Three Female Voices

Perhaps, I should have titled this so: With facts and faint voices, three female scholars face a philosophy of imposed fear and falsehood.

On Monday, April 17, 2006, Financial Times published a letter from three female professors of Iranian origin—Prof Haleh Afshar (University of York), Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini (London Middle East Institute) and Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).

We would like to clear a number of misunderstandings about Iran. As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Iran asserts its right under Article IV of the NPT to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The announcement last week of a nuclear breakthrough is part of this right and is intended for peaceful purposes.

Iran has complied with Articles I and II of the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapons, and Article III, where it accepts full safeguards. It has signed the NPT additional protocol and has allowed intrusive inspections beyond what is required by compliance with the NPT. Numerous inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to provide any shred of evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme.

Iran has repeatedly announced that it is committed to replace the course of confrontation with good-faith interaction and negotiations, as equal partner, for a peaceful solution to its nuclear issue. It has stated its commitment to non-proliferation and to the elimination of nuclear weapons, and considers nuclear weapons detrimental to its security.

It has declared its readiness to abide by its obligations under the NPT and to work for the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It has invited the west and the world for cultural and technological collaboration.

The letter points to the disturbing rise in the rhetoric of war against Iran and demonstrates the illogic of that rhetoric. Of course, the lack of any real understanding of Iran among the general population in the U.S. can only make things worse. The U.S. media and political elite have done little to alleviate this problem. The biases against Iran have been kept fresh by the oft-repeated mantra. In the meantime, at the highest levels, silence and other techniques have been used to keep the level of uncertainty high with a full knowledge that a good amount of uncertainty can often impose greater cost than any amount of certainty. Personally, I do not believe any of these strategic or imperial techniques are working. They will ultimately prove to be of little effect compared to the simple notion of attempting a dialogue on an equal footing.

I reproduced the three professors' letter in full elsewhere.

In the meantime, with no apologies, Richard Cohen explains away the spreading of dangerous illogics by praising so-called "judicious" double standards. (Labeling a glaring double-standard in international law as a "judicious" one does not make it so.) I have written about this briefly elsewhere, too.

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