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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Swiss Lifting Sanctions on Iran, Invite others to ‘Pass Through’?

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Even before Iran has met conditions contained in the Nuclear Iran deal, the ever-eager Swiss have begun lifting sanctions on Iran in a show of support for the Nuclear Iran deal negotiated by the U.S. and its P5+1 partners with Iran. They are also darn happy with their good relations with Iran.

The Swiss Federal Council announced the decision it reached on Aug. 12 to officially list sanctions beginning on Thursday, Aug. 13. The Swiss government had been engaged in direct dialogue with Iran and had already suspended the sanctions in Jan. 2014.

In announcing that it was lifting certain sanctions, the Swiss government explained the path it had taken.

In recent decades, Switzerland has pursued a consistent, neutral and balanced policy with regard to Iran. In part due to its protecting power mandate for the USA, it has always been committed to dialogue and to keeping communication channels open. At the same time, Switzerland has always defended its own values and views. Today Switzerland is perceived in Iran as a reliable and credible discussion partner.

As of Thursday, the ban on precious metals transactions and requirements to report trade in Iranian petrochemical products, as well as the transport of Iranian crude oil will be lifted.

The value above which reporting and licensing obligations are triggered in relation to money transfers from and to Iranian nationals was increased tenfold.

Despite Switzerland’s eagerness to improve its bilateral relations with Iran, those sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council will remain in force for the time being, according to the Swiss government.

And if the JCPOA fails, the Swiss government “reserves the right to reintroduce the lifted measures.” In other words, it may “snap back” sanctions if Iran is caught cheating. Then again, it may not.

The Swiss government’s statement included other curious language. In addition to making clear its support for the global nuclear negotiations with Iran, it specifically stated it wished to “signal that Switzerland’s positioning with respect to Iran, which was developed and maintained over a number of years, should be used to promote a broad political and economic exchange with Iran.”

Whether that language invites other countries to deal with Iranian crude oil using the Swiss as a pass-through is unclear.

Iranian Oil Production Rises in July

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Iranian crude oil production rose to 3.13 million barrels per day in July.

The hike brought Iran’s oil production to its highest level in two years, according to the monthly report by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The figure was an increase of six tenths of a percent from the previous month.

According to the OPEC accountant, however, Iranian oil production was actually at 2.86 million bpd – still a healthy increase of 1.1 percent over June.

Iran’s pre-sanction production was at 3.6 million bpd of crude oil.

Iran was among the 12 OPEC members contributing to overall gains in production last month, said OPEC, which reported that crude oil prices dropped by at least $10 per barrel.

The organization blamed “the outcome of the P5+1 talks on Iran’s nuclear program” as well as financial concerns in Greece and China for the market conditions.

In January, Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council said that exports had dropped by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), pulling out more than $100 billion in lost revenue from the country due to the sanctions.

Under the terms of a November 2013 agreement, Iran is allowed to export some oil in exchange for its commitment to restrict some of its nuclear research activities, UPI noted in a report on Tuesday.

More to the point, the newly-signed nuclear agreement between Iran and the U.S.-led delegation of world powers has begun to lead numerous global energy firms, from Royal Dutch Shell to Italy’s Eni, to visit with an eye toward reviewing potential business opportunities with the Islamic Republic.

Last December, Iran was already producing just under 2.8 million bpd, about 20 percent less than its production levels in 2011.

At present, however, Iran is limited to exporting approximately one million bpd, and to six nations, under the terms of existing sanctions.

Obama ‘Doesn’t Oppose Israel’s PM Across the Board’

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama is continuing his campaign to persuade the American people of the merits of the IranDeal signed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Iran and five other world leaders last month in Vienna.

Mic editor-in-chief Jake Horowitz interviewed President Barack Obama in the White House Library about the agreement, which must still be ratified in the Congress.

During the interview the president also took questions from people in Iran, the U.S. and Israel, and responded directly to their comments.

Following is a transcript of the president’s response to a question received from Tel Aviv resident Sam Grossberg, 30:

As an Israeli citizen, it’s very obvious that you oppose our prime minister. You’ve made a lot of promises in regards to our security as a people and as you know Hamas is right now basically at our doorstep. Why should we, as the Israeli people, trust you?

President Barack Obama replied: “Well, as president, I have not only pledged and committed to make sure that America supports Israel’s security. But I’ve also provided more intelligence and military cooperation with Israel than any previous president.

“This administration has done everything that Israel has been looking for with respect to, for example, a program called Iron Dome that has been able to shoot down missiles before they hit Israeli soil and undoubtedly saved Israeli lives.

“I think it’s important for Sam to understand, I don’t oppose the Israeli prime minister across the board.

“We have a strong disagreement about whether or not it makes sense for us to take a deal that cuts off all pathways for Iran getting a nuclear program or whether we should reject a deal, in which case, Iran can break out and start installing advanced centrifuges and potentially pursue a nuclear weapon without us having eyes on what’s going on, on the ground or any significant constraints until it’s too late.

“And that is a substantive disagreement that we have but — on a whole range of issues — particularly with respect to Israel’s security, we’ve been with Israel every step of the way. And even Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government would acknowledge that.”

***

One question Horowitz asked was whether there were any criticisms of the deal that the president thought were legitimate. Here’s Obama’s reply to that question.

POTUS: “Oh, absolu— well, what I have said is that there are concerns that are legitimate. It is absolutely true that Iran has a history of trying to play it close to the line when it comes to its nuclear program. And so we do have to be very vigilant about inspections.

“It’s true that under this agreement in 15 years time, they will be in a position to install more powerful centrifuges that produce uranium and that at that point they could conceivably break out and try to get a nuclear weapon.

“The point there, that I’ve made, that I think is indisputable, and in fact, former Israeli intelligence officers have made the same point, is that we’ll have just as much if not more ability to stop them at that point than they would if they are doing it right now and in the meantime we would have purchased 15 years in which we know exactly what they’re doing and can have a lot more assurance about understanding their program.

“It is true that by definition, under this agreement, Iran’s economy improves because they get sanctions relief. That was the incentive for them to enter into this deal.

“And some of that probably goes to help finance some of the dangerous activities that they are involved with anyway, but in that circumstance, as I’ve said before, we can deal with conventional challenges from Iran. What creates real problems for us is if they get a nuclear weapon, so we have to prioritize.

Iraq Vets Oppose Nuclear Iran Deal

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

There is a new group working to defeat the Nuclear Iran deal agreed to by the U.S. and its partners in the P5+1 and Iran. It is called Veterans Against the Deal.

This group takes issue with U.S. President Barack Obama’s position that those who do not support the Iran deal are choosing war. These are Iraq war veterans who, unlike President Obama, have seen war up close and definitely do not want more of it.

The Iraq war vets started Veterans Against the Deal last month, and it has begun its rollout. On Monday, Aug. 10, Veterans Against the Deal released its first video.

The first of the group’s ads features medically retired staff sergeant Robert Bartlett, and it is directed at Montana’s Senator Jon Tester (D).

Bartlett tells us that in 2005 he was blown up by an Iranian bomb. Half of his face was blown off, and his gunner lost both his legs.

“Every politician who is involved in this will be held accountable, they will have blood on their hands,” he says in the ad. “A vote for this deal means more money for Iranian terrorism. What do you think they are going to do when they get more money?”

Later ads will air in North Dakota and West Virginia, and will go on from there.

In an interview with Bloombergview’s Josh Rogin, VAD executive director Michael Pregent said “We are going to challenge those people who are on the fence.”

According to Pregent, “veterans know Iran better than Washington, D.C., does. You’ve got a lot of veterans out there who are pretty upset about this, so we are looking to capture their voices and make sure they are heard.”

The new group is composed of Republicans and Democrats.

“We don’t want to make this a partisan issue,” Pregent said. “We’ll have Democratic vets who voted for Obama participating in this as well.”

He said the veterans and families who are involved are motivated only by their own experiences and views.

“These guys want to be heard. They know this enemy. They have a constant reminder of permanent loss because of Iran,” he said. “If someone said to me, ‘Aren’t you exploiting these veterans and families?’ I would say, ‘No, aren’t you ignoring these veterans and families?’”

In the first ad, Bartlett says “every politician involved in this will be held accountable – they will have blood on their hands.”

MoveOn Members Yank Support From Schumer Over IranDeal

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

The U.S. debate over IranDeal is beginning to get dirty.

Less than 24 hours after Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York announced he would oppose IranDeal, the MoveOn advocacy organization released a statement saying it would withhold major campaign support from the senior senator.

MoveOn communications director, Nick Berning was quoted by The Huffington Post as saying, “We want to demonstrate to those who haven’t made their decision yet that there will be substantial political consequences for those who want to take us to war.”

Schumer announced last Thursday night he will oppose President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran over its nuclear development activities.

“After deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote ‘yes’ on a motion of disapproval,” Schumer said. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade [other colleagues] that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion,” he added.

The bottom line, he said, was this: “Are we better off with the agreement or without it?”

The answer, he said, was that after 10 years, “If Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”

The senator, considered the most influential Jewish voice in Congress, explained that he was concerned that after ten years, Iran will still be free to build a nuclear weapon.

Schumer drew instant praise from Agudath Israel of America for his action, however. “Senator Schumer has spoken out consistently and forcefully over the past several years about the grave threat a nuclear empowered Iran would pose to America and its allies, especially Israel,” the group said in a statement issued Friday morning.

The senator was also “courageous.” in stepping out on a limb to make his decision, Agudath Israel noted. “He is the first and thus far the only Senator of his political party to publicly announce that he will be voting against the position of the Administration.

“His high rank among his Democratic Senate colleagues surely created an incentive for him not to buck the leadership of his party. Fortunately, however, as he said in the statement he issued in announcing his intention to vote to disapprove the JCPOA, Senator Schumer made his decision “solely based on the merits … without regard to pressure, politics or party.” For this he deserves our sincere admiration and deep appreciation.”

Obama needs 34 votes in the Senate in order to sustain a veto he has vowed to advance to override the legislation if the motion of disapproval is passed.

US Experts: That Activity in Parchin Site is No Road Renovation

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

(JNi.media) Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Saturday rejected US media claims about suspicious new developments at the Parchin facility, complaining that the Western media “have no other goal but to create an atmosphere of misunderstanding,” IRNA reported.

“The comments show that all the claims raised against the Islamic Republic of Iran on the issue are baseless,” Zarif insisted, adding that “it has been announced that a road building project has been implemented in the area.”

But the US-based think tank Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS, that’s actually their name, since 1993) is insisting that’s no road work over there, pointing to satellite images that show vehicles and containers being moved at Parchin.

Parchin is a military complex, some 19 miles southeast of Tehran. In July, the Iranian UN mission declared that there was no nuclear weapon production on the site and that the suspicions about Iran reactivating the site are born by a misconception caused by road reconstruction opposite the Mamloo Dam, which is located near the complex.

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency is very suspicious about Iran’s Parchin facility, and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has voiced concern about the kind of access the IAEA expected to have there.

“We cannot get [IAEA head Yukiya Amano] to even confirm that we will have physical access inside of Parchin,” Corker told reporters last week.

We probably will not.

ISIS said the satellite images were taken after Iran signed its deal with the 5+1 world powers on July 14.

“This renewed activity occurring after the [signing of the deal] raises obvious concerns that Iran is conducting further [cleanup] efforts to defeat IAEA verification,” the think tank’s report states.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Thursday that a cleanup effort, if one is taking place, would be “cause for concern.” But he insisted the US is confident it knows what’s taking place at Parchin and is able to detect nuclear activity at any Iranian site.

“You can’t cover up past nuclear activity very easily. It lasts for decades, even longer,” Toner said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest played down the possibility of Iranian efforts to restart nuclear works, but also said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss specific intelligence matters.

Alan Dershowitz Says Obama Checkmated by Iran Deal

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

(JNi.media) Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz in a recent book claims that President Obama changed the focus of the Iran nuclear deal after he was re-elected and allowed himself to be “checkmated,” because he gave Iran hope of developing a nuclear weapon and took the US military option off the table.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat, staunch supporter of Israel and author of “The Case for Israel” and “Chutzpah,” spent a sleepless night after the Iran deal was announced. He emailed his eBook publisher and asked if it was possible to have a book written about the Iran deal in time for the Congressional debate. His publisher gave Dershowitz two weeks, but it was finished in eleven days. A day after it was released, “The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran From Getting Nukes” was rated the number one Kindle international best seller just a day after it was released.

If President Obama seems to be saying something different about Iran as a potential nuclear power than what he said in previous years, it isn’t just memory playing its tricks. Dershowitz points out that the President’s statements about the Iran deal changed dramatically after his re-election. Previously, Obama was emphatic that Iran would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, calling the move a “game changer” and promised to do “whatever it takes” to prevent Iran, which has stated its desire to destroy Israel, from becoming a nuclear power.

There is a cynical explanation, and a more straightforward one, as to why the President changed his mind, Dershowitz suggests. He could have sincerely reconsidered his position in the process of negotiating with Iran. The other explanation that includes certain suspicions, but which “seems to be supported by the data,” is that once Obama was re-elected for a second term and the Republicans dominated the Senate “he was going to do what he always wanted to do and was less completely candid with those of us whom he told that the military option was on the table and Iran would never be able to develop nuclear weapons.”

Obama’s main mistake, explains Dershowitz, was dealing with Iran as an equal, which was the result of his taking the military option off the table.

“That was an extraordinarily naive and wrong thing to do,” said Dershowitz, who insists that position is supported not just by Obama’s political opponents, but other liberal Democrats.

Supporters of the deal say it prevents war and they challenge opponents to come up with a better version of a deal. Dershowitz thinks war is a greater possibility now that Iran has been strengthened financially, given credibility and the military avenue has been dispensed with.

He thinks sanctions could have been removed if the US negotiated with Iran from a position of strength, demanded 24/7 inspections capability, the complete scrapping of Iran’s nuclear program, and military consequences if the deal was violated. “Now the problem is we negotiated as equals and are playing checkers against the people who invented chess, and they checkmated our President and our Secretary of State,” he says.

A way out for the next administration is not to acknowledge the Iran deal, which Dershowitz, a constitutional scholar, thinks may not have authority. Dershowitz explains that the Iran deal likely falls under the definition of a treaty the Framers said would need 2/3rds approval in Congress. “It is unlikely that they would have allowed the President alone to make an enduring and international agreement.”

It is possible that, with the next Administration, “the Iran agreement won’t have the force of law,” Dershowitz says.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/alan-dershowitz-says-obama-checkmated-by-iran-deal/2015/08/06/

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