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Medea Benjamin: The Peace Movement Must Mobilize to Support Diplomacy in Iran and North Korea

Trump announced Tuesday he is pulling the US out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

President Trump announced Tuesday he is pulling the United States out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, brokered by his predecessor, President Obama. That same day, Trump’s new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to North Korea to finalize plans for President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to hold a landmark face-to-face meeting. For more on President Trump, the Iran nuclear deal and efforts to avoid nuclear proliferation and nuclear war, we speak with Media Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, author of “Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” She has also participated in the peace delegation to North Korea, Women Cross DMZ.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Medea, I wanted to ask you — you were very involved in the peace movement against the Iraq War. I’m wondering what your sense is of what needs to be done now to prevent a further deterioration of relationships between the United States and Iran, and what you think the peace movement should do, especially in light of the fact that some polls show as much as 63 percent of the American people believe the pact with Iran should be maintained.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, that’s right. And we have to mobilize that public opinion, Juan. We’ve put out a letter to the people of Iran, an apology from the American people. We’d like hundreds of thousands of people to sign that. It’s up on the website. We’re reaching out to Iranians as people-to-people ties. We’re also reaching out to our colleagues in Europe to see how we can strengthen their efforts and actually impose sanctions on the United States.

We have to push our Congress to be speaking out against what Trump has done, and change the Congress come November. We have to tell the Iranians and the world community that Trump is hopefully not long to be in the White House, and that we want to get someone in there and people in Congress who will represent the American people, who, as you say, overwhelmingly are in support of the Iran nuclear deal and certainly don’t want another war in the Middle East.

We’ve seen how devastating the last 16 years have been to the people in the region, but also to our own economy. And we see right now, even from what Trump has done, the price of oil going up. And this is going to affect every single American. So we need to mobilize people — left, right, independent — to stop Trump from taking us into war with Iran. And I —

AMY GOODMAN: I want to also — go ahead.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: One last thing, just to say that there will be no solutions to any of the conflicts in the Middle East without Iran. We need Iran to work together to end the violence, the conflicts in the Middle East, in general.

AMY GOODMAN: So, also want to talk about what this means for North Korea, when the president of the United States pulls out of a pact, this multi-country pact with Iran. I want to go back to Trump speaking yesterday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today’s action sends a critical message: The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made. Relationships are building. Hopefully a deal will happen, and, with the help of China, South Korea and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: So, President Trump says, “When I make promises, I keep them.” When the U.S. makes promises, he breaks them. What does this mean, Medea Benjamin, for North Korea? You’ve also been extremely involved in trying to fight for peace on the Korean Peninsula. You were part of Women Cross the DMZ. What message is this sending on the eve of, apparently, this summit that will take place between Kim Jong-un and Trump?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, it certainly sends a message that Trump cannot be trusted. It sends the message to the world community, though, that you are in a better position to negotiate if you already have nuclear weapons, so you better get them quickly.

It also — I think we have to recognize that one of the saving graces around the issues of Korea is the people of South Korea and how much they have mobilized and how much pressure there is from the South to have a deal. I’m on my way to South Korea with Women Cross the DMZ at the end of this month to meet with those groups. And I think, at least in the case of the Korean Peninsula, the North and South, no matter what Donald Trump, are determined to come to a peace deal.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there, as we move on to the primaries that took place in four states around the country, who won and who lost. We want to thank Medea Benjamin. Her book is Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And thank you to Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council. This is Democracy Now! Of course, we’ll continue to cover the fallout from the U.S. pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Stay with us.

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