Archive for the ‘Sanctions’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 330 – Iran’s Nuclear Deal: A great achievement, but hard work ahead

By Farhang Jahanpour

The announcement of the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is a rare moment in history that gives us hope and provides a basis for optimism.

By contemplating what the alternative would have entailed, any agreement, no matter how defective, is a great achievement and has to be welcomed.

However, the indications are that, as the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has declared at a joint press conference with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, there has been a win-win agreement that will benefit everyone. In short, they have made history.

Ms. Mogherini said: “It is a decision that can open the way to a new chapter in international relations. I think this is a sign of hope for the entire world.” The Iranian foreign minister echoed those sentiments and described the deal as “a historic moment”.

He continued: “Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.” Zarif rightly pointed out that the deal has ended an unnecessary conflict. As the TFF Associate Gareth Porter has shown in his book of the same title, it was in fact “A Manufactured Crisis”.

It should be remembered that Iran had been ready since 2003 to reach a nuclear deal when she agreed to ratify the Additional Protocol and voluntarily suspended enrichment for two years. The Bush Administration killed that deal by illegally stating that, contrary to the NPT regulations, Iran was not allowed to have any enrichment on her soil. Read the rest of this entry »

If the West wanted a deal, it could be there today

TFF director Jan Oberg commenting two days before a deal should be concluded

A deal with Iran this week?

By Jonathan Power
June 30th 2015.

According to the New York Times, “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all public matters in Iran, last week demanded that most sanctions be lifted before Tehran has dismantled part of its nuclear infrastructure and before international inspectors verify that the country is beginning to meet its commitments.”

“US Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States was prepared to ease sanctions before it fully resolves what, exactly, Iran’s nuclear scientists have been working on in secret for more than a decade.

‘We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” Mr. Kerry said. “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.’”

So in the final days of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program – meant to have been concluded on Tuesday but Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 328 – With another approach, we would have a deal with Iran today

By Jan Oberg

There could have been a deal with Iran today – to the benefit of everybody – if the nuclear issue had been approached in a fair, principled and visionary manner from Day One.

If there will be no deal later, one of the most important possible agreements in contemporary international history will have been lost, the risk of war will increase and the Iranians will suffer. And the United States and the EU (here France and Germany) will move further down in terms of relative global power and up in terms of self-isolation.

On the day of no deal, perhaps the Five Ps + Germany should spend a moment on self-reflection: What could we have done differently?

To the trained conflict- and peace-making eye, 99% of the Western commentators have failed to point out the benefits of a deal and, instead, devoted their creativity to find all kinds of possible negative aspects, details and – of course – on how the West should demand even more. They’ve suggested “red lines” at absurdum.

The fundamental a-symmetry of this whole conflict eludes them – or is conveniently left unmentioned.

At the table sit the five largest nuclear weapons powers which have, de facto and de jure, for decades completely and systematically ignored the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, and have repeatedly broken international law and conducted wars. They would never allow the type of inspections on their own territory that they demand of Iran. The U.S. issues threats – and plan a war – Iran has never threatened the U.S. And so on and so forth.

Absent from every nuclear discussion is Israel and other nuclear-armed countries which, in contrast to Iran, are not members of the NPT and have a record of warfare and occupation.

Imagine a world in which we had seen negotiations, for real, about reducing the possession of nuclear weapons as a quid pro quo of proliferation – exactly as stated in the NPT.

Imagine that we had required Iran to abstain from getting nuclear weapons as a quid pro quo of a promise by the nuclear “haves” that they would reduce their arsenals. Indeed, imagine that the United States which is Second to None in putting up demands on everybody “or else … and all options remain on the table” had promised the world that it would do something too to further the accepted and UN-based goal of general and complete nuclear disarmament. Imagine the recent NPT Review conference had resulted in something decent in a world order perspective. Indeed, imagine some kind of mutuality, fairness, and equivalence in the whole approach.

The approach was wrong from Day One. It was built on military and structural power, not on intellectual power.

What stands between the parties is Read the rest of this entry »

Trying to kill the Iran nuclear deal


Jan Oberg speaks to Iranian PressTV on June 26, 2015


TFF PressInfo # 326 – Outrageus attempt at killing a deal with Iran

By Jan Oberg

Internal elite power games in Washington are now putting Middle Eastern and global stability and peace at stake.

Here is the latest attempt at killing a deal with Iran that, to the sensitive reader with a minimum of knowledge of foreign policy and of the Iranian civilization, is little but one long argument for warfare on Iran in nobody’s interest – certainly also not in the interest of the citizens of Israel. 

Is it just because it is summer time that intellectuals, media commentators and diplomats as well as friends and allies of the US conveniently keep generally silent at such irresponsible statements – and the many before it?

Don’t they understand that the nuclear issue as such – not proliferation but possession – is humanity’s most important and that Iran has been the object of revengeful harrassment since 1953 and punished for years for not having nuclear weapons? Read the rest of this entry »

Demands in US-Iran nuclear talks as political Kabuki theatre

By Gareth Porter

In the final phase of the negotiations with Iran, the US-led international coalition is still seeking Iran’s agreement to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit any military facilities it deems suspicious and to interview a selected list of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Such measures are not necessary to ensure that Iran is adhering to its commitments under the agreement, but they are necessary to manage the political threat from the pro-Israel extremists in the Senate to sabotage the whole agreement.

To fend off that threat, the Obama administration made the spurious claim that it had succeeded in getting Iran to agree to the demand for IAEA inspection of any site it found suspicious. In fact, Iran had agreed only that IAEA would have “enhanced access through agreed procedures” – as reflected in the wording of the joint statement of the P5+1 and Iran on 2 April.

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and senior military officials have vehemently ruled out both IAEA inspection of military sites on demand and interviews with Iranian scientists.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claimed on 12 May that Iran’s acceptance of the Additional Protocol as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal meant that Iran had accepted inspections of its military sites on demand. “In many other countries from time to time we request access to military sites when we have the reason to, so why not Iran?” Amano said. “If we have a reason to request access, we will do so, and in principle Iran has to accept it.”

But that was a brazen misrepresentation of the Additional Protocol. That agreement allows unrestricted IAEA access to sites that have already been designated previously by state as related to the nuclear fuel cycle. For all other sites, IAEA access under the Additional Protocol clearly depends on the approval of the state in question. Article 5 (c) of the agreement, provides that, if the signatory state is “unable to provide such access,” it “shall make every effort to satisfy Agency requests without delay through other means”.

Now the New York Times has further muddied the waters by reporting on 31 May that the Iranian rejection of those demands had “prompted concern that Iran might be backtracking from understandings sketched out in earlier talks”.

The Times tries to support the US demand by asserting that “experts” say “wide-ranging inspections are needed to guard against cheating”. That is a reference to the argument that opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran have been making for years that Iran is likely to try a “sneakout” route to nuclear weapons, using covert supplies of enriched uranium or plutonium and a covert enrichment facility.

The main figure to make that argument is Read the rest of this entry »

How to end the war in Ukraine

By Jonathan Power

According to BBC World in a broadcast yesterday morning its considered opinion is that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels battle US-backed Ukrainian forces, is working. There are still too many skirmishes, too many guns and mortars being fired but the big guns are largely silent. President Vladimir Putin said the other day that both sides have been guilty of transgressing the cease-fire.

Both the Russians on one side and the US and Nato on the other have been playing with fire with their support of the two sides. And who suffers?- the ordinary inhabitants of the eastern provinces. However pro-Russian they were before all the fighting began they are now largely convinced the rebels killing in their name no longer represent them. The businesses they work for or own are working at half power or less. Unemployment has soared. Homes have been decimated. Pensions are unpaid. Hospitals find it increasingly hard, struggling to deal with extra patients and a curtailed drug supply.

In Moscow, among thinking people, it has become clear that Russia should have no interest in taking over large swathes of Ukrainian territory Read the rest of this entry »

The year 2015: First third report

By Johan Galtung

In my columns, “The Year 2015-What Are We in For?”, I identified four unfolding, dramatic processes: the West will continue fighting unsuccessfully and violently to keep their world grip; Eurasia will expand and consolidate successfully and nonviolently; Islam will expand and consolidate partly violently; Latin America and Africa will expand and consolidate, spearheaded by Brazil, South Africa, BRICS.

A third of the year 2015 has now passed; let us take stock.

Headlines in the International New York Times tell the story:

18-19 April 2015: “U.S. is said to risk losing economic leadership”; “–a divided nation shedding hard-won clout”, “We’re withdrawing from the central place we had on the world stage”.

And for the UK: 29 April: “Britain’s drift from the world stage looms over the vote”.

These are statements about leadership, about being the center as a model to emulate; controlling world stage politics; not about economic growth. Losing leadership and drifting away may actually increase growth: control is a costly, non-productive endeavor for most businesses. Sensing that may accelerate the decline as world power. Read the rest of this entry »

Apartheid and the Palestinian National Struggle

Richard Falk

By Richard Falk

Editor’s note
This is a grand essay on the dimensions, history, structures of the Middle East/Palestine-Israeli-Western conflict over about 100 years. It is extraordinarily rich – but doesn’t cause the reader to drown in too many details. I highly recommend it to any student – young or old, journalist and politician – whose understanding of the issues may be based on the woefully biased, general account in Western mainstream media.
- Jan Oberg

Preliminary Observations

In this period when the centenary of the genocidal victimization of the Armenian people in 1915 is being so widely observed and discussed, it seems especially appropriate to call attention to the comparable victimization of the Palestinian people. This second story of prolonged collective victimization also received its jump start almost a century ago with the issuance by the British Foreign Office of the Balfour Declaration supporting the Zionist movement project of establishing a Jewish national home in historic Palestine.

The most striking difference between these two experiences of severe historical wrongs is that the Armenian people are seeking acknowledgement and apology for what was done to their ancestors a century ago, and possibly seeking reparations, while the Palestinian people may sometime in the future have the opportunity to seek similar redress for the past but now their urgent focus is upon liberation from present daily structures of acute oppression.

This Palestinian situation is tragic, in part, because there is no clear path to liberation, and the devastation of oppressive circumstances have gone on decade after decade with no end in view.

The political puzzle of the Israel/Palestine conflict continues to frustrate American policymakers despite their lengthy diplomatic engagement in the search for a peaceful future that satisfies both peoples. There are significant changes, of course, that have occurred as time unwinds.

Perhaps, the most crucial change has involved the gradual extension of Israeli control over virtually the whole of historic Palestine with American acquiescence. This coincides with a growing and more vivid awareness around the world of how much suffering and humiliation the Palestinian people have endured over the course of the last century, and the degree to which this frozen situation can be blamed on the unlimited willingness of the United States to deploy its geopolitical muscle on Israel’s behalf.

My approach to the Palestinian struggle reflects four points of departure: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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