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April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘John Kerry’

France Warns There’s ‘Insufficient Progress’ With Iran on Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

French Ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre told a meeting of the UN Security Council Tuesday that “insufficient” progress has been made towards a nuclear deal with Iran.

The UNSC session had been convened specifically to discuss the issue of UN sanctions on Iran.

“Iran must now make difficult choices if it truly wishes to regain the trust of the international community,” Delattre told ambassadors at the session.

Gaps still remain on the issues of sanctions and research and development, Reuters reported. Likewise, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in a briefing in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday, that although there had been “substantial progress” in the talks, “important gaps remain… We have an opportunity to get this right,” he added, urging Iran to make the “fundamental decisions” that would prove its interest in peace, not nuclear weaponry.

But as Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu predicted in his speech to the U.S. Congress earlier this month, Iran’s behavior reflects anything but an interest in peaceful relations with the West.

An Iranian official scolded the director-general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiyo Amano, for requiring unannounced inspections of its nuclear sites as part of its inspection protocols.

The request, which Amano contended would reassure the international community and restore Iran’s credibility, harmed negotiations between world powers and Tehran, said Iran nuclear spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi.

Iranian state television quoted Kamalvandi as saying, “It would be much better if Amano only talked about the IAEA’s seasonal and monthly reports.”

The deadline for the talks – conducted with Iran by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — is set for March 31, with a final agreement to be tied up by June 30.

Pressure on Iran Picking Up to Sign a Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

US Senate to Vote on Sanctions If No Iran Deal, EU Sanctions Already Reinstated

The United States Senate has threatened to impose sanctions on Iran if President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are not successful in shepherding a nuclear technology deal through talks between world powers and Iran.

The European Union has already reinstated sanctions against 40 Iranian companies, including dozens of shipping firms, in order to increase pressure on Iran to sign on the dotted line.

The EU General Court lifted the sanctions on firms that were linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines carrier (IRISL) in January, saying the EU had not proved the IRISL was actively supporting nuclear proliferation.

IRISL attorney Maryam Taher told the Reuters news agency the move was “purely politically motivated and not based on any proper evidence. The whole purpose of the EU sanctions is to leverage pressure on the Iranian government to come to an agreement in relation to nuclear proliferation.”

On Monday, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that it could not state definitively that Iran’s nuclear program had no “military dimensions.” Issues meant to resolve suspicions of weaponization work remain, according to IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said in his report, despite what he called “good cooperation” from Tehran regarding the November 2013 comprehensive safeguards agreement.

However, he said, “We continue to verify the non-divergence of nuclear material declared by Iran, but we are still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful purpose.”

If international negotiators come up empty-handed this time around (they have already missed one deadline), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday at a weekly news briefing “Another heavy dose of sanctions would be an appropriate remedy.”

If an agreement is signed, the lawmakers would pass a bill requiring the president to submit the deal to Congress for its approval. The bill also contains a provision that would temporarily remove Obama’s ability to waive sanctions.

Obama says he will veto both bills.

Negotiators took a break on Friday and reconvene this week as the March 31 deadline inches closer. World leaders will try again to close a deal with a nation whose Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Saturday for “Death to America,” while its President Hassan Rouhani expressed optimism that an agreement could still be reached.

US Absence at UN Human Rights Council Debate – Planned With Israel

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

The Reuters news agency reported the absence of the United States at a scheduled United Nations Human Rights Council debate came as part of President Barack Obama’s “reassessment” of Israel at the international forum. The report, which flashed around the world on the news agency’s international wire network, made headlines in Middle Eastern and other nations whose time zones are six or more hours ahead of the U.S.

However, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the report is patently false.

In fact, the absence of the United States from the forum was indeed a deliberate act indeed, but one coordinated in advance with Israel to protest Agenda Item 7. Israel had asked its friends in the Council not to appear during debate of the Agenda Item, in order to boycott the issue.

A U.S. spokesperson in Geneva confirmed the reason for the delegate’s absence to Israeli officials, who reassured inquiring media.

Both the U.S. and Israel were boycotting the debate, which focusedon ‘Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories.’

The UNHRC has passed a mandate to use Agenda Item 7 at every session to debate this specific topic.

For hours, Middle Eastern Arab and African nations ranted on the Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Algeria even accused Israel of genocide.

Although the members of the European Union attended the session, the EU delegates did take the floor to defend Israel during the Agenda Item 7 debate, insisting it should be treated as other nations, and its violations discussed under Agenda Item 4.

Not one other country is deliberately singled out for mandated censure at each and every session of the UN Human Rights Council – including Saudi Arabia, which still allows slavery and beheads criminals, nor Iran, which indulges in public whippings and hangings, nor Sudan, where torture is commonplace, and the list goes on.

In a speech to the Council in Geneva at the start of this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused the UNHRC of obsessions with claims of Israeli violations.

“We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just at the UN Human Rights Council, but wherever it occurs,” Kerry vowed.

“It must be said that the UNHRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization. It has the potential to limit the good that we have to do,” he added.

Kerry’s well-intended promise may have been forgotten, at least in the White House, however: President Barack Obama is doing everything possible to yank the rug out from under Jerusalem, using rhetoric by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his election campaign as the excuse to claim a lack of commitment to peace by Israel.

“We take him at his word when he said [creation of a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama told The Huffington Post last Friday.

Gone were the assurances Obama himself made in a speech to AIPAC during his own political campaign for president in 2008. That was when he vowed to commit, as president of the United States, to “help committed (peace) partners avoid stalemate and the kind of vacuums that are filled by violence.” Any agreement with the Palestinian people, he said, “must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” he promised.

State Dept. Takes Foot Out of the Mouth of John ‘Talk with Assad’ Kerry

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

State Dept. spokeswoman have been working overtime trying once again to extricate the foot of their boss John Kerry out of his mouth after he responded to a question on CBS if the United States would negotiate with Syrian President Assad:

We have to negotiate in the end…. What we’re pushing for is to get him to come and do that, and it may require that there be increased pressure on him of various kinds in order to do that.

His comments, an apparent dramatic reversal of Obama administration policy, set off alarm bells in France, which insists Assad will not be part of a negotiated solution.

But here come Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf and her senior, Jen Psaki, to the rescue.

After Assad specifically said he was referring to Assad, Harf said he was not and that the policy stands – a negotiated settlement with the Assad regime but not with him.

Psaki continued to foot-extraction operation in the daily briefing with reporters on Monday and explained:

By necessity, there has always been a need for representatives of the Assad regime to be a part of this process. It has never been and would not be Assad who would negotiate — and the secretary was not saying that today….

It would not be and would never be, and it wasn’t what Secretary Kerry was intending to imply, that that would be Assad himself.

In plainer English, Kerry did not imply what he said.

The reporters at the briefing did not miss a beat and still expressed their confusion of what the man really says, implies and thinks, if that is the right word.

After Psaki insisted that the opposition parties sitting at a negotiating table by themselves “wouldn’t result in a political process or the conclusion of a political process that would bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people,” a journalist asked:

Almost all the statements by all the different opposition groups basically were critical of the Secretary’s statement, and basically saying there’s no way that they would negotiate with Assad. Do you see any other way…?

Psaki reiterated that what Kerry did not say what he said and answered, “Well, I just stated that’s not what we’re indicating. Obviously, there would need to be representatives of the regime. That’s always been the case. But I think it’s also important to remember, for everyone, unfortunately there’s no process that’s ongoing right now, so we’re purely talking about how it would work potentially if there were to be a process in place.”

One reporter tried to help Psaki and asked, “Can you say that he [Kerry] was imprecise and that he perhaps should have answered the question, ‘Will you negotiate with him’ in a little better – in a little more precise fashion to say that he means the regime?”

Psaki jumped at the opportunity and reasoned that Kerry simply used the name “Assad” as “shorthand, obviously, representative of the regime.”

How exactly Kerry expects to convince Assad’s associates to come to the table with the demand that Assad must go is another question that one the Secretary of State can answer, but he is good at making up insolvable riddles to keep him busy, when he not busy saying what he doesn’t mean.

For example, he still pursues the “two-state” solution through negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, which has said that there is nothing to be negotiated. All Israel has to do is sign on the dotted line on a document he has written.

Reporters at the media briefing on more or less on the same page. One of them told Psaki, “I’m trying to understand the wisdom behind casting some sort of an element of finality, saying that he cannot be a part of Syria’s future and so on, when in fact – I mean, I saw the envoy to Syria, and he said we think that Assad was serious, he wants an end to the violence. …. Whether like him or not like him, he is part of Syria. So in that sense, why cast the finality that we will not negotiate with him under any conditions?”

Kerry’s Gaffe Exposes ‘IsraelPhobia’

Monday, March 16th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke enthusiastically about Egypt in a speech on Friday but made a very undiplomatic boo-boo by stating that Egyptian President Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is committed to Israel’s future.

Yes, that is what he said. Here is the entire sentence, according to the official U.S. State Dept, transcript of his speech at American Chamber of Commerce of Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh.:

President Sisi has engaged on a bold and critical path to implement reforms. He’s committed to restoring investor confidence in Israel’s future.”

The State Dept. later noted that he meant to say “Egypt’s future.”

How could a mistake like that have been made by the  Secretary of the State of the United States of America, the man who knows he can bring peace between Israel and the Arab world, and between Iran and the rest of the world? The U.S. Embassy in Cairo had a nifty explanation for the blooper and posted on Twitter:

“Clear theme of @JohnKerry speech/visit today: confidence in #EGYPT’s future. All night flight+morning event=unintended slip (wrong country!)

Jet lag is definitely a problem for diplomats like Kerry, who seem to spend more time on the plane than at home.

But excuses are not going save the world when he sits with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and says “Hamas, whoops I mean Israel,” or sits with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and says, “Jews, whoops I mean settlers.”

But all of that could be forgiven because his talks with the Palestinian Authority and Israel were nothing more than a way to boost profits for hotels where he stayed, but what happens when he talking with Iran over its nuclear program?

First of all, he has to remember he is in Switzerland today and not in Swaziland.

His aides need to remind him he is talking to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and not Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

And Kerry needs to be reminded that “peaceful nuclear energy” in Iran means in plain English, “A nuclear bomb to destroy not only Israel but also the United States.”

Fears Over US Iran Deal Trigger Mideast Nuclear Race, Saudi-South Korea Deal

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

The race for nuclear power has begun in the Middle East in response to fears of an Iranian nuclear threat.

The move towards nuclear technology in a region where barely half of the population graduates high school, let alone matriculates in a post-secondary school institution, was triggered by U.S. reluctance to reign in Tehran and the hostility of the Obama administration towards Israel.

Possibly in response to an editorial published this week in the English-language edition of the Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya,

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew straight to Riyadh yesterday after talks with Iran went on a brief hiatus in Montreaux.

But the leaders of Saudi Arabia have signed a $2 billion deal with South Korea to build at least two small and medium-size nuclear reactors, according to a report Tuesday in The Korea Herald.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) calls for a feasibility study to build Korean SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia. The reactors, to be designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, are specifically intended for the generation of electricity and desalination of sea water in Middle Eastern nations, according to the report. Completion of the feasibility study is expected by 2018. The two nations previously signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in 2011.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye met Tuesday with Saudi King Salman on ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations. Before arriving in Riyadh, Park had concluded a three-day visit to Kuwait.

Next on her itinerary are the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Washington needs Saudi Arabia’s support in the region for a host of foreign policy reasons. As a result, Kerry is now working to convince the Riyadh government that President Barack Obama will not bargain away its interests at the table with Iran.

The U.S. “will not take our eye off of Iran’s other destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula – Yemen particularly,” Kerry told a meeting of the foreign ministers from the six Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) states.

The Secretary of State met earlier in the day with newly-crowned King Salman and deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in his efforts to reassure Saudi Arabia that the U.S. was not seeking any “grand bargain” with the Islamic Republic.

“Nothing will be different the day after this agreement,” Kerry claimed, “if we were to reach one, with respect to all of the other issues that challenge us in this region.”

US Secy of State Kerry Says ‘Demanding Iran Capitulate is Not a Plan’

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the media on the progress made in talks between world powers led by the U.S. with Iranian negotiators over Tehran’s nuclear development program in Montreaux, Switzerland on Wednesday before leaving to return to the United States. Kerry responded to the speech made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Tuesday’s joint session of Congress, commenting sardonically that “simply demanding Iran capitulate is not a plan.” Not that Netanyahu said any such thing or implied it, contrary to the attempts by the Obama administration to characterize the prime minister’s remarks as such.

Regardless, here is the verbatim transcript of the Secretary’s remarks, which make it clear that Kerry is determined to complete a deal with Iran, perhaps “no matter what,” unless the Iranians themselves decide that even with all the concessions, the price is just too high.

“So good afternoon to all, and thank you very, very much for your patience. We’ve been involved in some long discussions over the past few days, and even well before that. And before I leave Montreux, I wanted to quickly share with you where we are.

“From the beginning, these negotiations have been tough and intense, and they remain so. And we’ve made some progress from where we were, but there are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made. The purpose of these negotiations is not to get any deal; it’s to get the right deal, one that can withstand scrutiny – the scrutiny of experts on nuclear affairs all around the world, the scrutiny of other governments, the scrutiny of people, the scrutiny of the Congress of the United States, people in America, and the scrutiny of countries in the region that are affected by it. And so we know that. We approach these negotiations with a full understanding of the test that will be applied to this and of the expectations that exist.

“We also want an agreement that is sustainable over time, and particularly that achieves the singular goal of proving that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain peaceful. We aren’t going to be distracted by external factors or politics. We will continue to be guided by our experts, our scientists, our national interests and those of our partners and allies.

“Now, for all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region – and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections – the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we know that absent a deal, Iran will have the ability to move ahead with its nuclear program; that we know for sure, because that’s exactly what’s happened to date. We also know that any deal that we would agree to would significantly increase the breakout time, leaving Iran further – far further than it is today – from producing enough fissile material for a weapon, while it undertakes the effort of proving to the world that the program is, in fact, peaceful.

“Clearly, increased breakout time makes any nation in the vicinity or any nation of concern safer. We also know that any deal that we reach would give us the intrusive access and verification measures necessary to confirm that Iran’s nuclear facilities are indeed on a peaceful path. And that would allow us to promptly detect any attempt to cheat or to break out, and then to respond appropriately. And contrary to some public reports, we are only contemplating a deal in which important access and verification measures will endure.

“We also know that the international sanctions, which many want to simply hang their hats on – they may have gotten Iran to the table, but to date they haven’t stopped Iran from advancing its nuclear program. In fact, the first and only thing that had stopped their program from progressing in almost a decade was the Joint Plan of Action that we negotiated and we reached in November of 2013, and that has been adhered to in every single respect since then.

“And most importantly, as President Obama said yesterday, we know that no one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. So folks, simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan, and nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position. And it’s very important to remember we have partners in this effort – France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia – all of whom have similar feelings about the importance of what must be done here.

“So we continue to be focused on reaching a good deal, the right deal, that closes off any paths that Iran could have towards fissile material for a weapon and that protects the world from the enormous threat that we all know a nuclear-armed Iran would pose.

“Now, we still don’t know whether we will get there, and it is certainly possible that we won’t. It may be that Iran simply can’t say yes to the type of deal that the international community requires. But we do know that we owe it to the American people in my case, people in the world, to try to find out. And we will return to these talks on the 15th of March, recognizing that time is of the essence, the days are ticking by, and important decisions need to be made. Thank you.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-secy-of-state-kerry-says-demanding-iran-capitulate-is-not-a-plan/2015/03/05/

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