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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘vienna’

‘Peace for Our Time’ – Iran Nuclear Deal Announced on ‘Black Tuesday’

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Iran and the P5+1 powers announced a final agreement shortly after noon (Israeli time) on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It will take a year to understand if the deal actually stops helps Iran get its hands on a nuclear weapon.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned yesterday that Israel’s failure to prevent a “bad deal” does not change its determination to use whatever means necessary to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the nuclear deal will sufficient for “at least for the period of the first 10 years.”

Congress has 60 days to review the bill, but it will not be able to torpedo it unless there is a wholesale rebellion of Democrats that would prevent a presidential veto of non-approval by legislators.

Rouhani has provided plenty of ammunition for opponents to the deal, having said that Iran still will consider the United States an enemy country.

Russia Claims Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Within Reach’

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Thursday that he believes a nuclear deal with Iran is “within reach.”

Lavrov said he is ready to return to Vienna for more talks together with other negotiators for the delegation of world powers led by the United States.

“We are close to a comprehensive agreement,” Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the Russian city of Ufa. “It is within reach.”

U.S. President Barack Obama made an effort to lower expectations earlier this week, telling lawmakers at a closed-door meeting Tuesday night that “the chances at this point are below 50-50,” according to CNN.com, quoting Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), a close Obama ally.

Nevertheless, a report by Iranian Press TV claimed this Friday’s deadline might again be blown for a sixth time, and the talks could be extended till next Monday, July 13. A Western official denied the report when questioned by Reuters, however.

Foreign Ministers Leave US, Iranian Negotiators Alone in Vienna

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The going has finally gotten tough enough to force the tough to get going – and they’re gone.

All of the foreign ministers from the P5+1 group of world powers left U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna late Tuesday to get whatever he can on a deal with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with journalists in the Austrian capital to say the two sides are too far apart for a deal.

Nearly 10 issues still separate the delegation of six nations (Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) led by the United States and Tehran.

Iran continues to insist on full, immediate sanctions relief but refuses to allow spot inspections and access for United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to its military nuclear sites.

The new deadline for conclusion of the talks – which is also “flexible” – is set for this Friday, July 10.

The team of American delegates left to negotiate in Vienna, meanwhile, told a small group of international reporters Tuesday they were “insulted” by implications the U.S. is “eager” for an agreement at any cost. The delegates have traveled to Austria 18 times over the past two years to negotiate this deal, they said.

“Quite frankly, when people say that we’re rushing to an agreement, I find it somewhat insulting,” said a senior U.S. official, “to me, to the team and to the secretary and to the president…. we have seen more of each other than our actual families.”

The official who spoke with reporters warned that once the team leaves Vienna this time, however, “we are in less control of what happens in this negotiation. It gets more complicated, not less complicated.”

If an agreement is initialed by July 10, Congress will have 30 days to review it.

But if it takes longer, then lawmakers will have 60 days to comb through the fine points and decide whether to give a green light or not.

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.

 

 

Kerry’s Dramatic Statement: ‘No Agreement Yet’

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

 

A senior U.S. official, code for the State Dept., put the press on red alert around 17:00 (10 a.m. EDT) with a statement that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to make an announcement half an hour later from Vienna, where he and the other P5+1 powers are trying to hammer out an agreement with Iran on is nuclear program.

More than 20 minutes past the announced time, with journalists waiting with bated breath in Vienna, where temperatures are nearly 100 degrees, Kerry made this breathtaking statement:

Progress has been made. No, an agreement is not yet there. We are not there yet. We have difficult issues still to resolve.

Tweets direct from Vienna added more of the same old clichés:

Prepared to walk away if they can’t get a deal that satisfies.

Pushing for deal by July 7 deadline

We are not yet where we need to be….this negotiation could go either way

We want a good agreement…We’re not going to shave, anywhere, at the margins, just to get an agreement.

We are closer than we have ever been.

We’re not going to negotiate in the press.

Right now we’re aiming to finish this in the time frame we’ve set out.

I think there’s a lot of speculation. It’s now time to see whether we are able to close the agreement.

What Sanctions? Iran Receives 13 Tons of Gold From S. Africa

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

The Central Bank of Iran took deliver of 13 tons of Iran’s gold reserves from South Africa, worth close to $12 billion, Iranian Bank Governor Volilollah Seif announced on Wednesday, according to IRNA.

Seif said that Iran’s delegation to Vienna had taken up the issue of the gold reserves last week, in the course of the nuclear talks. Once again, Iran got everything it asked for.

Seif explained that the shipments of Iranian gold reserves, purchased from South Africa two years ago, had been blocked due to the sanctions.

The Central Bank governor confirmed that three shipments had been returned to the central bank since the start of the week, and on Tuesday night “the last parcel of that gold reserve, weighing four tons, arrived in Iran and was delivered to the safe of the CBI.”

Around $100 billion of Iranian assets have been frozen by the various sanctions, though sanctions were supposed to still be suspended until a deal was reached on Iran’s nuclear program as well as its support for terrorist organizations and developing ballistic missiles.

Iran already received $4.2 billion in thawed assets under the 2013 interim agreement with the US, followed by another $2.8 billion that the Obama administration freed last year to keep Iran at the negotiating table.

Iran has already been able to free up some 20% of its frozen assets, around $19 billion. At best, that’s without doing anything, and at worse, that’s while continuing to rush towards a nuclear bomb.

So much for sanctions.

Five Former Advisers to Obama Publish Warning on Iran Deal

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The proposed deal with Iran to supposedly prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon “falls short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,'” five of President Barack Obama’s former senior advisers said in a public letter.

They published their warning just before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are to meet in Vienna for negotiations to come up with a final agreement by next week, President Obama’s self-imposed deadline.

The ex-advisers are big time sluggers:

Dennis Ross, a semi reformed Oslo Accords architect;

David Petraeus, the former CIA director who once claimed that solving the Palestinian Authority Israel conflict was the key to all Middle East problems;

Robert Einhorn, a former member of the U.S negotiating team with Iran;

James Cartwright, a former vice-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

Gary Samore, a former Obama adviser on nuclear policy.

The letter, published in full below, states:

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The former advisers to President Obama urge him to reinstate a previous condition that Iran come clean on its previous research on nuclear weapons and allow international inspectors at military sites, which the regime in Tehran has repeated over and over the past two months it will not permit.

The letter, which is backed by a larger group that includes former Sen. Joe Lieberman, also calls on President Obama to take steps that would weaken Iran’s influence in the Middle East considering the huge economic boost Tehran would receive with the lifting of sanctions.

“Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran,” the letter states.

A White House sources insisted that a “large part” of the letter is on the same page as the American “negotiating position inside the negotiating room.”

Maybe so and maybe not,, but what about the ‘small’ part?

Here is the entire letter, as posted on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: 

The Iran nuclear deal is not done. Negotiations continue. The target deadline is June 30.  We know much about the emerging agreement. Most of us would have preferred a stronger agreement.

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The agreement does not purport to be a comprehensive strategy towards Iran. It does not address Iran’s support for terrorist organizations (like Hezbollah and Hamas), its interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen (its “regional hegemony”), its ballistic missile arsenal, or its oppression of its own people. The U.S. administration has prioritized negotiations to deal with the nuclear threat, and hopes that an agreement will positively influence Iranian policy in these other areas.

Even granting this policy approach, we fear that the current negotiations, unless concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.

We are united in our view that to maximize its potential for deterring and dissuading Iran from building a nuclear weapon, the emerging nuclear agreement must – in addition to its existing provisions – provide the following:

Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.

Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.

Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.

Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.

Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.

Most importantly, it is vital for the United States to affirm that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from producing sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon – or otherwise acquiring or building one – both during the agreement and after it expires. Precisely because Iran will be left as a nuclear threshold state (and has clearly preserved the option of becoming a nuclear weapon state), the United States must go on record now that it is committed to using all means necessary, including military force, to prevent this.

The President should declare this to be U.S. policy and Congress should formally endorse it. In addition, Congressional review of any agreement should precede any formal action on the agreement in the United Nations.

Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran.

We urge the U.S. administration not to treat June 30 as an “inviolable” deadline. Stay at the negotiating table until a “good” agreement that includes these features is reached. Extend the existing Joint Plan of Action while negotiations continue.

This will freeze Iran’s nuclear activity and international sanctions at current levels. While the United States should extend the Iran Sanctions Act so it does not expire, it should not increase sanctions while negotiations continue. U.S. alternatives to an agreement are unappealing, but Iran’s are worse. It has every incentive to reach an agreement and obtain relief from sanctions and international isolation well in advance of its elections next February. If anyone is to walk out of the negotiations, let it be Iran.

Some argue that any nuclear agreement now simply further empowers bad Iranian behavior. And there is a lot to this argument. This is why we believe that the United States must bolster any agreement by doing more in the region to check Iran and support our traditional friends and allies.

This does not mean major U.S. ground combat operations in the Middle East. But it does mean taking initiatives like the following:

In Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S. Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units (“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.

In Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped. Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.

In Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away from Iran.

Regionally: Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at the expense of our friends and allies.

Collectively, these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed “Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued commitment. And it will help address Israel’s legitimate concerns that a nuclear agreement will validate Iran’s nuclear program, further facilitate its destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when Israel faces the possible erosion of its “qualitative military edge.”

We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns.

Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/five-former-advisers-to-obama-publish-warning-on-iran-deal/2015/06/25/

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