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Posts Tagged ‘ Dennis Ross ’

Iran News Roundup 01/10


Hooman Majd, Vali Nasr, Bret Stephens, and Hillary Mann Leverett discuss the effects of sanctions, the probability of negotiations, and the likelihood of war on Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Chinese foreign minister rejects Iran sanctions as Europe and Japan move forward

China’s vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai, responsible for U.S. relations, repudiated the idea of sanctioning Iranian oil. “The normal trade relations and energy cooperation between China and Iran have nothing to do with the nuclear issue,” he stated.  Cui rejected the argument that normal business dealings with the Iranian government financially supports Iran’s nuclear program. “According to this logic, if the Iranians have enough money to feed their population, then they have the ability to develop nuclear programs,” Cui told reporters. “If that is the case, should we also deny Iran the opportunity to feed its population?” (Washington Post 01/09).

These comments coincide with U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s trip to Asia seeking support from China and Japan for boosting financial pressure on Iran (WSJ 01/09). Meanwhile, Europe and Japan have moved ahead in planning for cuts in Iranian oil imports. Japan has asked Saudi Arabia and the UAE to help it make up any shortfall in case it joins the international embargo on Iranian oil (Reuters 01/10).

Iran begins uranium enrichment at Fordow site

On Monday, Iran confirmed the start of uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear plant near Qom (Huffington Post 01/09).

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, in a daily press briefing, said enrichment at the Fordow nuclear plant constitutes a “further escalation” of Iranian violations of international obligations (Christian Science Monitor 01/09).

Germany and Britain also criticized Iran’s decision. UK foreign secretary William Hague said that “If Iran has nothing to hide, it should seek every opportunity to reassure the international community of its peaceful intentions.” Germany’s foreign ministry described Iran’s decision as a “further escalation.”  (Financial Times 01/09) 

Iran reiterated, however, that all activities at the Fordow site are under the permanent supervision of the IAEA. Fordow “was declared more than two years ago and since then the agency has continuously monitored all the activities,” said Iran’s delegate to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh. “Every step we have taken so far and will take in the future has been and will be under IAEA containment and surveillance” (Business Week 01/10). Soltanieh also said that Western reactions to the news have “political purposes” (Reuters 01/10). 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on his tour of Latin America, dismissed allegations that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon (Huffington Post 01/10).

Meanwhile, oil prices have risen to around $113 a barrel as tensions over Iran’s nuclear program increase (Reuters 01/10).

State Department condemns U.S. national’s death sentence

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned Amir Hekmati’s death sentence handed down by Iran’s Revolutionary Court. “Allegations that Amir Mirzaei Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA, are simply untrue,” said Nuland said (Think Progress 01/09).

A website has been launched in support of Amir Hekmati by his family.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has called on Iran’s Judiciary to reverse Hekmati’s death sentence.

Santorum claims principle motivation of Iran is martyrdom

GOP candidate Rick Santorum made several contested statements about Iran.  In a contention disputed by most experts, he said that Iran’s leadership is inherently irrational and suicidal, which is encouragement for Iran to use a nuclear weapon (Think Progress 01/09).  Santorum also said that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would not start a war (Thinking Progress 01/10).

  • 22 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf

A Critical Decision in the Midst of the New Administration

Obama has taken office. His first day was filled with phone calls to the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority. It is evident that Obama is making an early effort to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an effort that was lacking in the administration of George. W. Bush.

Yet, we have seen little confirmation as to who will take on the difficult role of dealing with Iran. The three rumored front-men for the job are Dennis Ross, George Mitchell, and Richard Haas. Though these three men come from politically impressive backgrounds, their areas of expertise are distinctively different.

  • 16 January 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in DC, Legislative Agenda, Panel Discussion

“Rx to Obama: Real Change Now in the Middle East” Capitol Hill Briefing

Yesterday, at the Council for the National Interest Foundation‘s Capitol Hill briefing entitled “Rx to Obama: Real Change Now in the Middle East,” a panel of speakers added their voices to the swirling controversy over Dennis Ross’ alleged appointment as Middle East envoy in the Obama administration.

During the briefing, Eugene Bird, President of CNI expressed concern over Dennis Ross’s appointment as Iran envoy. “I’m not sure [Ross] has the appropriate credentials for the job,” he said. He cited Ross’s failure during the Oslo peace process and his role as mediator for the Hebron accord, where Israeli troops were redeployed from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank. “If I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, I’d ask him ‘Do you believe that you made any mistakes during those times?'”

  • 9 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Persian Gulf

Update: Dennis Ross to serve as MidEast “Ambassador at Large”; or is he?

It seems that Dennis Ross’ role in the Obama administration will not be confined to the Iran portfolio as had earlier been suspectedBloomberg, AP and others are reporting that Ross will be in charge of the entire Middle East, acting as sort of a “regional Secretary of State.”

No word yet on who will focus solely on Iran–it might still be Ross, or it might be current Undersecretary of State Bill Burns, who is staying on under Obama.

More to come as information becomes available.  For additional news on all things transition, check out the wonderful Laura Rozen’s new blog, The Cable, over at Foreign Policy Magazine’s website.

update: Sources are saying that Ross will probably still hold onto the Iran portfolio as part of his larger duties…

update 2: We have it on good authority that Ross’ appointment is not a sure thing just yet.  It seems that Ross and a few backers are treating his appointment like a fait accompli, but that the decision has not formally been made.  This could be good news for people like Amb. James Dobbins or Amb. Thomas Pickering, both of whom would make outstanding envoys and who are sure to be on anyone’s short list…

Something wicked this way comes…

Last week the Washington Post ran an OpEd by two former Senators, Chuck Robb (D-VA) and Dan Coats (R-ID).  In it, they endorsed sustained aggressive action in future U.S. dealings with Iran, saying that Iran must be prevented, using any means necessary, from not only obtaining nuclear weapons, but even “the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon.”

They were part of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s national security task force on Iran which also includes current Obama advisor to Middle Eastern Affairs, Dennis Ross.  It’s well known that Ross is positioning himself for a seat in an eventual Obama administration–possibly special envoy to Iran.  So then why is he stating in an Israeli newspaper that “Today Iran is a nuclear power – it doesn’t have nuclear weapons yet, but in 2001 it was not yet able to convert uranium or uranium gas, it didn’t have a single centrifuge. Now it’s stockpiling highly enriched uranium.”?

Alleging that Iran is producing highly enriched uranium (HEU) is a pretty big deal.  Mohammed Elbaradai, and the IAEA have both declared that no HEU exists in Iran or within it’s nuclear program.  In the world of nuclear inspections, there are few greater certainties than this.  For me, this raises some questions about Ross’ qualifications for a high-level position regarding Iran.  Does he really believe he knows more about the existence of uranium in Iran than the IAEA inspectors? What is the drive behind making such a claim? One has to wonder what Senator Obama thinks of all this…

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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