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April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘talks’

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.”

Obama Says ‘Give Iran Talks a Chance; Israel Safer Than Ever

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama revealed in an exclusive interview with Reuters late Monday that American officials do not actually know how far Iran really is from “breakout” – that is, how far from reaching the ability to create a nuclear weapon.

The reason for this is because Iran is still failing to come clean about its nuclear program.

“There is a substantial disagreement in terms of how to achieve that. And what it boils down to is what’s the best way to ensure that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever. And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.

“What we’ve said from the start is by organizing a strong sanctions regime, what we can do is bring Iran to the table. And by bringing Iran to the table, force them to have a serious negotiation in which a) we are able to see exactly what’s going on inside of Iran b) we’re able to create what we call a breakout period, a timeline where we know if they were to try to get a nuclear weapon it would take them a certain amount of time.

“And the deal that we’re trying to negotiate is to make sure that there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.

“And as long as we’ve got that one-year breakout capacity, that ensures us that we can take military action to stop them if they were stop it. Now, we’re still in the midst of negotiations. What I’ve said consistently is, we should let these negotiations play out. If, in fact, Iran is agree, willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist …

REUTERS – Double digit years?

OBAMA – Double digit years. If we’ve got that and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon.

“Now, Iran may not agree to the rigorous inspection demands that we’re insisting on. They may not agree to the low levels of enrichment capabilities they would have to maintain to ensure that their breakout is at least a year. But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.

“And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.

REUTERS – Let’s talk a little bit specifically about the prime minister. Susan Rice said that what he has done by accepting the invitation to speak was destructive to the fabric of the relationship. Would you agree that it’s destructive? And if so, will there be any consequences for him or for Israel?

OBAMA – You know, I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is sincere about his concerns with respect to Iran. And given Iran’s record and given the extraordinarily disruptive and dangerous activities of this regime in the region, it’s understandable why Israel is very concerned about Iran. We are too. But what we’ve consistently said is we have to stay focused on our ultimate goal, which is preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

No White House Worries Over ‘Election Proximity’ with Herzog

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Is the Obama administration tampering with Israel’s electoral process? Top U.S. officials met on Saturday in Munich with opposition leader and Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog, a candidate in the upcoming election.

U.S. President Barack Obama and senior White House staff repeatedly have claimed the upcoming Israeli national elections were too close to allow American administration officials to meet with Israeli candidates, including the prime minister.

Just a matter of policy, after all.

So how does that fit with a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Isaac Herzog? Of course, the meeting was not “formally” scheduled and there were no photo ops.

The two American leaders both have said they will skip Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress on March 3 specifically because the date runs too close to Israel’s elections.

Herzog also managed to squeeze in meetings with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the sidelines of the security conference.

Following the talks in Munich, Herzog told Israel’s Channel 10 news that Netanyahu “won’t get to meet with a single American official on this visit – not from the National Security Agency, not from the White House, not from the State Department. It’s a complete boycott. Even if that’s not stated, that’s the story.”

And what a story it is. A complete endorsement of Labor party candidate Isaac Herzog, for whom the White House is clearly campaigning, along with the European Union.

One might be tempted to think that U.S. President Barack Obama is fiddling with Israeli politics. Tampering, even, with help from the European Union.

But isn’t that illegal?

Western Leaders Head to Ukraine to Try for Peace with Russia

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all intend to try and make peace between Ukraine and Russia this week.

Kerry is already in Ukraine to show America’s support for the Kiev government.

Hollande told international media Thursday in Paris that he and Merkel would head first to Kiev and then to Moscow on Friday to present Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal “based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

NATO, meanwhile, is unveiling details of a plan to bolster its military presence in eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, according to the BBC. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the news service it will be the biggest reinforcement of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War, centering on a “spearhead” force of up to 5,000 troops with lead units able to deploy within two days. A network of command centers is being established in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, Stoltenberg said, in response to “the aggressive actions we have seen from Russia, violating international law and annexing Crimea.”

The French president described the months-long conflict with pro-Russia rebels that wreaked havoc in Ukraine as a full-fledged war. “Ukraine is at war. Heavy weapons are being used and civilians are being killed daily,” Hollande said.

Kerry told the BBC in Kiev that the U.S. wants to see a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but will not close its eyes to Russian aggression.

“We want a diplomatic resolution but we cannot close our eyes to tanks that are crossing the border from Russia and coming into Ukraine,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

More than 5,000 people have died in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebel troops, some of which include Russian “volunteers,” since April 2014. The eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk and Lugansk are both under rebel control.

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.

Death of Hebron Killers Apparently No Obstacle to Cairo Talks

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization says it will continue with negotiations in Cairo over a permanent cease-fire with Israel.

The news follows the news that two Hamas terrorists were killed in a shootout with IDF soldiers during an attempt to arrest them late Monday night in Hebron.

Amar Abu Aisha and Marwan Kawasmeh were killed after they opened fire when the soldiers who tried to take them into custody. The two were accused of abducting and murdering three Israeli teens – Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha’ary – as they hitchhiked home from yeshiva for the Sabbath on June 12, 2014, in Gush Etzion.

“We condemn the assassination of Amar Abu Aisha and Marwan Kawasmeh, and view it as an Israeli attempt to backtrack from a truce agreement,” said Izzat al-Risheq, a senior Hamas official living abroad. A second Hamas leader confirmed the Palestinian Authority unity government delegation had decided to proceed with the Cairo talks. Funerals for the two are to be held sometime Tuesday following afternoon prayers, according to media reports.

Israel’s delegation reportedly arrived in Cairo early on Tuesday.  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokespereson Mark Regev declined to confirm or deny the report.

 

Israeli PM, PA Chairman in Secret Talks?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority unity government chairman Mahmoud Abbas are allegedly secretly carrying out negotiations.

The report, posted in the Arabic language newspaper Al-Arab Al-Youm, was quoted in a tweet by Arab affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.

The two leaders are reportedly carrying out their talks through Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and top PA official Ahmed Qurei, known also by his nom de guerre, Abu Ala’a.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-pm-pa-chairman-in-secret-talks/2014/09/22/

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