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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘White House’

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.

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.

VP Biden Meets with Yair Lapid in Washington

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Yair Lapid, Israel’s Finance Minister and leader of the number two Yesh Atid party in the coalition government, met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and other top U.S. officials Thursday.

Lapid, who was in Washington to attend a round of World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings, sat down with Biden, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Phil Gordon, the White House Middle East coordinator.

“In a wide ranging conversation, the Vice President and Minister Lapid discussed Israel’s economy as well as regional issues, including recent developments with regard to Iran, Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians, and the importance of strengthened economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” a White House statement said.

Lapid’s party has 19 seats in the Knesset, but the most recent poll showed it would win  only 12 seats if elections were held today.

White House to Announce Changes in Egypt Aid Policy

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

The Obama administration said it will soon make an announcement regarding its aid package to Egypt but denied that “all military assistance” would be cut.

A White House statement anticipating such an announcement came Tuesday evening in response to reports that the United States would cut off defense assistance to Egypt.

“The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false,” said a statement attributed to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the President made clear at UNGA, that assistance relationship will continue.”

UNGA refers to the United Nations General Assembly, which Obama addressed last month.

What was not clear in Hayden’s statement was whether assistance to Egypt, currently around $1.5 billion, $1.3 billion of it defense assistance, would be at all cut.

The Obama administration has come under pressure from some lawmakers in Congress to cut funding since a military coup unseated the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president, Mohammed Morsi, in July.

Other lawmakers have called on the United States to continue backing Gen. Abdel al-Sisi, the military ruler, in part because of his closeness to Israel and his pledge to maintain the 1979 Camp David peace accords.

U.S. law mandates a cut in assistance following coups, and Obama administration officials have been at pains not to use that word to describe Morsi’s removal.

Street confrontations between Egyptian troops and Brotherhood supporters and opponents since Morsi’s arrest have intensified.

According to U.S. officials quoted in reports by CNN and Reuters– the reports that prompted Hayden’s denial — the resultant chaos and the military’s heavy-handedness led to the decision to cut aid.

Rouhani: I Turned Down Five Requests from Obama for Meeting

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rohani’s “charm offensive,” by his own admission, stopped short of meeting personally with President Barack Obama.

“Before my trip (to New York), the Americans had sent 5 messages to arrange a meeting between me and Obama, but I turned them down,” he told the government-run Fars News Agency, which can also be read as the Farce News Agency because of its wild propaganda.

“Then they raised a plan for a brief meeting, but I didn’t agree (with it) much; we didn’t disagree with (the idea to have) a meeting, but its grounds weren’t prepared,” he added.

During Rohani’s visit to the United States, the White House fudged on the issue of whether President Obama would meet with Rouhani.

“It’s possible, but it has always been possible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week. “The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn in.”

Politico reported last week that Iran rejected a  White House suggestion of “an encounter” between the two leaders.

One U.S. official said that a meeting was too complicated for them.”

Rohani also told Fars he is thrilled that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech in the United Nations Tuesday was full of anger towards the new Iranian president.

“That an aggressive regime in the region names Iran with coarse language is the cause of our happiness,” Rouhani told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

“Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day,” he added.

Farce, or Fars, did not ask Rohani about the mixed reception he received at the airport on his return, when several dozen hard-core  Islamists shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and threw eggs and stones at his motorcade.

They were outnumbered by hundreds of supporters who praised Rohani.

Obama Begins Attack Blitz, Says 24 Nations Back ‘Strong Response’

Monday, September 9th, 2013

The White House announced Monday that more than dozen more countries have formally backed a “strong international response” to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The United States now has the support of 24 countries, not including Israel which has tried to lay low. The list includes an interesting collection of allies, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, France, Albania, Australia and Denmark.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women and children,” the statement says. “The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.”

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/obamas-foreign-fiasco/2013/08/21/

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