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Iran at a Crossroads – LIVESTREAMING Here

UPDATE: It’s confirmed, we’ll be Livestreaming our conference here at niacINsight tomorrow.  So tune in between 9:00 and 2:00 to see what’s happening!

Iran used to be a pretty black-and-white issue. You either wanted war, or not.  Diplomacy, or not.  Regime change, or not.

Those days of simple choices between two clear opposites–they’re long gone.

Now, the rise of an indigenous opposition movement has thrown a new set of variables into questions of “regime change,” diplomacy, and even human rights.  Iran-watchers are struggling with the cognitive dissonance of it all: how can you still oppose war but support the dismantling of the Islamic theocracy?  How can someone help the opposition but still oppose overt US government involvement? And don’t even get me started on the nuclear issue…

All of this confusion amid the new complex reality of post-June 12th Iran means it’s probably a good thing that people are still debating the issue as vigorously as ever.  Open any major newspaper in the US and chances are you’ll find at least one or two (often four or five) different articles about Iran.  From op-eds advocating a preemptive strike, to analysts who say the Green Movement is just a fad–there is a wider diversity of opinions now than ever before.  Even politicians and pundits who might otherwise have the luxury of ignoring the Iran issue are being forced to weigh in (see Palin, Sarah), and despite their often ludicrous claims, ultimately the best thing for US-Iran policy is a robust debate about substantive issues.  That’s the only way we’ll be able to think our way through this difficult challenge.

(Incidentally, some major steps have already been taken in formulating a coherent policy proposal: see here and here for one approach that’s coming clearer into view).

Our goal here at NIAC is to contribute some wisdom and clarity to the debate on Iran — both among the Iranian-American community and inside the Washington DC beltway.  Toward that end, we are pleased to announce our upcoming conference on Capitol Hill: “Iran at a Crossroads: Assessing a Changing Landscape.” We’re bringing together the top Iran experts in the world, alongside members of Congress and their staffs, to explore the most important questions facing US-Iran policy today.

We’ll look into the current state of the Green Movement as the latest chapter in Iran’s 100-year democratic evolution.  We’ll examine the prospects for US-Iran relations one year after President Obama began his engagement strategy, and we’ll try to determine if there is a US-Iran war looming on the horizon.  (And we’ll also celebrate the upcoming Norooz holiday with some excellent food and our very own haft-seen table).

The video will be streamed live on this site, niacINsight, so check back here next Wednesday morning (March 10) at 9am for the feed.  Or feel free to RSVP and show up in person.

We are grateful to our special guests Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with all of our excellent panelists (including our friends at EA).

Full info available below the jump, or at niacouncil.org/march10.  Hope to see you there!

  • 7 October 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Nuclear file

Iran Fields Third-Party Enrichment Offers

According to the IRNA news agency, Iran has received offers to provide it with uranium enriched to nearly 20 percent for nuclear reactor fuel use, pursuant to recent proposals outlined in talks for third party enrichment. Western diplomats said Iran had agreed in principle at October 1 talks in Geneva to send about 80 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for processing to then be returned to Tehran towards reactor use in the production of medical isotopes for cancer care.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly said:

“There have been some proposals by individual countries and groups of countries. We are ready to hold talks with anyone interested. Our experts will soon start talks with those sellers,” Ahmadinejad said.

“We want to buy fuel. We can buy it from anywhere and America can be a seller,” ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

In other news, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has accused the U.S. of involvement in the disappearance of nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in late May 2009. Mottaki has alleged documentation of U.S. involvement in the incident. Amiri was a researcher at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University reportedly working on medical applications of the nuclear program.

  • 25 September 2009
  • Posted By Artin
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Nuclear file, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Insight into Iranian Government’s Thinking

Iranian government media are quoting Mehdi Mohammadi, a “nuclear expert” inside Iran, in statements that are likely to come to reflect the official government line.

Here are snippets of IRNA’s article entitled “The News of Iran’s new Enrichment Installations has left the West Confounded:”

“In the past years, the Westerners have repeatedly said that Iran has secretly hidden its work in Isfahan, Natanz, and Arak. In reality Iran notified the IAEA of Isfahan in 2000, 4 years before the making that site fully operational, Iran announced Natanz to the IAEA in February 2003, exactly 180 days before introducing radioactive materials, and Iran has given IAEA inspectors access many times to Arak, where radioactive material has not been introduced and which is not subject to safeguards.”

Mohammadi said: “The Westerners have been completely surprised. They expected that by announcing their deal with the Russians – which has not been completed yet – on the threshold of October negotiations, they would successfully bluff that they are ready for new, harsh sanctions, and that they would embarrass Iran. Iran, by announcing its construction of new uranium installations, showed the West that it can create surprise on its own, and left no doubt as to who has the initiative in negotiations, and who needs to compromise.”

He concluded by declaring: “The construction of these installations proves that all paths for stopping Iran’s nuclear program have reached a deadlock, and that the West has done nothing here except invent some new material for newspapers.”

Note: this translation is courtesy of the New York Times Company. Please do not use without asking for permission.

Mohammadi: The News of Iran’.s new Enrichment Installations has left the West Confounded

Mehdi Mohammadi, an expert on nuclear energy, has emphasized that the controversy of officials and news media in the West about the new nuclear energy installations of Iran have two goals: (1) Polluting the atmosphere and (2) Making it seem like the West has failed in stopping Iran’s nuclear program

In respodnign to IRNA’s question about why the West has chosen to accuse Iran of hiding this nuclear facility, Mohammadi said: “The Westerners know that secrecy is not currently a part of this project and was never a part of this project.”

He continued, “Yesterday the IAEA announced in an official message that it was aware that Iran was building new nuclear enrichment facilities, and Iran had told the IAEA about this situation before the official stamp was put on the message.”

He continued, “Iran is obligated under the law to inform the IAEA 180 days before the introduction of radioactive materials into nuclear installations.  Iran declared the new installations to the IAEA before its legally required timeframe, and the Westerners know this better than anyone.”

Mohammadi continued: “Of course, this has been true for all other uclear installations inside Iran. In the past years, the Westerners have repeatedly said that Iran has secretly hidden its work in Isfahan, Natanz, and Arak, while in reality Iran had notified the IAEA of Isfahan in 2000, 4 years before the making that site fully operational, Iran announced Natanz to the IAEA in February 2003, exactly 180 days before introducing radioactive materials there, and Iran has given IAEA inspectors access many times to Arak, where radioactive material has not been introduced and which is not subject to safeguards.”

This expert alluded to the strategic issues, implying that “The Nervous Anxiety of the West is Understandable, said: “The Westerners have been completely surprised. They expected that by announcing their deal with the Russians – which has not been completed yet – on the threshold of October negotiations would be a successful bluff that they are ready for new, harsh sanctions, they would embarrass Iran. Iran, by announcing its construction of new uranium installations, showed the West that it can create surprise on its own, left no doubt as to who has the initiative in these declarations, and who needs to compromise.”

He concluded by declaring: “The construction of these installations proves that all paths for stopping Iran’s nuclear program have reached a deadlock, and that the West has done nothing here except invent some new material for newspapers.”

  • 30 July 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Iran Election 2009

Make Them Wait: The case for a tactical pause with Iran

By Trita Parsi. Cross posted from Foreign Policy Magazine:

ahmadinejad_8No one said diplomacy with Iran would be easy. And now, before it even started, the Iranian election crisis has left Tehran politically paralyzed and Washington without a clear diplomatic path ahead. Iranian centrifuges keep spinning, leading some to think that September should be the deadline for Iran to accept the U.S. offer of talks. Although diplomacy must remain the policy, the momentous upheaval in Iran has completely changed the political landscape. Opening talks with Iran’s current government at this decisive moment could backfire severely. Indeed, now is the time for a tactical pause with Iran.

  • 12 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Nuclear disarmament in exchange for US relations: North Korea official

iran-north-koreaKyodo News has reported that North Korea would consider disarming its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a renewal of diplomatic relations with the United States.

For those not familiar, North Korea developed nuclear weapons after it pulled out of the NPT in 2003, tested a weapon in October of 2006, and is currently estimated to have approximately 5 warheads (give or take a few).

The US has engaged in multiparty negotiations with North Korea for the better part of two decades, with progress coming in fits and starts throughout.  Though the source for this latest news was particularly vague, it seems that “diplomatic relations” would involve the establishment of a US Embassy with an ambassador in Pyongyang.

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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