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Iran and West both compliant on nuclear deal – but cautious

diplomacy-not-bombsOne Year After Iran Nuclear Deal, Sides Remain Compliant but Wary, Voice of America, Chris Hannas July 14, 2016 WASHINGTON— One year ago, exhausted diplomats from Iran and a group of six world powers emerged from a meeting at a luxury hotel in Vienna, Austria with what they had been seeking for nearly two years: a comprehensive agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting harsh economic sanctions.

Today, the pact is in effect with clear results on its major components, but there are lingering suspicions on both sides that the other may take advantage and not live up to its responsibilities.

“We need to continue to work and we will continue to work and we have a specially designated ambassador whose day-to-day effort is leading a team to make sure that this deal continues to be lived up to, that we continue to be able to resolve any problems,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

President Barack Obama called the pact a success, saying, “All of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon remain closed.” He said the deal, implemented in January, has pushed the time frame for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if it violated the agreement from two or three months to “about a year.”

But U.S. opponents of the deal a year ago have not changed their view, that it would not force to Iran to end its military activities in the Mideast or ultimately block it from developing a nuclear weapon………

Praise 

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini praised the agreement as a path to “a new chapter in international relations” that uses diplomacy to overcome decades of tensions.  Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that while the pact was not perfect, it was an important achievement and represented a foundation for a new diplomatic beginning.

Iran removed thousands of centrifuges that had been used to enrich uranium and shipped out the majority of its existing stockpile. World powers lifted their sanctions, unlocking billions of dollars for Iran and paving the way for new business opportunities there. Last month, U.S. aerospace giant Boeing announced a tentative deal to sell 100 jets to Iran’s state-owned airline.

Throughout the past 12 months, however, officials on both sides, particularly from Iran and the U.S., have spoken about the deal with comments that range from suspicion to outright rejection.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that if the world powers fail to meet their responsibilities, then Iran stands ready to restore its nuclear program. Meanwhile, some members of the U.S. Congress want to ban the United States from purchasing nuclear-related material from Iran, accuse the Obama administration of giving up too much too soon in the negotiations, and are wary about how Iran is spending its newly unlocked money.

Iran has complained that despite the lifting of sanctions that once barred financial institutions from doing business with the country, foreign banks remain reluctant to be involved in transactions…….http://www.voanews.com/content/one-year-after-iran-nuclear-deal-sides-remain-compliant-but-wary/3417840.html

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

High expectations in Iran, for nuclear deal economic help have not been met

flag-IranYear after nuclear deal, Iran’s high expectations not met, Christian Science Monitor To sell Iranians on the nuclear deal, President Rouhani promised a new era. But the consensus is it has yet to materialize, and many blame the US.  By Scott Peterson, Staff writer JULY 14, 2016 ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Joy erupted on the streets of Tehran a year ago Thursday, when Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers hailed as a victory of diplomacy over war.

The deal was marketed by both sides as a “win-win”: Iran would dismantle the most controversial aspects of its nuclear program – minimizing the chance of acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least a decade – in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that crippled its economy.

As jubilant Iranians waved flags and heralded an easing of Iran’s isolation, President Hassan Rouhani promised that “a page has turned in the history of Iran.”

But one year later, the 159-page accord is a study in unmet high expectations for change, as hard-liners in both Iran and the US Congress fight to undermine the deal to ensure as little political benefit as possible for the architects of the accord – Mr. Rouhani and President Barack Obama – as well as for their long-term strategic foes, in Washington and Tehran.

Analysts say the Iranian president promised more than he could deliver.

“Rouhani had no choice other than leveraging pent-up public demands to rally elite support for diplomacy; the hype was as indispensable as its ensuing disillusionment was inevitable,” says Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

“The deal has not ushered in a new era. It is, at best, taking Iran back to where it was before the nuclear crisis,” says Mr. Vaez. “The establishment deemed ending economic isolation as an exigency for preserving its power. Now it fears rapid economic opening could loosen its grip on power.

All sides have strictly adhered to the letter of the deal: Iran has dramatically reduced the scale of its nuclear infrastructure – reconfiguring a heavy water nuclear reactor and a deeply buried uranium enrichment facility, for example – while keeping a limited capacity to produce fuel for nuclear energy. And non-nuclear sanctions have been lifted, partially ushering Iran back into the global economy.

But the deal has not yet enhanced Rouhani’s ability to fulfill his promise of expanding social freedoms, or of creating a less securitized atmosphere. In fact, the opposite may be true, after steady warnings from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about “infiltration” and “soft war” from the United States and the West.

US and European banks also are proving reluctant to engage with Iran, fearful that non-nuclear US sanctions might bite, thereby depriving Iran of the full hoped-for benefits of the deal. The House is readying new measures this week that will impose further sanctions over terrorism and human rights abuses, or limit Iran’s use of the dollar, all of which the White House says it will veto………..http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2016/0714/Year-after-nuclear-deal-Iran-s-high-expectations-not-met

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Republicans trying to roll back the Iran nuclear agreement

Iran Nuclear Deal Faces Triple Threat in Congress on Anniversary   http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-12/iran-nuclear-deal-faces-triple-threat-in-congress-on-anniversary  kambizf  

      • Three measures seek to derail agreement signed a year ago
      • Iran says it still waiting for full benefits from the accord

Republican lawmakers are pushing three measures to roll back a nuclear agreement with Iran, while the Obama administration’s lead negotiator for the accord defended its implementation one year after the deal was struck.

Three bills dealing with the agreement, under which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions, are scheduled for a vote this week in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority. The measures would then go to the Senate, which may not take them up before September.

One of the proposals would impose new sanctions on Iran over any sponsorship of terrorism or human rights violations. Another would bar the purchase from the Islamic Republic of “heavy water,” a non-radioactive byproduct of both the manufacturing of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. The third would block Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system, including the use of the dollar.

All three measures have been met with promises of a veto from the White House. Without the Iranian accord, “we would have been forced to confront the reality of how to address Iran’s nuclear program in a world where diplomacy had failed,” Stephen Mull, the State Department’s lead coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation, said Tuesday at a Bipartisan Policy Center conference in Washington.

‘No Better Deal’

“There was no better deal to be had,” Mull said. “If Iran continues to meet its obligation and we walk away, we walk away alone. ”

While the U.S. remains concerned about Iran’s missile program, support for terrorism and human rights violations, within the confines of the nuclear agreement, “this deal is working,” Mull added.

After a decade of isolation under U.S.-led international sanctions, Iran is now seeing greater interest from businesses and banks in its $370 billion economy. However, Iranian officials complain that six months after the economic sanctions were eased, the country has yet to witness the financial benefits many predicted.

 Remaining U.S. sanctions as well as the threat sanctions could be reimposed, have kept many foreign companies away, according to Iran. Mull cited Iran’s weaknesses in transparency, banking and corporate governance.

“Iran has a lot of homework to do,” Mull said.The three bills expected to be voted on this week in the House are in addition to a measure introduced to derail Boeing Co.’s agreement last month to provide 109 aircraft to Iran’s national airline, a deal valued at more than $17.6 billion. That would be the biggest business transaction between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the U.S. hostage crisis.

In issuing its veto threat this week, the White House emphasized that the legislation would undermine the viability of the nuclear agreement.

The deal “is critical to ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful, which is profoundly in the national security interest of the U.S. and the international community,” according to the statement.

 

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Forces in Iran trying to torpedo nuclear deal

Germany says forces in Iran trying to torpedo nuclear deal, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-germany-idUSKCN0ZO1F9 8 July 16  Responding to German intelligence agency reports that Iran has been trying to acquire nuclear technology in Germany, Berlin said on Friday that certain forces in Iran may be trying to undermine its nuclear deal with the West.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), said in its annual report that Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in the nuclear area, had continued at a “high level” in 2015.

A separate report from the intelligence agency in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia this week said it had registered 141 attempts to acquire technology for proliferation purposes last year and that two-thirds of these attempts were linked to Iran.

Asked about the reports on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Germany expected Iran to stick to a United Nations Security Council resolution which sets restrictions on arms-related transfers.

But he also suggested that the procurement attempts may stem from forces in Iran that oppose last year’s nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of western economic sanctions.

“There are forces within Iran for which the policies of the country’s president and foreign minister are a thorn in the eye,” Schaefer said. “They may be trying, one way or another, to undermine or torpedo the nuclear deal and the normalization of relations between us and Iran. We are watching this closely.”But hardline allies of Khamenei, including the elite Revolutionary Guards, are wary of losing their grip in power by opening up to the West and have repeatedly criticized pragmatist President Rouhani’s foreign policy.

Schaefer said Germany had a “great deal of faith” in President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and had the impression that Tehran was doing its best to stick to the deal, which ended a 12-year standoff with the West over the nuclear program.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose power far outweighs that of Iran’s elected officials in parliament or the presidency, gave decisive support to the nuclear deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to parliament on Thursday, said ballistic missile launches carried out by Iran earlier this year were inconsistent with the UN resolution, which calls on Iran to refrain from work on missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

The NRW intelligence report said procurement efforts in 2015 had been focused on so-called “dual-use” technologies that can be used in both civil and military sectors. While nuclear-related procurement attempts fell slightly, those related to Iran’s missile program rose.

The report said documents had been falsified to suggest technologies were destined for the oil, gas and steel industries. In an apparent attempt to cover its tracks, Iran was seeking to acquire technologies via third countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China, the report said.

 

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics | 1 Comment

Time that USA government backed its Iran nuclear deal and promoted investment

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag-IranThe Obama Administration Needs to Double Down on the Iran Deal  http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/06/16/the-obama-administration-needs-to-double-down-on-the-iran-deal/If Washington doesn’t move to help get banks and business into Iran, the nuclear deal will collapse.   esident Barack Obama spent enormous political capital to cement an agreement with Iran that constrained its nuclear program for more than a decade. That agreement, however, is now at risk of unraveling.

The danger of the agreement collapsing, to the detriment of U.S. interests, is now evident. Under the nuclear accord, Iran agreed to constrain its nuclear program in return for economic reprieve from U.S. sanctions. While Iran has so far lived up to its nuclear-related obligations — addressing U.S. concerns over its nuclear program by reducing its number of operating centrifuges, reconfiguring its heavy-water reactor, and permitting an unprecedented inspections regime — the United States has struggled to fulfill its end of the nuclear bargain.

The British law firm Clyde & Co. conducted a recent survey of business executives interested in engaging Iran. Respondents stated that the major barrier to market entry into Iran is U.S. sanctions, which are inhibiting access to trade finance and insurance and effectively preventing banks from bolstering their business ties with Iran. As a result, Iran has faced persistent difficulties receiving practical value from the lifting of sanctions, which is placing the nuclear accord at risk.

Hard-liners in Iran are touting the sanctions issue as an example of why the United States cannot be trusted.That message is having an effect: Recent pollingindicates that the Iranian people are growing increasingly skeptical that Washington is acting in good faith in meeting its commitments. Iranian moderates who support the accord, meanwhile, risk being undermined by this development. Absent a turn in Iran’s economic fortunes, the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people will continue to be denied and their political engagement — as evidenced by recent parliamentary elections, in which Iranian hard-liners were dealt a significant defeat — stymied.

To its credit, the Obama administration is actively seeking to resolve concerns over the sanctions-lifting. A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of the British Bankers Association to encourage major European banks to re-engage their Iranian counterparts. High-level U.S. officials have likewise been touring the world, seeking to provide practical guidance on what the lifting of sanctions means and the scope of remaining U.S. sanctions. More public written guidance will soon be forthcoming.

But such guidance has been insufficient — and is likely to remain so. Following their meeting with Kerry, most of the banks in attendance stated publicly that they would not engage in Iran-related business for the foreseeable future, due to persistent U.S. sanctions risks. Without major European banks willing to re-engage Iran, financing will be unavailable for some of Iran’s bigger trade and investment opportunities.

The Obama administration needs a new game plan.Just as it expended political capital to secure the deal, it must expend the political capital to sustain it. Otherwise, the administration risks snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and upending this historic diplomatic achievement.

Such additional steps come in two parts. First, the Obama administration will need to provide detailed written guidance to foreign banks and companies explaining what steps are required to ensure that they do not risk exposure to U.S. sanctions. Absent such guidance, non-U.S. banks and companies will continue to lack the confidence to engage in Iran-related dealings.

The Obama administration reportedly has been reluctant to provide the level of detail necessary to instill confidence in companies that they can do business in Iran. For instance, companies have long sought to understand the necessary level of due diligence to avoid exposure to U.S. sanctions — perhaps through a checklist of sorts. But U.S. officials, unwilling to act outside their comfort zone, have rejected calls to provide such detailed guidance, thus failing to address many firms’ primary concern.

Second, the Obama administration will need to take action to ease market entry into Iran. Banks have been hesitant to facilitate trade with Iran so long as Iran remains cut off from the U.S. financial system, and large foreign enterprises have been reluctant to pursue trade and investment opportunities in Iran so long as the U.S. primary trade embargo remains intact.

The administration can resolve these persistent concerns through a broader licensing scheme. For instance, the United States could re-authorize the U-turn license, which permitted U.S. dollar transactions involving Iran to be cleared through a U.S. bank, or license American banks to provide dollars to foreign financial institutions so that dollar-clearing can take place offshore. Similarly, the administration could take a hard look at the sense of maintaining a unilateral trade embargo with Iran while it is encouraging foreign parties to engage in trade with Iran. In lieu of those more dramatic steps, the administration could also license U.S. persons to facilitate certain transactions with Iran, particularly if those U.S. persons are employed in non-U.S. companies.

The politics of such action may not prove appetizing. Uber-hawks in Congress are bent on denying the Obama administration this diplomatic success and will try to block any action aimed at resolving sanctions concerns. But the sustainability of the nuclear accord is dependent on the Obama administration taking these steps. Absent such measures, the Iran deal threatens to unravel with the United States being the scapegoat, as Iran will continue to be denied the benefit of its bargain.

Passing off current problems with the lifting of sanctions to the next administration is not an option. Obama has made a big investment in limiting Iran’s nuclear program — the time is now to secure that investment.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US agencies and prosecutors influence Europe’s banks to impede Iran nuclear deal

Why our nuclear deal with Iran is turning to dust, The Independent, Robert Fisk  @indyvoices  16 June 16 

Many of Europe’s largest banks won’t do business with Iran for fear of breaching other US sanctions, which have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement – but a lot to do with US agencies and prosecutors.

The Middle East is littered with missed opportunities, lost chances and dreams turned to dust. The Iranian nuclear deal is now heading in the same direction. President Hassan Rohani, hero of the hour and Iran’s new Mr Good Guy in America, even obtained the support of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, when he signed off on the agreement with six world powers last year to reduce the country’s nuclear activities in return for an end to Western sanctions. But he’s beginning to look like a patsy.

And all of the old Iranian revolutionaries, the sons of martyrs and the war veterans and the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the managers of its billion-dollar conglomerates are turning out to have been right all along. The sanctions have been lifted – but they haven’t been lifted. Western investments are not, despite all the promises, pouring into Iran because banks – especially European banks – are too frightened of breaching the rest of America’s sanctions laws to do business with the Islamic Republic. Washington both giveth and taketh away; it’s a slogan that every Iranian president should learn.

Mohamed Khatami was the only real statesman the Middle East produced in half a century and he was elected president of Iran in 1997. He wanted a “civil society”, the nearest you can get to a secular nation ruled by Shiite democracy-necrology-government for and by the dead. But the United States treated Khatami with scorn – and so the crackpot Mahoud Ahmedinejad became the next president, a man with whose ravings America’s right-wing felt far more comfortable.

Hadn’t they said all along that Iran’s leaders were anti-Semitic nuclear crazies, even – this from the Israelis – worse than Hitler? Now Rohani, the man-America-could-do-business-with, may lose next year’s presidential election because he, too, forgot the slogan which, at its simplest, reads: don’t trust America.

Iran has not been reintegrated into the global financial system – and it’s not going to be – though the Chinese will be happy to do business. Khamenei’s supporters are now suggesting that the Supreme Leader – not the shrewd but naïve president – is the great hero of modern Iranian history (after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, of course). The banks, he says, fear the Americans who “have not acted on their promises and [only] removed the sanctions on paper”. Worse still, he’s right. “Khamenei’s life is the one you should be writing about,” one of his believers announced last week. “He is the saviour.” Yes, thanks to America.

For many of Europe’s largest banks won’t do business with Iran for fear of breaching other US sanctions, which have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement – but a lot to do with US agencies and prosecutors, hunting for evidence of Iranian money laundering, the financing of “terrorism” and monetary crime. The French BNP Paribas shelled out £6.3bn for its Iranian dealings a couple of years ago – over five years, along with StanChart and HSBC, the figure comes to a whopping £10.7bn.

So why should the UK’s Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank line up to pay more fines just because their governments want to do business in Tehran? Some American bankers – this from the Economist – won’t even hand over their business cards to Iranians. Now that’s what you call fear………

While Iran cannot break free of sanctions from which it thought it had been unshackled, its own paid militia in Lebanon – a nation which a Shiite prelate once described as “the lung through which Iran breathes” – is being caught up in the same financial net. So it’s not difficult for the Iranians to spot what they call in Persian the “dasisa” – and what the Hezbollah, in Arabic, refer to as the “muamara” – which means, quite simply: THE PLOT.

Decide for yourself if it’s true. But in Iran, the lifting of sanctions is a promise un-kept, the Revolutionary Guards are smiling and the nuclear deal is, surely, going downhill. A dream, in other words, fast turning into dust http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-our-nuclear-deal-with-iran-is-turning-to-dust-a7084981.html

June 17, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal points to a better nuclear order

safety-symbol-SmThe Iran Deal’s Building Blocks of a Better Nuclear Order, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, GEORGE PERKOVICH June 9, 2016 The U.S. debate over the Iran nuclear deal focused primarily on whether the agreement’s terms were sufficient to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, whether Iran would cheat, and whether Iran would use gains from sanctions relief to fund aggression against its neighbors and Israel. Practically no attention was paid in the media or in Congress to the possibility that the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), could provide opportunities to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime. Of course, the potential to build on the agreement depends on its being successfully implemented; the deal’s collapse would create an international crisis that would subsume efforts to adopt its salutary provisions elsewhere.

Assuming implementation, the JCPOA contains a number of innovations that could in future years be applied in other countries to bolster confidence that their nuclear programs will be exclusively peaceful. Wider adoption of these measures could facilitate the cooperative spread of nuclear energy while reducing fear of proliferation. Moreover, these provisions exemplify steps countries would have to take in implementing nuclear disarmament someday.

It will take considerable time and patient give-and-take bargaining to persuade Russia and other influential players in nuclear diplomacy to build on the JCPOA, but there is no need to rush. Beyond the Republic of Korea, there are no other states on the near horizon that have the capability and intention to initiate a new fuel-cycle program.

How the JCPOA Strengthens the Nonproliferation Regime
The nuclear nonproliferation regime derives its legitimacy and basic principles from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But, the authors of the treaty necessarily left some of its key terms vaguely defined, recognizing that technology and history would evolve in ways that could not be predicted in 1968 when the NPT was completed. For example, when the treaty mentions the right to peaceful nuclear energy, in Article IV, it does not enumerate specific technologies that states should be allowed (or not allowed) to acquire for this purpose. The NPT’s injunction against acquiring nuclear weapons does not define what constitutes a nuclear weapon or a nuclear-weapon program. Nor does the treaty specify what verifiable nuclear disarmament should entail—that is, what nuclear and related matériel, equipment, and activities a nuclear-disarmed state would not be allowed to retain, and under what forms of verification.

The JCPOA innovatively fills in each of these lacunae in the NPT. While it does not settle or fully address these complex issues, it offers potentially important building blocks for doing so. For example, the JCPOA, in practice, establishes that the NPT does not a priori deny states the “right” to acquire and utilize capabilities to produce fissile materials for peaceful purposes. Critics have identified this as a major shortcoming. The agreement makes it easier for other states to insist that they, too, should be allowed to enrich uranium, which many observers fear could exacerbate proliferation risks. But the JCPOA also defines conditions, as well as monitoring and verification mechanisms, that would significantly bolster international confidence that a state’s fuel-cycle activities are exclusively peaceful.

Importantly, the agreement provides a model for making a state’s fuel-cycle activities commensurate with demonstrable civilian requirements. It limits the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent, which is the typical requirement for nuclear power reactors. (For nuclear weapons, uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent.) Thus, while a state could in the future insist on enriching uranium, the international community could cite the JCPOA as a basis for requiring low limits on the level of enrichment. The agreement constrains the volume of enriched uranium that the state may accumulate before it demonstrably needs large quantities of nuclear-reactor fuel. In the case of Iran, this limit is 300 kilograms for a period of fifteen years, with an understanding that after that period Iran’s enrichment capability would expand according to a plan to be shared in advance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There is little reason why states wishing to begin peaceful enrichment programs in the future should not accept similar constraints……..http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/06/09/iran-deal-s-building-blocks-of-better-nuclear-order/j1nh

June 10, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Iran, safety | Leave a comment

UN Agency Reports Iran Has Complied With Nuclear Deal

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranUN Agency Reports Iran Has Complied With Nuclear Deal  abc news, by GEORGE JAHN, ASSOCIATED PRESS VIENNA — May 27, 2016  Iran has corrected one violation of its landmark nuclear deal with six world powers and is honoring all other major obligations, the U.N. atomic energy agency reported Friday.

The U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency is responsible for monitoring the agreement Iran signed last year with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany that reduces and limits Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief…….http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/agency-reports-iranian-violations-nuclear-deal-39423725

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

No, the Iran nuclear deal is not unraveling

Is the Iran deal unraveling? Think again. Brookings, Suzanne Maloney | May 20, 2016Are the wheels coming off the Iran deal? Less than a year after Iran, America, and five other world powers inked a comprehensive nuclear accord, a debate over its terms has erupted anew.

In Washington, the braggadocio of a prominent White House aide is fueling Republican accusations thatPresident Obama deliberately deceived the Congress and the country about Iran and the deal. And in Tehran, frustration over the residual impact of American sanctions has prompted increasingly resentful accusations from Iranian leaders that the United States has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. As a result, some are fretting that the deal is “at risk” and are laying blame on the White House doorstep.

Both claims are spurious, and deserve a more forceful rebuttal from the Obama administration. In the end, however, the ruckus over recent comments by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes is largely an inside-the-Beltway drama—one that provides endless entertainment for Washington insiders but has little real significance for deal or American diplomacy.

By contrast, Iran’s dissatisfaction presents a serious diplomatic dilemma for Washington. But it should not be interpreted as evidence that the deal is “unraveling.” Rather, the chorus of complaints from Tehran demonstrates the accord signed in July 2015 is working exactly as it was intended—forestalling Iranian nuclear ambitions while amplifying the incentives for further reintegration into the global economy. Continue reading

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Russia to build Bushehr Nuclear Plant in Iran

Russian-Bearflag-Iran‘A Partner We Can Trust’: Iran Chooses Russia to Build Bushehr Nuke Plant Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, will start work on Iran’s Bushehr-2 nuclear power plant by the end of this year after the construction site preparations are completed……

Russia has already built a power plant in Bushehr. The agreement for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was finalized in 1995, but the project was delayed several times due to a number of technical and financial issues……http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160520/1039943927/iran-russia-bushehr.html

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Iran, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

EU and Iran co-operating on nuclear safety

EU-Iran cooperate on nuclear safety World Nuclear News, 22 April 2016 The European Commission and Iran are to launch their first nuclear safety cooperation project under a joint statement issued during an EU delegation’s visit to Tehran. ……According to the statement, the EC and the AEOI are to cooperate “in fulfillment of measures set out in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – the agreement signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA – also referred to as the P5+1 – plus the European Union) under which Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years………http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-EU-Iran-cooperate-on-nuclear-safety-2204168.html

April 22, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

America to buy nuclear material from Iran

U.S. to buy nuclear material from Iran By Jim Sciutto and Ryan Browne, CNN April 22, 2016 Washington The U.S. will purchase from Iran 32 metric tons of heavy water, a key component of nuclear reactors, according to a senior administration official.

The official told CNN the goal of the transaction is to get the heavy water out of Iran in the same way the Iran nuclear deal compelled Iran to ship its supply of enriched uranium to Russia.
Reducing its stockpile of nuclear materials like enriched uranium and heavy water is a key component of the Iran nuclear deal.
“The importance of heavy water to a nuclear proliferator is that it provides one more route to produce plutonium for use in (nuclear) weapons,” the Federation of American Scientists said.
The U.S. will spend $8.6 million for the heavy water, with the U.S. official saying the arrangement will likely be revenue-neutral since the Department of Energy will resell the heavy water to commercial and lab facilities in the U.S., including the Oak Ridge National Lab.
The official said the U.S. can’t make heavy water domestically and, as a result, the U.S. lacks an inventory to use for science and research……… the administration official said the new arrangement complied with all elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the administration’s official term for the Iran nuclear deal…..http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/22/politics/us-nuclear-iran-purchase/

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trouble for nuclear deal: Iranian banks unable to process global financial transactions.

Iran’s Central Bank Chief Warns Banking-Access Issues Jeopardize Nuclear Deal Valiollah Seif says Obama administration needs to help facilitate Iran’s banking transactions world-wide WSJ, By  JAY SOLOMON in Washington, ASA FITCH in Dubai, and BENOIT FAUCON in London April 15, 2016

Iran’s central bank governor, in a rare visit to Washington, demanded the Obama administration take more steps to facilitate his country’s banking transactions world-wide and warned the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year could be at risk if the U.S. doesn’t act.

Iranian banks have been unable to process international money transfers and finance trade freely in the months since the deal went into effect in January. Iran also has faced obstacles in repatriating tens of billions of dollars of its oil revenues that were frozen in overseas accounts under U.S. sanctions. Some Western banks have acknowledged avoiding dealings with Iran due to fears of crossing the U.S. Treasury.

The troubles have jeopardized the big economic dividend the government hoped to secure from the nuclear deal Iran and six world powers struck last July, and underscored the West’s lingering suspicion toward Tehran.

Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions that hurt its economy. “They need to do whatever is needed to honor their commitments,” Iran’s central bank governor Valiollah Seif said during a 90-minute presentation that came on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington on Friday. ”Otherwise, the [Iran nuclear deal] breaks up under its own terms,” he said.

Mr. Seif’s comments came a day after a face-to-face meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that was largely focused on Iranian demands for more sanctions relief in the wake of the landmark nuclear accord, according to Iranian and U.S. officials.

The U.S. and other world powers agreed to lift most sanctions on Iran as part of the deal. But the Treasury still bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system or the American dollar…….http://www.wsj.com/articles/irans-central-bank-chief-warns-banking-access-issues-jeopardize-nuclear-deal-1460745930

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

USA, EU not honouring nuclear deal – says Iran official

Iran Official Accuses US, EU of Not Honoring Nuclear Deal By MARIA DANILOVA, abc news, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Apr 15, 2016, A top Iranian official on Friday accused the U.S. and the European Union of failing to honor last year’s nuclear deal by keeping Iran locked out of the international financial system.

The White House insisted Washington is committed to fulfilling its part of the accord and said Tehran wants concessions that weren’t part of the deal.

The historic accord took effect in January and envisions Iran curtailing its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Valiollah Seif, said in a speech Friday that Iran’s counterparts have not lived up to their commitments and that “almost nothing” has been done as part of the deal.

“In general, we are not able to use our frozen funds abroad,” Seif said at the Council on Foreign Relations through a translator. Seif was in Washington to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “They (Iran’s partners) have not honored their obligations.”

He urged Washington to do more to encourage international banks to do business with Iran and ease Iran’s access to U.S. financial institutions. Otherwise, he said, the deal “breaks up on its own terms.” He did not elaborate……http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/iran-official-accuses-us-eu-honoring-nuclear-deal-38426758

April 16, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA Secretary of State defends nuclear pact with Tehran

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag-IranKerry on Iran nuclear deal: If they’re cheating, we’ll know it Secretary of state defends pact with Tehran ahead of expected grilling by angry Republicans in Congress, Times of Israel,   BY RICHARD LARDNER April 5, 2016,WASHINGTON (AP) — US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended the landmark nuclear deal the United States made with Iran ahead of a congressional hearing where Senate Republicans are expected to hammer the Obama administration for considering the easing of financial restrictions against Tehran.
Kerry acknowledged the harsh criticism of the arrangement, which is designed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, telling MSNBC there’s a furious debate even in Iran over whether Tehran should choose missiles over dialogue.
“I think what you’re seeing there is tension” between moderates and hard-liners over Iran’s future course, Kerry said.

Kerry’s remarks came just hours ahead of a scheduled hearing by the GOP-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the implementation of the nuclear accord. Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, will testify.

The committee’s hearing comes amid reports that the administration may relax the prohibition that prevents US dollars from being used in transactions with Iran. Angry lawmakers, who contend the US was taken advantage of in the deal, have countered that Tehran would be getting more than it deserves from the international nuclear pact reached last year.

While no final decision has been made, officials told The Associated Press the Treasury Department has prepared a general license permitting offshore financial institutions to access dollars for foreign currency trades in support of legitimate business with Iran, a practice that is currently illegal.

Several restrictions would apply, but the change could prove significant for Iran’s sanctions-battered economy. It also would be highly contentious in the United States, where Republican and several Democratic lawmakers say the administration promised to maintain a strict ban on dollars along with other non-nuclear penalties on Iran after last July’s seven-nation nuclear agreement.

The nuclear pact provided Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief for curtailing programs that could lead to nuclear weapons. But the Iranians say they haven’t benefited to the extent envisioned under the deal because of other US measures linked to human rights, terrorism and missile development concerns.

Kerry told MSNBC that Iran “needs to make some clear decisions about the role that it intends to play in the region and the world.”

Kerry added, “if they’re cheating, we will know it.”……..http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-on-iran-nuclear-deal-if-theyre-cheating-well-know-it/

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

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