According to the Haaretz news website, the Israeli prime minister claimed there was an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis, linking the venue for the nuclear talks with Iranian backing for Houthi rebels in Yemen, and said the deal posed a threat to humanity that must be stopped…….
Netanyahu made his remarks as negotiations in Lausanne approached the 31 March deadline for an understanding on the framework for a deal, and took on a new intensity. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, arrived at the Swiss lakeside town on Sunday evening to join the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and foreign ministers from Iran, France, Germany and China, as well as the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini………
A possible solution is for the foreign ministers to make a joint declaration in Lausanne or in nearby Geneva, to be followed by the publication of an informal “factsheet” of agreed points, that could be officially deniable in Tehran. A former state department official said it could take several days to draft this, so experts could stay behind after the foreign ministers leave, to work on the document before Congress reconvenes in mid-April.
However, a European official at the talks said they were still mired in issues of substance, and had yet to tackle differences over presentation.
“We will remain at the negotiation table for however long it takes to get a good deal,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi. He added: “All the sides are strongly motivated to reach a compromise.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/29/binyamin-netanyahu-denounces-iran-nuclear-negotiations
The agreement under discussion by the P5+1 with Iran is fundamentally to provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program has purely civilian, peaceful uses. This is not an arms control treaty because it will not address weapons. While there is evidence to suggest that Iran engaged in nuclear weaponization activities, there is no evidence that Iran now has nuclear weapons. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, party to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Iran is obligated not to manufacture, acquire, or otherwise obtain nuclear weapons. The agreement under discussion will impose requirements on Iran in addition to those it has as an NPT party. [Iran hopes the deal will be endorsed by a Security Council resolution and not involve the U.S. Congress since the five members of the United Nations Security Council are involved.]
We Need To Get This Iranian Nuclear Deal Done, Forbes, James Conca, 26 Mar 15 By the sounds of the rhetoric going back and forth in the media, you’d think the Iranian Nuclear Deal we’re trying to put in place is a horrible loss for the United States, and that we’re being taken for a ride by the wily Ayatollahs.
Or that previous deals with Iran hadn’t ever worked.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Last year, the five members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany, called the P5+1 Group, reached an interim deal with Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program while a larger deal could be brokered. Four key provisions were obtained in this deal and all four have occurred:……… Continue reading
Unstated Factor in Iran Talks: Threat of Nuclear Tampering, NYT, By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROADMARCH 21, 2015 “………if negotiators succeed in reaching a deal with Iran, does the huge, covert sabotage effort by the United States, Israel and some European allies come to an end? “Probably not,” said one senior official with knowledge of the program. In fact, a number of officials make the case that surveillance of Iran will intensify and covert action may become more important than ever to ensure that Iran does not import the critical materials that would enable it to accelerate the development of advanced centrifuges or pursue a covert path to a bomb.
In the case of the covert effort to purchase the specialty aluminum, the Iranians actually discovered the switch before they installed the tubes, and now say they are racing ahead to develop a next-generation centrifuge that would produce nuclear fuel far faster, a prospect that has become a major sticking point in negotiations.
In public, the Obama administration says economic sanctions on oil exports and financial transactions drove Iran to negotiations — and the prospect of getting those restrictions lifted are the best chance of persuading Iran’s leadership to take a diplomatic deal limiting Iran’s production of nuclear fuel for a decade or more.
In private, officials say sabotage was the other big stick — a persistent effort to slow Iran’s progress, and a signal that the United States had other ways to deal with the nuclear program. On occasion they allude to it, as Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, did at a presentation on sanctions last year, when he talked about how the financial penalties were supplemented by “things directed at their program, which we can’t talk about.”
Although American officials remain suspicious of Iran operating a covert nuclear facility, they say they see no solid evidence of a hidden operation today.
It is entirely possible that if an accord is reached, President Obama could call a pause in what has been more than a decade of attacks, the most famous of which was a yearslong effort, code-named Olympic Games, which inserted into Iranian facilities the most sophisticated cyberweapons ever deployed. One of them was the Stuxnet worm that disabled about 1,000 centrifuges, but also spread around the world, revealing the program.
But reaching an accord is quite different than reaching a state of trust. Inside Iran, there will be pressure to keep making slow progress on a nuclear program that is central to the ambitions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and thousands of scientists who have labored for years. And in the uneasy alliance among Israel, the United States and Europe there will be continued debate about whether to supplement diplomatic pressure with covert action to keep Iran from getting to the threshold of being able to build a weapon.
For the past decade or so, the covert war to halt Iran’s nuclear program has included high-profile assassinations of their top scientists — widely attributed to Israel — and cyberattacks.
The assassinations suddenly stopped a few years ago, after they were publicly denounced by the United States. The cyberattack efforts may be continuing, probably at a lower level: a recently disclosed document from the National Security Agency, written in 2013, describes “NSA’s planned battle rhythm” to attack Iran’s systems in case of a crisis, and “Iran’s discovery of computer network exploitation tools on their networks in 2012 and 2013.” They make it clear that the N.S.A. has played a crucial role in the negotiations, in “support to policy makers” during negotiation on Iran’s nuclear program.
The ultimate goal of the covert program of industrial sabotage, according to intelligence and weapons specialists, is to produce damage obscure enough to evade easy detection, but extensive enough to result in random failures that seriously impede Iran’s nuclear drive………http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/world/middleeast/unstated-factor-in-iran-talks-threat-of-nuclear-tampering.html?_r=0
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, warned that the letter “could become a spanner in the works” of the negotiations, due to resume on Monday, with an “unpredictable effect on opinion” inside Iran.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also poured derision on the Republican letter in a statement expressing astonishment that members of Congress would seek to undermine a US administration by writing directly to a foreign power, and suggesting that the letter’s authors had much to learn about international and even US law.
However, the sharpest reaction to Monday’s open letter came from the White House. President Obama accused its 47 Republican signatories of “wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran”.
The US vice-president, Joseph Biden, said the letter, drafted by Tom Cotton, a freshman senator from Arkansas, was “expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations”.
What Netanyahu left out of his speech to Congress http://warincontext.org/ 03/06/2015
Gary Sick lists five significant omissions: 1. Iran has dramatically reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium. Remember Bibi’s cartoon bomb that was going to go off last summer? Well, it has been drained of fuel, and that will probably continue to be true indefinitely. No mention.
2. Inspections will continue long after the nominal 10-year point, contrary to his claim that everything expires in ten years. No mention.
3. The heavy water reactor at Arak will be permanently modified, so it produces near zero plutonium. Not only did he not mention it, but he listed the reactor and plutonium as one of his threats.
4. His repeated assertion that Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons ignores the judgment “with high confidence” of both American and Israeli intelligence that Iran has taken no decision to build nuclear weapons. It also contradicts the repeated findings of the IAEA that no materials have been diverted for military purposes.
5. All the major countries of the world are co-negotiators with the United States, so a U.S. congressional intervention that killed the deal will not only affect us but all of our major allies. If we stiff them, there is no reason to believe the international sanctions will hold for long. No mention.
The talks will resume on March 15, probably in Geneva, as the latest deadline for agreement looms at the end of the month.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said a deal was “very close”,telling NBC that he and his team were prepared to carry on working through the Persian New Year celebration of Nowruz starting on March 21. Continue reading
That’s not quite the same thing as saying it’s a load of bullfeathers, but we’ll get there in due course. The story may be false, but it demonstrates both the culture of leaks in Washington and the way open-source information can challenge that culture………
there is every reason to think the latest allegations by NCRI represent a politically motivated effort to derail the engagement of Iran over its nuclear program.
Almost immediately, there were reasons to doubt NCRI’s claim. A review of commercial satellite images reveals no evidence of large-scale excavation or tunneling during the 2004-2008 period identified by NCRI. The site seems to lack a suitable transformer substation for electricity to power centrifuges or evidence of ventilation systems so workers underneath can breathe. (It turns out workers tend to insist on breathing.) And if Iran had excavated a massive 2,000-square-meter underground facility, where’d all the dirt go? It just doesn’t add up.
Moreover, the press release contained a number of details that were obviously fabricated. NCRI claimed that the facility had “3 by 3 m radiation proof doors that are 40 centimeters thick and weigh about 8 tons … to prevent radiation leak.” There is no reason for such doors at a uranium-enrichment facility, which is not subject to massive radiation leaks. Almost immediately, others were able to determine that the picture of the door released by NCRI was actually lifted from an Iranian commercial website. That detail is just balderdash, despite NCRI’s lame defense that the firm supplies doors to the Iranian nuclear industry.
The site that NCRI identified is, in fact, a facility operated by a firm calledMatiran. NCRI described Matiran as a firm that produces identification documents, like passports, for the Iranian government. Helpfully, that’s how Matiran describes itself, as well. You may not have heard of it before — I had not — but its representatives attend international conferences and its employees post their CVs on social networking sites. The construction of the new facility roughly corresponds with Matiran’s successful bid to produce the new Iranian national identification card.
Hey, what do I know, but it seems unlikely that Iran has decided to double-upproducing ID cards and enriching uranium at the same site.
…….The important thing is that open-source tools, plus a little investigative shoe leather, allowed us to quickly determine that the allegation was false. …….
There is, today, an enormous amount of information that can help the public sort fact from fiction. It is really is just a matter of having skilled nongovernmental groups working in the public interest. There isn’t, at the moment, much funding available for this sort of work and only a few institutions really do it for nuclear issues, including the Institute for Science and International Security as well as my home institution, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. But the important point, the one illustrated by the Hasakah Spinning Factory and now Matiran, is that, given a chance, we cansort fact from fiction, and at a modest cost. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/03/that-secret-iranian-nuclear-facility-you-just-found-not-so-much/
Iran’s Leaders Are Not Suicidal Critics of a nuclear deal claim the regime in Tehran is fanatical. Where’s their evidence?, The Atlantic PETER BEINART MAR 2 2015, “……..Through its proxies, Iran is fighting a regional cold war. And like the United States, U.S.S.R., and China when they were fighting their global cold war, it is doing so in a distinctly non-suicidal way. Iran is seeking to extend its power without doing something so aggressive that it provokes retaliation that imperils the regime’s survival. Iran isn’t doing truly reckless things like invading a Saudi ally in the Persian Gulf or launching chemical or biological weapons at Israel, either directly or through its terrorist proxies. And it never has. This is a regime, after all, that accepted a UN-sponsored ceasefire rather than fight to the death against Saddam’s Iraq and that cooperated with the United States to depose the Taliban.
U.S. deserves ‘benefit of the doubt’ on getting Iran nuclear deal, Kerry says BY WILL DUNHAM AND DIANE BARTZ WASHINGTON Sun Mar 1, 2015 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed the case on Sunday for completing nuclear diplomacy with Iran despite Israeli opposition, saying the United States deserves the benefit of the doubt on getting a deal that would prevent any need for military action to curb Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
Two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address the U.S. Congress to warn against an Iran deal, Kerry delivered a stout defense of talks that are entering a critical phase with a key March 31 deadline looming.
Kerry said he hoped Netanyahu’s speech does not turn into “some great political football” but said the Israeli leader is “welcome to speak in the United States, obviously.”
Six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are negotiating with Iran toward an agreement to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions. Netanyahu has spoken scathingly about a possible deal and says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Netanyahu was invited to speak by Republican congressional leaders, but they did not inform President Barack Obama’s administration about the speech in advance. Signs are growing that the speech could damage Israel’s country’s broad alliance with the United States.
In an interview with the ABC program “This Week,” Kerry said of the Iran negotiations: “It is better to do this by diplomacy than to have to do a strategy militarily which you would have to repeat over and over again and which everybody believes ought to be after you have exhausted all the diplomatic remedies.”
Kerry said he could not promise that a deal can be reached, but said that “we are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created.”…..http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/01/us-usa-israel-kerry-idUSKBN0LX1HJ20150301
Iran’s Zarif says Netanyahu trying to undermine nuclear talks DUBAI Sun Mar 1, 2015 (Reuters) - Iran’s foreign minister has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to undermine Iran’s negotiations towards a nuclear deal with world powers in order to distract from the Palestinian question.
Netanyahu is due to speak against a potential nuclear deal between Iran and the United States before U.S. Congress on Tuesday. His planned appearance, on invitation from the Republicans, has angered U.S. officials for its partisan nature and is likely to worsen his already frosty relations with President Barack Obama as well as undermine the wider U.S.-Israel alliance…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/01/us-iran-nuclear-zarif-idUSKBN0LX1IJ20150301
Win-win nuclear deal for Rowhani and Obama, Al Arabiya News Friday, 27 February 2015 Iran and the six world powers (known as the P5+1: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China) are planning to meet next Monday to finalize the outline for the final accord. The prolonged nuclear negotiations between the two sides resumed last week in Geneva in order to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
The Islamic Republic has added Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and former foreign minister under the hardline government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Respectively, the United States has brought Ernest J. Moniz, the U.S. energy secretary, to the nuclear negotiations.
The addition of Moniz and Salehi, and the high-level official meetings, reflect the critical stage of the nuclear talks as well as the efforts of both the American and Iranian government to reach a general outline that would preserve their geopolitical, national, and strategic interests……..http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/02/27/Win-win-nuclear-deal-for-Rowhani-and-Obama.html
A new joint report produced on Monday by Al-Jazeera and the Guardian shows top secret files – correspondances with the South African intelligence services – suggesting that Mossad, the Israeli security agency, has believed since 2012 that the Islamic Republic of Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” according to the leak.
The revelation would seem to undermine claims by other branches of the Israeli state – including the prime minister – that Iran presented a threat to Israelis through its desire to produce nuclear weapons.
The date of the cables is particularly ironic, as it came just a month after a speech made by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in which he called for a united global response to Iran’s threat to develop nuclear weapons – a threat which, at the time, he assured was a very real one…………http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/intelligence-leaks-suggest-israeli-secret-service-believe-iran-not-producing-nuclear-weapons
Iran blockbuster: Group claims proof of secret nuclear facility By Guy Taylor – The Washington Times – Tuesday, February 24, 2015 Claiming that Iran’s government has been lying for years to U.N. nuclear inspectors, a prominent Iranian dissident group on Tuesday asserted that scientists in the Islamic Republic have actually been running a secret uranium enrichment operation at a facility buried deep beneath the ground in the northeast suburbs of Tehran since 2008.
The facility, known as “Lavizan-3,” has been used for clandestine nuclear program research and development, as well as for enrichment with advanced IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuge machines, according to the National Coalition of Resistance of Iran, which claims that the operation’s existence has never before been revealed to international officials.
The NCRI’s claim was not immediately verifiable, and the dissident group is known for its controversial history in Washington. However, the group is seen to have deep sources inside Iran’s nuclear community and its members are credited with having made game-changing revelations about Tehran’s activities in the past.
Most notably, during the early 2000s, similar NCRI claims exposed the existence of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy-water plutonium facility — two operations that have been at the center of international scrutiny and distrust of Tehran during the years since then.
The group said its latest claims were the result of a “decade-long, detailed, risking and complex” intelligence gathering effort by members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq. The so-called “MEK” is a main component of the NCRI, but has long drawn scrutiny in Washington because the State Department had listed it as a terrorist organization until 2012.
While the MEK is seen as virulently against the current regime in Tehran, U.S. officials have said the group’s terrorist listing was related to attacks its members carried out against U.S. interests in the Middle East decades ago……..
“The disconnection reflects Iran addressing concerns about its enrichment [of uranium],” said the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear program.
“The disconnection provides additional confidence that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the 2013 agreement………. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Feb-20/288170-iran-has-stopped-questionable-nuclear-centrifuge-testing-iaea.ashx#sthash.P1yKqZWQ.dpuf
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