and the international community, and would represent a first step in halting Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapons capability.

We urge the so-called Vienna Group (Russia, France, the United States, and the IAEA) to seriously pursue this proposal as an opening for further diplomatic engagement with Iran on outstanding issues of concern. The permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) should take advantage of this opportunity as the first step in a broader dialogue that could include further confidence building measures, such as halting enrichment of uranium above 5%, as well as resolving regional security issues, protecting human rights in Iran, and other issues of mutual interest.


  • Amb. Thomas Pickering, Former US Ambassador to the UN
  • Dr. David Kay, Former Chief Weapons Inspector, Iraq
  • Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director, Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative, New America Foundation
  • Gen. Robert Gard, Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
  • Dr. Jim Walsh, MIT
  • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
  • Dr. Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii
  • Dr. Juan Cole, University of Michigan
  • Dr. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council

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.



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