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’
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
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.
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
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)
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.’”
‘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)
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)
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)
- 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)
With the inauguration of Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, the United States should take a more flexible approach toward Tehran to increase the chances of a successful resolution of the latter’s nuclear programme, according to a new report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) released Tuesday.
The report, “Great Expectations: Iran’s New President and the Nuclear Talks,” urged the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to take a series of measures to enhance the prospects for progress in a likely new round of negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany) next month.
Specifically, the report called for Washington to engage in direct bilateral talks with Iran alongside the P5+1 and to be more forthcoming in the negotiations – by offering greater sanctions relief in exchange for Iranian concessions and describing an “end-state” that would include de facto recognition of Tehran’s “right” to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
It should also widen the scope of discussions between the West and Iran to include regional security issues, according to the report, which called on Washington to end its opposition to Tehran’s participation in any future international conference on Syria.
Finally, the report stressed that imposing new economic sanctions against Iran at such a delicate time is likely to prove counter-productive.
- Iranian schoolchildren to have lessons on hunting ‘alien drones (The National)
- Iran has 18,000 uranium centrifuges, says outgoing nuclear chief (Reuters)
- Netanyahu: Threat from Iran ‘dwarfs’ other challenges (Times of Israel)
- ADL orders YouTube to disable Press TV account (Press TV)
- Ex-official: Iran is world’s 6th missile power (AP)
- Iran Oil Industry Buoyed by New Minister (WSJ)
- Central Bank of Iran saves $6.5 billion in 5 years (Trend)
- Saudi feud too bitter for new Iran president to fix (Reuters)
- Iranian president names female VP (Times of Israel)
- Iran’s Hassan Rouhani pledges ‘slogan-free diplomacy’ (BBC)
- Iran’s speaker tells MPs to stop ‘creating a spectacle’ and tone down anti-Rouhani rhetoric (Bloomberg)
Despite fears the new legislation could thwart hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough in the wake of Hassan Rouhani’s election victory, the lower house of the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the sanctions to further limit the Islamic republic’s access to the global market for its oil exports and punish rebellious customers who continue to buy Iranian crude.
[...] Critics of the bill said tougher sanctions could not have come at a worse time given that Rouhani will be inaugurated on Sunday and has not yet had the chance to compromise. But those who supported the legislation said the new Iranian president would have little say with regards to Tehran’s nuclear policy, which is in the hands of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Tehran’s nuclear trajectory has experienced considerable shifts during previous administrations in Tehran. Under the reformists in 2003, when Rouhani was the chief nuclear negotiator, Iran for the first time agreed to halt its enrichment of uranium and allow more scrutiny of its facilities by international inspectors.
The bill will have to be voted on by the US Senate in September after summer recess and signed by Barack Obama before it comes into effect.
- Senators’ Letter Demands More Iran Sanctions, Blasts Diplomacy (Antiwar)
- AIPAC’s Push To Scuttle Iran Diplomacy (Daily Beast)
- Netanyahu: Rouhani reveals true face sooner than expected (Times of Israel)
- Press TV account still inactive despite YouTube claim (Press TV)
- Rohani Clout in Iran Corridors of Power May Aid Nuclear Deal (Bloomberg)
- Iran’s Rouhani to pack cabinet with old hands (Reuters)
- Iran president’s inner circle has Western accent (AP)
- U.S. sees hope in Iranian president-elect, but still cautious (Reuters)
- Analysts Warn of Iran’s ‘Breakout Capability’ in Effort to Move Red Line (Antiwar)
- Ex-Envoy’s Account Clarifies Iran’s 2003 Nuclear Decision (Gareth Porter)
- Positive Signals Between Iran and U.S. Intensifying (Jim Lobe)