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Divisive Iran Nuclear Treaty

Residents in favor of agreement hold vigil at Eden Seminary

Citizens gather at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves on Sept. 10 in support of a nuclear treaty with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry. photo by Ursula Ruhl

September 18, 2015
The Iran nuclear agreement has become a hot-button campaign issue with denunciations from presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Local residents turned out for a Sept. 10 vigil at Eden Seminary to express support for the Iran deal.

"We don't want to see the Iran deal sabotaged by politics," said Michael Berg, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. "There is no reason now not to have dialogue, diplomacy and an open relationship with Iran to solve conflicts in the region and to stop Iran from its nuclear weapons development.

"Politicians who oppose this agreement need to recall that their leaders strengthened Iran and drove them to a nuclear program," said Berg. "War and the big invasion of Iraq didn't work."

Berg said America will be isolated if it turns its back on the agreement, because it did not negotiate by itself with Iran. Tom McKenzie said he also favors dialogue and diplomacy.

"The best way to solve a problem even a nuclear threat is to start talking and have a conversation," said McKenzie, noting past U.S. diplomacy with the Russians on nuclear weapons. "I don't think God put us on this Earth so we could all kill each other."

Another participant in the vigil at Eden, Nancy Seats of Webster Groves, said politicians who oppose lifting sanctions on trade with Iran as part of the deal are hypocritical. She supports the nuclear treaty negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We overthrew Iran's government and installed a Shah," said Seats. "Iranians have had reason to develop a bomb to protect themselves from us. My heart goes out to the refugees from the Middle East now. We again messed in the internal affairs there, and now the result is all these refugees. That's why we should take them in.

"The sanctions we have had against Iran and Cuba are pretty ludicrous, when we trade with China all the time, which is much more repressive and dangerous," said Seats. "As far as Iran being a renegade nation, who has invaded more countries than we have?"


Attending the Sept. 10 vigil at Eden Seminary are, from left: Michael Berg, Nancy Strauss and Virginia Gilbert. photo by Ursula Ruhl

Sen. Schmitt Reacts

Several state lawmakers are at work on a measure to discourage Missouri businesses from trading with Iran with the lifting of sanctions under the deal. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said he wants to ensure state taxpayer dollars will not go to individuals, businesses and governments that would do harm to America.

"With this initiative, we are going to make clear to Washington that Missouri taxpayer dollars will not be invested with companies that do business with any state sponsor of terror, including Iran," said Schmitt. "In the nuclear agreement, the Obama Administration approved a special deal that would preempt state laws preventing tax dollars from being invested with international entities that fund terror states."

Schmitt's legislation includes a state referendum clause to allow Missouri voters to say "no to investing in state sponsors of terrorism."

"Missourians deserve an opportunity to send Washington a message that their tax dollars should not be funneled to any country that has made 'Death to America' their national slogan and seek to harm and kill our people and the men and women who wear the uniform of our Armed Forces."

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Schmitt has received support for his legislation from House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff; Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin; and House Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee's Summit.

"State sovereignty is under attack and Missouri taxpayer dollars are at risk thanks to President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran," said Cierpiot. "I support Sen. Schmitt's efforts to place on the ballot an initiative to ensure taxpayer money does not directly or indirectly support companies doing business with Iran."

Making Foreign Policy?

Eden vigil participants Berg and McKenzie said they believe state legislators should butt out of meddling with U.S. foreign policy.

"I don't think it's legal for them to start saying what Missouri will agree to in the Iran treaty," said McKenzie. "Legislators can hardly run the state, much less make our foreign policy. Politicians do what they think will get them elected and they seem to thrive on negativity."

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