Posted tagged ‘P5+1’

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations?

December 18, 2015

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations? MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon* December 17, 2015

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According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.

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Introduction

With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ closure, on December 15, 2015, of Iran’s PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier, the JCPOA is now back on track for the implementation that began on Adoption Day, October 18, 2015.

It is now Iran’s turn to meet its JCPOA obligations, which include removing nine tons of low-level enriched uranium from the country, dismantling centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, pouring concrete into the core of the nuclear reactor at Arak in a way that will prevent it from being used for producing plutonium, adopting the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and more.

Once the IAEA confirms that Iran has done this, Implementation Day will be declared; under it, the lifting of some of the sanctions on Iran and the suspension of others will take place, as promised by the U.S. and European countries on October 19, 2015.

However, at this point, Iran is providing only a show of making progress in its implementation of its obligations. Inactive centrifuges are being transferred from site to site, and not a single active centrifuge has yet been dismantled. Iran has reached agreements with Russia to store its enriched uranium, and documents have been signed with the superpowers for changing the designation of the Arak reactor. But so far Iran has actually met none of its obligations.[1]

Holding back Iran’s implementation is the October 21, 2015 letter from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to Iranian President Hassan Rohani setting nine new conditions that must be met first.

According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.[2] Zarif also announced, upon his arrival in New York on December 17, 2015, that there is a possibility that he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “for discussions on the implementation of the JCPOA.”[3]

Could The U.S. And Europe Ease Or Lift Sanctions Even If Iran Does Not Meet Its JCPOA Obligations?

U.S. representatives have given no indication that the sanctions will be eased or lifted if Iran does not meet its obligations under the JCPOA. However, in his December 15, 2015 statements, when he presented his PMD report to the IAEA Board of Governors, IAEA secretary-general Yukiya Amano hinted at such a possibility. He said: “First, Iran needs to complete the necessary preparatory steps to start implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed with the E3/EU+3 countries. JCPOA Implementation Day will occur when the Agency has verified that Iran has implemented measures specified in that agreement. I will inform the Board promptly when the Agency has verified that the preparatory steps have been completed [emphasis MEMRI’s].”[4]

The term “preparatory steps” does not appear in the JCPOA. It is not reasonable to suppose that the West would be satisfied with mere “preparatory steps” on Iran’s part instead of full implementation of its obligations before sanctions are eased.

It should also be noted that Amano said on the same occasion: “All parties must fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA.”[5]

At this stage, it is unclear whether Amano’s use of the words “preparatory steps” instead of the words “fully implement… commitments under the JCPOA” represents intentions on the part of the U.S. administration; it could be nothing more than a general statement. This will become clear in the near future.

In the meantime, in his December 16, 2015 address to the nation, Iranian President Rohani effusively praised the JCPOA and Iran’s gains under it, and stated that in “January” the sanctions on Iran would be lifted.[6]

However, “January” is not a reasonable time frame. Iran would not succeed in completing all its tasks in such a short time, and IAEA would certainly not be able to submit a report verifying it had done so by then.

 

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

Endnotes:

[1] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[2] See Zarif’s statements in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[3] ISNA (Iran), December 17, 2015. It was also reported that secret talks were held in Oman in November 2014 between U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEAO) director Ali Akbar Salehi, on the possibility that Kazakhstan would be the country to which Iran would sent its enriched uranium, instead of Russia. The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2015.

[4] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[5] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[6] President Rohani said: “I announce to the Iranian people that in January the sanctions will be lifted; thus, one of the 11th government’s election promises to the people will be kept, the sanctions will be lifted from the feet of the Iranian economy, and the way will be opened for more cooperation with the world.” President.ir (Iran), December 16, 2015.

The inspection joke

December 16, 2015

The inspection joke, Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit, December 16, 2015

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

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U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American nation from the Oval Office following the San Bernardino terrorist attack earlier this month. In his address, he beat around the bush, doing all he could to avoid describing the attack as the work of Islamic terrorists. He opted instead for euphemism and bland language. This turned him into the butt of a viral joke online about how he would have responded to the Pearl Harbor attack almost exactly 74 years ago. “A few bad men arrived on planes and shot people on ships,” Obama would have told the nation, making no mention of “Japanese” “war” or “attack on America.” This approach neatly dovetails with what happened on Tuesday, when the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution ending its probe into Iran’s efforts to manufacture nuclear bombs.

The Iran nuclear deal stipulates that the IAEA director general “will provide by 15 December 2015 the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues” regarding “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. Although current IAEA chief Yukiya Amano is highly regarded, it was clear early in the negotiations that the Iran deal was skewed in favor of Tehran.

Almost two years ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon attended a panel in Munich. On stage were Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Amano, among others. When Zarif was asked why his government would not let Amano visit Parchin [where some of the clandestine research was carried out], Zarif lied, telling the audience that such a visit was prohibited. When Ya’alon asked Amano why he didn’t interject and expose Zarif’s lie, Amano said the timing, and the venue, weren’t right. From that moment onward, it was clear that Amano would probably shirk his duty as chief inspector when it came to the Iranian nuclear deal, culminating with the Tuesday’s decision at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting (Iran, for its part, was not convinced that the IAEA would be on its side, and staged a conflict in the upper echelons of the regime, but it calmed down once it became clear that the IAEA would pass a very nonthreatening resolution.)

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

Why has Amano let Iran off the hook? Why has he forgone, at the very least, an effort to get to the bottom of Iran’s deception over the years? Why does Amano think that it is not worth exposing the truth, even if the West wants to look the other way and ignore Iran’s bomb making efforts? Only he knows.

Even the proponents of the deal should view Amano’s approach as a mistake. During the 2014 conference in Germany, Ya’alon warned that the West was fooling itself if it thinks the deal would work. Tuesday’s decision has two ramifications: First, Iran will consider it a concession and assume that this will define the West’s conduct down the road, and second, it will embolden the ayatollahs in Iran. From now on their approach to the West will be “anything goes, because we are always successful.” One day, a leader may rise in the West and try to end Iran’s lucky streak, but it may be too late.

History has proven that mistakes are bound to be repeated.

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies)

December 16, 2015

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies), The Jewish PressLori Lowenthal Marcus, December 15, 2015

IAEA-AmanoIAEA’S Dir. Gen. Yukiya Amano in Vienna. Sept. 14, 2015. Photo Credit: YouTube screen capture

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is thrilled that the world’s nuclear watchdog agency has decided, despite the continued lying by Iran about its nuclear weapons program and its violations of UN ballistic missile bans, to close its investigation into whether there had been any possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Kerry’s statement, released on Tuesday, Dec. 15, noted that a Dec. 2 assessment by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, revealed Iran had engaged in activities consistent with a nuclear weapons program as recently as a mere six years ago.

For some reason, Kerry seemed to find that reassuring.

The Secretary of State said that with the consensus adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors, it will now be able to “turn its focus now to the full implementation and verification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

In other words, everyone can now move towards lifting sanctions against Iran which not only continued to lie about its past nuclear activity, but which has already twice violated United Nations missile bans on it since the time the JCPOA was agreed to in July.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power acknowledged Iran’s October violation of the missile ban.

Iran’s latest violation of the missile ban was made public by a United Nations Panel in a report dated Dec. 11, Reuters reported on Tuesday. That report was forwarded to the UNSC’s sanctions committee.

Iran has consistently said it will defy any limitations on its ballistic missile program, whether enshrined in UN resolutions or otherwise.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) was outraged by the IAEA’s decision, and the green light it gives to the administration’s willingness to move towards implementation of its nearly toothless Nuclear Iran Deal.

“The vote today is a total capitulation to the Iranian regime’s aggressively dishonest behavior with respect to its commitment under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Sadly, though not surprisingly, the IAEA Board of Governors closed the investigation into Iran’s nuclear program, despite proof of Iran’s dishonesty and in the absence of thorough, truthful answers to many outstanding issues. The president will now use this decision to lift sanctions on Iran without having the complete truth regarding its nuclear weapons related activity. This is a grave and historic error that sends the wrong message,” wrote Pompeo.

The Kansas member of Congress pointed out that the Iran deal, which lasts for more than a decade, means many more years of the U.S. and its partner nations look the other way while the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism continues “cheating, lying, and breaking the rules.”

“This is wholly unacceptable and will most assuredly lead to more of the same from Ayatollah Khamenei. Other rogue nations now know too that America will accept deceit and fraud in dealings with respect to nuclear proliferation.”

Kerry said on Tuesday that the watchdog agency can still investigate Iran if “there is reason to believe” that country is “pursuing any covert nuclear activities in the future, as it had in the past. In fact, the JCPOA – by providing for implementation of the Additional Protocol as well as other enhanced transparency measures – puts the IAEA in a far better position to pursue any future concerns that may arise.”

The IAEA may be able to continue to investigate, but given that past violations have been met with no consequences, it’s a cold assurance that such investigations can continue.

Incredibly, Kerry’s statement concludes:

Today’s resolution makes clear that the IAEA’s Board of Governors will be watching closely to verify that Iran fully implements its commitments under the JCPOA. We will remain intensely focused going forward on the full implementation of the JCPOA in order to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Isn’t that comforting?

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program

December 8, 2015

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, MEMRI, A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and U. Kafash, December 8, 2015

Introduction

On December 2, 2015, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) secretary-general Yukiya Amano released his report on the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.[1]

The report’s findings, whatever they turned out to be, were not supposed to impact the continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in any way – even if they were completely negative regarding Iran. From the outset, it was agreed that all that Iran was obligated to do was to cooperate with the IAEA investigation of its PMD, and nothing more.

The next milestone date for the continued implementation of the JCPOA is December 15, 2015, when Amano’s PMD report will be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors and the latter will resolve whether to close Iran’s PMD dossier in the IAEA. This resolution is meant to be adopted by the UN Security Council.

The implementation process is meant to be continued by Iran – that is, Iran must meet its obligations under the JCPOA. These consist primarily of the removal of nine tons of low-grade enriched uranium from the country, the dismantling of centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, the pouring of concrete into the core of the Arak nuclear reactor such that it will not be able to be used to manufacture plutonium, the adoption of the Additional Protocol, and more.

After that, the IAEA will check to verify that Iran has carried these out; when it announces that it has, the next milestone date, Implementation Day, will come into force. At that time, Europe and the U.S. will carry out their promise, made October 19, 2015, to lift and suspend their sanctions on Iran.

It was Iran itself that made Amano’s PMD report a problematic issue, and, essentially, a condition for its continued implementation of the JCPOA. Iran demanded that the IAEA Board of Governors close its PMD dossier, and, according to some Iranian spokesmen, it should do so in a way that completely exonerates Iran of accusations against it regarding development of a military nuclear program. That is, Iran will not be satisfied with a closure of the dossier that is merely formal if Amano’s report does not completely exonerate it.

To this end, in the days leading up to the release of the report, Iran pressured the IAEA and the P5+1, with the aim of ensuring that the report would completely clear Iran of suspicions regarding PMD.[2]

In addition to its direct pressure on Amano, Iran also implemented political pressure on the P5+1, warning that if the dossier remained open, Iran would not implement its obligations under the JCPOA, and that the West had to choose between the PMD, that is, accusing Iran of developing a military nuclear program, and implementing the JCPOA.[3]

The Findings Of Amano’s PMD Report

Iran’s pressure netted only partial success. Prior to the report’s release, Amano stated: “What I can now say is that this is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ and ‘no.'”[4] The report included aspects that were both positive and negative for Iran.

On the one hand, it stated: “The Agency has not found indications of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran, beyond those activities declared retrospectively by Iran. The Agency has found no indications of Iran having conducted activities which can be directly traced to the ‘uranium metal document’ or to design information for a nuclear explosive device from the clandestine nuclear supply network.”

However, it also said: “The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.”

With regard to the Parchin facility, Amano’s PMD report stated that “[t]he information available to the Agency… does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building.” Furthermore, the report stated that “the Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.” It continued:

“The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009. The Agency notes, however, the incomplete and fragmented nature of those calculations… The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Although some activities took place after 2003, they were not part of a coordinated effort. The Agency’s overall assessment is that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”[5]

Iran’s Future Moves Vis-à-vis The PMD Dossier In The IAEA Board Of Governors

Assuming that the IAEA Board of Governors follows the Iran-U.S. dictates and closes Iran’s PMD dossier[6] in spite of the findings mentioned above, it is not clear that a formal closure of the dossier by the Board of Governors would satisfy Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or whether he would block Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA because the Amano report’s findings do not exonerate Iran.

The Iranian reactions to the report have been mixed, in accordance with the speakers’ affiliation with either the pragmatic camp of President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, or the ideological camp. While the former is willing to settle for a formal closure of the PMD dossier without Iran’s complete exoneration,[7] the latter stresses that the reports’ findings determine that Iran conducted military nuclear development prior to 2009, and see this as a reason to stop the entire JCPOA process. 

The Appendix below presents statements by Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiator Abbas Aragchi, representing the pragmatic camp, and by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei, representing the ideological camp.

It cannot be known whether Khamenei and ideological camp spokesmen will accept the Board of Governors’ resolution as sufficient. Furthermore, even if Khamenei decides to accept a closure of the PMD dossier by the Board of Governors as sufficient, his nine new conditions for Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA, as set out on October 21, 2015, remain an obstacle to Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA.[8]

Appendix

Statements By Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi Immediately After The Release Of Amano’s PMD Report

On December 2, 2015, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian Channel 1: “In the matter of the [Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program], the Amano report states explicitly that all the claims about PMD [refer] strictly to scientific studies [and not to military development]. This is the most salient point in the Amano report. The general view of the IAEA vis-à-vis Past and Present Outstanding Issues in Iran’s nuclear program counters the claims made against Iran in the past decade.

“The IAEA assessment is that prior to 2003, research activity was carried out in Iran, not by it. Likewise, there is no sign that nuclear material was diverted to any initiatives that are not for peaceful purposes.

“The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time, even though previously Amano said that his report was not black or white, but in my opinion it leans more towards the white side, particularly when the conclusion of the report explicitly rejects [the claim] that there is in Iran a military program, and it is preparing the ground for the Board of Governors to close the issue of the PMD dossier.

“The report states that there is no sign of nuclear material in matters that are not for peaceful purposes, and also that there is no sign of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. In the matter of equipment [for] dual use, the IAEA says that in the past Iran worked on detonators, but the report declares that these detonators had uses for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes, and that the IAEA could not make a determination in this matter…

“Likewise, Iran’s procurements [activities] are not against [the law] and there is no organization in Iran that was established to produce an atomic bomb and nuclear weapons. The IAEA pointed out that in the past there was an organizational structure for this purpose [i.e. to create a nuclear weapon] and that in Iran’s view this, this organization could have been used for conventional weapons.

“Nowhere in the IAEA report does it say that Iran conducted dual use activity, except it is written that dual use activity was carried out in Iran; nowhere in the report does it accuse the Iranian government of operating in this direction.

“An additional positive point is that nowhere in the IAEA report is the term PMD used, since we have never officially recognized this matter and have not allowed the use of it in official documents or discussions. The JCPOA and the [IAEA] Road-map likewise do not use this term. In this report, there is use of [the term] ‘[Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program] and there is no use at all of the term Possible Military Dimensions.

“The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report.

“All in all, when all the IAEA’s previous claims are placed next to the [Amano report’s] findings, it appears that the report’s fairness leans in Iran’s favor. The Board of Governors has no excuse to leave this dossier open…

“Although the IAEA took samples from the Parchin site, it is not declaring that it found nothing to justify its claims. We expected the IAEA to act fairly and realistically and not to present these things in the report…

“Amano is not in a position to close the PMD dossier. Amano is a [strictly] technical element that must report on his assessment according to reality, facts on the ground, and research that was carried out. The Board of Governors must resolve whether to close the PMD dossier. In my opinion, with regard to the report that Amano published, this procedure should be ended, because there is no proof that Iran’s nuclear program is military, or [was so] even in the past…

“According to the JCPOA, the P5+1 must submit to the Board of Governors a draft resolution with the aim of closing the PMD dossier. It does not appear that the board will decide otherwise in the matter, because the [political] will is to close [the dossier], and the Amano report provides a reason to do so.

“Another positive point in the Amano report is its pointing out that the Road-map was carried out perfectly by Iran. According to it, Iran met all its obligations.

“Still, the absolute Iranian position is that if this dossier is not closed, and if even the smallest window remains open [that will allow] a return to this issue, the JCPOA will not be implemented. We have conveyed this message, in a serious manner, to the other side, that if the PMD dossier is not closed [as noted above], we will not carry out our main steps in the JCPOA. The P5+1 and the Board of Governors must choose one or the other: the PMD or the JCPOA.

“The IAEA report mentions a prohibition on the use of dual equipment in illegal matters, particularly nuclear weapons, but there is no prohibition on the use of dual equipment in ways that are for peaceful purposes or for conventional weapons. The IAEA has said that EBW [Exploding-Bridgewire Detonator] and MPI [Multipoint Initiation] are equipment that has a use in nuclear weapons, Iran has manufactured them and used them. The IAEA says explicitly that it cannot determine [which] use Iran has made of them. We have presented the IAEA with documents that show the use of this equipment in the oil industry and Amano mentioned that Iran has used dual equipment in matters of peaceful purposes…”[9]

Hossein Shariatmadari In Kayhan Editorial, December 5, 2015

In Kayhan’s December 5, 2015 editorial, Shariatmadari wrote: “On Wednesday, December 2, the IAEA released its final report on the PMD. In this report, without presenting any evidence or proof, the IAEA rejects the opinion of Iran, which Iran has stated many times, and writes that up until 2009 Iran engaged in a series of activities connected to the production of nuclear weapons. This is despite the fact that in the past 12 years Iran has absolutely rejected any deviation [in a military direction] in its civilian nuclear activity.

“In spite of the extensive and comprehensive visits by IAEA inspectors, there is no finding to this claim. Several minutes after it was released, the report was welcomed by the media in the U.S. and in the Zionist regime. It was said that this report confirms their previous statements against Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran was accused of lying and cheating for several years.

“It may be that the IAEA report will have dangerous ramifications, that should be stated:

“1.   It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution. About this, it must be said that:

“a.    If this is a matter of an official agreement, where is this mentioned in the JCPOA? The answer is: Nowhere.

“b.   And if this was an oral agreement, how can the oral agreements of the rival be trusted when it has violated and continues to violate its formal obligations?!

“c.    It was told [to us] that the IAEA report would be grey – that is, with black and white points, positive and negative. Contrary to the opinion of our dear brother Dr. Araghchi, not only does this report not lean more towards white, but most of its sections are black. Additionally, the white points that the members [of the negotiating team] mention have only a white exterior, and their essence is completely black; we will address this later on.

“2.   The report states that up to 2009, Iran engaged in research and development connected to [nuclear] weapons – that is, the part of the report that addresses Iran’s nuclear challenge, which has continued for 12 years, is decided in favor of the rival. This is because in the past 12 years, the U.S. and its allies, and after that the P5+1, accused Iran of deviating in its nuclear program in the direction of nuclear weapons… Ultimately, the IAEA carried out more extensive oversight activity than [that required] in the Additional Protocol, and found no document attesting that Iran’s nuclear activity was not civilian. [Our] technical and judicial expectation was that the report would reject the claims that Iran had deviated in its nuclear program or at the very least that it would be stated [in it] that it had found no sign of such a deviation. But the report confirms the groundless and evidence-free claim of the U.S. and its allies.

“3.   Our friends [on the negotiating team] say that the general view of the report shows that its conclusion contradicts all the claims and talk against Iran’s nuclear program in the past 12 years… For 12 years [the U.S. and its allies] have claimed that Iran’s nuclear program is not civilian and is advancing in the direction of nuclear weapons. The IAEA report justifies this claim. How, then, can it be said that ‘the report contradicts the claims [against Iran] in the past 12 years!?’

“4.   The U.S. and its allies accused Iran, without presenting any proof, that up until 2009 it made efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Now, the report justifies the claims and accuses Iran of lying, cheating, concealing, breaking the law, and more. Those responsible for the nuclear negotiations must be asked: Was this the intention of the ‘acquisition of international confidence for Iran’ that you talked so much about? Take a quick look at the statements by American, European, and Zionist elements, and at the commentary and analysis by the foreign media, that were published immediately after the report was released: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says proudly that everything we [the U.S.] said about Iran’s nuclear program was true.[10] He stresses that we [the U.S.] had never had any doubts that Iran had striven to attain nuclear weapons.[11] Reuters rejected Iran’s statements that we had never wanted nuclear weapons, and wrote, with a large headline: ‘Iran had ‘coordinated effort’ relevant to atom bombs – IAEA.’ USA Today accuses Iran of lying about its non-civilian nuclear activity up to 2009. The Times of Israel spoke respectfully of the opinion of Israeli experts that from the outset, they had said that Iran was making efforts to create nuclear weapons, and more.

“5.   The first article of the [IAEA] report states that it is ‘based on information available to the IAEA… [The points in the original report] include information obtained by the IAEA from Iran in the Framework for Cooperation, including the Road-map and the JCPOA.’ This article says, or at least can be interpreted as saying, that even the elements in Iran (as the IAEA supposes) agreed that up to 2009 Iran engaged in non-civilian [nuclear] activity. Now, tell me: What is white in this report [as Araghchi said], and what in it arouses pride?!

“6.   The IAEA report on the PMD is a final report, and the IAEA saw no need to continue to investigate. Perhaps there will be those who will see this as a white point, and as a point in [Iran’s] favor. But in effect, the IAEA is stating absolutely that Iran made efforts to attain nuclear weapons, and that there is no need to reexamine this. That is, the ground has been prepared for future exploitation [of this claim against Iran].

“7.   The report justifies the suspicion of the U.S. and its allies regarding Iran’s nuclear activity and their perception of it non-civilian. Therefore, this justifies grave restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity, as well as unprecedented oversight on it. If we accept this report, we will destroy [with our own hands] all our achievements gained through great effort and sacrifices in blood.

“8.    The IAEA report could be more dangerous than the JCPOA, because it is an international document that proves that the opinions and proof that Iran submitted concerning its non-civilian nuclear program are unrealistic and unreliable. Therefore, the U.S. can extend the implementation of the JCPOA from 15 years to 25 years, or even for eternity, on the pretext that the IAEA report shows that you [i.e. Iran] have lied  for 12 years about your nuclear program and there is guarantee that you will not want to produce nuclear weapons under your civilian program.  

“9.    If Iran accepts the IAEA report, as unfortunately is becoming clear from statements by certain elements, the document will gain international [validity], and even if the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, this document [i.e. the report] is sufficient in order to permanently restrict our nuclear program and to leave Iran’s nuclear activity in the laboratory and as pilot [project]. That is, on the level of ‘nothing.’ Not for nothing have the rival’s media published the report enthusiastically and applauded the IAEA and its secretary-general.

“10. With regard to the U.S.’s long list of broken promises and deception in the past 12 years of [Iran’s] nuclear challenge, it can be said fervently that even if we assume that the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, as the friends [in the negotiating team] say it has promised, the IAEA’s final report can serve as a good basis for future extortion and excessive demands on the part of the U.S…

“11. In conclusion, the defense of [Iran’s] national and scientific interests requires that the elements connected to the nuclear [issue] in Iran show strength and might and explicitly oppose the report and [demand that it be considered] an illegal report and not a technical report [that is, that it be considered a political report] lacking all findings and proof.”[12]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme, Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[2] Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said: “In the coming days, our experts will be in touch with IAEA experts, and if necessary, they will raise further points. It is even possible that I will meet with Amano again… According to what we were told, there are some weak points in the IAEA report, on which I have commented. I am optimistic that they will be amended. I have provided necessary comments to the Americans and Europeans.” ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015. On November 29, 2015, he said: “We expect [IAEA secretary-general] Amano to present the Board of Governors with a realistic and moderate report. It is true that it is not possible to determine absolutely what happened 10-15 years ago, and there are various possibilities. We do not expect that Amano will present an absolute report… In any event,  the resolution [about closing the PMD dossier]  lies with the Board of Governors [and not with Amano]. Our criterion is the closure of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. We are waiting for its resolution.” Mehr. Iran, November 29, 2015. Also see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[3] Aragchi said on November 29, 2015: “We are now in consultation on the content of the draft resolution that the P5+1 is meant to present to the Board of Governors. In the content [of the draft resolution], they must use terms that mean closure and conclusion of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. If this dossier is not closed, our position is absolutely clear – this dossier must be closed, so that we implement the JCPOA. If not, we will not implement our obligations, that according to the JCPOA Iran must implement after the closure of the PMD dossier. That is, the JCPOA will not be implemented fully. Mehr (Iran), November 29, 2015. Araghchi added, “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.” Press TV, Iran, November 26, 2015. Also, at a November 26, 2015 press conference, Foreign Minister Zarif said: “The Amano report, in the coming days, will help close the dossier permanently. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction envisioned for it in the past [that is, it will implement the JCPOA].”The PMD is encapsulated, though we believe undeservedly, as ‘concerns past and present’ in the text of the JCPOA; we hope Amano’s report within upcoming days will help close the case forever. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction predicted for it before.” Mehr (Iran), November 26, 2015. Also see similar statements by Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, ISNA, Iran, November 29, 2015. Additionally, on December 1, 2015, the daily Etemaad, which is affiliated with pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani, stated that the negotiating team had said clearly that the West must choose between the PMD and the JCPOA.

[4] Reuters, November 26, 2015.

[5] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme. Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[6] A hint at this could be found in the December 5, 2015 editorial of the Iranian daily Kayhan, in which the paper’s editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote: “It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution” (see Appendix for the full editorial). Also, Araghchi’s November 26, 2015 statements to Iran’s Press TV hinted at commitments to Iran in this vein: “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.”

[7] Although the members of the negotiating team also claimed that the Amano report contains statements that are unacceptable. Following the report’s release, Araghchi said in a December 2, 2015 television interview: “The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time… The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report” (for the full statements, see Appendix). ISNA, Iran, December 2, 2015. See also statements by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi: “Based on the Amano report, there remains no way to leave the PMD dossier open… Based on this [report], and on my extensive experience in the IAEA, the PMD dossier will be closed for certain, because they have not succeeded in presenting any document. Therefore, this false dossier that has entangled us for many years will be closed permanently.” Nasimonline, Iran, December 3, 2015.

[8] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), December 2, 2015.

[10] MEMRI did not find Kerry’s exact words in this regard.

[11] Kerry said at a December 4, 2015 press conference that “nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran’s past military endeavors.” State.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/12/250362.htm.

[12] Kayhan (Iran), December 5, 2015.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ troubling transformation

December 8, 2015

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ troubling transformation, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, December 8, 2015

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Despite the guidelines of the nuclear deal and contrary to President Obama’s claim that Iran will temper its foreign policy, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is actively transforming the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ operation. This will have significant impact on regional geopolitics and US national security.

The Islamic Republic used to deploy the Quds Force, which has been designated as a supporter of terrorism by the State Department and is a paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Its purpose is to engage in irregular warfare operations, extraterritorial interventions, foreign policy missions, and interference in the affairs of other countries. The Quds Force has an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 personnel.

Recent developments clearly indicate that Iranian leaders are transforming the whole Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) into an organization that operates like the Quds Force in order to achieve Iran’s Islamist, ideological, geopolitical and strategic goals, as well as its expansionist objectives.

Unlike the Quds Force, the IRGC has an estimated 100,000-200,000 military personnel. IRGC also funds, arms, trains, and controls other domestic and foreign militia groups such as Iran’s paramilitary Basij militia, which has approximately 90,000 personnel, Hezbollah, with an estimated 20,000-30,000 fighters, as well as several other Shiite militia groups in Iraq, Yemen, and throughout the region.

Iranian news media outlets used to downplay the  IRGC’s role in other nations. But recently, Iran’s official news agency, Fars news, reported that several members of the Revolutionary Guard — including Mostafa Sadrzadeh, Milad Mostafavi, and Brigadier General Reza Khavari, the senior commander of IRGC’s Fatemiyoun Division — were among other fighters who were killed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. So far more than 100 IRGC fighters have been killed in Syria.

Iranian media and officials once characterized IRGC involvement in Syria as limited to advisory roles, providing tactical assistance, engaging in strategic planning, and providing intelligence.

But in the last few weeks, reports of public funerals have risen, putting the Quds Force in the public eye.  Even the Supreme Leader has become more public. He tweeted about one of the Iranian fighters who died in Syria, posted a picture of him with the “martyred” family, and pointed out that “Gen. Hamedani devoted the final years of his fruitful life to fighting against anti-Islam Takfiris and fulfilled his martyrdom wish in the same front.”

Iran is increasing the amount of its IRGC fighters in Syria, with a concentration of forces in the critical cities of Allepo, Latakia, and Damascus, to prevent the fall of these strategic locations to the opposition.

While Iranian leaders project the image that they are fighting the Islamic State, Iranian forces are not positioned close to any IS stranglehold. Instead, they appear to be battling Syrian rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in an attempt to force them to retreat, preventing them from capturing more territories in Allepo, Latakia and Damascus.

There are several reasons behind this tactical and IRGC organizational shift. First of all, the policy of the Obama administration is to appease Iran. This is made clear by its weak stance toward Iran. This allows Iran’s interventionist operations to be strengthened, and has empowered and transformed Tehran’s military organizations.

Secondly, The Islamic Republic pushed for Russia’s military assistance and involvement in Syria. The setbacks that Assad’s army and the Quds Force encountered in early 2015, mainly due to rise of the Islamic State and rebel groups advancements, propelled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani to visit Putin and ask for military help.

Nevertheless, Russia’s military superiority and interventions in Latakia did overshadow and bring into question Iran’s influence in Syria. By resorting to the IRGC and public acknowledgments of Iranian fighters operating on the ground in Syria, the Islamic Republic strives to reassert its presence in Syria.

In addition, the increasing Russian airstrikes are coordinated with the rising deployment of IRGC fighters on the ground. This inevitably will lead to a rise in Iranian casualties. Throughout these shifts, Assad has become increasingly dependent on Iran’s IRGC and Russia.

Furthermore, before the rise of the Islamic State, Iran played down its military role in the region because Tehran did not have a legitimate excuse to justify its presence in Syria. Iranian leaders were also worried about a direct confrontation with the West and other regional powers. They attempted to prevent the scuttling of nuclear negotiations. But after the nuclear deal was reached, and after the Islamic State grabbed global headlines, the Islamic Republic’s policy shifted in order to transform the IRGC’s function.

In the pursuit of hegemonic ambitions, Iran seizes any opportunity to reassert its regional supremacy, power and preeminence. By transforming the IRGC into a foreign offensive and interventionist force in other countries, by essentially making IRGC a regional military empire, and by announcing publicly that IRGC troops are present in Syria, Iran is demonstrating its hegemonic, Islamist, and powerful role in the region.

Although some policy analysts and scholars argue that the increasing death toll of Iranian fighters might change the IRGC’s decision to support the Syrian dictator, it is not likely that there will be any change in Iran’s policy of backing Assad. Tehran’s stakes in keeping Assad’s regime in power are high. Iran can afford several more years of assistance for the Syrian army and will continue to provide military, financial, advisory and intelligence support.

In closing, it is clear that the Islamic Republic is transforming the whole ideological and militaristic empire of the IRGC into an interventionist force which will operate in foreign countries for the purpose of fulfilling expansionist and Islamists objectives.

IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently

November 29, 2015

Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, MEMRI, November 27, 2015

(Here’s a link to a July 16, 2015 interview in which Kerry stated,

“The possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” Kerry said. “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.”

— DM)

Araghchi’s interview indicates that Iran has been following the writing of the IAEA report and has been submitting comments to the IAEA and the P5+1, and has in fact been exerting constant pressure on Amano and on the P5+1 in order to ensure that the PMD dossier be closed and the report be worded unequivocally and to Iran’s complete satisfaction.

********************

In a November 25, 2015 interview on Iranian television, Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that he recently held talks with IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano on “closing the Possible Military Dimension (PMD) dossier”, and the latter filled him in about “some of the points he is to present” in the upcoming IAEA report on this issue. Araghchi noted that he had also spoken with the Americans and Europeans in Vienna, and had understood from them that “they too were heading towards closing the PMD dossier.” [1]

25842Abbas Araghchi (Image: Press TV, Iran)

It should be recalled that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and a member of the nuclear negotiation team, said in a June 21, 2015 interview on Iranian television that Iran had “reached understandings with the IAEA” on the PMD issue, and added: “Now there is political backing [of the P5+1], and the [PMD] issue should be resolved.” He stated further: “By December 15, [2015], at the end of the year, the issue [of the PMD] should be determined. The IAEA will submit its report to [its] board of governors. It will only submit it. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will continue independently of the results of this report. We have reached understandings with the IAEA… The technical issues are now being resolved in a political framework. They have set a time frame and, God willing, the issue must be resolved by December 15.” In response to the interviewers’ remark that the IAEA has “a bad record” (in terms of cooperating with Iran), Salehi stated: “In short, they [the IAEA] will be the losers. As I have said, the issue has received political backing. The work of [the IAEA] must be reasonable. They cannot do anything unreasonable. When there is no political backing, they do whatever they want, but now there is political backing, and the issue should be resolved.”[2]

In a recent news conference, Amano said that that “the report will not be black and white,” and that the PMD issue “is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no'”.[3]

In his November 25 interview, Araghchi said: “In the next few days our experts will be in contact with the IAEA experts, and if necessary they will bring up additional points. I may also meet with Amano again… They [our experts] told us there were some weak points in the IAEA report and I commented on them. I am optimistic that they will be corrected…”

He added: “I don’t think there is any plan behind the scenes to leave the PMD dossier open. We have not received any indications that there is a plan [of this kind] behind the scenes. In any case I provided the Americans and Europeans with the necessary comments.”

He stated further: “On December 1, 2015, we expect this report to be published and submitted to the [IAEA] Board of Governors. A special board meeting has been scheduled for December 15, 2015, in which a resolution on the IAEA report will be taken. During this time [until December 15], the P5+1 group will submit a [draft] resolution [to the IAEA Board of Governors] with the objective of  closing the PMD dossier, and [this draft resolution] will come up for a vote in its December 15, 2015 meeting. Also, on December 7, 2015, there will be a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, attended by [representatives of] Iran and the P5+1, in which we will discuss the P5+1 [draft] resolution on closing the PMD. We have taken all the necessary steps so that on December 15, 2015, [the IAEA Board of Governors] will resolve to close the PMD dossier and this issue will be put to rest.”

According to Araghchi, “if the [IAEA] Board of Governors does not close the PMD dossier, the process of implementing the JCPOA will stop. Hence, the P5+1 must decide between the PMD and the JCPOA… In the past, the P5+1 chose the JCPOA. The [Supreme] Leader [Khamenei]’s letter on Iran’s implementation of the nuclear steps [a document published by Khamenei in October 21 detailing 9 additional conditions for Iranian compliance with the JCPOA][4] likewise emphasizes that they must choose between the JCPOA and the PMD.”[5]

According to Iran’s Press TV news agency, Araghchi said in the same interview: “If Yukiya Amano or the [IAEA’s] board of governors will present their report in such a way that it does not meet the stipulated commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also stop [the implementation of] the JCPOA.”[6] In this statement, Araghchi implies that Iran has received commitments that the PMD dossier will be closed.

Araghchi’s interview indicates that Iran has been following the writing of the IAEA report and has been submitting comments to the IAEA and the P5+1, and has in fact been exerting constant pressure on Amano and on the P5+1 in order to ensure that the PMD dossier be closed and the report be worded unequivocally and to Iran’s complete satisfaction.

It should also be recalled that the inspection of the Parchin military facility, carried out to determine whether Iran’s program had military dimensions, consisted of Iran submitting samples that were not collected in the presence of IAEA inspectors and were later submitted to the IAEA, so that their origin cannot be absolutely determined.

As for the steps currently being taken by Iran to comply with the JCPOA, Araghchi clarified that “none of the steps so far taken by Iran in this matter contravenes the [Supreme] Leader’s letter…  and, as far as I know, [we] are still in the stage of dismantling the inactive centrifuges.” (Both Iranian Atomic Agency Spokesman  Behrouz Kamalvandi and Iranian National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani have indeed said that Iran has transferred inactive centrifuges from one facility to another, but no active centrifuges have been dismantled).[7]

 

Endnotes:

[1] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[2] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 5014,  We Have Reached Understandings with the IAEA about the PMD; Technical Issues Are Now Being Resolved on a Political Level, July 21, 2015.

[3] Reuters.com, November 26, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Daily Brief No.65, MEMRI: ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes,’ October 30, 2015.

[5] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[6] Press TV (Iran), November 26, 2015.

[7] Kamalvandi: ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015; Shamkhani: Fars (Iran), November 10, 2015.

Iran threatens to walk away from nuke deal

November 26, 2015

Iran threatens to walk away from nuke deal, Washington ExaminerPete Kasperowicz, November 26, 2015

A top Iranian official warned Thursday that Iran would stop its efforts to comply with the Iran nuclear agreement unless international inspectors stop their investigation into Iran’s past work on its nuclear program.

Under the deal, inspectors were instructed to examine the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, or PMDs.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano is expected to release a new report on Iran’s nuclear program on Dec. 1. Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, warned that if the Dec. 1 report doesn’t close the file on PMDs, Iran will walk away.

“In case Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors presents their report in such a way that it does not meet the stipulated commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also stop [the implementation of] the JCPOA,” he said, according to PressTV, Iran’s state-owned news service.

The JCPOA is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, informally known as the Iran deal.

Iran’s new threat could be a significant problem for the implementation of the deal. On the same day Araqchi spoke, Amano delivered remarks in Vienna in which he said it’s still not clear how much undeclared nuclear material might exist in Iran.

“As my latest report on safeguards implementation in Iran shows, the agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a prepared statement in Vienna, Austria.

“But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” he added.

Amano has made similar remarks all year, and it’s a strong sign that Iran has yet to fully cooperate with inspectors under the Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran Threatens to Walk Away from Nuke Deal

November 13, 2015

Iran Threatens to Walk Away from Nuke Deal Rouhani: Any new sanctions are a deal breaker

BY:
November 12, 2015 3:05 pm

Source: Iran Threatens to Walk Away from Nuke Deal – Washington Free Beacon

Iran has threatened to walk away from the recently inked nuclear deal and stop rolling back its nuclear enrichment program, according to recent comments by Hassan Rouhani, the Islamic Republic’s president.

Rouhani, in comments on Thursday, threatened to break the deal if the United States imposes any new sanctions on Iran, even ones concerning the country’s human rights abuses and its ballistic missile program.

The comments are a direct response to promises by the Obama administration to continue pursuing economic sanctions targeted at Iran’s terrorist proxies and efforts to foment unrest across the globe.

The warning from the Iranian president was delivered amid bipartisan calls in Congress to increase pressure on Iran in response to its recent arrest of two Americans, one a dual citizen and one a D.C.-based permanent resident.

Iran “will not fulfill agreements” aimed at curbing its nuclear program if any new sanctions are considered, Rouhani said, according to reports carried by the country’s state-controlled media.

“The obligations are the following: the group of six [global powers] will not impose new sanctions, and we should fulfill the agreements,” Rouhani said. “In case the Unites States or other countries fail to comply with their obligations, we will be forced to do the same.”

Rouhani’s made these comments just days after reports emerged indicating that Iran has stopped dismantling its nuclear centrifuges, a key requirement of the agreement.

Major differences between the United States and Iran have arisen on the issue of sanctions. While Iran maintains that all U.S. sanctions must be terminated, the Obama administration says it is only required to suspend nuclear-related sanctions.

This leaves open the possibility that the United States could reintroduce sanctions if Iran violates the deal and could level new sanctions unrelated to the country’s nuclear program.

Rouhani acknowledged that this has caused tension between the two nations, stating in his remarks, “a U.S. decision to withdraw only nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran but keeping other restrictions in place has led to continuous disagreement between Iran and the United States.”

The Iranian president also demanded in his remarks that the United States “apologize” for its past actions against Iran.

“If they [the U.S.] modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen,” Rouhani said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal, told the Washington Free Beacon that the administration is intentionally ignoring Iran’s bad behavior in order to preserve the accord.

“The Obama administration may insist that the nuclear deal is somehow isolated from other bad behavior on the part of the Islamic Republic, but the fact is that this is all part of the same ugly pattern,” Cruz said. “Tehran understands perfectly well that the terrorist activities of the Revolutionary Guard, including the detention last month of American citizen Siamek Namazi and American resident Nizar Zakka, are part of the same anti-American hostility that also fuels their nuclear program.”

“Trying to separate out their activities is a fool’s errand,” Cruz said. “There can be no good-faith deal with a regime that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and that has been targeting America and our allies for 36 years.”

The Obama administration has reserved the right to pursue new sanctions.

The State Department explained to the Free Beacon earlier this week that it will not remove sanctions relating to certain elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, an organization responsible for waging terror attacks. Other sanctions aimed at curbing Iranian human rights abuses also remain in place.

However, the State Department has declined to go further with its sanctions against the corps, telling the Free Beacon that it is not considering designating the military group as a foreign terrorist organization, which could severely restrict its activities.

“We believe the sanctions we have in place remain the most appropriate and effective tools for targeting the IRGC, and we are making full use of such authorities with respect to the IRGC,” a State Department official told the Free Beacon this week. “In addition to Iran’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, we have a substantial set of sanctions already in place against the IRGC.”

Questions still remain about whether the United States will respond to the recent arrests of two American citizens in Iran. While members of Congress have called for sanctions as a result of the arrests, the administration has balked.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), among other lawmakers, has demanded that the Obama administration work with lawmakers to strengthen sanctions.

“Iran’s threatening behavior will worsen if the administration does not work with Congress to enact stronger measures to push back, including renewal of the expiring Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 and targeted sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and against any Iranian official found to have participated in the unjust detainment of American citizens,” Kirk said in a statement.

“It should come as no surprise that Iranian leaders are trying to blackmail the administration into ignoring Iran’s terrorism, human rights abuses, tests of missiles that can strike Israel, and detention of American citizens,” Kirk told the Free Beacon. While Congress has red lines that Iran passed long ago, the question is whether the administration has any red lines.”

Iran is pursuing a policy aimed a tying the White House’s hands, analysts said.

“Under the deal Iran always has a gun to America’s head,” said Omri Ceren, managing director for press at The Israel Project, a D.C.-based organization that has been critical of the final terms of the deal. “Any time the Iranians don’t like anything the U.S. is doing, they can blackmail Washington by threatening to walk away from the deal. “

“This time they’re telling Congress that lawmakers are prohibited from responding to the arrest of American citizens,” Ceren said. “Who knows what they’ll ban the U.S. from doing next time?”

Other analysts agreed.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that these types of threats by Iran are a hallmark of the hardline administration.

“It’s the traditional Tehran two-step: One step forward and two back,” Rubin said.

Iran is comfortable issuing threats because it has already begun to receive sanctions relief granted under the nuclear accord. Tehran also has leverage over the Obama administration because of the way the deal is structured, according to Rubin.

“Kerry’s team played into Iran’s hands by front-loading Iran’s rewards and removing any incentive for Tehran to adhere to commitments,” Rubin said. “Who besides Obama and Kerry would give a rogue regime and the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism a free pass against consequence for any of their actions?”

“Kerry essentially handed Iran a get out of jail free card, and the Iranian leadership will respond by seeing how far they can push,” Rubin explained. “Obama stays quiet on the arrest of reporters or businessman? Well, why not execute one or two and see what happens then? Obama ignores Iranian shipment of missiles to Hezbollah? Why not launch a few?”

Ahead of Europe trip, Rouhani won’t disavow desire to destroy Israel

November 12, 2015

Ahead of Europe trip, Rouhani won’t disavow desire to destroy Israel Iran leader tells French TV Tehran eschews ties with ‘illegitimate’ Israel, refuses to say if he agrees with hard-line statements of predecessor

By Times of Israel staff

November 12, 2015, 11:52 am

Source: Ahead of Europe trip, Rouhani won’t disavow desire to destroy Israel | The Times of Israel

The EU has more labeling to do, but do not hold your breath

Iranian president in a televised interview to France 2 posted online on November 11 2015. (Screen capture France 2)

Iranian president in a televised interview to France 2 posted online on November 11 2015. (Screen capture France 2)

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani refused to say whether he agreed that Israel should be wiped off a map, but called for a one-state end to the conflict with the Palestinians, in two interviews published Thursday.

Speaking to French TV ahead of his first trip to Europe, Rouhani also denied that Iran ever sought nuclear weapons.

Asked by France 2 whether he shared his hard-line predecessor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s view that Israel “has no place on the map of the Middle East,” Rouhani answered: “How come this question destined for my predecessor returns now to me?”

He then added that Iran does not believe in a two-state solution.

“We are not speaking of two states but a single one. We say that all the people who originated in Palestine as it was in the borders before 1948 and as it was then as a country should reunite and vote, and whichever [political] system they choose, we will be in agreement with that.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left, seen from the back) interviewed by France 2 ahead of his visit to France, scheduled for 16-17 November 2015. (Screen capture France 2)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left, seen from the back) interviewed by France 2 ahead of his visit to France, scheduled for 16-17 November 2015. (Screen capture France 2)

“Israel in its current form is not legitimate; this is why we don’t have any relations with it, because we do not consider it legitimate,” said Rouhani, according to a France 2 translation.

Speaking to Italian paper Corriere della Sera, Rouhani was asked when the time will come when “Death to Israel” and similar slogans will no longer be part of Friday prayers.

“We respect all monotheistic religions,” he said, including the Hebrew and Christian ones. “The Jewish people have always lived peacefully in Iran […] they have representatives in the Iranian parliament and they can practice their religion freely. But this is different from Zionism’s policies, which is different from Judaism,” the Iranian president said.

“We condemn the persecutions by the Zionist regime in the region, including the killing of Palestinians, and we condemn American policies of unilaterally supporting this regime. What I am trying to say is that the Iranian people can detest Israel and Zionist policies but at the same time love Judaism, the prophets and the book [the Bible].”

Rouhani’s trip next week — the first by an Iranian leader in over a decade — will see him travel to France, Italy and the Vatican, highlighting warming ties with the Continent in the wake of the July nuclear deal.

The visit will largely be devoted to inking new trade agreements. He said there have been discussions regarding future possible collaboration with French companies on several economic ventures.

Ties with the US have remained cold, but he told Corriere della Sera that he could envision a day when the relationship with Washington, accused in Iran of propping up the unpopular Pahlavi regime overthrown in 1979, is restored.

“One day these embassies will reopen, but what matters is the behavior and those who hold the key to this are the Americans. If they change their policies, correct the mistakes they committed during 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen,” he said.

He told the French station that Iran’s nuclear ambitions have never included military use, repeating Tehran’s official line which stands in contrast to Western fears that the country does seek a nuclear weapon.

Asking whether Iran renounces the pursuit of a nuclear bomb, a France 2 interviewer said “for the French there is still a doubt” on this issue. During P+5 negotiations, Paris was seen as the most suspect of Iranian ambitions.

Rouhani said Tehran has “always sought this research uniquely in the domain of civil nuclear power and this continues today.”

Iran has “never wished, at any moment, not yesterday nor today, to manufacture an atomic bomb,” he said.

He added that Iran has long been a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has cooperated with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Our country has always collaborated with the IAEA. All the reports of this agency show that Iran has collaborated well. Today, we are willing to take on all the obligations [of the nuclear agreement] on the condition that the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany take on theirs,” he said.

Before the nuclear deal, the IAEA had long complained that Iran restricted access to suspected nuclear sites. The watchdog recently said Iran was complying with a new inspections regime put in place as part of the nuclear pact.

Iran has stopped dismantling nuclear centrifuges: senior official

November 11, 2015

Iran has stopped dismantling nuclear centrifuges: senior official

DUBAI

Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:37pm EST

Source: Iran has stopped dismantling nuclear centrifuges: senior official | Reuters

Iran has stopped dismantling centrifuges in two uranium enrichment plants, state media reported on Tuesday, days after conservative lawmakers complained to President Hassan Rouhani that the process was too rushed.

Last week, Iran announced it had begun shutting down inactive centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordow plants under the terms of a deal struck with world powers in July that limits its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

Iran’s hardliners continue to resist and undermine the nuclear deal, which was forged by moderates they oppose and which they see as a capitulation to the West.

“The (dismantling) process stopped with a warning,” Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the National Security Council, was quoted as saying by the ISNA student news agency.

Only decommissioned centrifuges were being dismantled to begin with, of which there were about 10,000 at Natanz and Fordow, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran has said.

Shamkhani did not specify what he meant by “warning”, but the head of parliament’s nuclear deal commission, Alireza Zakani, told Mehr news agency that the dismantling had stopped in Fordow because of the lawmakers’ letter to Rouhani.

Zakani, who was not one of the signatories of the letter, did not mention activities at Natanz.

A group of 20 hardline parliamentarians wrote to the president last week complaining that the deactivation of centrifuges contradicted the directives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei has said that the deal should only be implemented once allegations of past military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program had been settled.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to announce its conclusions on PMD by Dec. 15.

Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope in uranium. Low-enriched uranium is used to fuel nuclear power plants, Iran’s stated goal, but can also provide material for bombs if refined much further.

Iran denied Western suspicions it was aiming to build a nuclear bomb.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Raissa Kasolowsky)