As a continuation of the breaking story of Iran's capture of Abdul Malek Rigi, the head of the terrorist Jundollah group: According to PressTV
1- Rigi was captured when his plane was forced down while it was going from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan,
2- he was carrying a US-issued forged Afghan passport (the PressTV article repeates that point several times, in case you missed it the first 2 times!)
3- Iran received no assistance from regional intelligence services in the capture of Rigi,
4-Iranian intelligence operatives had been following him for a while and witnessed him interacting with NATO and European officials.
5- Rigi was at a US base in Afghanistan 24-hours before his capture. Apparently the Iranians have a photo of him at the base. I hope to see it.
This may be a big embarrassment for some governments as well as a coup for Iranian intelligence.
This is a copy of his passport issued under the fake name of "Saeed Ahmad"
Trudy Rubin has an oped in the Philly Inquirer in which she says that Obama should try the "only option" left on Iran -- Sanctions -- even though she acknowledges that sanctions would probably in effective.
Whether she realizes it or not, in characterizing sanctions as the "only choice" on Iran -- sanctions that everyone expects to be ineffective, leaving military force -- Trudy Rubin is promoting a version of a false choice fallacy that has been a consistent theme of the Iran hawks. I have covered this in the past, many times. To them, sanctions were simply an incremental step towards war (and probably, the less effective the sanctions the better: the need to "tighten-up sanctions" will allow greater rhetorical space for more escalation.) After sanctions comes blockades and "pinpoint strikes" and then we're off to the races.
It is high time that the expert acknowledge a fact: the US is dead-set on a military confrontation with Iran, and is now simply building the groundwork for the war in a process that may span more than one US presidential administration, just as in the build-up to the war on Iraq. Obama or no Obama, makes no difference. It isn't even clear it would make a difference if Iran gives up enrichment entirely.
There never was any real attempt at engagement with Iran that consisted of anything more than issuing ultimatums and making poison-pill offers. Whatever offers were made to Iran were intended to be refused in order to make military force more palatable to the public. The various Iranian compromise offers that would have addressed any real concern about nuclear weapons proliferation -- including the Iranian offer to limit enrichment, to open their program to multinational participation, and to implement not only the Additional Protocol but restrictions well beyond the requirements of that Protocol -- have consistently been ignored or deflected, thus suggesting that the nuclear issue continues to be a mere pretext for an escalation towards war. To quote Elbaradei himself:
"I have seen the Iranians ready to accept putting a cap on their enrichment [program] in terms of tens of centrifuges, and then in terms of hundreds of centrifuges. But nobody even tried to engage them on these offers. Now Iran has 5,000 centrifuges. The line was, "Iran will buckle under pressure." But this issue has become so ingrained in the Iranian soul as a matter of national pride."
According to Robert Dreyfuss, this tactic of making "offers intended to be refused" was Dennis Ross' agenda from the start.
Iran has reportedly announced the arrest of Abdulmalek Rigi, the leader of the US-backed Jundollah terrorist group. This is a significant success for Iran. Hopefully they won't torture him. BUT remember folks, waterboarding is not defined as torture, according to the highest legal authority in the US...unless of course the victims are Americans...and laws were recently passed in the US to retroactively provide immunity to people who carried out the practice.
[UPDATE: Uber-hawk Michael Rubin worries that Rigi will be "forced" into admitting that the US backed his terrorist activities. Of course, Ruben would have no problem with the US extracting confessions from Khaled Sheikh Mohammad using waterboarding over 100 times. THOSE confessions are of course perfectly legitimate.]
Couple of new items on scientific developments in Iran which show that despite sanctions and daily scaremongering, Iran is one of the fastest developing countries in the area of scientific developments.(Reportedly, 70% of Iran's scientists are women.)
First, a Dutch law that discriminated against Iranian students was struck down by the courts:
A court in The Hague has dealt a blow to the Dutch government's controversial attempts to keep sensitive nuclear technology out of the hands of Iran. Its policy to ban Iranian-born students and scientists from certain master's degrees and from nuclear research facilities in the Netherlands is overly broad and a violation of an international civil rights treaty, the court ruled today.
"We're elated. This is a big victory, not just for us, but for science as well," says Behnam Taebi, a Ph.D. student in philosophy of technology at the Delft University of Technology and one of the plaintiffs in the case
Scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that growth in the Middle East – mostly in Turkey and Iran – is nearly four times faster than the world average.
A Saudi student on Sunday blasted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for skirting her question on Israel's nuclear arsenal during a "town hall" meeting at a Jeddah college.
"I did not get a straight answer," Mariyam Alavi said in a letter published in Arab News on her question to the top US diplomat last Tuesday.
"Clinton said that the United States, under the able leadership of President Barack Obama, was trying to repair and strengthen its ties with the Muslim world.
"It is high time she realised it couldn't be done without answering the questions uppermost in the minds of the Middle East people."
(Thanks to Farid)
So here's my analysis of the latest IAEA report on Iran, and how the US media totally mischaracterize it for the purpose of scaremongering.
Paragraphs 2-13 are about the enrichment plants in Natanz. According to the report, they continue to enrich uranium under IAEA safeuguards, and there has been no diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses -- so in short, Iran is in full compliance with its NPT obligations. The report specifically says that there have been 35 surprise inspections there too, just to be clear.
The first paragrah specifically mentions the period of time when Iran voluntarily suspended enrichment as a good faith gesture under the terms of the Paris Agreement. Since it leave out some context, here is a brief review of what happened: If you remember, under the terms of that agreement, Iran's good faith gesture was supposed to be reciprocated by an EU-3 offer to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue in good faith, in a manner that recognized Iran's right to continue enrichment. The Iranians made it clear from the start that the right to enrichment had to be recognized, and the temporary suspension of enrichment was not supposed to become permanent. The suspension was supposed to last for 6 months. Instead, the EU-3 first dragged their feet for 2 years without making any offer, and then when Iran announced the restart of enrichment, they gave Iran an offer that independent analysts called an empty box in pretty wrapping which demanded that Iran permanently give up enrichment. Then the EU3 had the gall to accuse Iran of "violating" the Paris Agrement when Iran refused. So in short, Iran showed flexibility, and was cheated. Those who argue that Iran should suspend enrichment don't seem to remember that we've been down that road before.
Anyway, according to the report, Iran informed the IAEA that it planned to start enriching uranium to 20% and move uraium for that purpose. Th Agency says that modifications to the safeguards are required to continue to certify non-diversion, and the two sides are apparently in the process of negotiating those modifications.
Paragraphs 14-17 are about the Fordow enrichment facility -- the supposedly "clandestine" site near Qom. According to the Iranians, this was essentially a bomb shelter that they decided to use to protect centrifuges in case of an attack. There is some dispute between the IAEA and Iran over when Iran should have disclosed it to the IAEA -- at time iran began construction according to Iran's original safeguards agreement, or at the time they decided to construct it according to the Subsidiary Agrement that Iran had temporarily agreed to implement as part of the Paris Agreement negotiations. This is an on-going dispute with the IAEA but largely a technicality since even the IAEA agrees that there was no nuclear-related activities (or, any activities) at the site.
The media of course like to scaremonger about the Fordow site. They insist that the site was 'clandestine' even though Iran reported it to the IAEA. Then they say that since the facility is "too small" to power a full-fledged reactor, it must be intended to secretly make nukes -- when it was never intended to power a reacto in the first place, being a bomb shelter. I called that the Goldilocks meme. However, as previously mentioned by IAEA director Elbaradei, the site is basically "a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about."
Paragraph 18: Reprocessing "Undeclared activites"? this paragraph is about the creation of medical isotopes at the Tehran Research reactor, which has been ongoing. The report says that the facilities continue to be monitored by the IAEA, and there's no evidence of reprocessing -- extracting plutonium from spent fuel rods for possible weapons use -- at the site.
Since this paragraph mentions undeclared activities and the Additional Protocol, it would be a good opportunity to explain those once again. Under the terms of Iran's existing safeguards, Iran is required to declare nuclear activities, and the IAEA inspectors have to verify that those declared activities are not weapons related. This, the IAEA has done so repeatedly, for many years. The IAEA has never found any nuclear-weapons related activities in Iran.
However, since Saddam managed to cheat the IAEA by not declaring all of Iraq's nuclear activities, an Additional Protocol was drafted that allows more stringent inspections, which once completed allows the IAEA to verify not only that all declared nuclear activities are peaceful, but also that there are no undeclared nuclear activities going on.
This report specifically says that while the IAEA can verify that there's no reprocessing going on at the declared facilities in Iran, it can't veify the absence of undeclared activites in other places though -- which is true, since as explained many times before, the IAEA only verifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities for countries that are bound by the Additional Protocol. Most countries have flatly refused to sign that protocol, including Egypt (where unexplained traces of highly weapons-grade enriched uranium were recently found)
As I long ago mentioned, the IAEA does not formally verify the "absence of undeclared nuclear activities" in ANY country unless they have signed and ratified the Additional Protocol, which allows more instrusive inspections. Iran hasn't, so that leaves Iran amongst about 40 other countries in which the IAEA cannot formally verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material.
Nevertheless, though Iran has not formally ratified the Additional Protocol, it did implement the Additional Protocol for 2 years and allowd more instrusive inspections -- and no weapons program was found - and has offered to formally ratify the Additional protocol once its nuclear rights are recognized -- but the US flatly refuses.
And, as Michael Spies of the Lawyer's Comittee for Nuclear Policy has explained:
For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.
According to the IAEA's own Annual Safeguards Implementation Report of 2004, of the 61 states where both the NPT safeguards and the Additional protocol are implemented, the IAEA has certified the absence of undeclared nuclear activity for only 21 countries, leaving Iran in the same category as 40 other countries including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. Note especially the last sentence in which it says that the IAEA has to conclude that the nuclear programs of even those countries remain peaceful:
"With regard to 21 States with both CSAs [Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements] and AP [Additional Protocol] in force or otherwise applied, the Agency concluded that all nuclear material in those States remained in peaceful nuclear activities. For 40 other such States, the Agency had not yet completed the necessary evaluations, and could therefore only draw the conclusion that the nuclear material placed under safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities."
Finally, I would only add that the IAEA has explicitly said that it has no evidence of any "undeclared" nuclear material or activities in Iran either. For example this is what ElBaradei stated regarding the 2007 NIE:
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei ... notes in particular that the Estimate tallies with the Agency´s consistent statements over the last few years that, although Iran still needs to clarify some important aspects of its past and present nuclear activities, the Agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.
Paragraphs 19-24 Arak reactor and heavy water. According to these pargraphs, Iran is continuing to build a heavy water reactor at Arak. The report states that UNSC has demanded that Iran stop doing so and allow the IAEA to verify that it has stopped. Iran refuses, naturally. This is again part of the on-going dispute in which the UNSC is imposing demands on Iran that exceed its authority and violate Iran's rights recognized by the Non-Prolifereation treaty. The UNSC has no legal authority to demand that Iran not build a reactor which is fully compliant with its safeguards and NPT obligations, and Iran is doing everything it is supposed to do as far as allowing IAEA inspections in accordance with its safeguards agreement.
There is some reference to the IAEA wanting to test the heavy water Iran says it has produced, and Iran objecting to the tests. Iran is perfectly correct on this point: the IAEA's authority extends ONLY to nuclear material, and not to heavy water or anything else that is not nuclear material. Read Art. 2 of Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which states that the purpose of the safeguards agreement is for the "exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
Paragraphs 25-27 are about uranium conversion -- the process by which raw uranium is turned into yellowcake -- which is then turned into a gas, fed into centrifuges, and concentrted (enriched). there's nothing controversial mentioned here, and the section concludes by saying that the site ahs been inspected and the uranium at the facility "remains subject to Agency containment and surveillance" exactly as it supposed to be.
Paragraphs 28-35 are about the Subsidiary arrangement mentioend above. The dispute is over which safeguards apply: the ones that Iran temporarily agreed to abide by -- which require Iran to inform the IAEA of plans to build nuclear facilities -- while Iran says that it is going to back to its original safeguards agreement which only required Iran to inform the IAEA of the sites 180-days before nuclear material was introduced into the site. This is an on-going dispute but the bottom line remains that unless there's some diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses, Iran continues to be in compliance with the NPT. The irony is this: the Iranians are expected to inform the IAEA of all the sites they plan on building, knowing full well that the information will be simply fed to the US and Israel for their targetting list. The daily US and Israel threats to bomb Iran constitutte violations of the UN Charter and are war crimes (yes, even the threat itself is a crime) but no one seems to have a problem with them, on the other hand they pick on Iran for not disclosing the targets to make the bombings easie to carry out! LOL!
Paragraphs 36-39: "Transparency" inspections of centrifuge production sites. These paragraphs says that Iran has asked to look at the nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor provided by Russia, and cover some other minor points that are not controversial. The most controversial paragraph is number 39, in which the IAEA demands to be allowed to see the facilities where Iran makes the centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium. In previous reports, this demand was clearly labelled as a "transparency" inspection -- the term "transparency" was used to clearly indicate inspections that go beyond the legal authority of the IAEA. Iran continues to refuse the inspection of centrifuge production facilities, as usual. Much like the IAEA demand to test the heavy water Iran has produced, these fall outside of the IAEA's inspection authority which is exclusively limited to checking nuclear material. Not also the other irony: one of the reasons that it is widely assumed any US or Israel bombing of Iran's nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz would be useless is because Iran can quickly rebuild whatever centrifuges that were destroyed. So natrually, the US is keen on getting the info on the location of the centrifuge production facilities -- the sites that the IAEA is demanding to inspect even thought it falls outside of the IAEA's authority. Note also that the IAEA reported no longer refer to these as "transparency" inspections, thus continuing to mix up legally required inspections with extra-legal demands in its reports.
Paragraphs 40-45 are about "Alleged Studies" into nuclear weaponization that the US claims Iran conduced based on the contents of the so-called "laptop of death" -- or at least that's what the previous IAEA repoorts called it ("Alleged Studies") but lately Amano has taken to calling these "Possible Military Dimensions". The media love these references to the alleged sutides in the IAEA reports because they get to spin it as "IAEA says Iran is engaged in weapons work!" when in fact the IAEA is merely reporting on the allegations provided by others, and in fact the IAEA has consistenly stated that it has no independent evidence to back up any of it.
These paragraphs basically recount the allegations that Iran was investigating means to make a bomb. The allegations were supposedly based on the "laptop of death" that someone supposedly secretly smuggled out of Iran. The Iranians have said they''d address the allegations as soon as they obtain the documents that supposedly contain them. The IAEA has not been able to provide the documentation to Iran because the US refuses to allow the IAEA to see all of them, or share them with Iran, so Iran is basically being told it has to disprove documents that it is not allowed to see. the US claims -- rather ridiculously -- that it can't allow Iran to see the documents since they contain ifnormation on making nukes---the same documents that supposedly came from Iran, mind you! Gareth Porter reportsthat Israel is probably the source of these documents, but the IAEA has been trying to downplaythe fact that theyre forgeries by getting Iran to respond to the "substance" of the documents instead. Thisis what IAEA head Elbaradei had to say about the documents:
And I have been making it very clear that with regard to these alleged studies, we have not seen any use of nuclear material, we have not received any information that Iran has manufactured any part of a nuclear weapon or component. That’s why I say, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype.
The Media of course accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA for refusing to address documents it is not allowed to see, but Peter Casey has written:
[Saying] that "Iran refuses to answer" IAEA questions is grossly misleading. As documented in every single IAEA board report since the laptop allegations first surfaced, Iran has consistently and adamantly answered many of the allegations by describing them as baseless and fabricated. In addition, it was only in February 2008 that the U.S. gave the IAEA permission to show any of the documents to Iran to enable it to respond (IAEA Gov/2008/4 at paragraph 37). The U.S. further manipulated the IAEA's efforts by providing "much of this information [to the IAEA] only in electronic form" and "not authorizing the [IAEA] to provide copies to Iran" (IAEA Gov/2008/15 at paragraph 16). The U.S. even refused to give the IAEA itself copies of some material. For example, the U.S. did not let the IAEA have copies of key documents concerning the "ballistic missile warhead" for a "nuclear weapon" ... The agency was "therefore unfortunately unable to make them available to Iran."
nd finally we'll skip over to the last section, Paragraph 46-51, in which the IAEA says that Iran hasn't abided by the illegal and ultra vires demands of the UNSC to give up its right to enrich uranium. The IAEA also says that Iran should sign the Additional Protocol -- which Iran (unlike many other nuclear countries) has said it is happy to do but only if its rights are also recognized.
People have asked me to elaborate further on why I think the "Green Movement" failed to make any impact during the anniversay celebrations in Iran last week. I think there are a number of reasons -- some blame the IRI, others the Green Movement itself, but the real reason is this: All the talk about toppling regimes and bombings and supporting ethnic separatists etc. has backfired on Washington by squelching the space for any real movement for change in Iran to develop. Washington's endless hostility and pressure on Iran for the last 30 years, especially but not limited to the nuclear issue which enjoys massive popularity across the political spectrum in Iran, has so polarized the atomosphere, narrowed willingess to explore options, and created a seige mentality in the public that there is no room for a "third movement" to arise in Iran that has the credibility and the popular trust to accomplish anything. The people prefer going with the regime, for all its faults, than to the alternatives (and in fact, as discussed below, there are no real credible alternatives presented either.)
Iranians see their country as being under seige and continued talk about sanctions that will supposedly cause so much harm to the people that they will rise up and do Washington's dirty work for of toppling the regime, or will force Iran to give up her massively poular nuclear program, only contributes to that perception.
Other lesser reasons which are mentioned by others:
First, as I said before, there is no real evidence that the elections were stolen in the first place, or that Ahmadinejad is so massively unpopular as some have claimed. If you don't want to believe the polling, just as yourself a logical question: Mousavi, the Green leader who supposedly actually won, is a regime-insider and who was specifically pre-cleared and vetted to run for office by the regime. So why would the same regime have to resort to massive election fraud to keep him out of office? It just makes no sense. Until you can come up with a colorable answer to that question, you've no business accusing anyone of stealing elections. (Most of the pro-Greens usually evade this question entirely, saying "it doesn't matter because this isn't about Mousavi" which is ridiculous, then they "appeal to emotion" by retelling about how awful the security crackdown has been and how many people were beaten etc. - as if atrocity makes up for their lack of a logical answer to a logical question.)
Second, the depth and breadth of support for the regime is consistently underestimated. This is partly due to the influence of wishful thinking by regime opponents, and their willingness to believe their own propaganda. I have already mentioned how the media in the US has been foretelling the imminent collapse of the regime practically eveyday for the last 30 years. Look folks, the bottom line is that since the revolutions, Iranians are better off than ever before. They live longer, healthier lives; they are far better educated, have better access to electricity, water, paved roads, etc. than ever before. This is simply an undeniable, statistically-proven fact (which leads the regime opponents to say "But those improvement are in line with the average improvements internationally" -- which may be true, but is irrelevant to the point. The regime has taken care of the people, and there is simply no doubt about it.)
Third, as much as some people want to deny it, the fact is that the "Greens" do not have a wide social base and represented a narrow class of people in Iran -- specifically, the more secular, educated, upper-class which explains their access to Twitter and Facebook etc. We've also heard about how the "youth" will topple the regime, but this is something I've heard for over a decade now. Even if there is a large youth contingent, that doesn't mean much. After all, would you trust your future to the hands of a petulant 20-something year old? Similarly, the analysts who reduced the conflict between "Mollahs" and everyone else were ridiculously shallow. The main backer of the Mousavi faction is Rafsanjani, a very prominent figure in the regime as well as a cleric (who incidentally is also often accused of massive corruption.) Ahmadinejad is not a cleric but is a technocrat.
Third, there is a general lack of leadership amongst the Greens, for a variety of reasons, but especially because...
Fourth, the Greens have no real agenda. All the petulance and empty sloganeering about "Freedom" etc make for great photo-ops, but not are just not a convincing substitute. (one of the problems in the West is that since they are so influenced by PR, they think that PR can be the solution to everything.) The demonstrators come across as just a confused bunch of repressed people who want to let off steam and break stuff, with some vague "Feel-good" chants. The only thing that barely unites them is some vague "opposition" to something -- not clear what. Some oppose the election results only, some oppose Ahmadinejad, some oppose the concept of the constitutional Supreme Jurisprudent, some simply want more social freedoms, some want to topple the regime entirely, etc. This was obvious in the number and variety of figures whom the Western media presented as ostensible "leaders" of the Green movement -- former crown prince, MEK spokesmen, movie directors, regime-insiders like Mousavi and Karroubi, reformists politicians like former President Khatami, etc. Clerics, secularists, Monarchists, the MEK, NeoCons etc. were all trying to climb onto the "Green Movements" wagon and take control of the steering by imposing their own agendas on the movement. Who's going to buy into that? None of these people have the necessary credibility or gravitas. Iranians have long-since become inured to calls for revolutions and regime-topplings by the Washington/Tel Aviv hawks and the Exile-TV crowd who rushed to lay claim to the green movement, and disregard them (or think them to be downright silly and immoral.)
Fifth, the people in Iran are once-bitten, twice-shy. They see all the posturing and rhetoric about regime change that has been coming from Washington and Tel Aviv for decades. They're not foolish enough to think that the denizens of the think tanks in DC really give a fig about human rights and democracy in Iran, and so they naturally wonder what's really behind the so-called Green movement. You can say this is "conspiracy thinking" but lets face it, there's more than enough justification for this sort of suspicion about the so-called Green movement.
Finally, I have to say that the conduct of some of the people identifying themselves as Greens was a major turnoff. The rioting, the burning of busses, the fighting in the street, the obvious appeals to foreign intervention by some who at least claimed to be members of the movement, the intolerance and "black v. white" mentality displayed towards people who may not agree 100% with them (read comments below for an example) all raise significant questions about what these people would be like once in power.
How many shoes do you suppose have to bop Fredrick and Kimberly Kagan upside the head before they show some shame? Frankly I don't know what's funnier -- that a bunch neocons are arguing over whether Bush or Obama should ge the "credit" for Iraq -- as if their invasion of Iraq all turned out exactly as they planned and the place is some sort of heaven on earth now -- or the fact that they have the chutzpa of accusing other nations of having "designs on Iraq". The fact is that whatever stability Iraq now has, it is despite the neocons and not because of them, so there's precious little to take any "credit" for, and instead there's plenty of misery and destruction that the same neocons should be tried for in a war crimes court.
Apparently Hillary Clinton's spech on how Iran is a "military dictatorship" caused some chuckles amongst her audience.
To quote the Daily Star's Rami Khouri:
If Iran is indeed becoming a military dictatorship, this probably qualifies it for American hugs and aid rather than sanctions and threats. Clinton badly needs some more credible talking points than opposing military dictatorships. ..
The US has adored military dictatorships in the Arab world, and has long supported states dominated by the shadowy world of intelligence services....Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East are military and police states where men with guns rule, and where citizens are confined to shopping, buying cellular telephones, and watching soap operas on satellite television. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, as well as the entire Gulf region and other states are devoted first and foremost to maintaining domestic order and regime incumbency through efficient, multiple security agencies, for which they earn American friendship and cooperation. When citizens in these and other countries agitate for more democratic and human rights, the US is peculiarly inactive and quiet.
At a time when some people claim that Iran really doesn't need to make nuclear power at home and should just import everything, this is what Obama has said about two new nuclear reactors being built in the US:
“Make no mistake: whether it is nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy, if we fail to invest in these technologies today, we’ll be importing them tomorrow.”
I always said that the Obama administration's "uranium swap" offer to Iran was intended to be refused, so as to paint Iran as the "intransigent" party and justify an escalation and sanctions which are ultimately intended to make war more sellable to the public -- in short, the Dennis Ross strategy.
And today this is what the NY Times' Helen Cooper has to say:
Instead, administration officials say, the biggest benefit of Mr. Obama’s engagement policy now is not dialogue or understanding with adversaries, but simply a defusing of a worldwide view that the United States is part of the problem, a demonstration that the problem is Tehran’s intransigence, not Washington’s pique.
“What the president has achieved is that he has outed Iran,” a senior administration official said Friday. He said Iran, by refusing to respond positively, had exposed itself as uninterested in a better relationship with the United States.
Note of course that Helen Cooper takes for granted that there was a genuine "engagement policy" in the first place. The "numerous instances" that she cites Obama as having reached out to Iran were purely formalities, which were intended to only cover-up the continued US insistence that Iran has to give up enrichment - a continuation of the same policies as the Bush administration. She also ignores the numerous instances that Iranian proposals were ignored by the US, such as the 2003 faxed negotiation offer, which the hawks are now trying to erase from history because it goes against their strategy of painting Iran as the intransigent party.
I have said it before and will say it again: we are witnessing the unfolding of a long-term plan of deliberate yet incremental escalation with Iran that is ultimately intended to lead to war.
Ilan Berman, a notorious pro-Israeli Iran hawk, and Robert MacFarlane, a former Reagan National Security Advisor who was convicted of lying to Congress over the Iran-Contra affairs, have an op-ed in the LA Times where he claims that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran (which concluded that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program) was the result of "politicized intelligence", and calls for the creation of a "Team B" to analyze Iran intelligence.
The reason for creating a "Team B" is simple: when the intelligence agencies aren't giving you the intelligence to back-up your agenda, create parallel agencies that will be more compliant.This of course should come as no surprise because it is yet another parallel to the build-up to the Iraq war and, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, a favorite tactic of Cheney and Rumsfeld going back to the Cold War when they created a "missile gap" panic using the same methods. In the case of Iraq, the same sort of "Team B" was responsible for "stovepiping" pro-war intelligence to the WHite House, thus "fixing the intelligence around the policy" as the Downing Street memo indicated.
Oh, the nuclear facility in Qom which they claim was "convincingly linked to evidence of nuclear weapons work" was in fact dismissed by the IAEA head Elbaradei as a "hole in the mountain... nothing to be worried about" and the "neutron initiator" documents which they claim constituted a "smoking gun" were in fact probably forgeries promoted by their own fellow-travelers.
So apparently everyone is in agreement that the much touted "confrontation" between the Green Movement and the regime on the anniversary of the revolution didn't happen. So now they're trying to explain why, insisting that it wasn't because the Green Movement has lost vitality, but because the regime managed to somehow silence and drown out the movement -- which of course begs the question of how much of a popular movement it really was in the first place.
IMHO the size and importance of the "Green Movement" was always exaggerated, mainly by opportunistic exiled regime opponents abroad and the foreign governments who wanted the movement to turn into a revolution that would topple the regime - thus they managed to discredit it, as usual, by trying to impose their own agendas on the movement. Monarchists, MEK, Israelis, CIA, everyone was suddenly "Green".
Anyway, there was never any real evidence that the presidential elections were fraudulent. As I wrote before, Mousavi was a regime insider who was specifically pre-cleared and vetted by the regime to run for office. His "winning" of the election would not have posed such a threat to the regime that they'd have to resort to massive election fraud to keep him out.
And, poll after poll concludes that the people did in fact vote for Ahmadinejad. The pundits who say otherwise have proven themselves to be not reliable. They never guessed at Ahmadinejad's first election victory either, and the election victory of Khatami also came as a total surprise to them. So what do they know?
Like I said before, regimes can come and go, and none will last, but hype and wishful thinking have always been with us.
So now some people are instead promising that Noruz (New Year) celebtrations of March 22 will instead be the date of the big confrontation that some people were hoping for. I don't know, but I seriously doubt it, for a variety of reasons (mainly, because Iranians will be far too busy going on vacation.)
The bigger question is this: once the Obama administration concludes that the regime is not about to fall, no matter how much they push it, what then? Until now, the prospect of regime fall was held out by the hawks as a reason why the Obama administration should not negotiate with Iran. As one commentator wrote:
"By holding out the illusion of substantial political change in Iran, hawks can push for delaying meaningful negotiations and can gain support for destructive sanctions measures... After all, if Western policymakers start banking on domestic political unrest to undermine the Iranian government in a major way, they will pursue policies that would be very different than if they assume that the current Iranian government is not changing and not going anywhere."
So what happens now? I doubt the Israelis will allow the Obama administration to negotiate with Iran -- clearly, Israel is the tail that wags the dog, and Obama is stuck with whatever instructions his masters in Jerusalem issue to him. And there is simply no way in hell that Israel will accept a US-Iran rapprochment since THAT (and not claims about Iranian nukes) is the real threat that Iran poses to Israel.
This is too funny and sad:
According to a federal suit filed Wednesday on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, a TSA supervisor asked him, "How do you feel about 9/11?"
He said he hemmed and hawed a bit. "It's a complicated question," he told me by phone. "But I ended up saying, 'It was bad. I am against it.' "
He was asked if he knew who "did 9/11."
He answered, Osama bin Laden.
Then he was asked, "Do you know what language he spoke?"
George answered, Arabic."
The supervisor then held up his flash cards. "Do you see why these cards are suspicious?"
There's a weird contradiction in the US (Obama as well as Bush) rhetoric on Iran's nuclear capability which I have noticed often: on one hand they exaggerate Iran's supposedly immiment capability to convert the stockpile of low-enriched uranium into weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium...
But on the other hand, in practically the same breath, they down-play Iran's enrichment capability and say that Iran is just exaggerating its advancement.
For example, compare this:
American intelligence agencies have concluded in recent months that Iran has created enough nuclear fuel to make a rapid, if risky, sprint for a nuclear weapon...
In the first public acknowledgment of the intelligence findings, the American ambassador to the IAEA declared on Wednesday that Iran now had what he called a “possible breakout capacity” if it decided to enrich its stockpile of uranium, converting it to bomb-grade material.
The White House said Thursday the U.S. administration doesn't believe Iran has the capacity to produce high-grade uranium with a purity of 20 percent, suggesting Tehran is making exaggerated claims for political reasons.
"We do not believe they have the capacity to enrich to the degree to which they say they are now enriching," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said during a regular briefing, noting Iran 's nuclear program "has undergone a series of problems throughout the year."
He also charged that Iran's statements are "based on politics, not on physics.
Look, if Iran can't really enrich uranium to 20% then why the repeated assertions that Iran is "close to" making a bomb - which requires enrichment to over 90%?
What explains this contradictory rhetoric?
I have asked some friends and together we speculate that on one hand the US wants to scaremonger about Iran's enrichment capability, but at the same time it has to fend-off the idea that the "cat is out of the bag" and Iran's enrichment capability is already so advanced that it can't be stopped and so the US should instead simply acquiesce to it and enter into negotiations with Iran. So, basically they're trying to have it both ways.
Indications of fraud in the June 12 Iranian presidential election, together with large-scale street demonstrations, have led to claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not actually win the election, and that the majority of Iranians perceive their government as illegitimate and favor regime change.
An analysis of multiple polls of the Iranian public from three different sources finds little evidence to support such conclusions.
Going into the election 57% said they expected Ahmadinejad to win. Thus it is not surprising that, in several post-election polls, more than seven in ten said they saw Ahmadinejad as the legitimate president. About eight in ten said the election was free and fair.
Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post has an article that (relying almost exclusively on anonymous administration sources) claims that Iran refused a US offer to "help" iran to purchase medical isotopes on the international market, insinuating the Iran's effort to manufacture its own medical isotopes is actually a cover for bomb-making, while also repeating the myth that Iran "first accepted" and "then rejected" the uranium swap offer made by the US.
The details of this US offer to help Iran purchase medical isotopes are not known, nor is the Iranian reaction to it. For example, did the Iranians reject it because it was made conditional on Iran giving up the right to make their own isotopes? Glenn Kessler doesn't say. But there are other issues in his coverage that need addressing:
First of all, Kessler repeatedly insinuates that there's something fishy about Iran's motives for making 20% enriched uraium to power a reactor used to manufacture medical isotopes, because other countries do not do so and Iran could simply import the isotopes "more efficiently." Well, what Kessler doesn't mention is that the countries which purchase rather than make their own isotopes simply haven't dedicated the expertise or resources to do so, unlike Iran which is one of the few "new entrants" into the field of uranium enrichment, along with Argentina and Brazil and perhaps more in the near future.
More significantly, in insinuating that Iran's plans to make medical isotopes is part of a weapons program, Kessler doesn't mention that Iran has been making its own isotopes for a long time now. Indeed, the reactor that the Iranians want to make 20% enriched fuel for (TRR or Tehran Research Reactor) and which is used to make the medical isotopes was built in 1967, during the Shah's time, with the assistance and cooperation of the US (the US also provided the initial batch of 93% weapons-grade, highly-enriched uranium fuel to operate it.) Iran's plans to make medical isotopes is thus simply a continuation of a long pre-existing capacity and not something new cooked up by Ahmadinejad as part of a secret plot to make nukes. In fact, the Iranians did not want to enrich uranium to 20% to power the reactor -- no, as Flint Leverett points out, they first offered to purchase the finished fuel for the reactor on the open market, as they have done in the past (they last purchased the fuel from Argentina in the 1980s, which also helped Iran convert the reactor to one that uses 19% enriched uranium rather than weapons-grade 93% enriched uranium.) The US swap deal offer was made after Iran attempted to acquire the finished fuel. So again, Kessler's insinuation that Iran's plans to make 20% enriched uranium to power the reactor is just a pretext to make bombs, falls apart.
Second, regarding the "more efficient" claim, as Juan Cole points out, Iran's announcement that it would make its own reactor fuel to make its own medical isotopes is quite logical, quoting Jeffrey Lewis of the New America Foundation:
'Iran has developed plans to use naturally occurring uranium as a “target” for producing an important medical diagnostic isotope of molybdenum, an isotope whose decay product can be used to scan for cancers in bone, heart, lung, and kidney. Iran already imports a sizable quantity of this pharmacological radionuclide but producing it indigenously would not only save Iran a considerable amount of money each year, much more than it would pay for the fuel for the reactor it would use to produce it, but also allow a more efficient use of this short lived isotope by preventing the decay of nearly half of the amount bought before it even reached the patients. Perhaps the biggest incentive indigenous production of 99Mo in Iran would be the encouragement of its entire nuclear medicine infrastructure; an infrastructure that might right the imbalance of medical isotopes into this developing country relative to other nations." '
Though Juan Cole didn't quote it, Jeffrey Lewis also writes in the same article:
It costs Iran about a $1 million per annum to import its current needs for diagnostic 99Mo. About half of that is “wasted” in transit as the molybdenum decays, an amount that could be saved if the isotope was produced locally...The real benefit to Iran for completing this deal, however, will not be the savings of a few million dollars or even the savings of nearly half the imported diagnostic radioisotopes from unavoidable wastage due to decays during shipment. The real savings will be the foot up Iran gets in its health care from starting to develop its own nuclear medicine industry. The discrepancy between the use of diagnostic isotopes in Iran and the developed world can, and should, be dramatically reduced; as it should for the entire world.
Finally, regarding the myth that Iran "first accepted, then rejected" the uranium swap agreement: Iran explicity said that they agreed only "in principle" to the idea of the swap but have made suggestions to firm-up the guarantees that the US would actually meet its obligations under the deal by, for example, suggesting that uranium should be swapped in batches. The negotiations are continuing and so the offer has not been "rejected". Again, as Flint Leverette points out, the Iranians did not reject it, and the US is the one which has been intransigent by insisting on a "take it or leave it" approach... which as I have written before only proves that the US offer was probably yet another poison-pill MEANT to be not accepted by Iran in order to portray Iran as being hell-bent on making nukes... which is precisely what the Kessler article insinuates.
[UPDATE: a kind reader points out:
The US is not in a position to "help" Iran obtain the medical isotopes. Diplomatic conflicts aside, this is the worst time in history to obtain molybdenum-99, since the world's main suppliers -- the problem-ridden NRU reactor (Chalk River, Canada) and HFR reactor (Petten, Netherlands) -- are both shut down for major maintenance.
Those reactors were producing near 2/3 of the world supply of molybdenum-99 early last year. There is almost nothing the U.S. can do to help, since it has no domestic source of molybdenum-99.
AP Pulls Iran Nukes Story After Antiwar.com Exposé
Associated Press issued a story yesterday (Monday) entitled “Iran moves closer to nuke warhead capacity.” It was full of inaccurate and misleading information implying that Iran had admitted trying to enrich weapons-grade nuclear material. The story appeared on a wide variety of media.
Last night, Antiwar.com news editor Jason Ditz issued a story refuting the AP story.
This morning, Associated Press recalled the story without explanation and replaced it with another, much less inflamatory story written by a different author.
It is important to question the mainstream media and not let them get away with helping the warmongers with their agenda.
So the US and EU have declared that even if Iran accepts the uranium swap deal, it must still "prove that its nuclear program is purely peaceful."
And of course the only "proof" they will accept is if Iran gives up enrichment, which has been their goal all along. This uranium swap deal is just a tactic.
Like I said before, the goalposts will always be kept moving, and there is no possibility of a compromise solution to this standoff since one side is intent on depriving Iran of her rights. Everytime Iran shows flexibility, they only up their demands.
As you know I like to dig out old articles. THis one is interesting not only to show how the US embraced Saddam, but because Kissinger implicitly recognized the influence peddling role of Israel in the US foreign policy process (see bolded text)
New declassified documents reveal secret U.S.-British-Iraq history
National Security Archives 18 December 2003
For more information: 202/994-7000
Thomas Blanton/Malcolm Byrne
The Saddam Hussein Sourcebook published by National Security Archive.
Washington D.C., 18 December 2003 – Newly declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive show the British Embassy in Baghdad recommending Saddam Hussein to London in 1969 as a "presentable young man" with an "engaging smile," "with whom, if only one could see more of him, it would be possible to do business."
U.S. documents published in today’s Saddam Hussein Sourcebook quote Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1975 telling the Iraqi foreign minister "we do not think there is a basic clash of national interests between Iraq and the United States" (the Iraqi disagreed), and that Israeli influence on U.S. policy would diminish given "our new electoral law" which means "the influence of some who financed the elections before isn’t so great."
The newly declassified briefing notes for special envoy Donald Rumsfeld’s second trip to Baghdad in March 1984 reveal Rumsfeld’s instructions to reinforce the message of U.S. interest in improved relations "at a pace of Iraq’s own choosing," and to emphasize that U.S. criticism of Saddam’s chemical weapons use versus Iran was not meant as a pro-Iranian or anti-Iraq gesture. Saturday, December 20, marks the 20th anniversary of Rumsfeld’s famous handshake meeting with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
When the U.S. Senate passed economic sanctions on Iraq in 1988 for using poison gas against the Kurds, U.S. ambassador April Glaspie reported that the U.S. construction company Bechtel planned to employ "non-U.S. suppliers of technology and continue to do business in Iraq," according to a CONFIDENTIAL State Department cable. In April 2003, Bechtel landed the largest U.S. Agency for International Development contract to date for infrastructure repair work in Iraq, with an initial payment of $34.6 million and long-term value of up to $680 million.
The Saddam Hussein Sourcebook posted today also brings together five briefing books previously published by the National Security Archive into one searchable file of primary sources. These include "Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction," "Eyes on Saddam," "Alleged Iraqi War Criminals in 1992," "Operation Desert Storm," and "Shaking Hands with Saddam: U.S. Policy before the Gulf War."
Christopher Preble has an article at Cato on how rightwing NeoCon pundit Charles Krauthammer exaggerated Iran's space-launch capability as equivalent to "putting nuclear weapons in New York".
Preble mentions that the launch of the Russian Sputnik space satellite was also used for similar scaremongering purposes. I think a more recent example that he touches on is the "Missile Gap" scare of the 1970s. Ironically, that bit of scaremongering was done by the the same NeoCons -- Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney -- who along with Charles Krauthammer pushed for a war in Iraq, and are now pressing for a war on Iran. And, they used the same techniques to manipulate the intelligence then: by creating a parallel intelligence operation ("Team b") which naturally reached all the conclusions that the NeoCons wanted it to reach, namely that Russia/Iraq/Iran pose a threat to the US, and whose "findings" were leaked to the public in order to force their agenda into the policymaking process.
Iran has been the subject -- and will probably continue to be -- of so make trumped up an faked charges that I am seriously thinking of starting a website or blog category dedicated to these "almost certain fake" stories.
Like the one that Ahamadinejad was secretly a Jew, that Iran had passed a law requiring Jews to wear yellow badges, that uranium was missing in Iran, that the IAEA was hiding secret documents that would prove the existence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, that Khamenei is planning an excape to Russia by a "check-up" airplane for himself and his family, that Iranians run over the arms of little boys with cars for stealing bread, that soccer players wore green wristbands as a sign of their support for riotors, that massive fraud was proven to exist in the presidential elections, that theQom facility was "clandestine" etc. etc. too many to keep track of.
As I mentioned before, some articles "go missing" on the internet:
Iran finds allies against UN atomic plan-diplomats
By Louis Charbonneau,
Reuters Feb 22 2005
VIENNA - A plan by the U.N.'s atomic watchdog aimed partly at helping to persuade Iran to forsake its nuclear ambitions is opposed not only by Tehran but a group of countries including Japan and Brazil, diplomats said.
Even the United States, which accuses Iran of trying to make an atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, has reservations about the proposed five-year moratorium on new nuclear production facilities, they added. Major uranium suppliers Canada and Australia also have objections.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), proposed the plan last year, hoping a global moratorium would give the world time to patch up loopholes in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The scheme also offered Iran a way of saving face while acceding to a European Union demand that it scrap its uranium enrichment programme, the U.N. diplomats said.
"The idea is that it would be easier for Iran to give up enrichment as part of an international movement," a diplomat involved in EU discussions with Iran on its atomic fuel programme told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Iran, which denies seeking to make an atomic bomb and says its programme is peaceful to generate electricity, has rejected both the EU demand and the moratorium.
ElBaradei will not have an easy time selling his plan for a moratorium on the creation of new uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing facilities ahead of a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in May.
EXCESS OF ENRICHMENT CAPACITY
Tariq Rauf, head of the IAEA's Verification and Security Policy Office, told a news conference on the future of nuclear fuel supply that there was currently a global excess of enrichment capacity and new multinational alternatives to national enrichment programmes were needed to reduce proliferation risks.
"Clearly it's not in the interest of the world to have 30 or 40 countries, each having a national plutonium reprocessing or uranium enrichment capability, because this does lead for the potential for going to the next step -- making nuclear weapons."
The moratorium has only partial support from Washington, which nevertheless sees such a plan as a way of isolating and increasing pressure on Iran to give up its enriched-uranium fuel projects, the diplomats said.
Iran and other states which would be affected by the moratorium strongly oppose it, fearing it will become permanent.
Tehran also rejects the idea of such a moratorium as tantamount to granting a virtual monopoly to European, Russian and other existing producers of enriched-uranium nuclear fuel.
Enrichment is a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants or, when very highly enriched, in bombs.
While the EU supports the moratorium, Iran has some powerful allies against it -- including Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Pakistan, diplomats from several IAEA member countries said.
"Some countries are worried that the moratorium would eventually become compulsory, especially countries that would be affected by it," a diplomat close to the IAEA said. "They don't want to limit their options for the future."
Despite this opposition, the diplomat said ElBaradei's moratorium proposal was "still on the table" and would be a major topic of discussion at the NPT review conference in May.
Countries like Canada and Australia -- which have ample uranium but do not enrich it -- have reservations about closing doors on their own future nuclear fuel options, diplomats said.
Japan, they said, opposes the moratorium because it fears its own plutonium-based atomic activities might be curtailed.
The United States only supports the idea of a moratorium for countries which lack an atomic fuel production capacity. In this case, U.S. plans for new enrichment facilities would be exempt from the moratorium while Iranian facilities would be covered.
Diplomats close to the IAEA say this would be unfair.
"It wouldn't be worth it unless all the 'have' countries, not just the 'have nots', also agree to a moratorium on new enrichment and reprocessing facilities," a Western diplomat close to the IAEA said. "This is where it gets tricky."
There is a widely held belief -- promoted by the hyped US media coverage -- that Iranian president Ahmadinejad is the one behind Iran's nuclear program. The program is largely and almost exclusively attributed to him (something he no doubt encourages too) The Iran-hawks have claimed falsely that if only Ahmadinejad falls, then the Iranian nuclear program will be "delayed" or destroyed. But in fact the "reformists" in Iran are just as (if not more) protective of the nuclear program.
Take for example Rafsanjani's statement on this issue several years ago:
Iran's Khamenei slams American brand of Islam as "backward"
Agence France-Press TEHRAN, May 19 2003
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday condemned what he called "American Islam" as a backward form of the religion that only serves US interests, state television reported.
"American Islam is a backward Islam, filled with superstition, and a form of Islam that falls in line with American principles and Western ideas," he said in an address to top officials, including President Mohammad Khatami.
"The Islamic nation will have a bright future, only by resorting to the pure Islam of Mohammad, which is the Islam of unity of Muslims and resistance against arrogance," Khamenei added.
Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, meanwhile, denied US accusations over Iran's nuclear plans and stressed their "peaceful" purposes.
"Our country has got used to such threats and US accusations are nothing new," he said in an interview with Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel.
Rafsanjani said the "peaceful use" of nuclear energy was the "natural demand of the Iranian government and nation".
"Americans advised Iran to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity during the former regime and submitted plans for building power plants. Now they say Iran does not need nuclear power since it has abundant oil and gas," he said.
"How come we needed atomic plants at that time (of the pro-West shah) when our daily oil production stood at six million barrels, whereas now that only 3.5 million barrels per day is produced we do not need such plants?" he asked.
"We have decided to produce 7,000 megawatts of nuclear power. We need fuel for our plants and we should create a fuel cycle, independently," he insisted.
Rafsanjani also rejected as "baseless" US charges that Tehran was sheltering leaders of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network after the 2001 US-led war in Afghanistan that ousted the hardline Taliban militia.
"The Taliban and al-Qaeda were founded by Americans themselves and certain Arab countries next to the Islamic republic in order to oppose Iran," he said.
Note also this
TEHRAN (Agence France Presse) Oct 21, 2003
Iran argues that the energy needs of a fast growing population as well as the Islamic republic's independence justify its nuclear ambitions which have aroused suspicion in the West.
Iran insists the stakes are high, with a population of more than 65 million.
But given the country's enormous oil and gas reserves, the international community has stepped up the pressure on Tehran to come clean on its nuclear energy programme and fall in line with demands of the UN nuclear watchdog.
Despite Iranian assurances it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, sceptics ask why Iran should invest billions of dollars to produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity at a far higher cost than with gas-powered plants.
"Before the (1979 Islamic) revolution, we had a population of 30 million and oil revenues in the region of 22 billion dollars a year," said Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"Today, our population has doubled but not only do oil revenues fall far short of 44 billion dollars, but we would have needed 90 billion dollars in oil revenues" to keep up with inflation, he said.
"We are currently running our country with 24 billion dollars in revenues (from the oil and non-oil sectors), which is something of a miracle."
Salehi said that 7,000 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity would free up about 200 million barrels of oil a year, or an annual saving of around four billion dollars.
And that is without taking into account the fact that Iran's reserves are not unlimited.
Consumption of oil, diesel and electricity has been rising sharply in Iran, where 80 percent of villages now have electricity and power cuts are a far rarer occurrence.
Iran currently produces 3.6 million barrels of oil a day, a third of which is ploughed into domestic consumption, a share which is climbing, necessitating imports of more than one billion dollars worth of refined petrol.
As a result, officials here say, Iran is accelerating the nuclear programme.
Apart from the 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant being built in Bushehr, southern Iran, with Russian help, the government plans to construct six other reactors each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
While airing national pride for the achievements of its own scientists, Iranian officials say the programme will ensure that Tehran's needs and independence are not subject to foreign pressure.
In March, President Mohammad Khatami revealed Iran had the know-how to produce nuclear fuel and was building atomic installations in Isfahan, Natanz, Arak and Yazd.
To show that Western pressure has been politically motivated, Iranian officials point out that before the Islamic revolution even the United States encouraged Tehran to pursue a nuclear programme for civilian uses.
The aim was to produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity in 2000.
Germany helped launch the work at Bushehr even before the revolution but it was interrupted by the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq, before Russia entered the picture.
The United States, Britain and France were also to have taken part in the construction of several nuclear plants, but the overthrew of the shah put paid to such projects.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2003 Agence France-Presse.
Glenn Beck is a far-right raving lunatic "talk show personality" who seems to think that Khomeini banned 12ver Shi'ism (the official religion of Iran) and repeats the usual BS about how Ahmadinejad wants to speed up the apocalypse. The usual scaremongering -- like that Iran is planning to deploy an device over the US that causes EMP waves which will knock out all electronic communications. What he doesn't know is that such a device is called a nuclear bomb, and if the Iranians could (and wanted to) launch nuclear bombs over the US, the resulting EMP wave would hardly be their biggest concern.
It is easy to dismiss these sorts of people -- Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, G Gordon Liddy, Rush Limbaugh, etc -- as blowhards that appeal to trailer trash, but there is a long history of this sort of thing, and they are just the publicly visible members of vast network of rightwing ignoramuses who take over the airwaves and appeal to the most basic hatemongering fascistic tendencies in the American psyche. Together, they form an echo chamber that reverberates with the latest "truth" created through repetition -- that Obama wants to kill your grandmother, that Muslims are out to conquer the world, etc. The Israelis have made a point of grooming relations with these sorts of people even though their blatant anti-semitism is only barely hidden. (WHich goes to show how cynically the pro-Israeli lobby uses the "anti-semite" label.)
While the usual folks are engaged in ridiculing Iran's recent launch of a turtle and some worms into space, an actual rocket scientist says:
[L]et’s take a minute to appreciate the technological feat it represents! In the face of world opposition and sanctions, Iran has joined a very exclusive club: those countries that have managed to orbit a satellite.
I guess I need to go into this in somewhat more detail. What ever Iran used to put the satellite in orbit, it needed to achieve a speed of 7.8 km/s at 242 km altitude. I find that very hard to accomplish with the fuels I think the Safir used (nitric acid and kerosene). When I try modeling it, I get a two stage Safir giving a 25 kg satellite a speed of 6.4 km/s at 200 km. David Wright quotes a considerably smaller velocity, though I dont understand his model; it seems to be some sort of Taepodong variant. (I could be wrong about that, but thats what I get from his comment in Jeffrey’s post.) Given these calculations, it seems to me and others that two stages seems improbable unless Iran has achieved a considerable advance in engine/fuel specific impulse. On the other hand, the initial brightness measurements from experienced amateur satellite observers seems to favor a final stage that is considerably brighter than the satellite. That in turn favors the two stage model which implies Iran has made a considerable advance in technology
So according to reports, Ahmadinejad has said that Iran accepts the uranium swap offer. This isn't really news -- Ahmadinejad had expressed approval of the offer before, and was criticized for it by Mousavi, who is ostensibly the head of the "opposition" that the US is banking on (or not -- but that's another story...) And, even though the Iran hawks were quick to declare that the Iranians had rejected the offer and negotiations were at an end once their impose deadline of Jan 1st had ended, according to the IAEA the process was still continuing.
I believe that continues to be the case. The Iranians have fundamentally accepted the idea of an exchange, the only concern they have is about ensuring that the other side carries out its end of the bargain, and so they are negotiating over methods to ensure honesty on both sides by, for example, breaking down the exchange into separate batches.
And, as before, the US insists that there can be no derogation from the terms set out by them, take-it-or-leave-it, etc etc.
So in short, nothing has changed. As far as I can tell, the only new thing is a statement by Ahmadinejad that if the US doesn't come through on the exchange, its no big deal since Iran can just continue enriching more uranium. That's probably true, but misses the point. The reason why this deal won't go through is because it is actually not any sort of compromise and will not meet the bottom lines of both sides as some of the proponents of the deal clamed (I think it was Dr. Gary Sick?) The bottom line of the Iranian side is that while they;re willign to make compromises on restricting enrichment (they always have been) they are not willing to give it up -- but the US side has made it clear that the deal is intended merely to deprive Iran of her stock of enriched uranium, thus buying more time for the US to continue the current policy of trying ti deprive Iran of her right to enrich Uranium in toto. So, the fundamental standoff continues.
Look folks, first of all I think we can all be pretty certain that that there is no way in hell that the US will ever allow any reactor fuel to go to Iran, deal or no deal. Exactly which US president will sign off on that order and face the backlash? None. So let me go on the record now, promising you my dear readers, that if the swap deal goes through, and the time comes for the US to live up to its commitment under the bargain and provide Iran with reactor fuel, and if the fuel ever actually makes it into Iran, I will publicly eat my hat and will post photos on this blog. It just won't happen. Not in 6 months, not in a year, not in 5 years. We can be certain of that. I am willing to bet a million bucks.
I am also certain that this offer by the US was never meant to be accepted by the Iranians -- it was a ploy, designed to be rejected, thus allowing the US to paint Iran as the "intansigent" party and make further sanctions and eventually an attack on Iran more "sellable" to the public back home -- the Dennis Ross strategy. There's a long long history of Iran making compromise offers that would have addressed any real concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation, only to have the US totally ignore them and continue to move goalposts. Remember the Paris Agreement fiasco, when the Iranians actually suspended enrichment for more than two years in the hopes that the EU-3 would respond in accordance to the Iranian good faith gesture by recognizing Iran's rights? What happened then, remember? The US sumply boycotted the deal entire, the EU3 dragged their feet, falsely characterized the temporary Iranian suspension of enrichment as a permanent obligation, demanded that Iran abandon enrichment in violation of their own explicit agreement not to do so, and finally accused Iran of violating the Paris Agreement when Iran restarted enrichment. What did Iran get out of that? Nothing. Except proof that you can't simply hope that good faith will be met by good faith.
So let me predict something else for you: within a few hours, the US will declare that Ahmadinejad is merely trying to buy time and forestall sanctions, and this whole response by Iran to the offer is merely an effort to split the "will of the international community" -- and various op-eds in the US media will sprout up speculating about secret Iranian intentions etc etc - and in short, they will simply dismiss the Iranian statements as irrelevant posturing.
Like I said, the Uranium exchange deal was an offer that was never meant to be accepted. The US side is out to topple the regime, period. Get used that.
Bret Stephens has a rather sad oped in the Wall Street Journal (whose editorial page is known to be home to the rightwing kooks) which attempts to dispel "myths" to justify a bombing of Iran.
Note these two myths he attempts to dispel: the supposed "myth" that the nuclear program in Iran enjoys popular support (his evidence that it doesn't? Something he claims the riotors in Iran have chanted) and the supposed "myth" that the US should not meddle by supporting the demonstrators.
His arguments are basically for willful blindness. And, apparently he sees absolutely no contradiction between bombing Iranians and "supporting" them.
Note also the inbuilt assumption that Iran is acquiring nukes. No matter how often the IAEA or even US intelligence agencies repeat that there's no actual evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, these people just flat refuse to acknowledge that fact. Of course, the same sort of pople writing in the same WSJ pages have already declared that the US intelligence on Iran is "politicized" because it doesn't match up to their agenda.
Attorney Eric A Brill has been kind enough to send me the test of his email exchange with Alan Kuperman, author of the NY Times op-ed in which he argued for bombing Iran, on the topic of whether Iran had "violated international law" and whether UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iran were binding or not. (Since the back-and-forth discussions were quite long and detailed, what appears below is my own cut-and-paste job which may not present the full arguments) It specifically refers to the question of whether the UN has in fact ever found Iran's nuclear program to constitute a threat to international security under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which would give the UNSC authority to implement measures against Iran.
Iran's (sometimes muddled) argument is that a binding resolution, at least in this context, must be based on Article 39, not on Article 40 of Chapter VII of UN Charter. That may strike you as a picky distinction, but you'll learn it's not if you take the time to dig a little deeper.
Article 41, mentioned most often in the Iran/nuclear resolutions, is procedural: it merely spells out ways the SC can put some (non-military) teeth in resolutions it's previously (or simultaneously) adopted under Article 39 or Article 40. Predicating a resolution on Article 41 does not transform an Article 40 resolution into an Article 39 resolution.
None of the Iran/nuclear resolutions is an Article 39 resolution. In other words, as Iran has correctly pointed out several times, the Security Council has never found that Iran's nuclear program is a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." Instead, the SC has acted under Article 40, a "baby step" provision that enables the SC to "prevent an aggravation of the situation." Article 40 provides that "the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures."
And what might the Security Council do once it "duly takes account of [a state's] failure to comply" with such provisional measures -- which, of course, the state is entirely free to do, in reliance on Article 40's express statement that the provisional measures "shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned"? Well, as should be obvious, the SC may decide it's time to whack that state upside the head by adopting a resolution under Article 39. And if and when the SC does that, none of that wishy-washy "without prejudice to the rights, claims or positions..." language that appears in Article 40 (but not in Article 39) will any longer be available to the uncooperative state. It will be hardball time, and the stubborn state will have to comply. But not until then -- or so Iran argues, and my conclusion is that Iran has logic and authority on its side.
Are you beginning to see the difference between an Article 40 resolution and an Article 39 resolution? Do you wonder why the Security Council has never based an Iran/nuclear resolution on Article 39? Being unafraid to state the obvious, I'll answer that question: because the Security Council doesn't consider Iran's nuclear program to be a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." You do; they don't. And so they don't think we should drop bombs on Iran. You do; they don't.
Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803 were only based on Resolution 1696. Resolution 1696 was explicitly based on Article 40 and only Article 40, not on Article 39.
Bottom line: if you consider yourself a serious commentator, you're wasting your time trying to find a "binding" resolution under Chapter VII. That's Fox News sort of stuff, beneath you; leave it to them. Russia and China (at least) have consistently opposed language that supports such an interpretation of Iran/nuclear Security Council resolutions to date, and that is not likely to change. If you're going to have any hope of success on the "violation of international law" front, you're going to have to find some violation by Iran of its NPT obligations.
I have reproduced the text of the relevant Articles mention here:
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.
The US spends more on its military than all of the other countries in the world combined. So, today as part of his "change" agenda, Obama announced a record increase in military spending to $708 billion in 2011 defense budget.
This, in a POST-Cold War era.
Meanwhile, a bunch of semi-literate, cave-dwelling, barefooted former goatherders armed with nothing but old fashioned rifles and granade launchers have fought the US and the combined NATO alliance to a standtill in Afghanistan so that NATO is thinking of suing for peace behind the US's back.
" You dumb fuck. I wasn't talking about hurting you physically. I was talking about destroying you, legally, financially and professionally. What kind of person says, "dude"? The kind of young, college-educated guy with a long career ahead of him and strong ties to people in power. "
LOL! Some gifts just keep on giving.
Now shut up and go fetch my coffee.
Another clandestine tunnel has been discovered in Iran. Iran says that it needs to make tunnels for urban traffic, but Iran is widely suspected of hiding a nuclear weapons program, and The New York Times had already reported that the vast network of tunnels in Iran are suspicious. As a civil engineer, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has long played a prominent role in developing Iran's tunnel infrastructure, so that proves it: Tunnels=Nukes. The NY Times said so.
The experts point out that Iran has no need for urban tunnels, since it doesn't have enough cars to justify a tunnel, and could import tunnels cheaper than making them at home. This tunnel was too big or two small for cars -- but just the right size for nukes.
This particular "urban" tunnel was no doubt intended to be a secret until the Iranian authorities found out that US and Israeli intelligence had caught wind of it, so they decided to declare it to the public first, in an effort to pre-empt exposure. However, the tunnel was not declared to the IAEA previously, even though it could be used as part of a nuclear program. The Iranians have said they will allow IAEA inspections of the clandestine tunnel, but no doubt by the time the inspectors arrive the tunnels will have been swept clean of damning evidence of Iran's nuclear activities in this newly discovered clandestine tunnel.
Iran has continued to balk at coming clean over its nuclear program, in brazen disregard of the will of the international community to force Iran to give up her rights. David Albright of ISIS has calculated that this new urban tunnel could contain enough uranium for 1 or 2 nuclear weapons, and Gary Miholin of the Wisconsin Project for Arms Control has declared that the discovery of this clandestine tunnel in Iran shows that their nuclear program is far more advanced than previously thought.
Thus the only debate is whether Iran should be bombed now, or bombed soon, since bombing Iran is really the only option left to Obama if he wants to prove that he doesn't bow down before tyrants. Indeed, there may be hundreds of more similar tunnels that are still hidden, so the whole country of Iran should be carpet-bombed, just to be sure, and meanwhile the people of Iran must be supported (as well as bombed.)
And if you think that this is a joke, this is precisely how the US media covers Iran.