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WASHINGTON, May 10 /U.S. Newswire/ — Today more than 200 scholars, academics, commentators, and former U.S. government officials issued a strong condemnation of the threat of U.S. military action against Iran and called on the Bush administration to enter into face-to-face negotiations with the government in Tehran.

In a letter sent to the White House Tuesday evening, the group urges diplomacy to resolve concerns over the development of nuclear materials that have magnified tensions between Iran and the U.S. and global community.

“As the International Atomic Energy Agency has found no evidence of research or diversion of materials toward atomic weapons in Iran, concerns about future dual use of nuclear technology ought to be addressed in face to face negotiations,” write the signatories and supporters, a diverse group of well respected Middle East experts from around the world as well as former U.S. officials and journalists. The letter warns that the likely “catastrophic regional and global consequences of escalating this crisis will not serve the interests of the United States, the course of democratic development in Iran, or the cause of global peace.”

Among the signatories are Professors Juan Cole, Charles Butterworth, Richard Falk, Ervand Abrahamian, Ahmad Sadri, and Noam Chomsky. On Wednesday, several signatories of the letter held a press conference in Washington to answer questions about their position. “We started the letter out of a sense of frustration that the experts in the field were not being consulted as the U.S. develops policy toward Iran,” explained Professor Ahmad Sadri, who coordinated the project. “This is the same mistake the U.S. government made before going to Iraq. We’re saying don’t do that again.”