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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear proliferation’

Obama Lacks Public Support for Nuclear Deal with Iran

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

American opinion is totally skewed on the agreement. A plurality of 43 percent support the agreement, a strong majority of 59 percent is “not so confident” or “not confident at all” that the deal will prevent Iran from being armed with a nuclear weapon, and 64 percent lean toward favoring a military attack on Iran if it cheats on the deal.

Only 23% of Americans have some confidence that “ObamaDeal” will stop the Islamic Republic from getting its hands on a weapon, according to a YouGov poll.

The raw statistics appear to encourage the agreement’s Congressional opponents, who are in a political war against President Barack Obama’s hard-sell to thwart a veto-proof majority that could reject the agreement.

In President Obama’s favor is that domestic policy outranks the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran as a burning issue in the hearts and minds of Americans.

If there is one foreign policy that bothers Americans it is the Islamic State (ISIS). The sight of ISIS beheadings is enough shock some Americans to death, but the concept of Iran having a nuclear weapon is too far in the distant, both in terms of mileage and time, for it to frighten anyone.

Few Americans are old enough to remember Pearl Harbor, when Japan attacked Hawaii.

Second Take on Iran by AIPAC: Congress Must Stop this Bad Deal

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Following the announcement of the Iran- P5+1 nuclear deal, JewishPress.com summarized the major Jewish American organizations’ positions on the Iran deal. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee initial statement was rather pareve, but today’s statement, based on a fuller review of the document, is a clear thumbs down and call to action.

AIPAC has concluded that the deal falls short on all five areas it had concluded were critical: inspections, possible military dimensions, sanctions, duration and dismantlement.

The deal, AIPAC told its membership, “would facilitate rather than prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.”

AIPAC concluded that the deal would further destabilize the Middle East, including encouraging an arms race in the region.

In contradiction to what the negotiators and President Obama told the nation, AIPAC insisted that the alternative to the proposed deal is not war.

Calling on its members to inform their legislative representatives, AIPAC said the agreement must be rejected and sanctions on Iran must be maintained while efforts are made to negotiate “a better deal that will truly close off all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Guess What Each of the US Jewish Organizations Are Saying About the Iran Deal

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

We know the Iran deal is bad. How bad it is is we all may be spending the rest of our lives finding out. That is, unless enough members of Congress are able to inject sufficient spine-strengthening and -straightening serum to override President Barack Obama’s already promised veto of any effort to derail the deal.

So let’s take a stroll through the playground of American Jewish organizations and see what they have to say about the proposed deal which allows many of the things American leaders swore would not be permitted and forbids many of the things that were promised would be included.

First, let’s lay out the general parameters of the deal, as they are currently understood, based on analyses of the 159 page document.

According to the Iranians themselves, the deal blesses Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear programs and will lift sanctions from Iran through a new UN Security Council resolution. It allows all of Iran’s nuclear installations and sites to continue, none of them will be dismantled. Plus, research and development on key and advanced centrifuges will continue.

There will be no “anywhere, anytime” inspections. Instead, there will be a mechanism in place that will ensure that at least 24 days elapses before inspectors can visit any facility which Iran decides it doesn’t want visited.

And although the U.S. administration and its representatives repeatedly insisted that the nuclear program deal would have no impact on any other sanctions imposed against Iran, guess what? It does.

The P5+1 have agreed to lift the arms embargo against Iran within five years, and the embargo on missile sales will be lifted within eight years. Of course, the unfreezing of between $100 and 150 billion is perhaps the most frightening immediate effect of the deal. As with the nuclear and military sites, there will be no transparency to ensure that the money does not get funneled into Iran’s other favorite activity: financing global terrorism, especially murderous terrorism directed at Israel.

Most of the major Jewish organizations either blasted the agreement with Iran or punted, assuming a wait and see stance. However, one “pro-Israel, pro-peace” outfit was thrilled with the deal. More on that in the body of the article.

Here they are, summaries of the statements on the Iran deal issued by American Jewish organizations.In alphabetical order.

The Anti-Defamation League unhappy

Usually known for a more even-keeled approach to most administration ventures, the ADL is highly critical of the Iran deal. The ADL leadership said they were “deeply disappointed by the terms of the final deal with Iran” which “seems to fall far short of the President’s objective of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.” The ADL leadership praised the administration’s negotiators for sticking to it for so long and for appearing to put off Iran’s ability to become a nuclear state in the short term, but it fails to prevent it for the long term.

The ADL further blasted the “front-end loaded infusion of billions of dollars in sanctions relief [which] will finance Iran’s ongoing global campaign of terror against Israel and other U.S. allies, and be used to further exert its influence across the Middle East, thereby harming U.S. interests.”

While stopping short of calling on Congress to do its best to derail the job, the ADL leadership took the time to urge those debating the matter to do so in a civil and respectful manner.  Some jaded commentators might wonder whether such admonishments are ladled out when the plan of someone considered to be right wing is under attack.

Americans for a Safe Israel angry

Not surprisingly, the small, New York-based, staunchly Zionist organization AFSI is unalterably opposed to the Iran deal. As Helen Freedman, AFSI’s long-time executive director wrote regarding the deal crafted by Obama and Kerry, “there was never any doubt in our minds that this deceitful duo would cross all the red lines and give Iran everything it demands-  and more. Our ‘leaders’ even made it difficult for Congress to do anything to Stop Iran by insisting this is not a treaty, only a ‘deal.’ Only those who applaud the naked emperor will celebrate this travesty.”

American Israel Public Affairs Committee worried

AIPAC’s deep affinity for diplomacy and close connections with the administration as well as members of Congress puts the organization in a bit of a bind. Its statement reflects that dilemma. AIPAC had previously outlined several requirements any deal with Iran had to meet. Those included:”anywhere, anytime” inspections – that ain’t happening; sanctions relief should only come after Iran satisfies all its commitments – nope; any deal had to prevent Iran from the ability to acquire nuclear weapons for decades – not that either; and Iran had to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure – nope again.

“We are deeply concerned based on initial reports that this proposed agreement may not meet these requirements, and thereby would fail to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.” Deeply concerned? Even the President’s talking points make clear that AIPAC’s red lines have not been met.

AIPAC, as did several of the other organizations, signaled that it would continue to review the deal and issue updates on its position.

American Jewish Committee worried

The AJC spent the first third of its statement praising the administration’s negotiators and leadership for its attempt to reach an accord. AJC’s executive director David Harris then called on Congress to ” thoroughly review, debate, and, ultimately, vote it up or down.” Towards the end of the statement, Harris finally gets around to venturing an opinion about the deal. He said that the nuclear deal does not appear to address certain “extremely troubling aspects of Iranian behavior.” He then lists out five different concerns of the AJC regarding the deal, including its reign of terror in the Middle East and its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program (which cannot have a peaceful purpose), and its systematic repression of human rights.

But rather than urging its members to take any particular action, the AJC director concludes his statement by noting that however “Congress decides to vote on the nuclear deal,” Harris concluded, “the need for vigilance regarding Iran will not for a single moment be diminished.”

Endowment for Middle East Truth angry

EMET expressed “profound disappointment” that the deal with Iran is “more deplorable than we had even anticipated. Of particular concern to EMET is that the “Administration has caved on almost every one of its initial criteria. It also pointed out that the Iranian Ayatollah maintained all of his red lines, even those which are contrary to UN resolutions.”

Sarah Stern, the president and founder of EMET said, “we all understand and appreciate that Americans are not eager for armed conflict, but willfully blinding ourselves to the reality of a bad deal does not prevent war.” EMET blasted the deal as a “diplomatic disaster of historic proportions.”

The Israel Project unhappy

TIP’s president, Josh Block, said of the deal with Iran that it “is a realization of the deepest fears and the most dire predictions of skeptics who have, for two years, been warning against exactly this outcome – a bad deal that enriches this tyrannical regime and fails to strip Iran of nuclear weapons capability.” TIP unequivocally called on Congress to reject “this bad deal.” The Israel Project has been providing nearly daily, and extremely detailed, updates and analyses of the negotiations for many months, and is considered extremely knowledgeable regarding both the process and the details of the agreement as it has evolved.

J Street  happy

J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami once described his nascent organization as “President Obama’s blocking back.” It apparently still sees itself that way. While hedging its bets a tiny bit by calling the deal “complex and multi-faceted,” J Street takes President Obama at his word and concludes that the deal “appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.” Tellingly, the statement does not mention what those criteria are.

Every other organization that praised the negotiators did so for their efforts. Not J Street. J Street congratulated them for bringing the negotiations “to a successful conclusion.”

J Street mentioned the upcoming review of the deal by Congress, but sent its own thinly-veiled threat: Congress should be “mindful of the likely consequences of its rejection: a collapse of diplomacy and international sanctions as Iran pushes forward with a nuclear program unimpeded.”

In other words, unless Congress approves the deal, or fails to override the promised veto, J Street is telling its followers that the alternative will be an Iran with nuclear weapons. You can bet that is how they will couch their calls to supporters in the upcoming congressional review period.

Jewish Federations of North America hmmmm

The parent organization of the Jewish Federations and JCRCs was careful to thank the negotiators for their efforts and to express its support for diplomacy, but clearly signaled its discomfort with the way the deal has shaped up, given Iran’s terrorist history. The JFNA statement expresses its concern: “Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, its human rights violations and its aggressive threats toward neighboring countries – including Israel – make the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran untenable.”

But the JFNA resorted to mouthing the assurances that President Obama has been making – even while the facts regarding them have been changing – for nearly the entire period of the negotiations. The JFNA concluded its statement by urging Congress to give the accord its “utmost scrutiny.”

National Jewish Democratic Council can't talk

Perhaps not surprisingly, the NJDC takes absolutely no position on the content of the deal and does not state one word about it. Instead, the statement issued by the NJDC focuses on the process of deliberations going forward and the need “to take partisan politics completely out of this situation.” In fact, it preemptively takes those who oppose this deal to task for turning the Iran deal into a “wedge issue” which divides Jews. It appears the NJDC did not take the temperature of its erstwhile center and center-left Jewish organizational playmates, as virtually every one of them, and they all contain large numbers of Democrats, are highly critical of the deal.

Republican Jewish Coalition angry

The RJC called the agreement “a bad deal” because “it is not enforceable, verifiable or in America’s national security interest.” The group called on Congress to stop the deal or “the world will be less safe as the United States will remove sanctions on Iran, and in return, Iran will still pursue nuclear weapons.” The RJC called on all members of Congress to reject the deal.

Simon Wiesenthal Center worried

The Wiesenthal Center’s leadership said they are “deeply worried” about the deal which they said “confirms Iran as a threshold nuclear power” and that “will end economic sanctions against the Mullahocracy.” The SWC called on Congress to review the document carefully and to vote against it if it is as dangerous as it appears to be.

World Jewish Congress hmmmm

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, expressed strong skepticism about the Iran deal. He also mentioned the hard work of the negotiators but repeatedly stated that Tehran has a long history of misleading the world and that there is no reason to trust Iran over the implementation of the deal.

“I fear we may have entered into an agreement that revives the Iranian economy but which fails to stop this regime from developing nuclear weapons in the long terms, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire region and the world.” The WJC urged the international community to stand ready to reimplement sanctions immediately if Iran fails to meet its obligations under the agreement.

Zionist Organization of America angry

No surprises from the ZOA leadership on this issue. If they didn’t use a thesaurus to find every word that means bad to describe this deal, it is only because they have been using those words to describe this deal that way since its infancy.

The ZOA is “deeply horrified, but not surprised by the truly terrible nuclear agreement,” the statement begins. In a highly detailed recitation of how and why the deal is so bad, long-time ZOA president Mork Klein said that the nuclear agreement “is quite simply a catastrophe and a nightmare. It leaves the world standing at an abyss.”

In addition to decrying the lack of spontaneous inspections, the huge boatloads of cash to spend on its terrorist activities and subordinates and the egregiously antagonistic behavior of the Iranian leadership even over the past few days, Klein made another point.

“Two years ago, the Iranian economy was collapsing under the weight of sanctions. President Obama could have intensified pressure and international resolve to compel Iran to relinquish its nuclear program. He never even tried. Instead, he preemptively relieved the pressure on Iran by easing sanctions which enabled Iran to withstand every demand. As a result, we now stand on the precipice of an era of nuclear terror.”

The ZOA, as did several other organizations, urged Americans to call their elected federal representatives through the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202-224-3121) and urge them to oppose the nuclear deal.

****

While there are two outliers, it turns out the Iran deal is so bad that nearly every major American Jewish organization is, at minimum, extremely concerned about it. That’s quite a feat.

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.

Black Monday: Iran and P5+1 to Sign Deal

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

It’s all over except for the shouting and the crying, according to an Associated Press report that a deal with Iran has been completed and will be signed on Monday.

However, a senior State Dept. official maintained that “major issues remain to be resolved in these talks.”

AP’s Matt Lee, a veteran and highly reliable journalist, reported Sunday:

Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks are expected to reach a provisional agreement Sunday on a historic deal that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, diplomats told The Associated Press.

The two diplomats cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out Sunday afternoon and a formal agreement still awaits a review from the capitals of the seven nations at the talks. They said plans now are for the deal to be announced on Monday.

The regime’s PRESS TV headlined, “Iranian MPs hail nuclear negotiators’ resistance against US’ excessive demands.”

The legislators issued a statement that included a rejection of “any inspection of the Iranian military sites, interviews with Iranian scientists and imposing restrictions on the country’s nuclear research and development.”

The key issue of inspections will be examined with a microscope, especially by Congress, which will have 60 days to review a final agreement.

A deal will be bitter if not deadly pill for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to swallow, and Israel can be expected to hound Congressmen to try to torpedo it, which will not be simple.

President Barack Obama undoubtedly will dismiss as rhetoric for local consumption the belligerent sneers from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the United States is “the absolute embodiment of arrogance” and an enemy of Iran.

Politico reported last week it is “very unlikely” that Congress can kill the deal unless there is a full-scale rebellion by Democrats. Americans, already gearing up for next year’s Congressional and presidential elections, view the ISIS , the economy and immigration policies as more serious issues than a nuclear-armed Iran, which President Obama will claim won’t happen under the agreement.

Congress would have to come up with a solid majority, perhaps even a veto-proof two-thirds majority, in order to nullify the agreement. Ironically, it is the Arab countries that might be able to twist Congressmen’s arms against the deal.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Politico:

If the Arabs come out and say this is a bad deal, if AIPAC says this is a bad deal, if public opinion says we don’t trust this deal, then our Democratic colleagues will hopefully come forward to say, ‘We can do better.’

Report: Iran Deal Reached — on Sanctions Relief

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

A tentative deal on sanctions relief may have been reached between the six world powers and Iran negotiating in Vienna over Tehran’s nuclear development program.

According to a report by The Associated Press, the agreement will still require signatures by senior officials in Iran, as well as those of the U.S. and five other nations involved in the talks.

The most recent deadline set for conclusion of the talks is coming up in two more days: July 7. But that is also not a fixed date. Senior U.S. officials told reporters in Vienna that if necessary, negotiators will push past that deadline as well.

The current document under consideration outlines which sanctions will be lifted, when and how.

Despite recent proclamations by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisting that all sanctions be lifted at once, Iranian negotiators are quietly speaking a different language.

As centrifuges are disconnected, some sanctions will be lifted. As the country’s nuclear stockpile is reduced, more will be lifted. When the heavy water reactor in the city of Arak is converted to produce plutonium that is not weapons grade, then more sanctions will be lifted.

“The actual [sanctions] termination will happen on the date that Iran will have finished its work,” a senior Iranian official told The Wall Street Journal.

A determined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry carried on with meetings in Vienna on Saturday – July 4 – together with his counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, despite the American Independence Day holiday. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was likewise engaged in talks with his counterpart, Iranian atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi as well, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Yukiya Amano, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also told reporters in Vienna on Saturday that he had agreed to end an investigation into Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons research by the end of this year.

“With the cooperation from Iran I think we can issue a report by the end of the year on the assessment of the clarification of the issues related to possible military dimensions,” Amano said.

Since 2011, the IAEA has raised 12 sets of questions about Iran’s nuclear development program. Despite Tehran’s promises of “close cooperation” in November 2013, however, only two of the questions have ever been answered, and those only partially at that.

The Iranian government still refuses to allow IAEA inspectors to question key Iranian scientists. Nor will it allow visits to alleged nuclear sites.

It’s not clear how negotiators plan to bridge that gap to reach a deal that will allow sanctions relief for Iran, and security for the rest of the world.

Syria Asks IAEA for Help Converting Nuclear Reactor

Monday, June 8th, 2015

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has asked the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency for help with a nuclear reactor near Damascus, international media agencies reported Tuesday.

The UN agency is studying the Syrian request to help convert the reactor, which currently runs on highly-enriched uranium, into one that uses lower grade nuclear fuel.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano told reporters Monday that Syria has told the agency it would ship the higher-grade uranium abroad.

However, it is not clear where Syria would ship the higher-grade uranium — Iran is Syria’s closest ally – and neither is it clear what grade its uranium currently is.

Low enriched uranium is defined as that which is enriched to less than five percent of fissile purity. Weapons quality uranium is enriched above 20 percent but that which is used to fuel an atomic bomb is enriched to 90 percent.

Amano said the IAEA is studying the request and has yet to make a decision.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syria-asks-iaea-for-help-converting-nuclear-reactor/2015/06/08/

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