• 10 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, UN, US-Iran War

IAEA report sets off firestorm of comments

The IAEA released its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program, generating a range of responses from arms control groups, government officials, and policymakers in various countries. Here is what some fo them had to say:

Arms control groups respond

Arms Control Association:

The IAEA report and annex reinforce what the nonproliferation community has recognized for some time: that Iran engaged in various nuclear weapons development activities until 2003, then stopped many of them, but continued others. […]  The report suggests that Iran is working to shorten the timeframe to building the bomb once and if it makes that decision. But it is also apparent that a nuclear-armed Iran is still not imminent nor is it inevitable.

Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation says “New Details on Iran Don’t Change the Game”:

While Iran’s nuclear program continues to make progress, an Iranian nuclear weapon is not imminent and the U.S. intelligence community continues to believe that Iran has yet to make the political decision to build and test a nuclear weapon. […]  The U.S. should be actively engaged in a discussion about how to change Iran’s nuclear calculus, and must continue to reiterate its commitment to further diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Federation of American Scientists writes:

While this detailed report found no evidence that Iran has made a strategic decision to actually build a bomb, it indicated that Iran’s nuclear program is more ambitious and has made more progress than was previously known.

Europe diverges from China and Russia
China and Russia warned against military strikes and further sanctions.  Russian leaders even expressed frustration with the level of details in the report saying that its release only made diplomacy with Iran harder.  (Haaretz 11/10)

But France, Germany, and Britain called for further sanctions, with France’s foreign minister calling for measures on an “unprecedented scale.”  British foreign minister William Hague said that Iran’s claim that their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes was now “completely discredited” by latest report.  German foreign minister, however, drew the line at sanctions and shut the door on future military strikes against Iran.  (Guardian 11/9)

Israel embracing war rhetoric
Israeli foreign minister Ehud Barak has called for “lethal” sanctions against Iran, and says a military strike is “closer by the day.”  Israeli president Shimon Peres now believes that military options are more likely to occur than a diplomatic solution. (Huffington Post 11/10) (Haaretz 11/8)

White House keeps powder dry
The Administration only promised that further bilateral sanctions are being prepared against Iran.  However, officials reiterated that Central Bank and oil sanctions were not on the table, noting, “there is not a whole lot out there other than the oil and gas market — and you know how sensitive that is. I don’t think we are there yet.” (Reuters 11/8 “U.S. mulls Iran sanctions but not on oil, central bank”)

The White House and State Department did hint that further action would take place at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting next Thursday, which could potentially set up a referral to the UN Security Council for further multilateral sanctions(New York Times 11/8) (State Dept. Daily Press Briefing 11/8).

Hawks in Congress call for CBI sanctions, eventual war Senator Mark Kirk announced he would introduce legislation to force the President to sanction Iran’s Central Bank (R-IL) while Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said stricter sanctions should be implemented even if they “hurt us or the people of Iran,” and that if that did not work, military strikes would have to follow.  (Rogin The Cable 11/8)

Iran analysts’ perspectives on IAEA report

Barbara Slavin writes that attacking Iran’s nuclear program would not destroy its nuclear knowledge and ability to recreate its program, and that the Administration should use the report as leverage to reinvigorate diplomacy to make Iran come clean to the IAEA about its program. (Slavin Politico 11/8)

Time’s Tony Karon points out that a cost-benefit analysis regarding a potential strike on Iran should lead the US to avoid involvement in a preemptive attack on Iran. (Karon Times 11/8)

Trita Parsi suggests that the IAEA report highlights the need for the Obama administration to refocus on getting greater transparency mechanisms in place on Iran’s nuclear program instead of pursuing sanctions that have failed to stop the program. (Parsi Salon 11/8)

Bret Stephens states in moving forward with Iran we must either allow them to proceed with their nuclear program unhindered or we use military strikes to stop it.  He believes that containing a nuclear armed Iran is not really an option. (Stephens Wall Street Journal 11/8)

Eric Edelman, Andrew Krepinevich Jr., and Evan Montgomery argue that a nuclear armed Iran would be a major proliferation risk that could trigger either a nuclear arms race in the region or a nuclear war with Israel. (Edelman et al Foreign Affairs 11/9)

Posted By Loren White

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7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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