Catalytic Diplomacy
Section 4: Iran: Alternatives to War
After a failed effort in 1995 to make contact with the Iranian Atomic Energy Commission with a view to discussing the avoidance of nuclear weapons, Stone organized a scientific delegation—apparently the first one since the Revolution in Iran—to attend a 1998 conference in Iran on energy. It took eight months to organize this visit and, after another eight months of work, the Iranian Academy of Sciences was induced to send a return delegation. Stone, then President of Federation of American Scientists, introduced the delegation to the National Academy of Sciences, which began a series of exchanges.

Following this success, as shown in the Chapter on "Political Exchange" below, Stone left the Federation, started Catalytic Diplomacy and began working on more official and political exchange. Specifically, he worked on exchange visits of the heads of the National Libraries. As a first step, he invited the Ambassador to the U.N. Mission for cultural affairs to visit Washington; this official, Javad Faridzadeh, was one of the closest advisers to then-President Khatami.

After three years of work, the Iranian Government National Library invites U.S. Librarian James Billington to Iran for a week of exchanges on cultural issues. After another year, Billington travels to Iran. Subsequently, his Iranian host visits America. This exchange is called by some in the press "Ping-Pong with Iran," but nothing comes of it.

When Stone returns to Iran in February 2005, to work on parliamentary exchange, he is unexpectedly denied entry and deported on the fabricated issue that his visa was "not in the computer." It seems that the Supreme Leader's office interpreted Stone's request to see Ayatollah Rafsanjani as an event that might assist in the election of Rafsanjani rather than Ahmdinejad. Stone complains through the press.

Later, as indicated in the Chapter on the Fatwa Failure, Stone tries to persuade the Iranian Government to issue a fatwa against the use of nuclear weapons and to embed this idea in a statute, similar to those being urged by the U.S. Administration on all countries, to bar proliferation. This fails after some interest is expressed, in part because the Iranians were never willing to describe precisely what the fatwa was that they were talking about.

The first trip to Iran is discussed in the Afterword of "Every Man Should Try", pg. 367, but that book was published before the return visit of the Iranian Academy of Sciences delegation was completed in late 1999.

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