Human Rights Activists Must Work To Halt Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program, Too / Nazanin Afshin-Jam

In the middle of the unrelenting news coverage of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's provocative visits to Lebanon this week and to the United Nations last month, a highly significant announcement in Washington that signaled a major shift in American policy toward Iran has garnered very little attention.

For the "[first] time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses," declared Secretary of State Clinton when she and Treasury Secretary Geithner announced (between Ahmadinejad's two overseas trips) that the Obama administration put eight Iranian officials on a blacklist for their role in the brutal suppression of anti-government protests following Ahmadinejad's fraudulent re-election last year.

This is very welcome news. I have been among the many former Iranian residents now living in the West who have long been calling on Western leaders to also focus on Iran's flagrant human rights abuses, and not look at Iran only through a nuclear lens.

We human rights activists, by the same token, have to speak out against the Iranian regime's nuclear weapons program, in addition to its oppression of its own people. We must join our cause with the cause of preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

recommended by Darius Kadivar