The organization Americans Against The Next War (AANW) hosted a public “Rally for Peace” on Friday August 28 at the State Capitol South Plaza in Oklahoma City.
With over 200 people in attendance, the event expressed public support for the "Iran & P5+1 Nuclear Agreement."
“Our purpose was to show support for the Iran agreement with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and Germany,” said Hal Spake, member of the sponsoring group Americans Against the Next War. “Those nations are China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the USA, plus Germany."
Spake is a former US diplomat with 22 years of Foreign Service in nine nations.
“The entire United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on July 20 to support the agreement,” Spake added. “It is also endorsed by the National Council of Churches of the USA, which represents some 20 Christian denominations," he said.
"The agreement drastically reduces all of Iran’s nuclear programs, particularly Iran’s capacity to produce material that could be used in a nuclear weapon."
Nashville folksinger Dana Cooper, recipient of the 2015 International Folk Alliance Award, launched the rally in early evening.
Cooper has performed on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage and at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Local music group Starvation Army Band opened for Cooper.
Following the entertainment, prominent Oklahomans spoke out in favor of the Iran agreement, which Congress is slated to approve or disapprove by a vote in September.
Speakers at the rally included Oklahoma Democratic state Reps. Emily Virgin of Norman, George Young of Oklahoma City, Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, and state Senator Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City.
Also speaking was the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Oklahoma City University Rev. Mark Davies, who is also theWimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics at Oklahoma City University, where he is also Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility.
Other presenters were Pastor at New Life Baptist Church Rev. Christine Byrd. President of the Oklahoma City UN Association Priya Desai presented the world view of the United Nations on this agreement.
Peace House director, Nathaniel Batchelder said that the Iran agreement ushers in a new era of better relations, trade, and travel with Iran and the world.
"Seventy percent of Iran's 60 million citizens are young people who do not even remember the hostage crisis," Batchelder said. "The universities in Iran are graduating more women than men, just like the United States," he said.
“Verification of the terms of the agreement is being carried out and managed by inspectors from the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations,” Batchelder added.
“Congress must now vote on whether to support this agreement or reject it, and revert to no agreement and confrontation as most likely to ensure peaceful relations between Iran and the world,” Batchelder said.
The event was co-sponsored by AANW and the United Nations Association Oklahoma City Chapter (OKC-UNA), New Life Baptist Church, The Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC), Oklahoma State University Iranian Student Association, KVOY Radio and Mayflower Congregational Church.
AANW is a coalition of central Oklahoma organizations and individuals. Its members say, according to a recent news release, they are “working for diplomatic and nonmilitary solutions to world situations where U.S. interests are at stake.” Members include many individuals, The Peace House and Center for Conscience in Action in Oklahoma.
AANW has had 26 billboards put up along Oklahoma Highways from Tulsa down to the Texas border. The billboards goal is to show support for the Iran Nuclear Agreement and urge citizens to lobby federal legislators to vote to affirm the deal.