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Topic: Iran (Read 218969 times)
Stratfor: Iran's Political Debate
Reply #600 on:
June 03, 2013, 11:38:37 PM »
Iran's domestic pressures came to the fore during the May 31 candidates' debate, the first during Iran's current presidential campaign. The eight candidates vetted by the Guardian Council debated a number of topics relating to the current state of Iran's economy. The candidates raised a number of familiar points -- that Iran must decrease its dependence on hydrocarbon revenues, lessen the large military presence in the economy and expand domestic industrial output and consumption.
While many Western media outlets have touched on what might be considered laughable aspects of the debate -- for instance, the disagreement between candidates and moderators over the format of the debate, or the reasoning behind asking multiple choice questions -- they have overlooked the fundamental reality expressed by the debate: The Islamic Republic of Iran has democratic institutions, and its political dialogue is real. And although framed under the supervisory role of its clerics, Iran's institutions have allowed the Islamic republic to survive and will help it continue to evolve, in stark contrast to the repressive dictatorships and monarchies of its Arab neighbors.
Iran's candidates are in the midst of a campaign that will end with a presidential election on June 14. Sometime in August, Iran's incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will leave office and contemplate his political career from the sidelines for at least four years. This transition of power is significant. The relatively easy transfer of power between popularly elected leaders in Iran is almost unique in the Middle East. Part of this is because the president serves under the Supreme Leader, who serves for life. The current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (himself president under the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini), has seen four presidents take office during his tenure.
The transition from Khomeini to Khamenei was one of the first evolutions of Iran's revolutionary government. In 1989, a decade after the overthrow of the Shah, Iran transitioned from a semi-presidential prime ministerial government to one with an empowered president kept in line by a Supreme Leader. Ahmadinejad has been locked in a bitter power struggle with the Supreme Leader for much of the past four years, yet he has been allowed to remain in office because the clerical establishment is unwilling to risk the public backlash (and threatened exposure of corruption) that would follow the ousting of a popular president.
This highlights one of many paradoxical elements of the Iranian government and its relationship with dissidence. Although foreign media outlets characterized the 2009 election as stolen, Ahmadinejad was and remains a highly popular candidate who likely would win a third consecutive term if he were legally permitted to run again. Still, the violent reaction to the Green Movement protestors and the attempted suppression of the reformist agenda in 2009 cannot be denied. Iran's political system is tailored to manage the idiosyncrasies of the Iranian state, and it is not a perfect facsimile of Western-style democracies.
But many similarities hold true, and the language of this presidential campaign is critical of the outgoing administration, even if the candidates do not have clear policy initiatives of their own. Rather than railing against Israel and against regional Sunni competitors such as Saudi Arabia, or inveighing against the foreign policy of the United States, the candidates have largely addressed the economy, the need to create jobs for the country's burgeoning youth population, and universal healthcare reform -- that last represented on Twitter by the phrase "#RouhaniCare." Even if the clerical regime wished to hold a monopoly over public discourse, the proliferation of independent and privately owned media outlets and shifts in public opinion have stayed beyond the reach of Iran's government censors.
In the 34 years since the Iranian Revolution, Iran's political system has changed to meet the needs of its day. This has been reflected by the pragmatic, economic focus of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's presidency following the end of the Iran-Iraq war; President Mohammad Khatami's quiet attempts at reform and foreign policy engagement beyond Iran's borders during the late 1990s and early 2000s; and the highly nationalistic, populist policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in many ways sought to push back against clerical control of the broader political system. The upcoming election will be a key indicator of the health of the republic, whether it proceeds smoothly and the clerical elite accede to some of the political rebalancing pursued by Ahmadinejad, or they instead attempt to reconsolidate power under a previous iteration of the regime.
However the election turns out, Iran's regional policy ambitions and security concerns mean that we can expect little change in Tehran's support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad or Iran's pursuit of its nuclear program. Iran's political system and democratic institutions promote Iranian prerogatives, and a relatively commonplace change in political leadership at the presidential level is unlikely to do much to shift Iran's regional policies more in line with those of the United States or the European Union.
Changes in Iran's domestic politics will remain nearly indiscernible to a foreign audience waiting to see a Western-style liberal democracy flourish in Tehran, espousing new regional ambitions that would mitigate U.S. concerns. But change can be expected, and in years to come Tehran and Washington may very well open channels for dialogue. Evolution, not revolution, will instigate the Iranian government's future engagement with the West.
Read more: Iran's Political Debate | Stratfor
POTH on the election of the new leader
Reply #601 on:
June 15, 2013, 01:51:19 PM »
Reply #602 on:
June 17, 2013, 12:20:50 PM »
Published on The Weekly Standard (
He’s No ‘Moderate’
Iran picks a new leader to read from the same script.
June 17, 2013 7:01 AM
It’s not clear why much of the Western media continues to describe Iran’s newly elected president as a “moderate.” After all, Hassan Rouhani is a regime pillar: As an early follower of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Rouhani joined him in exile in Paris, and over the last 34 years, the 64-year-old Qom-educated cleric has held key positions in the regime’s political echelons, and served in top military jobs during Iran’s decade-long war with Iraq. As Iran’s chief interlocutor with the West on the regime’s nuclear portfolio, Rouhani boasted of deceiving his negotiating partners. Domestically, he has threatened to crush protestors “mercilessly and monumentally,” and likely participated in the campaign of assassinations of the regime’s Iranian enemies at home and abroad, especially in Europe. Currently, Rouhani serves as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative on the supreme national security council.
Aside from the fact that Iran’s English-language television station Press TV calls him a moderate, what exactly, in the eyes of the West, makes him one? After all, former president Muhammad Khatami labeled his public diplomacy campaign a “dialogue of civilizations,” which played right into Western ideas of tolerance and moderation. But Rouhani has nothing similar in his past.
“I think he gets that label because he has been Rafsanjani's factotum,” says former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, another regime pillar and former president of Iran, is typically referred to as a “pragmatist” in the Western press. “Compared to Khamenei's circle, these fellows seem moderate,” says Gerecht. “Rouhani ran their little think tank around which foreign-policy types, the types that Westerners meet, gathered. Also, Rouhani was party to the only temporary ‘freeze’ in Iran's nuke program. Some folks—most notably the EU's Javier Solana—made a lot out of this. They should not have.”
In reality, all Rouhani did was play the U.S. and EU off each other. “From the outset,” Rouhani said in 2006, “the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them.’ … When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan.”
Accordingly, a number of analysts wonder if Rouhani’s election is meant to serve the same purpose now in buying more time for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. With the regime putting a friendly, “moderate” face in front, the West is likely to double down on its efforts to reach the long sought after diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.
As if on cue, the White House responded enthusiastically to Rouhani’s victory and announced that it is prepared, again, to enter direct negotiations. “There’s a great opportunity for Iran,” said White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, “and the people of that storied country, to have the kind of future that they would, I think, justifiably want.”
The presidential election didn’t offer much insight into what the Iranian people want. With a reported turnout of 72 percent of the country’s 50 million registered voters, informed sources in Iran charge that the regime exaggerated the actual turnout by a factor of 4 or 5. This election is almost certainly as fraudulent, if not more so, than the contested 2009 elections that brought the Green revolution to the streets. Up until last week, Tehran mayor Mohamed Baqer Qalibaf was leading in pre-election polling with 32.7 percent, Jalili was in second with 28.7 with Rouhani and the rest trailing. By Thursday, after the other reform candidate, Mohamed Reza Aref, dropped out, Rouhani had taken a commanding lead. In a poll conducted by the independent Virginia-based consultancy service IPOS, Rouhani was at 31.7 percent, with Qalibaf at 24.1 percent and Jalili at 13.7 percent. Another poll conducted by a website affiliated with the government showed that Rohani was leading with 43 percent. Even then the final tally far exceeded the expectations of the regime polling, with Rouhani winning with slightly more than 50 percent. It would appear that the regime ran up the number in order to avoid any chances of a run-off that might return protestors to the streets again.
Nonetheless, there were some demonstrations Saturday in Tehran, with protestors demanding the government release all political prisoners and invoking the Green revolution’s martyr Neda Agha Soltan—“the lady of Iran,” they chanted, “your path is continuing… Don’t be afraid, we are all together.”
Elsewhere, the Islamic Republic is showing what’s in store for domestic opponents. In Iraq, the Iranian-affiliated militia Kataeb Hezbollah launched a rocket attack against Camp Liberty, where around 3000 members of the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK) have been living since they were moved from Camp Ashraf, with U.S. and UN assurances for their security. John Kerry issued a statement saying that “the United States strongly condemns today's brutal, senseless, and utterly unacceptable rocket attack on Camp Hurriya that killed and injured camp residents.” Two were killed in the attack and dozens wounded.
Attacking Camp Liberty sends a message to everyone who is committed to overthrowing the regime, says Ali Safavi, the U.S. spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran , an umbrella organization with the MEK as its largest member. “The MEK is leading the opposition calling for the overthrow of the regime,” says Safavi, who believes that there’s a connection between the elections and the attack on Liberty. “A month after the June 2009 elections, they attacked Camp Ashraf. In February 2011 there were huge demonstrations and in April Ashraf was again attacked, with 36 killed.” With Saturday’s attack, says Safavi, the regime is sending a message— "‘Don’t even think about overthrowing the regime.’ Their language is rockets and bullets.”
And the man the regime has chosen to read from that script, its newly elected front man, is no moderate.
WSJ: A sucker born every minute
Reply #603 on:
June 18, 2013, 03:57:53 PM »
'There's a sucker born every minute" is one of those great American phrases, fondly and frequently repeated by Americans, who tend to forget that it was said mainly about Americans. In the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran's president, we are watching the point being demonstrated again by someone who has demonstrated it before.
Who is Mr. Rohani? If all you did over the weekend was read headlines, you would have gleaned that he is a "moderate" (Financial Times), a "pragmatic victor" (New York Times) and a "reformist" (Bloomberg). Reading a little further, you would also learn that his election is being welcomed by the White House as a "potentially hopeful sign" that Iran is ready to strike a nuclear bargain.
All this for a man who, as my colleague Sohrab Ahmari noted in these pages Monday, called on the regime's basij militia to suppress the student protests of July 1999 "mercilessly and monumentally." More than a dozen students were killed in those protests, more than 1,000 were arrested, hundreds were tortured, and 70 simply "disappeared." In 2004 Mr. Rohani defended Iran's human-rights record, insisting there was "not one person in prison in Iran except when there is a judgment by a judge following a trial."
WSJ assistant books editor Sohrab Ahmari on the results of Iran's recent presidential election. Photos: Associated Press
Mr. Rohani is also the man who chaired Iran's National Security Council between 1989 and 2005, meaning he was at the top table when Iran masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people, and of the Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 U.S. airmen. He would also have been intimately familiar with the secret construction of Iran's illicit nuclear facilities in Arak, Natanz and Isfahan, which weren't publicly exposed until 2002.
In 2003 Mr. Rohani took charge as Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, a period now warmly remembered in the West for Tehran's short-lived agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its nuclear-enrichment work. That was also the year in which Iran supposedly halted its illicit nuclear-weapons' work, although the suspension proved fleeting, according to subsequent U.N. reports.
Then again, what looked to the credulous as evidence of Iranian moderation was, to Iranian insiders, an exercise in diplomatic cunning. "Negotiations provided time for Isfahan's uranium conversion project to be finished and commissioned, the number of centrifuges at Natanz increased from 150 to 1,000 and software and hardware for Iran's nuclear infrastructure to be further developed," Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Mr. Rohani's spokesman at the time, argues in a recent memoir. "The heavy water reactor project in Arak came into operation and was not suspended at all."
Nor was that the only advantage of Mr. Rohani's strategy of making nice and playing for time, according to Mr. Mousavian.
"Tehran showed that it was possible to exploit the gap between Europe and the United States to achieve Iranian objectives." "The world's understanding of 'suspension' was changed from a legally binding obligation . . . to a voluntary and short-term undertaking aimed at confidence building." "The world gradually came close to believing that Iran's nuclear activities posed no security or military threat. . . . Public opinion in the West, which was totally against Tehran's nuclear program in September 2003, softened a good deal." "Efforts were made to attract global attention to the need for WMD disarmament by Israel."
And best of all: "Iran would be able to attain agreements for the transfer of advanced nuclear technology to Iran for medical, agricultural, power plant, and other applications, in a departure from the nuclear sanctions of the preceding 27 years."
Mr. Mousavian laments that much of this good work was undone by the nuclear hard line Iran took when the incendiary Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in 2005.
But that's true only up to a point. Iran made most of its key nuclear strides under Mr. Ahmadinejad, who also showed just how far Iran could test the West's patience without incurring regime-threatening penalties. Supply IEDs to Iraqi insurgents to kill American GIs? Check. Enrich uranium to near-bomb grade levels? Check. Steal an election and imprison the opposition? Check. Take Royal Marines and American backpackers hostage? Check. Fight to save Bashar Assad's regime in Syria? That, too. Even now, the diplomatic option remains a viable one as far as the Obama administration is concerned.
Now the West is supposed to be grateful that Mr. Ahmadinejad's scowling face will be replaced by Mr. Rohani's smiling one—a bad-cop, good-cop routine that Iran has played before. Western concessions will no doubt follow if Mr. Rohani can convince his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to play along. It shouldn't be a hard sell: Iran is now just a head-fake away from becoming a nuclear state and Mr. Khamenei has shown he's not averse to pragmatism when it suits him.
The capacity for self-deception is a coping mechanism in both life and diplomacy, but it comes at a price. As the West cheers the moderate and pragmatic and centrist Mr. Rohani, it will come to discover just how high a price it will pay.
Rowhani on committee that oversaw the Buenos Aires synogogue bombing
Reply #604 on:
June 20, 2013, 03:55:37 AM »
Stratfor on the election of Rouhani
Reply #605 on:
June 21, 2013, 10:47:44 AM »
The Foreign Policy Impact of Iran's Presidential Election
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 04:02 Print Text Size
By Michael Nayebi-Oskoui and Kamran Bokhari
Iranians went to the polls Friday to elect outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's successor. Candidates reported few serious problems with the process, and the losers sent congratulations to the eventual winner, Hassan Rouhani.
Compared to the political instability that followed Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election, this process was relatively boring. But however the news media felt about the election, Iran needs domestic stability if it is going to change its foreign policy in a very challenging geopolitical environment.
Domestic stability has been the first goal for any regime that would project power from Iran's central highlands. The Persian Empire first emerged only after a central power subjugated the various groups of Indo-Iranian, Turkic and Semitic peoples within its borders. The suppression of 2009's Green Movement is only a recent example of a strong state apparatus quelling internal dissent. For millennia, various Persian regimes have sought to keep such domestic pressures at bay while foreign powers have sought to exacerbate these tensions to distract Iran or make it vulnerable to invasion.
In today's Iran, structural economic stresses that have persisted under decades of sanctions are coming to a head while sectarian competition in the region has halted the expansion of Tehran's regional influence. The clerical regime that currently rules the Iranian mountain fortress understands the threats from beyond its borders, but like its predecessors, it must make peace at home before it can address external challenges.
Much of the Western, and especially U.S., coverage of the Iranian elections centered on Rouhani, a figure known to many in the West. He took part in the Islamic Revolution and had ties to Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic. He also has ties to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's second clerical president, and is a representative of the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, on the Supreme National Security Council. Rouhani served as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council for 16 years. As an extension of this position, he was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005. It was during this period when Rouhani's foreign policy credentials became best known in the United States and Europe. It was also during this period when Western and Iranian nuclear negotiators came closest to reaching a deal.
Paradoxically, Rouhani combines conservative and reformist tendencies. As a cleric, he does not seek fundamental changes in Iran's power structure of the sort Ahmadinejad sought, but he also advocates cooperation with, and outreach to, other branches of Iran's power structure such as the military and civilian politicians. While defending Iran's nuclear program and regional agenda, he understands that simply issuing ultimatums to the West and escalating tensions rather than striking compromises will not win relief from sanctions. In this regard, he resembles the reformist former President Mohammed Khatami, under whom Rouhani served as chief nuclear negotiator. Rouhani can be expected to adopt a less incendiary tone in foreign policy than Ahmadinejad and to cooperate with other domestic power centers, like those of the supreme leader and the military and security forces.
Iran's domestic woes give it an incentive to pursue the kind of pragmatic engagement and dialogue with the West Rouhani was known for, especially on issues such as Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's interests in the Levant, Iraq and Afghanistan. This means Friday's election represents a relative success for the Islamic republic, though it denied the West's desire for a disruptive election that would see Iran's clerical regime fall.
Ahead of any meaningful traction on its foreign policy agenda, the Iranian government had to re-engage its electorate, something it has accomplished with this election. Tellingly, aside from current nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, seven of the eight candidates approved to run in this election campaigned on moderate or even reformist platforms, in stark contrast to the nationalist rhetoric of the firebrand Ahmadinejad.
Although largely unaffected by the regional unrest in 2011, the clerical regime needed to demonstrate both to its citizens and foreign capitals that the Iranian people could still bring about change at the ballot box, not just through the streets. Given the choice, the Iranian people chose pragmatism in relatively free and fair elections.
Though the Islamic republic cannot be changed overnight -- long-term structural changes are needed to revive the Iranian economy -- Rouhani's campaign and election have provided a relatively immediate, low-cost way to lessen some of the domestic pressures on the regime. Large-scale demonstrations in support of the president-elect following the announcement of his victory took place in Tehran and throughout many of Iran's urban centers, without the involvement of state security forces. For now at least, this suggests Iran's large and increasingly frustrated electorate seems to have been appeased.
While it is, of course, too early to know how his presidency will play out, the Rouhani administration at the very least will not begin its tenure plagued with doubts regarding its legitimacy of the sort that greeted Ahmadinejad's second term. Also unlike Ahmadinejad, the president-elect has the opportunity to bridge deep divisions within the clerical elite. With clerical authority and the supreme leader no longer under attack from the presidency, and with convincing electoral support behind him, Rouhani has already overcome the largest hurdles to amending Iranian policy at home and abroad.
Foreign Policy Shifts
It is in this framework that the West hopes to eventually re-engage Rouhani and Iran. Fiery rhetoric aside, Ahmadinejad also sought a strategic dialogue with the West, especially as his competition with the supreme leader prompted him to seek foreign policy wins. But the infighting that resulted from Ahmadinejad's attempts to undermine the pro-clerical structure of the republic impeded any progress in this arena.
If Rouhani can get the clerics behind him and accommodate the interests of Iran's military and security forces and the broader electorate, his chances of reaching a dialogue or negotiated settlement with the West will be much improved.
Guiding much of this will not be just the change in personalities but Iran's shifting geopolitical environment. Since it is no longer on the regional offensive, Tehran's previous defiant rejection of American interests is now incompatible with long-term Iranian goals in the region.
There is still much work to be done at home before Iran can switch gears, and Iran's president-elect still faces considerable challenges to enacting any major shifts in policy. Rouhani must still convince many of the stakeholders within the regime that he can be trusted. He must protect the economic interests of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while building a relationship with Iran's larger and often overlooked regular army. He must also manage his relationships with Rafsanjani, his most influential political backer, and with the supreme leader. Rafsanjani and Khamenei are competitors, and although the approval and eventual success of Rouhani's candidacy may hint at a broader clerical rapprochement, the supreme leader will not take kindly to attempts by Rafsanjani to rule through Rouhani. Rafsanjani, however, is unlikely to stop trying to capitalize on the successes of his protege.
Against a backdrop of domestic political reconfiguration, gradual diplomatic outreach to and from Iran can be expected. Parliamentary elections in 2015 will provide greater insight into how much change Rouhani can attempt, and it is along this timeline we should expect to see Iran seriously re-engage in negotiations with the West. In the meantime, little substantive change will occur beyond more careful rhetoric regarding both Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's support for the embattled Syrian regime. While challenges to both Iran's domestic policy realignment and outreach to the United States thus remain, Western and regional hopes for such change endure.
Read more: The Foreign Policy Impact of Iran's Presidential Election | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
WSJ: Despite sanctions, money flows
Reply #606 on:
June 25, 2013, 04:24:03 PM »
By AVI JORISCH
The United States and Europe are failing to use a tool already in their possession that would deliver a knockout blow to Iran's nuclear program. It isn't a new piece of computer malware or a bomb. The group that would accomplish the mission isn't the Pentagon or the European Union—it's the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.
From its headquarters in La Hulpe, Belgium, near Brussels, Swift facilitates about a million global financial transactions per day by serving as an interbank messaging system for crediting and debiting accounts. Iranian financial institutions, like nearly every bank in the world, are reliant on Swift to move funds globally.
The EU has blacklisted 14 of Iran's 30 banks for facilitating illicit activity, including terrorism. The U.S. has designated the 14 banks named by the EU as well as another six Iranian banks for supporting Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism. Critically, the U.S. has also blacklisted all 30 Iranian banks for deficiencies present in the anti-money-laundering systems of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Swift, however, has barred only the 14 banks blacklisted by the EU, leaving the other Iranian banks free to work within the global financial system. This is a clear violation of Swift's own corporate rules, which state that services "should not be used to facilitate illegal activities." Moreover, given Swift's large physical presence in New York and its business dealings in the U.S., there are strong legal grounds to argue that it is subject to U.S. law, which would mean it is violating that as well.
Iranian rial banknotes
U.S. banking regulators and Treasury officials have an obligation to make Swift stop its dealings with Iranian banks or cease business operations in the United States. If Swift continues to service banks that the U.S. Treasury has designated as engaged in "specified unlawful activities," the U.S. government can take immediate legal action—under the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Laundering Control Act of 1986—and freeze its U.S.-based assets.
In Europe, Swift is adhering to the letter of the law by cutting off service to the 14 Iranian financial institutions on the EU blacklist. But the impact is blunted because those Iranian banks not on the list retain access to the Swift network and provide their blacklisted counterparts entree to the international financial system through correspondent services. The symbiotic relationship of the Iranian government and its banking sector enables the regime to maintain access to foreign currencies and markets by exploiting the banks that continue to use Swift.
Swift has maintained that it is a "neutral global financial communication network." But by any reasonable standard, Iran has forfeited its right to move money through the international financial system. It has done so by forcing its banks to sponsor terrorism, support Tehran's dangerous nuclear objectives, and facilitate criminal activity.
In February, Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt said that if Swift completely stopped servicing Iranian banks, the Islamic Republic would be forced to reconcile its fund transfers using email or telephone, and that such alternatives are "not as secure as Swift and [lack] the convenience factor." In laymen's terms, Iran would effectively be shut out of the formal banking sector.
To make the existing sanctions more effective, European lawmakers should urge the European Central Bank to issue a banking advisory, as the U.S. did in 2008 and 2010, highlighting the fact that all Iranian banks are engaging in money laundering and other illicit behavior. This should provide Swift with the necessary justification for cutting off business with all 30 Iranian banks, not just those on the EU blacklist.
The Islamic Republic uses banks to support its quest for nuclear weapons, a quest that international sanctions are designed to foil. For this reason, the European Central Bank and U.S. Treasury should demand that Swift cease doing business with the Iranian-owned and operated banks and take action to ensure its compliance. Their failure to make this demand enables Iran to flout the will of the international community and thumb its nose at the sanctions so lengthily and laboriously negotiated.
Mr. Jorisch, a former Treasury Department official, is senior fellow for counterterrorism at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.
The Mahdi is coming!
Reply #607 on:
June 29, 2013, 03:38:31 PM »
POTH: Direct talks?
Reply #608 on:
July 26, 2013, 09:50:26 AM »
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the Obama administration this month that Iran was interested in direct talks with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, and said that Iraq was prepared to facilitate the negotiations, Western officials said Thursday.
In a meeting in early July with the American ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Maliki suggested that he was relaying a message from Iranian officials and asserted that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s incoming president, would be serious about any discussions with the United States, according to accounts of the meeting.
Although Mr. Maliki indicated that he had been in touch with confidants of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he did not disclose precisely whom he was dealing with on the Iranian side. Some Western officials remain uncertain whether Iran’s leaders have sought to use Iraq as a conduit or whether the idea is mainly Mr. Maliki’s initiative.
State Department officials declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s move or what steps the United States might have taken in response. American officials have said since the beginning of the Obama administration that they would be open to direct talks with Iran.
“Iraq is a partner of the United States and we are in regular conversations with Iraqi officials about a full range of issues of mutual interest, including Iran,” said Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman. “As we have repeatedly said, we are open to direct talks with Iran in order to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”
Gary Samore, who served as the senior aide on nonproliferation issues at the National Security Council during President Obama’s first term in office, said that it was plausible that Iran would use Iraq to send a message about its willingness to discuss nuclear issues.
“The Iranians see Maliki as somebody they have some trust in,” said Mr. Samore, who is the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. “From Maliki’s standpoint, it would serve a number of different purposes. He does not want to be squeezed between Washington and Tehran.”
In a separate move on Thursday, the State and Treasury Departments announced that the United States was expanding the list of medical devices, like dialysis machines, that could be sold to Iran without a license.
In a conference call with reporters, David Cohen, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that the move was intended to “accelerate trade” and address humanitarian needs in Iran. The announcement was also seen by many observers as a good-will gesture before Mr. Rouhani prepares to take office in Tehran on Aug. 4.
Direct talks have the potential to ratchet down some of the pressure on President Obama over one of his greatest foreign policy challenges, the buildup of Iran’s nuclear program.
Mr. Obama has said that he will not permit Iran to have a nuclear weapon and has asserted that the use of military force is an option. Israeli officials have staked out a far tougher position, asserting that Iran should not be allowed to have the ability to build a weapon — and that the United States should do more to convince the Iranians that its threat to use force is credible. Israel has not ruled out military action of its own.
International sanctions have taken a serious toll on the Iranian economy and have helped bring Iran to the negotiating table, but have not yet extracted significant concessions from Iran on its nuclear program. For years, the United States and its partners — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have met on and off with Iranian officials in a dialogue that has become known as the “P5 plus 1” talks.
Nonproliferation experts continue to argue that it is difficult to make major headway in such a committeelike forum, and that if progress is to be made, it will have to happen in private one-on-one discussions between Iranian officials and the Obama administration.
Whether Iran is genuinely interested in such talks, however, has been a subject of debate. In 2009, William J. Burns, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, met with Saeed Jalili, the Iranian nuclear negotiator, on the margins of the “P5 plus 1” talks. They agreed in principle that a portion of Iran’s enriched uranium could be used to make fuel for Tehran’s research center, which would preclude that material from being further enriched to make nuclear weapons.
But that deal fell through after Ayatollah Khamenei objected, and there have been no direct talks since. In a meeting this month with Iran’s departing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei was sharply critical of the American stance.
“The Americans are unreliable and illogical, and are not honest in their approach,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. But he also said that he did not oppose talks “on certain issues.”
Even if direct talks are agreed to they are almost certain to be tough.
“The establishment of a bilateral channel is a necessary but not sufficient condition for coming to an agreement,” Mr. Samore said. “They want a nuclear weapons capability, and we want to deny them a nuclear weapons capability. Finding a compromise between those two objectives is going to be very difficult.”
Mr. Maliki, Western officials said, is not the only Iraqi politician who has encouraged a dialogue between the United States and Iran. Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of a major Shiite party in Iraq, is also said to have made that point.
During the war in Iraq, Iraqi officials also urged direct dealings between the United States and Iran.
Talks were held in Baghdad, but they were focused on the conflict in Iraq and Iran’s support for Shiite militias there — not the nuclear question — and got nowhere.
Mr. Maliki’s government appears to have been aligned with Iran on some issues, like its support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Iranian aircraft have ferried huge quantities of arms through Iraqi airspace. Iraqi officials have asserted that they do not have the means to stop the flights, but Mr. Maliki has also been concerned that Mr. Assad’s fall will lead to an escalation of Sunni challenges to his government in Iraq.
American officials have repeatedly said that Mr. Maliki is not a pawn of Iran and that the United States should try to expand its influence in Iraq, including by selling arms.
Lucy & Charlie Brown and the football, or , , ,?
Reply #609 on:
July 27, 2013, 11:44:43 AM »
Pravda on the Hudson
TEHRAN — Bogged down in faltering nuclear talks with the European powers nearly 10 years ago, Hassan Rouhani did something that no Iranian diplomat before or since has managed to do.
He took out his cellphone, say Western diplomats who were there, dialed up his longtime friend and associate, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and convinced him that Iran needed to suspend nuclear enrichment. The call by Mr. Rouhani, who was elected president in June and will take office next week, resulted in an agreement in October 2003, the only nuclear deal between Iran and the West in the past 11 years.
“Rouhani showed that he is a central player in Iran’s political establishment,” said Stanislas de Laboulaye, a retired director general of the French Foreign Ministry, who was a member of the European delegation during the talks between 2003 and 2005. “He was the only one able to sell something deeply unpopular to the other leaders.”
There is growing optimism in Iran and in the West that Mr. Rouhani, 64, is ready to restart serious talks on the nuclear issue; Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the United States this month that Mr. Rouhani was ready to start direct talks, and the Obama administration has indicated a willingness to engage in head-to-head dialogue after years of inclusive multiparty negotiations.
In his campaign for president and again in recent weeks, Mr. Rouhani has made it clear that he is deeply concerned about his country’s growing economic troubles and is determined to soften the harsh tone and intransigent tactics of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which have stalled nuclear negotiations and cut off relations with most of the developed world. But the question, as always in Iran, is the extent to which a President Rouhani can accomplish these goals.
“It is clear that numerous challenges await him,” said Mirza Agha Motaharinejad, a communications professor who campaigned for Mr. Rouhani in his home province of Semnan. “His political survival starts with who he will pick as cabinet members. The more representatives from different factions, the more support he will have.”
Mr. Rouhani rarely gives one-on-one interviews to reporters.Any Iranian president has to answer to the supreme leader. But that is not the only limitation on his power in the treacherous and complex politics of the Islamic republic. The rise and precipitous fall of Mr. Ahmadinejad stands as a warning of the fleeting nature of a president’s power in Iran.
Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power and was re-elected — fraudulently, most observers said — as the candidate of the traditionalist faction of ultraconservative clerics and Revolutionary Guards commanders. For years he rode high, taking particular pleasure in sticking the West in the eye, denying the Holocaust and challenging Israel. But by the end of his tenure he was locked in bitter infighting with his former patrons and widely unpopular with the public, which blamed him for the country’s economic woes.
Mr. Rouhani was defeated by the traditionalists after the nuclear deal fell apart in 2005 and left, politically speaking, for dead. He was a “sellout” in his critics’ eyes who had committed the unpardonable sin of showing weakness — though his supporters would call it reasonableness — in the negotiations with the Europeans.
In one of the most startling turnarounds in the history of the Islamic republic, he has managed to resurrect his career from that low point, drawing on connections that trace back to the earliest days of the clerical resistance to the shah. If he is to realize his ambitions of redirecting the country to the moderate course he has laid out — stressing greater individual rights, a relaxation of tensions with the West and the repair of Iran’s flagging economy — he will have to contend with precisely those forces that defeated him and Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Mr. Rouhani was born Hassan Fereydoon during the reign of the pro-Western shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into a family of bazaar businessmen and clerics in a small desert town. A precocious boy, he was only 13 when he began studies at a seminary in the theological center of Qum, where he would befriend many of the men who would later become central figures in the Islamic republic.
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“From an early age I would overhear my father telling family members that I would become a cleric,” Mr. Rouhani writes in his memoir, one of six books he has published. “It was my destiny.”
Qum was a hotbed of resistance against the shah, and young Hassan fit right in. “We, the students, were ready to be killed, imprisoned or tortured,” Mr. Rouhani wrote in that same memoir, of the 1963 arrest of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who would later lead the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “We had sticks in our room, and when we heard a car pull up in our alley we were sure we would be arrested.” He was all of 14 at the time.
He later studied law at Tehran University and performed his compulsory military service in Mashhad, where he struck up a friendship with Mr. Khamenei.
In 1978 Mr. Rouhani moved to Britain, taught Islamic jurisprudence at Lancaster University and was set to attend Harvard as a graduate student when the revolution broke out. Instead of Cambridge, Mass., he headed off to Paris to join the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini.
Long known as fiercely intelligent, he became renowned after the revolution for his ability to navigate a system dominated by ideologues, building consensus among many opposing forces. Those close to him describe Mr. Rouhani as the golden boy of the Islamic republic’s close-knit group of leaders and a deal maker who has had a direct hand in most of Iran’s major foreign policy decisions over the past three decades.
He was one of three Iranian officials to meet with the former national security adviser Robert McFarlane when he secretly visited Tehran in 1986 to arrange the arms-for-hostages deal that would later erupt into the Iran-contra scandal. But they caution that he is, above all, a Shiite Muslim cleric who has dedicated his life to the Islamic Revolution, which he will never betray.
“Our opponents are wrong to expect compromises from Rouhani; the sanctions and other pressures will not make us change our stances,” said one of his former closest associates during an interview in Tehran. He requested anonymity because Mr. Rouhani has asked that no one speak in his name. “Rouhani is interested in a dialogue, not a monologue, with the West. He is prepared to reach common ground, but only if the other side is ready to reach common ground.”
In his books on foreign policy, Mr. Rouhani writes that modernity has failed, and that Christians in the West gave in to secularism without a fight. According to him, the United States and the Islamic republic are in permanent conflict. Israel, he writes, is the “axis of all anti-Iranian activities.” Yet he also raises issues like Iran’s massive brain drain and high unemployment figures in a book on the economy, and proposes membership in the World Trade Organization. “We need to keep a good relation with the people; only with them we can continue to resist and confront the U.S.A.,” he wrote in one of his two books on “foreign policy and Islamic thought.”
Nevertheless, diplomats who have faced him in negotiations praised his skills and flexibility. “He is perfectly placed in Iran’s system of power,” said Paul von Maltzahn, a former German ambassador to Iran who met Mr. Rouhani several times. “He is not easily manipulated and assertive.”
The last time they met was during a private visit by the former German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer. Mr. von Maltzahn recalled: “We all had dinner. Mr. Rouhani spoke about Glasgow, where he had studied in the 1990s. He cracked jokes. He’s straightforward, no double dealer.”
During his 16 years as the secretary of Iran’s most important decision organ, the National Security Council, Mr. Rouhani prevented hard-liners from forming an alliance with Saddam Hussein after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, his associates said. Instead, Iran remained neutral. He directed Iran’s unexpectedly respectful reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and he was instrumental in helping the United States coordinate with opposition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq when the United States invaded those countries.
It was his toughest negotiation — the one that led to the 2003 agreement — that led to his public fall from grace. Is he willing to try again? Analysts say he might well be. “He is a proactive soldier of this system since his youth,” said Nader Karimi Joni, a columnist for reformist papers. “It’s his brainchild, and he feels responsible. Any solutions he will come up with will be within the limits of the system of the Islamic republic.”
Some European diplomats say they fear that Mr. Rouhani was too optimistic in 2003, perhaps getting ahead of most of the leadership. “After a while we started to worry whether he or his team had fully briefed the other leaders,” said one European negotiator, who requested anonymity, not wanting to hurt the chances of success for any coming talks.
But Mr. Rouhani’s associate, who has full knowledge of the talks, disagreed. “Our mistake was that we gave the Europeans too much credit, but they were on the phone with the Americans all the time,” he said. “What matters now is that with Mr. Rouhani’s election a new window of opportunity has opened up for the West. I suggest they seize the moment.”
Stratfor: Why likely Iran will now negotiate
Reply #610 on:
August 04, 2013, 01:18:30 PM »
U.S., Iran: Why They Will Now Likely Negotiate
August 2, 2013 | 0530 Print Text Size
Iranian President-elect Hasan Rouhani in Tehran on June 17. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington will improve after Iran's new president assumes office Aug. 4, ending months of speculation over whether Iran and Washington will find accommodation in their nuclear standoff. In fact, in recent weeks both sides have expressed interest in resuming bilateral nuclear talks. Those talks never took place simply because Iran never had to participate in them. Its economy was in decent shape despite the sanctions, its regional geopolitical position had been secure and its domestic political environment was in disarray.
But now things are different. Tehran is devoting an unsustainable amount of resources to Syrian President Bashar al Assad in his fight against the Syrian rebellion. And while economic sanctions have not yet forced Iran to the negotiating table, Iranian leaders will likely choose to engage the United States voluntarily to forestall further economic decline. The inauguration of President-elect Hassan Rouhani provides an ideal opportunity for them to do so.
Iran severed diplomatic ties with the United States in 1979 and has been opposed to restoring them. For its part, the United States has offered to normalize relations on several occasions, but Iran has rebuffed all such offers. According to Tehran, Washington must first change its attitude toward Iran, a diplomatic way of saying the United States must accept the country as it is.
But several other factors have informed Iran's obstinacy. Since the mid-1990s, Iran has been politically incoherent. Over the past 16 years, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been at odds with Rouhani's two predecessors. He distrusted Mohammad Khatami's reformism, and he went through an outright power struggle with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During this time, Iran was thus unable or unwilling to negotiate substantively with the West. In any case, its relative economic vitality meant that Iran never had to engage the United States directly, opting for back-channel negotiations instead.
However, after 9/11, the United States became much more active in the Middle East, an encroachment that Iran saw as both an opportunity and a threat. In a major display of bilateral cooperation, Tehran helped the administration of George W. Bush topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The two sides began to deal with each other more substantively when the United States decided to oust Saddam Hussein. Washington had aligned itself with Iraqi Shia Islamist groups and Kurds to overthrow the Sunni Baathist regime. Washington's collaborators were closely tied to Tehran, and thus began a paradoxical relationship in which Iran and the United States worked with one another even as they each vied for influence in Iraq.
Their struggle over Iraq began around the same time the controversy over Iran's nuclear program began. While the two sides bargained over the future of Iraq furtively (with the exception of the three-way talks among Baghdad, Washington and Tehran), they negotiated Iran's nuclear program publicly yet indirectly. For the first few years, the diplomatic process was routed through the EU-3, which comprised the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Since 2006, the United States has been part of a broader process under the aegis of the P-5+1 group, which included the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, Washington has sought Iranian input into its multilateral efforts to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan.
Notably, the Bush and Obama administrations offered to normalize relations with Iran, but Tehran rejected them for two reasons. First, Iranian leaders believed that normalizing relations with Washington would make it easier for the United States to subvert the regime. Second, no one in Tehran could agree on how to manage relations with Washington.
A High Price
What they could agree on was that they would not normalize relations with the United States as Libya had in 2003, when it scrapped its weapons of mass destruction program and in essence acquiesced to Western policies toward the region. Tehran's political leaders may differ ideologically, but they all see Iran as a regional and international player, and they do not want to sacrifice their geopolitical ambitions for saving face in the international community. More important, acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is seen as a deterrent against any efforts at regime change and as a means for achieving Iran's geopolitical imperatives.
However, acrimony surrounds Tehran's various power brokers. Disagreements are pronounced between those who consider themselves conservatives and those considered reformists on the issue of how to achieve Iran's imperatives, especially as economic sanctions have degraded the country's economy. Political discord in Iran is aggravated by the structure of the regime, a hybrid political system whereby power is dispersed among clerics, a popularly elected political class and a security establishment dominated by an elite ideological force.
Though the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has gained a tremendous amount of influence over the decades, its role in politics is still indirect, waged primarily through clerics and its veterans who enter politics. At its core, the struggle for power has been between the supreme leader, who presides over a vast clerical establishment, and a popularly elected president, who is the chief executive of the state.
Indeed, since the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic republic, there has been growing friction between the supreme leader and the president. Former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who left office in 1997, handled tensions effectively because he, like current Supreme Leader Khamenei, is a conservative and was a top associate of Khomeini.
Problems began when reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami assumed the presidency. He was elected by a wide margin twice, but his worldview clashed with the conservatives, who dominated the clerical and security institutions. It was during his second term that the United States and Iran were forced into dealing with each other in the early 2000s. Fearful that the Khatami government was too conciliatory toward Washington, the conservatives set out to wrest control over the presidency and parliament.
The conservatives believed they were better suited to manage relations with the United States. Accordingly, the Guardian Council, which oversees elections and the legislative process, disqualified thousands of reformist candidates (many of whom were incumbent lawmakers), giving the conservatives an easy victory in the 2004 elections. The following year, Ahmadinejad was elected president.
This conservative resurgence did not create the political harmony the clerics thought it would. On the contrary, it made matters worse. Ahmadinejad's ascension to the presidency divided the conservatives. He proved to be the most ambitious president in the history of the Islamic republic as he began to openly defy the clerical establishment. He even sought to weaken the clerics and enhance his own power.
He adopted a hawkish foreign policy, defying Washington on Iran's nuclear program and occasionally deprecating Israel. Naturally, his actions worsened tensions with the United States, which eventually tightened economic sanctions on Iran. What gains Khamenei made in installing a like-minded conservative president who could connect to the masses came at a high price: economic decline and infighting within the ruling conservative camp.
In his first term, Ahmadinejad avoided clashing with the supreme leader. But that changed in his second term. He defied Khamenei even on foreign policy matters. Caught between opposition from the clerical establishment and worsening economic conditions, Ahmadinejad sought to negotiate with the United States to ease the pain of the sanctions. He even agreed to swap low-enriched uranium for high-enriched uranium in late 2009. The move was overruled by Khamenei, which demonstrated that a conservative presidency does not translate to political harmony.
In the last two years of the Ahmadinejad administration, Iran was struck by two calamities: the Arab Spring and oil export sanctions. The Arab Spring undermined the position of Iran's core Arab ally, Syria, and by extension its position in the region. The sanctions deprived Iran of money from its main source of revenue.
In 2012, Tehran saw its revenues decline by 40 percent, causing the value of the rial to plummet by more than 70 percent. In July, the United States announced additional sanctions against the rial meant to make the currency unusable outside Iran. Between December 2011 and December 2012, Iranian reserves fell from about $110 billion to slightly under $70 billion. Under these conditions, Tehran cannot hope to maintain political stability for too long, much less pursue an ambitious foreign policy. Thus, Iran needed to strike a compromise that would ease sanctions without scrapping the nuclear program entirely. However, the infighting between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad prevented them from reaching a consensus.
A Major Development
Fortunately for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad's opponents, the president was on his way out when the international situation worsened. Khamenei began preparing for the presidential election. He preferred a moderate with experience in diplomacy and economic management but who would not threaten his authority. His first choice was former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who became the supreme leader's chief international affairs adviser after leaving the Foreign Ministry.
Velayati possessed all the desired qualifications, but as a technocrat who had never run for office, he was unelectable. Rouhani is seen as a leader who could redress Iran's many problems, which necessarily requires negotiating with the United States. He is a pragmatic conservative with decades of experience in key government positions, most notably serving as the national security chief for more than 20 years. The various power brokers trust that he will conduct diplomacy tactically and responsibly. Furthermore, Khamenei feels secure that Rouhani's agenda of domestic reform will not undermine the clerical system.
Under the incoming Rouhani administration, Tehran's political establishment is likely to see an end to the infighting of the past two decades. Coupled with a dire economic situation, political coherence will likely lead to substantive U.S.-Iranian negotiations. Iran's decision to negotiate does not mean that an accommodation is imminent, but it is nonetheless a major development.
Baraq draws red line with Iran's nukes
Reply #611 on:
September 16, 2013, 10:18:05 AM »
WASHINGTON — Here we go again.
President Obama drew another “red line” Sunday, now on Iranian nukes — and insisted that this time, he really means it, despite infamously wavering on his red-line pledge about Syria using chemical weapons.
“My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran,” Obama said in an interview aired on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama stressed that he wouldn’t just talk tough but act tough when it comes to nuclear weapons.
“I think what the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical-weapons issue, that the threat against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests,” he said.
Obama said his threat of military action had spurred the Russian-brokered deal that would have Syria give up its chemical weapons.
“My view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact, you can you can strike a deal,” Obama said.
Syria has yet to agree to a deal that would require President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to identify all its chemical-weapons stockpiles by the end of this week and begin handing them over.
One of Obama’s former top advisers said Iran might respond to a strike on Syria with a terrorist or cyberattack on the US.
“If there were to be a cyber-response to a US attack on Syria, I would expect it to come from Iran, not Syria,” said Mike Morell, the CIA’s former deputy director.
Obama had vacillated about how to intervene since an alleged sarin gas attack killed more than 1,000 civilians — including about 400 children — near Damascus on Aug. 21.
The president was urging Congress to pull the trigger on a military strike.
Then, with lawmakers on the verge of rejecting military action, Obama turned to a last-minute Russian offer for a diplomatic solution.
Obama boasted that his willingness to shift positions and create foreign policy on the fly demonstrates that he is “less concerned about style points” and “more concerned about getting the policy right.”
“What I’ve said consistently throughout is that the chemical-weapons issue is a problem,” Obama said.
“I want that problem dealt with. And, as a consequence of the steps that we’ve taken over the last two weeks to three weeks, we now have a situation in which Syria has acknowledged it has chemical weapons, has said it’s willing to join the convention on chemical weapons, and Russia, its primary sponsor, has said that it will pressure Syria to reach that agreement.
“That’s my goal. And if that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right.”
Obama said critics must move beyond the Cold War rhetoric.
“I know that sometimes this gets framed or looked at through the lens of the US versus Russia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Tehran’ s invitation to visit and help work out a strategy on its nuclear program.
Reply #612 on:
September 17, 2013, 10:31:57 AM »
Terrific: Putin off to Iran to help get the West off their backs, too
Published by: Herman Cain
How thoroughly did Vladimir Putin clean Barack Obama's clock on this whole Syria thing? You know it's bad when he starts hearing from other bad actors wanting him to come and and do the same thing for them. And as you might imagine, it didn't take long for the Iranians to come calling.
The Times of Israel has more:
The Russian leader affirmed that “Iran, as any other state, has the right for peaceful use of atomic energy, including enrichment.”
Rouhani, in turn, called for new steps toward resolving his country’s longstanding nuclear standoff with the West. The US and its allies believe that Iran is striving for a nuclear weapons capability while Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
“Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, we want the swiftest solution to it within international norms,” Rouhani told Putin, according to Reuters. “Russia in the past has taken important steps in this sphere and now is the best opportunity for new steps from your side.”
So now we're not only going to let Assad off the hook on his chemical weapons, but Putin's ready to run interference for the Iranians in their quest for nuclear weapons.
You know what the Islamic world respects? Not human rights. Not good intentions. They respect power, period. That and the willingness to use it, ruthlessly if necessary. And given the resolution of the Syria debacle, it's pretty clear which world leader has the upper hand at the moment. The U.S. has long demonstrated it has little interest in taking real action against Iran and its nuclear program. How are supposed to stop them now when the same guy who is asserting their right to have it is the one Obama needs to bail him out of his foreign policy blunders?
The Russians are pretty good chess players. Putin just schooled Obama on how to turn a stalemate quickly into checkmate. It's no wonder the worst regimes in the world want him on their side.
Too bad the good guys don't have a strong, decisive leader.
Manhattan skyscraper owned by Iranian front
Reply #613 on:
September 17, 2013, 03:49:22 PM »
Judge Finds Manhattan Skyscraper Owned by Iranian Front
by IPT News • Sep 17, 2013 at 10:52 am
The United States government may be about to take possession of a Manhattan skyscraper worth more than $500 million after a federal judge found its owners knowingly served as fronts for the Iranian government.
The order granting what prosecutors describe as "the largest real property forfeiture" came after five years of litigation, the New York Daily News reports. If the order is upheld in an anticipated appeal, the government could sell the property and give some of the proceeds to victims of terrorist attacks, including the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing and the 9/11 attacks.
The Alavi Foundation owns 60 percent of the 36-story 650 Fifth Ave. building in midtown Manhattan. The rest is held by the U.K.-based Assa Company, Limited. But U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that there is "uncontroverted record evidence, [proving] Assa was (and is) a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the Government of Iran" to shield its U.S.-based assets.
The U.S Treasury Department designated Bank Melli in 2007 as part of a package of economic sanctions aimed at slowing Iran's nuclear weapons program. Bank Melli, Treasury wrote at the time, "has facilitated the purchase of sensitive materials utilized by Iran's nuclear and missile industry…"
Attorneys for the Alavi Foundation argued that it is not clear that their clients knew about Assa's control by the Iranian government. Forrest dismissed that theory as "implausible" given the established connections among the owners. "No rational juror could believe in such extraordinary amnesia; many of the same Alavi board members who were indisputably involved in the creation of Assa as a front for Bank Melli in 1989 remained with, or returned to positions with, Alavi after the [orders prohibiting business dealings with Iran] were instituted in 1995."
Victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks have secured billions of dollars in civil judgments against the Islamic Republic for financing and providing other assistance to the killers. Little of those damages have been collected, however, as victims often find themselves fighting the U.S. government in their attempts to seize Iranian assets in the United States. It is unclear whether the government's success in New York could pry open the gates for those victims to complete their quest for justice.
You really ought to go home
Reply #614 on:
September 20, 2013, 11:57:00 AM »
Iran wants to "negotiate"
Reply #615 on:
September 22, 2013, 01:27:03 PM »
Here we go again. More delay. I don't know what we need to negotiate. Isn't our position iron clad by NOW? I do agree with Lindsay Graham for the first time in years for his proposal we give Obama leeway on attacking Iran. But I am Jewish. I don't think most Americans would. Back to this nonsense:
*****Sep 22, 12:22 PM EDT
Iran's president reaches West before heading to UN
By NASSER KARIMI and BRIAN MURPHY
Iran's president reaches West before heading to UN
US denies visiting allegedly missing Iranians
Iran's top leader opens way for Rouhani outreach
Iran: Jewish lawmaker heads to UN with president
Iran releases human rights lawyer, other prisoners
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- On the eve of a landmark trip to attend the U.N. General Assembly, Iran's president offered Sunday his most expansive vision that a deal to settle the impasse over Tehran's nuclear program could open doors for greater cooperation on regional flash points such as the Syrian civil war.
The linkage of Middle East affairs and broad-stroke rhetoric by Hasan Rouhani served as something of a final sales pitch to President Barack Obama ahead of the U.N. gathering, where Rouhani hopes to garner pledges from Western envoys to restart stalled nuclear negotiations as a way to ease painful economic sanctions.
Rouhani also must try to sell his policies of outreach to skeptical Iranian hard-liners, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Failure to return from New York with some progress - either pledges to revive nuclear talks or hints that the U.S. and its allies may consider relaxing sanctions - could increase pressures on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to withdraw his apparent backing for Rouhani's overtures with Washington.
It adds up to a high-stakes week ahead for Rouhani in his first gathering with Western leaders since his inauguration last month.
While his effort to open new diplomatic space is genuine, it's still unclear where it could find footholds. Obama has exchanged letters with Rouhani and says he would welcome groundbreaking direct talks after a nearly 35-year diplomatic estrangement. But Washington previously has rejected offering a significant rollback in sanctions - Rouhani's main goal - as a way to push ahead nuclear talks.
Rouhani and Obama are scheduled to speak within hours of each other Tuesday at the General Assembly's annual meeting, setting up the possibility of the first face-to-face exchange between American and Iranian leaders since shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"The Iranian nation is ready to talk and negotiate with the West, provided that there are no preconditions, the talks are on equal terms and there is mutual respect. (The West) should not consider only its own interests. Mutual interests should be considered," Rouhani said at a military parade for the 33rd anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, which set off a ruinous eight-year war. The speech was carried live by state TV.
He added that if Western countries acknowledge Iran's "rights" - a reference that includes the contentious issue of uranium enrichment - it would be a path toward mutual "cooperation, logic, peace and friendship."
"Then we will be able to resolve regional, even global, problems," Rouhani said.
Iran and the United States are at odds over the civil war in Syria. Tehran backs President Bashar Assad, while Washington supports rebels trying to oust him. Iran also is the patron for anti-Israel forces led by Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Still, Iran has faced a potential quandary over Western claims that Assad's forces used chemical weapons in an attack last month. Iran has strongly opposed chemical arms since suffering attacks with mustard gas and other agents by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's military in the 1980s.
Rouhani has worked hard to recast Iran's international image after eight years under his combative predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the new Iranian leader has not strayed from Tehran's unshakable position: Its right to conduct nuclear activities that the West fears could be a step toward weapons development, especially uranium enrichment. Iran says its program is peaceful, intended for purposes including research and cancer treatment, and enrichment is necessary for the fueling of reactors.
"Iran has joined all treaties, including the non-proliferation treaty, or NPT, and it is loyal to it," Rouhani said.
Khamenei, who issued a religious decree nearly a decade ago declaring nuclear weapons contrary to Islamic values, seems to have given critical support to Rouhani - a backing withheld from Ahmadinejad after fierce internal political feuds. This potentially gives Rouhani's government more room to offer proposals to the six-nation negotiating group, the permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.
In a significant step, Khamenei last week suggested it was a moment for Iran to exercise "heroic flexibility" in diplomacy, while not giving important ground to its foes.
But some hard-line groups have warned Rouhani not to misinterpret Khamenei's comment as a mandate to restore ties with the West at any cost.
"Based on historical experience, it's wise and necessary to have skeptical monitoring of the behavior of the White House," said the statement Saturday from the Revolutionary Guard, whose missile arsenal was on display in the military parade, including the surface-to-surface Sajjil capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
Also Saturday, the Guard's acting commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, said there was no "flexibility" in protecting Iran's ability to have "peaceful nuclear energy," according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Rouhani also insisted the U.S. foreswear a military strike against Iran's nuclear program as a way to move ahead nuclear talks. It's unlikely, though, that Washington would make such a declaration, which would risk strong backlash from its key ally, Israel.
"No nation will accept war and diplomacy on (the same) table," the Iranian leader said.
Rouhani did not mention Israel by name at the military event, but the reference was clear.
"A regime is a threat for the region that has trampled all international treaties regarding weapons of mass destruction," he said, noting Israel's undeclared but widely presumed nuclear arsenal.
Shorter-range missiles in the parade included the Fajr-5, which Palestinian groups have used against Israeli targets in attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
WSJ: Iran looks to play Baraq for a sucker
Reply #616 on:
September 23, 2013, 10:33:46 AM »
The ruling clerics in Tehran haven't survived in power for 34 years without cunning. Fresh from their ally Bashar Assad's diplomatic victory in Damascus, they now see an opening to liberate themselves from Western pressure too. They're hoping an eager President Obama will ease sanctions in return for another promise of WMD disarmament.
That's the prudent way to read Iran's recent interest in Mr. Obama's entreaties after five years of rude dismissals. No doubt the mullahs are feeling international economic pressure, especially from financial sanctions through the world banking system. But they have shown for years that they don't mind imposing pain on their own people.
New President Hassan Rouhani sounds less strident notes than his predecessor, but the regime has rolled out other presidents who turned out either to have no power or to be false fronts to beguile the West. The real power, as ever, resides with the clerics and especially Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mr. Rouhani was their nuclear envoy in the mid-2000s when Iran accelerated its nuclear-weapons program. It's doubtful they've had a come-to-Allah moment on nukes.
The likely reason they've finally decided to answer Mr. Obama's overtures is because they see an America in retreat and eager for a nuclear deal. In Syria, they saw Mr. Obama leap at Russia's diplomatic offer rather than follow through on his threat of a U.S. military strike if Assad used chemical weapons. Assad is now safe from Western intervention and he can dissemble and delay on disarming his chemical stockpiles.
The mullahs can also see how eager Mr. Obama is for a second-term deal with Iran that validates his campaign claim that "the tide of war is receding." The President has never taken no for an answer from Tehran. Despite being rebuffed for five years, he sent another entreaty after Mr. Rouhani's election in June.
Mr. Obama's letter invited Mr. Rouhani to "cooperate with the international community, keep your commitments and remove ambiguities" about the atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief, according to a senior Iranian official quoted in Thursday's New York Times. The letter hasn't been released, but Mr. Rouhani called it "positive and constructive" in an interview with NBC Wednesday.
The mullahs also learned from the Syrian fiasco that Mr. Obama wasn't able to sway Americans to support even what John Kerry called an "unbelievable small" military strike. They can see as well that even many Republican leaders now want the U.S. to withdraw from world leadership. As in the 1920s and 1970s, most American elites are eager for a diplomatic deal of just about any kind rather than run the risk of a military strike.
The White House is already signaling its first concession by suggesting that Mr. Obama might meet Mr. Rouhani in New York at this week's U.N. General Assembly. That would be the first such presidential meeting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and it would give the dictatorship new international prestige at zero cost. Iran continues to support U.S. enemies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan, and it continues to crush its political opposition at home.
Iran's diplomatic goals are obvious: Break its international isolation and lift the sanctions in exchange for a promise not to build a nuclear weapon even as it retains its ability to build one at a moment's notice. The Rouhani aide said last week that Tehran was particularly eager to lift the ban on Iranian money transfers through the Swift interbank system, and it will press for that as an initial concession before it dismantles a single nuclear centrifuge.
The danger for world order is that Iran is already close to a nuclear breakout capacity when it will be able to finish a device in a matter of weeks, without technically testing or possessing a bomb. The mullahs could also easily pull the North Korean trick of dismantling one facility while secretly running another one. They have systematically lied about their nuclear program for years.
All of which bodes ill for any genuine nuclear breakthrough. If true global security is Mr. Obama's goal, then at a bare minimum any deal would have to halt Iran's enrichment of uranium, remove the already enriched uranium from the country, close all nuclear sites and provide for robust monitoring anytime and anywhere.
Anything less would be a mirage. Anything less would force Israel in particular to recalculate the risks of a pre-emptive attack compared to the risks of future nuclear destruction. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran's other Middle East rivals will also be looking closely at the fine print of any deal. A negotiation that dismantles Iran's nuclear program would be a great step forward, but a deal that promises peace while letting Iran stay poised on the edge of becoming a nuclear power would endanger the world.
WSJ: A different translation
Reply #617 on:
September 25, 2013, 09:37:03 PM »
Reasonableness at last. That was the general reaction Wednesday to the news that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to acknowledge and condemn the Holocaust during an interview this week with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Previous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had rarely missed an opportunity to call the Nazi genocide of six million Jews a "myth." But Mr. Rouhani has adopted a more tempered tone, and the world longs to see him as someone with whom "we can do business together," as Margaret Thatcher once said about Mikhail Gorbachev.
One problem: The words attributed to Mr. Rouhani are not what he said.
According to CNN's translation of Mr. Rouhani's remarks, the Iranian President insisted that "whatever criminality they [the Nazis] committed against the Jews, we condemn." Yet as Iran's semi-official news agency Fars pointed out, Mr. Rouhani never uttered anything approximating those words. Nor, contrary to the CNN version, did he utter the word "Holocaust." Instead, he spoke about "historical events." Our independent translation of Mr. Rouhani's comments confirms that Fars, not CNN, got the Farsi right.
So what did Mr. Rouhani really say? After offering a vague indictment of "the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and the non-Jews," he insisted that "I am not a history scholar," and that "the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers."
Pretending that the facts of the Holocaust are a matter of serious historical dispute is a classic rhetorical evasion. Holocaust deniers commonly acknowledge that Jews were killed by the Nazis while insisting that the number of Jewish victims was relatively small and that there was no systematic effort to wipe them out.
We'll leave it to CNN to account for its translation, and why it made Mr. Rouhani seem so much more conciliatory than he was. Meantime, points for honesty go to the journalists at Fars, who for reasons that probably range from solidarity to self-preservation aren't disposed to whitewash their President's ideological predilections.
Reply #618 on:
September 27, 2013, 08:59:12 PM »
Israel will have to act alone. I didn't realize that Bolton came out 2 months ago and said Israel should have "attacked Iran yesterday".
I wonder if legislative Democrats will recommend Obama for the Congressional Medal of Honor for "historic" act of tweeting Rouhani.
*****Adrift: The United States and the Middle East
August 30, 2013 By Andrew Harrod
Bolton and Michael Ledeen presented a disturbing picture of Obama Administration national security policy adrift amidst a continually crisis-laden Middle East on August 28, 2013. In particular, these two leading foreign policy experts foresaw no truly effective international policy to stop Iranian nuclear weapons proliferation, leaving Israel to confront this existential danger unilaterally.
Bolton and Ledeen appeared at the briefing “Who is the Real Rouhani?” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), described by its founder and president Sarah Stern as “unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israeli,” sponsored the event. Stern introduced Bolton and Ledeen by discussing how Hassan Rouhani had appeared to American media as a “great moderate” following his June 14, 2003, election to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Yet Ledeen described the “big difference” between Rouhani and his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as being “exactly the same as the difference between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola.” In contrast to Ahmadinejad, Rouhani “is more charming,” his “face is prettier,” and “he knows the West” due to his Western education. Such attributes, though, simply reminded Ledeen of how some Western observers had expectantly noted Yuri Andropov as a “jazz fan” after this KGB chief succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as the Soviet Union’s leader in 1982. Rouhani’s exposure to the West, rather than moderating his views, seems to have instilled anti-Western vitriol in Rouhani, just as other Islamist leaders like the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) ideologue Sayyid Qutb “learned to hate America in America.”
Ledeen also rejected speculation of Rouhani being part of a “cunning scheme” to present an “apparent moderate.” Ledeen believed that Rouhani’s election was a “surprise” in an “honest vote” within the Iranian theocracy. Here again the difference between Rouhani’s “moderation” and Ahmadinejad was minimal, for the latter could also “buy endless time” in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
In such dictatorships “you are dealing with a regime” that has “core policies,” Ledeen argued. “It doesn’t matter who the person is.” Rouhani, moreover, has personally been “fully committed…fully engaged” during his career in Iran’s terrorism and nuclear programs, central concerns for the international community. Citing the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, Ledeen considered a dictatorship’s domestic behavior indicative of foreign policy. “The way they treat their own people is the way they want to treat us.”
Bolton as well saw no moderation in Rouhani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator during 2003-2005. This background meant that “Rouhani could not be a better public face” for Iran now. Reflecting upon his negotiating experience, Rouhani had subsequently often “boasted” of his success in shielding Iran’s nuclear program from interference.
Bolton attributed the origins of these negotiations to a European desire in 2003 for “showing up the United States” after its Iraq invasion. With the controversial Iraqi regime change as a backdrop, “we suave and sophisticated Europeans” sought to tame the Iranian nuclear program. The European concept then was a “macro-solution” following an Iranian enrichment freeze and today “they are still pursuing the same elusive goal.”
Iranian stalling tactics in the following negotiations recognized, Bolton observed that weapons proliferators “need time and they need legitimacy.” Iran, moreover, was “scared to death” after American invasions not only in Iraq but Afghanistan as well brought American troops to Iranian borders on opposing sides. Thus Iran has had no hesitation in suspending enrichment in the past, especially when temporary technical difficulties made the issue moot. Looking to the future, Bolton considered it “clear beyond dispute that the Europeans are getting ready to be suckered again.”
Bolton predicted that the Iranians would make diplomatic overtures to the American diplomats as well. Iranian officials would claim that their nuclear program was peaceful and transparent, while sanctions hurt the Iranian people. In response, American officials might well offer phased plans of reciprocal Iranian-international actions. “When you hear sequencing” from diplomats, Bolton warned, “you know they are talking about surrender.” With sanctions “once dialed back,” it will be “almost impossible to torque them back up again.” “What we don’t know cannot be good news,” Bolton meanwhile speculated about the progress of the Iranian nuclear program in light of past intelligence failures in Iraq.
In contrast to the Iranian regime, Ledeen believed that the Iranian people sought to emulate the Egyptian overthrow of the MB. Ledeen attributed to Iranian opposition leaders under house arrest a “huge following” such that the regime dared not execute them. Additionally, the “Iranian opposition is fundamentally pro-Western and anti-Islamist.” Speaking of senior Iranian ayatollahs in opposition to the Iranian regime as well as Muslim opposition to the MB in Egypt, Ledeen also warned “don’t write off all Muslims” as allies against Islamism. Ledeen lamented, however, that the United States had done nothing to foment this internal Iranian opposition, something not requiring American military force. Yet “Iran is the key to international terror,” while Iraq in 2003 was only a secondary terrorism supporter.
“We would have to have an Iran policy,” Ledeen argued, for regime change in Syria, a country under “virtual Iranian control” in the guise of the Lebanese Hezbollah (“that’s Teheran”) and Iran’s Al-Quds Force. The “road to Damascus starts in Teheran,” Ledeen said. The “problem in Syria is Iran,” Bolton agreed; focusing on Syria was “defining the problem much too narrowly.”
In particular, if the Assad regime perpetrated the latest chemical attack in Syria, then Ledeen saw “no way that that happened at a minimum without Iranian approval.” The Iranians might have even provided “know-how.” Syria regime change would be a terrible Iranian loss, thus in their view “Assad must be preserved.”
Contemplating a pending strike in Syria under the Obama Administration, Bolton foresaw this involving “some number of cruise missiles used against some number of empty buildings.” The response of the Assad regime and its Iranian supporters will be “that’s it” with no effect upon chemical weapon use.
For deterrence, by contrast, a response must be “absolutely punishing.” Opposed to a Syrian intervention, Bolton nonetheless criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion of a “proportionate response” to the Syrian gas attack. “Why respond proportionately?” Bolton asked. “You have to act decisively,” Ledeen concurred, proportionate response is “for little countries. Otherwise, why be a superpower.”
The “worst outcome is that we do something and it has no effect,” Ledeen worried, merely making a “moral demonstration.” Bolton as well warned that an ineffective “tank-plinking kind of raid” will have an “immeasurable effect” on American credibility. President Barack Obama’s personal “credibility has already been shredded” by earlier chemical attacks in Syria following his ill-conceived “ad lib” of a chemical attacks “redline.” Ledeen assessed the Obama Administration as now “leading with the behind.”
With respect to the critical question of Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, Bolton thought that the “prospects are grim.” The Iranians “are going to get nuclear weapons,” Bolton predicted, setting off Middle East regional proliferation as a result. This is the most possible outcome “by a long shot.” Current sanctions against Iran merely “give the illusion of doing something” and thereby cover the reluctance of congressional leaders and the Obama Administration to intervene in Iran. “The Iranians are convinced that they are dealing with an American administration that does not have the will to fight,” Ledeen likewise assessed.
In the end, the crisis of Iranian nuclear proliferation, “for well or ill…is going to be Israel’s to solve,” according to Bolton. Bolton criticized the past Israeli “mistake” of having allowed the first operational nuclear reactor in a “hostile state” in Bushehr, Iran. Now, though, he considered an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities the last viable nonproliferation option in the face of American inaction.
The “Israelis won’t talk to us about” an Iranian strike, Ledeen predicted. “We’ll know about it when the attack begins,” Bolton seconded. As with past Middle East nuclear dangers in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, the pair foresaw Israel decisively acting alone for its own freedom and survival. Yet the interests of a wider but more timid free world, however ungrateful, would also hang in the balance.
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Filed Under: Daily Mailer,
Copyright © 2013 · FRONTPAGEMAG.COM****
Reply #619 on:
October 01, 2013, 04:46:50 PM »
I thought Netanyahu's speech at the UN today quite good. Unfortunately Baraq-Kerry are not likely to listen.
Nasr suggests a really stupid strategy
Reply #620 on:
October 03, 2013, 07:53:08 AM »
The piece makes plenty of valid points concerning Iran's strength, but finishes as if the author is on Iran's payroll:
America Mustn’t Be Naïve About Iran
By VALI R. NASR
Published: October 2, 2013 45 Comments
WASHINGTON — THE international agreement to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons has put diplomacy back at center stage of American foreign policy. But enforcing America’s “red line” in Syria is only a prelude to dealing with the thicker, redder line around Iran’s nuclear program. Last week’s charm offensive by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, and his seeming show of flexibility augurs well for a diplomatic resolution.
In Tehran, Phone Call Between Presidents Is as Good as a Handshake (September 28, 2013)
U.S. and Iran Agree to Speed Talks to Defuse Nuclear Issue (September 28, 2013)
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But America would be naïve to assume that Iran is negotiating from a position of weakness. To the contrary, Iran has come out of the Arab Spring better positioned than any of its regional rivals, and the turmoil in Syria, its ally, has paradoxically strengthened it further. Witness Mr. Rouhani’s statements that distinguished Iran from its Arab neighbors and asserted that it was uniquely positioned to broker a resolution.
Over the past five years America has thought that only an Iran weakened by economic sanctions would agree to a nuclear deal. Iran’s economy is indeed in dire straits, which helps explain the decision by its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to put forward Mr. Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator, as his interlocutor with the West.
It’s also true that Iran has been isolated as the sectarian tenor of the civil war in Syria incensed the country’s largely Sunni population against Shiite Iran and its clients: the governments in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran’s diplomatic flexibility is serious, but should not be mistaken for willingness to surrender.
Iran does not see itself as vanquished. Its political system is still the most steadfast and resilient in the region. It is reveling in a newfound stability on the back of a surprisingly smooth presidential election. There were no street protests in Tehran this year, like those that paralyzed Tehran in 2009, Cairo in 2011 and Istanbul earlier this year. Indeed, Mr. Rouhani’s government, by freeing political prisoners and potentially relaxing controls on the press and social media, is showing its confidence.
Arab anger notwithstanding, there is agreement across the region that Iranian support for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been effective. That consensus buttresses Iran’s claim to regional power and influence. Syria has showed Iran to be the only regional actor capable of successfully running a war in another country — and one with which it does not share a border. Iran has given the Assad regime money and weapons, deployed fighters in Syria and created a regional alliance with the Shiite government in Iraq and its proxy militia Hezbollah in Lebanon to help Mr. Assad. The West thinks of Russia as Mr. Assad’s vital ally, but it is Iran that holds the cards to his survival.
Hope that Turkey and America’s Arab allies would form an alliance that would isolate Iran has not come to pass. Those allies have been divided over what to do with Egypt, and now Syria. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are bickering over whom to support in Syria. Saudi support for Egypt’s generals, who ousted the democratically elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, has alienated Turkey, which supported Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed. For decades the Persian Gulf monarchies bought the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now the Islamists and the gulf rulers are competing for support of the Sunni Arab world. This gives Iran a strategic opportunity to exploit its role as a regional power broker.
Iran’s main nemesis, however, remains the United States. America’s withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, and its strategic “pivot” toward Asia, have been welcome news in Tehran. American standing in the region has taken a toll with the Obama administration’s decision not to enforce its own red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. That created an opening for Iran’s chief ally, Russia, to play a critical role at the United Nations as a diplomatic broker.
Meanwhile, after Mr. Obama’s historic (though brief) phone conversation with Mr. Rouhani, pressure from Israel led Mr. Obama to reiterate, after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, that he would not rule out the use of force to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Mr. Netanyahu went before the United Nations to call Mr. Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
In short, as America approaches talks with Iran over its nuclear program, it must not assume that Iran is ready to surrender. America’s reduced credibility in the Middle East, because of its waffling over Syria, is an equally important dynamic in the equation.
America will be going to the negotiating table without the credible threat of war, facing an Iran basking in newfound domestic stability and benefiting from its pivotal role in Syria. Negotiations between the two, for the first time, cannot be based on threatening Iran into submission, but on persuading it to compromise. That demands of America an approach to match the “heroic flexibility” that Ayatollah Khamenei has called for.
Expect no grand bargain with Iran in the short run, but rather, the lifting of specific sanctions in exchange for concrete steps to slow down Iran’s nuclear program and open it to international scrutiny. That would be an important first step, which could build bilateral trust and give diplomacy the impetus it needs to succeed.
Vali R. Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is a contributing opinion writer.
Stratfor on cyber chief hit
Reply #621 on:
October 07, 2013, 10:51:28 AM »
For the second day in a row, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has denied that the recent death of Mojtaba Ahmadi, an Iranian allegedly working under a cyberwarfare unit linked to the corps, was an assassination. The murky details surrounding Ahmadi's death raise many more questions than answers, but the information released so far does not appear to support widespread speculation that this was either an Israeli-orchestrated operation or the result of an IRGC power struggle amid a developing U.S.-Iranian dialogue.
Mojtaba Ahmadi was found dead Oct. 2 in a forested area near his home in the town of Karaj, northwest of Tehran. An eyewitness at the scene of the police investigation told Alborz news agency, a regional media outlet based in northwestern Iran, that Ahmadi had two bullet wounds in his chest, suggesting he was shot at close range. The local police chief also told Alborz that two motorcycles were seeing fleeing the scene. Footage of Ahmadi's funeral procession was shown on local television and members of his cyberwarfare unit offered condolences on a Facebook page.
Adding to the confusion surrounding his death, reports surfaced Oct. 4 claiming that a largely exile-based Iranian monarchist group called Soldiers of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran had claimed responsibility for the murder. Sharif, the IRGC official who denied Ahmadi's death was an assassination, also dismissed these claims, saying the group "has nothing to do with assassination whatsoever, and this group intends to use this case in its favor." The group's stated goal is to overthrow the clerics and restore the monarchy in Iran through a series of attacks on the regime in what it calls Operation Tondar, the Persian word for thunder. The group claimed a 2008 bombing at a mosque in Shiraz, but those links were never proven. Two of the group's members were also executed following the 2009 post-election unrest for alleged anti-regime activities. The organization's monarchism is more in line with the ambitions of pockets of the Iranian diaspora in the West than Iran's domestic opposition, and the organization has not demonstrated serious militant capabilities.
While it is clear that Ahmadi died under mysterious circumstances, the IRGC has avoided terming his death an assassination. A headline Oct. 3 from Sepah news agency, a mouthpiece for the IRGC, read: "Denial of news reports of the assassination of one of IRGC's officials." Without naming Ahmadi specifically, the report said, "In the wake of a horrific incident involving one of the IRGC officials...the matter is being investigated and the main reason of the event and the motive of the attacker have not been specified." IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif then told Iranian Student News Agency on Oct. 4 that while the death of a member of the "Karaj Corps" has "fueled suspicions from the very beginning...that it was an assassination...the investigation made clear it was not an assassination" and the police are continuing their investigation.
It is highly notable that Iranian officials, both political leaders and IRGC, are trying to downplay the incident. By not terming the death an assassination, the Iranian regime wants to give the impression that the incident was not politically motivated. At the same time, no official statements blaming the Israeli Mossad have been made so far, in contrast to the Iranian reaction to previous assassinations of scientists linked to Iran's nuclear program.
Israel has never outright claimed an assassination in Iran but has coyly suggested in previous statements that it was pleased with the outcome. Those statements would indirectly convey a message that Israel had covert reach into Iran to sabotage the country's nuclear program, with the possible help of operatives belonging to local militant organizations such as Mujahideen-e-Khalq. This time, however, Israel has deliberately distanced itself from the incident. Former Shin Bet intelligence chief and current Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri said on Israel Radio on Oct. 4 that "The fact that this or that leading Iranian nuclear or cyber figure is killed did not mean that Israel was necessarily involved." He added, "Many of these events are the consequence of internal disputes in Iran," and that while the deaths of such figures can sometimes have an impact, "There are always replacements...and such acts do not always cause a slowing or a reduction" of the threat posed by Iran.
Israel is deeply unnerved by the developing dialogue between the United States and Iran and is highly skeptical that this negotiation will lead to the verifiable containment of an Iranian nuclear threat. Israel therefore has an incentive to try to derail the talks, but carrying out an assassination at this early stage of the negotiation would risk seriously damaging Israel's position vis-a-vis the United States. Israel simply cannot afford to alienate Washington when it still lacks the ability to independently attack Iran's nuclear program. So far, interactions between the United States and Israel do not suggest that the United States is holding Israel responsible for the death of Ahmadi.
There are also factions within Iran that oppose Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's outreach to the United States. The IRGC in particular is the entity to watch inside Iran for attempts to derail Rouhani's strategy as the organization seeks to protect the economic assets and political influence it has developed during the sanctions regime. This concern is what drove the supreme leader and Rouhani to publicly warn the IRGC against interfering in this political strategy, with a promise that the IRGC would not see its economic interests threatened. Still, factions within the IRGC are uneasy over the talks, and the possibility that assassinations and other forms of intimidation can occur in Iran remains as the negotiations progress. However, Ahmadi does not appear to be a likely target in an internal IRGC power struggle. He is not a high-profile, politicized or controversial figure whose death would send a message to others either supporting or resisting the negotiation. Nor does Ahmadi appear to be a vital asset to the IRGC's core operations.
The murkiness surrounding Ahmadi's death leaves much to be explained, but so far, his death does not appear to fit neatly into a theory of foreign sabotage or internal power struggles. His death may well have been linked to a personal dispute at a politically sensitive time, though it is still too early to draw conclusions either way. What is clear, however, is that the Iranian clerical regime and IRGC is coordinated enough to downplay the incident overall and deny a political motive. Had this been a manifestation of an internal power struggle, we would likely be seeing more visible signs of conflict than this level of coordination. At the very least, this suggests enough political coherence to preserve the negotiation with the United States for now.
Morris: Obama up to sneaky giveaway?
Reply #622 on:
October 23, 2013, 12:05:05 PM »
Christians lashed for drinking communion wine
Reply #623 on:
October 31, 2013, 02:47:45 PM »
Reply #624 on:
November 15, 2013, 11:41:31 AM »
U.N. Says Iran Has Virtually Frozen Nuclear Program in Last Few Months
Move Could Aid Next Round of Negotiations With World Powers
By Jay Solomon And Carol E. Lee
Updated Nov. 14, 2013 7:48 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Iran has virtually frozen the expansion of its vast nuclear program since President Hasan Rouhani took office in August, the United Nations reported, potentially aiding diplomacy between Tehran and global powers that resumes next week.
After installing thousands of new centrifuge machines earlier this year, Iran added only four at its two uranium-enrichment sites during the past three months, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
Tehran also didn't put in place any major new components at the heavy-water reactor it is constructing in the city of Arak. Once completed, the facility will be capable of producing plutonium usable in nuclear weapons within a year.
Mr. Rouhani's government kept its stockpile of near weapons-grade nuclear fuel at below 250 kilograms, the amount required to produce one nuclear weapon if processed further, according to the IAEA. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to attack Iran's nuclear facilities if Tehran crosses this red line.
"This report indicates that Iran has made the political decision to pause the expansion of its enrichment capabilities," said the Arms Control Association, a Washington think tank, in a report released Thursday. "It could quickly reverse course and nearly double its numbers of operating centrifuges."
Israeli and Arab officials have voiced deep skepticism in recent days over Mr. Rouhani's overtures.
They say that Iran has already developed such a vast infrastructure for nuclear-fuel production that it may soon be able to make a quick dash to producing enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb. They suspect the country is committed to developing a nuclear-weapons capability.
Nevertheless, a senior administration official said it is a positive sign that Iran isn't moving forward with those installments and helps talks when the Iranians aren't taking provocative steps, though the official added the U.S. can't ascribe motivation to the moves.
"It is positive but at the same time, it isn't a substitute" for getting agreement on a first phase of a deal, the official said.
The IAEA's quarterly report on Iran came as global powers—made up of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany—prepare to resume negotiations with Iran next week in Geneva. The talks are aimed at preventing Tehran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for a loosening of international sanctions.
A negotiating round this month nearly reached an accord, but broke down in the final stages because of continued concerns about the status of the Arak reactor and the numbers and capacity of Iran's centrifuges, according to American and European officials who took part in the talks.
President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials said they were hopeful that an interim agreement to contain Iran's nuclear work can still be reached. They also cautioned U.S. lawmakers against imposing new sanctions on Iran's oil exports and banks while the diplomacy gathers momentum.
"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, then there is no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them to the table in the first place," Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the White House. "Now, if it turns out they can't deliver, they can't come to the table in a serious way and get this issue resolved, the sanctions can be ramped back up."
Some American lawmakers and key U.S. allies including Israel and Saudi Arabia are concerned an agreement won't go far enough in preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, which Iran denies it is seeking.
Members of Congress and these allies are pressing the White House for a complete suspension of Iran's uranium-enrichment program and the dismantling of Arak in exchange for sanctions relief. But U.S. officials have indicated that such demands are unlikely to be enforced in an initial agreement with Iran.
The IAEA report tracked a significant slowing of Iran's nuclear work since August. President Rouhani took office that month pledging to end Iran's standoff with the West over the nuclear issue.
The IAEA said Iran added only four centrifuges to the more than 10,000 currently in place at the uranium-enrichment facilities in the cities of Natanz and Qom.
Perhaps most important to the West, Iran didn't install any of its more advanced centrifuges, called the IR-2Ms, since August. These machines are believed to be capable of cutting by a third the time required to produce nuclear fuel.
The IAEA also outlined in its report the details of an agreement reached last week with Iran that will allow for more expansive monitoring of the nuclear program.
In particular, the Vienna-based agency said it would gain access over the next three months to some of Iran's uranium mines, the Arak heavy water reactor, and the detailed plans for new enrichment facilities Iran says it is building.
The IAEA, however, has still failed to gain Iran's approval to visit a military site south of Tehran, called Parchin. The U.N. suspects the site may have been involved in testing explosives triggers used in producing atomic bombs.
US is unprepared to strike Iran
Reply #625 on:
November 23, 2013, 11:35:25 AM »
Reply #626 on:
November 23, 2013, 09:19:17 PM »
I can't get to article.
Can you post the article itself?
Reply #627 on:
November 23, 2013, 11:35:59 PM »
Iran deal: Same world, opposite risk assessments
Reply #628 on:
November 24, 2013, 07:50:01 PM »
Iran deal: Same world, opposite risk assessments
"Or, as Obama enthused, if Iran “seizes this opportunity” to prove to the world that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes, then “the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.”
Really? How about Iran’s part in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s massacre of tens of thousands of people? How about its continued development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that were not even mentioned in the Geneva agreement? How about its role in exporting terrorism around the globe? How about its stoning of women accused of adultery, hanging of homosexuals and gruesome rate of executions? How about the anti- Semitic ranting of its leaders? Does all of the above really render the world a safer place, as Obama said? This agreement shows that Iran can indeed do all of the above, yet still get to be a member of the international community."
Reply #629 on:
November 24, 2013, 09:59:17 PM »
That struck me as a perceptive analysis Rachel.
Reply #630 on:
November 24, 2013, 11:44:14 PM »
The good news is that this catastrophe will make Obamacare look like a minor inconvenience.
Who could have forseen that Obama would fcuk Israel ?
Iran's view: 'We Will Continue Nuclear Activities'
Reply #631 on:
November 25, 2013, 12:18:31 AM »
Iran's Foreign Minister: “The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,”
“The (nuclear) program has been recognized and the Iranian people’s right to use the peaceful nuclear technology based on the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and as an inalienable right has been recognized and countries are necessitated not to create any obstacle on its way,” [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif said in a press conference in Geneva on Saturday morning.
“The (nuclear) program will continue and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,” he added.
He said the next six months will be a serious start towards “the full removal of all UN Security Council, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, while the country’s enrichment program will be maintained.” “Production of 5-percent-enriched uranium will continue in the country similar the past,” Zarif continued.
“None of the enrichment centers will be closed and Fordo and Natanz will continue their work and the Arak heavy water program will continue in its present form and no material (enriched uranium stockpiles) will be taken out of the country and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country. The current sanctions will move towards decrease, no sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return,” he continued.
“This is a great success that the attempts made by the Zionist regime’s leaders to misrepresent Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and the Iranian people’s face were foiled,” he said.
“Iran’s enrichment program has been recognized both in the first step and in the goals section and in the final step as well,” Zarif said.
“The fact that all these pressures have failed to cease Iran’s enrichment program is a very important success for the Iranian nation’s resistance,” he added.
Bargaining theory and the Iran deal
Reply #632 on:
November 25, 2013, 05:14:53 AM »
From the article:
War is costly to all sides in a conflict. If states knew the outcome of a war, they would prefer to agree to that outcome via a bargain without ever fighting. As the Monkey Cage’s (and Stanford’s) James Fearon has pointed out in a famous article, we must thus ask why states sometimes fail to reach such a bargain?
One answer is that leaders act irrationally or that the leaders of states are able to deflect the cost of wars on others while reaping the benefits for themselves. These are plausible answers. Yet, it may also be that all sides act rationally and yet fail to strike a bargain that all would prefer to going to war. Below are some basic insights from theories about such bargaining failures as they apply to Iran.
Reply #633 on:
November 25, 2013, 05:27:18 AM »
People who have sent their children marching into minefields en mass aren't rational actors.
WSJ: Obstacles to the deal
Reply #634 on:
November 25, 2013, 10:12:49 AM »
LONDON—A groundbreaking deal to curb Iran's nuclear program faces towering obstacles at home and abroad to becoming a permanent agreement, starting with the U.S. Congress and two of America's closest allies.
The leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties are threatening to break with President Barack Obama's policy and enact new punitive sanctions on Iran, arguing that the interim deal reached in Geneva on Sunday yields too much to the Islamist regime while asking too little.
"The disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), an influential member of the Senate Democratic leadership. (Thank God for the Israel lobby!)
Such a move could kill the nascent nuclear accord, U.S. and Iranian officials agree, and add to more recent political embarrassments for the White House.
Reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran also faces formidable diplomatic and technical challenges, said U.S. and European officials. Washington wants to eventually dismantle much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, including a heavy water reactor and enrichment facilities, steps Tehran has so far refused to take.
Israeli leaders, watching with trepidation over Iran's interim nuclear agreement, are wrangling over how to ensure the next rounds of diplomacy yield the best possible result for their country.
The White House has signaled it would defend the agreement by directly appealing to lawmakers and to foreign leaders. Mr. Obama on Sunday spoke by telephone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has campaigned against the pact. The U.S. leader said he wanted to consult with Israelis on talks, and agreed Mr. Netanyahu "has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions."
Iran celebrated the deal on Sunday as a political victory for President Hasan Rouhani and a step toward economic relief.
A final agreement could underpin broader American efforts to stabilize the Middle East and end conflicts in Syria and between Israel and the Palestinians, where Tehran actively supports militant groups, these officials said.
Senior U.S. officials said Sunday that a successful conclusion of an Iran accord could redefine the U.S.-Iran relationship, which has been marked by open hostilities since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran.
"I think this is potentially a significant moment, but I'm not going to stand here in some triumphal moment and suggest to you that this is an end unto itself," Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday, following two days of exhaustive negotiations.
As a side benefit, experts expect to see the easing of tensions with Iran lead to a reduction in world oil prices, although the effects will depend in part on how much Iranian oil returns to the market.
Despite the lures of a permanent deal, the Obama administration's outreach to Tehran carries great risks, said U.S. and Mideast officials. Key American allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, are publicly challenging the U.S. policy, claiming it directly threatens their security.
Any further rupture of the security ties with these countries threatens to undermine a U.S. defense system that has been in place in the Mideast for three decades, said regional observers.
"The U.S. diplomacy offers great opportunities but is also very dangerous," said Emile El-Hokayem, a Dubai-based Persian Gulf expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Many American allies see Washington reorienting itself away from its traditional allies."
The interim deal announced Sunday between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N Security Council and Germany requires Iran to freeze its program and the world powers to ease some sanctions. A permanent accord would require each side to go much further, taking steps that Mr. Obama said "won't be easy."
The deal calls for Tehran to curb central parts of its nuclear program in exchange for a rollback of economic sanctions. Iran agreed to freeze its production of near-weapons grade fuel—which is uranium enriched to 20% purity—and to remove its stockpile of the fissile material.
Iran also committed to defer the startup of a heavy-water nuclear reactor in the city of Arak that could begin producing weapons-grade plutonium for potential use in making a nuclear bomb within 18 months.
The U.S. views the deal as a six-month confidence-building phase to allow for talks on a permanent agreement. Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials said it provides U.N. monitors significantly more time and ability to detect if Iran is secretly preparing to "break out" and assemble an atomic weapon.
Israel and Arab states blasted the deal in part because for the first time the West has accepted that Iran will continue enriching uranium on its soil to use in power plants and for other civilian purposes. Successive U.S. administrations, as well as the U.N. Security Council, have called for Iran to suspend all its enrichment activities.
Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday said his nation wasn't bound to respect the new accord—a warning that the Jewish state might still consider military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Saudi officials have privately suggested in recent months that it could be forced to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran was seen benefiting from a weak deal with the global powers, which form a diplomatic bloc called the P5+1.
Proliferation experts said the new agreement contains no specific commitments to address evidence that Iran has clandestinely developed technologies used in creating a nuclear warhead. U.N. officials cite suspected tests in 2000 of implosion devices that are used in making atomic weapons.
"What happens if Iran is caught again procuring equipment for such tests?" said George Perkovich of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "There's nothing in the agreement that addresses this."
Sanctions relief under the agreement is expected to provide Tehran between $6 billion and $7 billion in badly needed foreign-exchange earnings over the next half-year, U.S. officials said. Of this, $4.2 billion will be Iran's earnings from oil sales that have been trapped in overseas bank accounts due to the international sanctions.
The U.S. and Europe are also suspending bans on Iran's trade in petrochemicals, precious metals, automobiles and airplane spare parts.
Mr. Kerry and other American officials stressed that Western financial pressure wouldn't slacken during the six months and that all of the sanctions on Tehran could be reimposed if Iran didn't live up to its commitments.
U.S. officials estimated that Iran would still lose around $25 billion in oil revenue during this confidence-building phase and that $14 billion to $16 billion of its oil revenue will be locked up in overseas banks.
"We are committed to maintaining our commitment to vigorously enforcing the vast majority of the sanctions that are currently in place," Mr. Kerry said.
Israel and the Obama administration's critics on Capitol Hill challenge these numbers, and voiced fears that Washington was letting Tehran get off the financial hook.
Experts on Iran sanctions said it took nearly a decade to bring to bear the financial pressure Tehran is currently facing, and that removing just some of the penalties could weaken the global business community's commitment to their implementation.
Indeed, a number of European companies announced on Sunday that they were preparing to resume operations in Iran.
"Iran has broken the back of the Western sanctions regime," said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank that advises Congress on Iran. "It is an illusion to believe the sanctions will not be eroded significantly by this deal.
Many Iranians stayed up all night to follow the news from Geneva on Persian Satellite channels like BBC Persian and Iranian official news websites. Others woke up to the news of the historic deal, storming social media with messages of congratulations as a sense of euphoria and hope filled the capital Tehran. Commuters on their way to work in Tehran honked their horns and flashed their lights.
Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials say Iran will use this economic lifeline to stabilize their economy but still will be allowed to conduct nuclear work. At the end of the six months, they warned, Iran still will have the capacity to rapidly move toward an atomic weapon.
In Iran, markets immediately started responding to news that some sanctions—such as shipping insurance, petrochemical goods and auto and airplane parts—would be rolled back.
Iran's currency increased value against the dollar on Sunday by about 3%, according to money exchangers in Tehran's currency market. The currency had lost half of its value in the past two years because of the sanctions.
Tehran's stock market reported that investors were rushing to buy shares in industries benefiting from sanctions relief such as petrochemical and shipping. Iranian media reported long lines forming at the Tehran stock exchange.
—Siobhan Hughes, Farnaz Fassihi, Tatyana Shumsky and Laurence Norman contributed to this article.
WSJ: With Baraq-Kerry deal we are fuct
Reply #635 on:
November 25, 2013, 10:17:50 AM »
Iran's Nuclear Triumph
Tehran can continue to enrich uranium at 10,000 working centrifuges.
Updated Nov. 24, 2013 10:18 p.m. ET
President Obama is hailing a weekend accord that he says has "halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program," and we devoutly wish this were true. The reality is that the agreement in Geneva with five Western nations takes Iran a giant step closer to becoming a de facto nuclear power.
Start with the fact that this "interim" accord fails to meet the terms of several United Nations resolutions, which specify no sanctions relief until Iran suspends all uranium enrichment. Under this deal Iran gets sanctions relief, but it does not have to give up its centrifuges that enrich uranium, does not have to stop enriching, does not have to transfer control of its enrichment stockpiles, and does not have to shut down its plutonium reactor at Arak.
Iran nuclear talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. Associated Press
Mr. Obama's weekend statement glossed over these canyon-sized holes. He said Iran "cannot install or start up new centrifuges," but it already has about 10,000 operational centrifuges that it can continue to spin for at least another six months. Why does Tehran need so many centrifuges if not to make a bomb at the time it pleases?
The President also said that "Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles." He is referring to an Iranian pledge to oxidize its 20% enriched uranium stockpile. But this too is less than reassuring because the process can be reversed and Iran retains a capability to enrich to 5%, which used to be a threshold we didn't accept because it can easily be reconverted to 20%.
Mr. Obama said "Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor," but Iran has only promised not to fuel the reactor even as it can continue other work at the site. That is far from dismantling what is nothing more than a bomb factory. North Korea made similar promises in a similar deal with Condoleezza Rice during the final Bush years, but it quickly returned to bomb-making.
As for inspections, Mr. Obama hailed "extensive access" that will "allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments." One problem is that Iran hasn't ratified the additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency agreement that would allow inspections on demand at such sites as Parchin, which remain off limits. Iran can also oust U.N. inspectors at any time, much as North Korea did.
Then there is the sanctions relief, which Mr. Obama says is only "modest" but which reverses years of U.S. diplomacy to tighten and enforce them. The message is that the sanctions era is over. The loosening of the oil regime is especially pernicious, inviting China, India and Germany to get back to business with Iran.
We are told that all of these issues will be negotiated as part of a "final" accord in the next six months, but that is not how arms control works. It is far more likely that this accord will set a precedent for a series of temporary deals in which the West will gradually ease more sanctions in return for fewer Iranian concessions.
Iran will threaten to walk away from the talks without new concessions, and Mr. Obama will not want to acknowledge that his diplomatic achievement wasn't real. The history of arms control is that once it is underway the process dominates over substance, and a Western leader who calls a halt is denounced for risking war. The negotiating advantage lies with the dictatorship that can ignore domestic opinion.
Mr. Obama all but admitted this himself by noting that "only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program." He added that "I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict." Rush to conflict? Iran's covert nuclear program was uncovered a decade ago, and the West has been desperately trying to avoid military action.
The best that can be said is that the weekend deal slows for a few weeks Iran's rapid progress to a nuclear breakout. But the price is that at best it sets a standard that will allow Iran to become a nuclear-capable regime that stops just short of exploding a bomb. At worst, it will allow Iran to continue to cheat and explode a bomb whenever it is strategically convenient to serve its goal of dominating the Middle East.
This seems to be the conclusion in Tehran, where Foreign Minister Javad Zarif boasted that the deal recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium while taking the threat of Western military action off the table. Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini also vouchsafed his approval, only days after he denounced the U.S. and called Jews "rabid dogs."
Israel has a different view of the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." He and his cabinet will now have to make their own calculations about the risks of unilateral military action. Far from having Israel's back, as Mr. Obama likes to say, the U.S. and Europe are moving to a strategy of trying to contain Israel rather than containing Iran. The French also fell into line as we feared they would under U.S. and media pressure.
Mr. Obama seems determined to press ahead with an Iran deal regardless of the details or damage. He views it as a legacy project. A President has enormous leeway on foreign policy, but Congress can signal its bipartisan unhappiness by moving ahead as soon as possible to strengthen sanctions. Mr. Obama warned Congress not to do so in his weekend remarks, but it is the only way now to stop the President from accommodating a nuclear Iran.
Reply #636 on:
November 25, 2013, 10:18:54 AM »
Who says Obama can't turn an economy around ? Unfortunately it's Iran's.
Reply #637 on:
November 25, 2013, 01:34:04 PM »
Quote from: G M on November 25, 2013, 10:18:54 AM
Who says Obama can't turn an economy around ? Unfortunately it's Iran's.
Yes, it takes hard to currency to procure nuclear components. I thought this would be the story under the Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown headline. We aren't gullible, are we?
Reply #638 on:
November 25, 2013, 02:25:32 PM »
I know, it's really a series of strange coincidences how Obama weaken America and harms our allies while empowering our enemies and gives al qaeda nation states to rule.
"If you like your nuclear program, you can keep your nuclear program. PERIOD"
Sadly, the mullahs can take that to their newly solvent bank.
Reply #639 on:
November 25, 2013, 05:19:51 PM »
That is a matter of definition. In the case of the article, "rational" means "preference maximizing."
Quote from: G M on November 25, 2013, 05:27:18 AM
People who have sent their children marching into minefields en mass aren't rational actors.
Reply #640 on:
November 25, 2013, 05:27:35 PM »
During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. The trinkets were meant to be inspirational. After Iraq invaded in September, 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran's forces were no match for Saddam Hussein's professional, well-armed military. To compensate for their disadvantage, Khomeini sent Iranian children, some as young as 12 years old, to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.
By National Post April 25, 2006
During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. The trinkets were meant to be inspirational. After Iraq invaded in September, 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran's forces were no match for Saddam Hussein's professional, well-armed military. To compensate for their disadvantage, Khomeini sent Iranian children, some as young as 12 years old, to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.
These children who marched to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979. This volunteer militia went enthusiastically, and by the thousands, to their own destruction. According to one veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, "It was sometimes like a race. Even without the commander's orders, everyone wanted to be first."
The sacrifice of the Basiji was ghastly. And yet, today, it is a source of growing pride. Since the end of hostilities against Iraq in 1988, the Basiji have grown both in numbers and influence. They have been deployed, above all, as a vice squad to enforce religious law in Iran, and their elite "special units" have been used as shock troops against anti-government forces. Last year, they formed the potent core of the political base that propelled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a man who reportedly served as a Basij instructor during the Iran-Iraq War -- to the presidency.
Ahmadinejad revels in his alliance with the Basiji. He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij power." Ahmadinejad's ascendance on the shoulders of the Basiji means that the Iranian Revolution, launched almost three decades ago, has entered a new and disturbing phase. A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors.
Most Basiji came from the countryside and were often illiterate. When their training was done, each Basiji received a blood-red headband that designated him a volunteer for martyrdom.
The chief combat tactic employed by the Basiji was the human wave attack, whereby barely armed children and teenagers would move continuously toward the enemy in perfectly straight rows. It did not matter whether they fell to enemy fire or detonated the mines with their bodies. Once a path to the Iraqi forces had been opened up, Iranian commanders would send in their more valuable and skilled Revolutionary Guard troops.
"They come toward our positions in huge hordes with their fists swinging," one Iraqi officer complained in the summer of 1982. "You can shoot down the first wave and then the second. But at some point the corpses are piling up in front of you, and all you want to do is scream and throw away your weapon. Those are human beings, after all!"
Why did the Basiji volunteer for such duty? Most were recruited by members of the Revolutionary Guards, which commanded the Basiji. These "special educators" would visit schools and handpick their martyrs from the paramilitary exercises in which all Iranian youth were required to participate. Propaganda films -- like the 1986 TV film A Contribution to the War -- praised this alliance between students and the regime, and undermined those parents who tried to save their children's lives.
In 1982, the German weekly Der Spiegel documented the story of a 12-year-old boy named Hossein, who enlisted with the Basiji despite having polio: "One day, some unknown imams turned up in the village. They called the whole population to the plaza in front of the police station, and they announced that they came with good news: The Islamic Army of Iran had been chosen to liberate the holy city Al-Quds -- Jerusalem -- from the infidels .... The local mullah had decided that every family with children would have to furnish one soldier of God. Because Hossein was the most easily expendable for his family, and because, in light of his illness, he could in any case not expect much happiness in this life, he was chosen by his father to represent the family in the struggle." (Of the 20 children that went into battle with Hossein, only he and two others survived.)
At the beginning of the war, Iran's ruling mullahs did not send human beings into the minefields, but rather animals: donkeys, horses and dogs. But the tactic proved useless: "After a few donkeys had been blown up, the rest ran off in terror," Mostafa Arki reports in his book Eight Years of War in the Middle East.
The donkeys reacted normally -- fear of death is natural. The Basiji, on the other hand, marched fearlessly to their deaths. The curious slogans that they chanted while entering the battlefields are of note: "Against the Yazid of our time!"; "Hussein's caravan is moving on!"; "A new Karbala awaits us!"
Yazid, Hussein, Karbala -- these are all references to the founding myth of Shia Islam. In the late seventh century, Islam was split between those loyal to the Caliph Yazid -- the predecessors of Sunni Islam -- and the founders of Shia Islam, who thought that the Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, should govern the Muslims. In 680, Hussein led an uprising against the "illegitimate" caliph, but he was betrayed. On the plain of Karbala, Yazid's forces attacked Hussein and his entourage and killed them. Hussein's corpse bore the marks of 33 lance punctures and 34 blows of the sword.
His head was cut off and his body was trampled by horses. Ever since, the martyrdom of Hussein has formed the core of Shia theology, and the Ashura Festival that commemorates his death is Shiism's holiest day. On that day, men beat themselves with their fists or flagellate themselves with iron chains to approximate Hussein's sufferings.
At times throughout the centuries, the ritual has grown obscenely violent. In his study Crowds and Power, Elias Canetti recounts a first-hand report of the Ashura Festival as it occurred in mid-19th-century Tehran:
"500,000 people, in the grip of delirium, cover their heads with ashes and beat their foreheads against the ground. They want to subject themselves voluntarily to torments: to commit suicide en masse, to mutilate themselves with refinement ... Hundreds of men in white shirts come by, their faces ecstatically raised toward the sky. Of these, several will be dead this evening."
During the Iran-Iraq War, Khomeini took this inward-directed fervour and channelled it toward the external enemy. He transformed the passive lamentation into active protest. He made the Battle of Karbala the prototype of any fight against tyranny. On the one hand, the scoundrel Yazid, now in the form of Saddam Hussein; on the other, the Prophet's grandson, Hussein, for whose suffering the time of Shia revenge had finally come.
The power of this story was reinforced by a theological twist that Khomeini gave it. According to Khomeini, life is worthless and death is the beginning of genuine existence. This latter world is accessible to martyrs: Their death is no death, but merely the transition from this world to the world beyond, where they will live on eternally and in splendour.
Military victories are secondary, Khomeini explained in September, 1980. The Basiji must "understand that he is a 'soldier of God' for whom it is not so much the outcome of the conflict as the mere participation in it that provides fulfilment and gratification."
For those whose courage still waned in the face of death, the regime put on a show. A mysterious horseman on a magnificent steed would suddenly appear on the front lines. His face -- covered in phosphorus -- would shine. His costume was that of a medieval prince.
A child soldier, Reza Behrouzi, whose story was documented in 1985 by the French writer Freidoune Sehabjam, reported that the soldiers reacted with a mixture of panic and rapture: "Everyone wanted to run toward the horseman. But he drove them away. 'Don't come to me!' he shouted, 'Charge into battle against the infidels! ... Revenge the death of our Imam Hussein and strike down the progeny of Yazid!' "
The mysterious apparition who was able to trigger such emotions is the "hidden imam," a mythical figure who influences Ahmadinejad to this day.
The Shia call all the male descendants of the Prophet Muhammad "imams" and ascribe to them a quasi-divine status. Hussein, who was killed at Karbala by Yazid, was the third Imam. His son and grandson were the fourth and fifth. At the end of this line, there is the "Twelfth Imam," who is named Muhammad.
Some call him the Mahdi (the "divinely guided one"). He was born in 869, the only son of the eleventh Imam. In 874, he disappeared without a trace, thereby bringing Muhammad's lineage to a close. In Shia mythology, however, the Twelfth Imam survived. The Shia believe that he merely withdrew from public view when he was five and that he will emerge from his "occultation" in order to liberate the world from evil.
In Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, V. S. Naipaul described seeing posters in post-Revolutionary Tehran bearing motifs similar to those of Maoist China: crowds, for instance, with rifles and machine guns raised in the air as if in greeting. The posters always bore the same phrase: "Twelfth imam, we are waiting for you."
According to Shia tradition, legitimate Islamic rule can only be established following the twelfth imam's reappearance.
Khomeini, however, had no intention of waiting. He vested the myth with an entirely new sense: The Twelfth Imam will emerge only when the believers have vanquished evil. To speed up the Mahdi's return, Muslims had to shake off their torpor and fight.
It was this culture that nurtured Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's worldview. Born outside Tehran in 1956, the son of blacksmith, he trained as a civil engineer and, during the Iran-Iraq War, he joined the Revolutionary Guards.
His biography remains strangely elliptical. Did he play a role in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy, as some charge? What exactly did he do during the war? We have no definite answers.
We do know that after the war's end, he served as the governor of Ardebil Province and as an organizer of Ansar-e Hezbollah, a radical gang of violent Islamic vigilantes. After becoming mayor of Tehran in April, 2003, Ahmadinejad used his position to build up a strong network of radical Islamic fundamentalists. It was in that role that he won his reputation -- and popularity -- as a hardliner devoted to rolling back the liberal reforms of then-President Muhammad Khatami.
Ahmadinejad positioned himself as the leader of a "second revolution" to eradicate corruption and Western influences from Iranian society. And the Basiji, whose numbers had grown dramatically since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, embraced him.
Recruited from the more conservative and impoverished parts of the population, the Basiji fall under the direction of -- and swear absolute loyalty to -- the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor. During Ahmadinejad's run for the presidency in 2005, the millions of Basiji -- in every Iranian town, neighbourhood, and mosque -- became his unofficial campaign workers.
As Basij ideology and influence enjoy a renaissance under Ahmadinejad, the movement's belief in the virtues of violent self-sacrifice remains intact. Since 2004, the mobilization of Iranians for suicide brigades has intensified, with recruits being trained for foreign missions. Thus, a special military unit has been created bearing the name "Commando of Voluntary Martyrs." According to its own statistics, this force has so far recruited some 52,000 Iranians to the suicidal cause. It aims to form a "martyrdom unit" in every Iranian province.
The Basiji's cult of self-destruction would be chilling in any country. In the context of the Iranian nuclear program, however, its obsession with martyrdom amounts to a lit fuse. Nowadays, Basiji are sent not into the desert, but rather into the laboratory. Basij students are encouraged to enroll in technical and scientific disciplines. According to a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Guard, the aim is to use the "technical factor" in order to augment "national security."
What exactly does that mean? Consider that in December, 2001, former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani explained that "the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything." On the other hand, if Israel responded with its own nuclear weapons, it "will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality."
Rafsanjani thus spelled out a macabre cost-benefit analysis. It might not be possible to destroy Israel without suffering retaliation. But, for Islam, the level of damage Israel could inflict is bearable -- only 100,000 or so additional martyrs for Islam.
And Rafsanjani is a member of the moderate, pragmatic wing of the Iranian Revolution; he believes that any conflict ought to have a "worthwhile" outcome. Ahmadinejad, by contrast, is predisposed toward apocalyptic thinking. In one of his first TV interviews after being elected president, he enthused: "Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr's death?" In September, 2005, he concluded his first speech before the United Nations by imploring God to bring about the return of the Twelfth Imam.
A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable. Why should an Iranian president engage in pragmatic politics when his assumption is that, in three or four years, the saviour will appear? If the messiah is coming, why compromise? That is why, up to now, Ahmadinejad has pursued confrontational policies with evident pleasure.
The history of the Basiji shows that we must expect monstrosities from the current Iranian regime. Already, what began in the early 1980s with the clearing of minefields by human detonators has spread throughout the Middle East, as suicide bombing has become the terrorist tactic of choice. And the Basiji who once upon a time wandered the desert armed only with a walking stick is today working as a chemist in a uranium enrichment facility.
- Matthias Kuntzel is a political scientist in Hamburg, Germany and author of Djihad und Judenhass (Jihad and Jew-Hatred).
Tehran's 'Pond Of Blood'
Reply #641 on:
November 25, 2013, 05:34:32 PM »
Tehran's 'Pond Of Blood'
February 25th, 2010
Is the Iranian government interested in finding peaceful solutions to the standoff with the West?
Its own internal politics don’t seem to bear this out. Speaking on the recent opposition movement, a representative of Iran’s supreme leader said recently that it would be worth it to kill 75,000 Iranians for the regime to survive. This is grim, but unsurprising. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, himself said, “Those who say Islam should not kill don’t understand [it]. Killing is a great [divine] gift that appears [to man]. A religion that does not include [provisions for] killing and massacre is incomplete.”
In light of this, it should come as little surprise that in the early ‘80s Tehran hosted a fountain of faux blood, ostensibly as a way of intimidating its enemies. Radio Free Europe recently translated an Iranian blog about this infamous fountain.
In the early years of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, a pond with several sections was built near an area dedicated to martyrs at the Beheshte Zahra graveyard in Tehran. Its fountain spurted blood. It became known as the "Pond of Blood." Obviously, it was not actual blood but only red coloring mixed in the water.
The fame of this pond even reached overseas, to the point that foreign journalists would strive to take pictures of it.
Once, the Iranian daily “Etelaat” published a special issue about the war with a picture of the fountain on the cover, with a caption consisting of a saying by Imam
Khomeini: "All in all, our revolution was a blessing."
The publication of that picture with that caption provoked the rage of the Hizbullahi fellows and protests began. The forces of the Revolutionary Guards were sent to the newspaper's offices to arrest and punish those behind the publication. In the end, the matter was solved by the dismissal of a few "Etelaat" employees and an apology from the head of the newspaper.
The construction of the pond, which had a symbolic and propaganda value, proved to be more painful to the families of the martyrs than to Iran's enemies. Hence, the bloody water was removed and now normal water flows in it.
There may still be peaceful avenues available to resolve this crisis, including sanctions against the regime’s primary supports and support for the opposition movement. But, it may not be reasonable to assume that a regime which considers it rational to kill thousands of its own people, and which celebrates death, would be quick to compromise with a West it may view with even greater enmity than an opposition movement.
Reply #642 on:
November 25, 2013, 09:27:24 PM »
So you don't like the definition??? All your posts don't change the definition.
The "rationality" described by rational choice theory is different from the colloquial and most philosophical use of the word. Typically, "rationality" means "sane" or "in a thoughtful clear-headed manner,." Rational choice theory uses a specific and narrower definition of "rationality" simply to mean that an individual acts as if balancing costs against benefits to arrive at action that maximizes personal advantage.
In rational choice theory, all decisions, crazy or sane, are
postulated as mimicking such a "rational
I cannot believe it
Reply #643 on:
November 25, 2013, 11:22:06 PM »
For possibly the first time ever - I agree and appreciate Chuck Schumer's comments:
"The disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.).
I hope it isn't the last time he stands up. We will see. Will Hillary jump in and pretend to be Israel' savior?
Iran leaders have concluded what we on this board concluded over a year ago, if not over two years ago.
Obama has already decided to let Iran go nuclear with a "containment" strategy. He played Netanyahu for a sucker. He had to "contain" Israel first.
If we could see it certainly the mullahs were laughing all the way to uranium mine.
Reply #644 on:
November 26, 2013, 09:43:15 AM »
What's the logical endgame for the mullahs and that of the president ?
Reply #645 on:
November 26, 2013, 02:35:41 PM »
a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.
b) Schumer, despite the liberal fascist anus that he is, is also an ardent defender of Israel. Coincidentally enough, this coincides with his prospects of being (re)elected in the State of NY.
Brought to you by the folks who left four to die in Benghazi
Reply #646 on:
November 26, 2013, 04:58:00 PM »
Iran releases full text of the agreement
Reply #647 on:
November 27, 2013, 01:26:10 AM »
Is this consistent with what President Obama and Sec. Kerry have been saying?
EHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called invalid a press release by the White House alleged to be the text of the nuclear agreement struck by Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) in Geneva on Sunday.
“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Tuesday.
She said that the four-page text under the name of the Joint Plan of Action (which has been released by the Iranian foreign ministry) was the result of the agreement reached during the Geneva talks and all of its sentences and words were chosen based on the considerations of all parties to the talks. In fact one of the reasons why negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 took so long pertained to the accuracy which was needed for choosing the words for the text of the agreement, Afkham said, explaining that the Iranian delegation was much rigid and laid much emphasis on the need for this accuracy.
Afkham said that the text of the Joint Plan of Action was provided to the media a few hours after the two sides agreed on it.
After the White House released a modified version of the deal struck by Iran and the six world powers in Geneva early Sunday morning, the Iranian Foreign Ministry released the text of the agreement.
The full text of the deal is as follows:
Geneva, 24 November 2013
Joint Plan of Action
The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons. This comprehensive solution would build on these initial measures and result in a final step for a period to be agreed upon and the resolution of concerns. This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-bystep process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme.
There would be additional steps in between the initial measures and the final step, including, among other things, addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council's consideration of this matter. The E3+3 and Iran will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures and the comprehensive solution in good faith. A Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 and Iran will be established to monitor the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that may arise, with the IAEA responsible for verification of nuclear-related measures. The Joint Commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern.
Elements of a first step The first step would be time-bound, with a duration of 6 months, and renewable by mutual consent, during which all parties will work to maintain a constructive atmosphere for negotiations in good faith. Iran would undertake the following voluntary measures:
• From the existing uranium enriched to 20%, retain half as working stock of 20% oxide for fabrication of fuel for the TRR. Dilute the remaining 20% UF6 to no more than 5%. No reconversion line.
• Iran announces that it will not enrich uranium over 5% for the duration of the 6 months.
• Iran announces that it will not make any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant1, Fordow2, or the Arak reactor3, designated by the IAEA as IR-40.
• Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.
• No new locations for the enrichment.
• Iran will continue its safeguarded R&D practices, including its current enrichment R&D practices, which are not designed for accumulation of the enriched uranium.
• No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.
• Enhanced monitoring:
o Provision of specified information to the IAEA, including information on Iran's plans for nuclear facilities, a description of each building on each nuclear site, a description of the scale of operations for each location engaged in specified nuclear activities, information on uranium mines and mills, and information on source material. This information would be provided within three months of the adoption of these measures.
o Submission of an updated DIQ for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40, to the IAEA.
o Steps to agree with the IAEA on conclusion of the Safeguards Approach for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40.
o Daily IAEA inspector access when inspectors are not present for the purpose of Design Information Verification, Interim Inventory Verification, Physical Inventory Verification, and unannounced inspections, for the purpose of access to offline surveillance records, at Fordow and Natanz.
o IAEA inspector managed access to:
centrifuge assembly workshops4;
centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities; and, uranium mines and mills.
1 Namely, during the 6 months, Iran will not feed UF6 into the centrifuges installed but not enriching uranium. Not install additional centrifuges. Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.
2 At Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium, and not increase enrichment capacity. Not
feed UF6 into the other 12 cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections between cascades.
Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.
3 Iran announces on concerns related to the construction of the reactor at Arak that for 6 months it will not commission the reactor or transfer fuel or heavy water to the reactor site and will not test additional fuel or produce more fuel for the reactor or install remaining components.
4 Consistent with its plans, Iran's centrifuge production during the 6 months will be dedicated to replace damaged machines.
In return, the E3/EU+3 would undertake the following voluntary measures:
• Pause efforts to further reduce Iran's crude oil sales, enabling Iran's current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. Enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad. For such oil sales, suspend the EU and U.S. sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services.
• Suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on:
o Iran's petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services.5 o Gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions on associated services.
• Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran's auto industry, as well as sanctions on associated services.
• License the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services. License safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services.6
• No new nuclear-related UN Security Council sanctions.
• No new EU nuclear-related sanctions.
• The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the
Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.
• Establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran's domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad. Humanitarian trade would be defined as transactions involving food and agricultural products, medicine, medical devices, and medical expenses incurred abroad. This channel would involve specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian banks to be defined when establishing the channel.
o This channel could also enable:
transactions required to pay Iran's UN obligations; and, direct tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad, up to an agreed amount for the six month period.
• Increase the EU authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.
5 "Sanctions on associated services" means any service, such as insurance, transportation, or financial, subject to the underlying U.S. or EU sanctions applicable, insofar as each service is related to the underlying sanction and required to facilitate the desired transactions. These services could involve any non-designated Iranian entities.
6 Sanctions relief could involve any non-designated Iranian airlines as well as Iran Air.
Elements of the final step of a comprehensive solution*
The final step of a comprehensive solution, which the parties aim to conclude negotiating and commence implementing no more than one year after the adoption of this document, would:
• Have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon.
• Reflect the rights and obligations of parties to the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Agreements.
• Comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon.
• Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon.
• Fully resolve concerns related to the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40.
No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.
• Fully implement the agreed transparency measures and enhanced monitoring. Ratify and implement the Additional Protocol, consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Majlis (Iranian parliament).
• Include international civil nuclear cooperation, including among others, on acquiring modern light water power and research reactors and associated equipment, and the supply of modern nuclear fuel as well as agreed R&D practices.
Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.
* With respect to the final step and any steps in between, the standard principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" applies.
Reply #648 on:
November 27, 2013, 03:51:42 AM »
Obama lied to the American public? GTFO!
Reply #649 on:
November 27, 2013, 05:03:25 AM »
This is explained in both articles I posted.
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on November 26, 2013, 02:35:41 PM
a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.
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