Vienna: Nobel laureates Williams & Ebadi lead call for "No US missiles against Iran" Print E-mail
 June 9, 2006

Iranian, US women call for peaceful settlement over Iran

Michael Adler

VIENNA --  Iranian and US women's organizations, led by two Nobel peace laureates, called on Thursday for a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis and said that military attacks should be ruled out.

The United States has not ruled out any options, including the use of force, to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

"Military action must be taken off the table," said a joint statement from the women's groups and Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Jody Williams of the United States, who met in Vienna from Tuesday to Thursday.

"As individuals representing NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] from the civil society of Iran and the US, we affirm our mutual respect and call for the reduction of tension and the prevention of armed conflict between our governments," said the statement from the Nobel Women's Initiative.

"Violence is a choice. We call upon our governments to make other choices," the statement said.

"We call upon them to enter into direct and public talks to find a peaceful end to their conflict. The objective of such talks must be to ensure human rights and security for our people."

"We call upon the government of the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran. We call upon the government of Iran to respect human rights, especially those of women," it continued. "Peace and security are linked to women's equality."

Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her efforts to ban landmines, told a press conference: "We felt particular responsibility as women Nobel peace Laureates from Iran and the US to try to add our voices, to have voices of reason to resolve this horrifying crisis through negotiation."

"We have come to recommend that once the Iran-US [crisis] is resolved peacefully. The world needs to see this as a wake-up call to deal with nuclear issues globally, not just through one nation."

She added: "We need to stop glorifying violence and making peace sound like a wimpy response to the world's problem."

She went on to violently criticize the United States.

"The fact that my nation has threatened the possible use of nuclear weapons is immoral, illegal and unconscionable. The only country in the world to use nuclear weapons is the US, the country that declares itself the champion of democracy."

US officials have said that they do not intend to use nuclear weapons against Iran if the crisis comes to blows, although there have been reports of them being considered for use as "bunker busters" to destroy positions hidden underground.

"When my country threatens the use of nuclear weapons I am almost ashamed to be American," Williams said, adding that she used the world "almost" since many Americans were against such attacks.

The United States is offering to meet Tehran in multilateral talks on the latter's nuclear ambitions on condition that the latter halts the enrichment of uranium.

As a precursor to potential talks, the European Union has offered incentives to Iran in return for ended enrichment activities. These are reported to include trade incentives, a commitment to support Iran's nuclear energy program and potential security guarantees but the package has not been made public.

Ebadi voiced surprise at the secrecy. Negotiations should be open, she said. "For this reason I find it interesting and amazing that the discussions, the package ... forwarded to Iran, that nobody knows the content of this package."

In a veiled attack on the US, Ebadi said that the joint statement was a warning to governments "not to misuse the religious beliefs of their people ... not to use the pursuit of democracy as a pretext to attack other countries."

The 2003 peace laureate for her work for women and children added: "Peace is a fundamental human right ... It is the responsibility of governments to respond to this right, to this need of its people."

Ebadi said: "If each government reduces its military expenditures by 50 percent and views these savings as resources for the wellbeing, health and education of its people, then we live in paradise."

Referring to the volatile Middle East region, Williams added: "It is hard to imagine how a region racked by conflict, violence, war waged by the United States and its [military] coalition is going to resolve anything in this world. The only appropriate response is full engagement between the United States and Iran."