Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 10:36 am (CNA).- The US must avoid war with Iran and instead pursue dialogue and engagement, the chair of the US bishops’ committee on international justice and peace wrote Tuesday amid escalating tensions between the nations.
“It is my sincere hope that the United States will initiate sustained dialogue with allies, world powers and Iran, in order to deescalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services wrote in a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The US accused Iran of being responsible for explosions which hit two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, which Iran has denied.
The Department of Defense announced June 17 it would deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the area in response to Iran’s “hostile behavior.”
The same day, Iran announced it will surpass the limit on low-enriched uranium to which it had agreed in a 2015 nuclear deal reached under the Obama administration, unless Europe would protect its oil sales.
The nuclear deal had been welcomed by both the US bishops’ conference and the Holy See.
Under the Trump administration, the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran.
Both these factors “seem to have contributed to a pattern of heated rhetoric on the part of both Iran and the United States,” wrote Archbishop Broglio.
“The moves have also exacerbated tensions with close allies and other world powers. For its part, Iran has continued its verbal threats against Israel and the arming of various militia groups in the region,” he stated.
“In the absence of real diplomatic dialogue, military deployments and perceived threats on both sides increase risks of confrontation.”
The archbishop called it “ironic and troubling” that Iran “has threatened to resume some activities that potentially violate” the nuclear deal “in response to sanctions.”
“The Church consistently champions dialogue and engagement as ways to resolve political crises,” he said, recalling that the use of military force is permissible only as a last resort and when there is a probability of success.
“There is little probability that another war in the most volatile region in the world, where the recent and current experiences of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are vivid, will succeed in bringing peace to the region,” Broglio stated. “A different approach is needed. The President’s recent statement that the United States does not seek war with Iran is encouraging.”
Since Broglio’s letter, tensions have only increased.
In the early hours of June 20, a US military surveillance drone was shot down by Iranian forces over the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran claims the drone violated its airspace, while the US claims it was over international waters at the time.
After the drone was downed Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said, “Iran is not seeking war with any country, but we are fully prepared to defend Iran … our borders are our red line.”