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.
Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @StaciMatlock.
Correction: This story originally said there was more than 17,000 nuclear weapons.