France wrecks P5+1 deal for Arab money
10 November, 2013 – By Finian Cunningham – PressTV
The French deal-breaking intervention at the P5+1 negotiation with Iran may have been motivated by France wanting to ingratiate itself with the Persian Gulf monarchies for strategic economic reasons.
Negotiations to resolve the nuclear deadlock and lift economic sanctions on Iran appeared to be near a breakthrough agreement after three days of talks in the Swiss capital, Geneva, over the weekend.
The hasty arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany raised expectations that a potential deal was in the offing. But it was the French diplomat, Laurent Fabius, who threw a spanner in the works at the last-minute.
Fabius invoked “security concerns of Israel” and announced that his country was not going to sign a draft agreement. The French intervention appeared to catch participants by surprise.
An unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters, “The Americans, the EU and the Iranians have been working intensively for months on this proposal and this is nothing more than an attempt by Fabius to insert himself into relevance late in the negotiations.”
However, contrary to Fabius’ words and speculation by some analysts, the French motive seem less about appeasing Israel and France’s formidable Jewish lobby, and more to do with pandering to the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Israeli opposition to any deal with Iran over the 10-year nuclear dispute is, of course, obvious. On the eve of the latest talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was almost apoplectic in urging Western states to reject “a deal of the century for Iran.”
Equally as disconcerted about a possible accord were the Wahhabi monarchies led by Saudi Arabia, which view Shia Iran as an archenemy for influence in the Middle East. Only days before the latest round of P5+1 talks in Geneva, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal told the Washington Post in an interview that his country was opposed to lifting sanctions on Iran.
One of the most striking political developments in recent months is the alignment of Israel with the House of Saud and the other Persian Gulf Arab regimes in terms of foreign policy objectives and adversity towards Iran.
Another salient development has been the strategic economic cooperation between France and the Persian Gulf oil kingdoms. Major sectors of interest include energy, water and electrical infrastructure, construction and weapons sales.
The French government has been embarking on an aggressive bilateral investment drive with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.
In April this year, Paris hosted a Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum attended by 500 businessmen from both countries.
French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bertrand Besancenot, said, “Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of France in the region and the bilateral relationship is of paramount importance in the economic field,” pointing out that bilateral trade has doubled over the last five years.
In July, French company Veolia won a $500 million contract to build and operate water desalination plants in Saudi Arabia. That contract is reckoned to be the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, and from the French point of view, it is a model for the future, given that water and electricity infrastructure right across the Persian Gulf oil kingdoms is a vital development need for decades to come. …more
November 10, 2013 No Comments
What a Surprise: U.S.-Based Iran “Experts” Promoting Israeli Policy
by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett – 29 October, 2013
As the new round of nuclear diplomacy between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 unfolds, an informal coalition of forces is coalescing in the West to oppose any prospective deal in which the United States would “accept” safeguarded uranium enrichment in Iran. Of course, Israel and the pro-Israel lobby are at the heart of this coalition. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks about the Iran nuclear talks on NBC’s Meet the Press this past Sunday, see here, are emblematic of the “zero enrichment” camp:
“The question is not of hope; the question is of actual result. The test is the result. The result has to be the full dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear program. If that is achieved, that would be very good. If it’s achieved peacefully, it’s even better…I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program—that is, dismantles it. I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime. And I think that you don’t want to go through halfway measures…
As far as the freezing of assets—as far as I remember, those assets were frozen for three reasons: one, Iran’s terrorist actions; two, its aggressive actions, particularly in the Gulf; and three, its continued refusal to stop the production of weapons of mass destruction. You know, if you get all three done, and they stop doing it—well, then, I suppose you could unfreeze them…Those sanctions weren’t Israeli sanctions. I’ve always advocated them, but the international community adopted very firm resolutions by the Security Council, and here’s what those resolutions say: they said Iran should basically dismantle its centrifuges for enrichment (that’s one path to get a nuclear weapon) and stop work on its plutonium heavy-water reactor (that’s the other path for a nuclear weapon).
It’s very important to stress that it’s for nuclear weapons. Nobody challenges Iran’s or any country’s pursuit of civilian nuclear energy. But seventeen countries in the world, including your neighbors Canada and Mexico, have very robust programs for civilian nuclear energy, and they don’t enrich with centrifuges, and they don’t have heavy water plutonium reactors.
Here comes Iran and says, ‘I want civilian nuclear energy.’ I don’t know why, because they have energy, with gas and oil, coming out of their ears for generations. But suppose you believe them. Then you ask, ‘Why do you insist on maintaining a plutonium heavy water reactor, and on maintaining centrifuges that can only be used for making nuclear weapons?’ And the answer is because they want to have residual capability to make nuclear weapons. And you don’t want that, and UN resolutions don’t want that, Security Council resolutions. And I propose sticking by that.”
October 29, 2013 No Comments
Russia Right to Dismiss Obama Nuke Fakery
Finian CUNNINGHAM – 21 June, 2012
Obama’s Berlin speech this week urging Russia to join the US in making sweeping cuts to their stockpiles of nuclear weapons was fittingly delivered at the German capital’s historic Brandenburg Gate.
For it was another Obama «landmark» delivery of style over substance; histrionics over history; and sentimentalism over seriousness. Unfortunately, 6,000 invited German guests bought the charade with resounding, frequent applauses.
Historians may note that the world-famous Berlin gate was commissioned back in 1788 by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II as a «triumphal symbol of peace».
But, sadly, the Brandenburg Gate has in actuality come to be associated with wars and conflict. This mismatch in reality and illusion is appropriate for Obama’s «landmark» declamation this week.
A brief history recounts how the gate was adopted as an icon by Nazi Germany to adorn the trappings of its war machine. After the Second World War, the neoclassical arch then stood at the heart of the division of Berlin and Europe by the nuclear-powered Western allies and the Soviet Union. Western historians typically blame Moscow for establishing the Berlin Wall, without the context of Washington and London instigating the Cold War aggression under the threat of nuclear weapons at the close of the Second World War, when the Western allies also covertly rearmed the Nazi war machine against the Soviet Union.
So, just like the Brandenburg Gate itself, Obama’s speech this week belongs more in the realm of fanciful sentiment and deception rather than in credible substance.
The supposed highlight of the American president’s speech was his declared aim to push harder for nuclear arms reduction. Let’s take a closer look at his supposedly earnest words.
Obama declared: «Because of the New START Treaty, we’re on track to cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.»
That is partially true. The world’s nuclear arsenal – of which the US and Russia account for 90 per cent – has been on a steep decline since the end of the Cold War in 1991. There is currently estimated to be about 17,000 nuclear warheads worldwide – down from the high point of 68,000 in 1985. The US and Russia currently account for about 8,000 total nuclear weapons apiece.
Of these, only about 25 per cent of the stockpiles are believed to be active, giving about 2,000 each. The New START accord of 2010 referred to by Obama in his speech seeks to limit the arsenals to 1,550 each. Obama is now saying that after «a comprehensive review» he wants Russia and the US to push even harder for deeper cuts to about 1,000 warheads – a further one-third reduction than the START deal obliges. …more
June 21, 2013 No Comments
Era of atomic bombs over: President Ahmadinejad
16 April, 2013 – Shia Post
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the era of atomic bombs is over and the use of nuclear weapons will no longer influence political equations.
“The era of the atomic bomb is over. Atomic bombs are no longer useful and have no effect on political equations. Atomic bombs belong to the last century, and anyone who thinks he can rule the world by atomic bombs is a political fool,” Ahmadinejad said during his visit to Benin on Monday.
Ahmadinejad added that imperialism is what currently threatens the world, not nuclear weapons.
The Iranian president said world powers seek to maintain their monopoly over nuclear energy and are using propaganda tools to insinuate the idea that nuclear energy equates a nuclear bomb – which is “a big lie.”
“Nuclear energy is one thing and an atomic bomb is another. This useful energy must belong to all nations,” Ahmadinejad stated.
“We are fighting so that all nations could use peaceful nuclear energy,” the Iranian president said, adding that although monopolists were resisting, they would fail against the struggles of independent countries such as Iran, and African and Latin American states.
Those countries that possess large stockpiles of nuclear weapons deceptively claim that they are against the use of such arms, Ahmadinejad said. He added that if those countries oppose the use of nuclear weapons, they must not be in possession of the weapons.
Ahmadinejad left Tehran for a three-day tour of Africa on Sunday at the head of a high-ranking delegation.
April 17, 2013 No Comments
Iranian Bomb Graph Appears Adapted from One on Internet
By Gareth Porter – 13 December, 2012 – IPS
WASHINGTON, Dec 13 2012 (IPS) – The suspect graph of a nuclear explosion reportedly provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as evidence of Iranian computer modeling of nuclear weapons yields appears to have been adapted from a very similar graph in a scholarly journal article published in January 2009 and available on the internet.
Graph published by the scholarly journal Nuclear Engineering and Design, Volume 239, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 80–86.
The graph, published in a Nov. 27 Associated Press story but immediately found to have a mathematical error of four orders of magnitude, closely resembles a graph accompanying a scholarly article modeling a nuclear explosion. It provides a plausible explanation for the origins of the graph leaked to AP, according to two nuclear physicists following the issue closely.
The graph in the scholarly journal article was well known to the IAEA at the time of its publication, according to a knowledgeable source.
That means that the IAEA should have been able to make the connection between the set of graphs alleged to have been used by Iran to calculate yields from nuclear explosions that the agency obtained in 2011 and the very similar graph available on the internet.
The IAEA did not identify the member countries that provided the intelligence about the alleged Iran studies. However, Israel provided most of the intelligence cited by the IAEA in its 2011 report, and Israeli intelligence has been the source of a number of leaks to the AP reporter in Vienna, George Jahn.
Graph published by the Associated Press on Nov. 27, 2012, reportedly as evidence of Iranian computer modeling of nuclear weapons yields.
The graph accompanying an article in the January 2009 issue of the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design by retired Swiss nuclear engineer Walter Seifritz displayed a curve representing power in a nuclear explosion over fractions of a second that is very close to the one shown in the graph published by AP and attributed by the officials leaking it to an Iranian scientist.
Both graphs depict a nuclear explosion as an asymmetrical bell curve in which the right side of the curve is more elongated than the left side. Although both graphs are too crudely drawn to allow precise measurement, it appears that the difference between the two sides of the curve on the two graphs is very close to the same in both graphs.
The AP graph appears to show a total energy production of 50 kilotonnes taking place over about 0.3 microseconds, whereas the Seifritz graph shows a total of roughly 18 kilotonnes produced over about 0.1 microseconds.
The resemblance is so dramatic that two nuclear specialists who compared the graphs at the request of IPS consider it very plausible that the graph leaked to AP as part of an Iranian secret nuclear weapons research programme may well have been derived from the one in the journal article.
Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told IPS he suspects the graph leaked to AP was “adapted from the open literature”. He said he believes the authors of that graph “were told they ought to look into the literature and found that paper, copied (the graph) and made their own plot from it.” …more
December 13, 2012 No Comments
Iran, Arabs slam Mideast nuclear talks delay
27 November, 2012 – Reuters – The Daily Star
VIENNA: Iran and Arab nations Monday criticized a decision to put off talks on banning atomic bombs in the Middle East, with Tehran blaming the United States for a “serious setback” to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States said Friday that the mid-December conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction would not occur and did not make clear when, or whether, it would take place.
The postponement “will have a negative impact on regional security and the international system to prevent nuclear proliferation as a whole,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said.
Iran, which is accused by the West of developing a nuclear weapons capability, said this month it would participate in the talks that had been due to take place in Helsinki, Finland.
Asked about the U.S. announcement, Iranian nuclear envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told state broadcaster Press TV from Vienna: “It is a serious setback to the NPT and this is a clear sign that the U.S. is not committed to the obligation of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Elaraby said all regional states except Israel had voiced willingness to attend the conference.
He called for an urgent meeting of senior Arab officials this week to consider the developments.
November 27, 2012 No Comments
Iran to reach self-sufficiency producing radioisotope drugs
By Trend – October, 2012
Iran will become self-sufficient in producing radioisotope drugs in the next calendar year which will begin on March 21, 2013, ISNA quoted the National Security Committee spokesman Hossein Naqavi Hosseini as saying.
Once the first phase of the Arak nuclear power plant comes on stream, the country will be self-sufficient in producing radioisotope drugs for over one million patients suffering from various types of cancers and brain tumours, he noted.
In August, deputy head of the Iranian Ministry of Health for Research and Technology Mostafa Qanei said Iran plans to unveil six new homemade hi-tech medicines in the next few months, the Fars News Agency reported.
The official further stressed that the new drugs are as effective as the foreign versions of the medication, but cheaper.
In a landmark pharmaceutical progress, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) announced in January that Iranian scientists have managed to synthesise two new types of radioisotope medicines to treat malignant types of cancer.
“Iranian scientists and researchers at the AEOI’s Nuclear Science and Technology Research Centre succeeded in producing two new radioisotope drugs for the first time to cure malignant cancers,” AEOI spokesman Hamid Khadem Qaemi said. …source
October 18, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain, UAE, find proof of Iranian Nuke Program, report packages marked: ‘Danger Iranian Nuclear Weapons Materials’
Bahrain, UAE probe suspicious shipments headed to Iran
18 Septemebr, 2012 – By Louis Charbonneau – Reuters
UNITED NATIONS: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have confiscated a number of items Iran may have sought for its nuclear program, a development that diplomats said showed how enforcement of U.N . sanctions against Tehran is steadily improving.
One of the items heading to Iran but confiscated by Bahrain was carbon fiber, the diplomats told Reuters, a dual-use material U.N. experts have said would be crucial if Iran was to develop more advanced nuclear enrichment centrifuge technology.
Bahrain’s and UAE’s confidential reports to the U.N. Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee are politically significant, envoys said on condition of anonymity, since they highlight how more and more states are enforcing the sanctions and making it increasingly difficult for Tehran to flout them.
“The fact that these two countries are now taking steps to enforce the sanctions and reporting those steps to the U.N. is remarkable by itself,” a senior Security Council diplomat told Reuters. “It shows that the U.N. sanctions regime can work. UAE has been one of Iran’s enablers. Iran’s becoming more isolated.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Tehran was close to being able to build a nuclear bomb, and U.S. President Barack Obama is under pressure ahead of November’s election from political opponents who argue that sanctions are not doing enough to stop Iran building a bomb.
The emirate Dubai has long been one of Iran’s main transit hubs because of its busy port and position as a key financial center. Th e Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank wrote in July 2011 th at Dubai was “a top source of Iranian imports and a key transshipment point for goods – legal and illegal – destined for the Islamic Republic.”
But pressure from the United States and other Western powers to crack down on Iranian sanctions violations has borne some fruit in the form of redoubled efforts to enforce the sanctions and report to the sanctions committee, Western envoys say.
The Security Council imposed four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Tehran between 2006 and 2010 to punish it for defying Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities.
Tehran rejects charges it is developing the capability to produce atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is intended solely for the peaceful production of electricity.
UAE officials insist that the country’s policy has always been to fully abide by U.N. regulations and cooperate with the sanctions committee. A UAE official who declined to be identified played down the reports to the Iran committee.
“All incidents were reported at the time when they happened, and there has been no incident in more than a year,” the official told Reuters. He did not comment further.
Bahrain’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not reply to a request for comment, and officials in Bahrain were not immediately available to comment.
Bahrain has become increasingly annoyed with what it says are attempts by Iran to undermine its government. The Sunni-led island, along with fellow Gulf Arab countries, have accused Shi ‘ite-led Iran of being behind the unrest in the region. Tehran denies fomenting problems in Bahrain.
U.N. diplomats say that some countries could also do more to enforce the sanctions. They say it is important for China, Russia, India, Turkey and others to counter Iranian attempts to use their territory to circumvent international sanctions.
The UAE reported to the council’s Iran sanctions committee that it had made some 15 interceptions of suspicious items bound for Iran over the last three years, diplomats said.
“Some of those items have been cleared as OK but some remain under investigation,” a U.N. diplomatic source told Reuters.
Diplomats said that reports from the UAE, Bahrain and other countries would likely be mentioned in a briefing later this week for the 15-nation council by Colombia’s U.N. envoy Nestor Osorio, who chairs the Iran sanctions committee.
Osorio’s report was expected to leave out the names of the countries that submitted reports to the committee in keeping with council tradition on such delicate matters, envoys said.
In some cases, the UAE returned seized items to the original shipping countries, diplomats said. Among the firms involved in the procurement efforts the UAE uncovered was Kalaye Electric Co. in Tehran, the former center of Iran’s enrichment centrifuge research and development program, envoys said.
September 18, 2012 No Comments
Iran nuke chief harshly criticizes atomic agency
17 September, 2012 – By George Jahn – Associated Press
VIENNA: Iran’s nuclear chief said Monday that “terrorists and saboteurs” might have infiltrated the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to derail his nation’s atomic program, in an unprecedentedly harsh attack on the integrity of the U.N. organization and its probe of allegations that Tehran is striving to make nuclear arms.
Fereydoun Abbasi also rebuked the United States in comments to the IAEA’s 155-nation general conference, reflecting Iran’s determination to continue defying international pressure aimed at curbing its nuclear program and nudging it toward cooperation with the IAEA inspection.
Revealing what he said were two sabotage attempts on his country’s nuclear program, he challenged the perpetrators to launch new attacks, saying his country is determined to learn how to protect its interests through such assaults.
The defiant speech was bound to give a greater voice to hardline Israeli leaders who say that both diplomatic efforts and economic penalties have had no effect on Iran, leaving military strikes as the only alternative to stopping it from developing nuclear weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a proponent of such an option, made a direct appeal to American voters on Sunday to elect a president willing to draw a “red line” with Iran.
In the past week, Netanyahu has urged President Barack Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran would face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have pointed to shared U.S.-Israeli intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t decided yet whether to build a bomb, despite pursuing the technology, and that there would be time for action beyond toughened sanctions already in place.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Iran as “a threat, not only for Israel but for the whole world.” But she said she wants to see a “political solution” and that the international community should work together to try and find one, including the possibility of new sanctions. “The room for political maneuver is not yet exhausted,” she told reporters on Monday.
Iran has often warned that any Israeli attack would trigger a devastating response, and on Monday Abbasi suggested that such strikes would not succeed in slowing down his country’s nuclear program. He said without elaboration that experts have “devised certain ways through which nuclear facilities remain intact under missile attacks and raids.”
Tehran denies seeking nuclear arms, and Abbasi – an Iranian vice president whom the agency suspects may have been involved in nuclear weapons research – insisted on Monday that his country’s nuclear program is aimed only at making reactor fuel and doing medical research.
September 17, 2012 No Comments
Israel needs to reign in their dog, Netanyahu – belligerent tirade a campaign stunt for benefit of US GOP and Zionist supporters
U.S. has no right to block Israel on Iran – Netanyahu
11 Septemebr, 2012 – By Jeffrey Heller – Reuters
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said the United States had forfeited any moral right to stop Israel taking action against Iran’s nuclear programme because it had refused to be firm with Tehran itself.
In comments which appeared to bring the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran closer, Netanyahu took the administration of President Barack Obama to task after Washington rebuffed his own call to set a red line for Tehran’s nuclear drive.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?'” said Netanyahu, speaking in English.
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” he added, addressing a news conference with Bulgaria’s prime minister.
Netanyahu has been pushing Obama to adopt a tougher line against Iran, arguing that setting a clear boundary for Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and imposing stronger economic sanctions could deter Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and mitigate the need for military action.
But on Monday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would not set a deadline in further talks with Iran, saying there was still time for diplomacy to work.
Netanyahu’s comments came as diplomats said six world powers – including the United States – were poised to voice “serious concern” about Iran’s uranium enrichment programme and to urge Tehran to open up access to suspected nuclear sites.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that Washington would have little more than a year to act to stop Tehran if it decided to produce a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with Obama over Iran and other issues, such as Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
But he has never put differences with Obama – who has pledged he will “always have Israel’s back” and is deep in a re-election campaign – in the context of morality.
The website of Israel’s Haaretz daily newspaper said Netanyahu had carried out “an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government”.
Iran, which denies it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, has threatened to retaliate against Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf if it attacked, and Obama’s re-election bid could be thrown off course by a new war.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney has accused him of throwing Israel “under the bus”.
September 12, 2012 No Comments
Pygmalion scluplts Armageddon – “we consider unacceptable, the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons.”
EU preparing for new Iran sanctions
8 September, 2012 – Al Akhbar
European Union nations waved the threat of new international sanctions against Iran over its contested nuclear drive Saturday, as Russia complained such measures harm its interests.
With frustration mounting over the lack of progress in talks between global powers and Iran, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tehran has made no “substantial offer” to reassure the world of its nuclear intentions.
“Therefore we must prepare new sanctions,” he told journalists at the close of two days of informal talks among EU foreign ministers, their first since the summer break.
“Atomic weapons in Iran are not acceptable,” Westerwelle added.
Iran had a right to nuclear energy for civilian purposes, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, but “we consider unacceptable, highly dangerous, the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons.”
There was “a growing consensus” at the talks to slap new punitive measures against Iran failing a breakthrough in negotiations, ministers said.
Russia said this week that no evidence of Iranian plans to develop nuclear weapons exist.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said existing sanctions were having “a serious impact” and that it was “necessary to increase the pressure on Iran, to intensify sanctions, to add further to the EU sanctions.”
Iran has seen a 50 percent cut in state revenues from the oil sector and faces dire storage problems because it cannot sell, a diplomatic source said.
The calls came just as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov grumbled that US sanctions on Syria and Iran were harming Russian business interests because they were “increasingly becoming extra-territorial in nature.”
He said Russian banks were particularly being affected.
But Russia has stirred Western and Arab world anger by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions to sanction Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some EU ministers showed little sympathy for the stance.
“If Mr Lavrov wants to avoid sanctions it would be simpler to take part in a political consensus at the Security Council,” said Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.
“If he criticizes the sanctions because they affect the economy, we should also, we Italians, and we Europeans, be the first to criticise the sanctions,” said Giulio Terzi, Italy’s foreign minister. …more
September 8, 2012 No Comments
Iran might let diplomats visit suspected nuclear site
27 August, 2012 – By Yeganeh Torbati, Fredrik Dahl – Reuters
DUBAI/VIENNA: Iran indicated on Monday it might allow diplomats visiting Tehran for this week’s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to go to the Parchin military base, which U.N. nuclear experts say may have been used for nuclear-related explosives tests.
When asked about the possibility, Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh said: “Such a visit is not customary in such meetings…However at the discretion of authorities, Iran would be ready for such a visit,” the Iranian government-linked news agency Young Journalists Club reported.
The tentative offer was made just three days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) again failed to gain access to Parchin for its inspectors at a meeting with an Iranian delegation in Vienna.
Iran is hosting the NAM summit, which ends on Friday, at a time when the West is trying to isolate the Islamic Republic over suspicions it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says its atomic programme has only peaceful aims.
Any visit to Parchin by NAM representatives would do little to calm Western concerns or those of the IAEA whose talks with Iran on the agency’s stalled probe into suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state ended on Friday without agreement.
“Any tour the Iranians conduct for visiting NAM officials would be nothing more than a very, very bad publicity stunt,” a senior Western diplomat in Vienna told Reuters. “It is the IAEA that should have been given access to Parchin.”
The U.N. body suspects that Iran has conducted explosives tests in a steel chamber at Parchin relevant for the development of nuclear weapons, possibly a decade ago.
Citing satellite pictures, Western diplomats say they suspect Iran in recent months has been cleansing the site where the experiments are believed to have taken place of any evidence of illicit nuclear activity.
The IAEA is voicing growing concern that this would hamper its investigation if it ever gained access to Parchin.
Last week diplomatic sources said Iran had covered the building believed to house the explosives chamber with a tent-like structure, fuelling suspicions about a clean-up there.
Iran says Parchin, a vast complex southeast of Tehran, is a conventional military facility and has dismissed allegations about it as “ridiculous”.
Monday’s Iranian media report did not make clear whether the NAM diplomats would be able to visit the location in Parchin which the IAEA wants to see or only other areas of the complex.
Akhoundzadeh said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is due to attend the NAM summit later in the week, might be able to visit Iran’s atom sites, but his spokesman denied any such plan.
“There are no such plans for a visit of that kind by the secretary-general while he is in Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement summit,” spokesman Martin Nesirky said in New York.
August 27, 2012 No Comments
No real surprise since the hype of Iran’s Nuclear Program is simply “smoke and mirrors” used to justify Western and Israeli aggression in their strategy of containment and the West imposes it hegemonic designs on MENA, while Israel moves forward with its own expansionist agenda. – Phlipn
US: Iran not on verge of nuclear weapon
10 August, 2012 – Al Akhbar
The United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one, US officials said on Thursday.
Their comments came after Israeli media reports claimed US President Barack Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate saying Iran had made significant and surprising progress toward military nuclear capability.
Later, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that the new US report, which he acknowledged might be something other than a National Intelligence Estimate, “transforms the Iranian situation into an even more urgent one.”
But a White House National Security Council spokesman disputed the Israeli reports, saying the US intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.
“We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government,” the spokesman said. “We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”
US officials would not directly comment on whether there was a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which is a compilation of views of the various US intelligence agencies.
The last formal NIE on Iran in 2007, partially made public by the administration of President George W. Bush, became highly controversial because it said Tehran had halted nuclear weaponization work in 2003, although other aspects of the overall program continued.
A later update to that report retained that central assessment, sources have previously said.
James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, said in congressional testimony in January: “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”
Another US official said the United States regularly exchanges intelligence reporting with its allies, which would include Israel.
The United States has been concerned that Israel may conduct a unilateral strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, adding to turmoil in the Middle East.
Israel – the only nuclear power in the Middle East – sees an atomic armed Iran as a threat to its regional supremacy and there is persistent speculation over whether it will launch a preemptive military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Tehran denies it is trying to build nuclear bombs, saying it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes. …more
August 10, 2012 No Comments
Ehud Barak World Powers must move to stop modernization and development in Iran to prevent it from ever getting Nukes
Israel’s Barak calls for swifter action against Iran
26 July, 2012 – By Allyn Fisher-Ilan – Reuters
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Wednesday for major powers to speed up efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program, cautioning it would be tougher to confront it once Tehran managed to cross an atomic threshold.
Israeli media interpreted Barak’s comments as pushing for a possible Israeli strike against Iran to stop a project the West sees as a drive to achieve nuclear weapons though Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying its program is intended solely for peaceful purposes.
“I am very well aware and know in depth the difficulties and complexity involved in preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons,” Barak told a graduation ceremony for security officers, in remarks later released by his office.
“But it is clear to me beyond any doubt that confronting that (nuclear) challenge in itself once it ripens if it ripens, will be infinitely more complex infinitely more dangerous and infinitely more costly in human life and resources,” he said.
“This is the time for the entire world to ready for united action, united goal in political desire in order to put a swift and definite stop to the Iranian nuclear project,” Barak said.
In his lengthy remarks, Barak said Israel now faced “its most complex challenges ever”, adding “we may need to make fateful and difficult decisions with regard to Israel’s security,” pointing also to what he called growing instability posed by popular revolts in neighboring Arab countries.
“The events of the Arab spring, which have gradually evolved into an Islamic summer, show that at the ultimate hour of decision we can rely at the moment of truth on ourselves alone,” Barak said.
July 26, 2012 No Comments
High-level EU-Iran meeting on nuclear row Tuesday: diplomats
24 July, 2012 – Agence France Presse
ISTANBUL: Senior European and Iranian diplomats were set to meet in Istanbul on Tuesday to seek common ground on Tehran’s disputed nuclear drive, officials said.
The meeting, to be held at a secret location and closed to the press, will start at 10:30 am (0730 GMT), according to Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, told a press briefing in Tehran: “The goal is to bring the positions of Iran and the P5 1 closer together,” referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
“We must wait for the outcome of the meeting,” he added.
The P5 1 has asked Iran to immediately stop enriching uranium to the high level of 20 percent, to ship out its existing 20 percent stock and to shut down a fortified underground enrichment facility.
Tuesday’s talks between the two high-ranking diplomats, Helga Schmid and Ali Bagheri, were announced on July 4 following a technical meeting in Istanbul.
The two have been in regular contact as global powers seek to reach an understanding with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, Schmid working with the EU and Bagheri assisting chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Their meeting will be followed by a “contact” between Ashton, who is leading negotiations with Iran in the name of the P5 1, and Jalili, according to a spokesman for Ashton, Michael Mann.
The P5 1 and Iran made no breakthroughs in the row in talks in Moscow held June 18 and 19.
But a meeting of experts here in early July staved off a total breakdown of the diplomatic process, with Russia citing “certain progress.”
Iran insists it has a right to uranium enrichment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it says should be recognised by the P5 1. It also wants Western sanctions punishing its economy to be eased.
July 24, 2012 No Comments
Apparently Iran has no intention on a Nuclear Bomb, even experts from the Mossad and Penatta himself have made statements to this effect as recently as February and March of 2012. So why the War footing, the escalation and the sanctions? Could it be all of this was deeded necessary to “contain Iran” as the West goes in to finish off Syria? With more sanctions against Iran and and intensified aggression against Syria in the works, it would seem Western Powers know no bounds in the violence and aggression as they seek to assert their most dominate presence in the Middle East ever. Phlipn
U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb
By JAMES RISEN and MARK MAZZETTI – 24 February, 2012 – NYT
WASHINGTON — Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.
Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.
At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran. There is no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power. But the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel program to design a nuclear warhead — a program they believe was essentially halted in 2003 and which would be necessary for Iran to build a nuclear bomb. Iranian officials maintain that their nuclear program is for civilian purposes.
In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.
“They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. …more
July 24, 2012 No Comments
U.S. Rejected 2005 Iranian Offer Ensuring No Nuclear Weapons
By Gareth Porter – 7 June, 2012
WASHINGTON, Jun 7 2012 (IPS) – France and Germany were prepared in spring 2005 to negotiate on an Iranian proposal to convert all of its enriched uranium to fuel rods, making it impossible to use it for nuclear weapons, but Britain vetoed the deal at the insistence of the United States, according to a new account by a former top Iranian nuclear negotiator.
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who had led Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in 2004 and 2005, makes it clear that the reason that offer was rejected was that the George W. Bush administration refused to countenance any Iranian enrichment capability, regardless of the circumtances.
Mousavian reveals previously unknown details about that pivotal episode in the diplomacy surrounding the Iran nuclear issue in memoirs published Tuesday.
Mousavian, now a visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, had been a top political aide to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and head of the foreign relations committee of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council during his political-diplomatic career in Iran.
Mousavian had been entrusted with Iran’s most sensitive diplomatic missions, including negotiations on a strategic understanding with Saudi crown prince Abdullah in the early 1990s and with U.S. officials on Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda in 2001 and 2002, his memoirs reveal. But he was arrested by the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration on charges of “espionage” in April 2007.
The British and U.S. refusal to pursue the Iranian offer, which might have headed off the political diplomatic crisis over the Iranian nuclear programme since then, is confirmed by a former British diplomat who participated in the talks and former European ambassadors to Iran.
Mousavian writes that one of the European negotiators told him that “they were ready to compromise but that the United States was the obstacle.”
The episode occurred a few months after an agreement between Iran and the British, French and German governments on Nov. 15, 2004 on terms for negotiations on “long-term arrangements”, during which Iran agreed to maintain a voluntary suspension of enrichment and other nuclear activities.
The agreement to be negotiated was to “provide objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes” as well as “firm guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues”.
But the EU objective in the talks was to demand a complete end to all Iranian enrichment. At the Mar. 23, 2005 meeting in Paris, the EU called for an indefinite suspension of enrichment by Iran, meaning suspension beyond the negotiations themselves. …more
July 20, 2012 No Comments
When Nuclear Weapons Programs Fail to Ripen
By Russ Wellen – April 30, 2012 – FPIP
One can’t help but suspect that a key reason the public and even many policymakers believe that Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons is the sheer length of time that the words “Iran” and “nuclear” have been uttered in the same sentence by the media. Way back in 1957 Iran signed an agreement to participate President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. But Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini temporarily halted Iran’s nuclear efforts, both peaceful and weapons.
In the late eighties and early nineties, AQ Khan, lord of Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program as well as the nuclear black market, shared know-how and components with Iran. Then, in late 2002, it was learned that Iran had built a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak. It appears, though, that in 2003 all but vestigial research toward an Iranian nuclear-weapons program ended.
For better or worse, that’s 55 years, off and on, that Iran’s name has been linked with the word nuclear and 25 years since Iran initiated actual work on developing nuclear weapons. By contrast, the United States developed nuclear weapons from scratch in four years during what, compared to today, was the technological dark ages. In the interim, many other states have also succeeded in relatively short timeframes. Thus, it doesn’t strike most in the West as plausible that a developed state like Iran has yet to bring its program — if you’re among those who believe that, in fact, it exists — to fruition.
Jacques E. C. Hymans of the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California addresses Iran’s inability (again, if you accept that it’s trying) to close the nuclear circle in an article in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs titled “Botching the Bomb: Why Nuclear Weapons Programs Often Fail on Their Own — and Why Iran’s Might, Too” (behind a pay wall). He begins by providing an example of an official skeptical of how long it’s taking Iran to close the circle (again, assuming you’re among those who believe that’s what it seeks). [Emphasis added.]
“Today, almost any industrialized country can produce a nuclear weapon in four to five years,” a former chief of Israeli military intelligence recently wrote in The New York Times, echoing a widely held belief. Indeed, the more nuclear technology and know-how have diffused around the world, the more the timeline for building a bomb should have shrunk. But in fact, rather than speeding up over the past four decades, proliferation has gone into slow motion. … Seven countries launched dedicated nuclear weapons projects before 1970, and all seven succeeded in relatively short order. By contrast, of the ten countries that have launched dedicated nuclear weapons projects since 1970, only three have achieved a bomb. …more
May 1, 2012 No Comments
Ex-Iran negotiator: “historic” chance for nuke talks
25 April, 2012 – By Fredrik Dahl – Reuters
VIENNA: Iran and major nations have a “historic opportunity” to settle their decade-old nuclear dispute, but requiring the Islamic state to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment would be discriminatory, Tehran’s former chief nuclear negotiator said.
Hossein Mousavian, now a visiting scholar at Princeton University in the United States, voiced optimism before next month’s talks between Iran and the six major powers following a first meeting in Istanbul earlier this month.
They should set out their respective “red lines” regarding Iran’s nuclear program and negotiate on the basis of those when they meet in the Iraqi capital on May 23, he told Reuters.
“The positive trend has started from Istanbul. It is important to keep up the positive trend in Baghdad and to go on,” Mousavian, who was seen as a moderate when in the Iranian government, said by telephone on Tuesday.
He was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005 before conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took over from his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami. According to Western envoys familiar with Mousavian, he appeared at the time to be genuinely interested in reaching a deal with the West.
The six powers – the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – want to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear bombs. The Islamic Republic wants a lifting of sanctions and recognition of what it says are its rights to peaceful nuclear energy, including enriching uranium.
“The principles should be based on addressing the red lines of each party,” Mousavian said, advocating a step-by-step approach with confidence-building actions by both sides.
If the red line for the powers is nuclear bombs, “then they should discuss the ways and means for Iran to cooperate with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on transparency measures.”
Both sides said they were content with progress made in the April 14 meeting in Istanbul which did not go into detail but, unlike earlier rounds of negotiations, stayed on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program.
April 25, 2012 No Comments
Secret State Agencies: “No Hard Evidence” Iran Building Nukes
March to War Continues
by Tom Burghardt – 5 March, 2012 – Dissident Voice
Although all 16 U.S. secret state intelligence agencies confirmed, again, that “Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier,” reaffirming the “consensus view” of not one, but two National Intelligence Estimates The New York Times reported last week, the march towards war continues.
Last Saturday The Daily Telegraph, citing The Wall Street Journal, reported that “military planners have asked for emergency funding from Congress to address a perceived shortfall in defence capabilities that could undermine the ability of US forces to respond to an Iranian closure of the Strait of Hormuz.”
Plans are underway “to modify weapons systems on ships that are at present vulnerable to Iranian fast-attack boats, many of which carry anti-ship missiles,” the Telegraph averred.
Feeling the heat from pro-Israeli lobby shops and congressional grifters, President Obama told The Atlantic on Friday:
When I say we’re not taking any option off the table, we mean it. I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff. I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.
In other words, despite repeated assertions by Iran that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian, not military, purposes facts borne out by multiple on-the-ground inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and assessments by American spy agencies, the bar for Iranian “compliance” is continually set higher, moved from an “active program” to a mere “capability,” it is now clear that war is the first, last, indeed only “option.”
With this mind, Times’ journalists James Risen and Mark Mazzetti informed us that lying “at the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran.”
While there is “no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power,” the Times disclosed that secret state agencies also “believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel program to design a nuclear warhead–a program they believe was essentially halted in 2003 and which would be necessary for Iran to build a nuclear bomb.”
In his January 31 Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon.” …more
March 30, 2012 No Comments
Israel: “Iran not building nuke” – uses war noise, “again”, in clamour for attention like a Petulent Child
Israelis agree Iran hasn’t decided on atom bomb
18 March, 2012 – By Amy Teibel – Associated Press – The Daily Star
JERUSALEM: Despite saber-rattling from Jerusalem, Israeli officials now agree with the U.S. assessment that Tehran has not yet decided on the actual construction of a nuclear bomb, according to senior Israeli government and defense figures.
Even so, there is great concern in Israel about leaving Iran “on the cusp” of a bomb – explaining why Israel continues to hint at a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations before it moves enough of them underground to protect them from Israel’s bombs.
Israel’s leaders have been charging in no uncertain terms for years that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Though officials say they accept the more nuanced American view, they warn that it is just a matter of semantics, because an Iran on the verge of being able to build a bomb would still be a danger.
The United States is playing up its assessment that Iran has not made its final decision in a public campaign to persuade Israel to call off any attack plan and allow the increasingly harsh sanctions against Iran time to persuade Tehran to back down.
The concern – which is widely shared in Israel as part of a complex calculation – is of an Iranian retaliation that might spark regional conflict and send oil prices soaring, at a time when the world economy is already struggling and U.S. presidential elections loom.
Also in the equation are concerns about the ability of the Israeli home front to withstand a sustained barrage of Iranian missiles fired in retaliation. Iranian surrogates Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip could also bombard Israel with thousands of rockets, and U.S. troops in the Gulf region could also become targets.
Several senior Israeli officials who spoke in recent days to The Associated Press said Israel has come around to the U.S. view that no final decision to build a bomb has been made by Iran. The officials, who are privy to intelligence and to the discussion about the Iranian program, said this is the prevailing view in the intelligence community, but there are also questions about whether Tehran might be hiding specific bomb making operations.
March 18, 2012 No Comments
UK, US, France, Russia, China and Germany agree in principle to accept Iranian offer to resume negotiations
Diplomats from UK, US, France, Russia, China and Germany agree in principle to accept Iranian offer to resume negotiations
Iran nuclear talks with six-nation group of powers set to be agreed
Julian Borger – guardian.co.uk – 28 February, 2012
A new round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is likely to be agreed in the next few days when diplomats from six major powers hammer out a common response to Tehran’s offer to resume contacts, official sources said on Tuesday.
The diplomats from the UK, US, France, Russia, China and Germany have agreed in principle to accept the Iranian offer, spelt out in a letter from Tehran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, on 14 February. Sources said that although there are no high expectations of a breakthrough, there was a growing consensus that every peaceful avenue should be explored in the hope of avoiding a new conflict in the Middle East.
“We have to use every opportunity to test Iran’s willingness to talk,” a European diplomat said.
After talks between the political directors of the six powers, it is hoped an official response, probably offering to meet in Turkey in March, will be ready this week. It will be issued by Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief who acts as the group’s coordinator. Ashton has said she is cautiously optimistic about the resumption of talks.
“And then all the things that come from that: where we’re going to talk, what the talks will consist of … and what we need to do, what steps we need to take to move forward. So that is being discussed now, the political directors will meet me very shortly in order to tell me the results of those discussions and then we’ll move forward from there,” Ashton said on Monday. “I’ll be in touch then with Iran.”
The stakes and pressures at any new round of talks will be extremely high, as they will take place against a backdrop of worsening tensions, a military build-up in the Gulf and constant speculation that Israel may be planning air strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites, which the west believes are designed to give Iran the capacity to make weapons.
Tehran says its programme is entirely peaceful, and has defied repeated demands from the UN security council to suspend the most controversial element, the enrichment or uranium. Unless new negotiations can break the deadlock, Iran will face an EU oil embargo in July and US financial sanctions against its oil trade at about the same time.
Diplomats said there was significant western scepticism over Iranian intentions, particularly from Paris. The last set of talks, in Istanbul in January 2011, were widely seen as a fiasco. Jalili refused to discuss uranium enrichment or negotiate confidence-building measures, including the exchange of Iranian enriched uranium for foreign-made fuel rods. Since then, Iran has said it would only resume talks if all sanctions were lifted and enrichment was taken off the agenda.
Furthermore, two visits to Tehran in the past month by UN weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) failed to win Iranian cooperation on unanswered questions over past Iranian research work which the agency says could be related to the development of nuclear weapons. The inspectors also found that Iran had tripled its production of 20% enriched uranium, which is of particularly concern because it would be relatively easy to turn into weapons-grade material.
European diplomats said the six-nation group of powers was discouraged by the outcome of the IAEA mission but decided not to allow it to prevent broader negotiations.
Ashton’s office has spoken to Jalili’s deputy, Ali Bagheri, in an effort to clarify some of the outstanding questions about the Iranian letter, and a consensus is emerging in western capitals that the mention of the nuclear programme in the document does reflect a significant advance, signalling the dropping of Iran’s preconditions for talks.
“If that turns out not to be the case, then the next talks will be over pretty quickly,” a diplomat said. …more
February 28, 2012 No Comments
The Bomb: Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan
By Pervez Hoodbhoy – 22 January, 2012 – International Herald Tribune
The writer currently teaches physics and political science at LUMS. He taught at Quaid-i-Azam University for 36 years and was head of the physics department. He received a doctorate in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Once upon a time Iran was Pakistan’s close ally — probably its closest one. In 1947, Iran was the first to recognise the newly independent Pakistan. In the 1965 war with India, Pakistani fighter jets flew to Iranian bases in Zahedan and Mehrabad for protection and refuelling. Both countries were members of the US-led Seato and Cento defence pacts, Iran opened wide its universities to Pakistani students, and the Shah of Iran was considered Pakistan’s great friend and benefactor. Sometime around 1960, thousands of flag-waving school children lined the streets of Karachi to greet him. I was one of them.
The friendship has soured, replaced by low-level hostility and suspicion. In 1979, Ayatollah Khomenei’s Islamic revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, set major realignments in motion. As Iran exited the US orbit, Pakistan joined the Americans to fight the Soviets. With Saudi money, they together created and armed the hyper-religious Pashtun mujahideen. Iran too supported the mujahideen — but those of the Tajik Northern Alliance. But as religion assumed centrality in matters of state in both Pakistan and Iran, doctrinal rifts widened.
These rifts are likely to widen as the US prepares for its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Iranians cannot forget that in 1996, following the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan, the Taliban took over Kabul and began a selective killing of Shias. This was followed by a massacre of more than 5,000 Shias in Bamiyan province. Iran soon amassed 300,000 troops at the Afghan border and threatened to attack the Pakistan-supported Taliban government. Today, Iran accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorist anti-Iran groups like Jundullah on its soil and freely allowing Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its associates to ravage Pakistan’s Shia minority. Symptomatic of the grassroot-level change, Farsi is no longer taught in Pakistani schools.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s footprint in Pakistan has grown steadily since the early 1970s. Pakistani leaders, political and military, frequently travel to the Kingdom to pay homage or seek refuge. The dependency on Saudi money grew. After India had tested its Bomb in May 1998 and Pakistan was mulling over the appropriate response, the Kingdom’s grant of 50,000 barrels of free oil a day helped Pakistan decide in favour of a tit-for-tat response and cushioned the impact of sanctions subsequently imposed by the US and Europe. The Saudi defence minister, Prince Sultan, was a VIP guest at Kahuta, where he toured its nuclear and missile facilities just before the tests. Years earlier Benazir Bhutto, the then serving prime minister, had been denied entry. ..more
January 23, 2012 No Comments
Détente the frightening prospect fo a Nuclear Armed Iran – Western Hegemony in the Middle East Checked
Israel May Be as Threatened by a Rational Iran as an Irrational Iran
By Russ Wellen – December 6, 2011 – FPIP
Apparently the rationale that Israeli war hawks and the Americans who enable them have long harbored for attacking Iran is mutating. They’re cassus belli-flopping, as it were. At Media Matters’ Political Correction, M.J. Rosenberg reports that this process was
… kicked off this week when Danielle Pletka, head of the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) foreign policy shop and one of the most prominent neoconservatives in Washington, explained what the current obsession with Iran’s nuclear program is all about.
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power.”
Say what? Rosenberg, too, was baffled at first.
The “biggest problem” with Iran getting a nuclear weapon is not that Iranians will use it but that they won’t use it and that they might behave like a “responsible power”? But what about the hysteria about a second Holocaust? … What about all of these pronouncements that … the apocalyptic mullahs would happily commit national suicide in order to destroy Israel?
What, he wonders, became of the “‘existential threat’ that Iran poses to Israel?” Rosenberg quotes the AEI’s director of the Center for Defense Studies, Thomas Donelly.
We’re fixated on the Iranian nuclear program while the Tehran regime has its eyes on the real prize: the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East.
In other words, Rosenberg writes
… preserving the regional balance of power … means ensuring that Israel remains the region’s military powerhouse, with Saudi Arabia playing a supporting role. That requires overthrowing the Iranian regime and replacing it with one that will do our bidding (like the Shah) and will not, in any way, prevent Israel from operating with a free reign throughout the region.
Which means war, since U.S. policymakers no longer see diplomacy possible before the presidential election of 2012 lest it leave President Obama vulnerable to charges that he’s soft on Iran. Rosenberg writes that
Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a longtime journalist and author who specializes on Iran, noted that the Obama administration has spent a grand total of 45 minutes in direct engagement with the Iranians. …more
December 6, 2011 No Comments
A second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded, as diplomatic tensions rise between the West and Tehran
A second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded, as diplomatic tensions rise between the West and Tehran
by: Sheera Frenkel – The Times – November 30, 2011
AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran’s military and atomic sites are under attack.
Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.
The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.
The explosion at Iran’s third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.
Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.
“This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials,” said one military intelligence source.
He would not confirm or deny Israel’s involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were “many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program”.
Iran went into frantic denial yesterday as news of the explosion at Isfahan emerged. Alireza Zaker-Isfahani, the city’s governor, claimed that the blast had been caused by a military exercise in the area but state-owned agencies in Tehran soon removed this story and issued a government denial that any explosion had taken place at all.
On Monday, Dan Meridor. the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”
Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel’s former director of national security, told Israel’s army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” he said.
A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have “successfully neutralised” Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. “This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen,” he added.
Iran has repeatedly denied the existence of a nuclear weapons program, and strongly condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report last month that accused Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon.
November 29, 2011 No Comments