Nearly 50 Christian leaders, who collectively represent 28 million Americans, called on the United States and other world leaders to take urgent action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Signers of the Sept. 22 letter to Congress warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would "almost certain[ly]" spark an arms race in the Middle East. The volatile country, known to be the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism, would also likely sell or give nuclear weapons to extremist groups that consider America an enemy, the Christian leaders warned.
"For the world's most dangerous regime to obtain the world's most dangerous weapons is something that neither the United States nor the community of civilized nations can allow," the leaders assert.
Among the prominent names who signed the letter are Pat Robertson, president of Christian Broadcasting Network; Charles Colson, chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries; Johnny Hunt, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.
Former SBC presidents, a representative from Focus on the Family, and presidents of Christian universities are also signers.
The letter was sent a day before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was scheduled to address the United Nations, and two days before the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. With the gathering of key world figures this week, the Christian leaders hope coordinated efforts could be taken against Iran.
Tough actions proposed include a total arms embargo and a cut off of exports of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, from Iran. The economic sanctions would also apply to foreign companies that export, ship, finance or broker refined petroleum products to Iran.
Christian leaders noted that though Iran has large oil reserves, it is unable to refine its petroleum products and is vulnerable to such sanctions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concurred with the Christian leaders, saying that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons it could "bring terrorism beyond our wildest dreams," in an interview on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday morning.
Netanyahu said if the U.N. Security Council doesn't respond to the problem, then leading nations could pressure Tehran with tactics such as importing petroleum products.
Iran, however, claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.