Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Statement on Iran Nuclear Deal

We celebrate the use of creative diplomacy shown in the Iran Nuclear Deal announced Monday that diminishes the threat of war and nuclear proliferation in our world. We applaud the Obama administration for not walking away from the negotiating table, even though many in our country cry for a rejection of the deal, which would surely lead to violent conflict. However, we remain steadfast in our commitment against the expansion of weapons to countries that currently do not have them, and reducing the stockpiles of those who do, and we decry the hypocrisy of the United States' position as it demands that Iran reduce their stockpiles (among other things) even as the U.S. continues to build our own nuclear stockpiles. With hope and continued commitment to peace for all, we pray that this deal be a step toward making the world a safer place by reducing nuclear stockpiles, preventing new nuclear states, and increasing global security.

This news comes just as PPF has recommitted itself to opposing all war, which requires not only opposing any military action but also committing to "not learning war—not learning to think in warlike ways. Instead, it requires learning and practicing nonviolent methods for resisting aggression and injustice." These words from our What We Believe statement ring loudly as we witness this diplomatic resolution that intends to avoid war and nuclear proliferation. It is difficult for many to let go of the idea that this tension with Iran requires military action, but we applaud those in Iran, US, and across the global community who are committed to finding alternatives to war and exemplifying non-warlike ways of thinking and engaging with our sisters and brothers in Iran.

Yet even as we celebrate the ways that the Iran Nuclear Deal exemplifies diplomatic solutions over a more warlike mentality, we continue to reflect on the ways that this deal also highlights the hypocrisy with which the US engages the issue of nuclear proliferation (or the threat of). We come to the diplomatic table demanding that Iran give up all but about 3% of their nuclear stockpiles, leaving them with enough plutonium to use for energy purposes but not enough to create a nuclear weapon. This is a good thing. All the while, though, our own stockpiles--which already contain enough to create thousands of nuclear weapons--continue to grow so much that by some estimates "the US is on track to spend $1 trillion on a new generation of nuclear weapons over the next 30 years." Russia has similar stockpiles, as do other countries that demand that Iran give up their nuclear stockpiles without committing to giving up their own nuclear weapons or stockpiles. This deal is promising, but it also demands that we look globally at the existence of nuclear weapons and stockpiles and threat it poses to all. Until all are committed to abolishing nuclear weapons no one is safe.

Especially for those of us in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which maintains a just war theory as our denominational position on war, we must examine our own mindsets, shaped by our own theology and church policy. These policies shape the way we think and interact with the world, and we must learn to think in new ways, in non-warlike ways. We know that a cultural shift in how we think about war and peace, learning not to think in warlike ways, will take time, but we see the Iran Nuclear Deal as an important lesson in that re-education of our culture. This deal gives us the hope and energy necessary to continue to be peacemakers in our denomination and our world.