Category - Iran

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability

New York Times, By David E. Sanger, May 13

Washington — When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012.

Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.

“We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research,” one of the Arab leaders preparing to meet Mr. Obama said on Monday, declining to be named until he made his case directly to the president. Prince Turki bin Faisal, the 70-year-old former Saudi intelligence chief, has been touring the world with the same message.

Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More

U.S. Navy escorting American ships in Strait of Hormuz amid Iran tension

CBS/AP, April 30

A Senior Defense Department official confirms to CBS News that U.S. Naval forces have begun accompanying American-flagged maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

The move is in response to what Washington views as provocative Iranian behavior in the Persian Gulf. Earlier this week Iranian naval vessels reportedly fired warning shots near Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, and detained it and its crew. Iranian officials say the Maersk shipping line owes it money.

Iranian naval patrol boats also surrounded a U.S. cargo vessel in the Strait Friday.

“We’ve taken this step to prevent harassment or possible interdiction by Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval forces,” the official told CBS News.

The Navy makes a distinction between accompanying ships and escorting them. The officials said the Navy won’t escort these ships but will let them know in advance that they will monitor the situation as they transit the narrow Strait from the Gulf toward the Arabian Sea.

Jon Stewart Should Retire More Often

The chains of restraint have been loosed just a bit since his announcement that he’ll be leaving the show soon, and the quality of the show has increased. Last night’s take-down of the former VP was both entertaining and vitriolic – but perhaps I repeat myself.

Have a look:


Bonus: The ‘Murican Awards

Russia Lifts Ban On Sending Missiles To Iran, Kremlin Says

Reuters, By Gabriela Baczynska, April 13

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday paved the way for long-overdue missile system deliveries to Iran and Moscow started an oil-for-goods swap with Tehran, showing the Kremlin’s determination to boost economic ties with the Islamic Republic.

The moves come after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear program and signal that Moscow may have a head-start in the race to benefit from an eventual lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The Kremlin said Putin signed a decree lifting Russia’s own ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile rocket system to Iran, removing a major irritant between the two after Moscow canceled a corresponding contract in 2010 under pressure from the West.

Iran. Iraq. Somebody Remind Me….

President Obama and his Administration are announcing a breakthrough in dealing with Iran on the matter of nuclear proliferation. The media is reporting the obvious condemnation from the Republicans, the Republican wanna-be presidential candidates, and the incessant one-note whining of Israel’s PM.  In contrast, Secretary of State Kerry and others in the Administration are floating hyperbolic self-congratulations over their own hard work and stellar performance.

Most of what I heard yesterday by 7:00 PM indicated the “details” of any agreement would not be worked out for 6 months or more but the “framework” was pretty good as frameworks go.  Then again, the Kyoto Protocols and the SALT II talks were frameworks of international agreement too and whether they did good or ill remains unresolved in minds of many. I suspect most frameworks are built on compromise and whatever they yield is just about as satisfying.

For the liberal world, you have to start somewhere and if a framework gets you started in the correct direction, it is better than creeping toward greater conflict.  To the conservative world, this agreement is worse than Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of the National Socialist Party and the first step along the slippery slope toward mutually assured bloodshed.

So have we staved off disaster, or have we hastened it?
Read More

NYT Publishes Call to Bomb Iran

Exclusive: The New York Times continues its slide into becoming little more than a neocon propaganda sheet as it followed the Washington Post in publishing an op-ed advocating the unprovoked bombing of Iran, reports Robert Parry.

Consortium News, By Robert Parry, March 28

If two major newspapers in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the U.S. government and news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,” “criminality,” “madness,” and “behavior not fitting the Twenty-first Century.”

But when the newspapers are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the target country is Iran, no one in the U.S. government and media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements to murder and violation of international law – are considered just normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.

On Thursday, the New York Times printed an op-ed that urged the bombing of Iran as an alternative to reaching a diplomatic agreement that would sharply curtail Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it was used only for peaceful purposes. The Post published a similar “we-must-bomb-Iran” op-ed two weeks ago.

The Times’ article by John Bolton, a neocon scholar from the American Enterprise Institute, was entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” It followed the Post’s op-ed by Joshua Muravchik, formerly at AEI and now a fellow at the neocon-dominated School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. [For more on that piece, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocon Admits Plan to Bomb Iran.”]

Both articles called on the United States to mount a sustained bombing campaign against Iran to destroy its nuclear facilities and to promote “regime change” in Tehran. Ironically, these “scholars” rationalized their calls for unprovoked aggression against Iran under the theory that Iran is an aggressive state, although Iran has not invaded another country for centuries.

Obama tells Iran of ‘historic’ opportunity

BBC, March 20

US President Barack Obama has told the Iranian people that a deal to transform the relationship between the two countries could be within reach.

“We have the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries,” he said in a video message for Persian New Year.

Six world powers are negotiating a deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear activity, with a March deadline near.

[…]

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an apparent response to Mr Obama’s video it was time for the US and other negotiating countries – China, France, Germany, Russia and UK – to move forward with an agreement.

“Iranians have already made their choice: Engage with dignity. It’s high time for the US and its allies to choose: pressure or agreement,” Mr Zarif wrote in a message posted on his official Twitter account.

Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran

Exclusive: As the Obama administration is rushing to complete a nuclear agreement with Iran and reduce regional tensions, the Israeli media is reporting on a deal with Saudi Arabia to let Israeli warplanes transit Saudi airspace en route to bombing Iran, reports Robert Parry.

Consortium News, By Robert Parry, February 25

According to an Israeli media report, Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Israeli warplanes fly over Saudi territory to save fuel while attacking Iranian nuclear sites, the latest indication of how the two former enemies have developed a behind-the-scenes alliance that is reshaping geopolitics in the Middle East.

“The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official in Brussels told Israel’s Channel 2 in a report broadcast on Tuesday and described in other Israeli media outlets.

Riyadh’s only condition was that Israel make some progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, a stipulation that may be mostly cosmetic so the Saudis can save face with other Arab states without really interfering with an Israeli flyover to strike Iran.

Disclosure of this Israeli-Saudi military cooperation comes as the United States and five other world powers rush to finish an agreement with Iran to curtail but not eliminate its nuclear program, which Iran says is only for civilian purposes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to appear before the U.S. Congress on March 3 to undercut President Barack Obama’s negotiations.

The reported Saudi permission for Israeli warplanes to take a shorter route to bomb Iran also suggests that Netanyahu may be laying the groundwork for his own plans to attack the Iranian nuclear sites if the international negotiations are successful. Netanyahu has denounced a possible deal as an “existential threat” to Israel.

Khamenei: Iran Could Cut Europe’s Access to Gas if Sanctions not Lifted

Al-Akhbar English/Reuters, February 18

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed on Wednesday that his country would resist global sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, saying that Iran might respond to international pressure by cutting back gas exports.

“The enemy is using the lever of sanctions to the hilt and their goal is to stop our people’s progress,” Khamenei said in a public speech in Tehran, according to IRNA news agency.

“I believe that if we allow them to dictate to us on the nuclear issue, they will still keep the sanctions in place because what they are against is the very foundation of our revolution.”

UMass bans Iranians from some engineering, science programs

AP -The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has banned Iranian nationals from admission to certain graduate programs that school officials say aligns its policy with U.S. sanctions against Iran. Effective Feb. 1, the university will not admit students from Iran to certain programs in engineering and natural sciences.

The National Iranian American Council says UMass’ interpretation of the law is flawed and may violate federal and state protections against discrimination.

Congress enacted legislation in August 2012 that denies visas for Iranian citizens to study in the U.S. if they plan to participate in coursework for a career in the energy or nuclear fields in Iran. But a U.S. State Department official federal law does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals seeking an education in science and engineering. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

U.S. delays release of study on 1953 Iran coup

AP, December 19

The State Department is delaying the release of a volume from its U.S. foreign relations history that deals with the CIA-backed overthrow of an Iranian prime minister in the 1950s out of concern that publication could undermine nuclear diplomacy with the Islamic republic.

The decision was made at a September meeting of the department’s advisory committee on historical diplomatic documentation and recorded in minutes released this week. The foreign relations records aren’t supposed to be suppressed for longer than three decades.

Stephen Randolph, the department’s historian, informed the gathering that the volume on U.S. policy in Iran would be withheld “because of ongoing negotiations with Iran.” Richard Immerman, a Temple University professor who chairs the committee, expressed frustration with the decision. The delay was first reported by online publication Secrecy News.

Iran hits back after West condemns its human rights record

Reuters, By Stephanie Nebehay, October 31

Geneva – Iran defended itself on Friday against Western accusations of repression and a sharp rise in executions, including that of a woman hanged for murdering a man she accused of trying to rape her.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, part of its judiciary, lashed out at what he called attempts to “impose your lifestyle under the banner of human rights”, including gay rights.

The exchange took place during a more than three hour-long review in the U.N. Human Rights Council of Tehran’s record.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged on Saturday in Tehran’s Evin prison for the killing. The dead man’s relatives had refused to grant her a reprieve within a 10-day deadline set by sharia law, in force since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“We were not successful to solicit forgiveness from the hearts of victims … We are very sorry that two nationals lost lives, but capital punishment or ‘qisas’ is a unique particularity of our system. I think it is worth it for Western countries to look into it,” Larijani said.

“The idea that only good things in western community — the ‘West and the rest’ — this is a very destructive idea of human rights,” he said.

Iran warns US against using ISIL threat to push a hostile agenda

Al Jazeera, By Azadeh Moaveni, September 16

Despite already having demonstrated its centrality to the campaign to push the Islamic State (ISIL) out of Iraq, Iran was pointedly excluded from Monday’s conference in Paris to forge a military coalition against the extremist group. And Tehran was far from happy, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashing out against the Obama administration’s new war plans.

Khamenei decried the Paris conclave as a dangerous effort by the United States and Arab countries hostile to Iran to use the challenge of ISIL as an opportunity to promote an anti-Tehran agenda in Syria and throughout the region. “Iran sees this as an effort by Saudi Arabia and its allies, and the United States, to exert leverage and pressure on Iranian interests, to degrade or weaken Iranian influence in Syria,” said Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian American Council.

Khamenei called Secretary of State John Kerry a liar for saying in Paris that Iran had not been invited to join the coalition, listing numerous moments at which the U.S. had solicited Iranian involvement. “The West assembled a coalition of 40-50 countries against Syria and couldn’t do a damn thing,” Khamenei said, referring to Washington’s previous efforts to rally allies to oust Syria’s Assad regime, which remains a key ally of Iran.

Age of terrorism, extremism over: Rouhani

PressTV, June 29

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has reaffirmed the importance of strengthening cooperation among regional countries to combat terrorists, stressing that the era of violence and terrorism has passed.

“I hope that terrorists would realize the firm determination of regional Muslim governments in fighting terrorism and know that our era is not one of killing and terrorism,” President Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Sunday.

He added that Iran and Qatar can make constructive efforts to restore peace and stability to the region in cooperation with each other.

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