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  • 11 December 2012
  • Posted By Brett Cox
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

Reuters Corrects False Claim Iran Enriching Weapons-Grade Uranium

In response to a request from NIAC as part of our Iranfact.org project, Reuters has corrected two articles containing inaccurate, misleading statements regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

December 6 article by Reuters claims, “Washington says Tehran is enriching uranium to levels that could be used in nuclear weapons.” And on December 10 Reuters wrote, “The West suspects Iran is enriching uranium to levels that could be used in weapons…”

Iran, under IAEA supervision, has enriched uranium to 5% and 20%, but not to the 90% required for a nuclear warhead. Uranium enriched to 5% or 20% is not usable in a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence have both reiterated this year that the U.S. does not believe Iran has made the decision to build nuclear weapons, consistent with the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

To Reuters’ credit, they promptly updated their articles with the following prominent correction under the headline:

(Corrects 4th para to show Iran not making weapons-grade uranium)

NIAC will continue to hold the media accountable for incorrect reporting like the above. It is especially important to ensure that facts are checked on issues as controversial as the standoff between the US, Iran, Israel, and the rest of the world over Iran’s nuclear program.

Have you spotted an inaccurate statement in the media? Share it with us at Iranfact.org.

  • 8 November 2012
  • Posted By Brett Cox
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

Iranian Public Opinion Sheds Light on How to Avoid War

What do pollsters who just finished surveying Iranian public opinion and the former Deputy Assistant of Defense for the Middle East have in common? They both agreed on what a diplomatic solution with Iran would look like at a recent Stimson Center panel.

Two thirds of Iranians want their government to establish a diplomatic relationship with the United States, according to Steven Kull of WorldPublicOpinion.org. Yet, polls from RAND, World Public Opinion and elsewhere have consistently shown over 90% of the Iranian public support a civilian nuclear program over the last 7 years.

Dr. Colin Kahl, a former senior Defense Department official and Georgetown professor, highlighted Iranians’ support for domestic enrichment as a “really important factor for U.S. policy makers to keep in mind.”

Kahl touted the Obama administration’s current approach as pushing Iran towards a deal, and argued that the U.S. must offer Iran a face-saving way out of its impasse to avoid war:

“The regime fears unrest. The regime fears a war. And to get out of that, they sign a face saving deal that gives them a lot of nuclear activities, a lot of nuclear cooperation, but caps their enrichment at 5% under extraordinarily intrusive inspections. That’s the only deal that is politically viable in Iran.”

The panelists agreed that such a proposal offered the best chance for a peaceful resolution to the U.S.-Iran conflict. But Ebrahim Mohseni, PhD candidate at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and lecturer at University of Tehran, argued that the focus on pressure risked having the opposite of the intended effect:

“When you are dealing with an outside enemy, usually what has happened in the course of human history and in the case of Iran, is the exact opposite, is the ‘rally around the flag’ syndrome… because people want to protect the government in the face of international pressure.”

But that was not the most risky aspect of the focus on pressure, according to Mohseni. He said the polling data led him to conclude “there is a strong positive correlation between fear of military action against Iran and support for an Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

In other words, the push by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some in Congress to get the President to threaten war against Iran even more explicitly will only make war more likely.

  • 24 October 2012
  • Posted By Brett Cox
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

Obama & Romney Agree on Sanctions As Medicine Grows Scarce in Iran

When it came to sanctions, the third presidential debate resembled an argument over which candidate could punish Iranians more with the “most crippling sanctions ever.”

Meanwhile, the number of unavailable medicines in Iran jumped from 30 to 90 in the last five months according to tejaratnews.com. There has been a gradual slide towards crisis for Iran’s sick, as sanctions cut off more than just Iran’s oil exports. Indeed, this report just confirms multiple other reports that the sanctions are depriving the sick and dying of much needed medicine.

At NIAC’s leadership conference earlier this month, Erich Ferrari, a Washington-based sanctions expert, explained how medical exports to Iran are being blocked, even though these items are technically exempt from sanctions. The U.S. government has sanctioned Iran’s entire banking system, and imposed massive penalties on foreign banks for dealing with Iranian financial institutions.  As a result, foreign banks are ceasing all trade with Iran, including food and medicine.

Tejarat reports that a growing number of sick are turning to alternative, and more dangerous, means of treatment such as faulty generics from India and China, untested indigenous prototypes, and herbalists.

Ferarri described two such instances with harmful, even deadly, consequences. In one case, an Iranian importer turned to China for pain medication and ended up empty handed. “They spent about five million dollars and, when it got to Iran, they tested it, and about 85% of it was just pure chalk, with no medicinal value.” He spoke of one of his clients whose aunt in an Iranian hospital was unable to obtain basic IV fluids. “The hospitals in Iran substituted what’s in the IV with just water. And because of that, her condition continued to worsen and worsen. She died, in the hospital, because they couldn’t get the products they needed.”

The Tejarat article recalled the days before punitive sanctions were put in place, when 94% of the substances needed to domestically produce most medicines were imported from mostly Western Europe and North America. However, a 30 to 40% price increase of medicines in just the last few months has served only to impoverish regular Iranians while empowering the government.

In the grander scheme of things, all are being affected by the sanctions, from management and officials, pharmaceutical manufacturers, distribution companies, hospitals and even pharmacies.

Such circumstances have forced Aban 13 Pharmacy, Iran’s most important for filling special medications, to implement a quota system. And, as is the norm in a time of shortage, many patients and their families have resorted to hoarding and buying in bulk, even smuggling needed medications across the border as if they were contraband.

Some Iranians simply cannot cope with the hardship imposed by the sanctions and Iran’s struggling economy. Golnaz Esfandiari, reporting to Radio Free Europe, cited one cancer patient’s struggle, “Before, some foreign made drugs were available for 2,000,000 rials. But currently the price of an injection needed for cancer patients after chemotherapy is 50,000,000 rials.” Her source continued, “As a patient, I’d rather die than impose such cost on my family.”

These Are the Facts

Today marked the release of the first in a series of reports from an impressive group of former US ambassadors, retired generals and policy experts dubbed The Iran Project. The primary purpose of the paper, titled “Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran”, is to answer the tough questions and ensure that Americans are as informed as possible before the nation hurriedly decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities: Can military strikes stop Iran’s nuclear program? What are the immediate and long-term impacts? Are strikes even possible?

The report has already made a splash with its frank assessment of the significant costs of military strikes and what it says are the limited gains.

First to the plate, the Washington Post:

The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran’s most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay — not stop — the Islamic republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

[The report] says achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran’s nuclear program would require a military operation — including a land occupation — more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

  • 10 September 2012
  • Posted By Brett Cox
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Election 2012, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

The Realities of “Preventive” Strikes

Certain media outlets as well as conservative political camps in both the US and Israel would have you believe that it would take no more than a few days of airstrikes to delay and/or end Iran’s nuclear program. This claim is misleading in more ways than I can count, but here are a few.

Compared to the peaceful options laid out by Trita Parsi at last week’s Wilson Center panel discussion, “preventive strikes” carry a high risk of Iranian retaliation, regional war and American casualties. Pacifist fluff? Hardly. Take it from Admiral Michael Mullen:

“The US is aware that the action of a military strike could be destabilizing for the entire Middle East region and potentially generate a nuclear weapons race in that part of the world. I think an attack would also be, by us or by anybody else, very destabilizing.”

Further, according to a report published by CSIS, Gen. James N. Mattis, Commander of US Central Command, told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.

The report CSIS outlines that retaliation from Iran would include “swarm tactics” on a heavy US naval presence and a potential rain of missiles from Iran – well known in the region for an ample ballistic missile program. Missile attacks on Gulf neighbors, all members of a united Gulf Cooperation Council, would give them a right to return fire in self-defense.

Sign the Petition

 

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.

Sincerely,

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