Dear President-elect Trump,
As Iranian-American artists, scientists, business leaders, human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, we all drew a sigh of relief when the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal was reached. To us, it meant ensuring that a disastrous war between the United States and Iran was avoided.
As prominent scientists and arms control experts in the United States and around the world have observed, this was a good deal because it dramatically reduced the chances of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
While the easing of sanctions that resulted from this deal has yet to have a tangible impact on the lives of ordinary people in Iran, it has without a doubt given millions hope that the country’s economy has backed away from the edge of the cliff.
This is precisely why we are worried about any effort to undo this agreement. As you have pointed out, the war in Iraq greatly destabilized the region and needlessly cost both the United States and Iraq dearly in blood and treasure. Instead of the flourishing of democracy that the advocates of that war promised, major parts of the Middle East continue to deal with sectarian violence and brutal suppression of dissent.
We respectfully ask that you not allow the same forces of war and conflict to worsen these already tragic circumstances by raising tensions with Iran.
Despite the fact that millions of Iranians disagree with many of the decisions made by their government, they welcomed the Iran nuclear deal. Furthermore, a majority of them believed that ending the cycle of confrontation with the United States would foster the political space in which they could raise their voices and demand change.
Only an indigenous movement from within Iran can lead to a more open society and a more accountable government. After all, hardliners and authoritarian forces can easily shut down democracy and human rights activism when they can unite the nation behind the threat of foreign aggression.
As we witnessed over the course of the last decade, sanctions and the threat of war only serve to empower Iran’s hardliners while harming ordinary citizens who represent the backbone of any possible positive change.
Abandoning the JCPOA would not only prove that the hardliners in Iran were correct to claim that the United States could never be trusted to uphold its end of any deal, it would also once again put the United States and Iran on the path of war. That would be a disaster for both nations.
More than any other time, the United States and Iran should pursue engagement and dialogue. This will be effective in furthering the cause of democracy in Iran while ensuring that you abide by your promise of reduced foreign entanglements and enhanced national security.
For these reasons, we respectfully request that you choose diplomacy over sanctions and war in your dealings with Iran and uphold the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal.
Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of History, City University of New York
Shohreh Aghdashloo, Actress
Mohammad Aghebati, Artist
Azam Ali, Composer
Yahya Alkhansa, Musician
Reza Aslan, Professor, University of California, Riverside
Narges Bajoghli, PhD, Watson Institute, Brown University
Narges Baniasadi, Vice President, Roche
Abdolali Bazargan, Architect, Author
Asef Bayat, Professor of Sociology, Illinois University
Dara Daraee, Musician
Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling Author
Kamran Elahian, Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners
Zohre Elahian, Managing Director, Global Catalyst Foundation
Farideh Farhi, Affiliate Graduate Faculty, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Filmmaker
Maz Jobrani, Comedian
Tara Kamangar, Musician
Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Professor of Persian, University of Maryland
Ahmad Kiarostami, Co-founder & CEO, Koantum
Mohsen Moazami, Managing Director, Columbus Nova Technology (Venture Capital)
Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, Professor of History, Harvard University
Ebrahim Nabavi, Writer & Satirist, Winner of Prince Claus Award 2005
Ava Nazar, Musician
Shirin Neshat, Artist
Hamed Nikpay, Vocalist, Producer, & Songwriter
Neda Nobari, Nobari Foundation
Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
Hazhir Rahmandad, Associate Professor, MIT
Hamid Rahmanian, Artist
Somaya Ramezani, Architect, Artist
Khodadad Rezakhani, Historian, Princeton University
Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, Filmmaker and Professor, Columbia College Chicago
Melody Safavi, Singer-Songwriter
Mohammadsharif Tabebordbar, Biomedical Scientist, Harvard University
Ramin Loga Torkian, Composer
Caveh Zahedi, Filmmaker
This letter was originally published on Medium