Advisor to Iran supreme leader urges direct nuclear talks with U.S. LA Times, By Ramin Mostaghim and Carol J. Williams December 27, 2013, TEHRAN — The chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for direct talks with the United States on nuclear issues, a possible sign from the supreme leader that he is amenable to ending the animosity that has defined relations with Washington for 34 years.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been the target of fierce criticism by political and religious hard-liners since he helped broker a deal with the United States and five other Western powers last month that will put Iranian high-level enrichment of uranium on hold for at least six months…….
The next round of talks between Iran and the six powers is to begin Monday in Geneva, and Velayati’s appeal for addressing each nation’s particular concerns individually could clear away obstacles to a permanent agreement imposed by some of the ideologically diverse P5-plus-1 members. http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-iran-us-nuclear-talks-20131227,0,592216.story#ixzz2onYWZ5xt
The Treasury Department announced last week that it would freeze assets and ban transactions for companies and individuals that attempt to evade U.S. sanctions and continue doing business that helps Iran’s nuclear industry. The move prompted Iranian negotiators to leave ongoing talks in Geneva Thursday evening, saying it was against the “spirit” of the deal reached last month to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
“That was a very wrong move,” Zarif told CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer in an interview from Tehran. He said he was “saddened” by the move but that he is committed to the short-term deal meant to allow for a longer, six-month period of negotiations.
“We are committed to the plan of action and the implementation of Geneva – but we believe it takes two to tango,” Zarif said. “The process has been derailed, the process has not died,” he added later. “We are trying to put it back and to correct the path, and continue the negotiations because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.”
Many U.S. lawmakers are still eager for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, even if they were only made operative in six months if the attempt to reach a long-term nuclear deal fails…….www.cbsnews.com/news/nuclear-talks-are-derailed-not-dead-iranian-official-says/
Iran Nuclear Accord Is a Good Deal, BU Today, Critics of agreement miss the lessons of history 12.09.2013 By Robert Loftis Strip away all the rhetoric, and the November 23 agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program emerges as an exercise in realism. It recognizes that three decades of enmity and distrust will not be erased overnight, nor can the knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon be destroyed. This interim agreement represents a first step in verifiably ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program can be strictly limited to peaceful purposes. It is definitely a path worth pursuing.
The outlines of the agreement are simple: in return for a six-month halt to certain construction and enrichment activities, conversion and dilution of an existing 20 percent of enriched uranium stocks, and intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States and other powers will offer limited relief from crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
In essence, it deprives Iran of the opportunity to readily further enrich uranium to levels of purity necessary for nuclear weapons. Over the course of this six-month agreement, the sides will explore the possibility of a comprehensive pact that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is limited to civilian purposes and that treats Iran as any other signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If, during the next six months, it becomes clear that the Iranians are cheating or trying to hide a military program, then the sanctions can be reimposed immediately and further steps considered. It is worth highlighting that the Iranians made this agreement not just with the United States and its European allies, but also with the Russians and the Chinese. The Iranians would have to weigh the costs of crossing its most sympathetic global powers by failing to live up to the agreement.
Far from being the “historic mistake” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends, the accord is the first step toward a goal that we all claim to share: an Iran that does not pose a nuclear threat to our friends and allies. …………….http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/pov-iran-nuclear-accord-is-a-good-deal/
John Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal to Congress sceptics BBC News 10 Dec 13, US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the six-month nuclear deal struck with Iran to a sceptical panel of congressmen.
Mr Kerry said if the US Congress imposed new sanctions against Iran, it would risk the “delicate” diplomatic effort needed for a larger deal.
The US and other world powers have promised no new sanctions in exchange for a curb of Iran’s nuclear programme.
But US critics of the deal say it gives Iran cover to expand the programme.
And they have called for even tougher sanctions now, saying they would strengthen the hand of the so-called P5+1 group of nations engaged in negotiations with Iran…………
“I would state to you unequivocally, the answer is yes, the national security of the United States is stronger under this first-step agreement than it was before,” Mr Kerry said…….
During the hearing in the House foreign affairs committee, Mr Kerry was accused of grovelling to the Iranian government and letting down allies, the BBC’s Jonny Dymond reports.
But our correspondent says Mr Kerry pushed back against every suggestion of weakness on Iran, stressing that without a deal, the country would be closer to developing nuclear weapons.
“We are asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions,” Mr Kerry told the panel……http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25326782
Obama says Iran could be allowed a modest nuclear enrichment program President Obama says that it isn’t realistic to try to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear complex, but that strong monitoring would be needed. LA Times, By Paul RichterDecember 7, 2013, WASHINGTON — President Obama signaled Saturday that he was prepared to allow Iran to enrich uranium on its own soil, saying that a final deal could be structured to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
Obama also put the odds of success for the upcoming international negotiations with Iran at not “more than 50-50.”…….
But Obama is struggling to sell the deal in the face of intense resistance from Congress, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others who fear it will leave Iran with the ability to secretly edge toward a nuclear weapons program. Congress may adopt new sanctions in the coming weeks that Obama fears could upset the fragile diplomacy before negotiations resume.
The comments marked the first time that Obama has acknowledged Iran could be granted international approval to enrich uranium to low levels, provided it satisfied world concerns about its nuclear program and agreed to intrusive monitoring. ……….http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-obama-us-mideast-20131208,0,2891554.story#axzz2mzg6eYug
‘Saudis, Israelis developing new ‘super Stuxnet’ against Iran nuclear program’ Rt.com, 2 Dec 13 Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Mossad intelligence division are co-conspiring to produce a computer worm “more destructive” than the Stuxnet malware to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, according to a report from the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency.
“Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Bardo sent their representatives to a meeting in Vienna on November 24 to increase the two sides’ cooperation in intelligence and sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear program,” an anonymous source close to the Saudi secret services told Fars over the weekend.
The source noted that one of the major methods discussed was “the production of a malware worse than…Stuxnet.”
Stuxnet, a computer worm discovered in 2010, formed the basis of a cyberattack that sabotaged Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Its complexity prompted researchers to claim that it could only have been developed by a nation state.
It was generally believed to have been developed by the US and Israel, with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden only confirming their covert roles in an interview this July.
The intention behind the development of the new malware would be “to spy on and destroy the software structure of Iran’s nuclear program.” The source expressed a desire to remain anonymous on account of the sensitivity of information being shared. The plan would need a great deal of time and funding, with a rough figure of US $1 million being given as an estimate. It was apparently welcomed by Saudi Arabia with open arms……http://rt.com/news/stuxnet-iran-nuclear-mossad-565/
“At some point, for its own security, Israel will have to take the bombs out of the basement and put them on the negotiating table.”.
Why is the U.S. okay with Israel having nuclear weapons but not Iran? WP BY MAX FISHER December 2 Iranian officials sometimes respond to accusations that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability by replying that, not only do they not want a bomb, they’d actuallylike to see a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. Yes, this is surely in part a deflection, meant to shift attention away from concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities by not-so-subtly nodding to the one country in the region that does have nuclear weapons: Israel.
But could Iran have a point? Is there something hypocritical about the world tolerating Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which the country does not officially acknowledge but has been publicly known for decades, and yet punishing Iran with severe economic sanctions just for its suspected steps toward a weapons program? Even Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its implacable enemy and made its accommodations with Israel long ago, often joins Tehran’s calls for a “nuclear-free region.” And anyone not closely versed in Middle East issues might naturally wonder why the United States would accept Israeli warheads but not an Iranian program.
- This issue comes up in every lecture I give,” Joe Cirincione, president of the nuclear nonproliferation-focused Ploughshares Fund, told me. The suspicions that Israel gets special treatment because it’s Israel, and that Western countries are unfairly hard on Israel’s neighbors, tend to inform how many in the Middle East see the ongoing nuclear disputes. “It is impossible to give a nuclear policy talk in the Middle East without having the questions focus almost entirely on Israel,” Cirincione said…….. Continue reading
Iran’s Nuclear Deal Triggers Spin War By Pepe Escobar Global Research, November 27, 2013 Iran’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of world powers in Geneva has triggered a spin war which will last for the next 6 months, as many of the parties involved will pursue their own business interests in this situation, journalist Pepe Escobar told RT.
RT: As we see, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif came out of the talks with different views. Why’s there such diversity in the interpretation of the deal?
Pepe Escobar: Because the spin war started at 3am in Geneva. It’s going to go on for another six months, until May 2014, that’s the duration of this “first step” deal. [It’s] very important: Kerry had to say [this] so that he could appease the Israel lobby, the US Congress and the Wahhabi petrodollar lobby in the US, not to mention some neocons in the US as well, [who are] still very powerful.
Follow the Money: How Lobby Interests are Spinning Iran Nuclear Deal
In Iran it’s different. They are saying, “We still have our right to enrich uranium,” and this is correct, because they will keep enriching uranium to 5 percent for the next six months, [while] 20 percent [enrichment] is frozen. They will discuss… the next deal, which will be the definitive deal, starting from May 2014.
And all the 20 percent enriched uranium that they have is going to be diluted, so it cannot be used later on for weapons-grade material………
For the moment we have a breakthrough – it’s going to last for six months. There will be all sorts of interests that will try to bombard this deal; I’m saying especially about Wahhabi petrodollar monarchy interests and the Israeli lobby as well.
But for the moment we have diplomacy in action, something that we haven’t seen, especially between Iran and the US, for 34 years. This is the major breakthrough at the moment. But we have to be vigilant.http://www.globalresearch.ca/irans-nuclear-deal-triggers-spin-war/5359638
Iran nuclear deal foes rein in criticism LA Times, The deal’s backers and opponents are recalibrating strategies in light of war-weary Americans’ conflicted views of Iran and strong support for the accord. By Paul Richter November 27, 2013, WASHINGTON — As they prepare for battle over the new deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the accord’s supporters and foes are calibrating strategies based on their reading of Americans’ conflicted views about the Islamic Republic.
American war-weariness forms a big part of the Obama administration’s campaign for the accord, a preliminary agreement to curb Iran’s disputed nuclear program. Administration officials have said that without a diplomatic deal, the country would be on a “march to war.”
For now, the administration appears to have the upper hand. Many skeptics of the deal, who issued sharp criticism shortly after its announcement, have since muted their words.
Instead of attacking the agreement directly, opponents have pinned their hopes on continued American suspicion of Iran and its leaders. They expect the government in Tehran to fail to meet its obligations under the agreement and are poised to go on the offensive if that happens.
“Critics of the deal are reluctant to attack it too frontally because they realize how popular it is,” said Dylan Williams, legislative director for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that supports the deal……
a Reuters-Ipsos survey released Tuesday showed 44% of respondents supported the new accord; 22% opposed it. If the deal failed, 49% would favor more sanctions, 31% wanted more diplomacy, and 20% wanted to turn to military force.
“The appetite for military engagement anywhere is very low,” said pollster Julia Clark of Ipsos. After two wars that were far longer and costlier than expected, “we in the public feel burned.”……….
The preliminary agreement between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., was announced Sunday in Geneva. It would temporarily ease some of the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy in return for a halt to key aspects of the country’s nuclear program.
The deal is intended to allow time to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear program…….
Israeli officials have strenuously opposed the accord, and lawmakers who support Israel have been prominent among the deal’s critics. But statements from major pro-Israel organizations in the United States have been relatively mild………http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-iran-deal-20131128,0,7605298.story#axzz2m40yK2dZ
Iran Earthquake Near Nuclear Plant Kills ‘Seven’ http://news.sky.com/story/1175142/iran-earthquake-near-nuclear-plant-kills-seven 28 Nov 13 The epicentre lies 35 miles from the Bushehr nuclear plant, where concerns have been expressed in the past about possible leaks A 5.7-magnitude earthquake near an Iranian nuclear plant has killed seven people and injured 30, according to reports.
The quake’s epicentre was near Borazjan, around 60km (35 miles) from Bushehr, where Iran has its Russian-built reactor.
Emergency Response Chief Hassan Qadami told IRNA news agency: “So far, there are seven dead and 30 injured receiving hospital treatment.” Iran stands on several seismic fault lines. A massive quake in December 2003 struck the southern city of Bam, killing 26,000 people and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.
Iran’s Arab neighbours across the Gulf have often raised concern over the reliability of the Bushehr plant and the risks of radioactive leaks in case of a major quake.
But Iran and Russia insist it respects international standards under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog.
Republicans are opposed to President Obama’s deal with the Iranians — whatever it is. WP, By Dana Milbank, November 25 A couple of minutes after 9 p.m. on Saturday, word crossed the news wires that negotiators in Geneva had reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Then, at 9:08 p.m. — before any details of the pact were known — Ari Fleischer delivered his opinion on the agreement, via Twitter…….Fleischer’s instant and reflexive response — even knees don’t jerk as quickly as he did — set the tone for Republicans. Three minutes after Fleischer’s tweet came one in agreement from Ron Christie, another veteran of the Bush administration. “Precisely,” he wrote, also without the benefit of knowing what was in the agreement. “A disgraceful deal.”
An hour later — still before Obama detailed the accord in a statement from the White House — John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, had analyzed the administration’s motives in reaching the deal…… In the eyes of Republicans, the agreement with Iran has a fatal flaw: It was negotiated by the Obama administration. This president could negotiate a treaty promoting baseball, motherhood and apple pie, and Republicans would brand it the next Munich.
The opposition in this case is particularly mindless. Certainly there are reasons to be skeptical that Iran will act in good faith. But the deal is temporary — six months — and easily reversible. In the (likely) event that Iran doesn’t agree to a permanent accord to end its nuclear program, the tougher sanctions contemplated in Congress could be applied. Would it be better to go to war now without exhausting diplomatic options? We’ve been there and done that — when Ari Fleischer stood on the White House podium.
But Republicans were being reflexive, not reflective…….. In the stampede to judgment, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) risked getting trampled. He actually waited until hearing Obama speak before issuing a statement, and then declared that he would “look forward to studying details.”
A member of the opposition party who wants to think before criticizing the Obama administration?… http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-republicans-mindlessly-oppose-iran-nuclear-deal/2013/11/25/b87f65ce-5603-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html
Iran nuclear program deal reached with world powers during diplomatic talks in Geneva ABC News 25 Nov 13Iran has reached a deal with six world powers to curb its nuclear activities in return for the easing of sanctions imposed by Western countries.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinated the talks in Geneva, said they had agreed a “first step” towards a comprehensive solution. United States president Barack Obama hailed the deal saying: “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…….
Under the agreement Iran has promised not to enrich more uranium above a level of five per cent for six months. It has also agreed to halt construction of the Arak research reactor, which is feared capable of yielding potential bomb material. In return the six powers will remove the embargo on trade with Iran in precious metals while refraining from imposing new sanctions for six months.
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi says the deal will help normalise relations with Iran, and “will help provide a better life for the Iranian people.”…..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-24/iran-reaches-deal-with-world-powers-on-nuclear-program/5113460
Uranium enrichment at heart of Iran nuclear deal WP 24 Nov 13, Iran’s ability to enrich uranium — at what levels and what speed — is a cornerstone of the deal reached Sunday between Tehran and world powers. Here are answers to some important questions about uranium enrichment, the central process in turning concentrated uranium into nuclear fuel.
Q: WHAT IS URANIUM ENRICHMENT?…….
Q: SO WHY THE WORRY ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS?…….
Q: WHY WON’T IRAN GIVE UP ENRICHMENT?
A: This is what Iran has frequently called its “red line.” Iran’s leaders say they will never relinquish control over the entire nuclear cycle as a matter of national pride. Iran portrays itself as an emerging technological giant of the Islamic world. The nuclear energy program is a pillar of Iran’s self-image as a center of scientific advances independent of the West. Iran has made some other important strides, including claims of sophisticated drone development, a homegrown auto industry and an aerospace program..
Q: WHERE ARE IRAN’S ENRICHMENT SITES?
A: Iran has two main uranium enrichment facilities. The oldest and largest — in Natanz, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of Tehran — is largely built underground and is surrounded by anti-aircraft batteries. Uranium enrichment began in 2006. Another site is known as Fordo, which is built into a mountainside south of Tehran. Its construction was kept secret by Iran until it was disclosed in September 2009 in a pre-emptive move before its existence was revealed by Western intelligence agencies. The area is heavily protected by the Revolutionary Guard. U.N. nuclear inspectors have visited both sites and have installed round-the-clock monitoring systems. The new accord allows for the possibility of daily U.N. inspection visits.
Q: HOW MANY OTHER COUNTRIES ENRICH URANIUM?
A: More than a dozen countries have enrichment programs, but several of those do not have nuclear weapons. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/uranium-enrichment-at-heart-of-iran-nuclear-deal/2013/11/24/fce9a86e-54cd-11e3-9ee6-2580086d8254_story.html
Omens good for Iran nuclear deal at second bite Foreign ministers ready to fly to Geneva as diplomats make further progress on draft agreement over uranium enrichment Guardian, Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan in Geneva 21 Nov 13 Foreign ministers from six major powers are poised to fly to Geneva by the end of the week if nuclear talks with Iran lead to an agreement, western officials said on Wednesday night.
A new round of negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear programme got under way on Wednesday, bringing together the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and top diplomats from the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Officials involved in the talks – the third session since the election of a reformist Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani – said they were going well, overcoming the disappointment of the previous round, attended by US secretary of state, John Kerry, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, their French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, and other foreign ministers.
Those talks appeared to come close to clinching a historic deal but the talks broke up in early hours of 10 November, amid some acrimony over who was responsible for the failure……http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/21/iran-nuclear-talks-geneva-progress
Talks With Iran on Nuclear Deal Hang in Balance NYT, By MICHAEL R. GORDON November 23, 2013 GENEVA — As Secretary of State John Kerry and top diplomats from five other world powers swept into Geneva this weekend for the second time in two weeks, they struggled to complete a groundbreaking agreement with Iran that would temporarily freeze Tehran’s nuclear program and lay the foundation for a more comprehensive accord…….
The interim accord the United States and its negotiating partners are seeking would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium to 3.5 percent and would not require it to dismantle its existing centrifuges. But it seeks to constrain the Iranian program by requiring Iran to transform its stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop from weapons grade, to a form that is less usable for military purposes.
It also establishes a cap on Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, precludes new centrifuges from being installed and is expected to involve more intensive monitoring of the Iranian program, among other measures.
As to what Iran considers its “right to enrich,” American officials signaled a possible workaround last week, saying that they were open to a compromise in which the two sides would essentially agree to disagree, while Tehran continued to enrich.
The accord would last six months, allowing negotiators that period of time to work on a more comprehensive and lasting agreement.
In return for the temporary freeze, Iran would receive between $6 billion and $7 billion worth of sanctions relief, American officials say, including providing Iran with access to frozen assets. The limited relief could be accomplished by executive action, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not dismantle Iran’s nuclear program……..
Michael Mann, the spokesman for Ms. Ashton, described the negotiations with the Iranians as “intensive.” If diplomats do not succeed in sweeping away the obstacles to an accord this weekend, observers expect them to mount another try here within a few weeks. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/world/middleeast/talks-with-iran-on-nuclear-deal-hang-in-balance.html?hpw&rref=&_r=0
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