Aletho News


The Coming US-Iran legal battle at the UN

By Kaveh Afrasiabi | Press TV | April 19, 2014

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States have now locked horns at the United Nations in the dispute over Iran’s next ambassador to UN, Hamid Aboutalebi, in light of the US refusal to issue a visa for him and Iran’s stern reaction of lodging a complaint with the relevant authorities at the UN.

By all indications, the coming battle will be fought hard by both sides and may turn out to be time-consuming and involve a lengthy arbitration process. Objectively speaking, Iran’s chance of winning this battle is fair to excellent, because Iran has the weight of international law on its side.

As stated in Iran’s letter of April 14, 2014, addressed both to the UN Secretary General and the permanent representative of Cyprus, the current chair of the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country, the US is now in breach of its international obligations by refusing to issue an entry visa to Mr. Aboutalebi.

Specifically, the US is now in contempt of its obligation under the US-UN treaty known as the “Headquarters Agreement,” which was signed in 1947. Section 11 of this Agreement expressly prohibits the US from imposing any restrictions on travel to the UN by representatives of UN member states.
Not only that, even the US’s own law, enacted in 1947, which imposes certain restrictions with respect to foreign officials who may pose a security risk to the US, does not give the US government the right to a blanket exclusion.

Section 6 of the US legislations states, “Nothing in the agreement shall be construed as in any way diminishing, abridging, or weakening the right of the United States to safeguard its own security and completely to control the entrance of aliens into any territory of the United States other than the headquarters district and its immediate vicinity.”

Clearly, this section simply does not permit the US to deny entry completely to any individual who has a right of entry, particularly the designated permanent representative of a UN member state.

What lies ahead, then, is a potentially lengthy arbitration process. Section 21 of the Headquarters Agreement provides a specific arbitration mechanism for such disputes between the US and the UN. If the negotiations between Iran, UN, and US at the above-said committee, scheduled for April 22nd, fail, then the matter would be referred to a tribunal of three arbitrators, one to be named by the UN Secretary General, one to be named by the United States, and the third to be chosen by the two, or, if they should fail to agree upon a third, then by the President of the International Court of Justice.

Legally speaking, US’s stated unhappiness with Mr. Aboutalebi over his alleged role with the Iranian students who took over the US embassy in 1979 does not suffice to warrant his exclusion from the UN. As a veteran Iranian diplomat for the past quarter of century, serving in several Western countries, Aboutalebi, who holds a degree from the prestigious Sorbonne University, is well-suited for the designated position at the UN and his credential simply nullifies any lame US excuse that he poses a “security risk.”

Besides, the US and Iran have signed an agreement known as the Algiers Accord in 1981, which has specific provisions regarding the settlement of disputes arising out of the US embassy ‘crisis’ and which are relevant to Iran’s defense of its choice for the top position at the UN. The US is beholden to the terms of the Algiers Accord, which precludes the US from punishing Iran one way or another for the embassy situation.

Clearly, this is a vexing issue for not only Iran but also many other UN member states, particularly those who may have a past or present dispute with the US, in light of the new US legislation that opens a Pandora’s Box by enhancing US free hand to screen foreign diplomats and impose restrictions on them based on criteria that violate the terms of the Headquarters Agreement, thus jeopardizing the future of “multilateral diplomacy” as correctly stated in Iran’s letter to UN mentioned above; as result, the Non-Aligned Movement, comprising the largest UN grouping at the General Assembly, may intervene on Iran’s behalf.

This may be why US President Obama has not yet acted on this legislation, which is Iranophobic through and through and was initiated by the hawkish members of US Congress who are on record opposing the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers. But, sooner or later, the US has to furnish a detailed and official explanation as to why it refuses a visa for Mr. Aboutalebi. But once it does, it will inevitably make more clear the already glaring fact that the US is in contempt of its international obligations.

The fact that Mr. Aboutalebi has entered the US in the past, as part of Iran’s delegation to the UN General Assembly, represents another strike against the US, which would have to be taken into consideration by the UN officials and the arbitration panel, the argument being that if he did not pose any security risk in the past, why should he be so regarded now?

With respect to any US argument that Aboutalebi has violated international law in the past by acting as a US “hostage-taker,” this is not convincing either due to the following: (a) by his own admission, Aboutalebi was not among the hostage-takers and played a limited role as an interpreter; (b) the embassy take-over was in part a response to a prior US violation of international law by engineering the 1953 coup in Iran and then supporting a ruthless dictatorship for a quarter of century; (c) those events are now remote in time and have been followed by the Algiers Accord that, as stated above, implicitly if not explicitly precludes the US from imposing punishments on Iran over the “hostage crisis.”

Henceforth, the US is likely to lose the legal battle with Iran at the UN, which in turn raises the question of what happens if the US ignores the adverse opinion of the arbitration panel. This case has striking similarities with the (PLO Chairman) Yasser Arafat visa affair, when the US showed callous disrespect for the bounds of its UN host agreement in 1988, which completely backfired and led to the General Assembly’s decision to hold its next annual gathering at the UN headquarter in Geneva.

If the US loses the legal bout, as it logically should given the above-stated reasons, then Iran has the option of seeking a similar move by the General Assembly.

For now, however, Tehran is keen on resolving this matter amicably through in-house negotiation at the UN, and hopefully reason will prevail and Mr. Aboutalebi will be able to assume his position in the near future, irrespective of how certain groups and individuals in the host country feel about it.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on The Coming US-Iran legal battle at the UN

As the Light Unto the Nations


By Gilad Atzmon | November 21, 2009

‘Israel is the light unto the nations’ says the Torah. Indeed it is, and not just because the Torah says so. Israel is ahead of everyone else in many fronts. Take for instance, terrorizing civilian populations and practicing some of the most devastating murderous tactics upon elders, women and young.

The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, visited Israel earlier this week to study “IDF tactics and methods that the military alliance can utilise for its war in Afghanistan.” A senior Israeli defence official added “The one thing on NATO’s mind today is how to win in Afghanistan… Di Paola was very impressed by the IDF, which is a major source of information due to our operational experience.”

I would advise both the Israeli official and Admiral Di Paola to slightly curb their enthusiasm. The IDF didn’t win a single war since 1967. Yes, it murdered many civilians, it flattened many cities, it starved millions, it has been committing war crimes on a daily basis for decades and yet, it didn’t win a war. Thus, the IDF cannot really teach NATO how to win in Afghanistan. If NATO generals are stupid enough to follow IDF tactics, like the Israeli generals, they will start to see the charges of war crimes pile up against them. They may even be lucky enough to share their cells with some Israelis in due course, once justice is performed.

Admiral Di Paola spent two days with the infamous IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the man who led the IDF into Gaza last December.

In the Jewish state they were very enthusiastic with Admiral Di Paola’s visit. They regarded it as just another reassurance of ‘business as usual. The visit of a NATO high supreme official was there to convince them that no one takes note of the Goldstone report. “Di Paola’s visit is significant” says the Jerusalem Post, “since it comes at a time when the IDF is under increasing criticism in the wake of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead as well as a decision by Turkey – a NATO member – to ban Israel from joint aerial exercises.”

However, it would be crucial to elaborate on the emerging mutual interests between the two parties, Israel and NATO. “During their meeting on Wednesday, Ashkenazi and Di Paola discussed ways to upgrade Israeli-NATO military ties as well as the plan to include an Israeli Navy vessel in Active Endeavor, a NATO mission established after the 9/11 attacks under which NATO vessels patrol the Mediterranean to prevent illegal terror trafficking”. This is indeed a necessary move for the Israelis. At the moment the Israeli Navy is operating in the Mediterranean as a bunch of Yiddish Pirates (Yidisshe Piraten), assaulting, hijacking and robbing vessels in international waters. Once operating under the NATO flag, the Israelis would be able to terrorise every vessel in the high seas in the name of the ‘West’. For the Jewish state this would be a major step forward. Until now the Israelis have been committing atrocities in the name of the Jewish people. Once operating under the NATO flag, the Israelis will be able to perform their piracy in the name of ‘Europe’. Such a move is further evidence of the spiritual and ideological transition within Zionism from ‘promised land’ into ‘promised planet’.

While the Israelis desperately need NATO’s legitimacy, NATO is far more modest. All it needs is knowledge and tactics. For some reason it insists on learning from the Israelis how to inflict pain on a civilian population. More pain, that is, than it is already making. “NATO’s Defence officials said that Di Paola used his meetings with the IDF to learn about new technology that can be applied to the war in Afghanistan”. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is a “known world leader in the development of specialized armor to protect against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), otherwise known as roadside bombs.” This is indeed the case. Israeli generals realised a long time ago that their precious young soldiers prefer to hide in their tanks rather than engage with the ‘enemy’ i.e. the civilian population, kids, elders and women. But it doesn’t stop there, Di Paola was also interested in “Israeli intelligence-gathering capabilities and methods that the IDF uses when operating in civilian population centers.” Di Paola noted that “NATO and the IDF were facing similar threats – NATO in Afghanistan and Israel in its war against Hamas and Hizbullah.”

I would suggest to Admiral Di Paola to immediately read the Goldstone report thoroughly, so he grasps his own personal legal consequences once he starts to implement ‘Israeli tactics’. If Admiral Di Paola wants to serve his army, he should indeed visit Israel, he should also meet every war criminal both in the military and politics so he knows exactly what NOT to do.

NATO’s chances of winning in Afghanistan are not limited, they are actually exhausted. It can only lose. Some military analysts and veteran generals argue that it is lost already. NATO has brought enough carnage on the Afghani people without achieving any of its military or political goals. Given that Israel was severely humiliated in Lebanon in 2006 by a tiny paramilitary Hizbullah and failed to achieve its military goals in Operation Cast Lead in its genocidal war against Hamas, there is nothing for NATO to learn from the Israelis. Should NATO proceed in implementing added IDF tactics, all it will achieve is a dramatic reduction of security across Europe and America.

If we are concerned with peace and we want it to prevail, what we have to do is to move away as far as we can from any spiritual, ideological, political and military affiliation with Zionism, Israel and its lobbies. If ‘Israel’ is indeed a ‘light onto the nations’, someone better explain to us all, why its prospect of peace is becoming slimmer and darker.

My answer is actually simple. Israel can be easily seen as the ‘light of nations’ as long as you learn from Israel what not to do. In fact this is the message passed to us by the great humanist prophets Jesus and Marx. Love your neighbour, be among others, transcend yourself beyond the tribal into the realm of the universal. In fact this is exactly what the Israelis fail to grasp. For some reason, they love themselves almost as much as they hate their neighbours.

If Admiral Di Paola wants to win the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people (rather than ‘winning a war’), he should first learn to love. This is something he won’t learn in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Gaza, Ramallha and Nablus are more likely.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

By John LaForge | CounterPunch | April 18, 2014

The corporate media is focused on the question of how or if Iran could ever break out of its promise under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eschew nuclear weapons and use reactors only for civilian purposes. So many headlines refer to sanctions imposed against Iran that millions of people mistakenly think Iran has a nuclear arsenal. It doesn’t.

Meanwhile the Congress in January fully funded production of a new B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, a program dubbed “Life Extension.” This year’s $537 million is the down payment on the new version of the B61 that the millionaires in DC agreed should get $11 billion over the next few years.

Dubbed the “solid gold nuke” by critics, the 700 pound H-bomb is running $28 million apiece at the moment. That much gold bullion is only worth $16 million.

The program to replace today’s B61s with a new “mod12,” is being condemned by our allies in NATO, by Congressional budget hawks and of course by the entire arms control community. Even former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright has said the bombs are “practically nil” in military value. (Gen. Cartwright only is partly right: Since it seems the Department of Defense is in the business of producing suicides by the thousands, among veterans and active duty soldiers, the suicidal mission of deploying B61s across Europe — for detonation there — seems a perfect fit.)

“This decision represents the triumph of entrenched nuclear interests over good government. The B-61 is no longer relevant for U.S. national security, but continues to rob billions of dollars from programs that would make America safer,” President Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund told Hans M. Kristensen for the Federation of American Scientists.

Kristensen reported March 12 that the Pentagon has decided that the new B61 will begin its deployment in Europe next year.

This 300-to-500 kiloton “variable yield” thermonuclear device has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the US bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945. Still, this machine’s threat of meaningless, genocidal, radioactive violence is called “tactical.”

Rush to Deploy New H-bomb Before it’s Killed by Public Opposition

The Air Force budget makes it appear that the older B61s will all be replaced — in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany — by 2020. This rush job is being hustled through the military-industrial-complex in a very big hurry because the broad international condemnation of the program is gaining depth and breadth.

Even the rightwing Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., along with Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep Jared Polis, D-Colo., tried to curtail the program last year. Five NATO partners — Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway — asked four years ago that all B61s be removed permanently from Europe. In Germany, every major political party has formally resolved to pursue final withdrawal of the 20 remaining B61s at Buchel AFB.

Major US allies in Europe informed Gen. Cartwright’s critical opinion. High-level European politicians have been saying the B61s are “militarily useless” since the end of the Cold War. In a widely published op/ed in 2010, former NATO secretary-general Willy Claes and three senior Belgian politicians said, “The US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe have lost all military importance.”

Still, Kristensen reports, “integration” of the new B61 is supposed to take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16 jets and on German and Italian Tornado fighter-bombers soon.

Another reason for the rush to deploy this perfect candidate for dumb bomb retirement is that Germany is considering replacing its Tornado jets in short order. All the expense of refitting its current Tornadoes to carry the “more accurate” and “more usable” B61-mod 12 would be wasted. New B61 production could also be made expensively moot by progress in arms control.

The “nuclear sharing” arrangement with the five technically non-nuclear NATO partners glaringly contradicts, in Kristensen’s words, “the non-proliferation standards that member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.” In its 2012 posture review, even NATO’s ministers pledged to work for a world without nuclear weapons.

So as the White House and its Secretary of State wag fingers at Iran, we and our NATO friends openly violate the binding promise made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”

Maybe Iran can arrange for some sanctions to be imposed on us.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch, edits its Quarterly, and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Putin calls on EU for joint aid to Ukraine


BRICS Post | April 19, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called on all European states concerned to join efforts to keep the Ukrainian economy afloat.

“We do not want to undermine the Ukrainian economy or to call the reliability of [gas] transits to Europe into question. That’s why we call on all European states, all countries interested in supporting the Ukrainian economy to join the process of helping Ukraine and to flesh out measures to finance the budget,” said Putin.

The Russian President said on Saturday he currently saw no obstacles to bringing relations between Moscow and the West back to normal.

The Russian president, who appeared on the Vesti v Subbotu (Vesti on Saturday) TV show, was asked by its host Sergey Brilev about whether the relations between Russia and the West, which sank to record lows amid the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine, can improve by the end of the year.

“It depends on our partners,” Putin replied.

“I think that currently there is nothing to prevent us from normalizing [the relations] and [returning to] normal cooperation,” he continued.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has earlier condemned as “hypocrisy” attempts by the West to justify violent acts during pro-European rallies in Ukraine earlier this year, at the same time accusing pro-federalization protesters in the east of terrorism.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Comments Off on Putin calls on EU for joint aid to Ukraine

Iran slams US court ruling to expropriate NY tower

Press TV – April 19, 2014

Tehran has slammed as illegal a US court ruling to confiscate the assets of Alavi Foundation in Manhattan, saying the move runs counter to the principle of religious freedom for American citizens.

“The recent ruling regarding the forfeiture of the assets belonging to the foundation is, to all appearances, in contradiction to realities, void of legal validity and even in breach of US commitments to guarantee religious freedom for its citizens,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in a Friday statement.

“Contrary to the prosecutors’ baseless allegations and the court’s politically-motivated ruling which was a propaganda fuss, the Alavi Foundation is an independent charity institution in the US which has no links with Iran,” she added.

Afkham noted that Iran has been a victim of terrorism itself, dismissing as ridiculous the US court’s claim that Tehran was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

She argued that the US court verdict brings the credibility of the US judicial system into question.

On Thursday, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said that federal judge Katherine Forrest approved a deal between the US government and 19 anti-Iran plaintiffs to sell Alavi Foundation’s 36-story Manhattan skyscraper on Fifth Avenue and other properties owned by Iran, following a 2008 lawsuit by the government against the building’s owners.

Under the deal, the US Marshals Service will sell the 36-story building and other so-called Iran-linked property in California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and the Queens borough of New York. US authorities will also receive the contents of bank accounts of the entities which allegedly served as Iran fronts in the past.

The US government will receive reimbursement for litigation expenses and any costs of the sales and the remainder will be distributed among what the court has called terror-attack victims, including those of the 9/11 attacks and their survivors.

In September 2013, the judge had ruled in favor of the government’s suit, claiming the building’s owners had violated Iran sanctions and money laundering laws.

Prosecutors allege the building’s owners, the Alavi Foundation — a non-profit organization promoting the Islamic culture and Persian language — and Assa Corporation, transferred rental income and other funds to Iran.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Comments Off on Iran slams US court ruling to expropriate NY tower