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Still waiting…

Despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks about a turn towards “cooperation” with the West about its nuclear program, Iran seems to have once again managed to stall the process.  Reports have been varied in their interpretation of Iran’s response to the nuclear deal drafted two weeks ago with the IAEA.

The IAEA reported that Iran gave an “initial response.” The New York Times reported Iran refused the deal, “according to diplomats in Europe and American officials briefed on Iran’s response.”

A senior European official characterized the Iranian response as “basically a refusal.” The Iranians, he said, want to keep all of their lightly enriched uranium in the country until receiving fuel bought from the West for the reactor in Tehran.

“The key issue is that Iran does not agree to export its lightly enriched uranium,” the official said. “That’s not a minor detail. That’s the whole point of the deal.”

AFP reported that Iran’s state IRNA news agency said Iran wants more talks on procuring nuclear fuel for its Tehran reactor before it would give a final reply on the nuclear deal at hand.

Regardless, this is the second week after the deal was drafted. One deadline has passed, which we must keep in mind was only a couple of days after the deal was proposed. Today the Iranian government seems to have managed not to ink a deal while keeping talks afloat.  (Literally.  Iran’s response to the IAEA was reportedly not even written down…)  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier that she wants to “let the process play out.”


“We are working to determine exactly what they are willing to do, whether this was an initial response that is an end response or whether it’s the beginning of getting to where we expect them to end up,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.

Analysts and officials did not expect this process of negotiating with Iran to be quick and easy, and so far it has been frustrating. Expectations have fluctuated during these ongoing talks about what sort of progress can/will be made on the nuclear issue.  Iranian officials are going to have to start showing what compromise they are willing to make, not on their rights to a civilian nuclear program, but yes, compromise in the form of security assurances and some form of confidence building. Engaging the international community with this nuclear deal would not diminish Iran’s prestige or its standing in the world; but the Iranian government is certainly under mounting pressure whether it chooses to acknowledge it or not.  Further, both sides cannot endlessly withhold some compromise with the other side in these negotiations because of mistrust.

Again, we must bear in mind these talks only began at the start of October, certainly not enough to call it a day on unprecedented negotiations. NSN sums this up neatly in their piece: “Diplomacy a Process, Not a One-Shot Deal”

Even if this nuclear deal had already been accepted by Iran, that would only be a part of a broader set of arrangements that need to be made in the long term–agreements for robust transparency and monitoring, for one thing–not the end game. The process should not be derailed by the difficulties of achieving progress on this first step of what will be an ongoing, long-term commitment for all parties to the negotiations.

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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