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September 6, 2015 6:09 am

National Council of Churches Promotes Iran Deal With Letter and Conference Call Sponsored by J Street and Other Supporters

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

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The National Council of Churches. The organization is promoting the Iran deal. Photo: Facebook.

The National Council of Churches. The organization is promoting the Iran deal. Photo: Facebook.

The National Council of Churches (NCC), along with a number of other Christian institutions in the United States, is supporting the Iran nuclear deal. In addition to promoting a pro-deal letter to Congress prepared by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the NCC co-sponsored a conference call on Aug 27, during which the organization’s General Secretary, Jim Winkler, encouraged 600-plus listeners to call lawmakers to vote in favor of the deal.

Other conference-call sponsors included Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street and Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization.

During the conference call, Marie Herf, senior adviser for strategic communications at the U.S. State Department, expressed gratitude to representatives of faith-based communities  for their support of the deal with Iran.

“It is very heartening and nice to have friends like all of you,” she said. Earlier in the call, she accused opponents of the Iran deal of spreading misinformation about the deal itself.

“There are a lot of misperceptions out there. Our opponents have a lot of money and a lot of egregious falsehoods that they’re putting out there, and it’s hard for us to do it all alone,” she said.

Harf also described opponents of the deal as “advocating for conflict, or all-out war or bombing to resolve this conflict.”

During the question-and-answer period, Harf was asked about a secret agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. In response, she stated, “There are no secret agreements between the IAEA and Iran. There’s no agreements between them that we are not fully aware of in all the details and we have not fully briefed Congress on.”

Harf further explained that in its dealings with countries it inspects, the IAEA negotiates agreements that include a number of “technical secrets, if that’s the right word.”

“These agreements are always kept confidential between the IAEA and that country for very good sensitive technology reasons,” she said. While U.S. officials do not have the piece of paper describing the arrangements between the IAEA and Iran, they do know “every detail” of the agreement.

“Iran allowed and the IAEA insisted on briefing us and all of our P5+1 members on every detail of their technical agreement with Iran,” she said. “So we have every detail on that and we have briefed members of Congress on that.”

One concern about this side agreement that was not addressed during the question-and-answer period is that it allegedly gives Iran the ability to decide where to draw the samples when looking for evidence of nuclear activity. This “self-inspection” regime has prompted some concerns from knowledgeable experts.

On August 20, CNN quoted David Albright, an analyst who has inspected Iran’s nuclear facilities in the past, as expressing concerns over Iran’s ability to self-inspect.

“It’s really not normal, and you have to worry that this would set a bad precedent in the Iran context and in the context of other countries,” said Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security. “I don’t know why they accepted it. I think the IAEA is probably getting a little desperate to settle this.”

Harf was also asked by one of the call’s organizers if Iran can delay inspections of its nuclear sites. She responded that in areas where Iran has declared nuclear facilities, the deal provides daily 24/7 access and transparency.

“So everywhere we know where nuclear activity is happening, we have 24/7 access,” she said.

In areas where there is a suspicion that Iran is engaging in illicit nuclear activity, access can be granted within 24 hours “and at the absolute most, 24 days.” Such a requirement exists nowhere else in the world, Harf said. All other countries being inspected by the IAEA can simply refuse inspection of facilities, she added.

“We thought that was a pretty extraordinary provision,” she said, adding it was the “first time we were able to get a time-bound end to that process.”

There is some question as to whether or not inspectors can get access to a site “at the absolute most” after 24 days, as Harf stated. On July 21The Wall Street Journal published an article by Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby, which stated that the process would likely take as many as 63 or 78 days to play out.

None of these or other concerns were addressed during the conference call. Winkler ended the call with praise for Harf’s presentation.

“It was wonderful tonight to hear Marie Harf speak about the agreement in depth and to answer some questions,” Winkler said. “It certainly helped me. It is really important that we all work together for peace.”

In 2007, Winkler participated in a controversial meeting with then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Council of Churches is an umbrella organization of mainline Protestant and Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States, which, according to Winkler, have a total of 30 million members.

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  • Yale

    >>“It was wonderful tonight to hear Marie Harf speak about the agreement in depth and to answer some questions,” Winkler said. “It certainly helped me. It is really important that we all work together for peace.”

    The clueless leading the willfully gullible. With people of this intellectual stature guiding its elites, it’s no wonder the country is in such a mess.

    • JoeP

      From Churchill’s “The Gathering Storm.”

      “It is my purpose, as one who lived and acted in these days, first to show how easily the tragedy of the Second World War could have been prevented; how the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous…” Right on the money Yale, “the clueless leading the willfully gullible.” What can we do when clueless people like this are, as they eventually will be, found to be wrong, so wrong they’ll get a lot of Israelis killed? Maybe the only thing the NCC understands, the power of money..or lack of when we boycott the NCC and its member churches.

  • Joseph Feld

    No matter how many agreements Iran signs, Iran makes no qualms about its hatred of the Big Satan and the Lttle Satan, ‘Death to America’, ‘Death to Israel’. If Saddam Husein was the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezer, as he claimed to be, then today’s Iranian rulers are the reincarnation of Haman. Israel’s ultimate salvation is in Divine Providence and our worthiness. In these days of intensified Repentence, we must merit both personal Providence and national Providence.

  • Patty

    The NCA does NOT speak for every member of every church, not by a long shot. I am Southern Baptist, my church is against the “deal”. Why give Iran billions of dollars to continue terrorism? What has Iran done to earn the trust of the Christian churches? name ONE thing that IRAN has done to earn trust? They continue to murder innocent people, they have US hostages, they continue to threaten Israel, the US. They are working with Russia to acquire missiles capable of reaching other countries. They are MUSLIMS! Why are Christians supporting terrorism? because they are NOT christians! No God fearing Christian would support murderers! Romans 1: 26-32 explains THESE “Christians”. Go ahead, hide in the dark, support terrorism, the Lord will hold YOU accountable more than anyone because you KNOW his law and refuse to follow it.

  • David

    Why am I not surprised of this support by Orthodox and Protestant churches for (what look like) a new possibility of mass murdering Jews??? Orthodox churches have always been antisemitic (especially the RUssian one) while Protestant chrches…well, have we forgotten the strong support Protestants and Lutherans gave Hitler??

  • Ephraim

    Is anyone really surprised?

  • Abraham

    The National Council of Churches has a long history of supporting radical leftest causes.During the 1960 and 70’s it supported liberation theology movement,Communist cause that was taking place in Latin America and sided with Arabs. Historically it has been anti-Israel.It supported the U.N. resolution that Zionism is racism.It functions as a mouthpiece for left wing ideology. It is not “Christian” in the true sense of the word. It does not adhere to the Bible as its foundation for belief and practice. It gives lip service to what it says it believes in.It is not an Evangelical organization,rather they discriminate against all those who uphold the Bible and those who support Israel.In reality it is an apostate organization of churches that has connection all over the world.

  • nelson marans

    J Street, the favorite of President Obama and George Soros, acts again to try to destroy the Jewish state. With a Muslim student heading its University group, J Street should be called J Traitor.

  • Leslie Klein

    Not all Christians feel the same! Keep in mind many of us have been rallying to keep weapons and funds from reaching Iran. Many of us also know how beloved Israel is too God!