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May 6, 2015 / 17 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear deal’

Iran Talks Stuck Over What Stops First, Nukes Or Sanctions

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News

by Ilan Shavit

The timing for lifting international sanctions on Iran is now a major hurdle before an agreement can be reached on limiting its nuclear program by the deadline, March 31 deadline, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing American, European, and Iranian officials.

The Iranians now insist that UN backed sanctions on their energy, finance, and transportation sectors are terminated as the first phase of the deal. The other side wants a gradual removal of the sanctions over several years, depending on Iran’s compliance, especially in its cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

A senior European diplomat told the WSJ the Iranians “say it’s a deal breaker. They don’t want it at all,” adding that “there’s no way that we would give up on that…. No way.”

Stalemate.

The same official said the U.S. and the Europeans expect the process of lifting the restrictions on Iran to last at least one year, more likely two.

However, the process of lifting the sanctions could start as early as a few weeks following the signing of the deal, the WSJ notes. This would include Iran starting to reclaim its frozen assets in Western banks, to the tune of $100 billion.

According to Bloomberg, the IAEA is willing to accelerate the assessment of the Iranian program, but expects Iran to significantly improve its cooperation with monitors.

“We are prepared to assist them in the resolution of all outstanding issues,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said on March 2. “Iran needs the confidence of the international community.”

The IAEA says Iran is yet to turn over key documents and permit them access to key sites as well as face time with scientists who have worked on the nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, bolstered by his decisive victory in Tuesday’s national elections, on Thursday demanded the broadening of the sanctions on Iran, to force its leadership to give up not just its nuclear program, but also end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.

Netanyahu told NBC News: “The most important thing is that the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would depend on Iran’s change of behavior, that it would stop supporting terrorism, stop its aggression against just about every country in the region, and stop calling [for] and threatening the annihilation of Israel.”

Update: Iran May Have Faked Events to Show that Khamenei is not Dead

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei supposedly met with environmental activists in Tehran on Sunday, two days after he was hospitalized and hours after social media chatter said he is dead.

“Frequent news about the death of Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, the Persian State might be a serious historical change doors,” tweeted Gamal Sultan, a Cairo-based journalist for Rassd News.

The claim by the regime’s propaganda organ Fars News Agency of his supposed attendance in public was not accompanied by any photograph or quotes, another indication that the paranoid propaganda machine is keeping a gag order on his reported death until it feels dissidents won’t exploit a power vacuum.

Fars reported Sunday:

The public meeting that was held in the national Week of Natural Resources was particularly important as it put an end to Israeli driven rumors in the social media and a number of western websites in the last three days that alleged the Iranian leader has been hospitalized due to critical health conditions.

Some western media outlets pushed the rumor so much that they claimed that Tehran would soon announce the leader’s demise.

But it was Iranian media that reported on Friday he had been hospitalized, and if he had been released, Fars certainly would have headlined it.

Furthermore, Khamenei’s “public meeting’ supposedly with environmentalist activists, is not an event that deserves headiness in Iran.

The Jewish Press reported here on Friday that Khamenei was critically ill from a stage four cancer condition.

Khamenei has ruled for 26 years and has led a regime based on strict Islamic law. He was behind the brutal suppression of the protest movement in 2009, which resulted in the deaths and disappearance of thousands of demonstrators, and the murders of American soldiers in Lebanon in the 1980s.

It is hard to ignore the timing of Khamenei’s hospitalization and reported death with Purim and talks on an agreement on Iran’s nuclear development.

His critical condition – or death – will make it difficult for the Islamic Republic to reach an agreement with the P5+1 powers by the end of the month.

Khamenei has called the shots, and a power vacuum leaves all of the little power mongers clawing at each other to replace him. If there is not an immediate replacement, it might give a green light to dissidents to come out of the woodwork and demand an end to the Islamic regime.

Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely

Friday, February 27th, 2015

An agreement that limits the number of centrifuges Iran can possess makes them useless for nuclear energy but very useful for producing a nuclear weapon, according to a former CIA director who now is an analyst for CBS. Michael Morell said on Charlie Rose:

If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need. If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”

Iran has about 19,000 centrifuges, 10,000 of which are operating. The Obama administration’s proposal for a deal with Iran reportedly offered to let Iran enrich uranium with around 6,500 centrifuges. The Obama administration has countered the numbers, some of which are supplied by the Netanyahu administration, by arguing that the type and size of centrifuges are no less important than the number when it comes to enriching uranium.

President Barack Obama thinks that he can negotiate a deal that will keep Iran from making a nuclear weapon for two decades. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Iran simply is buying time, cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, and that any deal to which it agrees will be a “bad deal.”

Obama supposedly wants to cut the number of centrifuges to approximately 5,000, which Morrell said is enough to produce a nuclear weapon.

PunditFact verified Morell’s claim with several experts, including Georgetown Associate Prof. Matthew Kroenig, who has little faith that Iran will honor any agreement; Arms Control Association official Daryl Kimball; David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security; and Harvard Prof. Matthew Bunn. Bunn told PunditFact:

People think surely you must need a bigger enrichment system to make 90 percent enriched material for bombs than to make 4-5 percent enriched material for power reactors. But exactly the opposite is true. A nuclear reactor, which Iran claims it is building for peaceful purposes, requires tons of uranium. A nuclear bomb can be produced with only 50 pounds of highly enriched uranium.

Bunn explained that producing low-grade uranium makes it possible to produce the enriched stuff, even though it is harder.

That is why Netanyahu told the United Nations three years ago Iran must be allowed zero percent uranium. Once Iran has 5 percent grade uranium, “you’ve already done more than 2/3 of the work of going all the way to 90 percent U-235 for weapons,”

Bunn said. “So the amount of work needed to make bomb material is only a modest amount more per kilogram, and the number of kilograms you need for bombs is 1,000 times less.”

Kimball is more dovish than Kroenig and thinks that since it would take Iran a year to produce enough enriched uranium for one bomb, “That would give you enough time to detect that activity.”

That means the deal, if one is made, comes down to inspections, something which Iran has circumvented for years. Either it allows inspections after removing evidence that its nuclear development is aimed at building a nuclear weapon, or it simply allows them after it has moved its operations to another unknown facility.

The National Coalition of Resistance of Iran insists that the Iranian regime has systematically lied to United Nations nuclear inspectors and has built and is running a secret “Lavizan-3″ underground enrichment operation near Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a report last week that was obtained by Reuters and the Associated Press, stated that Iran is living up to its commitment to reduce enrichment activities but did not erase suspicions that it is carrying out research for making a nuclear bomb. The IAEA report said:

Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures.

Obama apparently thinks Iran can be trusted, and that is why he is so incensed that Netanyahu is trying to convince Americans that the president is letting himself be conned – again.

Obama Plotting to Undermine Netanyahu’s Speech in Congress

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

President Barack Obama is gearing up for a publicity blitz to undermine Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States and speech in Congress March 3, the Associated Press reported Friday evening.

The president’s advisers apparently have rejected an idea that Obama rebut Prime Minister’s speech that willow focus on the Iranian nuclear threat and the president’s softball approach towards Tehran.  A rebuttal could work in favor of Netanyahu, giving him press coverage that Obama wants to be negative. Obama might have a tough time proving that Netanyahu’s analysis is wrong.

The president has said he won’t meet Netanyahu because it is so close to elections in Israel that a meeting would be considered as interference in favor of him.

But interference is at the top of the agenda of the White House, which has made no secret that it would love to see an Israeli center-left coalition that endorses the “peace process” that even the Palestinian Authority has rejected but which remains has become a religious rite for Washington’s foreign policy gurus and their enthusiasts in Israel.

The Obama administration’s most obvious snubs of Netanyahu are its directing senior officials not to attend the speech and, so far, it’s not scheduling a leading name to speak at the annual AIPAC conference, which Netanyahu will address and which traditionally has been a political Super Bowl for Republican and Democratic candidates to outsmart each other in proving how much they love Israel.

The second-guessing is that President Obama will fulfill his political obligation by sending a third-level politician to speak. In 2012, the president address AIPAC but that was the year he was running for re-election. Biden appeared in 2013, and last year Kerry spoke.

Secretary of State John Kerry will be out of the country when Netanyahu speaks, but he hasn’t yet figured where to go. Ditto for Vice President Joe Biden, who will dutifully ditch his usual role of attending joint session of Congress, especially when a foreign leader is speaking.

Obama’s advisers have other tricks up their sleeves, according to the Associated Press.

Senior security officials might pop up on Sunday television news programs

The more that Obama can show that his relationship with the Netanyahu is bitter cold, the more the Herzog-Livni duo, which dubs their new merged parties as the “Zionist Camp, can win headlines by the eager Israeli establishment media that has gleefully sponsored the “Dump Bibi” campaign.

Ayatollah Khamenei Sends Secret ‘Love Letter’ to Obama

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Iranian  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sent a “secret letter” in response to President Barack Obama’s letter on its nuclear program and suggested Iran can be an American ally n the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).

Obama sent Khamenei a letter last October concerning languishing negotiations to restrict and inspect Iran’s nuclear development, which it insists is for peaceful purposes and which virtually everyone else except Russia, Syria and China admit is to obtain a nuclear warhead and aim it at Israel.

The American-led war on the ISIS has given Khamenei an opportunity to reply to the letter with an overture to help Washington defeat the terrorist army that controls large parts of Syria and Iraq and is recruiting eager jihadists throughout the world.

Khamenei’s letter was “respectful” but non-committal, The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting a diplomat.

Judging from Khamenei’s comments, he is not about to cave in to Western demands but is using as bait Iran’s fear of the ISIS. He knows, better than most Western leaders, that if the ISIS takes control of Iraq and Syria, Jordan is next in line, followed by other Middle East countries, including Iran.

Israel also would like to see the ISIS disappear, but Khamenei hasn’t sent any love letters to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, probably because the Prime Minister has not courted him.

Iran Wins 7 Month Reprieve, Nuclear Talks Extended

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Iran won a seven month reprieve Monday after stonewalling major world powers over ending its uranium enrichment program.

Iranian negotiators said it would be “impossible” to reach an agreement by November 24. This, after months of coy evasions about ways the Islamic Republic might comply with international demands to curtail its nuclear development activities.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his nation on Monday negotiators “achieved a significant victory” and that “negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later.” In a nationwide broadcast Monday evening, Rouhani said that many gaps that remained between the two sides had “been eliminated.”

He expanded on the talks, saying, “One phase is about the behind-the-curtain issues, where ideas are made closer and talks [really] take place. In this phase there has been good progress.

“The other phase is when those agreements are put on paper and turn into a final, ultimate deal in writing. We still have some distance to go in this second phase,” he admitted.

The new deadline for negotiations to wrap up is actually a two-stage runoff sort of deal. It involves first a decision to be made about what actually “needs to be done” — that’s by March 1 — and then a written agreement on whether Iran will actually do it — with that deadline to follow four months later, according to a report published by the Associated Press.

“If we can do it sooner, we want to do it sooner,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in a follow-up briefing on Monday. “These talks are not going to get easier just because we extended them. They’re tough. They’ve been tough. And they’re going to stay tough.”

Kerry said world powers could not continue to carry on talks with Iran forever, but that it was not yet time to walk away. “In these last days in Vienna we made real and substantial progress and we have seen new ideas surface,” he said.

In the meantime, fortunately, the international community has not agreed to reduce sanctions on Iran as long as no agreement has been reached – a point over which Israel had been deeply worried.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing Monday in an apparent response to both Israel and Congressional lawmakers that imposing fresh sanctions on Iran could be counterproductive.

“The president has also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal,” Earnest said, in an echo of words used in a statement made earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “But we do believe that enough progress has been made to warrant giving the Iranian regime more time to answer the international community’s concerns about their nuclear program — and to put in place a protocol for continuing to assure the international community about their compliance with these agreements.”

Senior Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill don’t necessarily agree, however. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte issued a joint statement on the matter, saying they view Iran’s insistence on uranium enrichment as problematic — and a “bad deal” with Tehran as no less than a prelude to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

“We believe this latest extension of talks should be coupled with increased sanctions and a requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval,” they said.

Senator Bob Corker, the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress should weigh in before any final agreement is inked with Iran. He also warned lawmakers to begin preparing a “Plan B,” just in case the talks fail.

Will the ‘Nuclear Deal’ Stop Iran or Just Enrich It?

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

It’s being called “the nuclear deal,” and I wonder if it’s going to last long.

(Reuters) – Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement early on Sunday to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a first step towards resolving a dangerous decade-old standoff.

The deal between the Islamic state and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations.

“We have reached an agreement,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on his Twitter feed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also confirmed the deal. Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of the accord, a Western diplomat said. No other details of the agreement were immediately available.

All I can say is that it looks good for Iran, but I wonder if it’s good for the world.

One of the phrases in the Reuters article, on which most news sites are basing their reports, that makes me nervous is this which I’ve put in bold and italics:

The talks were aimed at finding a package of confidence-building steps* to ease decades of tensions and banish the specter of a Middle East war over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.

The idea of sanctions should be to do the opposite, put an aggressive country in its place, not reward it and certainly not build up its already over-inflated confidence.

This is the twenty-first century version of “The Mouse That Roared.”  In this modern version, it isn’t a poor backward country that inexplicably and unintentionally defeats the world power in search of a “Marshall Plan” of foreign aid, a wealthy aggressive country just threatens the world with its nuclear weapons development and gets lots of financial gifts from world powers.  We’re all supposed to trust a country that has never been honest.

The party-like atmosphere, diplomats willing and wanting to make a deal no matter the cost and quality, remind me of those who rush to get married, because they want to have a wedding, which is a sure-fire recipe for divorce.

Israel says the deal being offered would give Iran more time to master nuclear technology and amass potential bomb fuel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local media in Moscow that Iran was essentially given an “unbelievable Christmas present – the capacity to maintain this (nuclear) breakout capability for practically no concessions at all”.

It’s obvious that Israeli warnings have been ignored, and Israel will be threatened by the countries that negotiated the “deal” against doing anything to endanger it.

A lesson Israel should learn from all this is that being nice, reasonable and willing to compromise will get you nothing from the world, just scorn.  We’d be treated much, much better if we would just stop being Mr. Nice Guy and just do what’s best for us, our security and our future!

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