...turn out it may not have been going to Gaza, as the Israelis claimed. In fact the whole idea of an Iranian ship passing through the Suez and then making it past the Israelis to Gaza is laughable. Capturing "Iranian arms ships" is a standard media stunt by the Israelis every time the US and Iran start to talk. And, it is good for domestic Israeli politics.
Supposedly "shrouded in mystery" and built "presumably for some mysteriously bellicose purposes," (and "while Iran has tried to conceal its underground nuclear-related sites" -- I guess the NY Times had to get a lie about the nuclear issue in there too) the author proceeds to quote various US military officials suggesting that Iran was going to make some sort of "propaganda point" with the fake ship, and so the 5th Fleet rushed to "get ahead of the Iranians" by announcing it to the media...which proceeded to run with the "Iranian propaganda" story.
the more obvious reason for the construction of such mock-ups --to make a movie -- is not even seriously considered by the NY Times. And, turns out that the US military apparently didn't know, and the NY Times couldn't be bothered to check, that Iran is in fact making a movie about the 1988 US shooting down of the Iranian Airbus.
I mean, if this isn't the most obvious example of the US media totally abrogating any semblence of objectivity and professionalism when dealing with Iran-related stories, I don't know what is.
But note that al-Monitor doesn't ask the obvious question: why is did US Navy and the NY Times so misrepresent this story? Are they incompetent, or just evil? Why did the US media run with the claims? Why didn't anyone bother checking it? What broader conclusions can we reach
about the state of the US media's coverage of Iran affairs?
Note that had the Iranian government promoted such bullshit in the media, al-Monitor would be hosting a march of "Iran experts" opining about it and reaching all sorts of broader conclusions about Iran, but don't expect any sort of self-analysis from the US media.
In fact the sanctions hardened the Iranian position, and as Gareth Porter, David Osborn and others have shown in detail, even caused the Iranian nuclear program to be ratched-up by the Iranians in order to produce the nuclear reactor fuel that the US thought Iran could not make.
In fact, polls had started to show that not only were Iranians massively in favor of their nuclear program, but a growing portion of the population was even more hardline than the govt, and wanted Iran to actually make nukes too:
Why are these "expert" whoring their PhDs to push this nonsense? Because the US needs a way to justify the last 10 years of policy with respect to Iran. That's why you see this narrative being promoted by these sorts of "experts" (mouthpieces and fronts) to suggest that Iran was rushing along to build a nuke until it was caught by the IAEA and forced to stop by the sanctions. They're VERY VERY desperate to try to play down the fact that the Iranians have been offering the same or better deals for years, and it has been the US which has stood in the way all this time, not Iran. It was the US concession on the right to enrichment that finally opened the way for these talks, not the sanctions. But these "experts" want that bit of fact, and the fact that the US had been dragging out this conflict intentionally in the hopes of regime change, to disappear from the narrative.
Don't let them.
You should be ashamed of yourself Suzanne.
As Trita Parsi put it:
"What no one seems to notice is that it was the U.S. that made the key
concession that led to these talks. The Iranians have been demanding all
along that their right to enrich be recognized. Bush refused that
point-blank for eight years. Obama refused for four years, all the way
through the first term. Now the U.S. has accepted it."
In this piece, Hibbs notes that Iran intends to build additional reactors -- something Iran has been saying for a LONG TIME -- and he worries that the construction of these additional reactors may justify Iran's expansion of its enrichment program.
Hibbs starts off asserts that "“Because a primary objective of the JPOA is to lengthen Iran’s breakout
timeline and, following from that, to strictly circumscribe its
centrifuge enrichment capacity”
Everytime I read a piece, I look for such categorical and yet unsupported statements, which fix the frame around what is about to follow...
So Hibbs tells us
what HE thinks the world should be like:
" the negotiation should preclude any understanding that a large
centifuge population and an unbridled advanced centifuge R&D program
in Iran would be justified by Iran’s vision for power reactor
But unfortunately for Mark Hibbs, Iran is not restrained by his opinions. And as the other commentors pointed out, the joint agreement between the P5 and Iran, in which Iran maintains certain voluntary restrictions on its nuclear program, is explicitly stated in the agreement to be a temporary arrangement, after which Iran's nuclear program will be treated just like any other nations with no such artificial and extra-legal restrictions.
Having declared what the negotiations with Iran "should preclude" from up high, Hibbs proceeds to instruct us in how the negotiations should conclude: "On the basis of the JPOA and flanking measures, were the powers to
provide Iran access to the global nuclear market, Iran would not need a
loss-making autarchic nuclear fuel cycle industry." And means by this, "become a shareholder in an existing uranium enrichment plant located elsewhere."
In other words, Iran should give up enrichment and just limit itself to importing the stuff. You know, because "The geopolitics of uranium enrichment are at a crossroads and how Iran
and the powers resolve this issue will have signal global imporance." -- In other words, make Iran into an example of a developing nation that gives up enrichment in the hopes and wishes of receiving unrestricted access to mystically-politics free sources of enriched uranium from other magical lands.
When you read stuff like this you have to wonder if some of these arms control wonks are on drugs. After all, wasn't it Dick Cheney himself who accused the Russians of practicing "energy blackmail" by suddenly cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine and Eastern Europe one cold
winter? Wasn't it the French and Germans who took Iran's money for nuclear joint ventures then collectively gave Iran the finger and never performed any of the contracts (including Iran's investment in the French enrichment program.) In fact, Isn't Iran EVEN RIGHT NOW under politicized energy sanctions, which prevents Iran from even importing gasoline, nevermind enriched uranium?
And so Iran is supposed to just agree to Mark Hibb's view of how the world "should be"?
How many years has it been that OTHER nations -- aside from Iran, mind you -- have repeatedly and consistently and quite loudly objected to such US desires to limit enrichment to just its friends and allies? How many times -- going back to 1978! -- when the US first tried to limit sharing enrichment technology, have they insisted in including language in international resolutions that
"Each country's choices and
decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be
respected without jeopardizing its policies or international cooperation
agreements and arrangements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and its
fuel-cycle policies". http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/S-10/4&Lang=E
This language was reiterated in the final document of the 1980 NPT Review Conference and has been consistently reiterated in every Review Conference since then, including the 1995 Review Conference , the 2000 NPT Review Conference and in the Final Document of the 10th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.
And yet here we are dreaming of a day when Iran of all countries suddenly decides to bend over for Uncle Sam? I don't think so, Mark. This would have been a long shot back when the US and Iran were allies -- though the Shah certainly was not about to give up enrichment -- but after what we have ALL seen with the politicization of the issue and the absolute unreliability of the IAEA and other international outfits and organizations in doing their job properly without undue influence peddling by the US -- there is no way in hell that Iran would agree to Hibb's fantasies.
My copy arrived recently and I've just now had time to read a couple of chapters. It is fascinating and the technical material is very clearly explained, and I've learned a few things myself in a short time. I plan on making a list of the failures or outright deceptions that various parties were guilty of in creating this manufacured crisis as explained by Porter - the politicied IAEA, the ignored evidence, the media misrepresenations by even respected veteran journalists including Robin Wright ec. -- but sadly I have to include Iran itself on this list for failing to make the necessary commitment of resources to challenging the PR narrative that was built around the issue by the US and friends. The website at http://nuclearenergy.ir/ was created how many years after all the stuff reported
I am having a nice chuckle at the latest bit of rubbish promoted by the Telegraph which was recycled through al Jazeera about Iran: that Iran was secretly behind the Pan Am 103 downing, according to a "former Iranian intelligence official." Of course, this is just a rehash of a claim that is 14 years old -- see http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/2468
What the Telegraph -- and all the news outlets that repeated the story, often adding their own bit of dramatic flourish to the tale -- don't mention is that the witness in question, Abolghasem Mesbahi, is considered to be a serial fabricator who has a long history of making outrageous claims about secret Iranian shenanigans, which never quite pan out.
This is the same 'Witness C' who claimed that Iran was behind the Mykonos assassinations, but then withdrew his testiomony, then claimed that Iran was behind the Argentina bombings, and 9-11, and now Pan Am 103 too. I'm sure I forgot a few more in there.
"But in a November 2006 interview, the former head of the FBI’s Hezbollah
Office, James Bernazzani, said that U.S. intelligence officials had
concluded Mesbahi did not have the access to Iranian intelligence
officials that he had claimed in his affidavits to Argentine officials.
Bernazzani said intelligence analysts regarded Mesbahi as someone who
was desperate for money and ready to 'provide testimony to any country
on any case involving Iran'."
I am doing a bit of light reading about the divisions that have arisen with and between AIPAC as a direct result of their own pushiness and overt, unmitigated desire for causing another war. Whilst not so long ago it was hardly possible to pick up a paper that didn't contain a full-page lavish graphic map showing the various routes that US/Israeli planes would take to bomb Iran, today you can hardly read anything about US-Iran relations without the world "AIPAC" popping up, at least in the comments section. I have to marvel how things have changed since the days when all it took was a single phone call from Edgar Bronfman, then President of the World Jewish Congress, to cause US President Bill Clinton to interfere with an oil contract that Iran had granted to a US company -- Conoco -- as a
In fact, Bill Clinton went on to personally thank Edgar Bronfman for that in a speech to the World Jewish Congress, and then proceeded to ask him for a job after leaving office:
I'm seeing a false narrative being constructed by the media around the Iran nuclear talks which, as usual, will become repeated so often that it becomes 'true' by virtue of repetition, as is the case usually with most of the conventional wisdom about Iran.
According to this false narrative, Iran was engaged in nuclear "weapons-related" research which was stopped in 2003, mostly, and this was the cause of the confusion all along and the reason why the US thought Iran was making nukes and not negotiating with Iran.
And now Iran has to 'come clean' about this past research which misled the US into thinking that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, causing the US to impose sanctions on Iran, which then led to Iran 'giving in' to the sanctions and accepting talks whose 'goal' is to reduce or eliminate Iran's nuclear program.
This is of course a PR spin that was invented by someone. It has the benefit of providing a nice little story line in which everyone comes not not a bad guy, and we can all just put it down to a case of miscommunication -- like some sort of tv sitcom episode.
But that's not what happened at all.
The only question is why they're pushing this spin in the media. An optimist would say that the US side is pushing this narrative in order to portray its eventual agreement with Iran as some sort of victory, and the Iranian side may allow this face-savng move by the US if only to remove sanctions. BUT, i'm not an optimist. I think that just as the entire nuclear issue was always a redherring and distraction, just as 'wmds in Iraq' was always just a pretext for an entirely different policy, I think that the presumption should be that the talks too are just pretextual and a tactic.
But we'll see.
Anyway, everything in that narrative that the media is trying to cook and feed average Americans is complete baloney, and I could type out a book to debunk it. So just for example about the claim that Iran was involved in 'nuke-related' research: When the 2003 NIE came out saying that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the IAEA, whilst welcoming that
conclusion, also pointed out that they had no evidence of a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 either and NOTHING has changed since then, except that the IAEA head Elbaradei was replaced by US puppet Amano, who had sworn loyalty to the US and then started trying to give credence to the "Alleged studies" claims by renaming them 'possible military dimensions' and then issuing the 'secret annex' as part of the IAEA's 2011 report that the previous IAEA head had dismissed as unverified claims. And to date NONE of the the claims have ever been verified, aside from anonymous claims of additional supporting information which no one has seen.
And that's just one problem with this narrative. I could go on and on.
So the point is, watch out for these false narratives and 'conventional wisdom' and don't just ignore these claims in analysis pieces or reportage that proceed on such assumptions
So, aside from the fact that "nuclear related" research per se does not have to be reported by Iran to the IAEA anyway
He writes, "According to
Porter, "the Obama administration has introduced the
subject of 'possible military dimensions' into the nuclear negotiations.
That means that the United States will be demanding an explanation for
'evidence' that the book shows was fabricated. That is a decision that
could threaten the conclusion of a final agreement with Iran."
This is indeed the case. Lets remember that the "Possible Military Dimensions" claims were, prior to the replacement of Elbaradei with US-puppet Amano as the head of the IAEA, they were called the "Alleged Studies" -- alleged, as in never proven, and studies as in things that generally would not be illegal even if they had occurred (as long as there is no diversion of nuclear material for nonpeaceful uses, NPT signatories are perfectly free to conduct whatever nuclear studies they want and it is
generally presumed most that can, do so.) And nothing has since changed about them except that things like the "AP Graph" and the "neutron initiator" documents have proven to be miserable forgeries, thus casting further doubt on the validity of these Alleged Studies.
These "Alleged Studies" claims were the only outstanding issue left over from the Iran-IAEA Modalities Agreement, which ultimately resolved all of the other allegations against Iran to Iran's favor -- a point of history that so often goes unmentioned in the media for obvious reasons. If you'll remember, the
Modalities Agreement specified that Iran would address these claims upon receipt of the documentation, but the US has prevented the IAEA from sharing (or in some cases, itself seeing) the full documentation. So as Elbaradei mentioned in his book, Iran was being put in the ridiculous position of having to disprove allegations contained in documents it could not see.
However Iran did file a 114-page reply to the allegations anyway, pointing out that for example there was no reason to lie about a Green Salt project that Iran very proudly and publicly operates, and furthermore
that much of the documentation bore no security markings of any sort and could have been typed on a home computer, amongst other things as Gareth Porter pointed out. However the IAEA under pressure from the US continued to use these allegations as a reason to avoid giving Iran a "clean bill of health" and since then the entire nuclear issue has been used pretextually, as a cover and justification for another policy of imposed regime change -- just as "WMDs in Iraq" was just a lie and a pretext.
So now the Obama administration has dropped one of the key demands that both the
Obama and Bush administration had previously used as a way to kill-off any chance of a peaceful resolution to the standoff: the US-imposed precondition that Iran first abandon enrichment before talking. Whether this is a result of some sort of genuine change of heart by Obama remains to be seen, but lets not forget that it was the same Obama who killed off the Turkish-Brazilian brokered deal with Iran under Ahmadinejad.
So, don't believe the US media when they claim that the deal was made possible by the sanctions and the election of Rouhani -- no, it was made possible because the US dropped the zero-enrichment precondition; the sanctions have had no effect on the nuclear issue (in fact they've worsened the situation by forcing Iran to increase its enrichment to
20%, something no media outlet in the US wants to acknowledge) and furthermore Rouhani is not making any concessions that Iran has not offered in the past. So really, whatever deal is worked out, if any, it could have been worked out years earlier, and perhaps even a better deal from the US standpoint too -- but OH MY GOD the media in the US really don't want to have to admit that so they'll go on and on about how Rohani's election and sanctions were the reason for the change and you won't hear about "zero enrichment" again.
Anyway, Pepe Escobar continues:
"Russia, China, Turkey, Pakistan, other Asian nations, all Latin American
nations, all African nations, all treat Iran as normal. Beyond the
clash of "heroic flexibility" against American exceptionalism, if only
the US establishment would finally get over it, and deal -
realistically - with what happened in Tehran 35 years ago. Only then
these talks in Vienna will go somewhere, and we may have a final nuclear
deal in 2014.'
And this is indeed the real question that looms over these talks: not whether and how the PMD claims will be resolved, but is the US finally ready to fundamentally come to terms with an independent, sovereign Iran or not? Because if it is, then there's no real justification to continue insisting on these PMD/Alleged Studies claims ... except perhaps only to save some face and pretend that they were legitimate issues all along which will be quiteley and conveniently resolved. Is that the plan? If it is, perhaps the Iranian officials will go along with such a strategy so as to allow the US to save some face by pretending that the PMDs were anything but pretextual, but the rest of us will see through it nonetheless.
So continuing on my last post, lets assume for a moment that the warm-and-fuzzy explanation is really the reason for the changed US policy; that some mass outbreak of rationality has occurred and people in power have decided to actually engage Iran positively and constructively with an actual intention of actually reaching an anctual deal that actually respects Iran's legal rights -- since we all can naturally agree that anyone's fundamental rights should be a "red line" -- to a full and unencumbered or limited enrichment program.
What will that mean to Iran and Iranians, aside from
the last 10 year's worth of weekly-published glossy pull-out sections published by Newsweek and Time and Economist detailing the routes that US and Israeli bombers will take to attack Iran, never proving true?
Fundamentally, the Islamic Revolution in Iran has been a success, not just materially as proven by the HDI figures but also in the moral sense of seeking to combine democratic ideals with religious values. I say this not as a personal religious preference but simply with the recognition of the undeniable fact that Iranian society was then (and still is, but perhaps to
a lesser degree) fundamentally religious and conservative. That's just a truth. And so any form of legitimate govt they have would be based on such values, naturally. But these values change. And Iranian society is changing. To date, the sanctions have served as an obstacle to change. This is especially true in the human rights context, so I'm so surprised that the claimed promoters of human rights would be opposed to removing sanctions on Iran -- they themselves call for more and yet more sanctions on Iran because of its long history of human rights abuses. Well, if there is such a long history of human rights abses which have endured through 35 years of US-Iran emnity and sanctions, isn't that an argument for changing the policy and trying a new approach?
You see, human rights don't improve in countries because the leaders flip a switch one morning since they're feeling particularly generous. It happens because of a variety of reasons including fundamental socio-cultural-political development, and underneath all that is yet more fundamental economic development. It is ironic that people who claim that economic liberty is a precondition to political liberty, as do the "conservatives" in the US --seem to think that imposing economic hardship on a country will somehow improve human rights there. By preventing a country from developing economically, you prevent true development of respect for human rights.
Anyway, I'm tired of typing so my point in short is, take a look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. These are things people want and expect from life, and amongst these are some items
that people to varying degrees specifically expect government to provide to them. In other words, they expect not only for the govt to remove the provie the basics of existence such as clean water and also to remove trash, educate the kids, and defend the realm from insecurity, but to also assert moral authority and provide purpose. Yes, even in democracies (Ask any American "What does America stand for" and they'll promptly tell you "Freedom and Democracy" because that WAS the brand, at least)
Since the revolution Iran has done well in providing the basics on this
hierarchy -- 22 years of increased lifespan since the Islamic Revolution is no joke -- thoug a sense of *relative* poverty exists due to high income differences which cause a sense of perceived poverty. But more importantly, now people as in any country want to consider their government as being morally legitimate, and that requires the government to not just pay attention to human rights as well as providing the other lower-level services that govts are expected to provide for basic existence, and more importantly, to be seen as doing so. This is normal for any country not just Iran, because there is a limit to how far you can rely on brute force to gain public acquiescence, and N Korea is an example of what happens when that route is taken to the extreme.
THis doesn't mean that for example homosexuality will become legal and gays will start marrying in Iran. Unlike what the media reports, that's not going to happen anytime soon in Iran -- not because of "the government" as the media like to claim -- but because Iranian soceity as a whole considers homosexualty to be repulsive. This may come as a disappointment to Western-residing liberal secular pro-democracy activists particularly of the keyboard type, but that's only because theyve never actually been to Iran.
The mainstream media in the US are now very hard at work trying to promote the narrative that claims the nuclear talks are occurring because of the effectiveness of sanctions and the election of Rouhani -- thus positioning Iran as the obstacle to negotiations until now, rather than the US' own policy of demanding "zero enrichment" as a precondition to any talks. That precondition was itself a part of a grander policy of using the manufactured crisis of the Iranian "nuclear threat" as a pretext for imposing regime-change in Iran, just as "WMDs In Iraq" was a pretext and a lie used to justify invading Iraq. Maintaining the pretext required the US to kill, undermine, snub and ignore long-standing Iranian compromise offers, despite being repeated by both hardline as well as reformist Iranian
presidents (backed even by US allies) thus ensuring no breakthroughs would occur and insead the goalposts were constantly moved. THAT is what happened, regardless of what the NY Times tries to sell you about "hardliners in Iran" which were supposedly the problem all along.
Similarly, we are seeing a line of narrative which claims that the goal of the talks
is to reassure the "world community" about "Iran's intentions" and to "dismantle" Iran's nuclear program. Nonesense again. Preventing Iranian nuclear proliferation never was the true reason for the sanctions, it was regime-change. Lets not forget that it was the same lovely Obama who killed off the Turkish/Brazilian brokered deal with Iran, AFTER Iran said yes, to ship out its stock of higher-enriched uranium and yet we're to think that the latest deal with Iran over the same material at Geneva under Obama's new approach is somehow a "breakthrough" due to the election of Rohani.
So having called Bullshit on the media, the question now is NOT whether the two sides can compromise as the NIAC says in their press release since Iran has already done the compromising by allowing excess IAEA noseyness into things that the IAEA has no business or legal authority to inspect, but whether the US has fundamentally decided to get along with Iran instead of merely using some new cooked-up excuse to try to pressure Iran. So, despite the US dropping the "zero-enrichment" precondition, we yet to see whether this latest round of talks will prove to be genuine or just another dog-and-pony show like the previous talks,for example in which the US pulled the rug out from under her allies Brazil and Turkey
after the Iranians said yes to a deal endorsed by Obama himself in letters written to the presidents of those nations. Yes, that happened. Don't let the media make you forget it with their selective framing.
I am not optimistic. I'd like to think that world leaders are fundamentally capable of discerning a nation's best interests, and shaping policies to promote those, but in reality there are all sorts of complicating factors aside from fundamental human stupidity. If -- and i say that word "underlined three times" as ElBaradei did when he referred to the allegations of
Iranian nuclear duplicity -- there has been a fundamental change of view, and the US is not simply looking for an excuse whilst making just a tactical retreat on the enrichment precondition, then there is really no justification for Iran not being treated just as any other NPT signatory, which despite what the media tell you about the goals of these talks, does NOT require "dismantling" anything.
If, and I don't underline that at all, the US is merely putting on a dog-and-pony show, then these talks will be used as a justification for imposing yet more demands on Iran as
usual. The false narrative being fed to and promoted by the US media does support this view more, unfortunately. You may think that the rough treatment given to AIPAC and Nuttyyahoo's cries of anguish at the prospects of peace (!) as well as the threats of additional sanctions in the US senate being temporarily stymied would prove the genuiness of the talks but that's no proof. That's just a "good cop-bad cop" routine -- a childish negotiation tactic. So, not much to feel good about there, actually.
So you may ask why has the US dropped the zero-enrichment precondition and
resorted to such a changed view, what with those 'back channel talks' etc.
Some prefer the warm and fuzzy explanation for the suddent about-face: A sudden outbreak of rationality and willingness to take on AIPAC and promote US interests by NOT seeking a war with Iran over a manufactured crisis.
No, sadly that ain't it. Put away the warm and fuzzies.
I prefer the more cynical view, remembering that it was the same Obama administration that killed off other compromise deals with Iran, and the same Hillary who was out to "obliterate Iran."
What happened was that someone in the Whitehouse simply figured out that the same gameplan they had executed over Iraq, was not going to work on Iran. People had become too wise to the pretextual use of nuclear threats, and absence of evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions which were starting to speak louder than the allegations, combined with the UTTER MESS left in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria as a result of the policies which were SUPPOSED to create a democratic wonderland there that would convince the Iranians to topple their regime, didn't quite work out. And, the sanctions weren't holding on Iran, as even EU courts had started dismantling them, nor was there any indication that the Iranians would (or could) budge on the demands.
As the Obama administration itself concedes the previous approach to Iran was leading the US and Iran into a war (exactly as the pro-Israeli elements that promoted the sanctions policy wanted all along of course) and that was a problem because the mess in Syria proved that US public opinion was not keen to get involved in another war and neither are US politicians ... such Obama's party.
So, basically, the US didn't
change its approach in dealing with Iran because it suddenly realized that Iran had legal rights too which should be respected and there was an outbreak of love and kindness in the White House that infected Geneva. No, it was simply because the war alternative was proving a hard sell domestically.
This was just a tactical retreat. The proof of my view will come in the details of the talks, and how they will impose minute demands over the "Alleged Studies" claims and to supposedly prevent Iranian nuclear weapons "capability" -- watch for that weasel word in particular in the
coverage along with general claims about the "goal" of the talks as asserted by compliant Western reporters.
But even that shows that if you standup to warmongers, they will back down. Iran logically and rationally and legally defended its right to build, own and operate the Bushehr reactor which the US had until then claimed was a "threat"-- and they dropped their claims in the face of steadfastness.
Iran legally and rationally and logically asserted and defended its right to enrichment, and we see that it is no longer being used as a pretext to atleast HOLD talks, how true these talks are remain to be seen.
The NY Times is spinning the recent IMF report on Iran in order to portray the sanctions on Iran has having forced Iran to negotiations, one aspect of a recent "frame" that is being built around the nuclear talks by the US mainstream media which seeks to portray the Iranians as the intransigent party seeking nukes, nevermind that it was the US that had blocked talks and killed off compromises even under Obama
However, lets remember the reaction to the previous IMF report, which had also said that while Iran's economy would dip due to sanctions, it would return to growth. This
report was issued before the talks were even imagined. Those reports caused such an uproar that the regular Iran bashers, who wanted to see a report that confirmed the effectiveness of sanctions, started casting doubt on the IMF. But in effect, there is no real difference between the previous IMF report and this one except that this one has gone into more detail, as was promised in the previous IMF report.
Thus, the NY Time's spin on the IMF report as proof of the effectiveness of sanctions, fails.
In fact, if you compare Iran's economic growth to that of the US by %GDP growth, you'd be surprised to see that Iran actually has done better on a pretty regular basis (even if you ignore 2009)
With the publication of Gareth Porter's book about the history of Iran's nuclear program entitled appropriately "Manufactured Conflict" and the up-coming publication of Daniel Joyner's book which touches on the legalities of Iran's nuclear program, I pretty much have nothing to write about these days but I have been enjoying the mess that we see in the media as the Gatekeepers of Opinion scamble to re-tune their messages:
The current meme they're trying to sell is that the negoatiations are the result of a shift of policy by Iran, which was itself the result of the sanctions -- rather than conceeding that the sole item which had stifled negotiations for years until now was the US insistence that Iran first abandon enrichment before engaging in negotiations about abandoning the rest of the nuclear program, and that the sanctions did not force Iran to the negotiating table but in fact prevented a resolution that could have been reached years ago in accordance with Iran's multiple compromise offers.
For example, according to the Washington Post,
"But Khamenei has approved a less combative approach to the West, especially in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. That is fueling hope here that Iran can win a lifting of tough international sanctions, the root of its economic woes"
Nonsense. Whatever Ahmadinejad's faults, it was he that went before the UNGC and re-announced Iran's long-standing offer to suspend 20% enrichment -- the subject of the much lauded agreement reached recently with the Rouhani government. In fact Iran had been offering to place additional, non-legally required limitations on its nuclear program for YEARS but was consistently snubbed by the US which continued to insist that Iran has to first abandon enrichment before any talks could happen.
Don't let them re-write the history to suit themselves.
Oh and Carnegie Endowment head Jessica Matthews is back to writing fiction about Iran's nuclear program. It makes for quite entertaining reading as a purely fictional account of history, in which for example the Iranians
"For more than fifteen years, intelligence and on-the-ground inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed nuclear facilities, imports of nuclear technology, and research that had no civilian use."
"There is no formal, legal “right” to enrichment or any other nuclear activity."
Yes, world. The 14 nations that enrich uranium today do so by virtue of the fact that God gave them special permission to do so, or was it Jessica Matthews? --- and did not give that permission to Iran. Sorry Iran, you don't have the same sovereign rights as other nations.
But I won't go into a fib-by-fib analysis here.
Anyway, even after the Obama administration finally gave up on the "zero enrichment" precondition to talks, they tried to claim that the ultimate agenda of the talks was still Iran abandoning enrichment -- though this has been looking less and less likely too. AIPAC and Nuttyyahoo are left flopping in the wind nonetheless.
For its part, the New York Times has been trying its hardest to try to blow some life into the carcass of the "alleged studies" claims, first by promoting the "Polonium studies" nonsense that the IAEA itself said was resolved to Iran's credit years ago, and now by failing to mention that the "neutron initiator" claims involving the bridgewire detonators which are the subject of today's news, were dismissed by the IAEA as frauds according to IAEA Director ElBaradei's book, which apparently none of the journalists bothered to read -- Oh yeah, lets not forget that the Israelis accused Elbaradei of being an "Iranian agent" and a "despicable person" for that.
Camelia Entekhabifard, a
person of no doubt very high morals and sense of outrage and indignation
at human rights abuses etc etc etc, has yet again published an article
in the Huffpo proclaiming that "the mullahs" have failed to improve the
living standards of Iranians as they promised. Where's the free
electricity we were promised!
I probably sound like a broken
record repeating this over and over again.
this time, note something quite interesting about the three graphs for
life expectancy, gross national income and education in the above linked
website. Those things are the three major factors that are used to
determine a country's Human Development Index. Note that in the case of
Iran, from 1980 to 2012, the education and life expectancy graphs
massively improved yet the gross national income graph did not. In other
words, even though not much new wealth was created, people are living
much better lives. How does that happen?
Harris has an interesting explanation from his analysis of an earlier
HDI report on Iran: "National wealth, especially for resource-rich
countries like Iran, can
often mask poor health and education. In Iran’s case, however, its
improvements in health and education far outpace its economic growth,
which has been sporadic over the past two decades. 'The manner in which
countries spend their wealth, not the wealth itself, is decisive,' the
new report explains." http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2010/nov/12/iran-ranked-higher-turkey-brazil-un-development-index
in other words, Iranians don't live longer, better-educated lives just
because the country got richer, as is the case with some other nations,
since Iran didn't get richer -- rather, the improvements in health and
education were the results of the manner the wealth was used: a policy
of allocating limited resources to improving living standards. (which
also begs the question, where where those resources going until the
Revolution when the shift to improving living standards started?)
in the years since the Islamic Revolution, not only did Iran have the
second-fastest rate of HDI improvement after China (Iran: 67%; China
70%) which was also more than double the world's average rate of HDI
improvement, and which resulted in things like a 22-year increase in
lifespan in the course of a single generation (a generation is defined
as 30 years) -- all of this happened despite the fact that Iran did not
get significantly richer in that same time period (and despite the war,
the sanctions etc.)
This is an amazing fact.
Of course this doesn't mean that there aren't other problems in Iran:
While Iran is far from being Saudi Arabia or the Taliban, gender
equality figures need improving (more than 6 women in Parliament!) And
while absolute poverty in Iran (defined as people living on under $/2
day) is low, a sense of relative poverty is high because there's a
significant income inequality there as in the US. And that sense of
relative poverty is what Ms Entekhabifard is appealing to.
22 years of increased lifespan and a rate of HDI improvement that's
double the world average, still speak for themselves. The bottom line is
that "the mullahs" not only improved living standards for Iranians
after the revolution, but did so spectacularly, Mrs Entekhabifard. This
is simply a statistical fact from the UNDP so don't send me the hissing
Barlow wrote an analysis for then-Secretary Dick Cheney that concluded the planned F-16 sale
violated this law [prohibiting the sale of weapons capable of delivering nukes.]
Drawing on detailed, classified studies, Barlow wrote about Pakistan’s ability, intentions and activities to deliver nuclear bombs using F-16s it had acquired before the law was passed.
Barlow discovered later that someone rewrote his analysis so that it endorsed the sale of the
F-16s. Arthur Hughes, the deputy assistant secretary of defense, testified to Congress that using
the F-16s to deliver nuclear weapons ²far exceeded the state of art in Pakistan -- something Barlow
knew to be untrue.
In the summer of 1989, Barlow told Brubaker, Rostow and Michael MacMurray, the Pakistan
desk officer in charge of military sales to Pakistan who prepared Hughes’s testimony, that Congress
had been misled.
It is always fun to start out the morning with a funny, over-the-top and so obviously completely bullshit "news article" about Iran of the sort that you can only find in the New York Times.
Today they have an article by Alan Cowell and Rick Gladstone entitled "U.N. Inspectors Visit Uranium Mine in Iran, Media Report." Had Mr Cowell and Gladstone been actual reporters and the New York Times an actual
newspaper that actually covered the actual news when it comes to Iran, the article could have noted that IAEA officials had first visited Iran's uranium mines years ago, when Iran officially invited them there, and furthermore that uranium mines were never required to be shown to inspectors in the first place. In fact the entire controversy about this mine -- whether it was supposedly related to the military or not -- is not terribly relevant, legally, since nothing in the NPT prohibits such an arrangement nor requires its disclosure. The reporters could have confirmed this with a bit of effort.
But instead of you know, actual news and analysis, we get this beauty of an attempt at fear-mongering which sounds like government talking points, dumbed-down
to the point of absurdity for you the mass consuming audience to chew on:
"The Arak plant produces heavy water for a plutonium reactor still under
construction, which Iran describes as designed to generate energy. If it became
operational, however, it would produce plutonium that could be used in a nuclear
weapon. Inspectors visited it in December."
Wow. Gotta love it.
OK, for a start, they fail to note that Iran was never under any obligation to allow any inspections of the heavy water plant.
The authority of inspectors, under Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, extends only to nuclear material and the places where they are kept and related records etc. -- in fact the inspector's authority is specifically stated TWICE in the safeguards agreement to be limited "exclusively" to verifying Iran's declarations and that's all. Heavy water is not nuclear material, and therefore the IAEA has no legal authority to demand to see it. But yet again, Iran compromised an allowed it.
Secondly, "Which Iran describes to generate energy..."
Well, I'm not aware of any reactor that is NOT designed to generate energy. Every reactor generates energy -- that's why they are built.
Third: "If it became
operational, however, it would produce plutonium"
Well, similarly, every reactor produces plutonium once it becomes operational. That's just physics not an Iranian conspiracy. The Tehran Research Reactor and the Bushehr reactor are right now producing plutonium as you read this sentence. OH MY GOD! RUN FOR THE HILLS! SEEK SHELTER!
Fourth: " that could be used in a nuclear
No, it can't. The plutonium is the byproduct of the nuclear reaction, and is accumulated in the highly radioactive fuel rods that are placed inside the reactor. In order for it to be used for weapons, those extremely deadly fuel rods have to be removed (typically when the reactor is being refueled) and then put through a dangerous and complicated process called "reprocessing" -- basically crushing up and chemically removing the plutonium. And then all you have is some plutonium -- you then have to actually make a nuke with it.
Aside from the fact that the reactors and their fuel rods are subject to standard IAEA monitoring, Iran doesn't even have the reprocessing facilities according to the IAEA itself. The fuel rods at Bushehr go back to Russia for reprocessing. The Iranians have repeatedly stated that they have no interest in developing reprocessing facilities and are willing to agree to "Refrain from reprocessing or producing plutonium" as part of a compromise with the US.
Needless to say these Iranian compromise offers were consistently ignored or undermined by the US, which was not interested in actually resolving any actual proliferation threats but instead was using the "Iranian nuclear threat" as a pretext, to hide an entirely different policy of imposing regime-change in Iran (just as "WMDs in Iraq" was used as a pretext.) Remember the 2003 faxed offer, or the Turkey-Brazil brokered deal which the Obama administration killed after Iran had agreed to it, much to the displeasure of both Brazil and Turkey. This was a pattern.
So was imposing the demand that Iran first abandon enrichment before any talks could be held. All a deliberate effort by the US to keep the "Iranian nuclear threat" pretext alive and prevent its resolution.
Today the question is whether the Obama administration
has given up on this approach and is genuinely interested in resolving the standoff, or whether they've just engaged in a tactical step back from their obviously over-reaching position of "give in before we talk" to a more nuanced effort which is still ultimately intended to accomplish regime change rather than resolving any genuine nuclear weapons concern. We have yet to see. Certainly, the Israelis are worried and are making a stink, and the likes of Dennis Ross have scurried out of their dark damp holes to write articles insisting that in dealing with Iran the only choices are war or Iran "rolling back" its nuclear program. Well, sorry Dennis but a 5000-year old nation of 80 million people isn't going to give up its technological accomplishments to suit your exaggerated fears and no Iranian negotiator dares to return to Iran with such an offer. The demand "Rollback" is just as much a fantasy as "zero enrichment" and is being used deliberately to kill
the talks in the same way.
I have been biting my lip and not saying anything about the nuclear negotiations because there's just too much uninformed speculation out there, so I don't want to add my own. I'm waiting for the dust to settle to see where things stand.
Unfortunately, there are a host of "defenders" of the Iran-US negotiations however, who are pumping out complete rubbish in the meantime. Mostly this has to do with Iran's right to enrich uranium, and these authors are trying to find a way to justify the US somehow conceding less than that. The various and sundry justifications they provide for their silly arguments is itself a marvel to behold and can cause fits of giggles.
"There is no formal, legal 'right' to enrichment or any other nuclear activity...if the world becomes convinced that a non–nuclear weapons state’s activities are directed toward acquiring nuclear weapons, such activities thereby become illegal."
This is just too sophomoric a description of international law to even countenance especially by the head of a foreign policy outfit. I should point out that such silly statements about the right of enrichment only makes it more necessary to clarify the issue and forces the sides to take strong and public positions which can only wreck any deal. This refusal to acknowledge the right of enrichment has long been the cause of conflict (and not just with Iran) going back to the Paris Agreement negotiations, wherein the EU3 told the Iranians that they would not demand permanent cessation, whilst at the same time telling the Americans that the EU3's "demand for permanent cessation of all enrichment was non-negotiable." http://wikileaks.org/cable/2004/12/04BRUSSELS5396.html
Along the same lines, we have Christian Cooper writing in Foreign Affairs:
"But the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), despite its specificity about compliant, signatory nations’ inalienable right to use peaceful nuclear power, is vague, either by design or omission, about where that enrichment can take place." http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140651/christian-h-cooper/limited-rights -- suggesting that somehow Iran can be told to give its uranium to others and accept very significant limts on its enrichment program.
Apparently these people think the NPT is the personal playground of the US who can go around willy-nilly dispensing or taking away rights and responsibilities, and is free to create another version of the NPT to be applied to countries it doesn't like. No Iranian negotiator -- or any negotiator - would agree to allow his nation to become a second-class member of the NPT subject to the demands and whims of the US and allies.
The fact that these people seem to think that Iran's enrichment rights are up for negotiation is itself an indicator that the negotiations are not being conducted in good faith, which makes it all the more important for Iran to take a very public stance on its enrichment rights to ensure that there is no confusion about what Iran has agreed to and not agreed to.
So lets continue taking apart the utter rubbish by Carnegie Endowment;s Mathews:
"For more than fifteen years, intelligence and on-the-ground inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA )
revealed nuclear facilities, imports of nuclear technology, and research that had no civilian use"
Unfortunately the author fails to specify the alleged technology or research that "had no civilian use" -- naturally, because no such thing happened. This is unmitigated rubbish. The IAEA has consistently stated that it has found precisely zero evidence of any military aspect to Iran's nuclear program.
Mathews continues: "This brings the story to the stunning surprises of 2013, beginning with Iran’s June election in which Hassan Rouhani, confounding poll results..."
Actually poll results were not confounded at all, as there was a documented shift away from Tehran Mayor Baqer in favor of Rouhani days before the election, and especially when Rouhani received Khatami and Rafsanjani's endorsement. I suppose the mostly-US based pundits who insisted the elections would be fixed to let Jalili win were indeed confounded.
"Most important, and perhaps most unexpected, Iran agreed to eliminate its existing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium."
Actually, it is hardly unexpected. Iran had been offering to end 20% enrichment for years, and Ahmadinejad himself went before the UNGA and repeated the offer a few years ago. It was US sanctions on the sale of civilian reactor fuel to Iran that caused Iran to increase enrichment to 20% in the first place, a sanctions policy "blowback" no one wants to openly acknowledge so we have pundits like Mathews claiming this is some sort of big and unexpected breakthrough.
"To prevent Iran from once again using the negotiations to buy time to advance its program.."
I'm not sure where the "once again" comes but this "buying time" meme is straight out of AIPAC's talking points. In reality Iran suspended enrichment entirely for almost 3 years, hardly something a country seeking to "buy time" to make nukes would have done. As Amb. Mousavian pointed out, "instead it is the West’s strategy to delay a face-saving solution to the nuclear impasse by having the sanctions take more effect and bring Iran to its knees" -- regime change, in other word.
I'm just as surprised as anyone else. When I started pointing out the role of AIPAC wayyyyyyy back in the 1990s, anyone who mentioned the "pro-Israeli lobby" was automatically dismissed as either a conspiracy kook or a Nazi sympathizing anti-Semite. Now, we have mainstream press pointing the role of AIPAC in pushing for war! However while this is indeed the result of AIPAC's own arrogance, the question is whether the momentum can be maintained to effectively sideline AIPAC. The folks at AIPAC and Israeli must be furiously trying to position themselves to limit the damage.
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According to UNDP calculations, between the years 1980 and 2012,
Iran’s HDI value increased by 67 per cent – or at an average annual
increase of about 1.6 per cent. During the same period, for other
countries in the High Human Development group (the group containing
Iran), the average annual gain was only about half of what Iran managed –
0.73 per cent. For all countries on the planet, the average gain was
even less – only 0.69 per cent. This means that Iran’s annual growth in
its HDI was over double the global average. Simultaneously, this would
imply that – from a human development standpoint – during the period
1980-2012, Iran’s policy interventions were both significant and
appropriate to produce improvements in human development.
Glenn Kessler of the washington post has an article pretending to verify the truthfulness of a statement by Kkerry about how the US rejected a compromise proposal by Iran which was communicated to the US via the Swiss by fax.
Of course back
then the hardliners on Iran denied that this was anything to take seriously, and went as far as denying not only that it amounted to a peace proposal but also deny that entire event happened.
i'm sure the leveretts and others will have more to add but in the meantime i hope someone will put straight this claim that rouhani boasted about 'hoodwinking' the west in previous negotiations. kessler has decided to put his own spin on the history of events, ignoring for example what was going on during the eu3 negotiations with iran at the time including the fact that rouhani
came under extreme criticism for suspending iran's enrichment for so long while obtainin no benefits and ultimately being cheated by the eu3.
rouhani's defense as stated in his speech was to emphasise that iran did not abandon all of the nuclear program, and that while some aspects of it were indeed suspended -- as verified in the west -- other aspects were not suspended NOR WERE REQUIRED TO BE suspended under the terms of the very agreement itself.
Furthermore the fact that Rouhani emphasized that Iran would eventually continue enrichment is presented as some sort of proof of deception by Kessler -- in fact this had been made crystal clear in the negotiations with the EU3 from the get-go. Mousavian has specifically told the EU3, and Iran had made it perfectly clear, that giving up enrichment was "off the table" and that the suspension was temporary. This is well-known history.
So Rouhani was not "boasing about hoodwinking" anyone as Kessler claims, and this is obvious to anyone familiar with the history. I believe that Amb Jenkins has written on this specific point too but I can't access my computer right now
The claim that Iran had hoodwinked anyone in those talks, and promoting the idea that the Iranin 2003 faxed offer either did not exist or was not from Iran etc, is itself not accurate
and a spin on history. I look forward to seeing people's reactions to this supposed "fact checking" by Kessler.
"Hecker is talking about Parchin, a military complex 18 miles southeast
of Tehran where, according to a 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency
report, there were high-explosive and hydrodynamic tests that could have
been related to nuclear weapons. IAEA inspectors haven’t had access to
Parchin over the past two years."
So what's left out? Lets count just some of the facts that have been eliminated from "the reality" by Pincus here:
2- Even if such "weapons-related" hydrodynamic testing etc occurred, it would not have been a violation of the NPT and Iran would not be legally required to report it to the IAEA, because the IAEA's obligations under the terms of Iran's safeguards agreement are "exclusively" limited to accounting for
nuclear material itself and not anything more. "Nuclear-related" experiments are not banned until and unless they involve a "diversion of fissile material for nonpeaceful uses" -- that's the legal standard for when the IAEA gets involved.
3- Iran allowed inspections at Parchin, twice in 2005, despite being under no legal obligation to do so.
4- The Alleged Studies occurred in Parchin allegedly up to 2003 so the access provided in 2005 would have sufficed to verify it if it had occurred, and so Pincus's assertion that the inspectors have not had access to Parchin in over two years is non-sequitur.
5- Actual nuclear inspectors such as Robert Kelley question why the emphasis on Parchin in the first place
I am always amused (well, bored to tears actually) whenever I read yet another article that repeats yet another well-worn and highly questionable standard narrative on Iran, but I particularly love it (yeah right) when they combine these memes into weird combinations to push a point -- usually involving their long-wished for end to the IRI.
So for example we see some "political commenator" for a German magazine combining two of the oldest memes on Iran in an op-ed in the NY Times entitled "Is Rouhani an Iranian Gorbachev?" -- the same Gorbachev who oversaw the collapse and dismantling of the Soviet Union, mind you -- and he concludes that the nuclear negotiations should concentrate on "unleashing the people's democratic aspirations" yada yada yada -- nevermind that those same people would probably actually prefer the US to butt out of their democratic aspirations and instead respect their nation's sovereign rights.
But in any case the amusing meme's here are the old "the youth will topple the regime" thing, which we have heard for a while now. Those "youths" who were first supposed to topple the regime back in the 1980s and 1990s are now well into middle age (whatever happened to those despicable SMCCDI folks btw?) but hey the Western media's hope for regime-change in Iran springs eternal.
And the second meme is of course the comparison of Iran to the Soviet Union -- because that's a familiar bogeymonster for the public consuming this crap. After all, if you want to envision a stereotype of an unpopular repressive regime that is holding onto power contrary to the wishes of the people and by brute force alone rather than legitimacy, the Soviet Union comes to mind -- and naturally Iran must be similar, and the people in Iran cannot possibly actually generally support their
govt. No, that is never to be conceded in the Western media, and instead we're treated to wishful comparisons to the ill-fated Soviets.
Of course this isn't to say that Iran won't be going through some significant changes and won't face significant challenges in adopting to modernity. The NY Times may
like to believe that "Until the revolution, Iran was among the most cultured, cosmopolitan countries in the region" but in fact back then Iran had less than 50% literacy rates which has since reached over 98% -- all in the course of 30 years or 1 generation. and that's just one indicator amongst others, altogether showing that Iran's overall Human Development Index improved 67% since the 1979 Islamic Revolution (compared to China's 70%.) You can't have that level of sudden and massive human development without significant challenges to what used to be social, political and cultural norms. Also, remember that Iranians now overwhelmingly live in nuclear families, in relatively small apartment in large cities
instead of the extended family home or compound in the villages where most of the population once lived not so long ago. The paternalism inherent in the old ways, is falling away and more and more kids are being raised in two-parent working households. In short, Iran will be going through massive transformations, and hopefully for the better as people and society evolves and adapts.
But that's just not the
same as Gorbachev and the demise of the Soviet Union, sorry.
I am always amused by various articles I've read that purport to be a guide on "How to negotiate with Iranians," and which usually consist of a list of supposedly Iranian cultural characteristics that should be borne in mind when arguing with those sneaky fellows. In addition to being condescending and bordering on racist, what I really find funny about these sorts of articles is that they're typically written by Americans who are married to Iranians - so they're actually guides on how to argue with their inlaws. No doubt these lists are but a distillation of built-up resentments and frustrations towards the inlaws from many years, and the authors jumped on the chance to finally get it all off their chest, even if they had to pass it off as applicable to all Iranians in general rather
than just their particular inlaws.
But I do think that culture has a lot to do with negotiation style as well as substance. And if you really want to know anything about Iran and Iranian culture, you can do much worse than start with some architectural elements.
I just returned from Iran, and a trip from Kashan and Isfahan. Some of you may know that I have ancestors from Kashan but I am particularly interested in Isfahan for the moment, as I'm working on a short book about the history. I saw the grave of Shah Abbas the First in Kashan, which is
not as celebrated or well known as it should be (in fact the grave stone itself does not mention his name) but I always wondered what passed through his head as he sat comfortably surrounded with his retenue and servants on the balcony of the Ali Qapu and watched the polo games in the great Meydan of Isfahan below. The meydan is a great sight to behold, not just for its architecture but for also what it says about Iranian society for it in we see the fundamental forces at work there. standing at the balcony of the Ali Qapu, or "High Door," we see three major structures: the great Mosque to the right, the Qheysarriey entrace to the Bazaar on the left and across from you is perhaps the most maginificently-tiled building ever, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. But it is actually not a mosque (note the absence of minarets) and was instead a private chapel for the Queen and Queen Mother, and named after an Shia cleric who was an in-law to Shah Abbas. So we
have a mosque and bazaar, the sacred and profane, balancing each other - and in the center is the Family, opposite of which is the King or State.
But the neatest thing is not in this grand layout - it is in the details: The Chehel Sotoon Palace served as a diplomatic reception hall, and there's much to be learned from the frescos inside of Iranian battle scenes as well as the scenes of the shahs sitting down with foreign dignataries and rulers. For example no one seems to ask why the Battle of Cheldoran is so prominently shown in the Chehel Sotoon Palace. Remember,
this was a battle in which Iran was defeated, and rather badly. Nor does anyone ask why some of the column supports in the Great Mosque do not actually match eachother, though they appear to be similar, and what that implies. Nor does anyone ask what a Zoorkhooneh's entrance door has to say about Iran and Iranians.
In any case, if you want to understand Iran and Iranian negotiating style, my point is there are better sources of knowledge than those sorts of articles about the inlaws, folks.
I must say that the most interesting thing about reading all the opinion pieces published in response to the announced interim deal is how they absolutely mutilate even recent history as well as the NPT and the most basic of technical facts about the enrichment process in order to make their point. What on earth is "heavily-enriched uranium" or and how is it that Arak "produces plutonium" but not Bushehr? And nary a mention -- oh no, certainly not! -- of why/how Iran started enriching to 20% in the first place, or of Iran's repeated offers, reaffirmed under the Evil Ahamadinejad (who apparently was the cause of the entire standoff all long -- who knew?!) to cease that level of enrichment as well as all the other compromise offers which were ignored. Then we have Khatami who was stymied by Iranian hardliners -- nevermind the Paris Agreement fiasco and embarrassment for his administration, and the fact that Iranian presidents as a
whole were portrayed in the US as powerless nobodies who should be ignored...
There's enough spin as if riding a amusement ride at Disneyland. But in the end, we'll see where things stand when the dust settles.
One of my favorite apocryphal quotes attributed to Churchill is that "Americans will eventually do the right thing but only after exhausting other alternatives."
Remember those many, many magazine articles which we all read for years detailing how Israel and the US would attack Iran, complete with glossy pull-out maps showing blue arrows pointing to red explosions surrounded by dramatic nuclear or military symbols? Or the various claims about Iranian misdeeds that could never quite be corroborated or turned out to be outright hoaxes but were accepted as true and promoted in the media anyway? Well, save a few just so that we never forget that THAT is what we had to contend with...before we won.
I'm as shocked and surprised as anyone else, especially as I just retrurned from Iran about 3 hours ago. I don't think this is anything but a short term arrangement arrived by what are still highly competitive parties engaged in rough and tumble negotiations that can still fail at any time, and I believe strongly that the reason why the US accepted this deal is because the Russians and Chinese were starting to complain and the integrity of the P51 was at stake, and I don't know what Congress and Israel will do in reaction (though I can guess the general trend) but the most significant victory here is not in the details of the agreement itself (which we will get to) but in the very fact that by sitting across from Iran had reaching a deal, any deal, the ground has shifted -- oh how the mighty have fallen, and now have to actually contend with the rest as an equal rather than waving and wagging their pointy hypocritical fingers from up high. This was the point I made at a meeting at Sharif U: the greater victory for Iran is in that the US has now recognize Iran not as a "rogue state" but as a legitimate nation, which it has to deal with diplomatically as with other nations, regardless of the rhetoric of "all options on the table."
As for unhappy Israel, that insufferable cow Jennifer Rubin once expressed the true fear of the the Israelis, which was not that Iran would nuke Israel and "kill all the Jews" with their "flying holocaust chambers" and other such dramatic bullshit cooked up by the Israeli propaganda machine, but that Iran would be deemed by the US to be a legitimate entity and thus competitor to Israel. Well, Jennifer, you warmongering bitch, your nightmares have come true. And Obama's constant and repetitious refrain about his concern for Israel's security is sounding more and more like empty rhetoric, but mainly because Israel's own attempts at portraying Iran as an "existential threat" was empty rhetoric too -- as the Israelis themselves would conceed relatively easily.
Indeed, as I mentioned in Iran, I'm astounded now to read articles in the media resulting from these negotiations which ask once totally taboo questions of whether Israeli interests necessarily align with that of the US, and whether the folks at AIPAC and such prioritize US or Israeli interests. And perhaps the greatest irony here is that the Israelis brought this totally upon themselves. They were far too arrogant and had gone far from the "nightflower that blooms best in the dark" to being simple and overt pains in the ass, and their push for the Iraq war resulted in a backlash that has been growing (not that these arrogant asses pay attention -- they continue to embarrass themselves.)
The fact is, the world is pretty tired of Israel as well as the Saudis, the two parties who stand in opposition to a US Iran detente but which had no real alternatives to offer either, so the US **MAY** have actually decided to hop on the right side of history by dealing with Iran. And this can also help Iran get further on the right side of history, as the sanctions fall, economy improves, middle class grows, people travel, get educated, learn about the world etc. etc. -- all benefitting the forces of moderation and progress in a part of the world that certainly needs it.
As for the deal itself, the most important point is that it is temporary. Iran is not bound to anything, and the compromises it does make does not require it to "roll back" anything, merely to stop it where it is...for a duration. Their most important concern should be that any compromise Iran makes should not be deemed as a defacto new interpretation of the NPT, nor of Iran's sovereign rights as recognized by that treaty. Iran cannot be deemed a "special case" in the NPT. Such a precedent that the P5+1 can bully nations into giving up any rights or changing the NPT structure and legal function, should never be recognized either explicitly OR implicitly, but should be denied explicitly so as to prevent any future doubts. In short, it should be made explicitly clear that Iran has not and will not give up its right to enrichment of uranium (as much as it wants, to whatever degree it wants) nor "production of plutonium" as the media strangely refer to the construction and operation of a heavy water reactor - even if it chooses not to exercise that right for now. This, no doubt, is a major concern for all in Iran as it should be for the rest of the developing world: That Iran should not be a separate case of the NPT or international law, and that the nuclear-armed nations should not be able to cleaves the not-haves into separate little boxes of special treatment. ALL THREE of the NPT's pillars have to hold fast, not just the nonproliferation aspect, and so all the members of the NPT should hold fast together, against the historical push by the nuclear-armed states to increasetheirprerogatives whilst disregarding their obligations, turning the NPT into a farce.
And lets remember how this is a good deal for the US: Israel is a racist apartheid state that is building walls around itself whilst building Jewish only parking lots, and the Saudis...well, do I need to say anything about a geriatric kleptocracy that supports the same people who crashed airplanes into NYC building? The sadness of it all, is that it took so long for the US to see which horse to pick whilst also vindicating its own historical perspective that free commerce and engagement are what build strong and stable relations as well as the democracy we so earnestly profess ... but the US has failed to live up to its own rhetoric so much lately that you can't help feel disappointed, especially if you're someone who chose to be an American rather than simply born one accidentally. A market of 80 million Amerophiles in a major oil producing nation beckons, you idiots, there but for the taking.
Perhaps there is hope after all. I just hope we don't have to continue exhausting all the alternatives.
So the Russians are saying that the deal was complete and everyone was about to go home before the US Sec of State showed up and killed the deal.
“There was an American-proposed draft, which eventually received Iran’s consent.” Lavrov thus confirmed the fact that the United States and Iran had reached informal agreement on a negotiating text...
Then Lavrov revealed for the first time that the U.S. delegation had made changes in the negotiating text that had already been worked out with Iran at the insistence of France without having consulted Russia.
Wow, that's pretty familiar, no? And before that time, they did the same with the EU-3 negotiations too -- made sure that no deal would ever go through, regardless of the assurances they had provided Iran. Seems like a rather deliberate pattern of supposedly "missed chances," wouldn't you say?
I am not holding my breath waiting for any sort of actual deal to happen with regard to these nuclear negotiations, as you know. But I do think it is interesting how the coverage has led to the scales falling off people's eyes about who is pulling who's strings in dealing with Iran. Suddenly we're seeing articles (albeit in UK's Guardian) raising the question of whether Israeli interests correspond to US interests or not, and people are wondering why the US has to be on the side of the likes of the Saudis in this affair, and we're also seeing mainstream reporting on how US senators are falling over themselves to appease Israeli lobbyists. An AIPAC boss once stated that "Lobbying is like a night flower that blooms best in the dark" (or something to that effect) and yet they could not help boasting about their power to get 70 US senators to sign even a dinner napkin in an hour either...and now, both Israel and the Pro-Israeli lobby have been outed (or, they outed themselves with their rabid push for war war and more war.) I mean, if you're a proIsraeli PR agent, it must really burn your ass that a shady billionaire old Repubican casino mogul has emerged as your spokesman -- and Sheldon managed to creat quite a stir too.
This is doing some real damage to Israeli influence in the US. People are starting to seriously question why the US is toeing Israel's line. Israelis pride themselves on chutzpah, they don't seem to realize that people resent being pushed and will eventually push back.
According to news reports, Obama and Hollande issued a statment in which they "expressed their shared determination to obtain from Iran every guarantee that it will finally give up its military nuclear programme."
"Finally give up its military nuclear program"? The choice of wording here is deliberate, and the message is clear: there isn't going to be a deal and they're not going to acknowledge Iran's rights.
Going as far as being deliberately insulting by referring to Iran's nuclear program so matter-of-factly as a weapons program is nothing but a poke in the eye at Iran, especially since even US intelligence sources have said that no one in Iran has made a decision to make nukes.
I mean, think about it. These people went as far as to murder scientists by blowing up their cars. They went as far as to manufacture fake evidence of nuclear weapons work and pass it off with the Associated Press. They spied on the former IAEA head, called him an "Iranian agent" and engineered his replacement with a docile and loyal servant under whom the IAEA has been turned into a politicized joke. They've literally turned international law -- trade law, nuclear law, law of war -- on its ear ... all of this not to prevent any nuclear weapons in Iran -- since they themselves admit there isn't any -- but simply in order to "get" Iran. And these are just some of the atrocities they've committed. But suddenly now something has changed so massively that they've given allthis up -- and why, because Rohani was elected? THEY DON'T CARE. Anyway, lets remember folks, Rowhani is not something new in the nuclear talks -- he headed the talks while Khatami was president. And nothing much happened then either.
Anyway I highly recommend reading these twointerviews (video and transcript) with an actual nuclear weapons inspector Robert Kelley, who is a critic of the IAEA reports on Iran, in which he debunks many of the current myths about Arak, and notes that the IAEA seems to have dropped its insistence on (re-)visiting Parchin, which was never really legitimate anyway. The fact is that this agreement with the IAEA is intended to be non-binding, and subject to the progress in the main negotiations with the P5. Nevertheless having made even this non-binding agreement to agree later, I will bet you that even this will be used against Iran with yells and screams about how Iran is "failing" to meet its "obligations" under even this non-agreement.
Note that Robert Kelley suggests that Iran may have been justified in investigating nuclear weapons back in the days of the "Alleged Studies" because Saddam was making nukes. Of course, there's no actual evidence that Iran did so, nor has the US been able to point to anything concrete other than claims about Iran's "intentions to obtain capabilities" to make nukes, whatever that means.
However I should point out that nuclear weapons studies by themselves would not be a violation of the NPT or Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, until and unless there was a "diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses" involved --- which the IAEA has explicitly stated it has never found even with respect to previously undeclared nuclear activities by Iran. So even if Iran had done all sorts of studies on nuclear weapons, it would not have been in any way illegal, so there's nothing for Iran to "admit" ...nor hide. After all, Iran happily admitted that it had developed a stockpile of chemical weapons in respons to Saddam's US-backed genocide and chemical weapons atoricities so they're not particularly reticent about stuff like that. In fact the nuclear program in Iran was never a secret nor was the enrichment program, so the accusation against Iran tends to vary from having had nuclear weapons programs in the past to "intending to acquire the capability" to get one in the indefinite future, depending on how the wind blows.
Remember this is a nuclear weapons program for which no evidence has ever turned up despite the fact that Iran -- with its single functioning reactor -- has been consuming a great part of the IAEA's inspections budget and manpower for quite a while now, to the apparent frustration of some IAEA officials and contrary to the terms of Iran's safeguards agreement which make it clear that the intrusiveness of inspections must be minimized.
I also enjoyed reading an op-ed by the Israeli Intelligence Minister who suggest a "simple, logical" solution to the nuclear dispute with Iran: Iran must just gave up her rights, naturally -- rights that the Israelis themselves have expanded upon to include making weapons of genocide which the Iranians have explicitly and repeatedly and thus far verifiably disavowed on moral grounds. Go home, Yuval, you're drunk.
Anyway I will point out Dan Joyner's blog again on Arms Control Law, and particularly his post about the right to enrich, which the US has now explicitly denied. Note that none of the reporting on the issue have mentioned that the US nuclear negotiations with Vietnam were recently completed when the US had to give up on forcing Vietnam to give up enrichment. They don't mention the fact that this dispute about enrichment is far bigger than Iran, and is in fact a Norht-South conflict over control of the sole source of energy in the near post-oil world. There will be more from Prof. Joyner published soon so keep your eyes peeled.
Here are twomore things to read -- I'll be back in a week.
I'm pretty sure he's referring to Kerry's claim that Iran "backed out" of the negotiations, in which he didn't mention that the US had refused to recognize Iran's rights.
So, it is looking more and more that my fears are confirmed: these sets of negotiations were no different from the previous sets, the goal being to set-up Iran and make it seem that Iran is the "intransigent" party. The US/EU side, as usual, were never serious about making any deals. They were pushing maximalist illegal demands, hoping to make Iran balk. They did not enter the negotiations in good faith.
This statement by Rouhani further strongly suggests to me that the red line he's referring to -- Iran's sovereign right to enrich uranium on its soil, a right that other nations take for granted and which the NPT recognizes as inalienable (meaning Iran could not give it away even if it wanted to) -- was really the cause for no deal happenening.
Just to remind everyone, since this post has exploded: enrichment is the most important process whereby natural uranium ore (rocks) are turned into fuel for nuclear reactors. WIthout it, you can only import the fuel.
And as I keep saying over and over and over and over, this demand that Iran abandon enrichment is deliberately made in order to prevent any resolution of the nuclear issue, which would deprive them of a pretext for imposing regime change on Iran (the goal all along.) Iran suspended enrichment entirely for more than two years, and has historically repeatedly offered to limit its enrichment capability to a fraction of what it is today, and even then they didn't accept it. The point is to deprive Iran of her rights and subjugate Iran, relegating Iran and subsequently all other developing nations who signed the NPT and are entitled to develop technologically, to a third class status forever reliant on a handful of self-appointed nations that will form a cartel for nuclear power fuel as well as all the other technological advances that follow (since any form of high tech "could be used to make nukes.") And it is hardly just Iran that objects to this, nor was this just a Bush-era policy which the developing states laughed at.
Lets remember, Iran acheived "High Human Development" status in the 1990s, after a remarkable period of development (67% improvement in their HDI figures since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, beating out all the other BRICs except for China's 70% HDI improvement.) Iran is emerging -- and they're trying to prevent it. These people are quite literally assassins of scientists and mass murderers, after all. You'd be safer in a cage with a wild animal than trust them.
As a country with a major civilian nuclear industry, France would be particularly sensitive to yet another competitor entering the field. Especially since under the NPT, Iran is **LEGALLY ENTITLED** to receive and/or develop -- then export -- the most advanced civilian nuclear technology it wants. In fact in the the text of the NPT, the developing states made sure to insert language that made it clear that the recognized nuclear-armed signatories (China, Russia, France, UK, US) had a positive obligation to actively help promote civilian nuclear technology in developing states. In fact, that was the basis of the NPT bargain, which makes it so much more egregious that the US has prevented the IAEA from providing technical cooperation to Iran even in nuclear safety related areas.
This isn't just about Iran -- they're trying to rewrite the rules of the NonProliferation Treaty to suit themselves.
Under the terms of the NPT, those countries that had made nukes --the "haves" or Nuclear Weapons Nations (NWP) -- made the commitment to reduce and eventually eliminate their
arsenals, and the "have-nots" (including Iran, a charter member of the NPT) agreed not to seek atomic weapons as long
as they could obtain the advantages of nuclear technology for peaceful
purposes and as long as the "haves" didn't share their nuke tech with non-NPT signatories (such as Israel and India.)
But instead now the US and the nuclear-armed states -- who have consistently failed to meet their own disarmament obligations under the NPT and have shared nuclear tech with both Israel and more recently India (as a bribe by the US to India for India's vote against Iran at the IAEA Board, incidentally) -- are ALSO FURTHER demanding the the non-nuclear armed NPT signatories give up MORE rights, including the right to make their own nuclear fuel.
How's that for bare-faced audacity?
The IAEA has also been sucked into this after the US tried so hard for so long to replace ElBaradei with Amano, much to the displeasure of developing nations. Heck, the IAEA under Amano even issued a report in which he explicitly LIED about the authority that the IAEA Board had supposedly granted the IAEA on a related issue, as Dan Joyner discovered when he checked the primary documents of a meeting of the Board. These people are about as dishonest as any used car salesman (who at least has to stay within the boundaries of some law.)
Think about it -- they outright fabricated the Board's resoution, to claim that the Board had approved an interpretation of the NPT which went contrary to existing law. In fact as Dan Joyner showed, far from endorsing such a standard, representatives of several countries explicitly objected to such an interpretation. But you'd have to check the transcript to discover that. None of the reporters bothered. The didn't expect anyone to do so.
And naturally developing nations say they don't want to give up their rights to
uranium enrichment and don't trust the United States or other nuclear
countries to be consistent suppliers of the nuclear material they would
need to run their power plants.
In fact, if anything the illegal sanctions placed on Iran's nuclear program right now -- which are in total violation of IRan's NPT-recognized rights -- are themselves proof that neither Iran nor any othe developing nation can rely on any of these countries (or any supposedly "independent" organization they form) to not use the power of control over the sole fuel source of the future post-oil world, for their own political gains. In fact they would be just stupid to trust such an arrangement. Note that the none of the so-called and self-designated supplier states are themselves willing to become hostage to any developing country for their energy sources and instead they go right ahead and develop whatever nukes and bombs and missiles and reactors they want for themselves.
Simple: to kill the negotiations. They never planned on the negotiations working out. They needed a way out. In the past, whenever negotiations were working out, the US imposed the demand that Iran abandon enrichment, knowing it would kill any deal. That's what they did with the Brazil/Turkish deal.
This time, they again announced that they would not recognize an enrichment right in Iran and are now using France's objections as a way to back out yet again when they saw they couldnt intimidate Iran into abandoning her unquestionable and absolute rights. That's all.
How many times will we have to watch reruns?
I don't know how many times I have to say it over and over again: they have no intention of making any kind of actual deal with Iran that respect's Iran's rights.
Apparently a mysterious new website has emerged called NuclearEnergy.ir. No one knows who is behind it, and I haven't had the time to check it out in great detail myself. I'd like like to note here that YEARS ago I started raising the point that while many officials in Iran complain about "Zionist conspiracies" that prevent fair media coverage of Iran, there was still not a single website published by Iran which explained the issue and attempted to overcome the false propaganda.
So you can imagine my mixed feelings about this site: I love the idea that FINALLY someone decided to speak, and hopefully this is an authoritative website too. But you can also imagine my frustration that this happened 10 YEARS after the ISIS/MEK propaganda operation about "exposing" Natanz. TEN YEARS! It too them to finally take what should have been a basic and fundamental step. Every 12 year old has a website and the yet the Iranians could not be bothered to create this for such a hot and fateful topic.
It is being reported -- whether accurately or not who knows? -- that France's Foreign Minister Laurent "Pepe le Pew" Fabius has raised objections to a deal with Iran due to something about Iran's perfectly legal and legitimate Arak heavy water reactor. N
Speculation is that this French move was motivated by Saudi money but I think the issue is more fundamental than that. France is heavily invested in the nuclear arena and certainly would not welcome a competitor such as Iran exporting its nuclear knowhow to compete with French industry in the future, for example.
No doubt they want Iran to give up soveregn rights. The irony is in that France has not only cheated Iran in the past, not only do they rely on nuclear power themselves (about 78% of France's energy is nuclear) but they've been modernzing and updating their nukes and making new nuclear armed submarines instead abiding by their NPT obligations to disarm. And yet they think Iranianas are just a bunch of dirty ragged beggars at their feet.
Nevertheless, and despite this experience, Iran offered in the past to allow EURODIF, the French-based multinational uranium enrichment consortium which Iran had invested in, to monitor Iran's enrichment program as a good faith gesuture and proof that they don't intend to make nukes -- this was back in 2006. And guess what happened to those negotiations? They got hung up on the same issue which is hanging up these negotiations because - like I'm getting tired of saying over and over again -- the West has no intention of resolving this standoff. This is not, and never was, about Iran's nuclear program. Iran could make all the nuclear compromise offers it wants, it will never work.It is about toppling the regime there and returning Iran into a subservient state that can, at best, only hope to get whatever technological scraps the Frenc and Americans deem fit to toss to Iran.
when it comes their Iran coverage. The entire newspaper staff there has blood on their hands, as far as I'm concerned, and in an ideal world they should be on trial for deliberately promoting the nonsense that led to the Iraq invasion, nevermind the terrible "journalists" like Michael Gordon, the human dictaphone, who work there.
But just to point out that nothing has changed, I refer you to the latest example of crap posing as news by, who else, then Michael Gordon (and Mark Lander.) I could poke holes in this story all day but the best bit is about the Arak heavy water reactor.
They mention that this reactor, once operational, will produce plutonium which can theoretically be made into a bomb, and they they casually proceed to refer to "Iran's plutonium production program" as if this is some sort of deliberate move by Iran to make plutonium
But plutonium is created in practically any nuclear reactor's fuel rods, because of the laws of physics which apply equally to Iran as anywhere else. Aside from the fact that the reactor will be under constant IAEA safeguards, the irradiated reactor rods are extremely radioactive and so there is no way that this plutonium can be used for anything without it going through a very complex chain of reactions called "reprocessing" and furthermore, while the Shah was absolutely insistent that Iran retain a reprocessing capability, the Islamic Republic has no reprocessing facilty and according to the IAEA itself, has shown no interest in it. In fact, Iran has repeatedly offered to forego reprocessing (the reactor rods from Iran's Bushehr reactor are sent back to Russia for reprocessing.)
Of course, the NY Times could not be bothered to mention ANY of that instead Gordon and Landis made up a "plutonium production program" in Iran.
Mr Kerry went on TV a few weeks a go and with a bit of flourish demanded that Iran allow IAEA inspections of Fordo --- a site that has been the subject of IAEA inspections for quite a while now.
The 60 Minutes reporter either didn't know enough himself, or chose not to confront the Secretary of State over such a fundamental error, as Nima Shirazi pointed out.
Now, the absurdities are compounded: we have a reportertelling the gov't officialwhat's what, with an unnamed Senior Administration Official who responds "I quite agree" to a bit of nonsense stated by an NBC reporter who claimed the "secret" Fordo site was "pretty full blown until you found out about it, I mean, it was a pretty big functioning complex when you found out about it."
What the heck are these people talking about? Aside from the fact that Fordo was not a "secret" and had in fact been declared FIRST by the Iranians to the IAEA, before Iran was legally obligated to declare it (and, an undeclared site is not the same thing as a "secret" site anyway) Fordo was far from "full blown" or "functional" -- it was, to quote IAEA Director ElBaradei who actually visited the place which Kerry seems to think is hidden behind closed doors, was "nothing more than a hole in mountain." According to the IAEA itself, the only things that had been installed were basic water piping and electricity, none of which was even connected or functional.
And yet here we are with a "Senior Administration Official" agreeing to nonsense. It seems like the falsified narrative has overtaken and may be driving the facts, and the media are now more than just complicit in promoting it, but are actually instructing the politicians in it!
And now we see how the US just killed off these talks too, by explicitly claiming that Iran has no right to enrichment:
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't believe any country - the United States does not believe any country has a right. That doesn't mean countries don't have enrichment programs. They do. So the issue is not -- when people say we have a right, then it means you can't put any limitations on it, you cannot stop it, you cannot question it, because it's an inherent right. We believe Iran does not have a right. We don't believe any country has a right.
QUESTION: Does that mean, though, that you will countenance Iran's possibility –
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have not -
QUESTION: — to enrich after a final review, or you won't countenance?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have not gotten to the end of this story. We gotten to the end of this story. We need to first take a first step, stop the advance of Iran's program, so that we can have a serious discussion about how to meet the international community's concerns. These are not just our concerns. There is a -- there are UN Security Council resolutions, and there is a UN Security Council resolution that called for the suspension of Iran's enrichment program because they had not met their international obligations and responsibilities. All of this has to be addressed. That's what we're going to try to do.
(SOURCE: State Department Press Office, Office of the Spokesperson November 6, 2013 - 2013/1358 -Background Briefing: Senior Administration Official Previewing Iran P5+1 Talks, November 6, 2013, Geneva, Switzerland.)
It is funny that if you read the entire transcript, this "Senior Administration Official" is pretty reticent to share any substance of the negotiations with the reporters, except for this particular one.
This is a remarkably ignorant statement to be made, and not just substantively on the law of the NPT (I'm sure many signatories will have something to say about it, as Turkey and Brazil and several other countries representing the majority of the world's nations, have explicitly backed Iran on this point of the right to enrichment)
But even if the position of the US is that there is no right to enrichment, by explicity stating it so, the US has now made it impossible for any deal to go through. Any sort of compromise now reached and agreed to by Iran under these conditions of non-recognition of Iran's rights under the NPT, would amount to an at least tacit approval and endorsement by Iran of the idea that the US has a veto power over Iran's (and by implication, everyone else's) NPT rights. Any agreement now worked out will always be tainted as Iran's giving up its rights.
Maybe Iran could have accepted some sort of additional restriction and limitation on its nuclear program outside of the NPT; it was willing to in the past, and actually has done so for a long time, but now that the US has outright and blatantly denied Iran's rights, the issue cannot be finessed away. It is now made front-and-center thanks to this Senior Govt Spokesman. It has to be dealt with or else no legitimate deal can happen. The negotiators know full well that if they even appear to be accepting that Iran does not have a right to enrichment, there will be hell to pay, and the IRI might as well a start packing because the regime will otherwise stand accused of selling Iran's rights in order to stay in power.
And I don't think this is an accident -- I think the US continues to deliberately impose outlandish and illegal demands in order to undermine any chance of the talks working out, as in numerous instances in the past.
No, sorry, this ridiculous claim evinces a continued fundamental bad faith by the US in the talks.
In short, this is yet another set-up. In the past, they made Iran's abandomnet of her absolute and unquestionable rights into a precondition on talks, now they're a condition for the talks being successful -- the same game though.
Of course the Senior Govt Spokesman claims that "no country" has this right, but frankly I don't see the US justifying its nuclear pursuits, weapons related and otherwise, to the so-called 'World Community" under threats of sanctions and attacks, and this pathetic attempt to falsely portray Iran as being dealt with on an even-handed basis is just an additional insult to injury. Apparently they think Iranians are stupid.
"Other optimists claim that the likes of Goldberg et al would not be trying so hard to position this as a victory over Iran unless the US did in fact plan to reach a deal with Iran this time around. In other words, they're pre-emptively trying to prepare the public for a deal with Iran..."
I am greatly amused by efforts of our chattering classes to rewrite the history of the past 10 years to pretend that the reason for the lack of progress thus far in the US-Iran nuclear debacle has been Iran's intrasigence. The Leveretts point out that much of the media coverage starts out with the assumption that it is Iran's burden to make compromises to meet US demands, not vice versa, as if the obstacle to the resolution of the standoff thus long has been Iran and not the US with its excess demands that Iran abandon enrichment. Joel Rubin of Politico claims that the negotiations are "the result of years of painstaking efforts by the Obama administration and lawmakers to pressure the Islamic Republic ... to pursue diplomacy" and furthermore he writes, "Now that Iran has made a clear decision to engage seriously in diplomatic negotiations with the West over its nuclear program..." Then there's former Israeli border guard Jeffrey Goldberg who claims that Iran is only now "ready at least to have a facsimile of a serious discussion about its nuclear program" because supposedly "The crippling of the Iranian economy by the U.S. sanctions regime is the only reason Iran is even negotiating at all."
It would be only natural for the proponents of the sanctions policy thus far to claim that any progress on the nuclear file must be attributable to the "success" of these sanctions -- when in fact such progress happened despite the sanctions, not because of them. Though a crowing rooster takes credit for the rising sun, the truth of the matter is that the sanctions regime on Iran has already started to falter, and Iran's economy is already expected to start growing in 2014. It is certainly doubtful that the sanctions are hurting Iran enough that the government is willing to give up the sovereign right of enrichment, as the US demands, because they know that the Iranian people massively support their nuclear program and would consider such a concession to be traitorous. It will be hard enough selling any sort of deal with the US in which Iran has somehow ends up being treated differently than any other NPT signatory.
Furthermore, European courts have already started the process of dismantling the sanctions on Iranian banks too. The sanctions were always illegal anyway, as they violated the terms of international trade rules that prohibit secondary sanctions. The only reason why European and Asian trading partners with Iran did not mount a legal challenge to these extraterritorial sanctions at the World Trade Organization is because of a poltical agreement not to do so, and that can last only so long before the floodgates break. After all, China and India need Iran's oil and aren't about to make their economic development indirectly subject to US veto.
And then there's the NY Times, typically promoting nonsense and inaccuracy as news as usual. They have the usual load of hot, steaming bullshit posing as a "Q&A" about Iran's nuclear program entitled "Examining the Status of Iran’s Nuclear Program and Talks" -- in which they promote the usual propaganda lines: Fordo was a "secret facility"(nevermind that Iran declared it to the IAEA first, and before it was legally required to do so) and Iran has "refused to allow inspectors to visit Parchin" nevermind that Iran allowed it twice in 2005 and nothing was found then, and nevermind that Iran is not under any legal obligation to allow any such "transparency" visits which are themselves illegal and outside of the NPT. The NY Times also claims that the Arak heavy water reactor "could be a source of plutonium, another fuel for a weapon" -- when in fact practically EVERY nuclear reactor "could be" a source of plutonium since that's what's produced in the highly-irradiated fuel rods for reactors in Iran or anywhere else -- however removing and using the plutonium is an extremely complicated process called reprocessing, and Iran has no such facilities as the IAEA itself has noted repeatedly and has no interest in developing -- a fact left out of the NY Times version of reality.
But here's the bigger picture issue I want to deal with: what does all the speculation and spin around the Iran nuclear negotiations indicate about the substance and direction of those negoiations, if anything? naturally we're seeing some jostling on even the part of Iran' hawks like Jeffrey Goldberg to spin the recent news of an Iran-US negotiations as being attributable to an Iranian shift. The consistency of this narrative is such that it suggests a metaphorical "talking points memo" has been issued amongst the chattering classes, emphasizing the need to put this spin on the news: Iran has shifted, thefore the US can now potentially compromise with Iran.
This is of course total bullshit, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out. Iran has been making the same compromise offers it is now making for a very very very long time in the past. Better ones, in fact. The problem had always been the US insistence on Iran giving up enrichment, a demand that was deliberately used by the US to kill off negotiations and to ensure that there could be no peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue as long as the regime is still in power in Iran (the nuclear issue as always been just a pretext for regime-change, just as "WMDs in Iraq" was always just as pretext) Even former IAEA head Elbaradei concluded as much.
So the question is, are these talks any different than the previous occasions when there was a lot of hype and speculation, but no progress because the US continued to insist on nonsensical demands on Iran? Has the US really started to deal seriously with the nuclear issue now for once instead of pulling the rug out from under their own negotiators as they did to the Turks/Brazilians (because of an additional demand that Iran also give up enrichment which the US added after Iran had said yes to the deal) and the EU-3 prior to that? Has the US given up on regime change, or is it simply shifting tactics?
Well, according to Trita Parsi, these talks are different in the sense that the US has finally conceeded to negotiating an "end state" - in other words, telling Iran what it hopes to acheive in the end with negotiations (specifically the question of concern to the Iranian side is whether the US conceeds that Iran has a practical right to enrich Uranium or not.) This would be important for the Iranian side since they know what they're finally negotiating in the first place: a US recognition of Iran's enrichment rights, or Iran's gradual and pactical repudiation of those rights.
Other optimists claim that the likes of Goldberg et al would not be trying so hard to position this as a victory over Iran unless the US did in fact plan to reach a deal with Iran this time around. In other words, they're pre-emptively trying to prepare the public for a deal. This view actually has some merit, but as an argument it is speculative. There are multiple other reasons why the likes of Goldberg would be engaged in such spin, entirely on their own and not because of any actual expected "progress" at the negotiations. In the meantime, apart from trying to read tea leaves and engage in speculation, we won't know if the US was serious or not until after the final deal is announced. In the meantime, there is absolutely no reason why we should assume these negotiations to be anything more than a set-up, as in the past.
So in the end, I'd rather wait to see the actual shape of a deal at the end before I get my hopes up. Wendy Sherman's testiomny before Congress suggests that the US is still not willing to recognized a right to enrichment by Iran. She tried to pull some bullshit stunt by making a distinction between enrichment versus the Right to enrichment -- as if a right that is only exercisable upon the arbitrary approval of outside powers is still really a right. That's not encouraging and suggests that they're still trying to finesse the issue instead of coming to terms with it -- and they're insulting our intelligence on top of it all which is what really annoys me. AIPAC of course is making their usual noise, but as fas I can tell it is just noise, thus far, which suggests to me that they've got something up their sleeve. Perhaps they're just giving the Obama administration enough rope to hang himself with, knowing that any deal with Iran is DOA in Congress anyway.
In the meantime, Dear Ms. Wendy Sherman: We're watching, Wendy. We can see what's going on. Don't try to pull any bullshit 'cuz we're not buying it.
Pierre Goldschmidt, formerly of the IAEA, wrote an article that I posted a reply to on the Gulf2000 mailing list. Farid Marjai forwarded it to IRDiplomacy where it was published online. In the comments senction Goldschmidt honors me by replying to me, albeit he pretty much ignores everything I wrote and also ignores the link to Dan Joyner's legal analysis of what Iran is actually obligated to do and not do.
You can read the substance of the discussion yourself, I have no plan on redebating what is already pretty much old news and nothing new. I've done my best in talking sense and I'll let the readers decide the rest.
But this is what I thought was interesting about the interaction: here I am, arguing with an international civil servant who asserts boldly and apparently without the slightest sense of irony, that a country must actually exceed the terms of a treaty that it is not a signatory to, under the threat of sanctions which are primarily and directly targetting its civilian population, and yet he does so supposedly for the sake of the same people of Iran who have been deprived of medicine and aircraft parts until their govt agrees to give up THEIR -- the people's, not the gov't -- sovereign rights.
Once you step back and take a look at that, you can't help but just gasp and feel exasperated, as well as be disappointed in humanity.
It is amazing, isn't it, how otherwise normal, intelligent and I'm sure kind people, so totally and complete lose their moral compass when they start to identify with authority. (And then they insult your intelligence on top of it! The in-your-face audacity is just breathtaking if it wasn't so silly and obviously dicredited.)
But these facts have been excluded almost entirely from the dominant US media narrative for years. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don't know,
Well, Brian Williams of NBC isn't the only one pushing this claim about a "suddent" Iranian willingness to resolve disputes with the US. Some guy named Kaveh Waddel writes in The Atlantic:
"Iran’s sudden enthusiasm for negotiation stems from its urgent need for timely, significant changes to the global sanctions regime. But the U.S. lost sight of the power of economic sanctions when it created a regime so inflexible that incentivizing cooperation through sanctions relief became near-impossible."
While the rest of the statement is true -- after all even George Bush II complained "We have sanctioned ourselves out of leverage over Iran" -- the first sentence is definitely false: Iran's desire to negotiate is hardly "sudden" and in fact it has been consistently the case for over a decade now. Iran has been making compromise offers, Iran offered to ship out its enriched fuel and Obama killed that, Iran suspended enrichment for close to 3 years whilst in negotiations with the EU-3. There's nothing "sudden" about this at all. In fact it is pretty much the definition of NOT sudden.
I have been hestitant to write anything about the current situation because I think there's already far too much hype and speculation about the US-Iran nuclear talks and not enough actual knowledge. So, I'm just going to sit this one out and wait to see what happens once the dust settles. I also don't want to prejudge or prejudice the issue in any way.
While there is a lot of optimism, there's room for quite a bit of pessimism too though just based on reading tea-leaves. For example, Kerry's reply to the question below is not very comforting:
Asked what steps Iran could take to prove its seriousness, Kerry replied: "They could immediately open for inspection the Fordo facility, they could immediately sign the protocol of the international community regarding inspections, they could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level."
Except that Fordo has been open to inspections for years, since the Iranians (and not US intelligence agencies, as the NY Times claims) first disclosed the location of the site to the IAEA. In fact Mohammad ElBaradei himself visited Fordo, and famously said it was nothing more than a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about. You could not possibly be even slightly aware of the Iranian nuclear issue, without knowing the Fordo is already open to inspections.
Secondly, Iran has signed the Additional Protocol already, and offered to ratify it if its rights are also recognized, though Iran is absolutely under no legal obligation whatsoever to sign the AP, just as neither Egypt nor Argentina nor Brazil nor lots of other countries have signed.
Third, Iran has consistently stated that it is willing to limit enrichment to 3.5%. In fact Iran was forced to enrich to 20% due to US sanctions that prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for a medical reactor (which the US gave Iran in the first place) that uses fuel rods made with 20% enriched uranium. So it was the US policies in the first place that caused Iran to increase its enrichment levels, even though the reactor in question posed no credible nuclear weapons proliferation threat and so the US sanctions on the sale of fuel for that reactor did not actually promote or protect any legitimate non-proliferation goals. The media have been very insistent on ignoring this fact even though they will gladly engage in all sorts of totally biased speculation about "how close to a bomb" Iran's 20% enrichment gets it, and other reporters have completely gone overboard and have made up their own terminology by referring to this as Iran's stockpile of "medium enriched" uranium too, though no such term appears in the IAEA Glossary. That's how the media not only follow the dominant narrative promoted by the govt but further embellish it before they pass it on.
So anyway, since Kerry obviously hasn't a clue what he's talking about with regard to Fordo, you have to wonder what's really being discussed at these "nuclear talks" with Iran.
However I should point out that the stakes are quite significant. After all, if you ever visit the Iranian Foreign Ministry, you'd see that the slogan "Neither East Nor West" is carved into stone over the entrance way door. This was one of the foundational slogans of the 1979 Islamic Republic. The point was that Iran would not fall under the influence of any outside powers but would instead chart an independent & assertive way for itself to promote its own interests. Furthermore, one of the biggest "weaknesses" of the regime was perceived to be its lack of nationalist credentials (the mullahs were not strong on the Persian nationalism thing as the Shah was -- and this was used against them, what with allegations such as that the mullahs had allowed Persepolis to fall into disrepair etc. which were quite false.) So, after so many years of hyperventilation and speculation about the nuclear issue, we may have arrived at the moment when we will see whether the Iranian govt will vindicate its nationalist credentials as well its revolutionary slogans in a deal with the US by getting the US to accept a nuclear Iran (not as in nuclear-armed, but a country with a sovereign, independent access to nuclear technology and know-how, including enrichment.)
This can be a "make-it or break-it out" outcome. If Iran succeeds in getting its nuclear program "recognized" by the US, the regime can not only point to a significant victory but also vindicate its nationalist credentials. The Islamic Republic will have officially "won" not just the dispute over the nuclear issue. If not, and if there is some sort of half-assed compromise that in any way delegitimizes Iran's nuclear program, then the regime as a whole -- and not just Rouhani's government -- is open to the charge that it compromised with foreign powers over the interests of the nation and people of Iran in order to stay in power a bit longer, and Rouhani himself will be facing the music. Ropuhani knows this, since he was the subject of a great deal of criticism for one unnecessary suspension of enrichment back during the EU3 negotiations. And we all know what happened then: The EU-3 were simply playing good cop to the US' bad cop whilst all the time the EU and US had agreed never to recognize any enrichment in Iran contrary to what the EU had been telling the Iranians; in the end Iran was cheated and received nothing for its gestures of good faith which included suspending enrichment for close to 3 years.
Ironically, if this results in a "make it" moment for Iran, we should remember it is ultimately the result of the US' own policy of pressing for unrealistic concessions by Iran. Once you make excessive demands, then you have to pay the consequences for doing an about-face.
It will be quite painful to watch if Obama decides to make a deal, since it would mean ultimately recognizing Iran as a legitimate entity in the Mideast, much to the chagrin of the Saudis and Israelis.
He's going to have to find a way, therefore, to present any sort of deal with Iran as a victory for the US and a defeat for Iran. This will mean spinning the deal as a concession by Iran. Naturally, a US claim that Iran has made some spectacular new concession will be a good way to sell a deal, even if the claim has no actual validity. We're already seening media references to "new" concessions by Iran which totally disregard the fact that all of these "new" concessions have in fact been offered by Iran for years now.
For example, aside from Kerry's flub, as Glen Grenwald has pointed out Brain Williams of NBC claims that Iran has just now and "suddenly" decided to get rid of its "nuclear weapons program" -- though in fact Iran was the first nation to call for a nuclear-weapons free-zone in the Mideast and has never sought nuclear weapons itself & stated so quite plainly.
You know I'm not an optimist. I've seen similar build-ups of hype and speculation about a US-Iran breakthrough before. Won't happen. Thus far we have not seen an ounce of evidence that the US has decided to abandon pressing Iran to give up her sovereign right to enrichment, and that has always been the pretext that the US has used to exacerbate relations with Iran. Furthermore, Israel and AIPAC have not gone away and I don't think that the Israelis and AIPAC will really allow anything to come of this, and at best they consider this to be a half-assed outreach which is expected to fail, and all they are concerned with is finding a way to blame that on Iran as a justification for further aggressive measures.
Sure, there are "signs" of improved relations, such as a lot of pretty words and the telephone call between Rouhani and Obama etc. etc. but these are "feel good" yet irrelevant issues --- the question is whether the US will finally recognize Iran's NPT rights and will lift the illegal sanctions which have preventing Iran from exercising her sovereign rights as recognized by the NPT, "to the fullest extent possible" and "without discrimination."
And until then, I will only look on with amusement.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency newswire reports that an Argentinian minister is being investigated for paying $400,000 to one of the people involved in the AMIA bombing, adding yet another layer of obfuscation an confusion into and investigation that was screwed up from the start and was marked by joint US-Israeli pressure on the Argentinians to finger Iran despite the lack of evidence implicating Iran in the bombing
With Nelson Mandela's health looking not so good, I think it is about time to remind everyone that historically while Islamic Iran was strongly supporting the freedom movement there, the US sided with the S African apartheid regime and Reagan in particular was opposed to the sanctions on that government. Israel too was a close cooperator with the racist regime there, and may have even jointly developed a nuclear weapon with S Africa. Israel was the most significant arms supplier to that regime throughout
the 1980s and served as a lifeline for the apartheid government during a
period when Pretoria faced growing international condemnation and
heightened domestic unrest
When Clinton came into office, he tried to get Mandela to oppose Iran -- which Mandela had visited -but Mandella replied that his critics should "go jump in a pool" since "We should not abandon those who helped us in the darkest hour
of the history of this country.'
A few days ago, it was widely reported that an Argentinian prosecutor had claimed that Iran's president-elect Rowhani was involved in the secret plans to bomb the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Argentina in 1994. There are now more recent reports that say the opposite: that the prosecutor has claimed that Rowhani was *not* involved in the bombing, thus contradicting earlier reports.
Of course, the media are making a big deal out of what the prosecutor alleges are Iran's ties to the event and are reporting his allegations as established fact, despite the years of accumulated contradictions of any Iranian involement in the bombing, but there are reports that the actual indictment issued by this same prosecutor *does* indeed implicate Rowhani. If that's true -- and I have not seen the indictment so I don't know -- the question is what the heck is going on?
The situation is comedically confusing and self-contradictory, as is everything associated with the investigation of the bombing, which was corrupt from the very start.
It is interesting to note that president-elect Ahmadinejad was also the subject of similar smears in the US media, starting almost the day after his first election victory was announced; smears that consisted of claims that he was one of the US Embassy hostage-takers. Even though the CIA later concluded otherwise, and other US embassy hostage-takers verified that he had no role in the event (he had reportedly even suggested attacking the Russian embassy instead) that rumor still persists.
The point, of course, is not whether Ahmadinejad was really a hostage-taker or not, nor is it whether Rowhani was involved in the Argentina bombing or not. Rather, the point of the smear campaign is to try to pre-emptively discredit any newly-elected Iranian president so as it make it harder for any potential US-Iran breakthrough to occur under the new president. After all, Khatami's election and his outreach to the US caught the pro-Israeli lobby and Iran hawks off-guard, and they had to scurry to get the meme out in the media that Iranian presidents are just powerless nobodies who should be ignored. That changed, of course, once Ahmadinejad came around, and his every utterance was presented as proof of the coming Iranian-inspired Apocalypse. Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was too good and useful for these Iran hawks to allow it to be dismissed as the words of a powerless nobody, after all.
So now that Rowhani is the president-elect, it is only natural that the same pre-emptive smearing be applied to him...which makes it all the more interesting that there has been a hamfisted effort to re-call the smear campaign and "undo" it. I wonder what's going on behind the scenes that we're witnessing such contradictions?
Back to the reporting about the Argetinian's prosecutor's claims: The media made a big deal that the names of some Iranian official have been placed on the Interpol Red Notice list, as if that proves something. Keep in mind, however, that placing people's names on the Interpol Red Notice list is hardly determinative of anything. Interpol is not an independent police organization, it is simply a representative association of national police forces which cooperate with each other at the international level. So there is no real independent judgment exercised by Interpol in placing names on the Red Notice list. In fact the names of several Iranians had been placed on that same list before, with allegations of involvment in the bombings in Argentina, only to have the names later removed amid some criticism about politicization and the misuse of procedure involved in getting the names there in the first place.
Second, the indictment is itself is not proof of anything either. I have heard that it relies heavily on a witness names Mesbahi,aka Manuchehr Motamar, aka Witness C and many other names, who has made a carreer out of implicating Iran in various misdeeds around the world, from the assassinations of Kurdish separatist leaders at Mykonos (which he later retracted) to the Lockerbie bombing, and has since been widely discredited, even by the Argentinians themselves
Third, the political nature of the Argentinian's prosecutor's allegations are just laughably obvious to anyone who as followed the storyline. The obvious pressure by the US and Israel on the Argentinians to finger Iran and end commercial relations (which included nuclear cooperation) was fantastically transparent. Heck even the Argentinian Jewish community leaders themselves don't believe the official claims of Iranian complicity.
And lets also not forget that Iran's former Ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, was later arrested in the UK based on an Argentinian extradition request which was tossed out because the Argentinians failed -- twice -- to present the minimal evidence of any connection between him and the bombings to justify the extradition, so the Brits released Soleimanpour.
As you guys know, I keep a file of interesting or weird articles and I return to them later to follow-up or just reminisce. This one is about PressTV and it is meant to be just a bit funny.
Many years ago, when AlJazeera had just started up and was being called the "Middle Eastern CNN" I remember bitterly complaining to a former Iranian official that despite the long-standing nuclear dispute and the complaints about how "Zionists dominate the international media," no government agency or organization had bothered to create a single website that explained Iran's side of the argument. Sure the AEOI had a website and so did the Foreign Ministry etc etc and perhaps there was a slogan-filled article or two on those sites on the issue but there was no single, comprehensive site that simply explained Iran's side of the issue and which was regularly updated to respond to the prevelant allegations daily stream of BS (there still is no such site, by the way. Every 12-year old in the world has their own website but not Iran on this very hot issue.)
I also remember complaining about why the "CNN of the Middle East" was not in Tehran.Well, I didn't know it but something was already in the works at least on the second point. A couple of years later, PressTV emerged.
Now, I have been interviewed on PressTV and they were just as professional about it as CBC, BBC, Sky etc were (no, I don't do interviews anymore so please don't call.) I recognise the fact that PressTV staff are working in very difficult conditions and circumstances, and that living in Iran as a whole cannot be easy right now (was it ever?) and I also recognize that as a (relatively) brand new station, they have some learning to do and they have some really significant competition that sets rather high (and expensive) standards.
But guys, come on now. Did you really, honestly not see the problem with this headline? I still giggle when I read it. The WHOLE POINT of Iran in this dispute is that Parchin is NOT a nuclear site...and yet what do you call it?
According to Reuters, Iranian companies which have been blacklisted due to EU sanctions are winning in their legal fight against the sanctions in European courts. This is indeed a vindication for the rule of law -- and how ironic is it that in this nuclear dispute. the "rogue" and "pariah" Iran is the one insisting on observing the law whilst the US and EU states, self-designated as "the international community" are the ones violating the law.
The article goes on to mention the procedure used in the UK to present classified information as evidence in the court whilst minimizing the risk of disclosure by allowing the judge to see the "secret' evidence privately. In this case the judge was apparently not terribly impressed by the quality of this evidence since he still ruled in favor of Iran.
The US has a similar procedure ( limited to criminal prosecutions) but I don't know if any such lawsuits in US court would be as successful, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the State Secrets Privilege, which once invoked by the govt has the effect of ending all lawsuits because the govt can prevent the disclosure of any evidence during the trial that it claims would risk exposure of national security secrets. All the govt lawyers have to do is say "State Secrets Privilege" and usually that's the end of the case since crucial information is then prevented from being considered by the court. The government doesn't have to justify their claim in any way -- the judge is not qualified to second-guess the govt decision to make the State Secrets claim. A great number of perfectly valid, legitimate cases against the US -- particularly against Bush and Rumsfeld and his friends -- have been summarily tossed out of courts this way, which is why Bush and Rumsfeld are still walking around as free men rather than being in prison as war criminals as I have written before.
So do you think such a legal principle which has the effect of denying justice to plaintiffs on national security grounds is open to abuse by the government who uses the legal principle to hide its misdeeds instead of actual secrets? Well, let me tell you a story!
The legal concept of "State Secrets Privilege" was first developed by the US Supreme Court in a case called US v. Reynolds, which dated from the early 1950s, during the Cold War. A US military plane crashed and a civilian contractor employee on board, named Reynolds, was killed. His relatives filed a lawsuit against the US military and government, claiming that the accident was due to the negligent maintenance and operation of the military airplane. They demanded to see the accident report. The US government refused to disclose the accident report, and replied that because the airplane and Reynolds were involved in some super-secret electronics experiment, the disclosure of the accident report may risk exposing national security secrets. The courts ruled that in such cases, where national security is at stake, then the government can withhold information and evidence that it would otherwise have to present to the court and the plaintiff. Without an accident report, there was no case. The government gave some money to the relatives and sent them away.
Years later, one of Reynold's daughters was cruising the web, and found the accident report. It has been declassified released to the owner of a website who had a hobby of collecting information about airplane accidents and presenting them on his website, even though throughout the years the government had denied the requests by Reynolds' relatives to get a copy of the same accident report.
And more importantly, the accident report showed that the accident was indeed due to an engine fire and negligence. While the report mentioned the presence of secret electronics, it in no way described them. In other words, the government's claim that a release of the accident report could compromise national security was just a cover-up for its own negligence that had resulted in the deaths of several people on the plane.
So Reynolds' relatives went back to court. And lost.Why? Because the courts still refuse to question government decisions on what is or is not secret, basically. So if the government *says* the accident report contains secret info, that's all there is to it, essentially. The government doesn't have to justify its decision to classify information as secret to the judge. Hell, the judge is not even allowed to see the information.
As a result, today in the US it is perfectly legal of the government to take innocent people from their daily, law-abiding lives, place them inside "black site" prisons, and send them to repressive countries to be abused and tortured in their dungeons. And if they are so lucky as to survive all this and somehow manage to make it back, they have no legal claim. If they try to sue, they'll get the State Secrets beelAkh. And if you think I'm joking or exaggerating, meet Mr Masri and others (And no, this was not just a Bush administration thing. Nor is there any liklihood that the US courts will ever allow a legal challenge to such "anti-terrorism" laws to occur.)
This is America in the 21st Century folks. It wasn't always like this... or was it?
People have been asking my opinion of Rouhani's (or Rowhani's) presidential election victory in Iran and what that means with respect to the nuclear dispute. I haven't been following Rouhani's campaign closely, frankly, but I have caught the gist of his position and see how he's been labelled as the "moderate" in the US press so I'll venture a guess that there's the expectation that he'll be more flexible on the nuclear issue than Ahmadinejad.
First, lets get the myth away that Ahmadinejad was particularly hardline on the nuclear issue. In fact lets remember that *Ahmadinejad agreed* to the Uranium swap deal, and was criticized for that during the 2009 elections by Mousavi, the purported "Green" leader, who accused Ahmadinejad of selling out.
But I'm curious to know what Rouhani is going to offer. Certainly, permanent cessation is "off the table" even with a new President. Giving up enrichment would be tantamount to Iran giving up sovereignty over its soil -- a comparison, by the way, that Rafsanjani himself made. The Tobacco Concession of 1891 that ultimately led to the fall of the Qajar dynasty would be nothing compared to giving up the sovereign right to an independent nuclear fuel cycle, and any regime that gives up this right would have not only lost all legitimacy but also blackened its name in the annals of Iranian history for generations to come...much like the Qajars.
So perhaps another "temporary suspension" is in the works? Rouhani was widely criticized during his campaign for his role in the nuclear negotiations with the EU-3 in which Iran agreed to the policy of suspension of enrichment as a voluntary goodwill gesture during the Khatami administration, but this supposedly "temporary" suspension was dragged out by the EU side for almost 3 years, and ultimately got Iran nothing in return for its gesture because the EU-3 had already agreed with the US that they would not recognize any enrichment in Iran, regardless of what they had told the Iranians when the Iranians first agreed to the suspension. That's why analysts said that the much-delayed EU-3 offer to Iran was little more than an "empty box in pretty wrapping."
[I should point out here how funny it is to read media accounts of those events, and notice how the media desperately try to come up with reasons for the failure of the Paris Agreement talks that blame Iran but they pointedly make an effort to avoid mentioning the mendacity of the EU-3 side. Instead we're told for example that Ahmadinejad's election was the reason for the resumption of enrichment, when in fact the resumption was announced by Rouhani himself, while Khatami was still in office as president. The actual resumption was delayed a few days to allow the IAEA to reinstall their monitoring gear, so it coincidentally occurred a few days after Ahmadinejad took office -- but it was under Khatami, not Ahmadinejad, when Iran restarted enrichment. And the reason why the Iranians restarted enrichment was because the Eu-3 lied to Iran. Don't let them tell you otherwise.]
I can't say that Rouhani won't offer another suspension of enrichment. The question is, at what price. Will it be another "freebie" like during the Paris Agreement (and Sa'adabad Declaration) negotiations or will there be a price exacted by the Iranians? I doubt it. I just don't see how Rouhani could commit the error of another pointless "gesture" like the suspension of enrichment. What's the point of making these gestures when the US has made its position clear: no enrichment in Iran? I can't believe that Rouhani is that naive.
"During the first meeting between Dr Rohani, the EU-3 foreign ministers, and the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Javier Solana, in December 2004, the Iranians made it clear to their European counterparts that if the latter sought a complete termination of Iran’s nuclear fuel-cycle activities there would be no negotiations. The Europeans answered that they were not seeking such a termination, only an assurance on the non-diversion of Iran’s nuclear programme to military ends." http://www.worlddialogue.org/content.php?id=367
Nevertheless, and despite these assurances, the EU3 apparently always had permanent cessation in mind, and tried to drag out the process for as long as they could in an effort to turn Iran's temporary suspension of enrichment into a permanent one. And finally when Iran had had enough, the EU-3 came forth belatedly with a demand that Iran give up enrichment, contrary to their prior promises, and in effect offered Iran nothing in return (which is why one diplomat was cited as characterizing the EU-3 offer to Iran as an "empty box in pretty wrapping.")
If there is a deal that requires Iran to suspend enrichment, a pretext, I suppose, could be drawn up to say that the US hasn't *really* said "no enrichment in Iran" but instead has *actually* said it could *one day in the indefinite future* recognize enrichment in Iran. This pretext could be used to try to sell such any deal the obligates Iran to suspend enrichment to the public. Of course no one would be fooled by this and everyone would know that such a suspension in effect amounts to permanent cessaion. And in that case the only price that Iranians would accept for giving up enrichment (even in the guise of a temporary suspension) would be the total removal of all sanctions on Iran ... which will never happen because certainly AIPAC and friends won't go along with that in Congress, and furthermore what's clear by now is that the nuclear issue is entirely pretextual anyway, since the real aim of the US is to topple the regime, and once Iran gives up enrichment the US will simply continue the same policy and will find another excuse to impose sanctions.
In short, if Mr Rouhani makes concessions, I am skeptical that he will win anything in return of comparable value. After all, it is hard to imagine what Iran could offer that it has not already offered and which has been dismissed by the US. And if Rouhani is thinking of making yet another concession offer, I predict he will be disapppointed and thus his election, rather than a new start, is really a continuation of what has become a tiresome pattern of repetition in the US-Iran standoff in which Iran makes concessions and gesture, and the US side raises the stakes. Hopefully though whatever concessions Iran makes will be better thought out than before, so as to not amount to permanent obligations imposed on Iran when the other side fails to reciprocate (this happened with Iran's temporary and voluntary acceptance of the Modified Safeguards. Even after Iran made it clear that it no longer intended to abide by them, the IAEA insisted that Iran had an on-going obligation to implement them.)
The excerpt of Chapter 7 of the book by Peter Osborne and David Morrison is out.
W.Bush’s book acknowledges, US antagonism towards Iran does not stem from a
conviction that Iran is developing nuclear weapons or may do so in future. It
is about the US determination to prevent Iran becoming a major power in the
Middle East in opposition to the US. A change in regime to one that is prepared
to do US bidding would be ideal, but that is probably outside the realm of
For now, the name of the
game is to keep the pressure on Iran by ferocious economic sanctions and other
means, leaving open the option of military action, justified as a measure to
prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
John Mundy, the last Canadian ambassador to Iran, writes that the Canadian Foreign Minister Baird's hawkish position on Iran has prevented real solutions from being considered, and notes that Iran had already accepted many of the demands placed on its nuclear program:
Imagine if Iran’s current rulers agreed to suspend further fuel
enrichment, implemented an Additional Protocol with the International
Atomic Energy Agency and began negotiating a trade and cooperation
agreement with the West that included enhanced people-to-people contacts
and a dialogue on human rights. If you listened to Foreign Minister
Baird last week you would dismiss this as a pipe dream.
the Iranian government, led by its current leader Ayatollah Khamenei,
actually did this. In 2003, after years of patient negotiation between
Iran and the European Union, Iran agreed to all of this and also made a
direct overture to the United States. The agreement lasted until 2005
when Ayatollah Khamenei became convinced that Europe was negotiating in
bad faith and only acting for the United States, who remained
This of course is a reference to the period in which Iran voluntarily suspended enrichment as a good faith gesture, conditional on the EU-3's recognition of Iran's nuclear rights under the NPT pursuant to the Paris Agreement deal...which the EU-3 ended up violating. And we know why the US remained "unambiguously hostile" to resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran thanks to Peter Osborne who writes about the Paris Agreement deal:
The answer is that a different agenda is at work, which we believe has little
or nothing to do with Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons. The US and its
European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and
eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.
Ahmadinejad: A study in obstinacy "Iran has often been at the receiving end of ultimatums from foreign powers," said Cyrus Safdari, an independent Iranian analyst. "The politicians who stood up to these ultimatums are treated as heroes, and the ones who caved are still considered to be traitors."
ASIA TIMES: Funding regime change Madame Rice has a really bad sense of timing in seeking to 'reach out to the people of Iran' - who don't need $75 million to watch 'a few bad apples' from the US torturing people in Abu Ghraib."