Big hurdles to Iran nuclear deal as deadline looms, Reuters VIENNA | BY JOHN IRISH AND LOUIS CHARBONNEAU 26 June 15 As a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear deal approaches, major differences remain between Iran and world powers on several key issues including sanctions relief and U.N. access to Iranian sites, a senior Western diplomat said on Friday.
“The most difficult subjects need to be resolved in the coming days,” the diplomat told reporters on condition of anonymity in the Austrian capital, where talks between the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran have entered their final phase.
“The questions of access and transparency, PMD (possible military dimensions (to Iran’s nuclear activity) and sanctions remain extremely problematic. We can find an agreement on some points, but on major issues there are still big differences.”
Officials close to the talks say they have yet to agree on the speed and scope of lifting sanctions, how Iran will reduce its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, the future extent of Tehran’s enrichment-centrifuge research and development program, and access for U.N. inspectors to military and other sites, as well as U.N. access to Iranian nuclear scientists.
Iran wants sanctions lifted immediately, though diplomats say they will be eased gradually in accordance with a schedule and only after confirmation that Iran has met its commitments.
Iran rejects allegations from Western powers and their allies that it is seeking the capability to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.
The real deadline is not June 30 but July 9, diplomats say.
The U.S. delegation must present the deal to Congress by July 9 if a mandatory congressional review period before President Barack Obama can begin suspending sanctions is to be limited to 30 days. After July 9, the review will last 60 days, according to a law passed recently by U.S. legislators…………..http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/26/us-iran-nuclear-talks-idUSKBN0P623G20150626
Iranian Professor: The Costs of Enriching Uranium Have Hurt Iran http://www.thetower.org/2156-iranian-professor-the-costs-of-enriching-uranium-have-hurt-iran/ by TheTower.org Staff | 06.12.15 In a public debate last month against an advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollahi Ali Khamenei, Prof. Sadegh Zibakalam of Tehran University, who is associated with the reformist movement in Iran, argued that Iran’s enrichment program has been expensive for the country with little benefit. His remarks were translated Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“I’m not saying that the nuclear [program] is bad; it’s good. But at what cost? Now they will say ‘Zibakalam said we don’t need a nuclear [program]’… The political, partisan, and factional conduct on this [nuclear] issue must be resolved. Does the nuclear [program] exist for the sake of the state, or does the state exist for it? Must Iran be sacrificed for the sake of the nuclear [program], or should we sacrifice the nuclear [program] for the sake of Iran?”Zibakalam argued that enriching uranium has huge direct operating costs, but the penalties for having an illicit enrichment program has hurt Iran even more. Zibakalam suggested that Iran would have been better off buying enriched uranium and incurring neither cost.
Zibakalam, who was sentenced to prison last year for questioning Iran’s nuclear program, made several references during the debate to not being allowed to express an opinion about the nuclear program. In a different forum last year, Zibakalam said that Iran’s threats against Israel were the reason Iran’s nuclear program is viewed with suspicion.
Threatening Iran with military attacks while also negotiating with it only casts doubts on the sincerity of the Obama administration to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement and to seek out Iran’s help to thwart the advances made by the Islamic State.
It Is Untenable to Seek a Nuclear Agreement With Iran While Also Arming its Opponents, Huffington Post 06/09/20 Ever since the negotiations between the administration of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and P5+1 — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany — began in earnest in September 2013, and particularly since the announcement of the Lausanne Accord, the Obama administration has been trying to mollify the opponents of the nuclear accord. The most outspoken foes of the agreement are the usual suspects, namely, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf area. They all claim that the agreement with Iran threatens their national security, but offer no viable alternative to the negotiations and a comprehensive agreement. What they really want is a new war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. As the President rightly stated on April 2 when the Lausanne Accord was announced, insisting that Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and continuing the sanction regime and even tightening it up further will eventually lead to war with Iran.
And how has the Obama administration has been trying to mollify Israel, Saudi Arabia and their allies? By threatening Iran and selling more advanced weapons to them. Last October, the U.S. announced sale of new missiles to Saudi Arabia worth $1.75 billion. This is on top of $60 billion worth of weapons that the U.S. has sold to that nation since 2010.
U.S. allies in the P5+1 have also been busy selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Continue reading
Israeli Military Sees ‘Security Benefits’ To Iran Nuclear Deal http://www.mintpressnews.com/israeli-military-sees-security-benefits-to-iran-nuclear-deal/206312/ The Israeli military says that the deal, and increased inspections, would provide increased clarity on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and the risks of a “breakout” to military use. By Jason Ditz for Antiwar.com | June 6, 2015 Once again underscoring the profound disconnect between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nation’s security apparatus, the Israeli military has held a “closed door” briefing in which they seemed to praise the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it provided “security benefits” for Israel.
Though the details of the briefing were not supposed to be fully made public, some details got out, including the military saying that the deal, and increased inspections, would provide increased clarity on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and the risks of a “breakout” to military use.
Netanyahu has repeatedly and loudly condemned the talks, claiming any deal with Iran on any terms would be a threat to Israel’s existence. The military, however, said it believed the threat from Iran was waning, and would more so with a nuclear deal.
Netanyahu has struggled to keep military and intelligence officials backing his public narrative, and earlier this year Israeli intelligence briefed the US Congress against imposing sanctions demanded by Netanyahu on the grounds it would sabotage diplomacy. Netanyahu’s pre-election visit to the US Congress was the result of efforts by him and hawkish Congressional leaders to try to undo the “damage” done by the briefing.
Iran, US talks gain urgency as nuclear accord deadline nears SMH, June 1, 2015 Karen DeYoung, Geneva: Significant differences remain between the United States and Iran over a nuclear deal, but the two sides are clear on what needs to be resolved and the urgency of doing it before a June 30 deadline, a senior Obama administration official said after six hours of weekend talks here between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The discussions, the official said, were “intense at times” as both sought clarification of the two biggest issues between them. Iran wants to know exactly which sanctions against it will be lifted and when.
The US and its global partners in the negotiations want specific mention in a final deal of international verification and monitoring provisions that include all Iranian sites, including military facilities. Other issues that remain unresolved include the extent to which Iran will provide details of its nuclear research history.
“All issues were reviewed” but “differences still remain”, Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi told reporters as his delegation depa http://www.smh.com.au/world/iran-us-talks-gain-urgency-as-nuclear-accord-deadline-nears-20150531-ghdd13.htmlrted for Tehran…….
Iran has cooperated with IAEA more than reflected in recent report: Official http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/05/29/413428/Iran-IAEA-report-military-dimensions-nuclear-program-Ambassador-Najafi An Iranian nuclear official says the part of a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran’s cooperation with the agency is “incomplete,” as the Islamic Republic has cooperated with the agency more than reflected in the report, Press TV reports.
“From the 18 practical measures [on which] we agreed with the Agency, we concluded 16. Two remaining practical measures are under discussion,” Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Reza Najafi told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Friday.
He explained that during recent meetings with IAEA officials in the Iranian capital, Tehran, “we discussed [the] two remaining practical measures. We provided some clarification with regard to those two issues.”
“What has been considered by some media as information about one issue is indeed a sentence in the report which refers to one of the issues. But, indeed, we provided information for two issues and we believe that that part of the report is incomplete; it is not a full reflection of the facts,” he explained.
In separate remarks reported by IRNA, Najafi said the IAEA report repeats previous allegations about the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) in Iran’s nuclear program.
“The latest report, when compared to earlier ones, shows the IAEA has nothing new to present concerning the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement in Iran,” said Najadi, adding that the new report has the same content as that of the previous ones only with different figures.
Najafi also rejected the UN nuclear watchdog’s so-called PMD allegations and said repeating the same baseless accusations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities cannot give credibility to IAEA reports.
He pointed out that the report, issued to the IAEA’s 35-nation board and the UN Security Council on Thursday, attests that all of Iran’s atomic activities and its nuclear facilities have been under the close supervision of the UN nuclear agency, and have had no diversion from peaceful dimensions.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have been pushing for oversight of the pending deal given that current proposals include relief from some of the sanctions placed on Iran by Congress. The bill that passed Thursday requires that Congress be able to review and possibly reject any deal the U.S. and world powers make with Iran regarding nuclear weapons. If Congress approves of the deal — or fails to disapprove within a certain timeframe — the President’s deal can move forward……
While the debate continues, however, some lawmakers have signaled their support for the President’s negotiations with Iran. In a letter first reported on by the Washington Post, 150 Democrats urged Obama to “stay on course” and commended the work of world powers so far in the process.
“The stakes are too great and the alternatives are too dire,” the letter reads. “If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent the nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely.”
The Washington Post reports that the letter could mean the President has enough Congressional support to override a veto should lawmakers vote to reject the deal once it is released in June. http://time.com/3850806/congress-iran-nuclear-deal/
Why an Iran deal won’t lead to nuclear proliferation, WP, By Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai April 28 This post is part of the “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” symposium.
When the P5+1 and Iran announced their framework agreement earlier this month, some analysts reiterated that a final deal would result in aproliferation cascade in the Middle East. This widely held and long-standing assumption remains largely unchallenged. But a careful look at the actual technical capability, political and security context, and intentions of potential contenders confirms that much of this hype is baseless.
Those who invoke the proliferation cascade theory often confuse both the cause and the actual result. Would a nuclear agreement with Iran or nuclear-armed Iran cause a cascade? Does the regional spread of civilian nuclear programs count as a proliferation cascade, or is it restricted to the spread of the bomb?…….
First, the entire region, except for nuclear-armed Israel, is party to the NPT. This means that they’ve already legally given up the nuclear weapon option. Moreover, nuclear weapon states can’t legally provide them nuclear weapons either. Second, many countries have safeguards agreements and some, the additional protocol, in place. This means that their programs are under close International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scrutiny. Continue reading
As Iran pursues a peaceful nuclear programme, Iran’s enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations, and there will be no other enrichment facility than Natanz. Iran’s research and development on centrifuges will be carried out on a scope and schedule that has been mutually agreed.
The grand bargain: What Iran conceded in the nuclear talks, Brookings, Richard Nephew | April 18, 2015 Since the P5+1 and Iran announced the agreed parameters for a comprehensive settlement of the Iran nuclear issue earlier this month, Washington punditry has obsessed over the fine points of both the joint statement read by EU Foreign Minister Mogherini and Iranian FM Zarif, and the fact sheet released by the Obama administration, to identify concessions made by the United States.
Much attention has centered on centrifuge numbers, the strategic implications of the Iranian nuclear program within the context of the deal and the decision to provide early sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for substantial nuclear steps by Iran.As with everything in Washington as late, the discussion quickly divided into two camps: those convinced that Obama gave up critical advantage over Iran too readily in order to get a nuclear deal that, even if better than what was anticipated, still is not satisfactory; and, those convinced that, given the alternatives, what Obama achieved was worth such concessions.
Next Round of Nuclear Talks With Iran Set for Next Week http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/world/middleeast/next-round-of-nuclear-talks-with-iran-set-for-next-week.html?_r=0 By THOMAS ERDBRINK APRIL 16, 2015 TEHRAN — The next round of nuclear talks between world powers andIran is scheduled for next week in Vienna, as the two sides begin to address the issues they left unresolved earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland, and try to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the end of June.
The European Union, the host of the talks, said in a statement released on Thursday that its senior negotiator, Helga Schmid, will meet with Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, on Wednesday, to pursue an agreement that would restrict Iran to peaceful research in the nuclear area in exchange for the phased lifting of economic sanctions.
After the parties reached a framework agreement in Lausanne, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, complicated matters by insisting that all sanctions would have to be lifted immediately and that all military sites would be off limits to inspectors.
President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday acknowledged the problems but said he remained optimistic that the negotiators would reach a deal. “There is a difficult path ahead of us towards the final deal,” he said at a news conference during a trip to northern Iran, but the country’s “will and decision is to continue the negotiations until a final deal is reached.”
Iran nuclear deal: ‘Accusations with very little proof’, DW 14 Apr 15 In an interview with Deutsche Welle, former IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelley suspects the nuclear watchdog could be misused as a tool to derail the nuclear deal with Iran. Diplomats and experts will start hammering out the legal and technical details of a nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers next week in Vienna, the EU diplomatic service announced Thursday.
Foreign ministers from Iran and the group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany agreed on the outlines of the deal on April 2 in Lausanne. In addition, Iran and the group of six still have to draw up a list of Iranian nuclear sites, which experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, will get to visit as part of its probe into alleged nuclear weapons projects.
A senior IAEA delegation returned from a visit to Tehran on Thursday, without any answers on ten new suspected research and development projects identified by the agency in addition to the two that are already being discussed.
DW talked to Robert Kelley, former IAEA director for nuclear inspections in Iraq and now expert for nuclear energy and weapons issues with the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute.
DW: The IAEA plays a central role in the nuclear deal reached in Lausanne on April 2. Now, an IAEA delegation under chief inspector Tero Varjoranta, which sought answers to allegations over the possible military use of Irans nuclear program in the past, left Tehran without those answers. What exactly is the IAEA looking for?……….
In this age of satellites and super high sensitive detectors, how difficult would it be to effectively hide nuclear activities?
The very best detectors in the world are the IAEA inspectors. If you for some reason offend Iran so much, that they kick the IAEA out, then you are blind. You won´t know anything about what is going on. So one of the things that are good about this new agreement is: The inspectors have access to every aspect of uranium mining, conversion to the right chemicals, chemicals producing uranium hexafluoride in the enrichment plant and things after the enrichment plant. So the inspectors are getting a very good picture of everything Iran is openly doing.
And they are also going to be looking at procurement. The import regime is part of the agreement. That is a very powerful thing. The chances of having a completely clandestine, hidden, secret program becomes much more difficult when you have these things in place. Things like the handling of uranium and plutonium do leave a lot of signatures and detectors can pick them up. Not from space but on the ground. But you can´t detect things like explosives and explosive bridgewire detonators, because they have conventional military uses, they are used in mining, for all kinds of other activities. And you can´t call that a nuclear activity. http://www.dw.de/iran-nuclear-deal-accusations-with-very-little-proof/a-18388394
Pakistan Has Complicated Nuclear Relationship With Saudi Arabia, Iran VOA, Ayesha Tanzeem April 07, 2015 ISLAMABAD—
Iran’s foreign minister visits Pakistan Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Yemen, which many see as a fight for influence between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Iran also has recently reached a framework nuclear agreement with six world powers to possibly curb the weapons potential of its nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia, in the past, has reportedly sought to form its own nuclear alliances to counter a perceived Iranian threat. A member of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, warned a few months ago that the kingdom would seek the same nuclear capabilities that Tehran is allowed to maintain under any deal.
In this regard, Pakistan’s relationship with the kingdom is unusual.
On one hand, it has sold nuclear secrets to Iran in the past through a network run by former chief Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. The network also sold nuclear technology or know-how to Libya and North Korea.
On the other, it has faced allegations of promising Saudi Arabia a nuclear umbrella against Iran.
‘Unacknowledged nuclear partnership’…….http://www.voanews.com/content/pakistan-has-complicated-nuclear-relationship-with-saudi-arabia-iran/2710343.html
A nuclear deal with Iran is the best option By Fareed Zakaria WP April 2 When making up their minds about the nuclear deal with Iran, people are properly focused on its details. But to figure out whether an agreement that limits and inspects Iran’s nuclear program is acceptable, one has to consider seriously the alternatives to it — and there are really only two.
First, a return to sanctions. Let’s say that the U.S. Congress rejects the final agreement reached by all in June. What then? The current sanctions regime against Iran is almost unprecedented in that all the world’s major powers, and Iran’s neighbors, support it. Usually sanctions wear thin over time.
If other countries believe that Iran made a reasonable offer that the United States turned down, they are unlikely to continue to support a tight sanctions regime. Most studies confirm that it is the multilateral aspect of the sanctions against Iran that has made them effective………
Would continued sanctions halt the nuclear program? That’s highly unlikely. Iran has expanded its nuclear program under sanctions for the last two decades. In 2003, Iran had under 200 centrifuges. Today it has 19,000. The restrictions are now tighter — if they last — but Iran’s nuclear establishment is also much larger. Keep in mind that Iran began showing active interest in a nuclear program as early as the 1950s. It now has thousands of nuclear scientists and technicians who work in the field.
That raises option two, a military attack. People speak of a strike on Iranlike Israel’s against an Iraqi reactor in 1981 and a Syrian facility in 2007. But those were single facilities. Iran, by contrast, has a vast nuclear industry, comprising many installations spread across the country, some close to population centers, others in mountainous terrain. The United States would effectively have to go to war with Iran, destroying its air defenses, then attacking its facilities in dozens — perhaps hundreds — of sorties. The bombers would be equipped with highly explosive weapons, demolishing buildings, reactors and laboratories, but also producing considerable collateral damage.
What would be the effect of such an attack? When any country is bombed by foreigners, its people tend to rally around the regime. The Islamic Republic would likely gain domestic support. It would also respond in various ways, through its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. The attacks might be directed at U.S. troops or allies.
An attack would also mean the splintering of the international coalition against Iran. Russia, China and many other countries would condemn it. Iran would be seen as the victim of an unprovoked invasion. The sanctions would crumble. Its nuclear program would be devastated, but Iran would begin to rebuild it. Even under the current sanctions regime, Iran makes tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues, more than enough to afford to rebuild its facilities.
Finally, once it had been attacked, Tehran would invoke the need for a deterrent against future attacks and would work directly and speedily not on a nuclear program but a nuclear weapon. In his op-ed advocating war with Iran, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton argues that military attacks “should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.” But bombing and then threatening the Islamic Republic’s existence would likely produce exactly the opposite effect — a government strengthened at home with a clear rationale to acquire a nuclear deterrent. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-nuclear-deal-with-iran-is-the-best-option/2015/04/02/bc8292d2-d978-11e4-8103-fa84725dbf9d_story.html
t marks a major breakthrough in a 12-year stand-off between Iran and the West, which has long feared Tehran wants to build a nuclear bomb. US President Barack Obama welcomed the ‘historic understanding’ with Iran but cautioned more work needed to be done. ‘If Iran cheats, the world will know it,’ he said in a televised address from the White House on Thursday.
After eight days of talks that sometimes went through the night, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of punishing sanctions, said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
The main outlines agreed at the negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne now have to be finalised in a highly complex agreement by June 30.
-US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed a ‘big day’, saying on Twitter that the global powers and Iran ‘now have parameters to resolve major issues on nuclear program. Back to work soon on a final deal’.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the drafting of a full agreement would begin immediately with the aim of completing it by the June 30 deadline. Iranian media said the deal will include Iran slashing by two-thirds, to 6000 from 19,000, the number of centrifuges, which can make fuel for nuclear power but also the core of a nuclear bomb.
Mogherini said the United States and the EU will lift all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran once the UN atomic agency has verified that Tehran has stuck to the ground-breaking deal. Mogherini, in a joint press statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, also said that the design of a new reactor will be changed so that no weapons-grade plutonium can be produced.
The Fordo facility, built deep into a mountain, will remain open but will not be used for enrichment but for research and development.
The so-called P5+1 group – the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany – hope that the deal will make it virtually impossible for Iran to make nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian program. France warned that the sanctions could be reimposed if Tehran does not fully keep its side of the bargain.The office of President Francois Hollande said in a statement that Paris would watch closely to ensure a ‘credible’ and ‘verifiable’ final agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
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
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