DES MOINES – (CPM News Services, Jan. 18, 2012) A delegation of 16 Iowans representing nine organizations -- led by the Catholic Peace Ministry -- met in Senator Tom Harkin’s office today to plead for Mr. Harkin to go public promoting diplomacy with Iran.

The plea was delivered to Harkin’s staff in a climate of growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, where public officials, including the current and former Secretaries of Defense, the former head of the Joint Chiefs, and other military and public officials from the United States and Iran, warn against the catastrophe of war.

“We are disappointed Senator Harkin would join the 100-0 vote on January 4, 2012 to put sanctions on Iran that former US officials like Gary Sick liken to an act of war,” said Jeffrey J Weiss of the Catholic Peace Ministry. [Weiss is a former peace education director for AFSC Iowa.]

He directed his comments to Tom Buttry, a member of Harkin’s staff in Washington D.C. who spoke via teleconference, and Jule Reynolds, staff person in the Des Moines office....

Dr. David Drake, who has traveled to Iran, followed up with a letter written by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Iowa chapter. (A key contributor was Dr. Maureen McCue of the University of Iowa). Dr. Drake, who speaks on Iowa Public Radio about health issues, said two countries surrounding Iran -- Israel and Pakistan -- possess nuclear weapons and Iran might feel under threat. He said that physicians in his organization think the U.S. should concentrate on healing the environment and the needs of humanity, instead of starting another war.

Other organizations represented at this event included Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, The Strategic Arms Control PAC (STARPAC), The Methodist Federation for Social Action, the Plymouth Congregational Peace and Social Justice Committee, Veterans for Peace Chapter #163, the Catholic Worker, and the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting.

Eloise Cranke, MFSA organizer and retired AFSC regional director, noted segments of the Methodist Church considered war as incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus....

[Sherry Hutchison, a Friend from Des Moines, read part of a paragraph from a joint statement by the Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran and The Virginia Defender newspaper, dated Nov. 7, 2011: "The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering a new sanctions bill that would, for the first time in U.S. history, forbid the president or any member of his administration to talk with a representative of another country, in this case Iran, without prior Congressional approval..." Sherry commented that this would probably be unconstitutional, given the separation of powers. She referred to another statement in the article that Iran was producing enriched uranium for power plants, but that much more highly enriched uranium was needed for bombs, and there was no evidence that Iran was producing that.]

Harkin’s staff member, Tom Buttry, defended the Senator’s vote on January 4 and said that Harkin opposed war with Iran. He was told, however, by these Iowans that is not enough....