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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Obama Administration, VP Joe Biden Escalates Spat Over Senate Letter to Iran

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The Obama administration is escalating its fiery spat over an open letter sent by a group of senators to Iran: this time Vice President Joe Biden, who spent 30 years as a leading senator in the Congress, hit back hard in response.

“The letter sent on March 9th by 47 Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere,” Biden said in a statement late Monday.

The letter warned that any deal signed by the president can be nullified during the next administration. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” the senators pointed out.

“This letter, in the guise of a Constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States,” Biden contended.

“Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safe or stronger,” he said.

“In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country-much less a longtime foreign adversary – that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them,” Biden wrote.

“This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments – a message that is as false as it is dangerous.”

“The decision to undercut our president and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine.”

Obama Accuses GOP Senators of ‘Common Cause with Iran Hardliners’

Monday, March 9th, 2015

President Barack Obama responded Monday to an open letter sent to Iran by 47 Republican Senators to Iran, about the limitations of any agreement signed by his administration with Tehran acquiescing to a nuclear development program the Congress may not like.

Obama accused the senators — who included three presidential candidates — of aligning with Iranian hardliners.

The letter said that any such agreement signed by the president or Secretary of State John Kerry might only last as long as Obama remains in office because it is formatted as an “executive agreement.”

“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition,” Obama told reporters in a brief news conference in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon.

Asked what might happen following any agreement signed by the U.S. and world powers if Congress does not like the deal, the president replied, “If we do (sign) then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people.”

47 GOP Senators Send Open Letter to Iran

Monday, March 9th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama may sign a 10-year deal with Iran this month, but if the Congress has its way, that agreement won’t be worth the paper it’s written on, once Obama is out of office.

All 47 Republican senators banded together to send an open letter about the deal to Iran this week. The letter warned that nation’s leadership that any nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration without Congressional support would be a “mere executive agreement.”

As such, the letter went on, “the next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded that the “letter is a continuation of a partisan strategy” and said the lawmakers were “interfering in a delicate moment” in the talks, which are due to resume on March 15. The deadline for an agreement is March 31.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) spoke with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer on Monday and explained that the letter to Iran simply meant, “If this is a bad deal, it will be revisited. We are going to represent the views of the American people.

“Iran has said it does not understand our governmental system. This is a civics lesson for Iran, and I think that’s perfectly appropriate… This just says that the deal better represent U.S. interests as well as Iran interests… If it’s a bad deal, then there will be repercussions.”

The move was organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton, but signed by the Senate’s entire Republican party leadership, as well as three presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

Because the Congress has been blocked from having any role to play in the negotiating process, lawmakers are very frustrated. As long as the agreement does not have to be ratified by Congress, the Secretary of State or the president can sign the document at the executive branch level, leaving the legislative branch with no role.

Dermer: ‘When Israelis and Arabs Are on Same Page, People Should Pay Attention’

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, warned a cable news interviewer on Sunday that it pays to pay attention “when Israelis and Arabs are on the same page” about the threat to the region presented by Iran. Dermer was speaking to CNN about last week’s speech to the U.S. Congress by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which ruffled more than a few feathers in the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, Israel’s military intelligence chief is slated to visit the United States this week. Major-General Hertzi HaLevy is scheduled to meet with U.S. defense officials, although it is not clear whether he will also meet with newly-appointed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. HaLevy, who was appointed in September, will also attend a fundraiser for Israel. The visit has been described as routine.

Last week Netanyahu warned lawmakers about the dangers to Israel from the deal being negotiated by the U.S. and world powers with Tehran over its nuclear development program.

On Sunday, CNN‘s Michael Smerconish interviewed Dermer on the State of the Union program about reaction to the prime minister’s speech. “Well, hindsight is always 20/20 and we regret very much that there was a perception, a partisanship before the speech,” Dermer said.

“That was the last thing we wanted to do was inject Israel into your partisan debate. Israel has always been above politics in the United States and it’s important for the U.S./Israeli alliance that it remained above politics and the prime minister made that clear in his speech on Tuesday.”

Dermer underlined, however, that the prime minister meant what he said when he told Congressional lawmakers that Israel is prepared to stand alone if necessary:

“What he is saying is that Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. We have in Iran a regime that threatens Israel with annihilation and that works every day in order to destroy Israel.

“They have surrounded Israel with three terror tentacles in the north in Lebanon through Hezbollah, on the Syrian Golan. They have maybe a couple of thousand of Iranians who are there now through Hamas and Islamic jihad in Gaza.

“So, you have these three terror tentacles around Israel and Iran is vowing to annihilate Israel and we cannot accept the situation where Iran would develop a nuclear weapon to achieve that goal.

“But understand it’s not just a threat to Israel, it’s a threat to the region and it’s a threat to the world,” Dermer pointed out.

“What’s interesting, Michael, is that Israelis and Arabs are on exactly the same page when it comes to the Iranian issue. And when Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention. That happens about once a century.”

Foreign Ministers ‘Don’t See Need to Reach Iran Deal Forthwith’

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Foreign ministers from the world powers involved in the U.S.-led talks with Iran said over the weekend they do not see the need to reach a deal “forthwith,” according to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Several of the ministers said following Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this past week that they will wait “until the right agreement is found,” the prime minister said. He added, “I hope that these words will find tangible expression.

“The right agreement is one that links between the lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the cessation of Iran’s terrorist actions around the world and, of course, its threats to annihilate Israel. The right agreement is one that extends by years Iran’s breakout time to achieve a bomb, given the feasibility of violating the agreement,” Netanyahu said.

“As of now, the deal being formulated between Iran and the major powers will give Iran a breakout time of one year or less,” he continued. “This assessment is based on the State of Israel’s professional intelligence elements, which delivered this assessment to the major powers.

“We will continue to take all possible action to deny the largest terrorist state in the world the ability to produce the most dangerous weapon in the world, a weapon which is aimed, first and foremost, against us,” Netanyahu said.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, told American news media Sunday morning, “If we cannot verify that they are not going to achieve a nuclear weapon…then we would walk away.”

However, not only does Israel’s prime minister have his doubts about that, but forme US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton also wonders how committed the Obama administration is to that plan.

“There’s nothing in this deal on the weaponization and ballistic missile aspect of this program,” Bolton said.

“Whatever the Iranians see and agree to, Congress should insist they and the American people should see and agree to,” Bolton told Fox News.

“No secrets… They are still state sponsors of terrorism… We are giving legitimacy to the regime. We are endangering our allies, we are endangering Israel. What else could be wrong with this deal?” Bolton added.

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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