Tag: Nuclear Weapons

Aug 13

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert – Don’t Blow Up Earth

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert doesn’t want Trump to blow up the earth because he has a house here and plans on taking a vacation there later this year. He had a lot of human being fans who agreed.

Aug 12

Accountability

 Since President Barack Obama announced an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the war hawks have been apoplectic, flooding the airways with fear mongering, demanding a “better deal,” whatever than means. Iran has signed on for a peaceful accord and accountability to the international community.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been whining for 25 years that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in months, demanding sanctions and the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. What he never mentions is that Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signature of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the most poorly held secret that Israel has had nuclear weapons for years.

In an op-ed at The Guardian, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called for the removal of all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East putting pressure on Israel to account for its “secret” nuclear weapons.

We – Iran and its interlocutors in the group of nations known as the P5+1 – have finally achieved the shared objective of turning the Iranian nuclear programme from an unnecessary crisis into a platform for cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation and beyond. The nuclear deal reached in Vienna this month is not a ceiling but a solid foundation on which we must build. The joint comprehensive plan of action, as the accord is officially known, cements Iran’s status as a zone free of nuclear weapons. Now it is high time that we expand that zone to encompass the entire Middle East.

Iran’s push for a ban on weapons of mass destruction in its regional neighbourhood has been consistent. The fact that it precedes Saddam Hussein’s systematic use of WMDs against Iran (never reciprocated in kind) is evidence of the depth of my country’s commitment to this noble cause. And while Iran has received the support of some of its Arab friends in this endeavour, Israel – home to the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons programme – has been the holdout. In the light of the historic nuclear deal, we must address this challenge head on.

One of the many ironies of history is that non-nuclear-weapon states, like Iran, have actually done far more for the cause of non-proliferation in practice than nuclear-weapon states have done on paper. Iran and other nuclear have-nots have genuinely “walked the walk” in seeking to consolidate the non-proliferation regime. Meanwhile, states actually possessing these destructive weapons have hardly even “talked the talk”, while completely brushing off their disarmament obligations under the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and customary international law. [..]

One step in the right direction would be to start negotiations for a weapons elimination treaty, backed by a robust monitoring and compliance-verification mechanism.

This could, in an initial phase, occasion the de-alerting of nuclear arsenals (removing warheads from delivery vehicles to reduce the risk of use) and subsequently engender the progressive disarmament by all countries possessing such WMDs. It is certainly a feasible goal to start this global project with a robust, universal and really genuine push to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, if the relevant powers finally come to deem it not just a noble cause but a strategic imperative.

The world must demand the Israel account for its nuclear weapons and submit to inspections by the IAEA

Jul 31

Any Excuse for Another War

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Since the accord with Iran over its nuclear program, the airways have been awash with calls for Congress to squash deal, demanding a “better deal.” Most of that is coming from the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The agreement is also opposed by pro-Israel Christian organizations. While sounding like they want peace, behind the scenes they are actually pushing for a war with Iran. That fact was revealed by The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald:

The fanatical Israel-devoted group Christians United for Israel, which calls itself “the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over two million members,” yesterday held an off-the-record call to formulate strategies for defeating the pending nuclear deal with Iran. The star of the show was the Wall Street Journal’s longtime foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens, who spoke for roughly 30 minutes. A recording of this call was provided to The Intercept and is posted here.

Stephens, who previously served as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post from 2002 to 2004 (where he anointed Paul Wolfowitz “Man of the (Jewish) Year”), is essentially a standard-issue neocon and warmonger, which is why his mentality is worth hearing. He begins the strategy call with an attempt to sound rational and sober, but becomes increasingly unhinged and hysterical as he progresses. [..]

If the Iran deal is defeated in the U.S., what’s the alternative? The relatively honest neocons admit, as Norm Podhoretz did today in Stephens’ paper, that the alternative is the one they really seek: full-on war with Iran. Here is Stephens’ attempt to answer to that question:

   Look, there is an argument – and I am sometimes tempted by it – that if Congress were to reject this deal and then Iran were to start enriching uranium at huge rates once again, that President Obama would simply sit on his hands out of spite. That’s an option. Knowing the way this President operates, it doesn’t entirely surprise me. That being said, because this deal is effectively giving Iran a legal as well as a covert pathway to the bomb, I would still prefer that. At least it gives the next president more options than he does [sic] now.

This argument is just bizarre. Obama isn’t leaving office until January, 2017: 1 1/2 years away. Neocons have continuously claimed that Iran’s “breakout” time for developing nuclear weapons was measured in months – at the most a year away. If you actually believe that, and really think that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons (a claim negated by the U.S.’s own intelligence analysis), how could you be content to purposely wait 1 1/2 years?

The answer to that question illustrates why the surface “debate” over the Iran deal is so illusory and pointless: as usual with neocons, they are being deceitful about their actual intent. They don’t want a “better deal”: at least not one that’s plausible. They want to keep Iran isolated and demonized and ultimately to depose its leadership through war or other means of aggression. They hate the Iran deal precisely because it’s likely to avert that aggression and normalize the world’s relations with that country, making the war they’ve long craved much less likely.

These people are unhinged supporters of Israel and the Saudis. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are vehemently opposed to the Iran deal because they want the US to fight their war with Iran for them. The more the US talks with Iran the less likely it is that they and their fanatical supporters will get their war.  

Jul 28

The Big Lie: Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the wake of the agreement with Iran on in nuclear energy program, there has been a lot of shouting from the war hawks that this is a bad deal and characterizing it with hyperbolic rhetoric. Anti-Iran deal lobbies have taken the fight to the airways spending $20 million to $40 million to trash the agreement. The Obama administration has taken to Twitter.

The problem with all of these arguments, whether pro or con, is that they are all based on a false narrative that was created by the Bush administration after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In an article at the Middle East Eye, Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy, has no problem with the Iran accord except one: the Obama administration’s the false narrative that Iran is a rogue nuclear state.

The common assumption about Iran’s nuclear policy is never debated or even discussed because it is so firmly entrenched in the political discourse by now that there is no need to discuss it.  The choice between two hardline views of Iran is hardly coincidental. The Obama administration accepted from day one the narrative about the Iranian nuclear programme that the Israelis and their American allies had crafted during the Bush administration.

The Bush administration’s narrative, adopted after the invasion of Iraq, described a covert nuclear programme run by Iran for two decades, the main purpose of which was to serve as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons programme.  Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Vice-President Dick Cheney, who were managing the policy, cleverly used leaks to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in 2005 to introduce into the domestic political discussion alleged evidence from a collection of documents of then unknown provenance that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons research programme from 2001 to 2003.

The administration also passed the documents on to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2005, as part of a Bush strategy aimed to take Iran to the United Nations Security Council on the charge of violating its commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Bolton and Cheney were working with Israel to create a justification for regime change in Iran based on the idea that Iran was working on nuclear weapons under the cover of its nuclear programme.

The entire Bush-Israeli narrative was false, however. It ignored or suppressed fundamental historical facts that contradicted it as this writer found from deeper research on the issue:

   >Iran was the one state in the entire world that had a history of abjuring weapons of mass destruction on religious grounds.  During the Iran-Iraq war the military leadership had asked Ayatollah Khomeini to approve the manufacture of chemical weapons to retaliate against repeated chemical attacks by Iraqi forces.  But Khomeini forbade their possession or use forbidden by the Shia interpretation of the Quran and Shia jurisprudence.

   >Iran had begun to pursue uranium enrichment in the mid-1980s only after the Reagan administration had declared publicly that it would prevent Iran from relying on an international consortium in France to provide nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor.  

   >Iran did not inform the IAEA about its acquisition of enrichment technology, its experiments with centrifuges and laser enrichment or its first enrichment facility because of the continued US attempt to suppress the Iranian nuclear programme. Releasing such information would have made it easier for the United States to prevent continued procurement of necessary parts and material and to pressure China to end all nuclear cooperation with Iran.

   >The US intelligence community found no hard evidence, either from human intelligence or other forms of intelligence, of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.  US national intelligence estimates during the Bush administration concluding that Iran had run such a programme, including the most famous estimate issued in November 2007, were based on inference, not on hard intelligence. That fact stood in sharp contrast to the very unambiguous human and electronic intelligence the CIA had been able to obtain on covert nuclear weapons programmes in Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa and South Korea.

Barack Obama came to the White House with a highly critical view of Bush policy towards both Iran and Iraq and was publicly committed to diplomatic engagement with Iran. But his administration’s acceptance of the Bush line that Iran was a nuclear outlaw can be explained by the continuity of policy that the national security bureaucracy generally maintains in the transition from one administration to another, with rare exceptions.

Bureaucracies create the “facts” about any particular issue that support their interests. Defining the Iranian nuclear threat as a threat to proliferate was clearly in the interests of the counter-proliferation offices in the White House, State Department, and CIA, which wielded strong influence over the issue within their respective institutions.  

When will the media, the US and European governments demand that Israel account for its nuclear weapons and be subjected to the same standards that are being imposed on Iran? Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons and capable of starting a nuclear holocaust.

This aversion to the truth and facts about Iran and Israel by the media, Europe and the US are major obstacles to peaceful resolutions and good relations in the Middle East.

Jul 21

Iran: US Congress vs The World

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This morning the United Nations Security Council approved the agreement with Iran that would reduce Iran’s nuclear program. In exchange the UN will lift the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

The 15-0 vote for approval of the resolution – 104 pages long including annexes and lists – was written in Vienna by diplomats who negotiated a landmark pact last week that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for ending the sanctions.

Iran has pledged to let in international monitors to inspect its facilities for the next 10 years and other measures that were devised to guarantee that its nuclear energy activities are purely peaceful.

The Security Council resolution, which is legally binding, lays out the steps required only for the lifting of United Nations sanctions.

It has no legal consequence on the sanctions imposed separately by the United States and the European Union.

The European Union also approved the Iran nuclear deal on Monday, putting in motion the lifting of its own sanctions, which include prohibitions on the purchase of Iranian oil. Europe will continue to prohibit the export of ballistic missile technology and sanctions related to human rights.

The heads of US war mongers have been exploding since President Barack Obama announced the completion of the deal and some took to their fainting couches. On the international front, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his “poutrage” to the Sunday talk shows. The fact that no matter how adequate the agreement may be, to the war mongers it’s a disaster because it won’t let them start a war with Iran:

Many of the Republicans’ statements on Iran in the past few months have just a word salad of insults – “evil”, “malevolent”, “corrupt”, “terrorists”, “the devil” – as though there were a contest to see how many despicable adjectives they could fit into one paragraph. Many of today’s statements then immediately condemned the fact that in Iran crowds sometimes chant “Death to America”. Gee, I wonder why a few people in Iran say hyperbolic things about the US? It’s not like our leading politicians would ever sing songs about blowing up Iran – oh, wait. [..]

For Republicans, the Iran nuclear negotiations have never been about getting “a good deal” for the US. They’ve simply wanted to preserve their ability to kill people in the Middle East whenever they want, and continue to indulge their fetish of American superpower. It doesn’t matter to Republicans whether bombing Iran virtually guarantees that actually will pursue a nuclear bomb (which, again, right now they’re not), or that a deal will hurt the hardliners in Iran that Republicans profess to hate. It only matters that they continue to have an enemy to bomb in the Middle East, and a President to criticize here at home.

Host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” John Oliver covered the agreement in an opening segment pointing out that none of the critics have even read the 140 page document.

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that the biggest fear is no deal and more than 100 former American diplomats support the accord. Now that the UN and EU have approved the agreement, the focus will be on the US Congress that has 90 days to review it. Meanwhile, heads will continue to explode. Get the plastic sheeting.

Apr 26

The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent!

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent!

Aug 02

Duck and Cover: Nuclear Grade Bull S&!T

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Now here is something that should make the hair on the back of you neck stand up.

John Oliver: US uses ‘weapons-grade bullsh*t’ to rationalize massive nuclear arsenal

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

[..]Last Week Tonight on HBO, host John Oliver took up the very important, but much ignored, topic of America’s aging nuclear arsenal. Oliver noted  our weapons facilities are plagued by crumbling infrastructure, suspect military oversight, politicians refusing to cut-off funding, and computers so old they run on floppy disks.

Pointing out that, despite cut backs in our nuclear arsenal, America still maintains 4,804 nuclear warheads, Oliver notes that is enough to “not only destroy Earth, but provide 4th of July fireworks for Martians.”

With nuclear ICBMs located in silos in Wyoming, Montana, and North Carolina, Oliver shared a wealth of clips describing poor maintenance and computers designed to launch the missiles using ancient software still contained on 5.25-inch floppy disks.

“Holy shit!,” Oliver exclaimed. “Those things barely look powerful enough to run Oregon Trail, much less earth-ending weaponry.”

Dec 20

White Elephants & Bipartisan Determination for War

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Afghan IG reopens probe into huge Leatherneck command center

By J. Taylor Rushing, Stars and Stripes

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko notified Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel of the news in a Nov. 27 letter that was released by Sopko’s office Thursday. In the letter, Sopko complains that he never received an answer to questions he sent in July to Hagel, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin III and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Commander Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., about the mammoth building, dismissed by many as a “white elephant,” never to be used. [..]

Sopko specifically complains about an investigation into the building by Maj. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of support for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan that was finished last month. Sopko said he delayed his own investigation to wait on Richardson’s report. A partial draft of the report was sent to Sopko, but he said it was sloppy, incomplete and actually suggests that taxpayer-funded construction should continue. [..]

Controversy over the building is not new – members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have been publicly critical of the construction, most recently after an initial Army investigation into the building in May determined that the building was unwanted and unnecessary, and could be converted into a gymnasium and movie theatre.

10 Democratic Committee Chairs Warn Menendez’s Iran Sanction Bill Could Blow Up Negotiations

By Ryan Grim, Huffington Post

In a remarkable rebuke to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), 10 other Senate committee chairs are circulating a joint letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, urging him to reject an effort by Menendez to tighten sanctions on Iran and warning that his bill could disrupt ongoing nuclear negotiations.

The senators write in their letter that “at this time, as negotiations are ongoing, we believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail.”

Earlier Thursday, a senior White House official had accused Menendez of undermining the negotiations. [..]

Yet Menendez is not alone in his call for tougher sanctions. The proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, introduced in the Senate on Thursday by Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), is co-sponsored by 12 other Democrats — including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — and 12 other Republicans.

Senate passes $607B Defense bill

By Jeremy Herb and Ramsey Cox, The Hill

The Senate on Thursday evening passed the $607 billion Defense authorization bill that will reform the way the military handles sexual assault cases and loosen the restriction on transferring Guant√°namo Bay detainees to foreign countries.

The Senate sent the bill to the president’s desk for the 52nd straight year in a 84-15 vote, after some legislative maneuvering was needed to extend the streak and quickly get a compromise bill through both chambers this month.

Nearly three-quarters of Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes $527 billion in base defense spending and $80 billion for the war in Afghanistan.[..]

The final bill included many new reforms to how the military prosecutes sexual assault and treats victims. The bill strips commanders’ ability to overturn guilty verdicts, changes the military’s pre-trial rules for interviewing victims, expands a special victims counsel for sexual assault survivors and makes retaliating against victims a crime.

The bill does not, however, include a controversial proposal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to take sexual assault cases from the chain of command. Before Thanksgiving, Republicans blocked Reid’s attempt to hold votes on Gillibrand’s amendment and a competing measure from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

The stupid just burns.

Nov 29

The Agreement with Iran: How the US Finally Got There

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The agreement reached early Sunday morning in Switzerland with Iran over its nuclear program is nothing short of historic. It will expand inspections of nuclear sites and loosen some of the sanctions, worth some $7 billion to Iran. It also signals a shift in American foreign relations from military might to diplomacy, something that candidate Barack Obama had said he was going to do.

(T)he flurry of diplomatic activity reflects the definitive end of the post-Sept. 11 world, dominated by two major wars and a battle against Islamic terrorism that drew the United States into Afghanistan and still keeps its Predator drones flying over Pakistan and Yemen.

But it also reflects a broader scaling-back of the use of American muscle, not least in the Middle East, as well as a willingness to deal with foreign governments as they are rather than to push for new leaders that better embody American values. “Regime change,” in Iran or even Syria, is out; cutting deals with former adversaries is in.

For Mr. Obama, the shift to diplomacy fulfills a campaign pledge from 2008 that he would stretch out a hand to America’s enemies and speak to any foreign leader without preconditions. But it will also subject him to considerable political risks, as the protests about the Iran deal from Capitol Hill and allies in the Middle East attest.

“We’re testing diplomacy; we’re not resorting immediately to military conflict,” Mr. Obama said, defending the Iran deal on Monday in San Francisco. “Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically,” he said earlier that day, “but it’s not the right thing for our security.”

The deal has been the reactions have been hailed by many as good move for the region and the world but it has it’s critics on both sides of the political aisle.

University of Michigan Mideast scholar Juan Cole argues on his blog, Informed Comment, that “the decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled” by the deal. Unsurprisingly, congressional Iran hawks on both sides of the aisle aren’t pleased, according to Bernie Becker at The Hill. Critics accuse the administration of “capitulation,” which The Daily Beast‘s Peter Beinhart says is a gross misreading of history. Siobhan Gorman reports for The Wall Street Journal that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has indicated that Congress may try to impose even more sanctions, which the White House calls a path to war. [..]

Saeed Kamali Dehghan reports for The Guardian that the Iranian public appears to be very happy about the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is outraged by the deal, but Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg writes in The American Prospect that his reaction says more about him than the deal itself. And at 972 Magazine, Larry Derfner notes that the Israeli security community is a lot more optimistic about the deal than the country’s elected officials. The BBC taps its extensive network of reporters to bring mixed reactions from around the region. And Mark Landler reports for The New York Times that the deal could “open the door” to diplomatic solutions of other regional issues.

As Juan Cole points in his article at Informed Consent, the agreement is actually an agreement to negotiate and build confidence between all the parties for the hard bargaining to come. It also is a good history of how we got from post 9/11 to now.

In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.

The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. A majority of Democratic representatives in the lower house of Congress voted against the idea of going to war. The Iraq War, trumped up on false pretenses and mainly to protect the militant right wing in Israel from having a credible military rival in the region and to put Iraqi petroleum on the market to weaken Saudi Arabia, cost the United States nearly 5000 troops, hundreds more Veterans working as contractors, and probably $3 or $4 trillion- money we do not have since our economy has collapsed and hasn’t recovered except for wealthy stockholders. Perhaps George W. Bush could paint for us some dollars so that we can remember what they used to look like when we had them in our pockets instead of his billionaire friends (many of them war profiteers) having them in theirs. [..]

The irony is that in early 2003, the reformist Iranian government of then-President Mohammad Khatami had sent over to the US a wide-ranging proposal for peace. After all, Baathist Iraq was Iran’s deadliest enemy. It had invaded Iran in 1980 and fought an 8-year aggressive war in hopes of taking Iranian territory and stealing its oil resources. Now the US was about to overthrow Iran’s nemesis. Wouldn’t it make sense for Washington and Tehran to ally? Khatami put everything on the table, even an end to hostilities with Israel.

The Neoconservatives threw the Iranian proposal in the trash heap and mobilized to make sure there was no rapprochement with Iran. David Frum, Bush’s speech-writer, consulted with eminence grise Richard Perle (then on a Pentagon oversight board) and Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby (vice presidential felon Richard Bruce Cheney’s chief of staff), and they had already inserted into Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech the phrase the “axis of evil,” grouping Iran with Iraq and North Korea. Iran had had sympathy demonstrations for the US after 9/11, and, being a Shiite power, feared and hated al-Qaeda (Sunni extremists) as much as Washington did. But the Neoconservatives did not want a US-Iran alliance against al-Qaeda or against Saddam Hussein. Being diplomatic serial killers, they saw Iran rather as their next victim.

In many ways, Washington politics is still stuck in that neoconservative world.

MSNBC’s All In host Chris Hayes discusses the agreement with several guests  Iranian-American journalist and author, Hooman Majd, Ambassador Christopher Hill and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY).

In another segment, Chris and his guest Matt Duss, Middle East policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, discuss how diplomacy with Iran is just the latest blow to the neoconservatives.

When George W. Bush was appointed as president in 2001, there was a moderate government in Iran. If it had not been for the Supreme Court, this would have been resolved 10 years ago and so many would not have needlessly died.

Nov 24

Deal Reached with Iran Over Its Nuclear Program

A deal has been reached in Switzerland with Iran over its nuclear program. The agreement will allow for the lifting of some of the draconian sanctions that were imposed over the Western fears of the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

After marathon talks that finally ended early Sunday morning, the United States and five other world powers reached an agreement with Iran to halt much of Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that steps had been taken to stop much of Iran’s nuclear effort and even roll some elements back.

The freeze would last six months, with the aim of giving international negotiators time to pursue the far more challenging task of drafting a comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could be used only for peaceful purposes.

[..]

According to the accord, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges.

All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.

No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating – Iran has more than 8,000 such centrifuges – could not be started up. No new enrichment facilities could be established.

The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.

Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.

To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.

In return for the initial agreement, the United States has agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief, American officials said. This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.

Sep 28

“A Naked Declaration of Imperialism”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama addressed the world at the 2013 UN General Assembly meeting in New York City. He mostly touted the US policy in the Middle East and the so-called right of the US to interfere with the sovereign nations of the region. Even though the president has directed Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with Iran’s Foreign Minister over Iran’s nuclear program, he again declared that the US can use force to stop what there is no evidence of, an Iranian nuclear weapon. The speech, a neo-con’s dream, was littered with lies, as enumerated by David Swanson.

2. “(P)eople are being lifted out of poverty,” Obama said, crediting actions by himself and others in response to the economic crash of five years ago. But downward global trends in poverty are steady and long pre-date Obama’s entry into politics. And such a trend does not exist in the U.S. [..]

4. “Together, we have also worked to end a decade of war,” Obama said. In reality, Obama pushed Iraq hard to allow that occupation to continue, and was rejected just as Congress rejected his missiles-for-Syria proposal. Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. Obama expanded, after essentially creating, drone wars. Obama has increased global U.S. troop presence, global U.S. weapons sales, and the size of the world’s largest military. He’s put “special” forces into many countries, waged a war on Libya, and pushed for an attack on Syria. How does all of this “end a decade of war”? And how did his predecessor get a decade in office anyway? [..]

6. “We have limited the use of drones.” Bush drone strikes in Pakistan: 51. Obama drone strikes in Pakistan: 323. (That they have admitted to. TMC [..]

8. “… and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties.” There are hundreds of confirmed civilian dead from U.S. drones, something the Obama administration seems inclined to keep as quiet as possible. [..]

13. “How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else’s civil war?” That isn’t a complete list of choices, as Obama discovered when Russia called Kerry’s bluff and diplomacy became a choice, just as disarmament and de-escalation and pressure for a ceasefire are choices. Telling Saudi Arabia “Stop arming the war in Syria or no more cluster bombs for you,” is a choice. [..]

14. “What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct?” Force doesn’t have a role in civilized conduct, the most basic standard of which is relations without the use of force. [..]

17. “It is an insult to human reason – and to the legitimacy of this institution – to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.” Really? In the absence of evidence, skepticism isn’t reasonable for this Colin-Powelled institution, the same U.N. that was told Libya would be a rescue and watched it become a war aimed at illegally overthrowing a government? Trust us? [..]

There are 45 cringe worthy lies in David’s dissection of the president’s speech.

Author and national security correspondent for The Nation, appearing with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaihk on Democracy Now! called the president’s speech “a really naked declaration of imperialism.



Transcript can be read here

During this section of the speech my jaw sort of hit the floor. He basically came out and said the United States is an imperialist nation and we are going to do whatever we need to conquer areas to take resources from around the world. I mean, it was a really naked sort of declaration of imperialism, and I don’t use that word lightly, but it really is. I mean, he pushed back against the Russians when he came out and said I believe America is an exceptional nation. He then defended the Gulf War and basically said that the motivation behind it was about oil and said we are going to continue to take such actions in pursuit of securing natural resources for ourselves and our allies. I mean, this was a pretty incredible and bold declaration he was making, especially given the way that he has tried to portray himself around the world. On the other hand, you know, remember what happened right before Obama took the stage is that the president of Brazil got up, and she herself is a former political prisoner who was abused and targeted in a different lifetime, and she gets up and just blasts the United States over the NSA spy program around the world.

Obama’s UN Speech: Packaging Neoconservative Values in the Language of Peace & Liberation

by Kevin Gosztola, FDL The Dissenter

The speech President Barack Obama delivered at the United Nations General Assembly was a neoconservative foreign policy speech, the kind of speech one might have heard President George W. Bush deliver in the midst of the Iraq War to defend decisions made by those ruling America.

Both Robert Kagan and William Kristol, leading American neoconservatives, argued in 1996, “Without a broad, sustaining foreign policy vision, the American people will be inclined to withdraw from the world and will lose sight of their abiding interest in vigorous world leadership. Without a sense of mission, they will seek deeper and deeper cuts in the defense and foreign affairs budgets and gradually decimate the tools of US hegemony.”

The hegemon or paramount power that neoconservative policy thinkers like Kagan and Kristol consider America to be passed on an opportunity to show “leadership” by striking Syria. Obama was acutely aware that the United States was not in control of the developing response to the crisis in Syria. His speech was an opportunity to reassert American power, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. [..]

Now, America has drone bases to make war permanent. It has a massive surveillance apparatus that Obama is more than willing to defend and utilize against any country in the world that threatens its power. Though all countries may seek to spy on one another to decide what to do diplomatically, no country can match the technological capabilities of the United States as it bugs and spies on diplomatic missions of countries to remain supreme.

Sep 27

Iran: Giant Steps and Baby Steps

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly taking a far more moderate and diplomatic course than his firebrand predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Propelled into office by a broad coalition of support from elites to students to former political prisoners, Mr. Rouhani has taken the West aback with his moderate and conciliatory approach to solving Iran’s problem’s with them and moving to resolve the differences over Iran’s nuclear energy program that resulted in crippling economic sanctions.

While the much anticipated meeting with US President Barack Obama did not take place, talks are scheduled for Thursday with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the first ministerial talks between Tehran and Washington since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Despite the softening of the rhetoric by Iran and the outreach to repair the damage done by Ahmadinejad, there were still those who are not just wary but completely unconvinced with their own agenda. In any case, Pres. Rouhani was well received and has continued on his mission to repair Iran’s image. It is quite understandable that both sides are easing into this new relationship, one giant step, lots of baby steps towards better cooperation.



The full transcript can be read here (pdf)

Iran’s new president treads middle ground in United Nations address

Breaking from his predecessor’s combative rhetoric, Hassan Rouhani spoke to concerns of both conservatives and liberals

With expectations so high, Hassan Rouhani’s speech to the general assembly was never going to be an easy one. In Iran, radicals will have listened intently to their new president, keen to ensure he wouldn’t be too soft on the west, especially the United States, Tehran’s sworn enemy since the 1979 Islamic revolution. After all, 34 years on, faithfuls still chant “death to America” every Friday after performing their weekly prayers.

Reformists, too, had pinned their hopes on Rouhani, expecting him to impress the world with a moderate voice, and to globally revamp Iran’s image, so badly hurt under eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Being a moderate, an ultimate insider who has tried to bridge the gap between major factions of the Islamic republic, Rouhani succeeded in being just moderate enough – albeit judged by Iranian standards. He didn’t impress either group, nor did he particularly disappoint them. It was a speech that both sides seemed to agree was worth listening to.

 

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