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  • 11 December 2013
  • Posted By Ryan Costello
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Sen. Rockefeller Supports Deal, Opposes New Sanctions

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), a senior Democrat and the former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered a strong defense of the nuclear deal with Iran on the floor of the Senate this afternoon while warning that new sanctions would jeopardize the deal.

According to Sen. Rockefeller, “The question is how – not whether – we prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. For the first time in years, there is a real opportunity to verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons capability through tough negotiations rather than by acts of war.”

The speech comes at a critical time as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) are seeking to rally support to push new sanctions through next week — the last week the Senate will be in session in 2013.  The Obama administration has strongly warned against new sanctions, which would violate the terms of the nuclear deal, including in Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.  Secretary Kerry also briefed Senators in a closed-door briefing today.

“The initial interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is an encouraging first step, and I urge my colleagues not to put it at risk by passing new sanctions right now,” Sen. Rockefeller warned. “Instead, we should simply state the obvious: If Iran reneges or plays games, we will quickly pass new sanctions the very moment the need arises.”

New sanctions would also risk unraveling the sanctions regime by undermining international faith in the U.S. approach, according to the Senator.  “New sanctions now could be criticized as a violation of the interim agreement. Such a move could separate us from our negotiating partners in the P5+1, and it could further complicate the already difficult negotiations of a final agreement.”

Raising the specter of military conflict as the likely outcome of failed diplomacy, Sen. Rockefeller asked his colleagues, “Why would we risk an opportunity that may well be the only chance we have to resolve this without using military force?”

“All of us have lived with war for the past 12 years. We have seen up close the incalculable financial and human cost that has come with these wars, and the burden that the wars now put on our troops, their families, and our economy.”

Sen. Rockefeller also implied that more of his colleagues should take to the floor in support of the agreement.  A number of lawmakers have issued positive statements, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), though Sen. Rockefeller is the first to do so on the Senate floor.

You can view a video of the speech below and and the full text of his speech here.

  • 24 November 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 4 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Nuclear file

Iran Prepared to Exchange Uranium on its Soil

AP reports:

“Iran said Tuesday it was ready to exchange its low enriched uranium with a higher enriched material, but only on its own soil, to guarantee the West follows through with promises to give the fuel”

This position is being taken as Iran’s  “official” response to the IAEA-brokered nuclear proposal born of talks among p-5+1 countries in October.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran had sent its response on the proposal to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, saying it wants a simultaneous exchange on Iranian soil.

“Iran’s answer is given. I think the other side has received it,” said Mehmanparast. “The creation of a 100 percent guarantee for delivery of the fuel is important for Iran.”

Another Iranian official, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, confirmed the details, saying that in Iran’s view such an exchange was an “objective guarantee.”

Details on the text of the response are forthcoming.

While the response is not quite what the p-5+1 had hoped to get, this development still marks progress with Iran. The deal helps by putting time back on the nuclear clock. The more proliferation-resistant fuel rods Iran would receive in exchange for giving up its raw stockpile of LEU would lengthen the time Iran would need to develop a nuclear weapons.

Now…before any of us get ahead of ourselves, we should caution: if Iran decides in the coming days to alter its response, waffle back and forth, or vacillate in any way–such as requesting the exchange be made over multiple installments–the West would be absolutely correct to excoriate Iran for going back on its word.  It’s bad enough that this entire process–which was intended to build confidence between the two sides–has done nothing of the sort.  Now is not the time to end diplomatic engagement with Iran when it appears that some compromise deal may actually be struck.  After all, such a deal would form the basis for future cooperation and actual trust-building.

***

It was also reported today that the p-5+1 have prepared a resolution critical of Iran’s nuclear defiance for the next IAEA board meeting, calling for more openness about is nuclear activities particularly in light of the revelation of the Fardo facility near Qom. Notably, Russia and China, who have been resistant in the past to confrontational positions on Iran, stifling calls for more sanctions, join in the criticism. Iran’s response today might give pause to delay those considering moving the resolution, in favor of hammering out a more concrete deal.

“The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen”

“‘The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen,” IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei has told the New York Times. ElBaradei’s comments come in light of Iran’s apparent unwillingness or even inability to accept the deal that their own diplomats negotiated with the P5+1 and the IAEA.

While the talks were successful in getting the IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear facility under construction in Qom, Iran’s government rejected the deal (verbally) on the grounds that they were not willing to trust Russia or France with the majority of their low-enriched uranium stockpile.

ElBaradei came up with a clever response, which was to find a third party country that both sides could trust that would hold the uranium – with Turkey appearing to be the most likely candidate.

However, instead of responding favorably to this deal, Iran simply responded with their own counter-proposal. It certainly plays into the narrative presented by CFR Iran expert Ray Takeyh on Friday:

In the coming months, Iran will no doubt seek to prolong negotiations by accepting and then rejecting agreed-upon compacts and offering countless counter-proposals. The United States and its allies must decide how to approach an Iranian diplomatic stratagem born out of cynical desire to clamp down on peaceful dissent with relative impunity.

International scrutiny remains trained on Iran’s nuclear program, but outside that glare, the structure and orientation of the Revolutionary Guards are changing dramatically. The regime in Tehran is establishing the infrastructure for repression. The leadership of the Guards and the paramilitary Basij force have been integrated and are much more focused on vanquishing imaginary plots by a (nonexistent) fifth column.

Takeyh then argues — as we have been — that human rights should should be elevated in the talks with Iran. Takeyh then takes it a step further:

Western officials would be smart to disabuse Iran of the notion that its nuclear infractions are the only source of disagreement. Iran’s hard-liners need to know that should they launch their much-advertised crackdown, the price for such conduct may be termination of any dialogue with the West.

Radio Free Liberty also talked to a number of reformists who argue any deal that ignores human rights will be fundamentally flawed and likely viewed with suspicion.

Reformist journalist Serajedin Mirdamadi, who campaigned for opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi ahead of the contentious June election, tells Radio Farda that a deal with Tehran that is solely focused on the nuclear issue will not be a lasting one.

  • 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.”

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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