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  • 26 June 2012
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Israel, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Clinton and Baker on Iran, Israeli strikes, and diplomacy

In an interview with Charlie Rose at the State Department  last Wednesday, June 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Secretary of State James Baker discussed the role of diplomacy in resolving US- Iranian tensions [watch the interview here, read the transcript here].

Baker said the U.S. must pursue all non-military means to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, but if those efforts fail, the U.S. would have to “take them out.”   Clinton insisted that diplomatic options for dealing with Iran had not yet been exhausted, and warned that a foreign attack could unify and legitimize the regime. She said,  there are some hardliners in Iran who ” are saying the best thing that could happen to us is be attacked by somebody, just bring it on, because that would unify us, it would legitimize the regime.” Instead of giving the hardliners this credibility, Clinton said of the diplomatic process that the US should “take this meeting by meeting and pursue it as hard as we can” in order to find a peaceful agreement.

  • 8 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran New Round-Up: June 8, 2012

IAEA and Iran fail to reach a deal ahead of political talks in Moscow, Where U.S. May “Go Big”

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has been working to broker an action plan to provide access to restricted sites, namely the Parchin facility, where there are suspicions Iran conducted conventional high-explosive tests ten years ago that may have had nuclear applications.  After an inconclusive eight hour meeting today, no agreement was set and there is no date set for future talks.  These results have cast a shadow on prospects for the P5+1 talks in Moscow later this month. (CNBC, 6/8/12)  There was skepticism an agreement could be struck at the technical level with the IAEA before political talks in Moscow scheduled for June 18 between the P5+1 and Iran. (NYT, 6/8/12)

A recent leak of letters between the P5+1 AND Iran ahead of talks in Moscow suggests continued differences and a common reluctance to compromise. One letter shows an Iranian interest in assembling a meeting of experts ahead of the talks to solidify an agenda, to which EU leaders responded no further preliminary talks were necessary, because their goals for the talks hadn’t changed. (Washington Post, 6/8/12)

Meanwhile, is a growing number of experts  suggest an incremental deal with Iran would not be successful, instead suggesting a “Go big” strategy is the only real option. Israeli fears and lack of confidence are contributing to the potential instability that an temporary solution would not encourage a reconvening nations anytime soon. (Al-Monitor, 6/7/12)

Notable Opinions

– Consequences of an Israeli strike: Colin Kahl, the former top Middle East policymaker at the Pentagon, and his colleagues summarize their recent CNAS report in Foreign Policy, Red Red Lines“:

Given the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the option of using force should remain on the table. But the high risks and uncertain rewards mean it should be employed only if: (1) all nonmilitary options have been exhausted; (2) Iran has made a clear move toward weaponization; (3) there is a reasonable expectation that a strike would significantly set back Iran’s program; and (4) a sufficiently large international coalition is available first to help manage the destabilizing consequences of the strike and then to contain Iran and hinder it from rebuilding its nuclear program.

Today, a unilateral Israeli strike would not satisfy any of these criteria.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.

  • 30 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

News Roundup 01/30

Iran invites IAEA inspectors to extend visit

Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi told journalists that the three day inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency can be extended “if they desire”. Iranian officials have insisted that Iran’s quest for nuclear energy is for peaceful purposes and “the remarks appear to be part of a show of flexibility and transparency by Tehran”. (Time 01/30)

Panetta: It would take Iran 2-3 years to have deliverable nuke

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on 60 minutes this past weekend and said, “the consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”  Panetta has previously made it clear that Iran has not decided to go forward with building a nuclear weapon and that this is the U.S. redline. (The Hill 01/30)

  • 28 October 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 2 Comments
  • Congress, Election 2010, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file, US-Iran War

The Danger of the “Nuclear Capable” Standard

How difficult would it be for a President to drag us into another war in the Middle East based on questionable justifications?  According to George Friedman of Stratfor, it would be quite easy:

The most obvious justification would be to claim that Iran is about to construct a nuclear device. Whether or not this is true would be immaterial. First, no one would be in a position to challenge the claim, and, second, Obama’s credibility in making the assertion would be much greater than George W. Bush’s, given that Obama does not have the 2003 weapons-of-mass-destruction debacle to deal with and has the advantage of not having made such a claim before. […] The Republicans could not easily attack him. Nor would the claim be a lie. Defining what it means to almost possess nuclear weapons is nearly a metaphysical discussion. It requires merely a shift in definitions and assumptions. This is cynical scenario, but it can be aligned with reasonable concerns.

Friedman is right on one thing: while many policymakers intone the need to keep “all options on the table”, there is no real standard for what the US considers “unacceptable” in terms of Iran’s nuclear progress.  Previously, President Bush warned that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons “knowledge” it would trigger World War III.  Now, the current standard being thrown around in Washington is that a “nuclear capable” Iran is unacceptable.  But it is unclear what “nuclear capable”, actually means.  In fact, it is a completely malleable term—a placeholder—for which the “definitions and assumptions” could be adjusted at will.  Thus, there is an enormous vacuum that could be exploited by a President—or, more likely, a Presidential candidate or an opposition Congress seeking to paint a President into a corner.

Ron Kampeas writes in JTA on how a new Congress may press Obama for military confrontation and undermine engagement efforts with Iran (via Lobelog):

[GOP House Minority Whip Eric] Cantor, in his interview with JTA, emphasized that Obama must make it clear that a military option is on the table.

Congress, however, cannot declare war by itself, and while a flurry of resolutions and amendments pressing for greater confrontation with Iran may be in the offing, they will not affect policy — except perhaps to sharpen Obama’s rhetoric ahead of 2012.

Should Obama, however, return to a posture of engagement — this depends on the less than likely prospect of the Iranian theocracy consistently embracing diplomacy — a GOP-led Congress could inhibit the process through adversarial hearings.

One problem with Kampeas’ piece, however, is that Congress is the very branch of government that can declare war.  But short of such a drastic step, the power of the gavel means Congress could have plenty of options to confront Obama on Iran and help define the terms of the debate as we enter the 2012 Presidential campaign. A Congress itching to portray the President as soft on national security could unilaterally declare, with the help of a few hearings, that Iran is imminently “nuclear capable”.  And in lieu of a real standard for what that means, we could start hearing familiar echoes that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”.

  • 11 July 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Iran Updates – July 11

1:47 pm: Aid to supreme leader warns everything would collapse if regime changes L.A. Times

Mohammad Mohammadian, a midranking cleric who heads Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office of university affairs, acknowledged simmering discontent over the vote, which sparked massive protests and a violent crackdown last month.

“We cannot order public opinion to get convinced,” Mohammadian said, according to the Mehr news agency. “Certain individuals are suspicious about the election result, and we have to shed light on the realities and respond to their questions.” […]

Many within the establishment who harbor doubts about the election fear that a continuation of the unrest could undo the Islamic Republic.

“If even certain rights have been denied throughout the election process, nobody should make such a fuss,” said Mohammadian, the supreme leader’s aide. “If the regime changes, everything would collapse.”

12:55 pm: A warning about Facebook and how to protect yourself

A scary anecdote from Iran. A trusted colleague – who is married to an Iranian-American and would thus prefer to stay anonymous – has told me of a very disturbing episode that happened to her friend, another Iranian-American, as she was flying to Iran last week. On passing through the immigration control at the airport in Tehran, she was asked by the officers if she has a Facebook account. When she said “no”, the officers pulled up a laptop and searched for her name on Facebook. They found her account and noted down the names of her Facebook friends. [From foreignpolicy.com]

Anyone concerned about something like this happening to them should be aware that Facebook has extensive privacy controls.

To make it so that only your friends can see your profile, go to: http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=profile

To limit what information (such as your friends list) non-friends can see when they search for your name, go to: http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=search

12:30 pm: Must Read – “Inside the Iranian Crackdown”

Farnaz Fassihi tells the story of one basiji and his sense of duty to the Islamic Revolution:

“It wasn’t about elections anymore,” says Mr. Moradani, a short, skinny man with pitch-black hair and a beard. “I was defending my country and our revolution and Islam. Everything was at risk.”

And the personal price he paid:

For Mr. Moradani, the biggest shock during the election turmoil came in his personal life. He had recently gotten engaged to a young woman from a devout, conservative family. A week into the protests, he says, his fiancée called him with an ultimatum. If he didn’t leave the Basij and stop supporting Mr. Ahmadinejad, he recalls her saying, she wouldn’t marry him.

He told her that was impossible. “I suffered a real emotional blow,” he says. “She said to me, ‘Go beat other people’s children then,’ and ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you,’ and hung up on me.

Read the whole story at the Wall Street Journal.

11:00 am: Iran preparing negotiating proposal for talks with the west

“The package can be a good basis for talks with the West. The package will contain Iran’s stances on political, security and international issues,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said during a news conference in Tehran, without giving further details.

  • 7 April 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Israel, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

Netanyahu and threat of bombing Iran – the bluff that never stops giving?

cross posted from HuffingtonPost.com:

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to have told President Barack Obama that either America stops Iran or Israel will. Not surprisingly, the interview sparked quite a controversy and only a day later, General David Petreus told the Senate Arms Services Committee that “the Israeli government may ultimately see itself so threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon that it would take preemptive military action to derail or delay it.”

So once again, in spite of President Obama’s best efforts, the military option was put back on the table and the atmosphere for dealing with Iran was turned into “Do as we say – or else…” Even if the President wants to give diplomacy a chance, disbelievers have been quick to limit Obama’s options by seeking to set arbitrary deadlines for negotiations – or by threatening Israeli military action if America doesn’t act with its military might.

Reality is, however, that talk of an Israeli military option is more of a bluff than a threat – but it is a bluff that never seems to stop giving.

  • 10 June 2008
  • Posted By Emily Blout
  • 2 Comments
  • Legislative Agenda

Congressman Ed Markey on the US double standard

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey makes an important point: the US has no business championing Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy program in light of the country’s vast oil wealth. But he also overlooks an equally important one: in working with Saudi Arabia and signing nuclear agreements with the Arab states and Israel, the US is helping create the very nuclearized Middle East that experts warned would come as A RESULT of a nuclear Iran. Preemption anyone?

  • 9 May 2008
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • 4 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Panel Discussion, US-Iran War

Can P5+1 Offer Break the Nuclear Stalemate?

There is little doubt that Tehran will reject the secret P5+1 nuclear offer since it crosses Iran’s red line — suspension of enrichment. The proposal is scheduled Though reinvigorating diplomacy is much needed, the question is why the Security Council powers would make an offer that few believe will break the stalemate at this point – that is, at a time when tensions Iran and the US over Iraq is quickly escalating?

In the piece below, published by Inter Press Services today, I discuss why Tehran is so inflexible on the issue of suspension based on its previous negotiating experience with the EU and why Washington’s insistence on this precondition is leading to a situation in which “the perfect is becoming the enemy of the good.”

Tehran sees two key problems with the suspension precondition. First, Iran has taken away from earlier negotiations with the EU that suspension becomes a trap unless the West at the outset commits to solutions that recognise Iran’s right to enrichment, i.e. that won’t cause the suspension to become permanent.

Iran entered talks with Europe in 2003 under the impression that the parties would identify “objective criteria” that would enable Tehran to exercise its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while providing the international community with guarantees that the Iranian nuclear programme would remain strictly civilian. During the course of the talks, however, Europe shifted its position. The only acceptable criteria would be for Iran not to engage in uranium enrichment in the first place, the EU began to argue.

Consequently, Tehran felt trapped since the objective had shifted from seeking a peaceful Iranian enrichment programme to seeking the elimination of Iran’s enrichment capabilities.”

The full piece can be found here: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42307

/trita

  • 23 April 2008
  • Posted By Emily Blout
  • 4 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in DC, Panel Discussion

Hearing to feature alternative strategy on Iranian nukes

There will be a hearing in the Homeland Security Committee tomorrow on Iran’s nuclear program. Among the expert witnesses will be Dr. Jim Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the Luers/Pickering/Walsh proposal for a joint international nuclear fuel bank on Iranian soil. This proposal, which enjoys the backing of an increasing number of policy makers, was first presented to Congress at NIAC’s conference on April 8.

We also expect Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Arlen Specter to make a guest appearance at the hearing. The California Democrat and the Pennsylvania Republican will likely use the forum to articulate the need for negotiations with Iran without preconditions.

NIAC Conference: Breaking the US-Iran Stalemate

When it comes to Iran, President Bush has all but banged the drums of war. In fact, when faced with the question of Iran’s nuclear file, it’s been talk of sanctions or war, but nothing else – even though sanctions have gotten us nowhere.

On April 8, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) will host foreign policy A-listers, Congressional members and staff, key academics and accredited media to discuss another option on Capitol Hill: a multinational enrichment facility inside Iran, coupled with direct and comprehensive talks with Tehran.

Most analysts agree: Iran’s nuclear program is progressing faster than the West can muster pressure on Tehran. NIAC’s conference will address the central question:

How can the US prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, even if Tehran continues to enrich uranium?

Feinstein

In addition, speakers – who will include former Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, and reporters Barbara Slavin (USA Today) and Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) – will explore how the new Majles, now overrun with conservatives, will affect the direction of Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear goals.

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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