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August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Statement by President Obama on First Step Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community. So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged. I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall. Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister. And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.

Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.

While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb. Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.

Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution. We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy. But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.

In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.

If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect. If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.

Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today. Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress. However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.

Iran Owes Terror Victims Billions of Dollars, Says Activist Lawyer

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

An Israeli lawyer who has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims has asked Obama administration officials why they are discussing letting Iran off the hook on sanctions while it owes American relatives colossal sums of money.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads the Israel Law Center, has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims in lawsuits against the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organization as well as banks and other agencies that aid terrorists or act as a pipeline for funds for them.

She wrote Under Secretary Wendy Sherman last month, “Iran must not be allowed under any circumstances to avoid making payment of reparations and due compensations to the families of those whose lives they have destroyed through terrorism…and through the terror organizations it supports: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.”

In a blog posted this past week on The Hill website based in Washington, Darshan-Leitner noted that Sherman did not respond, and she added, “As a result of lawsuits taken by American victims of terror in U.S. courts, the Iranian regime currently owes billions of dollars from decades of terrorist activity resulting in dozens of victims and severed families. This debt has yet to be recognized or paid by the Iranian government with no sign of an intention to do so.”

She called on Congress to ensure that the U.S. government is working to keep the interests of the terror victims’ families on the table.

Darshan-Leitner pointed out that when George W. Bush was President, he conditioned repealing of any sanctions against Libya on payment of reparations to the victims of Libyan terror. “This move resulted in the payment of $1.5 billion dollars to the victims’ families,” she wrote.

On the other hand, Bush also removed North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 2008, without compensation being paid to American families, she added.

“We fear this lack of response not only portends a potential Iranian exemption from paying reparations and giving due compensation to families affected by terror in return for normalization of relations, but that it also signals a softening of Sherman’s position on the proliferation of terrorist activity and most significantly, creates difficult implications for the United States’ reputation as a pillar of justice in the war on terror,” according to Darshan-Leitner.

Her blog continued, “As lawyers for American, Canadian and Israeli victims of Iranian terror, we call on Congress to take action and place a check on Under Secretary Sherman in this current round of negotiations… We call on all members of Congress to ensure that victims of terror are not forgotten and to help make the Iranian regime provide the proper reparations and due compensation for the innocent lives taken at the hands of terrorist activities and not to gain a free pass in the name of diplomatic maneuverings.”

Iran Unveils Drone that Can Reach Israel – or Is It Photoshop?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Iran announced on Monday it has manufactured a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can reach Israel and can carry two 330-pound bombs.

That really sounds scary. It conjures up a scene of a drone infiltrating Israel with two small nuclear bombs that can annihilate the country and bring an Islamic peace to the world. The threat, of course, is intended to strike fear into the hearts of Washington and Jerusalem, who now are expected to shiver in their boots and say “yes” to whatever Iran wants.

There is no proof that this new drone does not exist. Nor is there proof that is does exist.

Let’s assume for a minute the “Fotros” drone really does have a range of 620 miles.

Dr. Eldad Pardo, a Hebrew University expert on Iran, told The Jewish Press Monday, “It is one thing to make a drone that can reach Israel, but it is another thing to have the technological capability to do something with it.”

While not pooh-poohing Iran’s technological ability, Dr. Pardo said a drone needs highly sophisticated electronic systems to be able to do any damage.

He noted, “The drone looks very similar to others. We will have to wait for a few days and see if anyone notices something that would indicate it is a ruse.”

Iran bragged that the new drone “is equipped with state-of-the-art light cameras for reconnaissance.”

Its official media stated, “In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in its defense sector and has attained self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and systems.”

Dr. Pardo pointed out that Iran also is capable of using Photoshop.

Let’s take a look at some of Iran’s amazing achievements, some of which have been announced one after the other in the past three years.

Most of the regime’s announcements came at a convenient time when it was necessary to counter Israeli and Israeli threats.

Last month, Iran unveiled a supposed suicide combat drone. It did not take long for even amateurs to notice that the nose and tail appeared to be held together by duct tape.

Last January, Iran said it sent a monkey into space but provided no details of when and where the launch took place, if it ever did.

“Before” and “after” flight pictures clearly showed different monkeys. Iran’s Propaganda Ministry quickly came up with an explanation. Someone in its media department simply mixed up a picture of a monkey two years, ago.

How’s that for quick thinking?

Two years ago, Iran claimed it launched a rocket with a mouse, a turtle and worms. Nothing has been heard about that achievement since then, but it would be interesting to know how everyone got along during the ride.

Dr. Pardo said that last November, Iran boasted of a UAV that had the capacity to take off vertically, “but they took the picture from a journal,” he told The Jewish Press. The image of the supposed vertical take-off drone the image looks almost identical to a picture of a drone from a university in Japan.

This past February, Iran released photos of a brand-new stealth fighter, a remarkable feat – until it became clear that it  was only three-quarters of the size of a plane. Furthermore, a photo showed the “stealth fighter” flying over a mountain at the same angle of a stock photo.

In 2008, the media arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards released a photo of four missiles being launched. It was an amazing accomplishment. One of the rockets, including its exhaust trail, was exactly like another one of the rockets. If its rocket-producing capability is like its Photoshop capability, Iran really needs a new Propaganda Minister.

In November 2011, Iranian media announced is added two new submarines to its fleet. The following month, the official Fars (or is it Farce?) News Agency reported, “ The Iranian Navy plans to test-fire a mid-range surface-to-air missile,…  the first time that such a missile is launched from navy vessels.”

The same month – it seems the Propaganda Ministry was working overtime – Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi “announced Iran’s high capabilities in building UAVs, and said the country is mass-producing new types of combat drones.” Fars reported. He also said Iran has “already produced several types of combat drones, as well, and we are now mass-producing a number of them.”

Obama is Losing Israelis’ Back

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The Obama administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear threat has cost President Barack Obama the support of Israelis, who usually give Washington the benefit of the doubt.

A Smith survey released Thursday revealed that 55 percent of the respondents said they do not count on the United States to “take care of its [Israel’s’ security in negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue.”

Only one third of the respondents said they “count on” the Obama administration.

The distrust of Washington was further highlighted by answers to the question, “Do you think the U.S. government gave or did not give Netanyahu  a reliable and accurate picture of the negotiations with Iran?”

Only 24 percent replied in the positive and that an accurate picture was given, while 42 percent responded in the negative. The others had no opinion.

Regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the U.S. government, 40 percent said it was justified and only 9 percent said it was not justified and was excessive. Another 22 percent said it was justified but excessive.

Thursday morning, Israel’s Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan, a senior and ideological Likud member, railed against  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for complaining to senators on Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is arguing against a deal with Iran before it is concluded. Erdan, said here, “I have not heard such a claim for many years.”

Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party that is part of the Netanyahu coalition government, is in Washington to lobby against easing sanctions on Iran.

Kerry, who told senators on Wednesday to “stop listening to the Israelis,” may also have been referring to Bennett, whose presence in Washington is far from applauded by President Barack Obama.

Bennett posted on his Facebook page a letter he sent to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization and the Russian Jewish Congress.

“When Iran launches a nuclear missile at Rome or Tel Aviv, it will have happened only because a Bad Deal was made during these defining moments,” Bennett wrote. “The free world stands before a fork in the road with a clear choice: Either stand strong and insist Iran dismantles its nuclear-weapons program, or surrender, cave in and allow Iran to retain its 18,500 centrifuges.”

Even the liberal ADL has turned its back on the Obama administration, after having agreed  not to lobby for or against sanctions. AIPAC immediately refused a National Security Council request to suspend lobbying against sanctions.

ADL Director David Harris wrote in Haaretz this week that while he understands President Obama’s concern that new sanctions could disrupt talks with Iran, “It is the ever-toughening sanctions that got Iran to negotiate in the first place; there needs to be a reminder that things will get still worse for Tehran if nothing changes soon on the ground.

“Elaborate efforts on Iran’s part to buy time — with Tehran’s mastery of modulated feints, nods, winks, and hints of openness — just won’t wash.

Home Front Minister ‘Astounded’ by Kerry’s Anti-Israel Remarks

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Home Front Defense and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday morning he was “astounded” at  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim at a Senate committee session Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is arguing against a deal with Iran before it is concluded.

“I have not heard such a claim for many years,” Erdan told  a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). He explained that Iran “is a country that wants to destroy Israel. What do they expect from an Israeli prime minister? Not to cry out when the knife is in the hand, but only when it is across our throat?

“It is only thanks to the discussion about the terms being discussed in Geneva, behind closed doors, that we have received an additional delay of several days and perhaps even an improvement in the terms of the agreement.”

Netanyahu Gives Three Choices: War, a Bad Deal or Sanctions

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Wednesday there are three choices on dealing with the Iranian threat – a bad deal, war or sanctions.

“I would even say that a bad deal is liable to lead to the second, undesired, result,” he added. “There is no reason to submit to Iranian diktat; neither is there any reason to be hasty. “

The Prime Minister added, “Iran is under very harsh economic pressure and the advantage is with those applying the pressure. It is possible to achieve a good deal to dismantle Iran’s military nuclear capability. This cannot be achieved by the proposal now being discussed in Geneva. That proposal would make a gaping hole in the sanctions through which the air could escape from the pressure of the sanctions.

“Iran is being asked to do very little. All of its centrifuges would be left intact; not even one centrifuge would be dismantled and the underground facilities would also remain. This is not necessary because it is possible to continue the pressure.”

 

Guardian’s Cartoon of Powerful Jews Manipulating Western Leaders

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Last November we posted about a political cartoon at the Guardian by Steve Bell depicting British foreign minister William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Binyamin Netanyahu, in the context of expressions of support by these leaders during the war in Gaza.  Bell’s image evoked the canard of powerful Jews controlling western politicians for their own nefarious purposes and was hauntingly similar to more explicitly antisemitic cartoons routinely found in Arab and Islamist world.

The Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, addressed the row a couple of weeks later, and actually rebuked Bell for ‘unintentionally’ using the visual language of antisemitic stereotypes.

While such cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than lengthy essays, the damage done by such toxic ideas regarding ‘Jewish control’, in any form, should be taken seriously.  The Guardian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in news reports and commentaries, often includes passages with the unmistakable  suggestion that Israel (and the pro-Israeli lobby) wields enormous power over ineffectual Western leaders – a theme present in a report by Harriet Sherwood and Julian Borger titled ‘Iran nuclear programme deal in danger of unravelling’, Nov. 11.  The story centered on nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) which ultimately unraveled largely due to concerns that the agreement would have eased sanctions on Iran without requiring that it cease enriching uranium.

The report by Sherwood and Borger included the following:

In a bid to contain the danger, the lead US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, flew straight from the talks in Geneva to Israel to reassure Binyamin Netanyahu’s government that the intended deal would not harm his country’s national interests.

The hastily arranged trip represented an acknowledgement of Netanyahu’s power to block a deal through his influence in the US Congress and in Europe. Egged on by the Israelis, the US Senate is poised to pass new sanctions that threaten to derail the talks before they get to their planned next round in 10 days’ time.

More immediately, Netanyahu demonstrated over the weekend that he could sway the Geneva talks from the inside through his relationship with Paris.

These passages of course strongly suggest that US congressional leaders take their marching orders from Jerusalem and that the French government’s position was not motivated by what it saw as its own national interests but, rather, as a result of the influence of the Israeli prime minister.

However, the deal was fatally flawed, according to many experts, due in part because it would have fallen short of the requirements in six resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council over the years which called on Iran to suspend ALL uranium enrichment – resolutions passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, rendering them binding under international law.

As Adam Chandler observed in an essay published at Tablet about the superficial analysis by Sherwood and Borger:

[Their argument] smacks of that paranoid, evergreen charge that all wars and international campaigns are waged on behalf of Israel, a claim that devolves from Israel into “the Jews” as it goes through portal after conspiratorial portal.

You don’t even need to believe that antisemitism is at play to nonetheless be contemptuous of the extraordinary myopia displayed in the Guardian report.  As Walter Russell Mead observed recently about the broader intellectual dynamic which unites antisemitism with anti-Zionism:

Weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.

Guardian “journalists” may fancy themselves sophisticated, erudite and worldly, but their frequent ‘Zionist root cause’ explanations betray both their ideological bias and the extraordinarily facile nature of their reasoning.

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