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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sergei Lavrov’

Iran Deal to Miss Fifth Deadline

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

The fifth deadline for a final deal with Iran over its nuclear program is about to pass without ceremony Tuesday night.

The European Union apparently is so flustered that it put George Orwell to shame with what must be the record for the most ridiculous DoubleThink sentence every uttered.

E.U. foreign policy and chief Federica Mogherini told reporters in Vienna:

We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline.

If the language of a final agreement parallels her statement, and if a final deal is as meaningless as the deadlines, we are in big, big trouble.

“The entire agreement right now is at the mercy of a miscalculation on either side,” International Crisis Group analyst Ali Vaez told Bloomberg News. “There won’t be a deal until the last minute, while each side waits for the other to blink first.”

Previous deadlines were November 2013, July 2104, March 2015 and June 30.

Deadlines have become meaningless. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a briefing, We are not observing artificial deadlines.”

Thursday July 9 is the sixth deadline. That is the date Congress imposed for a 30-day review of an agreement, if one is reached. If negotiating continues beyond that date, Congress then will have 60 days for a review, and each day will make it more difficult for President Barack Obama to fight off arguments against a “bad deal.”

Iran sounds like the Palestinian Authority, which balked every time it had a chance to achieve just about everything it wanted in the form of concessions from Israel.

Perhaps the next deadline will be January 20, 2017, when President Barack Obama leaves office.

 

 

Russia Steps Up in U.S.-led Nuclear Talks with Iran

Monday, July 6th, 2015

With a wide gap remaining between the delegation of world powers led by the United States and Iranian negotiators, the prospects for a nuclear deal look questionable with one more day till the July 7 deadline.

On Monday, July 6, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met separately in Vienna with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in an effort to break the deadlock.

Russia has been deeply involved in helping Iran with its nuclear technology development from the start. Moscow has helped Iran build a number of nuclear energy plants in the Islamic Republic, and has also sold Tehran a sophisticated surface-to-air anti-missile defense system as well.

“A mutual desire to find as soon as possible mutually acceptable solutions on disputed issues was expressed,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a cryptic statement released to media.

Iran, however, appears to still not be budging on its positions, with the deadline less than 24 hours away. An Iranian source told news agencies that ‘serious differences’ remained between the two sides.

“The ministerial meeting between Iran and the [six] world powers showed there are still serious differences,” a source close to the Iranian negotiating team told the Iranian state news agency IRNA. “But both sides are also serious about resolving the differences.”

Negotiators on both sides indicated they may stretch the deadline past July 7, as had been done with the June 30 deadline and the deadline prior to that.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing on Monday, “I wouldn’t set any expectations at this point… I would say that it’s certainly possible” that the “final, firm” deadline for the talks could once again “slip.”

What is even more likely is that Iran will continue to demand impossible concessions — and the world powers will be forced to decide whether they are willing to simply cave to Tehran, or find the strength to walk away from the table.

Israel Saved Obama’s Neck on Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Israel let President Barack Obama off the hook on which he hanged himself by saying he would bomb Syria because of Bashar Assad’s’ use of chemical weapons, former Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in his new book.

The man behind the covert plan was none other than Yuval Steinitz, who at the time was Minister of Intelligence. He also is one of the loudest hawks when it comes to warning that President Obama and the other P5+1 powers are in the midst of making a terrible if not lethal mistake by dealing with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Assad’s use of chemical weapons, a war crime – as if he were not guilty of others – was discovered in 2013.

President Obama had done everything possible to avoid getting directly involved in the war in Syria, where any result would be a bad result.

However, the use of chemical weapons was a red line President Obama could not ignore.

Obama threatened several times to bomb Syria, and after a month he suddenly changed course 180 degrees.

Oren said it was due to Steinitz, who with the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came up a plan for Assad to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile to Russia, Assad’s ally.

Bloomberg News reported that Oren wrote in his new book “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” to be launched next week but not yet released to the public, that Israel was not against an American aerial attack but was willing to help the president avoid it.

Steinitz was the source of the idea even if it was not a plan so much as an off-the-cuff remark that set off a domino chain reaction.

According to Oren, Steinitz mentioned the idea to the Russians, and then to the State Dept., which did not take him too seriously. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took it very seriously, and the plan quickly moved forward in the United States and United Nations, with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s blessing.

Oren wrote:

The idea originated with an Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, who first pitched it to the Russians, who were eager to avoid an American intercession that they could not stop. Netanyahu next brought it to Obama and received a green light.

Before Obama changed course, he had gone so far as to ask the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby to lobby for a war resolution, Oren writes.

Obama never credited Israel, which Steinitz and Netanyahu agreed would not be a good idea,

Steinitz told The New York Times that that he and Prime Minister Netanyahu kept their mouths shut about their role in helping Obama so that no one would say “it’s an Israeli strike [or] Israeli conspiracy, [and] maybe it’s a reason to stop it.”

He told the newspaper:

They never asked if they can give us credit, and we never asked them to give us credit,” he added. “Until today, it was a secret.”

Israel didn’t want credit, giving both Russia and Obama the opportunity to boast.

Oren wrote:

In subsequent interviews, Obama rarely missed the chance to cite the neutralization of Syria’s chemical capabilities as an historic diplomatic achievement.

Russian president Vladimir Putin also took credit for the initiative and praised this ‘vivid example of how the international community can solve the most complex disarmament and non- proliferation tasks.’

Israel’s role remained unmentioned, but its citizens were relieved not to have to sign up for more gas masks.

Granted that President Obama may not think that Israel should bow down to him for not bombing Syria instead of risking retaliation against Israel and the horrendous scene of Israelis walking around with gas masks on their faces because of a chemical attack.

And granted that Obama should not let Israel dictate policy on key issues just because Israel helped him in another area.

But it is one thing not to thank Israel, at least not in public so the the Arabs won’t get upset, and it is another matter to create an image of hate of the leader of an ally that, intentionally or not, may have saved President Obama from one of the worst of the many disasters of his foreign policy.

No one is asking him to say, “Thank you,” but it is reasonable to expect a bit of civility. Obama simply can’t get over his control trip complex.

The president’s obsession with the non-existent “peace process” and with a deal with Iran, no matter what, has blinded him into treating Netanyahu like a voodoo doll in which he has to stick pins.

Ukraine Conflict Transforming to ‘Russia versus the West’

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Despite a cease-fire that went into effect one minute after midnight on Sunday, the conflict has apparently resumed between pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine government forces, but with clear Russian involvement.

The European Union has responded by activating sanctions against nine organizations and 19 people in Russia, including two Russian deputy defense ministers and Iosef Kobzon, age 77 — a Jewish man known as the “Russian Frank Sinatra.”

Kobzon is a long-time member of the Russian parliament. Sanctions were imposed against him because he “visited the so-called Donetsk People’s Repubic and during his visit made statements supporting separatists” after the Kremlin annexed Crimea, seizing it from Ukraine, the EU Official Journal explained. Donetsk is Kobzon’s birthplace.

For weeks the Russian-backed separatists have been focusing their attention on laying siege to the railway hub of Debaltseve, which so far has remained under the control of the Ukraine forces.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a briefing over the weekend that photos snapped in eastern Ukraine provided “credible pieces of evidence” that Russia herself – and not just separatist rebels – has been involved in the conflict.

“We are confident that [large amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launchers seen in the images around Debaltseve] are Russian military, not separatist systems,” Psaki said.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conversation on Saturday to discuss the situation. Kerry expressed concern over what he called efforts by Russia and separatists to cut off the town ahead of the cease-fire.

Artillery fire was also exchanged in massive shootouts around the rebel-held regions of both Donetsk and Lugansk. Rocket attacks were directed at areas around the government-held Azov Sea port city of Mariupol on Saturday as well.

Last week a teacher at the Chabad-Lubavitch preschool was killed in Donetsk when a rocket slammed into her apartment, killing her instantly. Irina Shelkayeba was an active member of the Donetsk Jewish community and a teacher at the Ohr Avner Preschool, Rabbi Aryeh Schvartz told Chabad.org.

The Beth Menachem synagogue – the only synagogue left in Donetsk – survived a narrow miss in a rocket attack that followed Shelkayeba’s death the same day. Instead, a minibus in a bus station some 300 meters away was hit by a shell in an attack that followed on the heels of the one that killed Shelkayeba.

Four people were killed in that attack, including the driver of the bus, which was incinerated along with a nearby vehicle. Nevertheless, the synagogue’s morning minyan (quorum) gathered to pray the regular morning service 90 minutes later as it does each day. Emergency food and supply packages sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were then distributed at the Jewish Community Center next door to the synagogue.

The city’s Chabad emissary, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, said, “We have recently known many especially difficult and terrible days. I ask that Jews worldwide pray for their brethren in the war-torn territories – for everyone living in danger – and that they should all have peace and security.”

Russia Scolds NATO, USA on Sanctions, Troop Movements

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

As pro-Russian separatists eat up town after town in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is closely monitoring NATO’s reaction – and the White House response.

Extra troops – 600 from the United States – were sent this week to Poland and the Baltic States to reassure NATO allies. In addition, new sanctions were imposed against Russian officials and pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists by the United States and the European Union.

The moves came following the kidnapping by pro-Russian separatists of some 40 people in eastern Ukraine.

Among the hostages were an Israeli American journalist (freed after Ukrainian government troops entered the city of separatist-controlled Sloviansk). Three members of the Ukraine security service and seven military observers for the Geneva-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are still being held.

The Jewish mayor of Kharkov in eastern Ukraine was likewise shot in the back by would-be assassins on Monday; he was airlifted in critical condition for advanced medical treatment to a hospital in Israel.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rebuked the United States and the European Union Tuesday over the sanctions imposed on Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis.

“We reject sanctions in any of our relationships, in particular those sanctions that were sponsored by the United States and the European Union, which defy all common sense, regarding the events in Ukraine,” Lavrov told reporters during a trip to Cuba.

He complained the West was “attempting to blame others” for the crisis after sanctions in the United States imposed Monday on seven Russians and 17 companies directly linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The European Union similarly named 15 new targets for sanctions on Tuesday, including General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, and Lt.-Gen. Igor Sergun, head of the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. Also on the list are Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and pro-Russian separatist leaders in Crimea and the eastern Ukrainian cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. A total of 48 individuals have so far been hit by EU sanctions thus far.

“The attempts to blame others is the result of weak politicians, or rather of those politicians who understand that their geopolitical ambitions have failed, and they are attempting to blame others,” Lavrov said.

Ukraine’s Crimea region was summarily annexed by Russia’s Kremlin after the province “elected” to secede from Ukraine following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president in February due to massive protests by a population demanding closer ties to Europe.

In response, eastern Ukraine has become a hotbed of separatist activity, with one town after the next falling to pro-Russian terrorism. Nevertheless, Russia denies encouraging the attacks, even though the separatists who carried the assault weapons all spoke a guttural Russian, as heard in videos shot by news reporters.

Recently the pro-Russian eastern Ukraine Donetsk province also declared itself independent from the country, and now refers to itself as the “independent Republic of Donetsk.”

Russia Accuses West of Starting Ukraine Crisis

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov turned the tables on Thursday and accused the United States and the European Union of starting the crisis in Ukraine.

Last week a deal was signed in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU to resolve the crisis – one of the worst since the end of the Cold War. It has yet to be carried out.

But Lavrov told the Interfax news agency, “In Ukraine, the United States and the European Union tried to stage – let’s call things what they are – another ‘color revolution,’ an operation to unconstitutionally change regime.”

The ‘color revolution’ remark refers to the 2004-2005 Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ that occurred when the country’s presidential run-off election was seized by pro-Kremlin leaders.

Months-long anti-government protests in Ukraine resulted in the ouster of the country’s President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled to Russia several weeks ago. The eastern part of the country has been seized by separatists, and Crimea altogether seceded from Ukraine and was formally annexed by Russia. Journalists have been kidnapped, and an Israeli-American reporter is still being held hostage in the separatist city of Slaviansk.

Russia Claims Iran Ready to Stop Enrichment of 20% uranium

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Russia says that Iran is ready to stop enriching 20 percent grade uranium, a key ingredient towards making a nuclear weapon, but Iran expects the West to lift economic sanctions in return.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not say exactly what Iranian officials agreed to this grand gesture, one day after Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rohani vowed that Iran will continue to enrich uranium. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu previously has warned that the only level of uranium enrichment that Iran should be allowed to produce is “zero percent.”

A higher grade of enrichment is a step closer to producing a nuclear weapon, but lower grade enrichment, needed for fuel roads in the Bushehr nuclear energy plant. Iran’s refusal to allow international inspectors into its nuclear facilities precludes the possibility of knowing how much 20 percent enriched uranium the country already has stockpiled.

“For the first time in many years, there are encouraging signs in the process of settlement of the situation with the Iranian nuclear program,” Lavrov said in the interview to Kuwait’s KUNA news agency. The interview was published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s site but was not published in Iran.

Lavrov insisted that Iran’s preparedness to stop high-level enrichment of uranium “could become a breakthrough agreement.”

Then he dropped the joker in the deck: Iran’s grand gesture “implies significant reciprocal steps” by the six world powers who have unsuccessfully tried to convince Iran to cooperate with nuclear inspectors to stop its nuclear program.

“The international community must adequately respond to the constructive progress made by Iran, including gradual suspension and lifting of sanctions, both unilateral and those introduced by the UN Security Council. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this opportunity,” Lavrov concluded.

The next step is predictable. The West will demand some kind of evidence that Iran can speak for itself instead of letting Russia act as its mouthpiece.

Step Number Two will be Iran’s demand that sanctions be removed because, after all, how can it trust the West to inspect its nuclear facilities and then find a reason not lift sanctions?

Rohani won’t take office until August, so Iran still has several weeks to enrich more high-grade uranium.

After August, expect another few weeks, or months, of negotiating about how to negotiate an agreement.

By that time, maybe Iran will have enough high-grade uranium for a bomb.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/russia-claims-iran-ready-to-stop-enrichment-of-20-uranium/2013/06/18/

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