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U.S. Religious Leaders Want Increased Pressure On Iran

U.S. Religious Leaders Want Increased Pressure On Iran

U.S. Religious Leaders Want Increased Pressure On Iran

Three American religious leaders are calling for sanctions against Iran because of that nation’s controversial nuclear program. They want to put pressure on Iran to engage in "real diplomacy" on the nuclear issue and to eventually abandon its suspected effort to build nuclear weapons. They say the sanctions would also strengthen human rights efforts there.

The leaders calling for sanctions are Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis. They issued their statement on Monday, 2 November.

This latest call follows a 22 September letter from 50 conservative and religious leaders to President Barack Obama and Congress asking the U.S. government to take quick action against Iran.


This most recent statement urges world governments to sanction banks that work even indirectly with Iran. They also call for sanctions on any company or government that exports refined petroleum to Iran.

They gave a list of 10 reasons for imposing the sanctions, including Iran’s suspected role in world terrorism, the harsh treatment of demonstrators following this year’s election and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.

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One of the three signatories to the statement, Richard Land, earlier called President Ahmadinejad “the potential Hitler of the 21st century.” Like many conservative leaders, Land worries about the Iranian leader's threatening remarks against Israel.

The statement directly accuses Iran of lying about the purpose of its nuclear program. Iran says the program is only for peaceful purposes, but western nations suspect it is really trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

The statement suggests if Iran succeeds in acquiring nuclear weapons, an arms race could ensue in the oil-rich Middle East, perhaps leading to a world war.