Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The World Supports the United Nations' Non-Proliferation Agreement with Iran

The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution establishing a
monitoring system for Iran’s nuclear program.
UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz

(The World Reacts, Part II)

American Public Opinion Supports the Deal;
Oklahomans Support the Agreement in Bi-Partisan Fashion;
Here is a Summary of Statements from World Leaders.

"Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."
-- Article iii of the Preamble and General Provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
signed July 14, 2015, by representatives of:
The Russian Federation
The United Kingdom
The United States
European Union (High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and
The Islamic Republic of Iran

By now, everyone knows that representatives of the P5 members of the United Nations Security Council, together with Germany and the European Union, have signed a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The new agreement reinforces previous agreements signed by Iran, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond:
“After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have
reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits
and inspections on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Under the agreement, Iran will grant the International
Atomic Energy Agency access to verify adherence to the
restrictions placed on its nuclear program, giving the
international community confidence that the program is,
and will remain, exclusively peaceful.
“Having reached this important agreement, our focus will
now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure
that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach."
In the moments after the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there was a flurry of news releases and statements from politicians of all stripes who wanted to make their voices heard. Opponents of the deal were lined up outside the doors of the cable TV news rooms, waiting to be interviewed.

Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced the agreement, saying Israel would not be bound by its terms. In Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner opposed the deal, saying, "The president has abandoned his own goals." Donald Trump wasted no time in calling the agreement "an absolutely horrible deal."

Meanwhile, our own Senator James Inhofe released a statement announcing his (not surprising) opposition to the deal. He predicted, “The president’s agreement with Iran will... put the Middle East on the brink of a nuclear arms race."

Observing the way opponents of the deal seized the airwaves to state their viewpoints, Professor Juan Cole used his online soapbox to ask, "Why doesn’t US Media interview Real Allies on American Policy?"

Dr. Cole got us to thinking. We concluded that we should find out what the rest of the world is saying about the non-proliferation deal with Iran. Why not compile a listing of the statements from American friends and allies around the world?

It didn't take us long to realize that a listing like this had already been produced on Wikipedia.

Here are some of the most relevant comments that we found:

"There was a significant worldwide response following the announcement of the agreement. Most countries and international organizations welcomed the agreement...."
--Wikipedia entry on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

The EU's Federica Mogherini
From countries that are parties to the JCPOA

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that "the most important achievement of the comprehensive agreement is that the international nuclear non-proliferation system is safeguarded. It can be said that China had played a unique and constructive role and thus is highly praised and affirmed by all parties. In the next step, there are still many matters to be attended to concerning the implementation of the agreement. China will continuously make new contribution to this end with a responsible attitude."

European Union
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who acted as coordinator for the powers, said it could "open the way to a new chapter in international relations and show that diplomacy, coordination, cooperation can overcome decades of tensions and confrontations" and that it is "a sign of hope for the entire world."

In a Bastille Day speech, French President Francois Hollande praised the deal.... French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde the pact was a "robust agreement" that would last at least a decade, and said that he might visit Iran soon. Both Hollande and Fabius pledged that France would be "extremely vigilant" in the implementation of the agreement.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the agreement was "an important success" of international diplomacy....

Russian Federation
President Vladimir Putin said in a statement: "We are certain that the world heaved a sigh of relief today." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated the accord "will favorably affect the general situation in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf."

United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron applauded the agreement, saying that it would help "make our world a safer place" and that Iran now had a "real opportunity" to benefit economically.

Arab states of the Persian Gulf 

Kuwait -
Sabah bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, congratulated all the nations involved in the negotiations and hoped the deal would lead to stability in the region.

Qatar -
The government welcomed the agreement as a "significant step" toward enhancing regional peace and stability.

Saudi Arabia -
In an official statement Saudi Arabia said that the kingdom has always believed in the importance of reaching a deal regarding Iran's nuclear program that ensures preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and at the same time includes a specific, strict and permanent mechanism for inspecting all sites - including military ones - along with a mechanism for rapidly and effectively re-imposing sanctions in case Iran violates the deal.

The United Arab Emirates expressed hope that the deal would contribute to regional security and stability.

A billboard in Oklahoma City
(Photo from the City Sentinel)
Elsewhere in the Muslim world 

Afghanistan -
Afghan president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, welcomed the agreement as a step toward "consolidation and strengthening of peace and stability in the region."

Egypt -
The Egyptian foreign ministry said the deal will prevent an arms race in the Middle East. The statement expressed hopes that the Middle East can be free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

Iraq -
The Iraqi government applauded the agreement.

Pakistan -
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs "welcomed" the agreement, saying that "reciprocal confidence-building measures ... auger well for peace and security in our region." Former President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed the deal as "a triumph of diplomacy and negotiations over coercion and hostility."

Australia's Julie Bishop
Other countries  

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop endorsed the agreement, saying: "What it has done is [bring] Iran into the international regime of inspections of nuclear programs, and that is a good thing. I think we have to give this comprehensive plan a chance."

Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson stated: "We appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 to reach an agreement. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words. To this end, Canada will continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Iran's compliance with its commitments."

President Juan Manuel Santos applauded the agreement as "another triumph of diplomacy over confrontation" and praised President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for their "courage" in securing the deal.

President Juan Manuel Santos
In a statement, Foreign Minister Børge Brende said: "This historic agreement will benefit the international community, the Middle East and Iran. It will also pave the way for closer political and economic contact with Iran."

The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement, saying that it's an important measure to promote both regional and global security. They also called on the international community to maintain the positive momentum for long-term peace created by the agreement.

Holy See:
The Vatican applauded the deal, saying in a statement: "The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See."

From international organizations

United Nations
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying: "I warmly welcome the historic agreement in Vienna today and congratulate the P5+1 and Iran for reaching this agreement. This is testament to the value of dialogue. ... The United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement."

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the agreement a "historic breakthrough" and stated: "It is critical for Iran to implement the provisions of today's agreement and to fulfill all its international obligations and advance security in the region and beyond."

What About American Public Opinion?

The Washington Post reports:
"Public polls show majorities or pluralities of Americans support the broad strokes of the deal, ranging from 46 to 61 percent. The finding of support for a deal is strikingly robust, with supporters outnumbering opponents across a wide range of question wordings and polling firms."

"...A detailed February survey by the non-partisan Program on Public Consultation found that after reviewing an extensive issue briefing with arguments for and against a deal, more than 6 in 10 Democrats and Republicans supported making a compromise deal rather than increasing sanctions aimed at forcing the nation to give up its entire nuclear program."

The more people know about the agreement, the more they like it. This was confirmed by follow-up surveys in Oklahoma, Virginia and Maryland.

In Oklahoma, more than 7 in 10 registered voters who participated in a "citizens cabinet" exercise favored a binding non-proliferation agreement rather than continued sanctions.

For more information on the survey results, see the PDF report on the Voice of the People website.

When we first wrote about this topic in April (See "The World Reacts, Part 1"), we found that public opinion on the negotiations with Iran was considerably more ambiguous. Now, it appears that public opinion may be swinging in favor of the deal as people learn more about the issues.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mandela at the United Nations

In 1993, Nelson Mandela spoke to the UN
About the Long Struggle to End Apartheid

Here are some excerpts from his remarks:

"We have, together, walked a very long road. We have travelled together to reach a common destination.

"The common destination towards which we have been advancing defines the very reason for the existence of this world Organisation.

"The goal we have sought to reach is the consummation of the yearning of all humankind for human dignity and human fulfilment.

"For that reason, we have been outraged and enraged that there could be imposed on any people the criminal system of apartheid.

"Each and every one of us have felt our humanity denied by the mere existence of this system. Each and every one of us have felt brandished as sub-human by the fact that some could treat of others as though they were no more than disposable garbage.

"In the end, there was nobody of conscience who could stand by and do nothing in the search for an end to the apartheid crime against humanity.

"We are here today to convey to you, who are the representatives of the peoples of the world, the profound gratitude of the people of South Africa for your engagement, over the decades, in the common struggle to end the system of apartheid.

"We are deeply moved by the fact that almost from its birth, this Organisation has kept on its agenda the vital question of the liquidation of the system of apartheid and white minority rule in our country.

"Throughout the many years of struggle, we, as South Africans, have been greatly inspired and strengthened as you took action both severally and collectively, to escalate your offensive against apartheid rule....

"In particular, we are most grateful for the measures that the United Nations... took to isolate apartheid South Africa."

Read his entire speech at:

Taking Root:
The Vision of Wangari Maathai

We're presenting this film as part of our observance of Nelson Mandela Day. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

Admission is free.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey to protect the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy.

We hope you will join us!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrate Nelson Mandela Day with Us

Join Us for a Free Showing of "Taking Root"
on Saturday, July 18th, at the Oklahoma Contemporary

Every year on July 18th — the day Nelson Mandela was born -- the UN observes "Nelson Mandela International Day" in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the global culture of peace and freedom.

Queen's Roger Taylor, Leona Lewis, Annie Lennox, and
Brian May join Nelson Mandela and others before the
concert in London's Hyde Park to celebrate his 90th
birthday in 2008. Credit: Getty Images via the Daily Mail
For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker, and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

In Oklahoma City, we will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela by screening "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai." It's a movie that tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy.

New Day Digital says: "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey...."

We're presenting this film as part of our OKC observance of Nelson Mandela Day. This event is FREE and open to the public. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

How the Day Came About

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July as "Nelson Mandela International Day" -- the only international day recognized by the United Nations that is named for an individual person.

In establishing Nelson Mandela Day, the General Assembly was intentional in recognizing Mr. Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality, and the rights of children and the poor.

In many ways, the life of Nelson Mandela is an example of the highest values of the United Nations.

The General Assembly Resolution explicitly acknowledged "...Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world."

The theme of this year's Mandela Day is Education & Literacy. In a world where knowledge truly is power, education and literacy are the basic building blocks that unlock the gates of opportunity and success.

See our Facebook event page ... https://www.facebook.com/events/410567439150755/

We hope you will add this event to your calendar and join us for our second Annual Mandela Day Film Screening!

See you on Mandela Day ... Bring a Friend!








About "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai"

From New Day Digital

Countering the devastating cultural effects of colonialism, Wangari Maathai began teaching communities about self-knowledge as a path to change and community action. The women of her Green Belt Movement worked successively against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests, and violent political oppression. They became a national political force that helped to bring down Kenya's 24-year dictatorship.

Through TV footage and chilling first person accounts, Taking Root documents the dramatic confrontations of the 1980s and '90s, as the women of the Green Belt Movement confront human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Cinema verite footage of the tree nurseries and the women and children who tend them brings to life the confidence and joy of people working to improve their own lives on their terms.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai captures a world-view in which nothing is perceived as impossible and presents an awe-inspiring, profile of Maathai's unstoppable and courageous thirty-year journey to protect the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy.

We're presenting this film as part of our observance of Nelson Mandela Day. It is a measure of our chapter's commitment to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Saturday, July 18th -- 2pm
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK   73107

Admission is free.

We hope to see you on Saturday!