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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘international relations’

Kerry Describes ‘Historic’ Nuclear Deal Signed Between World Powers, Iran

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Tuesday morning in Vienna that world powers have struck an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear development program.

In return, Iran will receive billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions to be relaxed in phases as Iran begins to comply with the commitments in the agreement.

According to the 109-page accord, Iran will enrich uranium only up to an amount of slightly less than 4 percent: enough for civilian medical and energy purposes. The Islamic Republic agreed to allow spot inspections – daily inspections, Kerry said – by monitors from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – at its nuclear research and development sites.

That access, however, is not guaranteed – especially at military sites, where the country’s parliament has just passed a law banning entry to any foreign or outside element. Even a delay could last long enough to allow nuclear scientists time to hide evidence of research into atomic weapons.

A three-month extension on talks between Iran and the IAEA to resolve outstanding issues was agreed to and signed this morning with the agency’s director, Yukiyo Amano, Kerry said. “Sanctions relief will only start when Iran complies with its commitments,” he reminded.

In addition, it was agreed the United Nations arms embargo imposed on Iran will continue for the next five years as well. UN restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran could last up to eight more years. Either or both sanctions, however, could end sooner, depending on clearance by the IAEA.

The “snap back” provision that allows sanctions to be reimposed if Iran violates the agreement will also stay in the agreement. Kerry noted this point is particularly important, inasmuch as the negotiators began their talks when Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon was only a total of two to three months – and when the Islamic Republic already had amassed “enough fissile material for 10 to 12 [atomic] bombs.”

Perhaps that is one reason the deal is “not built on trust, it is built on verification,” as President Barack Obama told Americans in a broadcast from the White House carried live on Iranian state television. Obama added that all potential pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon have been cut off.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in Tehran that a “new chapter” has begun in his nation’s relations with the global community.

Kerry also commented that the signing of the agreement could not guarantee its commitment; rather, “it’s the implementation that will matter,” he said. Nevertheless, despite fiery rhetoric filled with venom and vows by Iranian leaders not to allow outside access to the country’s nuclear sites, Kerry said negotiators talked a different tale at the negotiating table.

“The negotiators absolutely affirmed to us… that they are operating with a full mandate from the President [Hassan]Rouhani, and from the Supreme Leader,” Kerry said. Whether they were telling the truth, however, only time can tell.

“In the negotiation, you lay down the procedures that are expected to be taken and you lay down the consequences for not doing that,” he added.

Kerry Travels to Vienna for Final (?) Nuclear Talks with Iran

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to return to the negotiating table on Friday for another round of nuclear talks with Iran.

“Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna, Austria on June 26 to participate in the ongoing EU-coordinated P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran,” spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement Thursday.

The delegation led by the U.S. includes Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

The six world powers are trying to reach an agreement with Tehran that would allow spot inspections of all Iranian nuclear facilities by United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

Under the agreement Iran would halt its uranium enrichment and nuclear technology development for the next ten years, in exchange for the UN lifting the crippling sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic.

Thus far, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has nixed the terms of the deal, despite an offer from the delegation to provide everything Iran needs to produce peaceful nuclear energy, which Iran claims is all it seeks.

Among the items being offered are “high-tech light-water nuclear reactors and other state-of-the-art nuclear equipment,” according to a secret eight-page document obtained earlier this week and revealed exclusively by The Associated Press. Dated June 19 and entitled “Civil Nuclear Cooperation,” the report appears to call Iran’s bluff – but as Omri Ceren of The Israel Project noted in a response brief, it’s not that simple.

“Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs,” Ceren contended. He added that “any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.”

Although the centrifuges will be spinning non-nuclear elements during the course of the ten-year agreement, they will be primed and ready to enrich nuclear fuel the moment the agreement ends.

“The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout,” Ceren warned.

The negotiations, which have already been extended twice before, are scheduled to conclude on June 30.

Despite “Freeze”, Iran Nuke Stockpile Mysteriously Growing

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

How does one translate the phrase “negotiating in good faith” into Persian?

Over the past 18 months, Tehran’s stockpile of enriched uranium – a nuclear fuel – has grown by some 20 percent, eight percent in the past two months alone, as documented last Friday in a report by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned of just such a scenario in his landmark address to the U.S. Congress in March (2015). So this probably comes as no surprise to most Israelis. However, it is making headlines across the United States, since it is seen by some as a direct betrayal by the White House.

The Obama administration had assured the American people that Iran had “frozen” its nuclear development activities while negotiating with U.S.-led world powers over a deal to limit the nuclear program and prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons under President Obama’s watch. Now the talks are in their final month, with the June 30 deadline looming ahead.

Under the terms being negotiated, Iran is to possess only 660 pounds (300 kg) of nuclear fuel, less than that needed to create a nuclear weapon, once the deal is signed. The rest of its nuclear fuel stockpile is to be removed — either shipped out, transformed or otherwise destroyed.

But Tehran made it clear as far back as March that Iran has no intention of shipping the remaining 96% of its nuclear fuel out of the country. Nor has it proposed any other solution to the dilemma. This raises a rather curious question about the disposal of Iran’s mysteriously growing stockpile.

American officials don’t actually know how Iran will comply. As one official told The New York Times, “It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”

It sure is.

One can also question how anyone in the Obama administration could claim that Iran froze its nuclear activities while Tehran has clearly been growing that stockpile – significantly.

The U.S., meanwhile, seems baffled at how an Iranian stockpile that should at least have remained static, could possibly have grown.

Here’s an even bigger problem: Under the terms of the interim agreement signed in March between Iran and the U.S.-led world powers (P5+1), Iran had allegedly been building a “conversion plant” at the Isfahan nuclear complex. There, enriched uranium could be transformed into oxide powder and then into reactor fuel rods, rather than left to become weapons-grade fuel. But they didn’t.

Iran didn’t keep its word. “Iran has failed” to make the conversion, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research group in Washington which reported on the issue in February.

Tehran didn’t keep its end of the bargain – and the deal isn’t even signed yet.

That’s 18 months of nuclear undercover evasion (“cheating”) that the U.S. administration claims to know nothing about. It’s not clear which is more frightening: an American administration so clueless that it truly did NOT know anything about what was happening under the ground in Iranian nuclear plants, or did know and didn’t say, ‘didn’t ask and didn’t tell.’

It is also important to note that Iran will only have to maintain that minimized nuclear fuel stockpile for 15 years. The deal does not address what happens after that.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation has announced they are building a second nuclear reactor in Iran, in addition to the one they built in 2013.

The oil-rich Islamic Republic plans to build 20 such nuclear reactors, allegedly to reduce its dependency on oil.

If only Iran were building settlements instead of enriched uranium – then the Obama administration would put its foot down.

Obama Gift List to Former Enemies Continues: Cuba Plucked from Terrorism Sponsor List

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

So, let’s see. He “reset” with Russia’s Putin – ask the Crimeans what they think of that move -, he sent loving happy new years notes to Iran, and that produced a warm and loving feelings towards America. He drop-kicked Egypt’s Mubarak from the buddy league but snuggled up with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. That did not do much for Morsi, and he spit in the eye of Israel’s Netanyahu whom everyone agrees actually benefitted from Obama’s animosity.

So to whom is U.S. President Barack Obama now handing out party favors? Why, it’s none other than Raul Castro, el jefe of Cuba.

That’s right. The happy dictator to our immediate south either was granted this gift or was simply rewarded, unbidden, with the imminent delisting of Cuba from the U.S.’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

First, the punishments which will be lifted if Cuba is removed from the terrorism list include: a ban on arms-related exports and sales; 30-day Congressional notifications for exports of goods or services deemed “dual use,” meaning they could have peaceful uses but they also could have be used to support terrorism; and prohibitions on economic assistance.

Unless Congress acts to prohibit the delisting, 45 days after the President issues the report making that recommendation, Cuba goes off the list.

How did this happen?

We learn from a press release issued by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, April 13, that Obama directed the State Department to launch a review and then provide him with a report to determine whether Cuba should continue to be designated as an official terrorism sponsor this past December. The president did that as a “critical component of establishing a new direction for U.S.-Cuba relations.”

Well, perhaps not surprisingly, the State Department recommended “based on the facts and the statutory standard” that Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism be rescinded.

To be sure, it might have been possible for the State Department to determine Cuba was ineligible for removal from the designated list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Why, according to the State Department’s statement, if Cuba had “provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six months,” or if it had refused to provide “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” those naughty boys would remain on the terrorism list. But the answers to the questions being asked were such that the president was able to give one of his new best friends, Raul Castro, the good news.

In issuing its statement recommending the removal of Cuba from the state terrorism listing, the State Department carefully pointed out that the narrow requirements it focused on constitute the qualifications set by Congress for what countries can be removed from the terrorism sponsors list. That statement also pointed out that the criterion for review was a narrow and Congressionally-determined one.

The basis for removal from the list does not mean that American authorities have determined Cuba, a Communist nation with one political party, is no longer engaged in repression or human trafficking or any other significant departures from modern democratic societies, but those issues are not part of the calculation for terrorism sponsoring de-listing.

“While the United States has had, and continues to have, significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these concerns and disagreements fall outside of the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” is how the State Department couched it.

“Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America. Our Hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago. Our determination, pursuant to the facts, including corroborative assurances received from the Government of Cuba and the statutory standard, is that the time has come to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” the statement continued.

Obama Finally Forced to Admit Iran’s Nuclear Breakout Time ‘Zero’ in 13 Years

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

It took a lot of pressure and many more speeches and harangues by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu than anyone probably wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, it paid off:

U.S. President Barack Obama was finally forced on Tuesday to admit the truth: In 13 years – if not fewer – Iran’s breakout time to an atomic bomb will be zero.

That means the world will have practically no warning whatsoever as to when Iran actually reaches its nuclear weapons capability – if it has not already done so by then, without telling anyone.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Obama told NPR News that for the first decade following the new deal reached last week with world powers led by the United States in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tehran will be capped at 300 kilograms of enriched uranium. The president insisted this was not enough to convert to a cache of weapons-grade fuel.

But then the president said this:

What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

By then, restrictions on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles will have been eased for the two years prior – in Years 11 and 12 – which means there will already have been two years in which to gather enriched nuclear fuel.

The admission confirms just one of a long list of concerns that Israel’s prime minister had underlined to the U.S. Congress – and to the rest of the world – in his repeated explanations of why “an even greater danger” exists that Iran could “get to the bomb by keeping [this] deal.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday issued a government statement outlining “the irresponsible concessions given to Iran” in the agreement. The document also showed “how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the world.”

Among the changes demanded by Israel to the current agreement between Iran and world powers prior to the June 30 final deadline (which the United States has ignored):

  • Bar further Iranian research and development on advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges;
  • Significantly reduce the number of centrifuges available to Iran for it to reactivate in violation of the deal;
  • Close down the Fordow underground enrichment facility;
  • Require Iranian compliance in detailing previous nuclear activities with potential military dimensions;
  • Ship Iran’s stockpile of lower-enriched uranium out of the country;
  • Ensure “anywhere-anytime” spot inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The document (click here for the PDF file) also made clear – as has Netanyahu, repeatedly in statements to the media – that the current agreement “ignores the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program to Israel.” The prime minister emphasized that a “better deal” can and must be reached with Iran, “an enemy of the United States whose regime, even during the negotiations, continued to conduct aggression in the region and to call for the destruction of Israel.”

The document pointedly calls attention to the fact that under the current agreement:

  • Not a single nuclear facility will be shut down;
  • Iran is allowed to continued advanced uranium centrifuge enrichment research and development;
  • Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile program development is altogether ignored;
  • Sanctions that could be used to regulate Iran’s compliance are instead removed.

Included in the document are 10 questions aimed at those who negotiated this deal and support its passage into law:

1. Why are sanctions that took years to put in place being removed immediately (as the Iranians claim)? This removes the international community’s primary leverage at the outset of the agreement, and make Iranian compliance less likely.

The Ministry of Extraneous Affairs

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I begin with a full disclosure: a few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent me to an Asian country to advise its government in understanding a difficult matter regarding the Islamic population of that state and how to deal with this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the event perfectly, in both the professional and logistical aspects, and the Israeli ambassador of that state personally accompanied me in my meetings with the local professionals.

These days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a promotional film on Israel, and in the leading role is Bar Rafaeli, whose participation in the film arouses a wave of objection, because she did not serve in the military. Some official sources also objected, especially the IDF itself, because her participation in an official film produced by the state of Israel could be interpreted as sending a message of leniency towards people who have not served in the IDF. These days, when “sharing the burden equally” has become a political mantra on the level of “It is better to die than commit certain sins”, the IDF expects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to act in a way that whitewashes the evasion of military service in the IDF. But it seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not think it’s a problem.

This case – in my view – is an indication of the way too many people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think. The employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are public servants, not appointed by the minister, and most are graduates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ cadet’s course. This was supposed to provide the state of Israel with a working staff that is professional and relevant, and executes the decisions of the government professionally and faithfully, and without dispute.

IN FACT, the reality is totally different. The social profile of workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fairly suitable to the model of the “Akhusalim” – coined by the sociologist Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, who described the state of Israel of the 1970s as being governed by an elite group of people who were Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent), secular, members of the old guard, socialist, and nationalist, forming the Hebrew acronym Akhusal.

In general, one can say that the political, social, diplomatic and cultural agenda of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resembles that of the Labor party (and perhaps also Meretz) much more than it resembles that of the Likud, despite the fact that since 1977 there have been more than a few governments led by the Likud. The proportion of religious, ultra-Orthodox, and Arabs who are staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is significantly lower than their proportional representation in the population of the state of Israel.

As a result of this, Avigdor Leiberman, a minister from the Right, found it difficult to impose  his political agenda on his subordinates because of the simple reason that he could not appoint staff that suited him. The political echelon (the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs) can appoint no more than eleven people in the ministry, from the level of ambassador to the person who serves tea, and a minister who cannot place his people in key positions will find it difficult to control what is done in the ministry. My sense is that Leiberman was “persona non grata” in the eyes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff.

THE POLITICAL agenda of the staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an absurd situation, in which the ministry that is the spokesman for the policies of the prime minister and is responsible for hasbara (dissemination of public relations information), is entrusted with explaining government positions, despite the prime minister being far from being of “one mind” with the officials in the ministry of foreign affairs.

This disparity became obvious in the early 2000s, when the prime minister was Ariel Sharon and the minister of foreign affairs was Shimon Peres. With the passing of years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted political language that does not reflect the policy of Israel by using expressions such as “the occupied territories” (occupied from whom?), “settlements” (instead of communities), “Palestinian people” (even Azmi Bishara* doesn’t think that there is such a people) and “solution of two states for two peoples.”

Why Israel Should Recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The Republic of Cyprus has decided to upgrade the Palestinian delegation to Cyprus in order to make it an “embassy.” The Republic of Cyprus did this despite the fact that they are opposed to other countries recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, also known as Northern Cyprus, which comprises the north eastern portion of the Island and desires recognition as a state.

Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention states that for an entity to be a state under international law it must possess: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Presently, Northern Cyprus meets all of these criteria. They have a permanent Turkish Cypriot population that makes up the majority of the population in Northern Cyprus, with an effective united government ruling over this territory and they furthermore have the ability to enter into relations with other states, if only the international community was receptive to them.

Contrast that with the Palestinians who are divided between Fatah in Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza. Israel also controls 60 percent of Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their capital. The Palestinians thus neither have a defined territory or government. Furthermore, with a great part of the Palestinian’s “refugee” population living in exile and Jewish communities scattered throughout areas that the Palestinians claim for a state (with Jews making up the majority of the population in what is known as “Area C”), it is questionable whether the Palestinians possess a permanent population as well.

The Turkish Cypriot cause is also one that Israelis should sympathize with. The London and Zurich Agreements of 1959 proclaimed that the island of Cyprus was supposed to be a partnership between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities. The Greek Cypriots violated this agreement in an attempt to unite the island with Greece, in order to deny the Turkish Cypriots political equality (just as the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world were against permitting Israel to exist under any borders). During 11 years of bloodshed, 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed. By the Turkish Intervention of 1974, the junta government of Cyprus had demonstrated genocidal ambitions against the Turkish Cypriots. As Nicos Sampson, then ruler of Cyprus, himself declared, “Had Turkey not intervened I not only would have declared Enosis (unification with Greece) but I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus.” That mirrors similar and continuing statements from Palestinians.

Since then, the Turkish Cypriots, like the Israelis, have been attempting to reach a peace agreement. Very much like the Israelis, the Turkish Cypriots have not had much luck in this regard. Under the most recent peace proposal, the U.N.-backed Annan Plan, 65 percent of the Turkish Cypriot population accepted while 76 percent of the Greek Cypriot population rejected the peace agreement. The Greek Cypriots have since remained intransigent in their positions – an intransigence Israel has similarly felt from the Arabs.

Regardless of the justice of the Turkish Cypriot’s cause, as of last November, 131 countries have recognized the fictitious “State of Palestine” – despite the fact the Palestinian’s seeking of such a status without Israeli agreement violates the Oslo Accords – and the Israeli government has yet to take punitive action against any of them. If Israel recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, it would send a strong message to all states that have elements that seek to secede and form separate states, that they too will face the consequences.

The Cyprus issue is also considered a top priority in Turkish foreign policy. Recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has the potential to significantly lesson the hostility between Israel and Turkey, despite the fact that the Islamist AKP is in power, without Israel having to issue any apology for the Mavi Marmara affair or making any other concessions to the AKP leadership. This could be good for regional stability and would lesson Israel’s isolation within the Islamic world.

Such a move might also enable Israel to build relations with the Turkish Cypriot nation, which is significantly more secular than the AKP government in Turkey and thus is not inherently hostile towards Israel. Israel could enjoy a similar relationship with the Turkish Cypriots that Israel presently enjoys with Azerbaijan, offering Israel many business and tourism opportunities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-israel-should-recognize-the-turkish-republic-of-northern-cyprus/2013/02/24/

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