Support a Nuclear Agreement with Iran

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South Mountain Peace Action has sent the following letter to President Obama with cc's to Senators Menendez and Booker and Congressman Payne. Please copy and email your endorsement of this letter to the three officials at the links above.

[See exchange with Senator Menendez HERE]

The White House Washington DC

November 18, 2014

Dear President Obama,

South Mountain Peace Action of Maplewood and South Orange NJ would like to express its strong support for your efforts to negotiate an agreement with Iran that would assure the world that its nuclear program remains peaceful.

We agree with the president of the Arms Control Association, Darryl Kimball, who endorsed your goals for a nuclear energy agreement with Iran that would:

-- increase international inspections in Iran
-- reduce Iran's enriched uranium stocks
-- prevent Iran from enriching uranium to weapons-grade
-- reduce in half Iran's nuclear enrichment capacity
-- increase the time to about a year that Iran would need to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon -- should it decide to break the agreement.

We agree with Darryl Kimball that such an agreement would be a good deal for America and the world.

Thank you for your efforts to negotiate a realistic, responsible and verifiable agreement with Iran that would make America and the world a safer place.

We are hopeful that such an agreement can be reached by the upcoming deadline of November 24, 2014.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Surovell, Chair
South Mountain Peace Action

Cc: Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, Congressman Payne, Congressman Pascrell.

Attachment: Daryl Kimball's article on the Iran nuclear talks:

A Good Deal in the Making

November 2014

By Daryl G. Kimball

After extending talks on Iran's nuclear program beyond the original July 20 target date, Iran and six world powers are closing in on a long-term, verifiable, comprehensive deal. Such an agreement would block Iran's potential uranium and plutonium paths to nuclear weapons, removing a major threat to international security for many years to come.

Iran and the six-country group -- known as the P5+1 because it comprises the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- have worked out solutions on several key issues, including some that appeared to be intractable just a year ago. They agree in principle that the design of Iran's Arak heavy-water reactor project can and should be modified to drastically cut its output of weapons-grade plutonium and that Iran shall not build a reprocessing facility to separate that material from spent reactor fuel.

Iran is amenable to implementing and ratifying measures that would strengthen International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection authority. With the option of short-notice inspections of undeclared sites under the terms of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement and with regular inspections of Iranian centrifuge workshops, the international community would have the capabilities necessary to promptly detect and disrupt an effort to pursue nuclear weapons in the future, even through a potential clandestine program.

Both sides understand that the ongoing IAEA investigation of past Iranian activities with possible military dimensions will continue after a comprehensive nuclear agreement is reached. At the same time, it is clear that key sanctions, including UN Security Council measures tied to the issue, will not be removed until and unless the investigation is resolved.

The members of the P5+1 agree that the goal is not to extract an admission from Iranian officials that their country engaged in nuclear weapons-related work in the past, but to ensure that the IAEA has sufficient information to determine that no such efforts are taking place now or in the future.

On uranium enrichment, the two sides agree that Iran should limit its enrichment of uranium to normal reactor-grade levels: 5 percent or less of fissionable uranium-235. They agree that Iran's underground Fordow enrichment plant need not be closed, as the P5+1 originally demanded, but shall be limited to a research-only role.

But as the negotiators have stressed, "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." With less than a month before their current Nov. 24 deadline, the two sides still need to hammer out technical understandings and make important decisions on at least two major issues in order to get to "yes."

Until recently, Iran has sought to maintain its current number of operating centrifuges -- approximately 10,200 -- with the option to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity over time to provide fuel for potential new power reactors. The United States and its P5+1 negotiating partners want Iran to cut the current number of operating centrifuges for several years and to disable machines that are installed but not yet operating.

Given Iran's past actions, suspicion over its nuclear intentions is justified, particularly when its uranium-enrichment capacity exceeds its needs on the ground. Iran should be willing to accept a reduction in its enrichment capacity for a period of several years. This capacity could be allowed to expand in the future if Iran's needs for enriched uranium increase.

Reducing Iran's current enrichment capacity by half, combined with a significant reduction in the size of the country's enriched-uranium stocks or removal of those stocks to a third country, would increase the time it would take Iran to produce enough weapons-grade enriched-uranium gas for one nuclear weapon to nine to 12 months or more. That is more than enough time to detect and disrupt any effort to develop nuclear weapons.

In exchange for a significant reduction in Iran's uranium-enrichment capacity, the P5+1 will likely need to agree to allow limited research and development on more-advanced centrifuges. It is unrealistic to expect Iran to agree to a deal that limits it to using only first-generation centrifuges, which are inefficient and unreliable. The agreement can and should put in place verifiable restrictions that block Iran from manufacturing advanced centrifuges for production-scale enrichment for the duration of the comprehensive agreement.

Iran's current practical needs for enrichment are limited, but to assure Tehran that its needs can be met for the duration of an agreement, the P5+1 may also offer nuclear fuel-supply guarantees, including the shipment of several years' worth of fuel for Iran's one operating light-water power reactor, at Bushehr.

To enhance Iran's incentive to meet its nonproliferation obligations under the agreement, the two sides agree that the P5+1 will phase out and later lift nuclear-related sanctions as Iran meets its nonproliferation obligations and the IAEA investigation of Iran's nuclear program is concluded.

Policymakers in Washington and Tehran need to recognize a good deal when they see one. An effective, verifiable, comprehensive P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran is within reach. Such a deal is critical to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and an escalation of tensions in the Middle East, and it is the only way Iran can obtain relief from further international isolation and sanctions.

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Ron Paul's Presidential Campaign is Conservative but Anti-war

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Jon Stewart Skewers the Media for Ignoring Ron Paul Campaign

A Town That's All About Peace
by Erin Hicks

It is a crisp Saturday morning in March. As you walk towards the library, you see people with neon peace signs on their faces and brightly colored T-shirts. At the library, you enter a large room full of talking, laughing people. There are stands and tables everywhere, and even a rock band playing. Find this strange? Well, if you live in Maplewood, New Jersey you wouldn't.

Maplewood Online Discussion Board

To participate in discussions about War and Peace and virtually any other topic under the sun, go to Maplewood and South Orange's discussion board:


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Local Residents Rally, Vigil and Petition Against US War in Syria [ Sept 2013 ]

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Photo by Mary Gallagher

More photos here.

Monday evening of September 9, 2013, on two-days' notice, more than 80 local residents held a candlelight vigil in Ricalton Square calling on Congress to vote No on the authorization for US military action in Syria. The vigil was hosted by South Mountain Peace Action as one of more than 200 vigils coordinated around the country by

The SMPA petition -- calling on Congress to vote No; for the President to refrain from military action and wait for the UN inspectors to complete their mission; and for the US to comply with the UN Charter -- was circulated at the vigil.

Speakers urged the President to refrain from war against Syria and to return to his long-held position that war should only be waged in self-defense or if authorized by the Security Council. Others emphasized the need for the US to address domestic issues rather than intervening in another country's civil war.

Speakers expressed the need to call and email New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez who has endorsed a military attack on Syria and Senator Jeffrey Chiesa, whose position is not known.

Speakers also expressed regret that Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. remained "undecided" on a Syrian attack and that he failed to join 62 antiwar Democrats who sent a letter to President Obama calling for a Congressional vote and for a policy consistent with international law and in compliance with the UN Charter.

The vigil concluded with a moment of silence for those killed and injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

:: Article in Maplewood Patch.

:: The News-Record of Maplewood and South Orange published an article on the rally, vigil and petition:

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Download Flyer

Download MoveOn PDF Poster for Vigil

Download MoveOn Jpeg Poster for Vigil

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At the Maplewood Labor Day rally, South Mountain Peace Action launched a petition "No War on Syria" to the President, New Jersey's senators and Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. opposing war with Syria.

Download the Petition Here

Please download and print out the petition, circulate it and call South Mountain Peace Action chairman Paul Surovell at 973-763-9493 when you're done or by Monday September 9th at the latest, so we can consolidate all the petitions and deliver them to the elected officials.
To volunteer for weekend petition tabling, call 973-763-9493 or email
Also call and email the elected officials (scroll down for contact info)

Article on Rally in Maplewood Patch

Rally Photos by Mary Gallagher

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Dan O'Flaherty addresses crowd.

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Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca addresses crowd.


Tell them: "No US military action in Syria. Observe the United Nations Charter."

Call President Obama: (202) 456-1111

Email President Obama here:


Call Senator Menendez: (202) 224-4744

Email Senator Menendez here:


Call Senator Chiesa: (202) 224-3224

Email Senator Chiesa here:


Call Congressman Payne: (202) 225-3436

Email Congressman Payne here:

UN inspects, US plans to bomb -- AGAIN



Or email the White House here and tell the President to comply with the United Nations Charter and allow the inspections to go on.

NY Times editorial: More Answers Needed on Syria


Source: Huffington Post 08/26/2013 6:16 pm

Hans Blix: Whether Obama in Syria or Bush in Iraq, The US Is Not the World Police

Hans Blix was the chief UN arms inspector for Iraq from 2000-2003. He was also the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997 and Swedish minister of foreign affairs (1978-79). He spoke with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels on Monday, August 26.

Nathan Gardels: Based on your experience, and what you've seen in recent days, do you believe the verdict of the Western intelligence agencies that Assad used chemical weapons is credible and reliable?

Hans Blix: The are certainly in the direction of the use of chemical weapons. Also, the circumstantial evidence points to the Assad regime carrying out the use of such weapons.

However, since the Western powers have asked for United Nations inspections -- and Syria has accepted and inspectors have been put in the field --

we all should wait to see the report of the inspectors before action is taken.

As we've seen before, the political dynamics are running ahead of due process.

Nathan Gardels: An echo of Iraq under President Bush?

Hans Blix: In a way, yes. Then, too, the Americans and their allies asked for inspections for mass destruction weapons. Then, too, they said, "forget it, we have enough evidence on our own to act. We are the world police. Our publics are demanding immediate action!"

I do not go along with the statement by the U.S. that "it is too late" for Syria now to cooperate. That is a poor excuse for taking military action.

Only last March, the West was satisfied with inspections concerning the use of chemical weapons. Why can't they wait again now?

In one month when you have accurate tissue samples we will know for sure exactly which kind of chemical weapons have been used and who possesses such weapons.

Gardels: But now it is President Barack Obama, not George Bush, taking on the role of world policeman?

Hans Blix: Yes. He was the only one, some time ago now, who talked about international legality. I was heartened by that. But now I'm afraid the politics of the moment are pushing him in a direction we've seen before in the United States.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also doesn't seem to care much about international legality. And this time, neither do the French.

As far as they are all concerned, a criminal act has been committed so now they must engage in what they call "retaliation." I don't see what they are retaliating about. The weapons weren't used against them. It should be the rebels who want retaliation.

If the aim is to stop the breach of international law and to keep the lid on others with chemical weapons, military action without first waiting for the UN inspector report is not the way to go about it.

This is about world police, not world law.

Nathan Gardels: Do the Western intelligence agencies know where the chemical weapons are? Are they vulnerable? Can an air attack be effective?

Hans Blix: Well, the Israelis know where they are. But attacking stockpiles with cruise missiles, as I understand it, has the disadvantage that it might spread chemical weapons in the vicinity of any attack.

Nathan Gardels: What are the implications of the U.S. and its Western allies once again taking action without the United Nations? There was Kosovo, then Iraq, then Libya. Now, it appears, Syria will join the list.

Hans Blix: In Kosovo the intervention was based upon NATO approval. This was not enough. I do not think NATO approval is satisfactory in terms of international law. You need to have Security Council approval.

In the Iraq case, the Bush administration did not care at all about the UN. They just went ahead with the British and a few others. They were totally contemptuous of the UN.

I remember that John Kerry, now U.S. secretary of state and who was a senator then, was ridiculed at that time for saying the U.S. should wait for UN inspections and approval of action.

In the wake of the Iraq war, Obama, in his Nobel lecture, also argued that military action should not be taken against other states without UN Security Council approval. That was then, I guess. Now is now.

In Libya, there was a Security Council resolution, but it was very liberally interpreted after the fact, strained from its intent to protect civilians under impending attack to the overthrow of Kaddafi.

Nathan Gardels:
But the Russians and Chinese will never agree to take military action against Syria, so why even try the UN route?

Hans Blix: The Russians and Chinese have said they want "fair and professional inspections" in Syria. The Iranians have also agreed. In this matter they have a serious interest; the Iranians have suffered most in the world from the use of chemical weapons in their war with Iraq during Saddam's time.

They are not condoning the use of chemical weapons by their friends in Damascus.

In my view, it is certainly a possibility that you can achieve world condemnation of Syria in the Security Council -- including from Russia, China and Iran -- if inspections prove the suspicions.

Nathan Gardels: But they will never go along with military action?

Hans Blix: China and Russia will not accept military action. That is true. But let us ask:
"What kind of military action is really possible, and what will it really do?" A cruise missile attack on suspected weapons depots in Syria will mean little, and perhaps nothing.

Remember President Clinton's punitive cruise missile attacks in 1998 on reputed terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and a supposed nerve agent factory in Khartoum in Sudan. The pinpricks in Afghanistan did nothing to stop Al Qaeda. Khartoum turned out to be a total error. It was a pharmaceutical plant.

If military action is all about "punishing" Assad to satisfy public and media opinion without even hearing the UN inspectors report, it will be a sad day for international legality.

Polls find 67% of Israelis support Two-State Solution

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Two December 2012 polls in Israel found 67% support a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps; a demilitarized Palestine; and Jerusalem's Old City administered jointly by the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, with Israel maintaining control of the Western Wall. The polls were conducted by Smith Consulting and the Dahaf Institute for the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.

To read the full poll results: click here: Download file

Congressman Donald Payne 1934-2012

Congressman Donald Payne represented Maplewood and most of South Orange, NJ. Congressman Payne was a sterling fighter for peace and justice, who never forgot his modest roots. He supported many initiatives of South Mountain Peace Action and often took part in our activities. His passing is a great loss to America and the world that has meaning only if we rededicate ourselves to the noble causes of peace and justice that Congressman Payne believed in and worked for.

We extend our deepest condolences to the Payne family.

Click the links below to view Congressman Payne's remarks at SMPA's Be About Peace Day on March 24, 2007.

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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Part 3:

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Petition: Bring the Troops Home, Rebuild the Economy

SMPA launched the following petition at Maplewoodstock on July 9, 2011:


to President Obama, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Congressmen Payne and Pascrell

Bring Our Troops Home and Rebuild America

It is time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, reduce nonessential military programs and redirect the resources saved to rebuild America. In this manner, we urge you to enact military spending cuts totaling $2.3 trillion over 10 years, as provided in the "People's Budget" of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and to use the funds saved for job creation, education, the environment and deficit reduction.

To sign the petition, copy the above and paste it into an email and send to:

Israeli Palestinian Peace Film Series

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Shlomi Ben Yair and Just Vision chmn Bradley Abelow discuss "Budrus" after screening on June 25, 2011 at the Maplewood Civic Center. For more photos click here.

Out of Afghanistan

South Mountain Peace Action calls for the United States to adopt a timetable to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan like the withdrawal timetable in Iraq.

Proposals on how to end the war in Afghanistan:

President's Strategic Review 12-16-10

The Afghanistan Study Group: A New Way Forward

Interview with Matthew Hoh in The Nation 12-17-10

Letter to Pres. Obama by Afghanistan Experts

Human Rights Watch Report on Women in Afghanistan

Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies Report on Women in Afghanistan

"A Citizen's Proposal for Peace in Afghanistan," by SMPA Chair Paul Surovell

Cost of the Wars


United States: $812.0 billion
New Jersey: $41.0 billion
Maplewood, NJ: $152.8 million
South Orange, NJ: 127.9 million


United States: $632 billion
New Jersey: $29.0 billion
Maplewood, NJ: 108.0 million
South Orange, NJ: 90.5 million

Updated April 21, 2013

Source: National Priorities Project
Figures represent expenditures already made.

> Click for US Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Maplewoodstock 2012


Maplewood Memorial Day Parade 2012

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