NYT – Iran is building a nonworking mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that United States officials say may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value.
Intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations first noticed the vessel rising from the Gachin shipyard, near Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, last summer. The ship has the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz’s number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck.
What country has a lower birthrate than London or Paris? Answer after the break. Read More
Wallerstein is a world systems historian so he usually has holes in his analysis, but this one? Nope. I can go all the way with it. I just wish he’d addressed the de-facto entente between Israel and the Saudis.
In the 90s we had a full blown de jure and de facto entente between Israel and Turkey. But Israel’s intransigence and arrogance blew it up during the late aughts and early teens of this century.
That entente no longer exists, in form or function.
UPDATE 2-Iran names 7 Western oil companies it wants to return
Dec 4 (Reuters) – Iran on Wednesday named seven Western oil companies it wants back in its vast oil and gas fields if international sanctions are lifted and said it would outline investment terms in April next year.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh named the seven in order: Total of France, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s ENI, Norway’s Statoil, Britain’s BP and U.S. companies Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips .
Speaking to reporters at an OPEC meeting, Zanganeh said he was already talking with some companies, although so far not those from the United States.
“We had no limitations for U.S. companies. Twenty years ago there were limitations against them from their own administration. For doing projects in Iran, we have no limitations,” Zanganeh said.
What do you think Iran got for this opening? One can only imagine.
Very fine work! An excellent use of our tax dollars. This is first rate reporting, exclusive, by the Middle East – Asia news site, Al Monitor and reporter Laura Rozen. The key diplomacy in the Iran deal was conducted by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns. “Deputy” appointments for the various cabinet level agencies come from the president. They’re designed to insure that departments like State are not hijacked by the presidential appointed secretary level leaders. I’d say this was a fine choice. Of note, Burns is career foreign service, not a political appointee. According to his Department of State bio, “He is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy Secretary.” Burns holds a D.Phil degree in international relations from Oxford University.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, back channel negotiator extraordinaire State Dept Photo
Al-Monitor Nov 24 by Laura Rozen
Geneva, Switzerland __ Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has led a secret U.S. back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, U.S. officials told Al-Monitor.
Burns was tapped to lead the US diplomatic effort to establish a bilateral channel with Iran, which gained momentum after the exchange of letters between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Rouhani in early August, US officials said. Led by Burns, the US’s second highest ranking diplomat and a former lead US Iran nuclear negotiator, the US effort to form direct contacts with Iran also includes two officials from the Obama White House: Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and Puneet Talwar, the National Security Staff senior director for Iran, Iraq, and Persian Gulf affairs, US officials confirmed. Talwar’s role in back channel discussions with Iran was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal. Read More
Official announcement from Iranian media – Obama makes a deal with Iran and makes history at the same time VIDEO
President Barack Obama made history this weekend by turning around the relationship between the United States and Iran. The deal on Iranian nuclear production reverses a decades-long period of mutual hostility. The apogee of irrationality was reached during the term of former President George W. Bush who sought military action against Iran, only to have his own top military commander, General Peter Pace, sink the effort
Neo-conservatives exerted maximum pressure on President Obama to join with Israel in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi power broker Prince Bandar Bin Sultan formed an alliance of desperation to prevent the successful conclusion of negotiations.
The president gave his final and definitive answer this weekend. The greater interests of the United States prevailed over the demands, threats, and tantrums from the Israeli right and Saudi war mongers. At moments like this, for great powers, larger objectives and greater rewards always trump alliances with lesser states when there is a direct conflict. Read More
From the Agonist World Press link:
BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said Saturday the Geneva international talks on the Iranian nuclear issue have reached the final moment.
Hong said in a press release that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi left Beijing for Geneva early Saturday morning to participate in the dialogue between Iran and 5+1 nations, namely China, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
The talks between Iran and the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany over its controversial nuclear program have extend into an unscheduled fourth day on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister head for Geneva
Let’s make a deal: U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Larov head to Geneva negotiations Friday night
Earlier today, reports said that Secretary of state John Kerry would not be joining the Geneva talks on the Iran-United States, UK (et al) nuclear deal. Recall, Kerry left Israel in the middle of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to fly to Geneva several days ago. A deal seemed imminent. The deal failed thanks to Israeli and Saudi Arabian cash doled out to French industry (and maybe a few politicians). Shortly after the deals were promised, the French became irate about what had appeared to be a done deal.
Now the U.S. Department of State’s official information is that Kerry headed out after talking to the chief EU negotiator in Geneva. Russian FM Sergei Larov is also on his way to Geneva.
By the end of the weekend, we could see a giant step for humanity and world peace or another example of nihilism on a grand scale. Read More
One of the first initiatives of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was a foreign policy based on “zero problems with neighbors.” From his selection as Prime Minister in 2003, Erdogan led efforts to resolve Iran’s conflicts with the West over the Iranian nuclear program. The regime also formed a tight bond with Syria, as did Erdogan with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In 2011, Erdogan abandoned the alliance with Syria by supporting a violent rebellion to oust President Assad and his government. This marked the undoing of the zero problems policy.
Erdogan consistently denies supporting the jihadists among the Syrian rebels, a claim that even the Prime Minister can’t believe. From the start of the violence in Syria through at least December 2012, Erdogan’s government supported the Al Nusra fighters, openly aligned with Al Qaeda. In July 2012, Haaretz broke this story: Turkey sets up secret base to bring aid to Syria rebels, sources say . This not-so-secret base trained and armed fighters headed for Syria.
Since the start of the violent conflict in 2011, Turkey has provided safe transit to the Syrian conflict for anti-Syrian government jihadists from Pakistan, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East. Erdogan’s government provides safe havens for terrorists on its southern border with Syria. When the Obama administration threatened to bomb Syria as punishment for the alleged role in a chemical weapons attack, Erdogan was openly enthusiastic. Read More