The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 11, 2012

Diverse donors support anti-war on Iran billboards

EDMOND — If you drive north on Interstate 35 near the Britton Road interchange during your daily commute you may have seen it.

Oklahoma activists associated with Americans Against the Next War working to prevent military action or war against Iran are behind three metro area billboards.

They are located in Oklahoma City along I-35 north of Southeast 15th Street on the east side of the road facing north, on I-35 1/2 mile north of Britton Road on the west side of the interstate facing south and along I-40 west of Yukon.

They contain an image of a young girl kneeling at a grave marker. Beside the image are the words “TELL CONGRESS NO WAR ON IRAN.”

During the past decade, Iran has pursued all stages of developing nuclear weapons including mining uranium, converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride, enriching uranium hexafluoride to obtain high-grade fissile material necessary for military use and developing an implosion system needed for the detonation of nuclear devices, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry also cites Iran’s development of weapons systems, primarily medium- and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads to countries in the Middle East, Europe and soon North America.

Iranian “President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad actively endorses chaos, so as to hasten the re-emergence of the ‘Hidden Imam’ and spread true Islamic rule worldwide,” according to an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs backgrounder. “He believes that the Hidden Imam will return only following an apocalyptic war against Israel and the West.”

On March 8, 2010, a report by Haaretz and Reuters quotes Vice President Joe Biden as saying the Obama administration has boosted U.S. defense ties to Israel and will support its ally against any threat from a nuclear-armed Iran.

Iran has denied that it is pursuing atomic weapons and has said the program is for peaceful purposes.

Billboard supporters held a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol. They represented a coalition of churches, organizations and individuals endorsing and funding the project.

Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City, said the coalition, which began meeting earlier this year, hopes its advocacy for non-military solutions to international disagreements will resonate with other war-weary Americans who echo that sentiment and call their representatives in Congress.

Members were concerned that “inflammatory language might justify some misguided military action against Iran by the U.S. or by Israel that could spark a war, dragging the United States into a conflict more catastrophic than the Iraq war,” Batchelder said.

The coalition has encouraged caution and reason on all sides to give non-military strategies time to have the desired effects, Batchelder said.

“Another war would be a disaster,” he said, citing the potential economic implications.

Katherine Scheirman, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who was stationed at an air base in Germany that received casualties daily from Iraq, said some of the same “warmongering neo-conservatives” who spoke during the pre-Iraq buildup are doing the same thing today.

“Iran is not a threat to our national security,” she said, noting that the country is isolated and in economic distress.

Israeli leaders have also debated the extent of the Iranian threat. However, on Wednesday, media outlets reported Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, as saying decades of experience has made Iran immune to sanctions.

Americans Against the Next War supporters include Rev. Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists; Bob Lemon, an Oklahoma City philanthropist and human rights activist; John Scripsick, a Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq; state Sen. Constance Johnson; Bill Bryant, president, United Nations Association of Oklahoma City; and Kenneth Meador, Iraq war veteran.

For more information about Americans Against the Next War and a broader list of endorsers, visit www.Americans | 341-2121, ext. 108

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