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Posts Tagged ‘ Iranian nuclear program ’

  • 15 March 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • US-Iran War

10 years later, is Iran replacing Iraq?

“There is no question whatsoever that [blank] is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever. And there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately.”

If you automatically substituted in Iran for the blank here, you certainly cannot be blamed. The “no question about it” confidence and overly alarmist tone that underpins this quote embodies much of the rhetoric proliferated today in regards to Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, this quote even comes from perhaps the biggest purveyor of portraying the Iranian nuclear program in such terms, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. However, this is not from a speech Netanyahu made in 2013, but from one in 2002, and the blank here is not Iran, but Saddam Hussein.

On this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, it is apt to review the frighteningly numerous parallels between the run up to that war and the current standoff with Iran. As the above quote demonstrates, many of the same people who warned so insistently about the “threat” from Iraq ten years ago are now warning just as insistently about the “threat” from Iran. In Netanyahu’s case, he has frequently been caught repeating verbatim the same things he said about Iraq over a decade ago about Iran today.

  • 11 March 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, US-Iran War

NYT Slams AIPAC Resolutions

Two recent measures introduced in Congress received some pretty harsh criticism from the New York Times this past weekend.  The first resolution, introduced in the Senate by Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, would essentially open a backdoor to war with Iran by pushing Israel to start it. The other bill will sharply ratchet up already tough sanctions imposed on Iran.

In a significant move, the New York Times ran an editorial article slamming the bills as harmful to ongoing negotiations and as making war more likely. “Last week, just as Iran and the major powers made some small progress in talks and agreed to meet again, two measures were introduced in Congress that could harm negotiations,” said the New York Times. “It could also hamper negotiations by playing into Iranian fears that America’s true intention is to promote regime change. “

It remains to be seen if this unique criticism from the New York Times will have any effect on Congress. Especially since, as the editorial notes, these bills are being promoted by AIPAC. Regardless, by taking on Congress’ latest Iran hijinks, the NYT is saying to Congress what NIAC has been saying for years: that ratcheting up sanctions and upping the war rhetoric, our elected officials in Washington are closing off political space for the Obama Administration to conduct serious diplomacy, and thereby making war more likely. The NYT piece ended with a stark message,” The best way to avert military conflict is by negotiating a credible, verifiable agreement. It is a very long shot. But Congress needs to give the talks time to play out and not make diplomatic efforts even harder.”

  • 26 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Almaty and Prospects for Iran Negotiations

Initial reports out of the on-going P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan suggest optimism on behalf of diplomats and hints of concessions by both sides. The first day of talks concluded with Western diplomats presenting Iran with what they say is a “real, serious, and substantive” proposal that creates a pathway towards sanctions relief. Recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium was alluded to as something that can in time be reached after a series of higher “technical-experts” level meetings. Likewise, Iranian diplomats have signaled their desire for a step by step based proposal.

The Iranians are coming to Almaty with their own proposal that they say is flexible. “Our proposal includes a wide range of options. Depending on what we hear from the other side, we will present a suitable version of our proposal. But anyways, Iran is presenting a new proposal,” an Iranian diplomat in Almaty has said.

pertinent report released yesterday by the International Crisis Group outlines steps that can be taken to resolve the impasse with Iran. The report, entitled “Spider Web: The Making and Unmaking of Iran Sanctions,” gives point-by-point recommendations on how negotiations can proceed while also analyzing the efficacy and consequences of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran. In its recommendations for how negotiations should proceed, the report highlights the need for “intensive, continuous, technical-level negotiations to achieve a step by-step agreement.” It states that in order to sustain diplomacy, Iran’s right to enrichment on its own soil should be recognized, while Iran should give stronger guarantees as to not weaponizing its nuclear program. Successful negotiation strategy should be principled, the report states, on an understanding that “the real measure of efficacy is not sanctions imposition. It is sanctions relief.”

  • 11 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

Iran’s nuclear missile threat: Perceived or Real?

A recent article published in the Roll Call newspaper sharply ratchets up the frenzy over Iran’s purported nuclear missile threat to make the case against looming cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. The author of the piece, retired Navy commander James Lyons, argues that the U.S. is vulnerable to an Iranian nuclear missile attack and urgently needs to upgrade its missile defense systems to defend against this supposed threat. “Iran has already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by using them to send satellites into space”, the author explains, and will have a nuclear weapon tipped ICBM “that could reach American shores in just three years or less.”

Fortunately for the U.S. budget, Iran is far from having such capabilities. The fact is that Iran has not even made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. This is corroborated by the IAEA and the U.S. and other intelligence agencies – who would also be able to detect a sudden effort by the Iranians to start building the bomb. Even if Iran were to start building a nuclear weapon today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has stated that it would take two to five years for Iran to have a weapon and delivery vehicle.

In the hypothetical scenario where Iran chooses to start building the bomb and manages to complete one in a few years time, Iran still will not have the capability to reach the United States with such a weapon. The author’s claim that Iran has “already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles by using them to send satellites into space” is directly disputed by a recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which states that it “seems clear that Iran has a dedicated space launch effort and it is not simply a cover for ICBM development.” This report additionally states that “it is increasingly uncertain whether Iran will be able to achieve ICBM capability by 2015” and that “Iran has not demonstrated the kind of flight test program many view as necessary to produce an ICBM.”

The United States undeniably faces real security challenges in the world, but a nuclear missile threat from Iran is simply not one of them. Iran is long way from posing any such threat to the United States, and to spend tax dollars on this largely imaginary threat would the ultimate exercise in squandering wealth.

  • 7 September 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Heffner
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, UN

Who is reporting on the report?

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday expressed concerns about Iran’s nuclear facilities and capabilities as part of its quarterly report onthe Iranian nuclear program, eliciting an immediate outcry from news outlets, with several calling the new report clear evidence that tough sanctions and even military action might be necessary to prevent Iran from “going nuclear.”  For some, this shows the futility even of a sanctions regime in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program because this report was released after the latest round of UN sponsored summer sanctions.  They are focusing on the Iranian decision to reject two nuclear inspectors as a clear sign of Iranian intransigence.  However, to what extent are the concerns expressed in the report new?  Furthermore, is the expulsion of these two inspectors really a sign of Iran’s malevolent intentions?

  • 7 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Nuclear file

Obama Should End Silence on Human Rights Abuses in Iran

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

Frustration is growing among the Iranian people over the Obama administration’s silence on human rights abuses in Iran. Condemnations of Tehran’s abhorrent treatment of its people have been few and far between. But before nuclear diplomacy moves towards a premature ending, the Obama administration must act quickly to reinvigorate its human rights agenda. Failure to do so may cause any future focus on Iran’s human rights violations to be viewed solely as a means to punish Tehran, rather than a strategic imperative worthy of pursuit in its own right.

The Obama administration made a genuine effort to kick-start diplomacy by focusing on building confidence and turning back the nuclear clock through a deal brokered by the IAEA. But rather than succeeding to build trust and slow Iran’s nuclear advances, Tehran is threatening to expand the program ten-fold.

The Obama administration cannot be faulted for not having sought genuine diplomacy with Iran. Washington unilaterally changed the atmospherics between the two countries by reaching out to both the Iranian people and their rulers. Through strategic messaging, the Obama administration helped create circumstances conducive to successful diplomacy.

While the Administration’s efforts were genuine, and while the failure to reach an interim deal thus far has more to do with internal Iranian infighting than with Washington’s diplomacy, the modalities of the Obama strategy were problematic from the outset.

  • 5 November 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Nuclear file, UN

Iranian Nuclear Official: No Reason to Reject Nuclear Deal

ILNA interviewed an Iranian nuclear official recently who criticized the Iranian leadership for not accepting the proposed nuclear deal offered by the P-5+1. The official, Ahmad Qarib of the Iranian Atomic energy Organization, said Iran does not currently have the capacity in its nuclear infrastructure to use all of its enriched uranium, and that therefore they have nothing to lose from signing on to the deal.

In an interview with the Iranian news agency ILNA, Ahmad Qarib, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Scientific Committee member and former director of the organization’s research institute, criticized Iran’s rejection of the Vienna draft proposal under which Iran would transfer 75% of its stock of enriched uranium (its total stock is estimated at 1,600 kg) for further enrichment in a third country, so that Iran will have a supply of fuel for its Tehran nuclear reactor.

Qarib stated that because Iran does not have an infrastructure of nuclear plants that would require such a stock of enriched uranium for operation, the country really has no reason to reject the Vienna proposal. He also pointed out that the Tehran facility is not expected to operate efficiently for longer than another 10 years.

Qarib explained: “Iran has no reactor besides the Tehran research reactor and the Bushehr plant [which is not yet operational]. All this fuss [by Iran] over fuel for them comes at a time when the Bushehr [plant] is not yet finished; and even if it is completed, Russia will supply the fuel that it requires. In effect, right now we don’t need all of the 1,600 kg of uranium that we now have…”

He added that “in the era of the Mir Hossein Mousavi [government, 1981-1989], Iran purchased 680 tons of uranium, and so far has used only 12 tons of that, as fuel for the research reactor in Tehran. Over 660 tons remain – and our enrichment process [at the Natanz facility] is ongoing.”

He continued, “So it is not clear why this issue has become so complex, [when] the Tehran research reactor will be operating [efficiently] for no more than another decade [and then will have to be shut down]; [in any event,] it does not need all that fuel.”

  • 6 October 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Nuclear file, UN

IAEA Chief Positive about Visit to Tehran

The New York Times reported Sunday that on his trip to Tehran this past weekend, IAEA Chief Mohamed El-Baradei spoke positively on Sunday saying “I see that we are shifting from confrontation into transparency and cooperation.”

In the Saturday edition of the Times on the other hand, David Sanger and William Broad reported that senior staff members of the UN nuclear agency “concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired ‘sufficient information to be able to design and produce.” The agency qualified its conclusions as “tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.”

“The report, titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency. It draws a picture of a complex program, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system,” Iran’s medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe. The program, according to the report, apparently began in early 2002.

If Iran is designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms. Experts say Iran has already mastered the hardest part, enriching the uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel.”

There has been some divide over the Iranian nuclear program within the IAEA. El-Baradei has been criticized by Sanger and Broad as being “reluctant to adopt a more confrontational strategy with Iran.” Nonetheless as IAEA Chief, El-Baradei’s current position is that the alleged evidence of a weapons program is not conclusive as he has questioned its authenticity, completeness and reliability. He has stated there is “no concrete proof” of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

It was reported today that Iran has agreed to allow inspectors into its recently revealed nuclear facility near Qom on October 25 as part of ongoing talks with the P-5+1.

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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