By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Local organizations supporting the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers held a public show of support with a demonstration on Friday, May 15 in Oklahoma City.
A peace rally on the four corners of Pennsylvania Ave. and NW Expressway invited drivers to honk in support of “Diplomacy Not War.” The local group Americans Against the Next War (AANW) urges Congress to stand behind the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers.
“Our signs ask drivers to honk to show support for diplomacy not war,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, director of The Peace House and member of AANW, the group sponsoring the demonstration.
The six world powers seeking agreement with Iran include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Germany.
In a 400-25 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 on Thursday, May 14, which was passed the week before by the Senate on a 98-1 vote.
“Just to begin the negotiations, Iran had to reduce its nuclear programs and agree to doubling the numbers of U.N. inspectors in Iran,” Batchelder said. An agreement would ease tensions throughout the Middle East, he said.
The groups obtained a permit for the demonstration to use all four corners at NW Expressway and Pennsylvania Ave., next to Penn Square Mall, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Participating in the demonstration were members of AANW, Amnesty International, The Peace House, and Center for Conscience in Action.
“We invited everyone to join this nonviolent and legal demonstration,” Batchelder added.
According to Batchelder, AANW is a coalition of individuals representing groups committed to peace and non-military actions in the Middle East.
“We have been meeting to take action for four years,” he said. The group has sponsored billboards on I-40 and I-35, as well as submitting letters and opinion pieces to Oklahoma newspapers as well as nationally.”
Iran has been engaged in efforts to acquire the capability to build nuclear weapons for over two decades.
Although it remains uncertain whether Iran will make the final decision to build nuclear weapons, it has developed a range of technologies, including uranium enrichment, warhead design, and delivery systems, that would give it this option in a relatively short time frame.
Iran maintains that its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful. Various states have made efforts over the years to negotiate a settlement with Iran that limits its nuclear program.
“With this agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear programs, comes the possibility of trade, travel, even normalized relations with Iran,” Batchelder said.
“As a precondition of the negotiations, Iran had to reduce its uranium enrichment, reduce its stockpile of nuclear fuel, and agree to doubling the numbers of United Nations inspectors in Iran,” said Batchelder.
Additional works of AANW includes education forums, meeting with decision makers, circulating petitions, and any other education/advocacy actions that further their goals.
“Iran’s nuclear possibilities have already been drastically reduced, and a final agreement will reduce them further,” Batchelder stated. “Congress should be waiting to see the final agreement instead of broadcasting its distrust of the negotiations.”
For more information, visit the AANW website.