- AIPAC and Friends Explain Themselves
- Crisis over Crimea steals thunder from AIPAC conference
- Kerry at AIPAC: US Will Never Fail Israel
- Netanyahu: ‘I think it’s time to recognize a Jewish State. We’ve only been there 4000 years.’ (Video)
- Israel must make tough choices for peace, Obama says
- Mark Regev: ‘Israeli’s want peace more than anyone else’
- AIPAC divisions more pronounced than ever
- Israel Lobby AIPAC Down, But Not Out – Yet
- Zionist Movement: How AIPAC is severing its historical roots, and weakening its influence
- AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 (Video)
- Is Elliott Abrams Hoping to Succeed Abe Foxman at the ADL?
- ‘NY Times’ and ‘LA Times’ run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
- The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility
- Business boycott: Israelis feeling the pinch
- Sourcewatch: American Israel Public Affairs Committee
A resolution to the nuclear dispute with Tehran, should current diplomatic efforts fail, “is likely to involve military action,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
“I’m not predicting that we would take military action right away,” Harf said. “It’s more of a broad statement that, look, if we can’t get this done diplomatically in six months or a year or at any time, we will – we are committed to resolving it. And that involves less durable and, quite frankly, riskier actions.
[...] Asked by The Jerusalem Post which the administration considered more likely if diplomacy does not achieve a comprehensive solution in a time frame agreed upon by world powers – war or additional sanctions – Harf responded: “I’m not saying in six months we’re going to go to war if we don’t get a deal done. Broadly speaking, the alternative to resolving this diplomatically is resolving it through other means.
“There are only a few scenarios that come out of this: Either we resolve it diplomatically or we resolve it a different way,” Harf continued.
“It’s just common sense that that different way could involve – is likely to involve military action.”
- Kerry Threatens to Attack Iran If Deal Violated
- Iran’s IRGC commander dismisses U.S. military threat
- JINSA Split on Iran Deal, Urges U.S. Support If Israelis Attack
- U.S. official: Iran considers Saudi Arabia, not Israel, its enemy
- Iran Ambassador Cancels Potentially Historic Event, State Department Blamed
- Top Israel Lobby Group Loses Battle on Iran, But War Not Over
- Iran’s top clergy back Rouhani’s nuclear approach
- Netanyahu: Iran’s stance on centrifuges means there can be no permanent accord
- Interim nuclear deal allows Iran to continue centrifuge research
- Iranian official on nuke deal: ‘We did not agree to dismantle anything’
Comments by Iraqi Deputy PM for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani have fueled new speculation about an imminent challenge to Saudi Arabia’s stranglehold on OPEC and by extension the global oil market.
Shahristani revealed that Iraq is planning to triple its capacity for crude oil production by the end of the decade, and is working with its neighbor Iran to boost export capacity as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
The goal is for the two nations to have so much excess capacity that they can compete with Saudi Arabia as a source for “flex production,” key to controlling the global price.
The Obama administration intensified efforts on Thursday to counter what officials called a misimpression that the six-month nuclear agreement withIran had opened the door to new economic opportunities with the country, emphasizing that nearly all sanctions remained in force and warning businesses not to engage in any deals still pending after the accord’s July 20 expiration.
As if to punctuate the administration’s assertion that little had changed, the Treasury Department announced what it described as a landmark $152 million settlement with Clearstream Banking, a Luxembourg-based banking subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Börse securities exchange, for having allowed Iran to bypass sanctions through the use of the company’s access to the American banking system.
“Today’s action should serve as a clear alert to firms operating in the securities industry that they need to be vigilant with respect to dealings with sanctioned parties,” Adam J. Szubin, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which helps to police compliance with American sanctions, said in a statement announcing the settlement.
The administration has been facing increased criticism from supporters of strong sanctions against Iran who contend that the six-month deal — which went into force on Monday [January 20th] and was devised to allow time to negotiate a permanent accord — had given the Iranians far more in economic benefits than what its provisions had specified or intended.
- The truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal
- Documentary: Israel, Vanunu and the Bomb
- Avner Cohen: Israel and the Bomb
- Israel has 80 nuclear warheads, can make 115 to 190 more, report says
- Jimmy Carter: Israel ‘has 150 nuclear weapons’
- Khan Job: Bush Spiked Probe of Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove, BBC reported in 2001
- Why is the U.S. okay with Israel having nuclear weapons but not Iran?
- Netanyahu: Iran has spent $160 billion on nuclear weapons drive
The very same week the interim nuclear deal with Iran went into effect, a diplomatic fiasco surrounding the Syrian peace talks underscored how little Western officials think has changed, and that Iran still occupies the position of “hostile power” for them.
Early last week, the focus was on getting partial ceasefires to slow the Syrian Civil War, and Iranian involvement would’ve been a major boost to that effort. The UN did the “reasonable” thing and invited Iran.
What followed was a total rethink of the talks and 24 solid hours of threats, before Iran was summarily disinvited and the US started insisting the whole point of the Syria talks was regime change and condemning the idea of partial ceasefires as a “distraction.”
Iran remains irked at being invited and uninvited like that, Russia is also angry since the whole point of the talks seems to be changing, and the UN is trying to insist none of this is their fault, and that they just assumed Iran was ready to impose a regime change ousting a close ally and replacing them with a pro-US government.
Sen. Bob Corker has proposed the idea of scheduling a vote on Iran sanctions six months from now, after the interim nuclear agreement has run its course, instead of voting on sanctions right now.
Corker said Thursday that he had suggested the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during a closed-door briefing for senators by lead Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman on the implementation agreement with Iran that is due to kick in on Jan. 20, the text of which was released to Congress today. The Senate is mulling a new sanctions bill introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Bob Menendez that is currently stalled pending a vote scheduled by Reid.
“One of the things I posed to the leader was look, why don’t we schedule a vote for July the 21st, that’s six months after the implementation date and if they haven’t reached an agreement that we believe is satisfactory, let’s implement on that day,” Corker, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters after the briefing.
“When you think about it, we could almost have more leverage in some ways for a vote prescheduled right now for July the 21st,” Corker said. “Scheduling a Senate vote the day after in some ways can put even more pressure on the situation.”
The text of an agreement reached Sunday to implement the interim nuclear deal with Iran is not available to the public because the European Union is not releasing it, the White House says.
“The EU is not making the document public,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said on Sunday.
Asked why the document was not being released, EU foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann said that he will “have to ask about that.” Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, was closely involved in the talks in Geneva that brought around the interim nuclear deal.
World powers reached an agreement this weekend to implement the interim deal reached with Iran in November to curtail its nuclear program in return for some sanctions relief; the terms of the deal are now scheduled to begin on Jan. 20. According to Reuters, Iran will receive the first $550 million in now-unblocked funds on Feb. 1.
US President Barack Obama said on Monday it would not be right for Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran now, saying, “Now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work.”
Raising the issue in comments to reporters, Obama said that if Tehran abides by the agreement, “then I have no doubt that it can open up extraordinary opportunities for Iran and their people.”
But if they refuse, he said, then “we are in position to reverse any interim agreement and put in place additional pressure to make sure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, US administration officials lauded the conclusion of technical talks with Iran this weekend, in which international powers agreed after a month of deliberations on how best to implement an interim deal pausing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
The White House on Thursday challenged a group of senators to admit they are working to push the country toward war with Iran, upping the tension between the administration and Senate advocates of tough new sanctions amid nuclear negotiations.
“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”
The “certain members” the White House is referring to are led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who is pushing legislation, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that would tighten sanctions on the Iranian regime despite the ongoing negotiations.
Advocates of a peace deal with Iran warn that toughening sanctions now strengthens the hand of hard-liners in Iran who can argue the U.S. is not negotiating in good faith.
Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap that would let Iran lift oil exports substantially, in defiance of the Western sanctions that helped force Tehran in November to agree a preliminary deal to end its nuclear program.
Three Russian and Iranian sources close to the negotiations said final details were in discussion for a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
“Good progress is being made at the moment with strong chances of success,” said a Russian source. “We are discussing the details and the date of signing a deal depends on those details.”
It is not clear whether the deal would be implemented before the details of November’s nuclear agreement in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, including Russia, are finalized.
Diplomacy with Iran must be backed by military power, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said.
Mr Hagel, speaking in Bahrain, said Washington was committed to maintaining a strong force in the Gulf region.
Iran recently agreed to curb some nuclear activities for six months in return for sanctions relief.
Analysts say Washington’s Gulf Arab partners are worried the US will lose focus on the Middle East as it boosts its presence in Asia.
Mr Hagel told the Manama Dialogue – a regional security forum – the US has more than 35,000 military personnel in the region and would not reduce that number.
- Pentagon: Deal Won’t Change Iran-Centric Military Posture
- Hagel: US to maintain 35,000 troops in Gulf region
- John Bolton: The Only Option in Iran Is War
- Rep. Sherman Favors More Civilian Airline Crashes in Iran
- Eyes on Iran, Navy in Gulf Stays at Ready
- US Military Official: Iran Moves Fighters Off Disputed Island
Iran has quit nuclear talks with world powers, accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, both played down the suspension and said talks were expected to resume soon.
But Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said the US move went against the spirit of the deal struck in Geneva under which the powers undertook to impose no further sanctions for six months in exchange for Iran curbing its controversial nuclear activities.
Tehran was now weighing the “appropriate response”, he said.
- US Adds to Iran Sanctions, Warns Congress Not to Act
- State Dept: Non-nuclear sanctions could be OK
- New sanctions could ‘shatter Western unity’ on Iran, senator says
- U.N. Iran panel chair urges states to keep enforcing sanctions
- Lawmakers press Kerry on new Iran sanctions
- Why New Iran Sanctions Won’t Work
- Senate Iran Sanctions Vote in January At the Earliest
- Senators say they’ll press Iran sanctions as ‘insurance’
- EU imposes fresh sanctions on Iran shipping
- Sanctions Hawks Losing the Plot
Yesterday, a group of high-ranking world leaders met in Geneva and brokered a six-month deal to limit the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These spineless Western autocrats did so in exchange for the removal of several economic sanctions on Iran, believing they have both the power and authority to dismantle the country’s nuclear program and enforce strict IAEA regulations on uranium enrichment.
Given this incredibly unjust though unsurprising meddling from these cowardly foreign governments, The Onion vows to continue the expansion of Iran’s nuclear weapons program for as long as necessary until the operation has been completed. The dream must live on and will live on. And The Onion will make sure it does.
John Kerry hailed a “dramatic” step to “roll back” Iran’s nuclear ambitions on Sunday when America and Tehran overcame decades of confrontation to achieve their first formal agreement for 34 years.
The US secretary of state said this deal “impedes the progress in a very dramatic way of Iran’s principal enrichment facilities and key parts of its programme”.
The “first step” agreement, lasting for an interim period of six months, “rolls back the nuclear programme from where it is today”, said Mr Kerry.
In return, America will ease sanctions, releasing about $7 billion for Iran.
But Mr Kerry’s interpretation of the deal differed from that of Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister. The two men addressed consecutive press conferences between 4.30 and 5.30am in Geneva, at the end of almost five days of marathon negotiations.
- The full text of Iran, P5+1 nuclear deal document
- Iran, P5+1 Reach Deal on Nuclear Program
- Netanyahu says Iran nuclear deal is ‘historic mistake’
- Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal endangers Israel, we will defend ourselves
- FM Lieberman slams deal with Iran: ‘We’re entering new era’
- Deputy Secretary of State William Burns led secret US back channel to Iran
- This Low-Profile British Diplomat Helped Salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal
- Republicans Attack Iran Deal Before It’s Announced
- Senate Leaders Promise New Iran Sanctions After Recess
- UK presses Senate to delay Iran sanctions
- The Red Herring in Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Arak
- State Department Reaffirms Iran Status As State Sponsor Of Terrorism During Nuclear Talks
- White House: Israel’s all-or-nothing proposal on Iran would lead to war
- Ex-defense minister: Israel can’t eliminate Iran threat
- Netanyahu’s estimate for Iran nuclear breakout “Sheer Nonsense”
- Netenyahu: Iran already has enough material for five bombs
- Military option against Iran still active, US envoy says
- Iranian dissidents say Iran has built secret new nuclear site
- Corporate Media’s Deceitful News on Iran and Nuclear Power Issues
Iran’s notorious morality police have been barred from arresting women deemed to be immodestly dressed, as President Hassan Rouhani moved to fulfil an election promise to ease up on the country’s strict Islamic dress code
Mr Rouhani, who has displayed a more moderate bent than his hardline predecessor since taking office in June, has moved to rein in the Gashte Ershad (Guidance Patrol), that has been a trademark of the Islamic Republic since its inception in 1979.
He has ordered the Iranian police to hand over the “modesty project” to the Ministry of Interior, a move interpreted as a relaxation of the restrictive Islamic mores that have long governed personal behaviour, particularly that of women.
Brigadier Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian police, said the issue of how women and men dressed was no longer a matter of law enforcement.
President Obama and the White House have been engaged in a battle in the Senate to block the chamber from passing new sanctions that could derail ongoing negotiations with Iran. The White House has been clear: new sanctions could kill the talks and put the U.S. on a “path to war.”
Groups including NIAC, FCNL, Peace Action, Americans for Peace Now, J Street, and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran have all come out against new Senate sanctions. Groups including AIPAC and Foundation for Defense of Democracies are, as usual, advocating more sanctions. AIPAC even says they will explicitly try to kill a deal.
But it looks like the pro-diplomacy side is winning.
Senators Carl Levin, Christopher Murphy, and Dianne Feinstein have all now come out in opposition to new Iran sanctions, saying they will instead support the ongoing negotiations with Iran. And today, even Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told the BBC today he will not support new sanctions for now, saying, ”I am skeptical of talks with Iran but willing to give the Obama administration a couple months.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed a crucial detail Thursday about last week’s nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva that explains much more clearly than previous reports why the meeting broke up without agreement.
Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”
Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1.
- US Official: ’Quite possible’ Iran, powers can reach nuclear deal next week
- IAEA: Iran Halting Nuclear Expansion Under Rouhani
- Netanyahu ‘unimpressed’ by IAEA nuclear report on Iran
- Iranian FM: Talks doomed if ‘nuclear rights’ not recognized
- Iran tells West wants oil, banking sanctions considered up front
[...] We now know that, in addition to at least one phone call from Netanyahu, according to a report in Israel’s Channel 2 on Sunday, Fabius also was called by Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of the French Parliament representing French citizens living in southern Europe, including in Israel, and threatened a Netanyahu attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Habib, who is also deputy of the Jewish umbrella organization in France, is known as a longtime Likud Party activist and friend of Netanyahu who has been considered the Israeli prime minister’s personal representative in Paris,according to Haaretz.
“If you don’t toughen your positions, Netanyahu will attack Iran,” the report quoted Habib as telling the French foreign minister. “I know this. I know him.”
The foreign minister of an independent state normally would bristle at such open diplomatic extortion by threat of force. But the French government has had the most pro-Israel and anti-Iran policy of any European state ever since Nicolas Sarkozy replaced Jacques Chirac as president in 2007. Despite the shift from the Center-Right Union for a Popular Movement government of Sarkozy to the Socialist government of Francois Hollande in 2012, that policy has not shifted at all.
Unlike the United States, where the pro-Israeli influence is exerted through campaign contributions coordinated by AIPAC, in France the presidency has nearly complete control over foreign policy. A small group of officials has shaped policy toward Iran and Israel for the past six years. The people who are now advising Fabius on Iran are, in fact, the same ones who advised Sarkozy’s foreign ministers Bernard Kouchner and Alain Juppe. “There is, in the ministry of foreign affairs, a tightly knit team of advisers on strategic affairs and non-proliferation which has played a major role in shaping the French position on Iran over the years,” a knowledgeable French source told Truthout. The direction the group has taken French policy generally has coincided with that of the neoconservatives in the United States, according to close observers of that policy.
At the center of that tight-knit group is the former French ambassador to the United States during the George W. Bush administration, Jean-David Levitte. He was appointed diplomatic adviser to Sarkozy in 2007. Levitte, who has been called by some the “real foreign minister” of France, has family ties to Israel and Zionism. His uncle, Simon Levitt, was co-founder of the Zionist Youth Movement in France.
This was not the first time that France has played a spoiler role in international negotiations on the Iran nuclear issue. Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, recalls in his memoirs how the French delegation came to the October 2009 meeting with Iran in Vienna on a “fuel swap” proposal armed with “scores of amendments to our prepared draft agreement.” In that case as well, it appeared that the French role was to ensure that there would not be any agreement.
- Robert Harneis: ’US, France playing good cop-bad cop in Iran talks’
- ‘Israel will attack Iran if you sign the deal, French MP told Fabius’
- Netanyahu urges France not to weaken on Iran talks
- How France Scuttled the Iran Deal at the Last Minute
- Iranian MP: France derails N-talks for Saudi arms deal
- After Reportedly Being Offered Saudi Weapons Sales, France Tries to Blow Up Iran Deal
Iran’s top negotiator said on Tuesday that a framework deal with world powers on its nuclear program was “possible this week”, although it would not be a disaster if there were a further delay.
Iran resumes negotiations in Geneva on Thursday with six world powers known as the “P5+1″ – the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany. The talks are aimed at ending a standoff over the nuclear program, which Western powers suspect may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Iran’s denials.
“I believe there is a lot of work to be done. We have made some progress, but there is a great deal of mistrust in Iran concerning the attitude, behavior and approach of some members of the P5+1,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told France 24 television during a visit to Paris.
“If we don’t make a breakthrough at this round, it’s not a disaster.”
- U.S.-Iran Poised for Breakthrough on Hostage Crisis Anniversary (IPS)
- Iranian hardliners mark 1979 hostage crisis anniversary with huge protests (Guardian)
- Diplomats: Iran, Israel attended Middle East nuclear meeting (Reuters)
- UN’s atomic agency mulls Tehran invitation (Al Jazeera)
- ‘West may offer Iran cash for halting nuclear program’ (Times of Israel)
- Potential nuclear deal would allow Iran to keep some nuclear facilities (Al Jazeera)
- Iran Supreme Leader Warns Hardliners: Don’t Undermine Nuclear Talks (Antiwar)
- US promises to consult with Israel on any Iran deal (Times of Israel)
- Obama paying ‘lip service’ on Iran strike option, says top MK (Times of Israel)
- AIPAC: No Pause in Lobbying for Iran Sanctions (Antiwar)
- House to Senate: Get moving on Iran sanctions (The Hill)
- Panetta: US may have to use military force against Iran (Jerusalem Post)
- Iranian Kurd leader says West shouldn’t be fooled by Rouhani (Reuters)
[...] Before the Islamic Revolution, thousands of Israelis, mostly diplomats and businessmen, sought and found their fortunes in Iran. A gripping documentary, by Dan Shadur and Barak Heyman, tells this “untold story of the Israeli paradise in Iran.”
“Before the Revolution” reminds viewers that there used to be daily El Al flights connecting Tehran with Tel Aviv; that there was an Israeli school in the Iranian capital — one of only two outside Israel; and that some Israelis made so much money in Iran in a few years that upon their return they could afford to buy large houses in fancy Tel Aviv suburbs without mortgages. Over 8mm video footage from the 1970s, the 54-minute film quotes Israelis saying their years in Iran were “the happiest times in our lives.” They recall Purim parties in Tehran that “felt like Tel Aviv.” Former kibbutzniks talk of suddenly having maids to cook and clean for them.
“Before the Revolution” — which is now being screened at film festivals, was shown on Israel’s YES satellite TV, and will hit international television screens later this year — does not ignore the more dubious aspects of Israel’s close ties with the dictatorial regime.The film contains some chilling quotes of Israelis who say they were aware of the regime’s human rights abuses (including torture of dissidents) but couldn’t be bothered with that, as they were busy making money and partying in the shah’s splendid palaces. It details the massive arms deals (Yaacov Nimrodi sold the Iranians advanced missile systems and 50,000 Uzi submachine guns). And it depicts a controversial framework of military and intelligence cooperation that likely included helping set up what became Tehran’s rogue nuclear program.
Resolution For War Against Iran Gains Traction In Conservative Wing Of The House (plus other Iran news)
A resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Iran is gaining traction in the conservative wing of the House of Representatives, with over a dozen new co-sponsors signing on in the last two days as the administration presses Congress to lay off new Iran sanctions.
The “United States-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act,” introduced earlier this month by Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, would green-light the president’s ability to use the U.S. military against Iran if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran develops a nuclear weapon.
Thirteen new members of Congress signed on as co-sponsors to the bill this week, upping the total to 28 co-sponsors, including Tea Party stalwarts like Rep. Steve King and Rep. Louie Gohmert.
“We haven’t been pressing it hard yet because we’ve been gone too much of the time,” Franks told BuzzFeed on Wednesday. He called it “encouraging” that new members had signed on to co-sponsor the resolution.
Franks stressed that the bill is not a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and said it is intended to strengthen the U.S. negotiating position in nuclear talks by providing leverage through the threat of force. If passed, the bill would constitute the necessary pre-existing permission by Congress for President Barack Obama to use the U.S. military against Iran.
[...] The bill comes as the White House has been pressuring Congress to delay new Iran sanctions in the midst of a nascent thaw in relations with Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew are meeting with members of the Senate Banking and Senate Foreign Relations Committees on Thursday to ask them to hold off on new sanctions legislation.
- Group Led By Billionaire Sheldon Adelson Pushes Congress To Undermine Iran Talks (Think Progress)
- Despite Iranian Concessions, War Hawks Spread Fear of Deceptive Quest for Nukes (Antiwar)
- Obama Struggles to Sell Congress on Iran Talks (Antiwar)
- U.S. senators seek to cut Iran’s oil sales in half – again (Reuters)
- White House meets Jewish leaders to press for delay in new Iran sanctions (Al Monitor)
- Nuclear chief says Iran will keep enriching to 20% (Times of Israel)
- Israel’s premier tells visiting Nigerian president that nuclear armed Iran threatens Africa (AP)
- Dick Cheney: Military action against Iran may be inevitable (Washington Times)
- GOP Megadonor’s ‘Nuke Iran’ Comments Highlight Links To Influential Think Tank (Think Progress)
- Israelis, Saudis Just Getting Started in Opposing U.S.-Iran Detente (IPS)
- US Won’t Ease Sanctions Early in Iran Negotiations (Antiwar)
- EU may re-impose sanctions on Iran ship line despite court order (Reuters)
Before striking any deal with Tehran, the Obama Administration will have to gauge whether a country where hostility toward the U.S. has been a core political theme since 1979 is acting in good faith. That could be a hard notion to swallow, given that some Iranian leaders still call America the Great Satan, and that Iran still celebrates the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran with a national holiday.
…it’s worth considering some of the reasons why Iran bears such animus toward America, and why cutting a deal with the U.S. won’t be easy for Tehran either. Many of those reasons have to do with the basic Islamic fundamentalist philosophy of Iran’s clerical leaders, to be sure. But as the nuclear talks move forward, it’s worth remembering that the U.S. bears some blame for the poisoned state of the relationship between the two countries.
Consider the way Bill Clinton — then seeking a thaw with Iran — once put it. “It may be that the Iranian people have been taught to hate or distrust the United States or the West on the grounds that we are infidels and outside the faith,” Clinton said in April 1999. “I think it is important to recognize, however, that Iran … has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations. And I think sometimes it’s quite important to tell people, ‘Look, you have a right to be angry’” at things the U.S. has done.
In June of last year, an American college student walked into the Apple store in Alpharetta, Georgia, to buy an iPad, chatting with her uncle in Farsi. The store clerk asked what language they were speaking, then refused to sell the young woman an iPad, citing U.S. sanctions against Iran … although there is no law that prohibits U.S. companies from selling to U.S. citizens of Iranian descent. There was an outcry from the Iranian-American community, denouncing the incident as ethnic profiling.
But the story goes much deeper. Iranian-Americans, who are allowed under U.S. law to send money to elderly parents in Iran, cannot find any bank in the United States or Europe that will wire the funds. Charities that raised money for emergency relief in response to the devastating 2012 earthquake in northern Iran were turned down by dozens of banks as they tried to send the funds to Iran — even though they had a license from the U.S. Treasury Department. Iranians attempting to download software, such as Adobe Acrobat or MacAfee AntiVirus, find the websites blocked. Pharmaceutical companies with contracts to sell medicine and medical equipment to Iran — quite legally — find that no shipping company will carry these goods, and no bank will accept payment from Iran.
The result is that Iranians who want to pay their children’s college tuition abroad, or Iranian-Americans who want to send money to elderly relatives, have to carry suitcases with tens of thousands of dollars across borders. The most effective medicines to treat cancer and AIDS, which are manufactured only by Western pharmaceutical companies, can no longer be gotten within Iran. Ordinary commerce, as a matter of necessity, is now deeply dependent on the international criminal network in order to function at all.
This has come about because the sanctions on Iran are designed to cripple its entire energy sector, all of its imports and exports, and access to the international financial system. And the U.S. enforcement has been so aggressive that companies do not want to risk even legal business transactions with Iran. The results have been devastating for the Iranian population, triggering a collapse of industry, skyrocketing inflation, and massive unemployment. As the rich and politically-connected prosper under sanctions, Iran’s middle class has disappeared, and even access to food and medicine has been compromised.