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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama Espouses his Iran Strategy: If, If, If and Blind Hope

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Unofficial presidential spokesman and New York Time columnist Thomas Friedman interviewed President Barack Obama Saturday and unwittingly revealed a presidential strategy towards Iran that is based on plain hope and lots of conditional “ifs.”

In the interview under the title “The Obama Doctrine and Iran”, President Obama elevated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the clear leader in the campaign to bury the emerging deal that is supposed to make sure Iran cannot get its hands on a nuclear weapon.

Prime Minister Netanyahu already has led off a media blitz with interviews on several American television networks on Friday, a strong follow-up to his candid speech to a joint session of Congress last year in which he warned of a bad deal.

President Obama’s defense of last week’s temporary framework for a final agreement with Iran in June expressed his optimism and hope but did little to convince anyone who is undecided whether the emerging deal is worthwhile.

His assumption – giving it the old college try for diplomacy is better than trying force that cannot force Iran into submission – is the underlying difference in views between Israel and the president.

Obama assumes nothing can stop from getting a nuclear bomb if it wants it, and therefore it is best to try to engage it, change its personality, culture and character and maybe, just maybe, it will become a new creature.

Netanyahu and Israel, with more experience than the entire world when it comes to negotiating with the Muslim world, know that force, whether economic or military, is the only language it understands and that there is such a thing as Iran or an Arab country surrendering, even if they call it a cease-fire in order to uphold their honor.

One of President Obama’s weakest arguments in his interview with Friedman was that the policy of “engagement” has succeeded. After pointing out that Cuba does not threaten the United States but Iran does, he nevertheless compared them.

Obama said:

You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.

The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. … You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.

His entire defense of engagement with Iran is based on the defense budget. It is not clear why he even mentioned Cuba since he admitted there is no comparing the tiny country with Iran.

Friedman, Obama’s favorite interviewer, did not bother the president with nuisance questions, such as what followed the Obama administration’s engagement with Syria, for starters.

US President Barack Obama’s Belated Video Passover Greetings

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Official video Passover greetings from U.S. President Barack Obama to Jews around the world were posted to the Internet Saturday night – 24 hours after the start of the holiday and too late for American Orthodox Jews to have heard his message, since the holiday lasts 48 hours outside the Land of Israel.

The video greeting also came a day after Israeli Jews had already celebrated their own Passover seders as well.

An official press statement from the president on Passover was issued by the White House on April 3, however, in time for the first night of Passover.

Obama explained Saturday night in his video message that he and his family had held a Passover seder at the White House in solidarity with Jewish families celebrating the holiday.

“This weekend is a special weekend,” he said. “It’s a chance to spend time with family … and celebrate miracles in days gone by,” he said, “and to reflect on the blessings God has granted us in our lives.”

“On Friday night, I hosted a Passover seder at the White House. Michelle and I joined Jewish families in America, Israel and around the world as we retold the story of an awesome God who liberated the nation with a mighty Hand and an outstretched arm., and set them on their journey towards the Promised Land.

“The tale that has been passed down from generation to generation and it’s given strength and courage to countless men and women over the years – to Jews facing anti-Semitism, and to the brave young civil rights leaders who led our own country’s march towards justice and equality,” he said, managing to tuck the issue of America’s race relations even into a simple Passover greeting.

He then turned to the upcoming Christian observance of Easter, noting that on Sunday, Christians around the world would be celebrating the holiday.

“Easter is a day of hope, in a season of hope,” he said. It’s a reaffirmation of our belief, not just as Christians, but as Americans, that better days are always ahead of us…

“We believe that with common effort, and shared sacrifice, a brighter future is just around the bend. And we embrace our obligation to do something meaningful; something lasting with the precious time we’ve been allotted on this earth.

“So, to my Jewish friends, Happy Passover. To all Christians celebrating tomorrow, Happy Easter. And to every American, have a wonderful weekend.”

US Rejects Netanyahu’s Demand that Iran Confirm Israel’s Right to Exist

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

The deal with Iran that was approved by President Barack Obama should not include a declaration that Tehran recognizes that Israel has a right to exist, according to the United States.

Two statements last week by Iranian and Israel leaders were arguably just as important if not more important than the framework for a deal that was affirmed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the other P5+1 nations and Iran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that erasing Israel off the map is “‘non negotiable.”‘

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated, “The survival of Israel is non-negotiable,” and he challenged President Obama to include that statement in a deal with Iran.

State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf tried to bury the issue Friday night with the argument that Iran’s stated desire to wipe out Israel has nothing to do with the deal with that is designed supposedly to stop it from getting a bomb that would be aimed at Israel.

Harf stated:

This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue

On the other hand, President Obama stated after the deal was concluded:

I will be speaking with the Prime Minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight, when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats toward Israel.

Obama openly admitted last week that he and Netanyahu have opposing positions on the deal with Iran. He stated, “It’s no secret that the Israeli Prime Minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.”

But if the president really wants anyone to believe he is committed to Israel’s security, it would be a logical conclusion that he would tell Iran that it really is not very convincing that it  does not want a bomb to destroy Israel when one of its top military commanders says there is nothing to be negotiated when it comes to destroying Israel.

If Iran really does not want to use its nuclear program to develop a bomb, what would be so difficult about telling Tehran to put everyone’s mind at rest and state that Israel has right to exist?

Harf’s answer that in effect said “don’t make things difficult for us” actually is the truth. Iran would never agree to putting in writing that Israel has a right to exist, but there is no need to worry if Iran reneges on the deal because Israel has Obama’s “support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats toward Israel.”

Iran’s one-track mind to destroy Israel was succinctly documented  by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic last month. Following are  several statements by Iran and Hezbollah, its terrorist proxy in Lebanon, the past 15 years. However, one must not be concerned by the threats against Israel  and the agreement not to dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure because Israel has Obama’s “unshakeable support” even if he cannot state so in a deal with Iran.

Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran: “If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime … if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” (2000)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)

 

Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of Hezbollah: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (2002)

 

Nasrallah: “Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’” (2005)

Obama and Netanyahu’s Different Versions of Same Phone Call on Iran

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The White House and the office of the Prime Minister issued two statements on a phone call between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the “key parameters” of a deal with Iran were announced, and it is difficult to believe they were referring to the same conversation.

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu after the fuzzy agreement, as reported here, was announced, and according to the White House, Obama said:

The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.

He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel.

The readout of the call also referred to Netanyahu’s re-election, saying that Obama told the Prime Minister “that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.”

The White House did not refer at all to what the Netanyahu had to say, a clear message that he cares about what Israel thinks about the deal as much as he cares what Congress thinks.

The difference is that he has to deal with Congress, which can ditch the agreement, if it wants.

Obama did not want to tell anyone what Netanyahu said in the conversation because it would work against public opinion that the president wants to beat back Congressional opposition.

The office of the Prime Minister said of the phone call:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Barack Obama this evening and expressed Israel’s strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.

Netanyahu said, ‘A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. Just two days ago, Iran said that the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable, and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.

This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb.  It would pave it.’

Obama Calls Netanyahu About Nuke Deal

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu, from Air Force One, to update Netanyahu on the terms of the Iran nuclear framework.

Iran and P5+1 Agree to ‘Key Parameters’ with Unknown Clauses [video]

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Iran and the P5+1 powers announced Thursday afternoon they have reached an understanding of “key parameters” for a final agreement that will remove sanctions on Iran and would require it to allow verified inspections of its nuclear program.

Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that “many technical details” must be ironed out.

President Barack Obama called it a “good deal” that will keep Iran from getting its hands on weapons grade plutonium and would require enriched uranium to be shipped out of Iran.

He said the arrangement is better than “bombing Iran and starting a new war in the Middle East” and would only set back Iran’s nuclear program for a few years. Kerry said that the nuclear facility at Natanz is the only plant that will continue to operate and where the uranium is low grade.

No other enrichment material will remain, and the Fordo nuclear plant will be converted to a “research and development “center.

Kerry also said that the heavy water reactor will be converted so that it cannot be used for the development of a nuclear weapon.

Iran is required to ship all enrich uranium out of the country, and it is committed not to build any more heavy water reactors for at least 15 years.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced, “Our decision today will be the base for the start of drafting the Joint the Plan of Action (the final deal) which should end by the July 1 deadline.”

He said all sanctions will be lifted, but Kerry stated that this will happen in stages until a final agreement is made by midnight June 30.

One of the most interesting parts of the “key parameters” is that  some clauses may not be made public except to governments and Congress.

The key elements are inspections and access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, to which Kerry said Iran has agreed.

President Obama said in his remarks after the announcement of “key parameters” that he is maintained to the security of Israel and that he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Iran will reduce the number of its centrifuges to around 6.000, including 5,000 at Natanz for industrial-scale enrichment and 1,000 at Fordo, but not for enrichment.

The kicker is Zarif’s statement that not everyone will understand the “key parameters” the same way. Fars News Agency reported::

He [Zarif] cautioned that the seven nation’s party to the nuclear talks might present today’s agreement in different ways as they see fit.

The same Foreign Minister Zarif said earlier today that “no agreement will be announced today,” a sure sign that something would indeed be announced, even it is called “key parameters.”

But Obama reassured the American people that although the emerging deal will not remove distrust between Iran and the United States, Iran is committed to using its nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

How does he know?

Because the Islamic Republic has supposedly issued a religious fatwa forbidding nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post reported a year and a half ago on whether the there is such fatwa or it is simply a statement:

Even if one believes the fatwa exists — and will not later be reversed — it clearly appears to have evolved over time. U.S. officials should be careful about saying the fatwa prohibits the development of nuclear weapons, as that is not especially clear anymore.

President Obama covered all the bases in his remarks at the White House,. He said he has spoken with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia and is looking forward to a lively debate” with Congress.

France Leaves Iran Nuclear Talks, Will Return When ‘Useful’

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is leaving the marathon negotiations that have gone into overtime led by the United States between world powers and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear technology activities.

A French official told France 24 today (Wednesday, April 1) that Fabius was leaving the talks and would return from France when it was “useful.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, French President Francois Hollande said it would be better to have no deal than a bad deal – the same opinion expressed last month by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while speaking to the U.S. Congress.

And yet, talks are continuing in a marathon effort to reach a deal which by all accounts other than those of the negotiators themselves, appears to be a bad deal, at least for everyone other than Iran.

The deadline for talks had been set for March 31 – a supposed “hard” red line that U.S. President Barack Obama vowed would not be crossed.

Today that line was crossed with ease, in Obama’s desperation to reach a deal with Tehran – as was the “red line” set by Obama over the use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens by President Bashar al-Assad.

It was not clear what prompted the French foreign minister to leave. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had told Russia’s TASS news agency that a general accord had been reached all “all key aspects.”

Both Iran and Russia had expressed optimism in the wee hours of Wednesday as talks broke for the night that an agreement was within reach.

Hamid Baidinejad, a senior Iranian negotiator, told reporters his team is willing to talk until the deadlock is resolved. “Iran does not want a nuclear deal just for the sake of having a deal,” he said. “A final deal should guarantee the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights.”

Those rights would include unfettered Iranian nuclear research, and development into even more advanced uranium enriching centrifuges than already exist, when the 10-year limit of the agreement is reached.

Iran has been demanding that all United Nations sanctions be lifted prior to any cessation of nuclear activities without automatic reinstatement upon violation of the agreement. “There will be no agreement if the sanctions issue cannot be resolved,” Iranian negotiator Majid Takhteravanchi told the Iranian FARS news agency.

The five world powers led by the United States (P5+1) meanwhile warned that nothing could be done without concessions from Iran as well. These include access to sites where nuclear research is being conducted, a severe reduction in the number of centrifuges operating to produce enriched uranium and other issues still to be worked out.

But Israel is maintaining that the deal as it currently stands is altogether a bad deal – that no centrifuges should be allowed to operate, and that Iran should not be allowed to produce any enriched uranium, the fuel that powers atomic weapons of mass destruction.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing in Washington that U.S. negotiators won’t keep talking “until June” to reach a deal. “If we’re not able to reach a political agreement, then we’re not going to wait … until June 30 to walk away,” he said. June 30 is the date a final agreement was originally to be signed, sealed and delivered – not just a basic outline.

At this point, Obama seems to have painted himself into a no-win situation: if negotiators reach a deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, America’s allies in the Middle East will be profoundly unhappy. Israel is not the only nation that does not trust Iran’s word at the negotiating table: Saudi Arabia and many other nations in the region have been urging the United States to end the talks or — more to the point — consider a “better” deal.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/france-leaves-iran-nuclear-talks-will-return-when-useful/2015/04/01/

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