nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Trump might want to rip up Iran nuclear agreement, but actually, he can’t

Why Trump Can’t Rip Up Iran’s Internationally Brokered Nuclear Deal , Sputnik News 21 Apr 17   While the Trump administration admitted that Iran has complied with the 2015 nuclear agreement, it continues to send mixed signals to Tehran, accusing the latter of sponsoring terrorism. Speaking to Sputnik Persian, Hamid Gholamzadeh assumed that Washington is looking for any excuse to rip the deal up.

Although the Trump administration admitted Tuesday that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement and extended the sanctions relief given to Tehran, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leveled criticism at Iran on Wednesday, dubbing the deal a “failed approach.”

Tillerson emphasized that the US is going to carry out a “comprehensive review” of its policy toward Iran, which, according to the Secretary of State, is about to follow in North Korea’s footsteps.

“The Trump administration is currently conducting across the entire government a review of our Iran policy… an unchecked Iran has the potential to follow the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it. The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach,” Tillerson said as quoted by CNBC……..

Speaking to Sputnik Persian, Hamed Mousavi, a professor at the Department of Political Sciences of the University of Tehran, highlighted that Iran’s nuclear agreement is an international deal in the first place.

“One should pay attention to a few points, in particular, the multilateral nature of the obligations under the JCPOA. The US should not forget that a nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement between [Washington] and Iran. The United States cannot unilaterally abolish the international agreement that was signed by Iran and several other countries and which was approved by the UN Security Council. This is contrary to international law,” Mousavi emphasized.

Grigory Yarygin, Associate Professor at the Department of American Studies of the School of International Relations at St.Petersburg State University, echoed Mousavi.

“This nuclear deal was concluded not only between Tehran and Washington, but it is Iran’s deal with six international mediators. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the attempt to cancel this deal will succeed,” Yarygin told Radio Sputnik.

“We must understand that at the international level, significant efforts were made… to ease tensions between Iran and the United States and prevented possible tragic consequences related to the [Iranian] nuclear program,” he said.

For his part, Hamid Gholamzadeh, an expert on North America and English Chief Editor of Mehr News Agency, suggested in an interview with Sputnik Persian that Washington is looking for an excuse to undermine the deal.

“The US has recognized that Iran is fulfilling its obligations. But this did not convince them. Therefore, the US is looking for new pretexts, which they want to prove using the relevant documents. Despite the reaffirmation of Iran’s commitment to its obligations, the US accused it of supporting terrorism in order to obtain a justification [for imposing sanctions],” Gholamzadeh explained.

“I believe that the US will play out its own scenario: they will try to reimpose the sanctions, unless Europe, Russia and China, as the main negotiators, try to prevent these plans,” he added.

The question then arises as to why the new administration is pushing ahead with its plan to rip the Iran nuclear deal up?

Robbie Gramer of Foreign Policy magazine believes that Donald Trump is seeking to restore US-Saudi relations, which were undermined by the US nuclear deal struck under Obama………https://sputniknews.com/politics/201704201052818335-trump-iran-nuclear-deal/

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

American State Dept certifies that Iran is complying with nuclear deal. Tillerson slams the deal anyway!

Tillerson Slams Nuclear Deal after State Department Certifies Iranian Compliance, A proliferation expert suggests the certification was made to comply with law and avoid a crisis while reviewing its Iran policy. The Weekly Standard, APR 20, 2017 | By JENNA LIFHITS Secretary of State Rex Tillerson slammed the Iran nuclear deal for its limited scope and eventual sunset date Wednesday, and said the Trump administration is conducting an exhaustive review of its Iran policy.

The secretary’s rebuke came one day after his State Department certified that Iran is complying with the deal. The decision to certify likely follows from the administration being knee-deep in an intensive review of the agreement and uncertain about next steps, top proliferation experts told THE WEEKLY STANDARD………

While Tillerson did not specify whether the administration would scrap or rigorously enforce the deal, he and other administration officials have suggested a preference for the latter.

Late Tuesday, Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.

The president must by law report to Congress about Iranian compliance with the deal every three months. If the administration does not submit a compliance certification or determines that Iran is in “material breach” of the deal, Congress has the ability to quickly re-impose sanctions lifted under the deal. The certification drew the ire of some in the White House who would have preferred to see no certification filed and the deal subsequently done away with.

The administration likely issued the certification to meet the conditions of the law and avoid a crisis while reviewing its Iran policy, a top proliferation expert told TWS………

If the administration had not issued the certification, the diplomatic fallout could have been significant, David Albright (founder of the Institute for Science and International Security)  added.

Tillerson said this week that the administration is conducting a broad review of its Iran policy, including the nuclear agreement and whether to maintain related sanctions relief…….

Administration officials have also reportedly been considering broadening sanctions against Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). http://www.weeklystandard.com/tillerson-slams-nuclear-deal-after-state-department-certifies-iranian-compliance/article/2007709

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration confused about Iran nuclear agreement

White House Shouldn’t Try To Reverse Iran Nuclear Deal, Parsi Says, NPR, April 20, 20175 , Heard on Morning Edition  Steve Inskeep talks to Trita Parsi, an Iran scholar, who warns of dire consequences if Trump officials renege on the nuclear accord and reverse a pledge to ease sanctions against Tehran.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Let’s make sense of two moves that President Trump’s administration made this week. The administration affirms that Iran is following a nuclear deal. The administration also says Iran is misbehaving around the Middle East. Put another way, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran is following a deal that the Trump administration really doesn’t like.
INSKEEP: One observer of the administration moves is Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. He supported the nuclear deal made by the Obama administration, although he is not on good terms with Iran’s government. Welcome to the program.

INSKEEP: So what does it mean that President Trump, who said he would rip up this nuclear deal on day one, instead says Iran is following it?…..

PARSI: Well, I think the first thing to say is that it doesn’t seem as if the Trump administration really knows what it’s doing. It’s a significant contradiction to first come out and say that the Iranians – contrary to all of their claims that Iran would be cheating – actually is living up to the deal only to come out the day after and saying, well, we hate the deal anyways and signaling that the U.S. might actually be walking away from the deal, unless of course the aim is to get rid of the deal without the U.S. having to pay the cost for it, meaning instead of the U.S. violating the deal directly by not renewing these sanctions waivers, killing the deal by escalating tensions in Yemen and elsewhere in the region and hoping that that will force the Iranians out of the deal…….

INSKEEP: Wouldn’t you like some pressure on this government, though, even though you are a supporter of the nuclear deal?

PARSI: Certainly. There’s many areas in which there needs to be pressure on Iran, particularly, I would say, on the human rights front. But an approach that is centered on pressure and that is completely void of diplomacy most likely will lead to a military confrontation…….

INSKEEP: Can you just remind us what the basics of this nuclear deal are? Iran still has a nuclear program – right? – but it’s restricted.

PARSI: Iran has a restricted nuclear program. There are inspections in every aspect of Iran’s program. And all of the various pathways that Iran had towards building a nuclear bomb as a result of this deal has been closed. Some of these restrictions will be lifted in about 15 or so years. But the most important restriction is the inspections regime, the additional product called a Non-Proliferation Treaty, will be permanent, granted, of course, that all sides live up to their end of the bargain. And as the Trump administration certified two days ago, so far, the Iranians are living up to the bargain. And now, the United States also has to continue to waive sanctions in order for the United States to be in compliance with the deal.

INSKEEP: OK. You just mentioned waiving sanctions. Does President Trump have to actively do something to keep the sanctions off Iran for the moment?

PARSI: Yes. Before May 18, the United States is obliged to continue to waive sanctions in order for the U.S. to be in compliance. If it doesn’t, then the U.S. pulls out of the deal, and that will likely cause the Iranians to do the same.

INSKEEP: So that would be the next big moment to watch, potentially, is whether President Trump is willing to affirmatively keep sanctions eased on Iran.

PARSI: Exactly. And the day after the deadline is the Iranian presidential elections.

INSKEEP: And in which the president who did the deal, President Hassan Rouhani, is up for re-election.PARSI: He is up for re-election. And if he loses, then we will have a president in the United States and a president in Iran that most likely will be opposed to this deal. And that would be very negative for the continuation of this nuclear accord.

INSKEEP: Trita Parsi has a book coming out called “Losing An Enemy: Obama, Iran, And The Triumph Of Diplomacy.” He’s with the National Iranian American Council……http://www.npr.org/2017/04/20/524833644/white-house-shouldnt-try-to-reverse-iran-nuclear-deal-parsi-says

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

New book: Nuclear Multilateralism and Iran.

Championing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Rules: The EU and Iran , Lobelog, by Peter Jenkins, 20 Apr 17 In a newly published book, Tarja Cronberg contrasts EU and US conceptions of multilateralism in the nuclear field. Her work is titled Nuclear Multilateralism and Iran.

A former member of the European Parliament (EP) and chair of the EP delegation for EU relations with Iran, Cronberg writes: “For the US multilateralism is a means to an end, but for Europeans it is an end in itself.” Both the EU and the US are committed, she continues, to upholding international law, well-functioning international institutions, and a rules-based international order. But the EU’s commitment is more heartfelt and goes deeper than the US commitment. After all, the EU itself is a multilateral institution, and, lacking military resources, is more dependent on global rules. The US approach is “utilitarian,” writes Cronberg, quoting Robert Kagan, whereas the EU approach could be characterized as both idealistic and needy (my words, not hers).

These distinctions are the starting-point for an analysis of the EU contribution to resolving the concern aroused by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports in 2003 that Iran had “pursued a policy of concealment” for 18 years and had failed to declare the possession and use of nuclear material to develop a uranium enrichment capability. Cronberg finds that the EU contribution was important, even essential to the eventual outcome of that process. The EU showed itself to be a “unified” and effective “actor.”

Good Cop/Bad Cop

This finding leads her to offer several recommendations to EU policymakers. Her chief recommendation relates to the role the EU should aspire to play in the event of similar nuclear proliferation cases in the future. She would like the EU role to be “autonomous.” In effect she is advocating that the EU put itself forward as a purer champion of a multilateral rules-based order than the United States, to lead the international search for peaceful solutions.

In support of that recommendation she makes a telling point. On moral and political grounds the five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) ought to have disbarred themselves from preaching nuclear non-proliferation years ago. Most NPT parties resent the continuing reluctance of the NWS to act on their NPT pledge to negotiate “in good faith” on nuclear disarmament. Indeed most parties find NWS hypocrisy nauseating. In contrast, although two NWS are members of the EU (only one, in all probability, from April 2019), the EU as a whole is entitled to characterize itself as a non-nuclear weapon entity………

This is a thought-provoking book that draws on “front-line” experience of the issues and historical events that the author addresses. It appears at a time when the commitment of the United States to the multilateral rules-based order that it fathered over 70 years ago seems weaker than ever. http://lobelog.com/championing-nuclear-non-proliferation-rules-the-eu-and-iran/

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, resources - print | Leave a comment

Foreign Ministers at G7 declare support for Iran nuclear agreement

G7 FMs declare support for Iran’s nuclear deal IRNA http://theiranproject.com/blog/2017/04/11/g7-fms-declare-support-irans-nuclear-deal/   – The G7 Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the final declaration of their meeting in Lucca, Italy have expressed support for the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, known also as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“We support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as an important contribution to the non-proliferation regime,” the Group of 7 (G7) Industrialized nations, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, said in Italy.

“Continued and full implementation of the JCPOA is essential to build confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful in nature,” the declaration further read.

The G7 foreign ministers also called for full commitment by all parties involved in the nuclear deal.

“We value the JCPOA’s comprehensive structure and the commitment by all parties to its solid verification mechanism,” they said. We commend and continue supporting the IAEA in its crucial work in Iran, including monitoring and verification to help ensure compliance with Iran’s JCPOA commitments and safeguard obligations, thus playing a key role in fostering mutual trust,” they said.

They further added that, “We stress the need for all parties to entirely and consistently fulfill all their commitments under the JCPOA in good faith.”

The G7 foreign ministers also asked the Islamic Republic of Iran to remain to comply with its JCPOA-commitments.

“We reaffirm the need for Iran to strictly abide by all its nuclear related commitments,” they said in their declaration.

The declaration further referred to the need for the Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council to be fully implemented.

“UN Security Council Resolution 2231 needs to be fully implemented, including its provisions prohibiting the transfer of arms,” the declaration noted.

It also touched upon Iran’s role in Syria and noted, “We call upon Iran to play a constructive regional role by contributing to efforts to achieve political solutions, reconciliation and peace in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen and other parts of the region and to cooperate in countering the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.’

According to the G7 official website, the G7 Ministers of Foreign Affairs met on 10-11 April in Lucca. A traditional meeting held once a year between the seven most industrialized countries of the world.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

US reaffirms Iran nuclear agreement

 http://www.argusmedia.com/news/article/?id=1440687 11 Apr 2017, Washington, 11 April (Argus) — The US administration’s new focus on crises in Syria and North Korea is highlighting a full retreat from President Donald Trump’s pledge to rescind the nuclear agreement his predecessor signed with Iran.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson today reaffirmed support for the multilateral agreement — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — that lifted restrictions on crude exports from Iran in January 2016. The EU, Russia and China also are parties to the agreement.

The G7 foreign ministers, meeting in Lucca, Italy, in a statement hailed the agreement’s “important contribution to the non-proliferation regime.” Implementation of the agreement will “build confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful in nature,” the ministers said.

The US’ approach to Iran so far has not departed greatly from the path former president Barack Obama’s administration paved following the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions, even though Trump still denounces the deal. Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran following tests of ballistic missiles, just like his predecessor did. And the Pentagon continues to view Iran as a threat to US interests in the Middle East, including the freedom of navigation in the straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb.

Iran since the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions increased production by more than 900,000 b/d to 3.8mn b/d in February.

Senior White House officials contend that Iran’s missile tests are evidence of a covert nuclear weapons program. Iran says its program is defensive in nature.

The US administration promised to push for a stronger international response to the missile tests than Obama did. But today’s G7 statement only expresses “deep regret” over the tests.

The need to coordinate sanctions programs with the EU is likely a key driver in the new administration’s approach. EU officials also persuaded US senators to delay advancing a widely supported bill to expand the scope of sanctions on Iran over the missile tests. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will wait until after the Iranian presidential election on 19 May to schedule a vote on the bill, committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) said.

The G7 statement calls on Russia and Iran, as allies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime, to ensure Syria’s compliance with the UN convention banning the use of chemical weapons. But the US is directing the bulk of its criticism over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians at Russia.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Overall analysis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Agreement http://www.cfr.org/iran/impact-iran-nuclear-agreement/p39032
 Zachary Laub, Senior Copy Editor/Writer  April 11, 2017

Introduction

Iran has dismantled much of its nuclear program and given international inspectors extensive access to sensitive sites under an agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under its terms, the United States, European Union, and United Nations have lifted sanctions that had crippled the Iranian economy, but more than year after the accord took effect, Iranians have yet to see the recovery that President Hassan Rouhani had promised. Meanwhile, as the Trump administration has vowed a more aggressive approach to Iran and the U.S. Congress considers levying new sanctions, international businesses, sensing uncertainty, have largely held back from investing in the country.

 What are the terms of the JCPOA?

The JCPOA, which was signed in July 2015 and went into effect the following January, imposes restrictions on Iran’s stockpiles of uranium and its ability to enrich it. The so-called P5+1—that is, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and United States) and Germany—negotiated the agreement with Iran over nearly two years. During this period, the Obama administration said its intent was to set back Iran’s nuclear program so that any decision to sprint toward producing fissile material for a weapon—an indicator known as “breakout times”—would take at least a year, up from just a few weeks.

Nuclear restrictions on Iran. To extend that breakout time, the agreement requires that uranium enrichment at Fordow and Natanz be restricted and a heavy-water reactor, at Arak, have its core rendered inoperable; its plutonium byproduct, the P5+1 countries feared, could have been reprocessed into weapons-grade material. These facilities are now being repurposed for research, industrial, or medical purposes, and subjected to inspections by monitors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The accord imposes limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges Iran can operate, as well as the size of its caches of enriched uranium. (Mined uranium has less than 1 percent of the uranium-235 isotope, and centrifuges increase that isotope’s concentration. Uranium enriched to 5 percent is used in nuclear power plants, and at 20 percent it can be used in research reactors or for medical purposes. High-enriched uranium, at some 90 percent, is used in nuclear weapons.) The JCPOA also aims to guard against the possibility that Iran could develop nuclear arms in secret at undeclared sites.

Many of the JCPOA’s nuclear provisions have expiration dates. After ten years, for example, centrifuge restrictions will be lifted, and after fifteen years, so too will limits on the low-enriched uranium it can possess, as well as the IAEA’s access to undeclared sites.

Monitoring and verification. Among the open-ended provisions, Iran is bound to implement and later ratify an “additional protocol” to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which gives IAEA inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear facilities. (As a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, Iran has committed to never pursue nuclear weapons, but it is entitled to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.) The agency’s director-general issues quarterly reports to the IAEA Board of Governors and UN Security Council verifying Iran’s implementation of its nuclear commitments.

The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement. That body, chaired by Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, is charged with dispute resolution, and a majority vote of its members can gain IAEA inspectors access to undeclared sites they consider suspect. It also oversees the transfer of nuclear-related or dual-use materials.

Sanctions relief. In exchange for these limitations on its nuclear program and opening up access to international inspectors, the EU, UN, and United States all committed to lifting sanctions that they had imposed on Iran for its nuclear program. While the United States has only suspended extant nuclear sanctions, it pledged in the JCPOA to remove specified entities from sanctions lists and seek legislation to repeal the suspended sanctions within eight years, as long as the IAEA concludes that Iran’s nuclear activities remain peaceful in nature.

Still, other U.S. sanctions [PDF], some dating back to the hostage crisis in 1979, remain in effect. They cover matters such as ballistic missile production, support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups, and domestic human rights abuses. The United States has stopped enforcing its sanctions on oil exports, freeing Iran to trade on international markets again, but restrictions on financial transactions remain in place. Many banks and other companies, including foreign subsidiaries of U.S. businesses, are wary of doing business in Iran for fear of incurring fines or being barred from dealing on Wall Street. A major exception to U.S. primary sanctions allows Boeing to sell aircraft to Iranian airlines.

New Security Council resolutions are periodically needed to keep UN sanctions suspended, so, by alleging a major violation, any one of the P5 members can veto a new resolution. This “snapback” mechanism is set to remain in effect for ten years, after which point the UN sanctions are set to be repealed.

Has Iran upheld its obligations?

Implementation Day, on which sanctions were lifted, came once the IAEA certified that Iran had met preliminary requirements, including taking thousands of centrifuges offline, rendering the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor inoperable, and selling excess low-enriched uranium to Russia. Since then, the IAEA has mostly found Iran in compliance with the JCPOA’s requirements. Iran twice exceeded the amount of heavy water that it is allowed under the agreement, the IAEA reported, but quickly resolved it.

“Monitoring is a physical act, but verification is a political act.” —Christopher Bidwell, Federation of American Scientists

The challenge inspectors face is that they are “looking to prove the negative,” says Christopher Bidwell, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “IAEA reports talk about where Iran is compliant, but then are silent on known rough issues,” he says, highlighting military sites, for which inspectors must seek access from Iranian authorities or adjudication by the Joint Commission. Also omitted from the public record, the International Crisis Group notes, are reports on Iran’s caches of low-enriched uranium and research on centrifuges. “Monitoring is a physical act, but verification is a political act,” Bidwell says. “How sure are you that what you’ve monitored has told you what you want to know?”

Have the P5+1 countries upheld their obligations?

The United Nations, European Union, and United States all repealed or suspended the sanctions that the JCPOA specified be lifted on Implementation Day, and since then the United States has also unfrozen or delivered to Iran certain seized funds. (Liquid assets freed up in European and Asian banks might have totaled some $50 billion, according to a U.S. Treasury official; in addition, the United States refunded $1.7 billion delivered for an arms deal that was signed before the 1979 revolution but never fulfilled.) Most significantly, the United States is no longer enforcing secondary sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, which has allowed Iran to ramp up its oil exports to nearly the level it had been prior to sanctions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in October [PDF] that Iran’s GDP was growing at 4.5 percent in 2016 as it boosted its oil production to 3.6 million barrels per day.

How is Iran’s economy performing?

Iranians have not seen as robust an economic recovery as many had expected to follow the JCPOA’s implementation. A morass of U.S. sanctions unrelated to the nuclear program has discouraged major international banks from investing in the country and made many companies wary of expanding into Iran. They fear being held liable for transacting with the numerous sanctioned entities associated with, for example, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is ubiquitous in some industries. Uncertainty over whether the nuclear sanctions might be restored persists.

But factors unrelated to sanctions are also hampering the recovery. Corruption, mismanagement, and aging infrastructure are widely acknowledged barriers to industry, and, at about $50 a barrel as of April 2017, oil is trading at less than half the price it was five years earlier, so the revenues to be made from export don’t go as far. The IMF projected that Iran’s growth would “taper sharply” [PDF] in 2017 as it would have trouble surpassing its pre-sanctions level of oil production, and in March 2017 Iran said it would limit its oil production to 3.8 million barrels per day if OPEC members’ agreement to cap their production—a bid to raise oil prices—holds.

With the economy underperforming compared to what Rouhani had promised, some Iranian politicians have accused the United States of dealing in bad faith. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has expressed ambivalence about the JCPOA, criticized the faltering recovery. But so too has Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement. He said at CFR in September 2016, “it takes a lot to change the global climate that is afraid of the United States taking action against any bank that does any business with Iran.” Referring to U.S. Treasury regulations, he added, “there is one sentence that it’s OK to do business with Iran and about five pages of ifs and buts,” discouraging banks from entering the market.

Do U.S. politics jeopardize the JCPOA?

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to dismantle or renegotiate the nuclear agreement, echoing the criticisms made by some members of Congress as the agreement was being finalized. Many objected to sanctions relief on the grounds that it would enrich Iran and allow it to expand its influence in regional conflicts like the Syrian civil war. Critics also said that monitoring provisions in the JCPOA offered no guarantee that Iran could not covertly develop a nuclear weapon.

Trump could reimpose waived sanctions or add new ones by presidential prerogative, enact statutory sanctions passed by Congress, or allow the presidential waivers of nuclear sanctions to lapse when they come due for renewal. Any of those measures could be perceived by either Iran or other members of the P5+1 as the United States reneging on its commitments.

After Iran tested ballistic missiles in late January 2017, the administration extended sanctions to twenty-five individuals and entities associated with either the missile program or the IRGC’s expeditionary Quds Force. (Though ballistic missiles could be used to deliver nuclear weapons, they are beyond the scope of the JCPOA; the UN Security Council resolution that codified the JCPOA contains only nonbinding language on the matter.) “It wasn’t a drastic departure from previous policy, including from the Obama administration,” says Ariane M. Tabatabai, a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

A bill cosponsored by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee could prevent the president from fulfilling the U.S. obligation to delist certain entities within eight years of implementation; it could also be construed as impeding the benefits Iran can accrue from sanctions relief. That would “threaten the ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal,” says the Arms Control Association, an independent Washington-based nonproliferation group.

Do Iranian politics jeopardize the JCPOA?

The JCPOA is contentious in Iran as well. Rouhani is running for reelection on May 19, and “the main thing he’s being judged on by the electorate is the economic recovery,” Tabatabai says.

“The Rouhani government oversold its ability to generate economic recovery following the sanctions relief,” she says, “and so now it is dialing back expectations of what is realistic.” The government is now arguing that the recovery will take more time, and that its lag cannot be attributed to sanctions alone.

Hard-liners in Iran argue that the United States is angling to keep the Iranian economy depressed and that Rouhani was hoodwinked into unfavorable terms, a view they say is bolstered by extreme rhetoric from some members of the Trump administration and Congress. They argue that Iran has “redesigned its nuclear facilities while the sanctions have only been suspended,” and so the United States can reinstate sanctions with relative ease even as the Iranian nuclear program has been permanently set back, says Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service

While some U.S. lawmakers continue to criticize the JCPOA, the other members of the P5+1 are firmly behind it. Many close watchers of the accord say that if the United States were to reinstate sanctions without presenting clear evidence of Iranian cheating, its negotiating partners would be unlikely to follow suit and resurrect the global regime that drove Iran to the negotiating table. “Iran’s goal is to create a gap between the U.S. and EU,” says Tabaar, so Iran likely won’t renege on its nuclear commitments. Instead, he says, hard-liners might push back against the United States in areas beyond the scope of the JCPOA, such as testing ballistic missiles or boosting its support for its clients in Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.

More on this topic from CFR

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Reference | Leave a comment

The path to war? US legislation in Congress to unravel the Iran nuclear agreement

If Congress sends Trump this legislation, our new president will be granted the tools and the greenlight from Congress to unravel the Iran deal and put us back on the path to a war with Iran. Unless Democratic senators stand up against this bill soon, opponents of the Iran nuclear deal may wipe away Obama’s diplomatic legacy with Iran faster than even they thought was possible.
 
Why Give Trump The Keys To War With Iran? https://www.niacouncil.org/give-trump-
keys-war-iran/ 
When Trump won the elections, many worried that it could lead to war between the United States and Iran, due to his desire to kill the Iran nuclear deal. Now, thanks to the U.S. Senate, we may be one step closer to this nightmare scenario: The Senate is poised to pass legislation that will place President Trump’s trigger-happy finger on the ignition switch of a deadly conflict with Iran.

Introduced to coincide with the annual American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC) conference that concludes today, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S. 722) would give Trump new tools to violate the Iran nuclear deal. Perhaps most shockingly, a small group of Senate Democrats have joined Republicans to grant Trump some of the most dangerous authorities that would put the U.S. and Iran back on the path to war. The list of sponsors includes many of the usual suspects ― the consummate Iran hawks who worked to block Obama’s diplomacy with Iran and many of whom have sworn to “rip up” the nuclear deal: Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). But the list of sponsors also includes Ben Cardin (D-MD) ― who opposed the nuclear deal but has said the U.S. should still abide by it ― as well as Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) who supported the deal.

Yet now these senators are signed onto legislation that requires non-nuclear certifications that would block the president from removing sanctions that are set to expire in later stages of the nuclear agreement. Why would Democratic senators who support the nuclear deal sign on to a measure that would violate the agreement? Because, they have argued, the bill gives the president a case-by-case waiver for the deal-killing provisions. That means that these senators are trusting Donald Trump with new deal-killing authorities and abdicating to him whether the U.S. honors the nuclear deal or “rips it to shreds.”

The bill also enables Trump to re-impose sanctions on Iranian entities that were de-listed pursuant to the accord. And it mandates sanctions that would broadly target any person or entity that ― knowingly or unknowingly ― contributes to Iran’s ballistic missile program, including universities that conduct research and banks that process payments for the government. This would amount to a trickle-down reimplementation of sanctions on much of Iran ― and a violation of the nuclear accord. Finally, the bill would designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist group ― a major escalation. The IRGC is a highly problematic organization that has benefitted from years of a sanctions economy at the expense of Iran’s people. It is not unusual for individuals within the IRGC to be sanctioned if they are believed to have connections to Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, designating a foreign military branch as a terrorist organization is an extremely dangerous provocation that Pentagon leaders in multiple administrations have advised against. AIPAC has urged for the IRGC designation for the past decade, yet Barack Obama and even George W. Bush resisted. But now, with Donald Trump in the White House, AIPAC is pressing ahead with its proposal.

If this legislation is passed the U.S. can expect a negative response from Tehran that will undermine moderates in Iran’s upcoming May elections and empower anti-U.S. hardliners. The ranking member of Iran’s Parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has already signaled that Iranian lawmakers will consider designating the U.S. Army as a terrorist organization in retaliation. It is naïve to assume this exchange will be limited to words. U.S. special forces and IRGC units are currently fighting ISIS on the same front in Mosul. Despite some evidence that IRGC units targeted U.S. troops with IEDs during the height of the Iraq War, there have been no such incidents since U.S. soldiers reentered Iraq in the summer of 2014. In effect, the IRGC and the U.S.-backed coalition have agreed to stay out of each other’s way as they fight a mutual enemy in ISIS. This bill could change that reality by removing any incentive for Iran not to attack U.S. troops in Iraq, forbidding any cooperation with IRGC-backed militias against ISIS, and placing our Iraqi allies in a diplomatic catch-22.  It is for this very reason that back in 2007, President Bush’s Pentagon opposed an SDGT designation for the IRGC.

With thousands of AIPAC supporters on Capitol Hill to lobby senators on behalf of the bill, there is a strong chance that this bill could obtain filibuster-proof levels of support. If every Republican supports the bill, and just one more Democrat signs on, AIPAC’s bill will hit 60 votes. If that happens, and Congress sends Trump this legislation, our new president will be granted the tools and the greenlight from Congress to unravel the Iran deal and put us back on the path to a war with Iran. Unless Democratic senators stand up against this bill soon, opponents of the Iran nuclear deal may wipe away Obama’s diplomatic legacy with Iran faster than even they thought was possible.  This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Did Israel hire assassins to murder Iranian nuclear scientists?

Iran accuses Israel of hiring assassins to take out nuclear scientists http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4933589,00.html
Iranian rep. at International Atomic Energy Agency describes Israel as a threat to entire Middle East, claims it targeted Iranian experts and criticizes Israel for not joining Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Iran, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Urgent need for Europe to act to preserve the Iran nuclear deal

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-EUflag-IranEurope should act fast to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Ellie Geranmayeh, 2 FEBRUARY 2017 US President Donald Trump has stirred all kinds of controversy with European allies during his first fortnight in office. Now, his administration’s evolving policy on Iran is becoming another source of concern across the Atlantic. Europe has a crucial but short window to clearly outline its position on the Iran nuclear deal in ways that could influence policymakers in Washington. In doing so, Europe should focus on preserving the agreement under existing terms as enshrined by the United Nations, and charting a course that minimizes confrontation—whether intentional or accidental—between Iran and the United States in an already turbulent Middle East.

On Wednesday, new National Security Advisor Michael Flynn declared that the United States was “putting Iran on notice.” While it is not clear what exactly he meant, he also criticized Iran’s missiles tests and behavior in the region, calling Tehran’s actions “provocative” and staking out a US position distinctly different from those of Europe and Russia. Although Flynn didn’t directly attack the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, a war of words could easily escalate in ways that threaten it.

The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), scaled back the country’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. As a presidential candidate, Trump suggested he would “dismantle the disastrous deal” or renegotiate it. As president-elect he condemned the deal, but has since said he would “rigorously” enforce it. And during a White House briefing the same day as Flynn’s comments, US officials stressed “that they were not linking Iran’s missile and regional actions to the nuclear deal at this point,” as Al-Monitor reported. On Thursday, though, Trump tweeted that Iran “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them.” Going forward, it seems likely that Trump’s calculations over the nuclear deal and sanctions will be influenced by developments on non-nuclear issues and also events abroad—among Russia, US allies in Europe, the Gulf Arab states, and Israel.

An early test of the US administration’s stance will come this spring, when the president is required to renew sanctions waivers that enable non-US companies to do business with Iran, in accordance with the terms of the nuclear deal. ……

The Iran nuclear deal steered the United States and its allies away from resorting to yet another futile military encounter in the Middle East. It was never intended to solve every problem between the West and Iran, and the two sides continue to take opposing views on a number of critical issues. However, the agreement has proven that Iran and the West have the capacity to resolve complex security challenges through a transactional relationship if there are mutually beneficial outcomes. Instead of watching Tehran and Washington relapse into the rhetoric of war and conflict, Europe should encourage them to build on this winning formula. http://thebulletin.org/europe-should-act-fast-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal10488

February 3, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran’s test of medium-range ballistic missile

No comment was immediately available from Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency or from Iranian authorities.

The newspaper said the Sumar cruise missile was built in Iran and traveled around 600 km in its first known successful test. The missile is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons and may have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 km, the paper said, citing intelligence sources.

Cruise missiles are harder to counter than ballistic missiles since they fly at lower altitudes and can evade enemy radar, confounding missile defense missiles and hitting targets deep inside an opponent’s territory.

But the biggest advantage from Iran’s point of view, a security expert told Die Welt, was that cruise missiles are not mentioned in any United Nations resolutions that ban work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

International sanctions on Tehran were lifted in January last year under a nuclear deal brokered in 2015 by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States.

Under the nuclear deal Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of most sanctions. According to a 2015 U.N. resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still called upon to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

News of Iran’s reported cruise missile test came hours after Washington said it was putting Iran “on notice” for its ballistic missile test and signaled that it could impose new sanctions.

Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said the test did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.

(Writing by Andrea Shalal, Addirional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; editing by Ralph Boulton)

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Iran, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia and Iran to co-operate on nuclear power development

Russian-Bearflag-IranIran, ROSATOM sign roadmap for nuclear cooperation http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/410263/Iran-ROSATOM-sign-roadmap-for-nuclear-cooperation January 20, 2017 TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Russian ROSATOM signed on Thursday a roadmap for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The document was signed in Russia by Behrouz Kamalvandi, the AEOI deputy chief, and Nickolay Spasskiy, ROSATOM deputy director general, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding in Nov. 11, 2014.

Also, the two sides finalized a pre-project contract for the retrofitting of two gas centrifuge cascades in the Fordo facility.

The documents were approved and prepared for signing as a result of recent negotiations between the AEOI and ROSATOM.

The agreement is in line with a 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which resulted in removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.

Under the deal, Iran has committed to convert the Fordo facility into a nuclear, physics and technology center to benefit from international collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships in agreed areas of research.

Also, by the accord, two of the six centrifuge cascades at the Fordo facility have to spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification, for stable isotope production.
Stable isotopes are used for medical and industrial purposes.

Iran launched a facility to produce raw material for stable isotopes in August 2016.

Also, in an August interview with Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We will further assist our Iranian partners in implementing the Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, including the processing of enriched uranium and the conversion of facilities to produce stable isotopes.”

January 21, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran has shown commitment to the nuclear agreement – UN atomic energy watchdog

Head of U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran showing commitment to deal http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-amano-idUSKBN147083?il=0

Iran has shown commitment to the deal on its nuclear program agreed with world powers, the head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said on Sunday, following complaints by Tehran over what it calls a U.S. violation of the accord.

The White House said on Thursday that a bill extending U.S. sanctions against Iran for 10 years would become law without President Barack Obama’s signature, adding this would not affect overall implementation of the nuclear agreement.

“We are satisfied with the implementation of the (agreement) and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano was quoted as telling reporters in Tehran by the IRNA news agency.

 “Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” Amano was quoted as saying after meeting Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi.

In response to the U.S. sanctions extension, Iran ordered its scientists last week to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels.

That action is expected to worsen tensions with Washington, already heightened by a promise by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s to scrap the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Amano on Sunday and “expressed hope Iran and the IAEA will be able to have good technical cooperation on nuclear propulsion for transports”, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said he presented the nuclear propulsion project to Amano during their meeting, adding that Iran would provide details of it in three months, IRNA reported.

Nuclear experts have said that Iran’s move, if carried out, would probably require Tehran to enrich uranium to a fissile purity above the maximum level set in the nuclear deal to allay fears of the country building an atomic bomb.

Salehi said the fuel used for nuclear propulsion could range between 5 and 90 percent in enrichment, but added: “We will certainly act within the framework of the (agreement),” IRNA reported.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels, according to experts.

Iran on Saturday also requested a meeting of a commission comprising representatives of signatories to the accord that is overseeing its implementation.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky)

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships, and mounts legal challenge against US trade restrictions

RouhaniIran’s President Hassan Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships as he accuses US of ‘violating’ deal http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-powered-war-ships-response-us-sanctions-a7471566.html

Leader mounting legal challenge against US trade restrictions Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start planning the development of nuclear-powered ships in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of their nuclear deal.

Earlier in December the US Senate voted to extend the Iran Sanctions Act by 10 years, a decision that was criticised by the Iranian foreign minister at the time who said it showed the US government had “a lack of credibility”.

In a letter read out on Tuesday on state television, Mr Rouhani condemned the move as a breach of the 2015 nuclear accord and told the nation’s scientists to begin “planning the design and production of fuel and nuclear power plants for maritime transport”.

The leader also said he had ordered the foreign minister to mount a legal challenge against the US.

The 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers lifted a variety of sanctions against the nation in exchange for restrictions on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Yet the US keeps its own set of trade restrictions against the country – separate from the agreement – which were set to expire at the end of the year.

Politicians in the Senate said the sanctions were extended not only because of nuclear issues, but also over concerns about ballistic missile-testing and human rights in the country.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the extension into law in the coming days.

The nuclear marine propulsion technology Iran has vowed to develop uses a nuclear reactor to generate electricity on a ship. Tensions in the Middle East have grown since the US elected Donald Trump as President, Iran’s defence minister said on Sunday.

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal involves several nations – not just the USA

flag-IranNuclear agreement not a deal solely between U.S. and Iran: Daryl Kimball, Tehran Times By Javad Heirannia December 13, 2016 TEHRAN – Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, says the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran that can be unilaterally abrogated by the incoming administration of Donald Trump.

“The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran,” Kimball tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Kimball says, “If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: During presidential campaigns Donald Trump said he would “renegotiate” the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran. What is your prediction?

A: Yes, Mr. Trump did pledge to “dismantle” the 2015 agreement between six world powers and Iran, which has led to verifiable limits on Iran’s capacity to produce material that could be used for nuclear weapons, allowed Iran to continue peaceful nuclear activities, and led to the removal of nuclear-related international sanctions — a win-win scenario for both sides.

It is not clear at this point whether and how Trump would seek to do this or why. Trump’s campaign statements on many issues appear to have been designed to pander to hard-right elements of the Republican Party in order to obtain votes and to criticize the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton………..

Q: If Trump violates the JCPOA, how will Washington’s European allies and JCPOA parties react?

A: If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.

The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran. Washington worked with Russia, China, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to build an international sanctions regime to pressure Iran to the negotiating table and then reach a deal to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. None of these countries have any intention of walking away from the agreement, which is working well for them, and the people of Iran.

If the United States administration or Congress takes actions that violate the JCPOA (such as failing to renew waivers of nuclear-related sanctions under the “Iran Sanctions Act”) or measures that are clearly designed to provoke Iran to take actions that would violation the JCPOA, I think it very likely that the United States’ P5+1 partners will resist such actions and seek to insulate the JCPOA as much as possible. Many American foreign policy experts and a significant majority of the American people would also question such a cynical and counterproductive move…….

If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments. After sending such a message to the international community, Trump would be hard-pressed to build an international sanctions coalition strong enough to push Iran back to the negotiating table.

On the other hand, if the IAEA finds that Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the deal, however minor the infraction, it is likely that hard-liners in Congress and in the Trump administration will seek to use this as a reason to blame Iran and walk away from the deal and reimpose sanctions. This makes it essential, in my view, for Iran to continue to meet its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/409095/Nuclear-agreement-not-a-deal-solely-between-U-S-and-Iran-Daryl

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment