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.
Israel’s prime minister said Wednesday that the world should not accept what he called a “partial deal” to curb Iran’s nuclear program – just as it is not allowing the Syrian government to keep any of its chemical weapons stockpile.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told America’s chief diplomat that ongoing negotiations with Iran should insist that Tehran end all enrichment on uranium, get rid of any fissile material and close water plants and underground bunkers that he said are only necessary to build a nuclear bomb.
“I think a partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal,” Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the start of what was expected to be a daylong private meeting in Rome.
“You wisely insisted there wouldn’t be a partial deal with Syria,” Netanyahu said. “You were right. If (Syrian President Bashar) Assad had said, ‘I’d like to keep 20 percent, 50 percent, or 80 percent of my chemical weapons capability,’ you would have refused – and correctly so.”
Still, Netanyahu predicted that “we’re very close” to striking a deal with Iran. “And I agree with you that the goal is to get it peacefully,” he said.
- Iran must prove nuclear program peaceful, Kerry says (Times of Israel)
- Livni: Israel, Saudis speaking same language on Iran (Reuters)
- Israeli Intel Minister: Keep the Boot on Iran’s Neck (Foreign Policy)
- Would Israel ‘Go It Alone’ & Bomb Iran Amid Warmed Relations With US? (Antiwar)
- Signs of Rift Between Israel and US Over Iran (AP)
- Netanyahu’s mission: to head off Iran sanctions relief (Reuters)
- Iran FM: Israel seeks to undermine nuclear talks (AP)
- Israeli Intel Minister: Iran Serious About Nuclear Deal (Al Monitor)
- Israel’s calls for a tough stance on Iran are falling on near deaf ears (Haaretz)
- Iran: Israel source of threat to world security (Press TV)
- Netanyahu makes a case for a preemptive strike (Times of Israel)
The Iranian government has reportedly halted the production of 20 percent enriched uranium, by far the highest level enrichment ongoing in the country.
Iran began producing 20 percent uranium in 2010 when efforts to secure fuel for the US-built Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) fell through, and they began to attempt to produce fuel rods for themselves. The TRR provides materially all of Iran’s medical isotopes for nuclear medicine.
Deputy head of the Iranian parliament National Security Committee Hossein Hosseini reported that Iran no longer needs to produce 20 percent uranium because it already has enough to make all the fuel rods the TRR will need for the foreseeable future.
- Iran Talks: Devil Is in the Details (Antiwar)
- Iran sees nuclear talks with powers finishing within year (Reuters)
- U.S. Weighs Letting Iran Keep Nuclear-Enrichment Facilities (WSJ)
- Iran’s deputy FM to Israel Radio: Nuclear deal can ‘open new horizons’ with all nations (Times of Israel)
- Just who Has Been Killing Iran’s Nuclear Scientists? (Independent)
His comments start at 5.20:
“What are we going to negotiate about? I would say ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ …You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK let it go.’ And so there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’”
If you walked into any high school classroom in the United States and asked the students to describe their country’s relationship with Iran, you’d probably hear words like “enemy” and “threat,” maybe “distrust” and “nuclear.” But ask them what the number 655 has to do with it, and you’d be met with silence.
Try the same thing in an Iranian classroom, asking about the United States, and you’d probably hear some of the same words. Mention the number 655, though, it’s a safe bet that at least a few of the students would immediately know what you were talking about.
The number, 655, is a flight number: Iran Air 655. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re far from alone. But you should know the story if you want to better understand why the United States and Iran so badly distrust one another and why it will be so difficult to strike a nuclear deal, as they’re attempting to do at a summit in Switzerland this week.
‘To shoot oneself in the foot (idiomatic): To unintentionally act against one’s own interests. To be the author of one’s own doom.
Some people suffer from what you might call “Unintentional Self-Destruction Syndrome.” It isn’t that they hate themselves: they just seem to constantly say the wrong thing, overreact to some inconsequential remark, get into a fight with a bartender the day before an important job interview. That sort of thing.
Countries can also behave self-destructively. And Israel’s losing battle against Iran’s recent charm offensive is a textbook example of acute USDS. Sometimes it seems as if Israel isn’t just shooting itself in the foot, it’s using a machine gun. Here are the top five times it seems to have done that very thing.’
Editor’s Note: Weapons grade uranium is over 90%, but Iran’s enrichment has never gone past 20%. It is increasingly focused on 3.5% level which is well below theoretical military use levels. As Glenn Greenwald discusses in a link below, Iran have been saying for years that they don’t want nuclear weapons.
A day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the world to press for a halt of all Iranian uranium enrichment, a senior EU diplomat said Western governments are considering allowing Tehran to continue enriching some uranium as part of a possible deal with the Islamic Republic.
The new stance – a reaction to President Hassan Rouhani’s overtures to the West – would mean backtracking on several UN Security Council resolutions calling for a complete halt to all enrichment because of concern this was being done to develop nuclear weapons.
In an interview with Reuters, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said: “I believe part of the game is that if the Iranians prove that whatever they are doing is peaceful, it will, as I understand, be possible for them to conduct it.”
“It’s conditional. It is not a done deal, but nevertheless it is a possibility to explore,” he said. “Thanks to this rapprochement.
How it will look, we don’t know.”
Lithuania holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of this year, giving Linkevicius a closer insight into many internal policy debates.
- US-Iran Ties Improve, But Congress Still Likely to Impose New Sanctions (Antiwar)
- Glenn Greenwald: Brian Williams’ Iran propaganda (Guardian)
- Hardliners in Iran See Latest Diplomacy With US as a False Dawn (The National)
- Iran Guards chief criticises Rouhani-Obama call (AFP)
- Downplaying Diplomacy, Obama Threatens to Attack Iran (Antiwar)
- Iran FM: US Flip Flop on Diplomacy Undermines Trust (Antiwar)
- 76% in U.S. favor negotiations with Iran over nukes (CNN)
- Iraq says Iran’s shift toward West is serious (AP)
- Iran Staggers as Sanctions Hit Economy (NY Times)
- Hassan Rouhani Twitter account deletes Obama tweets (Guardian)
- Protester Lobs Shoe at Iran’s Rouhani (Newser)
Israel has held a series of meetings with prominent figures from a number of Gulf and other Arab states in recent weeks in an attempt to muster a new alliance capable of blocking Iran’s drive toward nuclear weapons, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Wednesday.
According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been supervising a series of “intensive meetings” with representatives of these other countries. One “high ranking official” even came on a secret visit to Israel, the report said.
The report came a day after Netanyahu, in an overlooked passage of his UN speech, noted that shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear program “have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize… that Israel is not their enemy” and created an opportunity to “build new relationships.”
The Arab and Gulf states involved in the new talks have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, the report noted. What they share with Israel, it said, is the concern that President Hasan Rouhani’s new diplomatic outreach will fool the US and lead to a US-Iran diplomatic agreement which provides for “less than the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program.”
- US Faces Pressure From Israel, Saudi Arabia to Rebuff Iran Overtures (Antiwar)
- Israel no longer certain Obama would ever use force against Iran, Likud MK indicates (Times of Israel)
- Israeli PM relieved with Obama assurances US won’t cave to Iran (The Hill)
- Avigdor Lieberman: Israel Should Attack Iran Alone (Gilad Atzmon)
- Israel’s President Peres: All Options Open On Iran (AP)
The Iranian commander of the Cyber War Headquarters has been assassinated by two unidentified assailants on motorbikes, in a mysterious killing that bears the hallmarks of previous assassinations of Iranian officials that most experts suspect Israel of carrying out.
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran. Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile programme have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations.
The last assassination occurred in January of last year, when one of Iran’s top chemists “who worked in the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz” was blown up with an explosive device attached to his car. The incident was met with rising criticism and suspicion of both Israel and the United States. Some even accused the U.S. of being complicit in the killings, which is presumably what prompted U.S. officials to anonymously disclose to NBC News that Israel’s Mossad ordered the assassinations to be carried out by a proxy group, the Iranian dissident group MEK.
Alternatively, CBS reporter Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, a former intelligence correspondent for Haaretz, write in their book “Spies Against Armageddon” that Mossad agents themselves are the ones carrying out the assassinations.
OTHER IRAN/ISRAEL NEWS:
- Iranian FM: Israel can’t kill all our scientists (Ynet)
- Netanyahu: Iranian President Just Like All the Rest (Antiwar)
- Rouhani: Israel ‘Angry’ With New Iran-West Logic (AFP)
- ‘Netanyahu to tell Obama Iran has enough uranium for a bomb’ (Times of Israel)
- Netanyahu vows to rebut Iran’s ‘sweet talk’ (RT)
- Iran top diplomat calls Israel’s Netanyahu a liar (AP)
- Israel was informed of Obama-Rohani call in advance, briefed after (Haaretz)
- Iranian foreign minister: The Holocaust is no myth (Haaretz)
- Iran rejects Israel spy arrest as ‘repetitive scenario’ (AFP)
As a result of over thirty years of intense propaganda against Iran, many are used to a cartoonish image of Iran and its people as extremist fanatics, an image drawn by the War Party and Israel’s lobby in the United States. The Party and the Lobby are interested only in a war with Iran. Thus, the landslide victory of Hassan Rouhani in Iran’s presidential elections of June 14, and his subsequent moderate approach to both domestic and international affairs have surprised many around the world. But, in fact, Rouhani ran on a platform that promised the Iranians a “government of prudence and hope,” which is why he was given a mandate by the people to pursue détente with the West and improve their lives at home.
Ever since his election Rouhani has been busy trying to deliver his promises by resurrecting many “dead corps.” They include Iran’s economy that contracted by more than 5 percent last year because of the crippling sanctions imposed on Iran. His administration has also allowed the politically-active university students that had been expelled over the past several years to enroll again. But, the most important dead corpse that Rouhani has been trying to revive is the United States-Iran relations. During the nationally-televised presidential debates on June 7, not only did Rouhani strongly criticize nuclear diplomacy of the Ahmadinejad administration, but also promised to take a different approach that would allow “the centrifuges to spin and the economy to roll.”
In his first press conference after his election Rouhani promised greater openness over Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “We have to enhance mutual trust between Iran and other countries,” adding, “We have to build trust.” Rouhani has also made wholesale changes in Iran’s nuclear team. He has appointed the highly respected, U.S.-educated diplomat, Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, as the foreign minister and transferred Iran’s nuclear dossier from the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), controlled by the hardliners, to the foreign ministry. Zarif was instrumental in the formation of Afghanistan National Unity government in December 2001, for which he was praised by James Dobbins, the U.S. representatives to the negotiations that led to the formation of the Afghan government. Both Rouhani and Zarif played key roles in the “grand bargain” proposal that Iran submitted to the George W. Bush administration that addressed all major areas of conflict between the two countries. They included opening up Iran’s nuclear program for more transparency, collaborating with the US in Iraq, restraining Hamas and Islamic jihad, and indirectly recognizing Israel. But, the US rejected the proposal.
Rouhani has also removed Saeed Jalili, the hardline chief nuclear negotiator who was secretary-general of the SNSC, and appointed in his place Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a moderate who was the minister of defense in the Khatami administration. He has replaced Fereydoon Abbasi, an officer of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) and the hardline head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) with Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, the moderate former foreign minister who is a MIT-educated nuclear engineer and a former head of the AEOI. The hardline Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been replaced with Reza Najafi, an experienced diplomat who told the IAEA Board of Governors on September 12 that Iran was ready to find ways to “overcome existing issues once and for all.”
President Rouhani is also an expert on Iran’s national security and its nuclear program. He was the Khatami administration’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005 and led the negotiations with Britain, France and Germany (the EU3) that led to the October 2003 Sa’dabad Declaration and November 2004 Paris Agreement. According to two agreements Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program and implemented voluntarily the Additional Protocol of its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. He and Zarif proposed to the EU3 to cap the number of Iran’s centrifuges (that enrich uranium) at 3000, but that was also rejected. The two agreements ultimately failed, even though Iran delivered its part of the agreements because, instead of rewarding Iran, the EU3 demanded more concessions.
- Obama speaks to Rouhani, says Iran nuclear deal possible (CBS)
- Rohani: Obama’s new tone on Iran could ease tensions with U.S. (Haaretz)
- Rouhani calls US a ‘great’ nation in sharp change (AP)
- Iran leader Rouhani gives his nation, and investors, hope that devastating sanctions may be eased (CBS)
- Despite Hawks’ Claim of Greatest Threat, Iran is Very Weak (John Glaser)
- AIPAC Sets Out To Defeat Obama on Iran (MJ Rosenberg)
- Israel: Iran Distracting World From Nuclear Work With Nuclear Talks (Antiwar)
- Stop this obsession with Rohani’s view of the Holocaust (Haaretz)
- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard unveils attack drone (AP)
Iran and the US held their first substantive high-level meeting since the 1979 Islamic revolution on Thursday night at multilateral talks hailed on both sides as a fresh start for nuclear negotiations, raising hopes of a solution to the long running stalemate.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sat next to each other at the seven-nation meeting at the UN headquarters, and lingered afterwards for a bilateral discussion of more than 20 minutes, a breakthrough in a relationship that has been frozen for more than three decades.
The meeting was chaired by the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who said that the parties would meet again in Geneva on 15 October for a two-day meeting aimed at achieving the first real diplomatic progress for several years. Zarif and Kerry said it was possible that the two of them would attend the Geneva meeting.
Ashton said she and Zarif both wanted a deal concluded in an ambitious timeframe and said an agreement could be implemented within a year.
“The discussions were very substantive, businesslike,” Zarif said, adding he hoped a solution could be found in a timely fashion.
Kerry noted a change in tone from Iran saying Zarif was “very different in the vision that he held out with respect to the possibilities for the future. I have just met with him now in a side meeting in which we took a moment to explore a little further the possibilities of how to proceed based on what President Obama laid out in his speech to the general assembly earlier this week,” Kerry said.
“And we’ve agreed to try to continue the process that will make concrete and find a way to answer the questions that people have about Iran’s nuclear program.”
The world waited with bated breath as the day approached: would President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly reflect positively on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” (as the Israelis derisively dub it)? Would the two meet up at a luncheon arranged by Ban Ki-Moon and – gasp! – actually shake hands?
We now know the answers to these two questions: no, and certainly not.
It’s funny how subjective impressions can be. People often hear their hopes rather than what is actually being said: here’s Phil Weiss, over at the militantly anti-Zionist MondoWeiss web site, who sees in Obama’s speech evidence of a “bold opening to Iran,” all but proclaiming the beginning of a new era in US-Iranian relations. On the other hand, here’s Max Fisher over at the Washington Post with a much more sober – and, I would say, more accurate – assessment.
Rouhani never showed up at the luncheon, and therefore the handshake that was supposed to have shaken the world never happened. Maybe he’d had a big breakfast and just wasn’t that hungry – or maybe he lost his appetite after listening to Obama’s speech. I’m betting on the latter.
- Iran’s Rouhani tells UN: we pose no threat to the world (Guardian)
- Israel Minister Criticizes Boycott of Iran Speech (AP)
- Rouhani’s new tune, and Netanyahu’s broken record (Times of Israel)
- Hawks Quick to Spurn Iranian President’s Diplomacy Push (Antiwar)
- No, Sanctions Did Not Prompt Iran’s New Diplomacy (Antiwar)
- Why Economic Sanctions Don’t Work (Stanford University)
- How US Sanctions Starve Iranians (Breaking the Set)
- President Rouhani’s overtures to the west are genuine. Iran voted for change (Guardian)
- Hassan Rouhani: Why Iran seeks constructive engagement (Washington Post)
- Mohammad Khatami: This time, the west must not turn its back on diplomacy (Guardian)
- Iran’s elite military warns of dangers of dealing with U.S (Reuters)
- Agency: Foreign minister to lead Iran’s new nuclear talks team (Reuters)
- Iran’s sole Jewish lawmaker says he will accompany new president on trip to United Nations (AP)
- Rohani tells NBC: We will never develop nuclear weapons (Haaretz)
- Sen. Lindsey Graham to seek authorization for U.S. attack on Iran (Washington Examiner)
- Iran frees 80 prisoners as president heads to UN (AP)
- US denies visiting allegedly missing Iranians (AP)
1. President Obama’s opening lines at the U.N. on Tuesday looked down on people who would think to settle disputes with war. Obama was disingenuously avoiding the fact that earlier this month he sought to drop missiles into a country to “send a message” but was blocked by the U.S. Congress, the U.N., the nations of the world, and popular opposition — after which Obama arrived at diplomacy as a last resort.
2. “It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking.” Actually, it took one. The second resulted in a half-step backwards in “our thinking.” The Kellogg-Briand Pact banned all war. The U.N. Charter re-legalized wars purporting to be either defensive or U.N.-authorized.
3. “[P]eople are being lifted out of poverty,” Obama said, crediting actions by himself and others in response to the economic crash of five years ago. But downward global trends in poverty are steady and long pre-date Obama’s entry into politics. And such a trend does not exist in the U.S.
4. “Together, we have also worked to end a decade of war,” Obama said. In reality, Obama pushed Iraq hard to allow that occupation to continue, and was rejected just as Congress rejected his missiles-for-Syria proposal. Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. Obama expanded, after essentially creating, drone wars. Obama has increased global U.S. troop presence, global U.S. weapons sales, and the size of the world’s largest military. He’s put “special” forces into many countries, waged a war on Libya, and pushed for an attack on Syria. How does all of this “end a decade of war”? And how did his predecessor get a decade in office anyway?
5. “Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11.” In reality, Bruce Riedel, who coordinated a review of Afghanistan policy for President Obama said, “The pressure we’ve put on [jihadist forces] in the past year has also drawn them together, meaning that the network of alliances is growing stronger not weaker.” (New York Times, May 9, 2010.)
6. “We have limited the use of drones.” Bush drone strikes in Pakistan: 51. Obama drone strikes in Pakistan: 323.
The Iranian parliament on Saturday voted to designate the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army as terrorist organizations, IRNA, the country’s state-run news agency, reported.
The CIA and the U.S. Army “trained terrorists and supported terrorism, and they themselves are terrorists,” the parliament said, according to IRNA.
The Iranian parliament said the condemnation was based on “known and accepted” standards of terrorism from international regulations, including the U.N. charter.
The parliament said it condemns the “aggressions by the U.S. Army, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan” and calls on the United Nations to “intervene in the global problem of U.S. prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret jails in other countries,” IRNA reported, quoting a statement from Iranian lawmakers.
The Iranian parliament also decried the CIA’s and U.S. Army’s involvement in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, U.S. involvement in the Balkans, Vietnam and the U.S. support of Israel.
Iranian president Hassan Rohani is reportedly prepared to shutter the Fordow uranium enrichment facility, as part of a possible deal with the United States and Europe.
In exchange, Rohani would seek the removal the harsh economic sanctions facing the Islamic Republic, according to Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine.
According to the Der Spiegel report, Rohani plans to announce his offer before the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for the end of September. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is set to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton next week and give her the details of Rohani’s proposition.
OTHER IRAN NEWS:
- Major Reduction Announced in Iran’s Uranium Stockpile (Antiwar)
- Iran’s Rouhani may meet Obama at UN after American president reaches out (Guardian)
- Iran’s Rouhani says time for resolving nuclear dispute limited (Reuters)
- U.S. Eases Sanctions to Allow Good-Will Exchanges With Iran (NY Times)
- Book Review: A Dangerous Delusion by Peter Osbourne (IPS)
- Iran Praises US on Syria Deal, Calls for ‘Mutual Trust’ (Antiwar)
- Kerry tells Israel that Syria accord is no prelude to Iran deal (Washington Post)
- Iran to take over Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant soon (Press TV)
- World powers to lay off Iran at IAEA (The Peninsula)
- Putin Denies Reports of Plan to Sell Defensive Missiles to Iran (Antiwar)
- Report: Putin to travel to Iran for nuclear strategy talks (Daily Caller)
- U.S. extends Iran sanctions waivers to Japan (Reuters)
- US Sanctions Force Closure of Iranian Opposition Leader’s Website (Antiwar)
- Israeli NGO threatens to sue Facebook for hosting Iranian ministers (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran removes filters from Twitter and Facebook (Guardian)
- Iran’s foreign minister condemns Holocaust (AFP)
- Former Iran hostage crisis spokeswoman named as VP (AP)
- American says Iran keeping him for prisoner swap (AFP)
- Judge: Iran-backed company behind NYC office tower (AP)
- Iran mulls Persian cat as next animal astronaut (AP)
This video was made almost one year ago.
- New IAEA Data: Iran Still Not Close to Israel’s ‘Red Line’ (Antiwar)
- Iran’s President Wishes All Jews A Blessed Rosh Hashanah On Twitter (BuzzFeed)
- Netanyahu, in Rosh Hashanah clip, says Iran nuke ambitions ‘must be stopped’ (Times of Israel)
- Israeli Security Official: Iran Couldn’t Do Much If We Attack Them (Antiwar)
- ‘US pressure nixed Israeli strike on Iran last year’ (Times of Israel)
- Iran moves to sue US over 1953 coup (Al Jazeera)
- Stuxnet Leaks Came Straight From White House, Documents Show (Antiwar)
- Top Iran adviser reaches out to West (AP)
- Sanctions biting but Iran not budging (AP)
- Britain Seeks to Renew Iran Sanctions After Supreme Court Rejection (Antiwar)
- Iran’s oil revenues drop 58 percent since 2011 as sanctions bite (Reuters)
- Tehran, Ankara non-oil trade volume exceed $1.6 billion (Trend)
- Indian oil, foreign ministries to discuss increasing Iran crude imports (Tehran Times)
- Iran’s Khamenei blames outsiders for Middle East’s woes (Reuters)