Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) joined with five other senators today to introduce a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s threats to attack cultural sites in Iran and demanding he refrain from violating the laws of armed conflict.
“If Donald Trump follows through on his threat to bomb Persian cultural sites it would be an abomination on the level of what the Taliban did to Buddhist relics in Afghanistan,” Wyden said. “Congress cannot let Trump commit war crimes that further endanger Americans at home and abroad.”
“President Trump’s reckless decision to assassinate General Soleimani has had a wide range of negative effects on the stability of the region and the security of our nation,” said Senator Merkley. “The President’s threats to destroy cultural sites integral to the history of the Middle East—a move that would undoubtedly be regarded as a war crime around the world—is a particularly provocative development in this series of rapidly escalating missteps. Words and threats matter in foreign policy and Congress must stand up against the President’s impulsive and rash escalations so we don’t slide into another war.”
The Senate resolution responds to Trump’s repeated threats on Twitter and in a press conference that the United States would make cultural sites a target of attack if conflict with Iran escalates. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has contradicted the President and said that the Pentagon would not violate the laws of armed conflict by attacking Iranian cultural sites.
The resolution highlights that Article 53 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits any act of hostility against cultural objects, that the destruction of cultural sites violates the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and that the Department of Defense Law of War Manual states that ‘‘[c]ultural property, the areas immediately surrounding it, and appliances in use for its protection should be safeguarded and respected’.
Also introducing the resolution were Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
A copy of the Senate resolution is here.
A web version of this release is here.