Category Archives: Nuclear Iran

America’s Not-So-Ultimate Weapon: Economic Warfare

Paul Pillar writes for The National Interest:

‘The roots and manifestations of American exceptionalist thinking go way back. One of those manifestations is the use of economic measures as a weapon intended to coerce or deny. The specific thinking involved is that such measures employed by the United States, and even the United States alone, should be enough to induce or force change in other countries. The thinking is solipsistic insofar as it centers narrowly on the idea of American will and the exercise of American power and, as too often has been the case, pays insufficient attention either to the other nation’s motivations or to what damage or denial the United States is inflicting on itself.

More than two centuries ago the young American republic made one of its first big attempts at such economic warfare. The Embargo Act of 1807 shut down U.S. overseas trade in an attempt to get the warring European powers Britain and France to respect U.S. neutrality. President Thomas Jefferson’s intentions were honorable in that he genuinely sought neutrality in the European war—unlike so many today who, if they see an armed conflict going on somewhere in the world, believe it necessary for the United States to take sides even if there are bad guys on more than one side. Jefferson also saw the embargo as an alternative to war rather than a prelude to it—unlike many today, who are both sanctions hawks and military hawks.’

READ MORE…

Iran Deal: A Possible Crossroads to Peace

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

Secretary of State John Kerry and his team of negotiators meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his team in Switzerland on March 26, 2015. (State Department photo)The April 2 framework agreement with Iran represents more than just a diplomatic deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It marks a crossroad that offers a possible path for the American Republic to regain its footing and turn away from endless war.

Whether that more peaceful route is followed remains very much in doubt, however, given the adamant opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Sunni Arab allies in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikdoms. Netanyahu continued his denunciations of the deal — saying it would “threaten the survival of Israel” — and no one should underestimate the Israel Lobby’s power over Congress.

But the choice before the American people is whether they want to join a 1,300-year-old religious war in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shiites – with Israel now having thrown in its lot with the Sunnis despite the fact that Saudi Arabia and its cohorts have been supporting Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists.’

READ MORE…

Netanyahu told cabinet: Our biggest fear is that Iran will honor nuclear deal

Barak Ravid reports for Haaretz:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.

The meeting of the security cabinet was called on short notice on April 3, a few hours before the Passover seder. The evening before, Iran and the six powers had announced at Lausanne, Switzerland that they had reached a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and that negotiations over a comprehensive agreement would continue until June 30.

The security cabinet meeting was called after a harsh phone call between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama over the agreement with Tehran.’

READ MORE…

Six Things You Didn’t Know the U.S. and Its Allies Did to Iran

Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Six Things You Didn’t Know the U.S. and Its Allies Did to IranIt’s hard for some Americans to understand why the Obama administration is so determined to come to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear capability, given that huge Iranian rallies are constantly chanting “Death to America!” I know the chanting makes me unhappy, since I’m part of America, and I strongly oppose me dying.

But if you know our actual history with Iran, you can kind of see where they’re coming from. They have understandable reasons to be angry at and frightened of us — things we’ve done that if, say, Norway had done them to us, would have us out in the streets shouting “Death to Norway!” Unfortunately, not only have the U.S. and our allies done horrendous things to Iran, we’re not even polite enough to remember it.

Reminding ourselves of this history does not mean endorsing an Iran with nuclear-tipped ICBMs. It does mean realizing how absurd it sounds when critics of the proposed agreement say it suddenly makes the U.S. the weaker party or that we’re getting a bad deal because Iran, as Republican Sen.Lindsey Graham put it, does not fear Obama enough. It’s exactly the opposite: This is the best agreement the U.S. could get because for the first time in 35 years, U.S.-Iranian relations aren’t being driven purely by fear.’

READ MORE…

Despite Deal, US or Israel Might Still Attack Iran at Any Time

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

A groundbreaking framework agreement today between the international community and Iran has caused most to breathe a sigh of relief, as it seemingly forestalls the calls from hawks, non-stop for decades, to attack Iran.

But has the war been prevented? Not necessarily. Israeli officials, griping about the deal even before it was made, have dialed up that criticism more, and having failed to sabotage the negotiations through lobbying the US Congress, they may look to “veto” the deal by starting a war and assuming everyone will back them.’

READ MORE…

The neocons: They’re back, and on Iran, they’re uncompromising as ever

Jacob Heilbrunn reports for The Los Angeles Times:

If nothing succeeds like failure, then the neoconservatives who championed democracy promotion and regime change against Saddam Hussein are very successful indeed. After the Iraq war went south, the reputations of leading neocons such as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz came into disrepute. But as the Obama administration has worked toward its controversial nuclear deal with Iran, the neocons have once again become the dominant voice on foreign policy in the Republican Party.

Writing in National Review on the eve of the agreement, the historian Victor Davis Hanson declared, “Our dishonor in Lausanne, as with Munich, may avoid a confrontation in the present, but our shame will guarantee a war in the near future.”

Over the last few decades, the neocons, who are mostly based at think tanks and magazines in Washington, have come to constitute a kind of military-intellectual complex. Their credo is as sweeping as it is simple: No compromise is ever possible with America’s foreign enemies. Instead, they are championing a liberation doctrine that allows them to present bombing and invading other countries at will as an act of supreme moral virtue.

Exhibit A is Iran.’

READ MORE…

Iran Has Been Two Years Away From a Nuclear Bomb Since the 1980s

Micah Zenko writes for The Atlantic:

The April 24, 1984, edition of the British defense publication Jane’s Defence Weekly informed its readers: “Iran is engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years, according to press reports in the Persian Gulf last week.” Subsequent warnings from U.S. and foreign sources about Iran’s imminent acquisition of a nuclear weapon have been offered over the past four decades. These false guesses are worth bearing in mind as news from the nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, emerges.

More technical “breakout” estimates—the time it would take Iran to compile enough highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to fuel one nuclear weapon—continue to be published, with slightly varying timelines. Setting aside logic, wisdom, and a huge range of assumptions, if you average these five estimates, Iran would require 89.8 days, or three months, if it made a hypothetical rush for one bombs-worth of HEU.’

READ MORE…

Iran Framework Deal Reached, Talks Aimed at Finalizing Deal by End of June

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

US, German, and Iranian officials have begun confirming early Thursday that the long-sought framework on Iran’s nuclear deal has been reached, with the debate now centering on how much will be made public.

The framework is simply the basis for future talks, which officials say will begin immediately, and the new goal is to have the final agreement in place by the end of June.’

READ MORE…

Why the GOP is Sabotaging the Iran Talks: Interview with Jamal Abdi and Gareth Porter

Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and Gareth Porter, author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, join Thom Hartmann. The deadline has come and gone for a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran – and talks will now stretch into Wednesday. What are the chances the US and its partners actually reach an agreement with Iran? And why are Republicans really so eager to sabotage any rapprochment with the Islamic Republic?’ (The Big Picture)

Why Iran Distrusts the US in Nuke Talks

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes for Consortium News:

The Iranians may be a bit paranoid but, as the saying goes, this does not mean some folks are not out to get them. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his knee-jerk followers in Washington clearly are out to get them – and they know it.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the surreal set of negotiations in Switzerland premised not on evidence, but rather on an assumption of Iran’s putative “ambition” to become a nuclear weapons state – like Israel, which maintains a secret and sophisticated nuclear weapons arsenal estimated at about 200 weapons. The supposed threat is that Iran might build one.

Israel and the U.S. know from their intelligence services that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program, but they are not about to let truth get in the way of their concerted effort to marginalize Iran. And so they fantasize before the world about an Iranian nuclear weapons program that must be stopped at all costs – including war.’

READ MORE…

NY Times Article a Malicious Attempt to Undermine Iran Negotiations: Interview with Former IAEA Director Robert Kelly

‘Robert Kelly says David Sanger in the New York Times claimed Iran had backed off a commitment to ship Uranium out of the country, something that was later refuted by the U.S. State Department.’ (The Real News)

Leading U.S. Newspapers Incite “Supreme International Crime”

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

War op-eds in NYT, WaPoAfter the New York Times printed John Bolton’s “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” (3/26/15; FAIR Blog, 3/26/15), following the Washington Post publishing Joshua Muravchik’s “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option” (3/13/15), veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry made an excellent point (Consortium News, 3/28/15):

If two major newspapers in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the US government and news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,” “criminality,” “madness” and “behavior not fitting the 21st century.”

But when the newspapers are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the target country is Iran, no one in the US government and media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements to murder and violation of international law – are considered just normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.

Advocating for war is not like advocating for most other policies because, as peace activist David Swanson points out, war is a crime.’

READ MORE…

New York Times Accidentally Undermines John Bolton “Bomb Iran” Op-Ed in Own Pages

Jon Schwarz reports for The Intercept:

The New York Times yesterday [March 26th] published an op-ed by the characteristically bellicose John R. Bolton, headlined “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

In an unusual touch, a link added to the original online edition of Bolton’s op-ed directly undermines Bolton’s case for war:

… Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq … can accomplish what is required.

U.S. and Israeli politicians often claim that Israel’s bombing of Iraq in 1981 significantly set back an already-existing Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The truth is almost exactly the opposite.’

READ MORE…

Saudi Ambassador To U.S. Won’t Rule Out Building Nukes

‘The Saudi Ambassador to the United States would not rule out the possibility of the Saudis creating their own nuclear bomb to counterbalance a nuclear-armed Iran in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. “This is not something we would discuss publicly,” Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir said on “The Situation Room.” Later, when pressed, he said, “This is not something that I can comment on, nor would I comment on.” “But the kingdom of Saudi Arabia will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect its security,” he added. “There are two things over which we do not negotiate: Our faith and our security.”‘ (CNN)

Iran FM: Open to 10-Year Partial Freeze on Some Aspects of Nuclear Program

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Just days after it was reported that he had ruled out the nuclear deal along those terms outright, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his nation was in fact open to accepting 10-year limits on certain aspects of their civilian nuclear program.

Zarif didn’t go into detail, saying he was “not prepared to negotiate on the air” during the CNN interview, but seemed to leave open the possibility that the deal was going to be acceptable.’

READ MORE…

Former IAEA Director says No Basis for Netanyahu Iran Claims: Interview with Robert Kelley

Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran: A four-point reality check

Tony Karon and Tom Kutsch write for Al Jazeera:

Thumbnail image for Netanyahu warns Obama nuclear deal would pave Iran’s ‘path to bomb’Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to reject the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and world powers, warning that it would help Iran acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel’s survival. Iran’s regime could not be trusted to abide by any agreement, he warned, and he urged the United States to increase pressure on Tehran until it agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and change its regional behavior.

The White House has long warned that abandoning the current negotiating framework would open a path to war — an argument he rejected. But the Israeli leader’s characterization of the deal and of Iran’s current nuclear efforts have long been challenged by Western governments involved in the talks.

Here is a reality check of four of Netanyahu’s key arguments.’

READ MORE…

The long history of Israel gaming the ‘Iranian threat’

Gareth Porter, author of Manufactured Crisis, writes for Middle East Eye:

Western news media has feasted on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s talk and the reactions to it as a rare political spectacle rich in personalities in conflict. But the real story of Netanyahu’s speech is that he is continuing a long tradition in Israeli politics of demonising Iran to advance domestic and foreign policy interests.

The history of that practice, in which Netanyahu has played a central role going back nearly two decades, shows that it has been based on a conscious strategy of vastly exaggerating the threat from Iran.

In conjuring the spectre of Iranian genocide against Israelis, Netanyahu was playing two political games simultaneously. He was exploiting the fears of the Israeli population associated with the Holocaust to boost his electoral prospects while at the same time exploiting the readiness of most members of US Congress to support whatever Netanyahu orders on Iran policy.’

READ MORE…

This is how a police state protects “secrets”

Marcy Wheeler writes for Salon:

This is how a police state protects "secrets": Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA and up to 80 years on circumstantial evidenceThe participants in the economy of shared tips and intelligence in Washington D.C., breathed a collective sigh of relief when, on January 12, the government announced it would not force James Risen to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. “Press freedom was safe! Our trade in leaks is safe!” observers seemed to conclude, and they returned to their squalid celebration of an oppressive Saudi monarch.

That celebration about information sharing is likely premature. Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.’

READ MORE…

Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling of Leaking to Journalist & Violating Espionage Act

Kevin Gosztola writes for The Dissenter:

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been convicted by a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, of charges brought against him because the government argued he leaked classified information about a top secret CIA operation in Iran to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Sterling’s case was the first case involving an alleged leak to the press to proceed to a full trial in thirty years. The last case involved Samuel L. Morison, a Navy civilian analyst who was charged under President Ronald Reagan for leaking photographs of Soviet ships to alert America to what he perceived as a new threat.’

READ MORE…

‘Coercive diplomacy’ and the failure of the Iranian nuclear negotiations

Gareth Porter writes for Middle Easy Eye:

‘After more than a year of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement by the agreed deadline in July.  They have agreed to continue negotiating, but the failure to meet the deadline was clearly not caused by the lack of time.

To understand why the talks have remained deadlocked, it is necessary to review the Obama administration’s stance on diplomacy with Iran in the context of the long US history of favouring “coercive diplomacy” over traditional negotiations in managing conflicts with adversaries.

Reliance on coercive diplomacy is deeply imbedded in the strategic culture of US national security institutions. It has evolved over decades of US military and economic dominance in international politics, which has allowed the United States to avoid genuine diplomacy repeatedly.’

READ MORE…

Editor’s Note: The below interview with Gareth Porter, author of “Manufactured Crisis:The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” begins at around 16:05

Iran’s Non-Existent Nuke Program: Interview with Gareth Porter

Editor’s Note: Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who specialises on the Iranian nuclear issue. His latest book is ‘Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare‘. The below interview was recorded over two weeks ago. 

Hawks Triumph in Senate; Will Push More Aggressive US Policy

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The Republicans took control of the Senate in Tuesday’s elections, but much more important than which party took control is the nature of the incoming Senators from the new ruling party.

It’s not an influx of Tea Party members, reluctant to waste US funds on overseas adventures and suspicious of federal power, but rather a series of hawks in the model of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) that seized the reins of power last night.

The new senators are typified by Jodi Ernst (R – IA) and Tom Cotton (R – AR), who campaigned heavy on escalating the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria, as well as being more hawkish at essentially every opportunity.”

READ MORE…

The U.S. Government War Against Reporter James Risen

Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler write for The Nation:

‘Ever since New York Times reporter James Risen received his first subpoena from the Justice Department more than six years ago, occasional news reports have skimmed the surface of a complex story. The usual gloss depicts a conflict between top officials who want to protect classified information and a journalist who wants to protect confidential sources. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sterling—a former undercover CIA officer now facing charges under the Espionage Act, whom the feds want Risen to identify as his source—is cast as a disgruntled ex-employee in trouble for allegedly spilling the classified beans.

But the standard media narratives about Risen and Sterling have skipped over deep patterns of government retaliation against recalcitrant journalists and whistleblowers. Those patterns are undermining press freedom, precluding the informed consent of the governed and hiding crucial aspects of US foreign policy. The recent announcement of Eric Holder’s resignation as attorney general has come after nearly five years of the Obama administration extending and intensifying the use of the Justice Department for retribution against investigative journalism and whistleblowing.’

READ MORE…

Iran says nuclear suspicions are ‘fabricated ambiguities’

Frederik Dahl reports for Reuters:

‘Iran dismissed on Tuesday as “fabricated ambiguities” suspicions that it has carried out nuclear arms research, a day after it came under renewed Western pressure to help clear up U.N. watchdog concerns about its atomic energy program. Addressing an annual meeting of the 162-nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), senior official Behrouz Kamalvandi also said Iran was committed to trying to reach a negotiated solution to its decade-old nuclear dispute with the West.

“However, measures such as sanctions or double standard approaches certainly harm the negotiating process and cause further mistrust,” Kamalvandi, vice chairman of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said. He urged world powers – which resumed talks with Iran in New York last week – to take “constructive and realistic approaches” and fully respect Iran’s nuclear rights in order to end what he called an “unnecessary” crisis.’

READ MORE…

Iranian FM: US ‘obsessed’ with sanctions against Tehran

AFP reports:

‘Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused the United States of being “obsessed” with sanctions against his country, on the eve of new bilateral talks on a nuclear deal.

“We are committed to resolving this issue,” Zarif told a Washington think-tank, but he argued the US was “infatuated” with sanctions and Congress was objecting to any deal “because they would have to lift the sanctions.”

“Iran has shown that we will live up to every agreement,” Zarif argued at a discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, just hours before the Iranian delegation was to meet in New York with US counterparts for fresh talks.’

READ MORE…

Israeli envoy: Nuclear Iran ‘a thousand times’ more dangerous than Islamic State

Ron Kampeas reports for The Times of Israel:

‘Saying a nuclear Iran would be a “thousand times” greater threat to the world than the Islamic State, Israel’s ambassador to the United States warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group.

Ron Dermer, speaking Wednesday to guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence in suburban Maryland, also cautioned the US against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade IS.His urgent tone was the latest sign of a split between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over how to deal with Iran’s role in stopping IS, which is seizing swaths of Iraq and Syria.’

READ MORE…

The Geopolitics of World War III

New Sanctions Threaten Iran Nuclear Deal

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj writes for Lobe Log:

‘On Aug. 29 the US Treasury added 28 Iranian individuals and entities to its ever-expanding sanctions list. Expectedly, Tehran denounced the decision. “They are in conflict with the spirit of talks. They are unconstructive in my opinion,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during an Aug. 30 news conference broadcast on State TV. “We should resist such an aggression with all might and power,” he said. “We consider some of the sanctions crimes against humanity.”

This is not the first time the United States has imposed sanctions on Iran since the historic interim nuclear deal achieved between Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany) in November 2013, but Rouhani’s words mark a shift in Iran’s reaction. The Iranian president spent considerable time decrying the sanctions in a harsher tone than ever before. Rouhani was sending a message to the United States.

US sanctions on Iran, which have been consistently expanded by Congress and executive orders since 1997, have become so byzantine that they are hindering the activities of countless businesses, Iranian or multinational. The net of financial sanctions has been crafted with such a tight mesh that even harmless, routine trade is constrained and sanctioned.’

READ MORE…

Iran displays Israeli drone allegedly shot down near nuclear facility

The Jerusalem Post/Reuters reports:

‘The Iranian media released footage Monday of the Israeli spy drone it claimed to have shot down Sunday as it was heading for its Natanz nuclear enrichment site. The Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed Monday that it was working to extract intelligence and data from the drone’s remains. According to an Iranian military official, the drone was a Hermes model with a combat radius of 800 kilometers.

IRGC’s Public Relations Department General Ramezan Sharif was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency as saying that some of the parts of the downed aircraft are working, “and our experts are studying the information and intelligence of these parts. We are now analyzing the information of this plane. The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limits nuclear area in Natanz … but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area,” state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.’

READ MORE…