American Churches and the Iran Nuclear Deal, Weekly Standard, AUG 20, 2015 • BY MARK TOOLEY Most church groups and prominent religious voices speaking to the Iran nuclear deal are supportive. Most notable among them is the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. n April, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who leads the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote members of Congress to hail the accord as an “important step in advancing a peaceful resolution.” He quoted Pope Francis, who prayed that, “the framework…may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”………
In July, Bishop Cantú again wrote Congress to commend the “remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement” and urging Congress to “support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding.”
Liberal Evangelical activist Jim Wallis of Sojourners similarly hailed the accord for pursuing options that will “prevent further war with more dangerous weapons,” which is the “right course of action in a highly imperfect world.” He warned that “those who oppose deals like this often proclaim a binary world of simple good and evil, which we don’t have — and believing so is a dangerous illusion.”………https://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/american-churches-and-iran-nuclear-deal_1015151.html
Israel has as many as 100 nuclear warheads and systems to deliver them
But U.S. officials don’t mention them under a 1969 agreement
Iranian nukes would challenge Israel’s unique Middle East position
BY JONATHAN S. LANDAY email@example.com WASHINGTON , 19 Aug 15,
There’s one major issue that President Barack Obama, his supporters and his critics assiduously have avoided as they battle over the deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons: Israel’s own nuclear arsenal.
An open secret for decades, the Israeli stockpile is estimated at some 80-100 warheads, though Israel refuses to confirm or deny its existence under a policy of deliberate ambiguity. The arsenal was developed as the ultimate guarantor of the Jewish state’s survival against threats from its hostile neighborhood.
Yet as the sides joust over the Iran deal’s impact on Israel’s security, Obama has been silent on the Israeli arsenal as a potential deterrent against Iranian cheating on the accord. Opponents, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, haven’t touched the issue, either. And it hasn’t figured in the public hearings that Congress is holding as part of a 60-day review that will culminate in a Republican-led bid to kill the Iran accord next month.
To some experts, the fierce debate over whether the Iran deal endangers Israel or makes it safer will be incomplete and misleading as long as it skirts the Middle East’s only nuclear arms stockpile………http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article31470917.html
Over 70 Nuclear Nonproliferation Experts Endorse Iran Agreement WASHINGTON http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20150818/1025891167.html#ixzz3jCUmxWII, 18 Aug 15 — A group of more than 70 leading nuclear nonproliferation experts issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the full implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement aimed to guarantee the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program.
The signers of the statement include former senior nonproliferation officials at the US Department of State and Department of Defense, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix, former nuclear negotiators as well as other leading nuclear specialists from around the globe.
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts,” the signed statement reads.
The nuclear experts attest that the Iran nuclear deal “advances the security interests” of all negotiating parties, as well as the international community.
The nuclear agreement between Iran, and the P5+1 countries of the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany has been under review in the US Congress, which will vote to approve or disapprove the deal by September 17.
The UN Security Council and all the P5+1 countries, except for the United States, have given their support for the nuclear agreement intended to prevent Iran from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon, in exchange for international sanctions relief.
Tory privatisation scams (2): the Hinkley Point C nuclear payola guaranteed by UK taxpayers for Chinese investors http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2015/08/tory-privatisation-scams-2-the-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-payola-guaranteed-by-uk-taxpayers-for-chinese-investors/
Just how bad a deal this is is shown by the fact that Hinkley will provide just 3 gigawatts of capacity, yet for the same price gas-fired turbines could provide about 50 gigawatts, onshore wind 20 and offshore wind 10. The plant will not open till 2023 at the earliest, well past the date of the most acute energy shortage at the end of this decade. And it will cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow – beat that for the most expensive white elephant of modern times!
It’s an anachronistic behemoth from the bygone age of energy dinosaurs when the world is rapidly moving towards distributed power via renewable energy. It’s far too costly, and is it even needed? First there is the UK’s declining demand for power, currently falling at a rate of 1% a year as energy-saving measures steadily take effect. Then there is the expected threefold jump in the UK’s Interconnection capacity with continental Europe by 2022 which increases the ability to import cheaper supplies. And third there is the litany of setbacks in price overruns and huge delays that have afflicted Finland, France and China over EDF’s European Pressurised Reactor which is the same type as is planned for Hinkley Point.
However nothing distracts the Tory nose from a good old-fashioned financial fix behind the scenes, especially when in this case it plays to their abhorrence of UK State involvement in meeting a public need. So Cameron is off to Beijing in October to sign a final deal wit the Chinese president from which only Chinese investors will gain at UK taxpayer expense.
Hundreds of US rabbis voice support for Iran nuclear deal, 124 News, 19 Aug 15 IDF: deal could help rein in terrorist activities; US will not succeed to ‘intrude’ on Iran: Khamenei
More than 300 American rabbis wrote members of Congress Monday urging them to support the international nuclear deal with Iran, signalling the US Jewish community is split over the historic but controversial accord.
The religious leaders come from across the spectrum, but hail overwhelmingly from Judaism’s Conservative and Reform streams as well as other progressive Jewish movements, a spokesperson said.
“We encourage the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to endorse this agreement,” the 340 rabbis wrote in a letter to Congress distributed by Ameinu, a progressive charitable Jewish organization.
“We are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement,” the rabbis added.
“We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord”……..http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/82396-150817-fate-of-nuclear-deal-still-not-clear-iran-s-khamenei
President Obama can do Iran nuclear deal even if Congress rejects it Chicago Tribune, By Tribune wire reports contact the reporter , 16 Aug 15 President Obama doesn’t need a congressional OK to make a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. The September vote on the Iran nuclear deal is billed as a titanic standoff between President Barack Obama and Congress. Yet even if lawmakers reject the agreement, it’s not game-over for the White House.
A congressional vote of disapproval would not prevent Obama from acting on his own to start putting the accord in place. While he probably would take some heavy criticism, this course would let him add the foreign policy breakthrough to his second-term list of accomplishments.
Obama doesn’t need a congressional OK to give Iran most of the billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions that it would get under the agreement, as long as Tehran honors its commitments to curb its nuclear program — at least for now.
“A resolution to disapprove the Iran agreement may have substantial political reverberations, but limited practical impact,” says Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It would not override President Obama’s authority to enter into the agreement.”
Lawmakers on their summer break are deciding how to vote. A look at the current state of play:
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN SEPTEMBER?
With Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate are expected to turn down the deal. Obama has pledged to veto such a resolution of disapproval, so the question has turned to whether Congress could muster the votes to override him, in what would be a stinging, bipartisan vote of no-confidence against the president. And Obama would forfeit the authority he now enjoys to waive sanctions that Congress has imposed.
But Democrats and Republicans have predicted that his expected veto will be sustained — that opponents lack the votes to one-up Obama……
WHAT CAN OBAMA DO ON HIS OWN? The president could suspend some U.S. sanctions. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned now. On the financial sector, Obama could use executive orders to remove certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, from U.S. lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to economic penalties……….http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-iran-nuclear-deal-obama-20150816-story.html
Iran submits nuclear activity information to UN watchdog, Yahoo News Vienna (AFP), 16 Aug 15, – Iran has submitted documents linked to its past nuclear activity, the UN’s atomic watchdog has confirmed, a key condition of a probe into suspected efforts to create nuclear arms. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed a “roadmap” with Iran in July to investigate its nuclear programme, as part of an overall accord with major world powers.
The historic deal is aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for relief on painful economic sanctions.
The IAEA said Iran had met a key deadline by handing over the papers on Saturday.
“Iran… provided the IAEA with its explanation in writing and related documents as agreed in the roadmap for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme,” the agency said in a brief statement published Saturday.
A senior Iranian official also confirmed that the documents had been submitted.
“We have achieved our commitments as part of the deadline set out in the agreement,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.
The IAEA is to issue a report on its investigation by December 15……….http://news.yahoo.com/iran-submits-nuclear-activity-information-un-watchdog-100355955.html
Nuclear power plan stirs fears of secrecy and graft Project could cost as much as $100 bn – experts., Money Web Joe Brock, Reuters | 14 August 2015 Fears are growing in South Africa that agreements to build nuclear power plants that could be the most expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.
Among those voicing concern, two government sources say the Treasury is not being included in procurement discussions, despite the massive budgetary implications of a project that experts say may cost as much as $100 billion.
Construction on the first plant is due to start next year, breakneck speed compared with the years of regulatory and environmental checks for nuclear projects in countries such as Britain and the United States.
The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, believes the pace of the deal will prevent proper analysis before contracts are signed and huge sums of money change hands.
“The whole deal has been veiled in secrecy. We have no details on what we’re buying, how much it’s going to cost or how we’re going to pay for it,” shadow energy minister Gordon Mackay told Reuters.
The Department of Energy (DoE) did not respond to requests for comment. It has said several times the procurement process will be transparent and follow procedure.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was forced this week to deny reports of tensions with the DoE over the plans and said the Treasury was playing a supporting role in the procurement process.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said this week the nuclear plan was at an “advanced stage” and the procurement process should be completed by March.
Following meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, the Russian atomic agency Rosatom said it had agreed a $10 billion contract to build power stations.
However, the DoE denied an agreement had been reached, raising public suspicion in South Africa of backroom dealmaking – an accusation often levelled against the ruling African National Congress under Zuma’s tenure.
The nuclear deal is of huge concern given South Africa’s history of endemic corruption,” said Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC lawmaker and now executive director of Corruption Watch UK.
Feinstein is the author of a book about alleged widespread graft in a $4.8 billion arms deal during the late-1990s.
“I fear that the corruption in this deal might dwarf the arms deal,” he said.
Chronic shortages, mounting debt…….A 2013 study by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre found more nuclear power was not needed and would not be cost-effective, based on an estimated installed cost of $7 000 per kilowatt.
The DoE has estimated the build would cost $4 200 per kilowatt. Energy experts say this is optimistic and the calculations are based on out-of-date assumptions……..http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/nuclear-power-plan-stirs-fears-of-secrecy-and-graft/
Why it’s impossible to hide nuclear work in 24 days – or 24 years, REUTERS, By Yousaf Butt August 13, 2015 One of the most misleading distortions being floated by political opponents of the Iran nuclear deal is the “24-day” loophole meme: Iran would be able to hide all evidence of any nefarious nuclear weapons work during the 24 days it may take inspectors to gain access to a suspicious site.
For starters, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would have continuous daily access to all Iran’s declared nuclear facilities. If Iran does not allow anytime inspections of any declared site, it could result in the reimposition — or “snapback” — of sanctions.
The 24-day rule applies only to undeclared suspect sites anywhere in the country. Because inspections anywhere at any time can be complicated to work out, a procedure was devised to address the problem.
Why 24 days? Iran and the atomic energy agency first would have a maximum of 14 days to come to an understanding about how to carry out the new inspections. In the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran — must resolve the issue, by consensus or a vote, within seven days. Tehran would have three days to implement the decision. So, the 24 days is not a gift to Tehran that would allow it to hide potential nuclear malfeasance — it is just the maximum periodallowed to hammer out a way to inspect any undeclared suspicious facility in Iran.
More important, critics insist, Iran could use those 24 days to hide evidence of nuclear materials. This is not going to happen. It would be virtually impossible even in 240 days, let alone 24. Even a nanogram, or one-billionth of a gram, of leftover dust from nuclear-weapons related work — such as covert enrichment at a suspect site — could be detectable.
The main way the agency could find incriminating dust is with a “swipe sample” using a super-clean cotton cloth. The wipe would be applied to surfaces, especially where dust naturally collects, including corners of a room, cracks, bolt holes, equipment interiors and where walls meet the floor.
As the agency itself states: “Any nuclear process … will also produce particulate materials with particle dimensions in the 0.1 [to] 10 micrometer range. Such small particles are believed to be quite mobile and will travel several meters from their point of origin due to air currents or human activity. This mobility also makes it extremely difficult to clean up an area to such an extent that no particles remain available for swipe sampling.” [emphasis added]
The swipe samples from a suspect site would be taken to a laboratory, where the atomic energy agency can use a variety of highly sensitive methods to pick up any infinitesimal incriminating nuclear particles. Isotopic ratios, chemical forms or particle shapes can all provide clues about where the nuclear material came from and how it was produced.
One particularly powerful method is known as “fission track-secondary ion mass spectrometry.”Particles from a swipe sample are irradiated with neutrons on a Lexan (plastic) plate. If there are fissile materials in the sample, they would become unstable and split apart; heavy fission-product particles would be produced. In sufficient quantities, these particles would leave tracks in the plate that can be viewed by acid etching……….
The bottom line is that it is almost impossible to get away with messing around with nuclear materials. Nuclear fingerprints are not removable.
“You cannot get rid of them by cleaning,” Stephan Vogt, head of the atomic agency’sEnvironmental Sample Laboratory told Reuters in 2013. “You cannot dilute them to the extent that we will not be able to pick them up. It is just a matter of time,” he stated, before the atomic energy agency detects any incriminating residue………..
Twenty-nine top U.S. scientists — including Nobel Prize winners, senior experts in arms control and former White House science advisers – wrote to President Barack Obama this past weekend to praise the Iran deal. They called it “technically sound, stringent and innovative.” Instead of listening to the complaints about the 24-day meme, Congress should pay heed to these experts. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/08/13/why-its-impossible-to-hide-nuclear-work-in-24-days-or-24-years/
President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal gets the backing of 29 of the nation’s top scientists who call it ‘stringent’
- The president’s Iran nuclear deal was praised by the scientists who include former White house advisers, Nobel laureates, and makers of nuclear arms
- Their support will come as a welcome respite for the President who has faced stiff opposition from within his own party
- Obama has been forced to try and reach undecided members of congress in a bid to push through the deal which has already divided opinion
- But in the letter, all 29 scientists hailed the deal as ‘innovative’ and ‘stringent
Iran’s Jewish community gets behind nuclear deal with U.S.USA Today, 7 Aug 15 Reese Erlich, GlobalPost TEHRAN, Iran — Tapo, one of six kosher restaurants in Tehran, has become an informal hangout for the city’s small Jewish community. During a lunchtime rush last week customers ate savory kebabs while excitedly discussing the signing of the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord.
“There was lots of joy for us,” said Horiel, a Jewish customer who declined to give his last name. “It was not only the Jewish community that was happy. The nation was happy.”
Most Iranian Jews strongly disagree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denunciations of the accord. Horiel said his ancestors came from Jerusalem, “but I’m an Iranian Jew. Israel will get nothing with threats and war.”
Israeli leaders and conservative politicians in the U.S. have denounced the accords as too weak, saying they’ll allow Iran to eventually develop atomic weapons.
Iranians argue that they never built a nuclear bomb and have no intention of doing so. They broadly support the accord in hopes that the U.S. will lift economic sanctions and the economy will improve.
But the agreement also lessens international tensions, says Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, chair of the Tehran Jewish Committee, the country’s main Jewish organization. “There was the possibility of war,” he said. “With the deal signed, it will take war off the table and bring stability to the region.”
Najafabadi said that Israel’s opposition to the accord “has no impact on the Jewish community in Iran.”…….. Jewish leaders estimate there are between 12,000 and 30,000 Jews here today, making Iran’s the second-largest Jewish population in the Middle East after Israel.
But those who have chosen to stay in Iran have a long history of opposition to hawkish Israeli governments. Many consider themselves Jews but not Zionists.
The Islamic Republic of Iran allows freedom of worship for Jews and Christians, according to Siamak Morsedegh, the Jewish representative to Iran’s parliament. He points out that unlike some other countries in the region and in Europe, Jewish templesin Iran have not been attacked.
“There (is) no need for guards in front of our synagogues,” he said………..
GlobalPost Special Correspondent Reese Erlich received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for his reporting from Iran. His latest book is “Inside Syria: The Back Story of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect.”
Iran Nuclear Deal Will Have Positive Effect On Middle Eastern Security And Stability, Putin Assures Netanyahu, International business Times, By Sounak Mukhopadhyay on July 30 2015 Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday that Iran’s nuclear program would improve Middle Eastern security. He also said that the outcome of the nuclear negotiations would positively influence the stability of the region.
Putin assured Netanyahu that the deal would prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Russian president told Netanyahu the deal would also ensure that Iran had a peaceful nuclear program.
“The Russian leader expressed confidence that successful implementation of the Joint [Comprehensive] Plan of Action will strengthen the regime of nuclear non-proliferation and will have a positive effect on security and stability in the Middle East,” said Iranian news agency Press TV, quoting a Kremlin statement.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel plans to lobby the U.S. Congress not to authorize the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. The deal came to its conclusion in Vienna earlier in July after both parties had negotiated for more than a decade.
The United Nations, the European Union and the United States are going to lift sanctions against Iran, which will help the Islamic republic revitalize its economy. In exchange, Iran will restrict its nuclear program. Israel, on the other hand, has expressed concerns that Iran will create a nuclear weapon despite the agreement………http://www.ibtimes.com/iran-nuclear-deal-will-have-positive-effect-middle-eastern-security-stability-putin-203221
Secrecy Around TPP Fuels Suspicions, Worries, http://www.industryweek.com/trade/secrecy-around-tpp-fuels-suspicions-worries, 27 July 15, After chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are leaked to Wikileaks, critics and backers of the controversial proposal are out in full force. With a Maui meeting looming, how will it affect the country and its industry? WASHINGTON, D.C. — Higher costs for needed generic drugs. Longer copyright protections than the global standard. Foreign investors empowered to overrule governments. A more tightly-regulated Internet.
Those are some of the potential pitfalls from any deal that could emerge from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country free-trade and investment pact shrouded in secrecy as negotiations head into the final stage in Hawaii next week.
A handful of draft chapters of the TPP, leaked via Wikileaks, have highlighted the proposed treaty’s heavy emphasis on expanding protections for corporate rights and assets like intellectual property — patents, copyrights and databases — that are far more valuable to advanced economy corporations than traditional cargo trade.
For critics, the proposals show a deal moving more toward protection than free trade, one more about corporate benefits than boosting economies and development. ut backers say the modern global economy needs a new framework of rules to protect intellectual property-dependent 21st century industries that aren’t covered in traditional free trade pacts like the World Trade Organization.
The 12 countries involved — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — have agreed to deliberate in great secrecy, with the goal of producing a deal that can either be accepted or rejected as a whole.
The leaked documents, too, show great disagreement on many issues still under negotiation.
Nevertheless, what is known from the leaks has left a whole range of politicians, academics and civil society groups deeply worried.
Higher drug costs
Many public health organizations say the intellectual property protections proposed would raise the costs of health care and drugs to many millions around the world.
TPP drafts from last year show a proposed 12-year protection for new biologic drugs, when even the administration of President Barack Obama now wants that US standard reduced to seven years to keep prices lower and foment more competition.
They also show efforts to make it harder for poorer countries to produce generic versions of other drugs, to extend patent protections to new versions of existing drugs and to force governments — particularly New Zealand — to reveal their internal pricing data on pharmaceuticals.
Critics say this will only strengthen the hand of big drug companies.
“The inspection protocol,” she said, means that “the international inspectorate is going to be inspecting all the way from mines through centrifuge manufacturing. They will see if Iran is trying to break out.”
Former LANL chemist blogs on all things nuclear By Anne Constable The New Mexican , 26 July 15One Santa Fean paying close attention to the historic nuclear deal with Iran is Cheryl Rofer, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist who has worked on environmental cleanup projects in Estonia and Kazakhstan.
On Nuclear Diner, the blog she writes with two other people, Rofer posts her own views about Iran agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for the end of United Nations sanctions, as well as topics such as civilian power reactors, nuclear weapons and nonproliferation. “I’m trying to write things other people aren’t writing that I think important,” she said in a recent interview. Continue reading
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