As negotiators from Iran and six major powers struggle to ink a nuclear deal this week, covert CIA agent-turned-novelist Valerie Plame Wilson is taking to social media from her Santa Fe home to promote an agreement as an alternative to armed conflict.

“Holding my breath for a deal,” Plame Wilson tweeted to her 16,800 Twitter followers on Monday, before negotiators announced they were close but needed more time. She added a link in the tweet to a New York Times article about new high-tech tools that would help inspectors charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program if a deal is struck.

“The alternative to not doing this deal with Iran is war,” Plame Wilson said in an interview Tuesday. “This is really crucial. I believe if this deal isn’t struck, we will see a nuclear Middle East.”

Before she was outed as a CIA operative during the George W. Bush administration Plame Wilson said, “I was consumed by operations, security, recruiting — the nuts and bolts of stopping, preventing and delaying nuclear programs. I wasn’t looking at it from this much broader perspective. I’m involved in a different way now.”

On Facebook, Plame Wilson posted a 10-minute video called Diplomacy, a funny, if disquieting, look at the role translators play in negotiating deals between nations.

She posted photos on Facebook of herself with Argo actor Farshad Farahat and actress Natasha Lyonne of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, both of whom are making video advertisements with her to promote the nuclear disarmament goals of the nonprofit Global Zero — whose stated goal is a nuclear-free world by 2030.

The Iran nuclear deal is a step in that direction, according to advocates.

Plame Wilson has worked with Global Zero since 2009. She’s also on the board of Ploughshares Fund, a public foundation that gives grants to nuclear disarmament groups, including Global Zero.

Plame Wilson began using Twitter in 2012, and she’s used Facebook since 2013 to outline the spread of nuclear weapons and their threat. She posted an interview she did with Al Jazeera America about nuclear proliferation around the world.

“It is the way to reach, particularly young people. And a way to keep up to date,” Plame Wilson said.

Global Zero estimates there are 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world in nine nations. Most of the weapons are in the hands of Russia and the United States.

Negotiators from Iran and the major powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany) said Monday that a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and providing for international monitoring is close but could take a couple of more days.

Meanwhile, Chairman Ed Royce of the Republican-led House Committee on Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying Congress is ready to review a nuclear deal with Iran if it is signed. He said some of the questions they’ll vet in the deal are: “Did we get anywhere, anytime inspections? Full Iranian transparency regarding its past nuclear activities? No large-scale, immediate sanctions relief; but guaranteed, workable sanctions snap-backs? Meaningful restraints on Iran’s nuclear program that last decades?”

Plame Wilson and others say any deal with Iran isn’t likely to be perfect, but it could pave the way for nuclear disarmament negotiations with other countries and a path to discussing other world problems such as climate change. “We need to start somewhere,” she said.

If Global Zero achieved its goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, it would mean dramatic changes for Los Alamos National Laboratory, which relies heavily on federal funding for stewarding the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Plame Wilson is among a group of people who think the lab needs to shift its focus to other non-nuclear scientific endeavors such as renewable energy development.

Others, from former LANL directors to some nuclear watchdog groups, say changing the lab’s mission will take an act of Congress and won’t be simple or cheap. It will require a complete reinvention of the lab, including retooling the buildings, changing the type of scientists there and undoing a bureaucracy, they say.

Plame Wilson is the author with Sarah Lovett of the novels Burned and Blowback. Fair Game, her autobiography about her time at the CIA, was made into a motion picture.

Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or smatlock@sfnewmexican.com. Follow her on Twitter @StaciMatlock.

Correction: This story originally said there was more than 17,000 nuclear weapons. 

(14) comments

Rick Dumiak

Would Valerie like to buy a bridge?
Come on trust me......
To think that Iran will honor any deal is to believe the tooth fairy is real.....

Jay Coghlan

I have met Valerie Plame a few times, and believe her and her husband Joe Wilson to be utterly sincere about getting rid of nuclear weapons. I consider them to be very valuable allies. So much the better that Plame uses her celebrity status for the cause.

As peacemakers, I can think of no couple who put more on the line trying to prevent the second war in Iraq, given Wilson’s famous op-ed about what he didn’t see in Africa (i.e., George W. Bush’s false claim that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellowcake in Niger). They paid the price for that when Bush operatives vindictively outed Plame as a CIA agent working on preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.

I have been a Ploughshares Fund grantee for eighteen years, and it has never dictated to me. Instead, the Fund frequently seeks my advice, and twice commissioned me for recommendations on countering increasing nuclear weapons budgets. I emphatically refute Mello’s conspiratorial claim that “the Ploughshares Fund had destroyed the disarmament movement in the US by its aggressively top-down, foundation-directed, control of much of the field, which has spread fear, divided natural allies, and lowered the intellectual and moral quality of the field.”

Mello needs to come up with far better evidence for his accusations than anonymous sources. In the meantime, I strongly agree with Valerie Plame’s basic assertion. A good, verifiable nuclear deal with Iran is better than another war that would further destabilize the Middle East.

Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
www.nukewatch.org

Michael Grimler

Again, pie in the sky.

http://bit.ly/1TmBFze,

http://bit.ly/1NUcEZb

I rest my case.

Pat Shackleford

Thanks, Jay, for injecting some reasonable and rational thoughts, in contrast to the babble of rightwing war-mongering rhetoric about Iran, which echoes the hysterical decades-long ranting of Israel's Bibi Nutanyahoo.

Greg Mello

We should also ask what possible role can a Twitter campaign here or anywhere have on the realization of an Iran deal, assuming we knew what it was and thought it was good? It is a bizarre notion, is it not? I think it can be concluded that the authors of these actions near and far don't greatly care about that. It's the spectacle that counts, for fundraising -- and for the youth vote for Hillary, for whom Ms. Plame and her husband have conspicuously also announced their support. Probably the Global Zero organizers do not understand how they are being used.

For Jesse Belcher, yes I have seen that latest report, and I am not much impressed. Dealerting cannot be even thought about unless US - Russian relations are healed, US missiles removed from eastern Europe, prepositioned NATO equipment pulled back, Kiev's shelling of cities halted, and more. The US is really at war with Russia, which is well-understood in Russia but not here.

I was recently in Washington where I met with a senior member of the National Security Council on these issues and will say that the groupthink and self-deception there is very strong indeed. There is no desire for rapprochement or for understanding where Russia is coming from. My plea to bring in realists like former ambassador Jack Matlock fell on deaf ears.

Dealerting and "risk reduction" is not disarmament in any case. The Global Zero report is not about disarmament.

Ronald Ortiz

Really,

You can monitor in all the variables available through technology, the biggest hurdle is whether the powers at be will actually be able to deter the Iranian government from actually stopping all the centrifuges they are using to enrich product to weapons grade material.
And when they discover through technology that this is still an ongoing issue, through diplomacy how will the Administration proceed? Or will they proceed?
The estimate of devices is fairly low. Where can we actually verify that from the 60k plus devices in the 80's were reduced. How as a homogeneous intent world are we able to validate that significant decrease. Even http://www.ploughshares.org/ seems low @ 15,695 and CNN @ 17,135. For the most part retired warheads aren't being counted just because they are scheduled for dismantling.
I commend the effort and the work, it's a goal I pray is achieved but with the lack of honesty from politicians, I feel an effort to identify every device is the 1st goal, technology can save us from technology in this human made atrocity.

Greg Mello

It seems my laptop mousepad decided to post the last comment mid-sentence. Picking up at the last paragraph --

This is important because in the US and in Santa Fe in particular, what appear to be independent efforts often are not. The goals and framing of these issues are often decided on K Street in Washington or on retreats with Democratic Party operatives, or in consultation with the State Department, a process with which Ms. Plame will be familiar and comfortable, even if she is not at the table. The results have been terrible for democracy. A senior analyst in a government agency with long foundation experience recently told me that in his opinion, the Ploughshares Fund had destroyed the disarmament movement in the US by its aggressively top-down, foundation-directed, control of much of the field, which has spread fear, divided natural allies, and lowered the intellectual and moral quality of the field. Academic critiques of the failure of the climate protection lobby under Obama point to the same set of problems. The same process occurred in the environmental movement, as Mark Dowie and others have documented.

If Ms. Plame wants to make a positive contribution she will need to leave the comfortable echo chamber, drop the slogans, and stop being an operative in a field she only very partially understands. Our door is open.

Michael Grimler

Ms. Plame is suffering from the same wishful thinking that our president and his administration does.

I was raised in Saudi Arabia from age 5 to 19. I still speak conversational Arabic. I traveled extensively in the entire region, to include Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

Most of my career has been in antiterrorism and nuclear security for a government agency. I have made it a point to become a subject matter expert in radical Islamic movements, the Shia and Sunni schism, and the myriad tribal and societal bullcrap that has plagued these guys for hundreds of years. While the Sunni and Shia may fight amongst themselves, they both agree that all things non-Muslim must be destroyed, to include the Great Satan (the USA) and the Little Satan (Israel).

I know that the the philosophy of taqqiya is promoted and practiced liberally by everyone, especially those in power.

That said, my personal assessment is that Iran's long-term strategy is being acted out that will mean the eventual destruction of Israel and all things non-Muslim. Radical Islamists are very patient; they don't care that the eventuality may take a generation. But, in their minds, that eventuality will come.

In the short term, we should not trust Iran, period. They have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted. While most of us writing and reading columns like this may not see it in our lifetimes, I do fear for our children and grandchildren.

Finally, Ms. Plame is fooling herself.

Michael Grimler

Ms. Plame is suffering from the same wishful thinking that our president and his administration does.

I was raised in Saudi Arabia from age 5 to 19. I still speak conversational Arabic. I traveled extensively in the entire region, to include Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

Most of my career has been in antiterrorism and nuclear security for a government agency. I have made it a point to become a subject matter expert in radical Islamic movements, the Shia and Sunni schism, and the myriad tribal and societal bullcrap that has plagued these guys for hundreds of years. While the Sunni and Shia may fight amongst themselves, they both agree that all things non-Muslim must be destroyed, to include the Great Satan (the USA) and the Little Satan (Israel).

I know that the the philosophy of taqqiya is promoted and practiced liberally by everyone, especially those in power.

That said, my personal assessment is that Iran's long-term strategy is being acted out that will mean the eventual destruction of Israel and all things non-Muslim. Radical Islamists are very patient; they don't care that the eventuality may take a generation. But, in their minds, that eventuality will come.

In the short term, we should not trust Iran, period. They have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted. While most of us writing and reading columns like this may not see it in our lifetimes, I do fear for our children and grandchildren.

Finally, Ms. Plame is just fooling herself.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Well said, and I too have spent extensive time in those regions and agree that Iran is the last country you should trust about most anything. But Ms. Plame may be fooling herself, or just trying to remain relevant and in the media spotlight (as dim as the SFNM lights are), at least in Santa Fe, about the only place anyone would care what she thinks about this issue.

Greg Mello

Alas, this paper-thin article -- the real subject of which is celebrity itself and the replication of slogans through social media -- says a great deal about this newspaper, devoted as it generally is to style over substance and entertainment over engagement. It is an Orwellian sign of the times.

There is no discussion of what the Iran deal might be, or whether it is good. The whole subject is just a carrier for the fluff, like a glass of beer that's all foam.

Far from attracting young people not directly on the payroll of these top-down organizations, empty slogans dreamed up in board rooms of the powerful do not actually have traction or credibility. Global Zero produced a single good report a few years back but has been flailing since then, despite its vast funding. The contrast between wealth-driven astroturf approaches and the amazing successes of the young experts and citizen diplomats in the International Campaign for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and allied organizations could hardly be more stark. Valerie Plame has essentially no diplomatic experience, by contrast.

This is important because in the US and in Santa Fe in particular, what appear to be independent efforts op-down, foundation-directed activity is the rule various carpetbagging,

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Spot on!

Jesse Belcher

Perhaps you missed the most recent report here: http://www.globalzero.org/get-the-facts/nuclear-risk-reduction from former General James Cartwright. Global Zero has also implemented a grassroots campaign nationwide called Action Corps (as well as in India and Pakistan) to increase awareness and support for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The large majority of these grass roots activists are under 30. There are other excellent organizations that do good work, and Global Zero is one that has, as the name states, global reach. The movement will only continue to grow.

Michael Grimler

All of that is very nice...but, amounts to pie-in-the-sky, rainbows and unicorns.

It boils down to this: Iran is going to do whatever the F they want and are extending a very large middle finger to the world.

They will use all of the empty rhetoric spewing as a means of taking advantage of time to expand their research, hasten development, enter into production, and finalize storage of nuclear weapons for that rainy day when they decide to use them. Or, decide to sell them to the highest bidder in a proxy war. Or, hold The West hostage with the THREAT of using them.

They will soon hold ALL of the cards in this game.

To date, they haven't said or done ANYTHING that leads any sane or reasonable person to believe otherwise. Nor is there any indication they will say or do anything along those lines in the future.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.