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Zarif defends Iran’s voting rights as Guterres set to get reelected as UN chief

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Press TV – June 9, 2021

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier this month, criticizing the United Nations’ decision to deprive Iran of its voting rights.

As the UN Security Council backed Guterres for a second term on Tuesday, it is worthwhile to read highlights of Zarif’s letter to the UN chief, in which the Iranian foreign minister slammed the UN decision as “fundamentally flawed, entirely unacceptable and completely unjustified.”

“Iran’s inability to fulfill its financial obligation toward the United Nations is directly caused by ‘unlawful unilateral sanctions’ imposed by the United States to punish those who comply with a Security Council resolution,” Zarif wrote.

He was making a reference to the sanctions that the US slapped on Iran after former president Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the historic pact.

The sanctions have blocked Iran’s access to global financial systems, and its money in foreign banks, including in South Korean, Japanese and Iraqi banks.

Zarif said the world is well aware that the people of Iran have been under unprecedented economic warfare and terrorism since the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, also called the JCPOA, in material breach of preemptory norms of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and Resolution 2231.

“It is astonishingly absurd that Iranian people, who have been forcibly blocked from transferring their own money and resources to buy food and medicine – let alone pay UN contributions arrears – by a permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council, are now being punished for not being allowed to pay budget arrears by the secretariat of the same organization, which has unjustifiably chosen for the past 3 years to remain indifferent in the face of attempted mass starvation – a crime against humanity – by the United States,” he noted.

The letter came after the UN said it had suspended the voting rights of Iran and four other countries over dues under Article 19 of the UN Charter, which states that any member owing the previous two years of assessments may not vote in the General Assembly.

However, Zarif pointed out that the UN Charter gives the General Assembly the authority to decide “that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member,” and in that case a country can continue to vote.

“By what definition are Iran’s arrears not ‘due to conditions beyond control’?” the chief Iranian diplomat asked.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully committed to fulfilling its financial obligations to the United Nations and will continue to make every effort to settle the arrears in the payment of its financial contribution to the UN and other international organizations as soon as the underlying imposed conditions, i.e. the US unlawful unilateral coercive measures, is removed,” Zarif added.

The UN decision came while Iran and the other parties to the JCPOA are engaged in multilateral talks to bring the US back into compliance with the deal and remove the anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for the reversal of Iran’s nuclear activities that go beyond the JCPOA limits.

The talks, which began in early April, have not led to a tangible outcome yet.

Zarif said on Monday that it remains unclear whether US President Joe Biden and State Secretary Antony Blinken are ready to bury the failed “maximum pressure” policy of Trump and his State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

“Iran is in compliance with the #JCPOA. Just read paragraph 36,” Zarif wrote in a tweet. “Time to change course.”

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Iran to leave Vienna by end of month if Biden doesn’t lift all sanctions

By Elijah J Magnier | Press TV | May 4, 2021

Iranian and Western delegations returned to their capitals after the third Vienna round, with optimism emanating from the statements of the gathered officials. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi issued positive information about the US lifting sanctions on energy, economic sectors, shipping, freedom of transportation, banks, and on many Iranian personalities. The negotiations have reached a stage where the elaboration of complex texts is on the table. Also, there were talks about the US releasing more than 90 billion dollars withheld from Iranian funds and another 20 billion frozen in Iraq, South Korea and China from oil revenues. No details have been discussed so far about the interest on these funds held for many years due to US sanctions.

There was also talk of the possibility of exchanging Iranian prisoners held in America, who number 18, including 7 in critical health condition, and others of Iranian–Western double nationality holders (American and British) detained in Iran on charges of espionage. This is an old Iranian demand that Iran insists on ending everything in one single exchange.

However, after lifting sanctions against individuals and accepting all demands, the biggest problem lies in Iran’s request to ensure that the lifting of sanctions will be applied in a specific time frame. According to a particular pre-agreed timetable, Iran wants to ensure that all frozen funds will return to the Central Bank. Countries around the world will be allowed to deal with Iran in all sectors without intimidation.

Iran has never requested the return of diplomatic relations with the US, but rather the lifting of the sanctions that were imposed on it since 2015 and that President Barack Obama agreed to cancel. Moreover, Iran wants to lift all additional sanctions added by Donald Trump when the nuclear deal was torn apart in 2018.

Negotiations have reached a reasonable level, although Iran still refuses to communicate with the US directly because the US is no longer a partner in the JCPOA and that talks could blow up any time. The US flag was removed from the negotiating room at the request of Iran. The Iranian delegation stressed the need for the US delegates not to be present at the same hotel where the negotiations are taking place until the White House announces the end of all sanctions. This is when the US will become a JCPOA partner again.

An Iranian decision-maker in Iran said that “the Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution, [Ayatollah] Seyyed Ali Khamenei, will not give an unlimited time-space to negotiate in Vienna. This is the last month before the announcement of the clinical death of the JCPOA agreement if all Iranian conditions are not met.” The source asserts that “Iran will not accept the American evasiveness that called for easing the sanctions by lifting those related to the nuclear file and placing other sanctions related to Iran’s missile capability, the Revolutionary Guards (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) and other sectors until a future negotiation to be established later. Either all sanctions are lifted, or no deal is reached because mid-solutions are not accepted.”

Many indications lead to the US intention to conclude the deal with Iran and honor its previous commitment signed in 2015. Israel is prepared for this move following Mossad director Yossi Cohen, National security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and other military and security high-ranking officers meeting with US officials. The Israelis failed to persuade the US to abandon the agreement with Iran.

The Biden administration considers the nuclear deal necessary to protect Israel by preventing Iran from reaching enrichment uranium to 90-percent purity level, which makes possessing an atomic bomb easy. Israel wishes to keep the harsh sanctions on Iran and strike its nuclear reactor.

Iran possesses the ballistic and precision missiles that enable it to strike back with a decisive blow to the US bases deployed in the Middle East in case of war. Furthermore, Iran can count on the strength of its allies deployed in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who can join the battlefield if needed. Therefore, waging war on Iran is not feasibly possible. That leaves the US with slim options: the best could be to honor its deal, lift the sanctions and make sure that Iran does not obtain military nuclear grade capability. This is Biden’s logic and approach to assure the security of Israel and the interests of the US. Iran has shown that it imposes its conditions on the US and treats it as an equal from strength because it has strong cards to play.

However, Israel cannot go to war with Iran alone and wants to drag in the US. Iran has shown that its strategic patience has been replaced by strategic deterrence. Multiple strikes manifested that, and missile messages exchanged in the Strait of Hormuz and the Red Sea. There were powerful indications that Iran will not be silent on any Israeli transgression. Furthermore, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented himself as an alternative power to the US in the Middle East and became a superpower, a missile landed close to the Dimona nuclear reactor. Therefore, there is no doubt that Israel can harass Iran in Syria by cyber warfare and assassinations. It is also accurate to say that Iran has the power to direct similar annoyance to Israel.

It is a crucial month to indicate in which direction the ship of negotiations between Iran and America will sail. It is in the interest of both parties to reach an agreement, but all indications indicate that Iran will not budge from its place and will hold its ground firmly before accepting the US back as a partner in the nuclear agreement. The ball is in Biden’s court now, and time is not on his side.

Elijah J Magnier is a veteran war correspondent and a Senior Political Risk Analyst with decades of experience covering the West Asian region.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Continuing the Story of the Hijacked Tanker and Frozen Funds

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 04.05.2021

In early 2021, we wrote about the Iranian seizure of a South Korean tanker and how this precedent actually demonstrates a number of unresolved problems, most notably the problem of Iranian assets in South Korean banks intended to pay for Iranian crude oil imports and frozen because of US sanctions.

Recall:  Iran has repeatedly urged Seoul to address the $7 billion frozen in two South Korean banks as part of US sanctions after the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and tightened sanctions against the Islamic Republic. On January 4, 2021, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the South Korean-flagged tanker MT Hankuk Chemi under the pretext of environmental pollution.

On January 10, 2021, a government delegation led by First Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-gon arrived in Tehran. However, the parties were unable to reach any agreements. In fact, Choi called for the release of the tanker and demanded evidence of oil pollution in the waters of the Persian Gulf, which formally caused the tanker to be seized. In response, his interlocutor Abbas Araghchi said that the tanker was in the hands of an Iranian court, and that the development of bilateral relations can make sense only when the issue of frozen funds is resolved.

Araghchi openly stated that “the freezing of Iran’s foreign currency resources in Korea is more due to a lack of political will on the part of the Korean government than to US sanctions,” and called on Choi to work out a mechanism to resolve the issue. However, the Iranian side noted that the crew members were safe and in good shape.

Choi’s talks with Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdel Nasser Hemmati and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also proved fruitless. The minister reiterated the thesis that the executive branch does not interfere in matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the judiciary; and the bank recalled that the South Korean government had promised to resolve the issue a year and a half ago, but had done nothing.

Kamal Kharrazi, head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, was even more blunt: “The two countries had good relations, but now, unfortunately, because the Korean government yielded to US pressure, Iranian assets worth $7 billion have been frozen in Korean banks, and it cannot even withdraw money to buy medicine“.

On January 12, during a briefing, Saeed Khatibzadeh of the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the measures taken by the ROK to solve the problem: the solution is delayed and Tehran is not satisfied. The Iranian side has indicated its position that the problem of frozen funds should be solved first, and the issue of the arrested tanker will be resolved in accordance with legal procedures.

As a result of Choi’s visit, the parties agreed on nothing but further negotiations, and Choi went to Qatar, where he appealed for assistance in freeing the South Korean tanker and its crew.

In mid-January it emerged that in order to “create a positive mood before negotiations with Iran,” South Korea withdrew its anti-piracy naval unit Cheonghae from the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian Ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabestari allegedly once expressed displeasure to Seoul over the presence of South Korean troops in the Straits because they were actually part of an international contingent assembled by the United States to contain Iran, even though formally the unit is meant to fight regional piracy. It is a typical trick of South Korean foreign policy when US orders are de facto carried out, but de jure these actions are anything but the direct order. However, the Foreign Ministry of the ROK refused to confirm this movement of troops.

At the same time, there was a rumor that the Iranian party offered to use part of the frozen funds to pay off its outstanding UN membership dues. Although the amount is only $16,200,000, experts decided that the only the first step would be particularly difficult, and on January 19, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, in an interview with Bloomberg agency again noted that this is not the first time the authorities of the Republic of Korea promise to do everything possible, but in fact they continue to follow the US policy and rules.

The Korean party, on the other hand, has made certain hints that a change of power in the US could unblock the problem.

On January 21, Hemmati reported that some of the funds belonging to Iran, which are in foreign banks, have been unfrozen and are being used by the government.

On February 2, 2021, Iran agreed to release the entire crew of the hijacked tanker except for the captain. Seoul welcomed this decision, and “the parties agreed to continue mutual communication”. By this time everyone finally remembered that at the time of the seizure the ship was carrying not petroleum products, but ethyl alcohol, so it is unclear how the fact of pollution that became the reason for the arrest of the ship occurred at that time.

The next day, the ROK media reported that South Korea was finalizing negotiations with the US to use some of the frozen money to pay Iran’s outstanding US dues. Otherwise, South Korean experts believed that the decision was still related to the change of power in the US, because, first, Biden was going to deal with the restoration of alliances in general, and second, the Iranian issue, according to Southerners, will be solved differently than under Trump. Iran has been called upon to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in order to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement.

In addition, it was reported that South Korea increased the export of medicine to Iran for two months, which also contributed to the release of detainees.

On February 11, the first Korean sailor returned home, but some of the crew remained on the ship to provide management.

On February 23, in a statement issued by South Korean Foreign Ministry in response to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s statement on reaching an agreement with the South, it was stated that Iranian assets could be unblocked after consultations with the United States. According to a report posted on the Iranian government’s website, the agreement was reached during the February 22 meeting between Hemmati, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Yoo Jong-hyun, the ROK ambassador to Iran. The parties agreed on directions for the transfer of money, and the Central Bank of Iran has informed Seoul of the amount it wants to receive.  Then, according to Bloomberg, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference that South Korea would release $1 billion in frozen money as a first step toward resolving the issue, without giving further details on how it would be used.

However, on the same day, Feb. 23, State Department spokesman Ned Price noted that the US and the ROK could discuss the supposed release of Iranian funds, but the money had not yet been transferred. The ROK Foreign Ministry also stressed that American pressure was needed to unfreeze Iranian assets. Thus, Tehran’s claim of an agreement has been refuted.

On February 24, the foreign ministers of the ROK and Islamic Republic of Iran discussed the situation, and Jong Eui-young said that South Korea “is making sincere efforts to release frozen assets,” but recalled that the issue must be resolved in close cooperation with the United States. In response, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran said that South Korea must pay Iran $1 billion, otherwise Tehran will initiate proceedings in international courts.

On February 25, a US Treasury Department official said that Washington agreed in principle to a partial transfer of Iranian assets to Switzerland, from where they can be sent to Iran under the so-called Swiss Agreement on Humanitarian Trade, the essence of which is that Swiss food, pharmaceutical and medical companies must have a reliable channel of payment to ensure payment for their exports to Iran. Actually, the aforementioned billion was going to be transferred to the purchase of drugs against coronavirus

The conservative media in the ROK accused Iran of diplomatic impoliteness and wishful thinking. However, the commonplace conclusion was that it was all Moon’s fault for failing everything: the government is only engaged in improving relations with the DPRK and cannot conduct skillful diplomacy with other countries.

On March 2, Ned Price said that the US would be willing to discuss with Iran the unblocking of its money in the ROK “to achieve the main goal of Iran’s denuclearization.” He was silent about where, when, and how this issue would be discussed.

On March 10, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took an even tougher stance: until Iran meets its obligations under the nuclear deal, the US will not ease any sanctions, including the release of Iranian funds in South Korean banks. When asked whether it was true that some of the funds could be transferred, however, Blinken replied that “the report you referred to is simply wrong“. Korean conservative media and experts immediately noted that “Secretary Blinken’s principled approach to frozen Iranian funds is good news for Korean national interests. This allows Seoul to resist extortion, even while making every reasonable effort to cooperate with Tehran. It also sends a signal to North Korea that international sanctions will be strictly enforced, but may be eased if denuclearization agreements are respected.”

On March 16, the ROK and Iran held a video conference that formally focused on expanding bilateral humanitarian trade, and on March 17, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Hong Nam-gi spoke by phone with new US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, where the parties agreed to cooperate closely, including on the Iranian issue.

On April 2, 2021, a diplomatic source reported that the tanker would soon be released, and on April 5, Said Khatibzadeh of the Iranian Foreign Ministry added that the case was ending and the court decision would most likely be in favor of the South Korean side.

According to experts, this was related both to the upcoming visit to Iran of Prime Minister Jong Se-kyung and to the fact that 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Kazakhstan were delivered to Iran.

On the morning of April 9, Iran released the tanker and it left the port. On board were the captain and 12 crew members who had been released earlier but remained on the ship for maintenance purposes.

On April 11, Jeong Se-kyung left for Iran on a three-day visit. This visit was the first trip of a South Korean prime minister to Iran in 44 years, but it should be remembered that by this time it was already known that at the end of the visit Chong was resigning due to a set of domestic political problems. Therefore, despite the high status of the visit, its real significance was somewhat less than expected, and the visit did not end with anything serious. The sides agreed to expand humanitarian exchanges, including medical cooperation, and to create a special consultative body responsible for preparing economic cooperation projects after the possible resumption of the nuclear deal. The Iranian side again urged Seoul to unblock the money as soon as possible, which was responded to with further assurances that everything possible was being done and a call to prevent Iran from detaining foreign vessels in the future: “The freedom of navigation must be guaranteed.”

In general, during his stay in Iran, Jeong Se-kyung himself was particularly active trying to please Iran and even talked about the importance and profound spiritual significance of Ramadan. It turns out that he has said before that “this money is Iranian money and should be returned to the rightful owner. We have to find a way to return it quickly.” However, the author’s attempt to search for statements by the South Korean prime minister on this topic was unsuccessful. Jeong met with a number of dignitaries, including the speaker of parliament, but was unable to meet with President Rouhani “for various reasons, including the situation with Covid-19.”

And Iran’s First Vice President Jahangiri openly said, “We call on the Korean government to release Iran’s financial resources as soon as possible and solve the problems of recent years through practical compensatory measures.” The vice president regretted that the $1 billion transfer to Swiss banks for the purchase of a coronavirus vaccine did not materialize despite promises by Korean officials: the Korean banks’ actions severely damaged bilateral relations, as it deprived Iran of major foreign exchange resources to purchase medicines and medical equipment in a pandemic. As a result, the image of the ROK has been seriously damaged. There is hope that the situation will improve after Jeong Se-kyung’s visit.

Nevertheless, on April 12, a US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, repeated in an interview with the Ryonhap news agency that the US position on sanctions against Iran remains unchanged. Until Iran goes back on the JCPOA, it won’t get its money back.

Thus, on the one hand, the story of the tanker hijack ended well enough, and the notion that the action had not an environmental but a political purpose was safely confirmed. On the other, Iran’s attempt to push for the return of the blocked funds in this way did not end with anything. Iran received some vaccines and other medical resources, but it was more of a handout than a victory. Finally, this situation shows well the level of independence of South Korean foreign policy on certain issues. Despite the fact that the South Korean leadership did not seem to mind solving the problem, at the first shout from the US in Seoul they stood at attention, not even trying to show displeasure about it. For the author, this is a rather important story that explains both why some countries periodically claim a “lack of sovereignty” in South Korea and the difference in South Korean foreign policy between the populist statements of Moon Jae-in and Co. and Seoul’s actual actions.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, is a leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US agency in charge of nukes approves plutonium project as Washington urges Iran to curtail its own nuclear program

RT | April 29, 2021

The US has approved a multibillion-dollar project to beef up its plutonium production at the same time Washington is calling on Iran to return to an international agreement designed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear bombs.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the federal agency responsible for nuclear research and weapons manufacturing in the US, has approved the first design phase for the new project.

At least 30 plutonium pits per year will be built to “meet national security needs,” the NNSA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, will cost an estimated $2.7–$3.9 billion and could be finished between 2027 and 2028, the agency said.

Plutonium pits are bowling-ball-sized plutonium shells, and a crucial component in nuclear warheads.

The move to expand plutonium production is a bid by US President Joe Biden’s administration to make up for the country’s near-three-decade shortfall in the quantity of material the NNSA says is required for America’s nuclear arsenal.

At the same time as it hatches plans to bolster America’s own stockpile, the Biden administration has repeatedly called on Iran to restrict its nuclear program and return to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Indirect US-Iranian talks to revive the accord – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – have been taking place in Vienna over the last three weeks.

Under the deal, Iran originally agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.But in 2018 Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement and reverted to imposing crippling sanctions on Iran.

Tehran then began breaching its commitments under the deal.

Biden has said he wants the US to re-join the JCPOA – but first wants Iran to make concessions by cutting back on the amount, and purity, of uranium it produces and stores.

Tehran has said it will not alter its approach until Washington lifts sanctions.

On Thursday Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is one of the mediators at the negotiations, briefed the US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley on the talks.

“We had a detailed and very useful discussion on major topics which are under consideration in the course of on-going talks in Vienna on full restoration of the #JCPOA,” Ulyanov said in a statement on Twitter.

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

The Iranian Nuclear Program and the Current International Agenda

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 22.04.2021

Iran began enriching 60 percent uranium at its plant in Natanz a few days after the explosion that occurred at the facility – something for which Tehran legitimately laid the blame on Israel. “Our response to the anger of our enemies,” stressed President Hassan Rouhani, “is to replace the damaged centrifuges with more advanced ones, thereby activating 1,000 cutting-edge centrifuges, and there will be an increase in the level of enrichment of up to 60% at the Natanz Nuclear Power Plant”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency stated that it had been informed of the decision by the Iranian authorities. For its part, Washington pedantically called Iran’s statement “provocative”, and said that the US administration was allegedly concerned, adding that this casts doubt on Tehran’s seriousness in its negotiations on the nuclear program.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that he wants to return to the deal, but Iran apparently “must terminate its violations”. This caused the European Union to call for negotiations to hopefully accomplish precisely this. Although the American delegation has a presence in Vienna, it does not meet directly with the Iranian one, but rather with diplomats from other countries that shuttle between them. Entering the negotiations – which have just begun – Iran said that it is ready to return to fully complying with the agreement, but that the United States will first have to repeal all the sanctions that it imposed under Donald Trump. However, this is fairly difficult, since the previous administration added sanctions on Iran that went beyond the boundaries of those related to its nuclear program, including those imposed due to accusations of terrorism, human rights violations, and the country’s ballistic missile program.

But there still are glimmers of hope. According to Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, an Iranian scholar at the Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, the negotiations quickly passed by the “Who makes the first move?” debate, and began to address specific issues. “It’s a very good development that these work groups exist that really do talk about and examine the nitty-gritty,” she told the Associated Press. For Iran to return to the deal, among other things it must return to enriching uranium to no more than a 3.67% level of purity, stop using advanced centrifuges, and drastically reduce the quantity of its enriched uranium. Despite the challenges, Tabrizi said that “the challenge ahead is not as difficult as the one the group faced in 2015, since there is already a deal in place”.

Although negotiations have just begun, the question has arisen as to how long they will last. There is no specific time frame. The diplomats involved in the talks say these issues cannot be resolved overnight, but several reasons exist why they hope that they will be resolved in a matter of weeks, not months. The initial deal was agreed upon after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, widely known as a moderate politician, first took office. Rouhani is unable to run again in the upcoming June elections due to term limit restrictions, and he hopes to be able to step down during a time when Iran can again sell oil abroad and gain access to international financial markets.

Meanwhile, the US could face much more difficult negotiations if it doesn’t strike a deal before Rouhani leaves. Hardliners in Iran reject the nuclear deal, saying it hasn’t brought enough economic assistance, and is a slippery slope leading to increasing pressure on the country. This does not necessarily mean they will stop the negotiations if they are elected, although that will complicate matters, said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Chatham House Policy Institute’s Middle East North Africa Program.

There is another reason to take action quickly: In February, Iran began curtailing International Atomic Energy Agency inspections at its nuclear facilities. Instead, it was announced that surveillance footage of the facilities would be retained for three months, and then transferred over to the IAEA if the Iranians gain some relief from the sanctions. Otherwise, Iranian scientists will erase all records and, quite possibly, the IAEA will face new obstacles to visiting Iran and monitoring its nuclear program.

Although it must be acknowledged that there are many other difficulties and obstacles. The Natanz nuclear facility has just been targeted with subversive activity, which the Iranian authorities have called sabotage. Many with good reason suspect that the attack was carried out by Israel, which opposes the nuclear deal, although the Israeli authorities are somehow trying to avoid the question of commenting on that. The lion’s share of Iran’s work at the Natanz plant has gone to waste, with many Israeli media reporting gloatingly. According to their assessments, the Iranian regime is now being dealt one blow after another, which indicates its inability to protect even its important nuclear facilities, but it will definitely seek to exact revenge when it can. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Segall, a strategic affairs expert specializing in Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East who is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, noted that talks between the United States and Iran on bringing the Islamic Republic back to a nuclear deal “triggered many recent events, and the latest actions taken by Israel”. This is not the first time that the centrifuges in Natanz have suffered some kind of destruction. “I’m not sure how many of the cascades that keep the uranium enrichment centrifuges in place have been destroyed, and it’s unclear what happened, but when a cascade breaks down that spells years of work going down the drain,” Segall said.

Prior to that, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran had begun testing new IR-9 centrifuges, which enrich uranium 50 times faster than first-generation IR-1 centrifuges. That same day, Iran reported that 164 IR-6 centrifuges were started up at Natanz that enrich uranium 10 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges. Incidentally, the 2015 nuclear deal restricts Iran to using only IR-1 centrifuges. After that, Natanz suffered a mysterious power outage that followed reports of an explosion. The well-informed (from what source?!) New York Times newspaper immediately reported that the incident would halt production at the plant for at least nine months. The IR-9 centrifuges have really cut down on the time frames needed for enrichment, and this decreases what used to take days down to a few hours. A power outage without backup power could lead to serious damage if the cascades are thrown out of position, said Israeli specialist Segall.

Iran strongly believes that Israel clearly hopes to disrupt negotiations by using sabotage. Rouhani stated he still hopes the talks will work, but the latest attack has made matters more complex. First, Iran responded by announcing that it would increase its uranium enrichment activities to reach a 60% purity level – one much higher than ever before, and install more advanced centrifuges at the Natanz plant. And following how these events unfolded, both sides ratcheted up their rhetoric and propaganda. In particular, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in the country, rejected all proposals that have been considered so far in Vienna as “not worthy of attention”. At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Washington has demonstrated its commitment by participating in indirect talks in Vienna, but with Tehran’s recent statements “it remains to be seen whether Iran shares the seriousness of this objective”. The US is very serious about its “provocative” announcement on intending to start enriching uranium up to 60 percent, Blinken said at a press conference held at NATO headquarters in Brussels, referring to Iran. European countries participating in the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – and unquestioningly fulfilling the will of their overlord – also told Tehran that this step allegedly contradicts their efforts to revive the agreement, one from which, it is worth reiterating, the United States withdrew.

Meanwhile, at the nuclear talks in Vienna, as evidenced by the facts, Washington has so far demonstrated a rather decisive, uncompromising, and crass position. The American delegation was headed by the US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley – a man, as American media outlets note, who is little inclined toward negotiations or flexibility in his thinking. But Iran, for its part, “very strongly” insists that all sanctions be lifted before it reverses its moves in the nuclear power industry. Incidentally, there is a well-organized division of labor in the Iranian government, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reflecting the firm position taken by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Hassan Rouhani sometimes adopting a more optimistic tone about the possible outcome of the negotiations.

It is quite apparent that the Iranians’ idea is that all sanctions should be lifted, even those related to non-nuclear issues like accusations of supporting terrorism. Verification is very important from the Iranian perspective – first of all, Iran wants to make sure that the sanctions are lifted, and only then will it reverse its latest measures, including in installing the advanced IR-9 centrifuges. It should not be forgotten that Iran is supposed to stop sharing video footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA in six weeks, a move that followed Tehran terminating its live video feeds as part of its ever-escalating series of moves in the nuclear power industry to exert pressure on the negotiations. But the reality is that everything will basically depend only on the reasonable measures taken by the Joe Biden administration – if any of those will originate from the White House.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Vienna talks reveal Biden team’s attachment to sanctions that would torpedo Iran deal

BY GARETH PORTER · THE GRAYZONE · APRIL 18, 2021

Biden’s foreign policy team refuses to relieve Iran from sanctions illegally imposed by the Trump administration, setting the stage for the collapse of negotiations and a major crisis.

The Biden administration signaled once again at the April 9 Vienna meeting on the Iran nuclear deal that it intends to maintain Trump-era Iran sanctions in an effort to win political and military concessions going well beyond the original deal itself. Team Biden continued to insist during the conference that Iran return to full compliance with the nuclear agreement without any reciprocal US commitment to remove the sanctions President Donald Trump imposed after abandoning the agreement in 2018.

The Biden administration’s stance on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has already provoked a forceful response from Iran. Rather than enriching uranium at the 20 percent level that was used before Washington began making its new demands, Tehran has begun enriching to 60 percent purity.

In a video press conference with journalists after the first round of the “Joint Commission” of the JCPOA in Vienna, an unnamed “senior official” implied that the Biden administration intends to maintain sanctions on Iran, framing them as necessary political leverage. The unnamed US official also griped about “repeated statements by Iranians that all sanctions imposed since 2017 have to be lifted.”

Asserting the Biden administration’s position on the JCPOA, the official stated: “[U]nder the deal the US retains the right to impose sanctions for non-nuclear reasons, whether it’s terrorism or human rights violations or interference with our elections, et cetera.”

The official added, “[A]ll sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA and inconsistent with the benefits that Iran expects from the JCPOA, we are prepared to lift. That does not mean all of them, because there are some that are legitimate.”

However, the official refused to clarify just how the Biden administration distinguishes between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” sanctions. The Biden administration’s deliberate ambiguity on that central point strongly suggests a determination to force Iran into making concessions on issues which happen to be Israeli priorities: lengthening the sunset dates of Iran’s key JCPOA obligations as well as imposing limits on its ballistic missile program and regional alliances.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, has made it clear that Iran will not bend to the Biden administration’s diplomatic coercion. Just before the Vienna meeting, he said, “The US should remove … all sanctions that were reimposed after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA or newly imposed or relabeled … and then we [will] verify and return to our commitments.”

Further evidence of the obdurate US strategy came in the form of comments made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a March 3 interview with PBS Newshour. While crediting the JCPOA with having “put Iran’s nuclear program in a box,” Blinken ignored the fact that the agreement had resulted from Tehran’s acceptance of limits on its nuclear program for several years in return for the removal of US and UN sanctions.

Blinken even framed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as though it were a consensus US policy rather than an extremist policy that Biden himself had attacked.

“When we pulled out of the nuclear agreement,” he said, “Iran then started to break out from that box. And it is now in a position where it is closer to having the ability to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon on short order, in a matter of months.”

Blinken emphasized that the Biden administration has “a real interest in trying to put Iran back into that box.” Yet he downplayed the role of sanctions relief in returning to the original JCPOA. “We have been very clear that Iran has to come back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement,” he stated. “And if it does, we will do the same thing… that would involve, if they do it, some sanctions relief.”

The Biden strategy of coercion as outlined by both the anonymous senior US official and Blinken is entirely consistent with multiple indications of the Biden team’s intentions signaled well before Biden’s electoral victory.

The Biden administration saw an opportunity to exploit diplomatic coercion on Iran because Trump, responding to pressures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and major pro-Israel Trump donors, had abandoned the nuclear agreement and embarked on what his administration called a “maximum pressure” campaign. Trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, then declared the reinstatement of all US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the 2015 deal.

In making that decision public, the Trump administration highlighted the secondary sanctions against countries that had imported Iranian oil — but also gave waivers for six months to eight countries it said had already reduced their imports from Iran significantly.

The Trump administration was merely continuing a technique for attacking the Iranian economy that had been pioneered by Obama-era Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey. The key to his strategy, Levey explained in Congressional testimony in 2010, was to focus on “illicit conduct” by Iran, such as Iran’s missile program or its alleged support for terrorism, in order to “maximize the chances of achieving a truly multinational coalition” for breaking or avoiding economic ties with Iran.

Levey identified UN Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted in 2010, which calls a wide range of actions by member states against Iran over nuclear and missile activity, as crucial to his approach.  He sought to exploit the fear of foreign companies that their investment in Iran could be linked to any Iranian activities labeled as “illicit.”

“The operating presumption,” Levey suggested, “should be that virtually all transactions or financial services involving Iran could contribute to its nuclear or missile programs.” Levey saw the establishment of that “presumption” as the key to frightening potential investors away from Iran.

 

Even though the Treasury sanctions legally apply only to assets and transactions under US jurisdiction, Levey observed, “[W]e have found over the years that many banks and businesses around the world cut off dealings with designated targets…”

By enriching uranium at the 60 percent level of purity, Iran is applying its own strategy of diplomatic leverage, hoping to force an end to economic sanctions ravaging its economy. Tehran employed the same tactic in 2012, pressuring the Obama administration to drop its insistence that Iran essentially give up its enrichment program entirely.

The Obama administration believed it was well positioned to force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. To whittle away at US diplomatic pressure, Iran doubled its total number of centrifuges onsite between May and August 2012, but it never actually used the bulk of that capability to enrich uranium. None of the newly installed centrifuges were even connected with pipes; and only one third of those that were connected were actually enriching. In September 2012, Iran offered to end its policy of 20 percent enrichment in return for the lifting of sanctions. An Obama administration official acknowledged that Iran had gained “leverage” by creating a high degree of capacity, but not using it.

The result was the compromise at the heart of the JCPOA: Iran agreed to give up its ability to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon and the US removed its economic sanctions that had blocked Iran from achieving its development goals.

Now, the Biden administration is planning to exploit the crushing sanctions regime it inherited from Trump to extract further concessions from Iran. Those sanctions have brought what the IMF has called “extreme distress” to Iranian economy and society, increasing inflation and unemployment, and sharply reducing popular access to food, healthcare and medicine.

But any notion that US sanctions would result in popular pressure for government concessions on the nuclear deal was contradicted by a survey of Iranian public opinion by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in late 2019 which found that a solid majority of Iranians now questioned whether Iran should have signed the JCPOA in the first place.

Nevertheless, Joe Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and other top officials in the administration are acutely attuned to Israeli strategic thinking. They appear convinced that their ability to pressure Iran through sanctions has been strengthened –– especially after the April 11 Israeli sabotage attack on the Natanz enrichment facility, which will set back Iranian enrichment plans at the facility for at least nine months.

But the Biden team’s hopes that Iran could be coerced to return to the nuclear deal while the US attempts to economically strangle Iran until it accedes to its demands demonstrates a breathtaking lack of perspective. If this delusional mindset prevails, it is likely to lead to a much more serious crisis in the coming months.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Report: Iran’s verification of US reversal to take 3 months at least

Press TV – April 11, 2021

A detailed report by the Iranian parliament’s Research Center says the verification of any US removal of sanctions on Tehran would require at least three months, emphasizing that the process would not be possible within hours or days.

“It is obvious that the real test of sanctions removal and fulfillment of measurable indices put forward by Iran is not possible in a matter of few hours or days, and would take at least 3 to 6 months. It is also necessary to verify within specified intervals (for example every six months) that the Iranian economy benefits from the removal of the sanctions,” the parliament’s Research Center (IPRC) said in its report.

The report said Article 6 of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed in December by Iranian legislators, stipulates several general criteria concerning the removal of the anti-Iran sanctions.

They include normalization of banking transactions, total removal of export barriers, unhindered sale of Iranian petroleum and oil derivatives, in addition to complete and rapid return of revenues from Iranian oil sales.

Last December, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the action plan, which tasked the administration with suspending extra commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Iranian parliament’s report went on to say that Article 7 of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions obliges the government to report to the parliament on measures taken to counteract the US sanctions. Parliamentary commissions have been assigned to assess those measures.

The report noted that Washington has a number of economic, political and legal means which it could employ despite its possible removal of the sanctions in order to prevent the Iranian economy from benefiting from the dividends of the nuclear deal.

The United States, the report said, may prevent Iran from benefiting economically from the removal of the sanctions by trying to maintain the status quo, including limiting other countries’ cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

Research conducted by the IPRC has significant impact on the legislation passed by Iranian lawmakers.

On April 8, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said verification means Iran should be able to sell its oil under normal conditions and receive its money.

The Biden administration has conceded that its predecessor’s so-called maximum pressure campaign has failed, but it has so far failed to take any practical steps to undo the wrongs.

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Iran will in no way enter negotiations beyond JCPOA: Security chief

Press TV – April 6, 2021

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani says the Islamic Republic will under no circumstances enter negotiations beyond the nuclear agreement it clinched with six major world states in 2015.

“Regardless of whether Europe has the will or ability to persuade #USA to lift all sanctions at once & Washington’s return to its commitments, there will be no possibility for Iran entering the talks in the new fields, more than JCPOA, under any circumstances,” he said.

The security chief posted the tweet with the hashtag #activeresistance in his tweet.

Shamkhani’s tweet followed remarks by the US administration’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, who is based in a hotel near the venue of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna between representatives of Iran and the remaining signatories to the JCPOA.

In an interview with the American National Public Radio, Malley was asked about a “follow-up” agreement in case the JCPOA gets back on track.

“What we would pursue is, first of all, a longer agreement. Even though this one lasts quite some time and some of its provisions last forever, of course, it would be better, as in any arms control agreement, to see whether we could get a follow-on deal that extends the timelines,” he replied.

Earlier in the day, representatives of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — began a new round of talks in Vienna over a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA, which abandoned by the US under former president Donald Trump some three years ago.

The Vienna negotiations took place within the “in-person” and expert-level formats.

Ahead of the talks, Iran’s Foreign Ministry reaffirmed in a statement that no representatives from the US are to attend the nuclear talks in Vienna, and that the Iranian delegation’s agenda does not feature any direct or indirect negotiations with Americans either.

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Iran will have no direct, indirect talks with US in Vienna: Official

Press TV – April 4, 2021

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says Iran and the US will have no direct or indirect talks in Vienna, where the remaining parties to a 2015 nuclear deal will meet Tuesday to discuss the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

He made the remarks on Sunday, two days after participants at the virtual meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission agreed to resume in-person talks in the Austrian capital.

Araqchi said Iran’s negotiations with Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia in Vienna are purely technical about the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s remedial measures as well as the sequence of the US lifting of sanctions which should be verified.

“What we are pursuing in Vienna at the Joint Commission is precisely based on the firm positions of the establishment that have repeatedly been stated by Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] and the country’s officials,” he said.

“We will have no talks, whether direct or indirect, with the Americans in Vienna. We will negotiate with the Joint Commission and the P4 + 1 and pronounce our condition for the [US] return to the JCPOA. Our demand is that the US must first fulfill all its obligations and remove all the sanctions it has imposed, then we will verify and return” to the point before the remedial measures Iran has taken, he added.

The Europeans are trying to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal, which the administration of former US president Donald Trump almost wrecked after abandoning it in May 2018 and imposing the “toughest ever” anti-Iran sanctions.

After the withdrawal, Iran waited for a year for the Europeans to take remedial measures and thwart the unilateral American sanctions as per their obligations under the JCPOA, but to no avail.

That prompted the Islamic Republic to suspend some of its obligations in line with its legal rights stipulated under Article 36 of the JCPOA.

The new US administration, under President Joe Biden, has spoken of a willingness to return to the nuclear agreement, but in practice, it has been sticking to Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

Last month, Ayatollah Khamenei said Washington must first remove all the sanctions it has imposed on Tehran in a verifiable manner before Iran reverses its nuclear countermeasures.

Iran has drawn a line in the sand before going to the Vienna talks: it will not accept any step-by-step lifting of the sanctions as suggested by the Americans.

“We do not have any step-by-step plan or proposal and do not accept it,” Araqchi reiterated Sunday.

“In our opinion, there is only one step: All the sanctions that were reimposed after Trump’s withdrawal or imposed newly under different headings should be identified and the United States must lift them. Then we will verify and return to our commitments.”

April 4, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | 2 Comments

Biden Regime Proposal to Break JCPOA Deadlock with Iran?

By Stephen Lendman | March 31, 2021

Hold the cheers!

Believe nothing from duplicitous USA, especially from interventionist Blinken and others in charge of the Biden regime’s hostile geopolitical agenda.

Iran and other countries know that hegemon USA can never be trusted — its word virtually never its bond.

Promises by its ruling regimes aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Sooner or later they’re breached. It happens time and again.

Good faith diplomatic outreach to the US by independent countries is virtually never reciprocated in kind.

It’s an exercise in futility virtually always.

The Biden regime has no intention of rejoining the landmark JCPOA nuclear deal as affirmed by Security Council Res. 2231.

It wants the agreement hardened with provisions no responsible government would accept.

According to Politico, the Biden regime is “struggling just to get the Iranians to the table (sic).”

Getting there is as simple as observing SC Res. 2231 provisions, what its hardliners refuse to do.

Politico reported that Biden’s geopolitical team intends “ask(ing) Iran to halt some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, in exchange for some relief from US economic sanctions (sic).”

On Tuesday, Iran’s Press TV reported the following:

An unnamed “senior Iranian official has told Press TV that Tehran will not stop 20-percent uranium enrichment before the US sanctions are lifted.”

“20-percent uranium enrichment is in line with Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA and will be stopped only if the US lifts all the sanctions.”

“The Iranian official said the country will not stop any of its current nuclear activities before the removal of all sanctions.”

If the Biden regime fails to comply with its obligations under international law by lifting illegally imposed sanctions “soon, Iran will take the next steps, which will be further reduction of its JCPOA commitment” — as permitted by JCPOA Article 36.

What Press TV explained above came in response to Politico’s report about an alleged Biden regime proposal not released so far.

Time and again, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif stressed that his government rejects renegotiating what’s affirmed by SC Res. 2231.

In early March he tweeted: “JCPOA cannot be renegotiated—period.”

The US breached the landmark agreement, not Iran.

The violator must return to compliance. Otherwise the deal is gone.

Last week, Zarif tweeted:

“There has been an inordinate amount of spin about what needs to be done to resurrect the JCPOA, trying to reverse the victim and the culprits.

This fact sheet indisputably corrects the historical amnesia & sets the record straight.”

It’s lengthy but here it is in its entirety as compiled by Iran:

Fact Sheet on the JCPOA timeline from implementation to present

January 16, 2016, Implementation Day:

• The IAEA certifies that Iran is fully implementing the JCPOA. Key steps on the part of Iran include restrictions on its nuclear program and increased monitoring.

• The IAEA’s report on Implementation Day should have triggered effective sanctions lifting on the part of the US and the EU/E3. It did not.

January 17, 2016: The US Treasury Department imposes new sanctions on 11 individuals and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile programs.

This defensive program is not prohibited by the JCPOA, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 nor even its Annex B, which “calls upon” Iran not to develop missiles “designed to be capable” of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iranian missiles are not designed for weapons that Iran will never develop.

March 21, 2016: Candidate Trump delivers remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference, noting his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

September 21, 2016:

• The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) grants Airbus and Boeing partial permission to sell planes to Iran.

• The licenses were issued after a 7-month delay, and only in response to a written warning by Iran on September 2, 2016 to invoke the DRM (Dispute Resolution Mechanism) under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.

• Iran receives only 3 out of 117 Airbus passenger aircraft it ordered—and none of the Boeing aircraft.

December 1, 2016:

• Congress passes a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), in clear violation of the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231.

• President Obama refuses to sign the legislation but fails to veto it, allowing it to become law on December 15.

December 16, 2016: Iran officially invokes the DRM under Paragraph 36 but does not take any remedial measures prescribed therein.

January 12, 2017: In his confirmation hearing for the position of Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis tells Congress that “when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”

March 23, 2017: Senator Corker introduces Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, in clear violation of both the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231.

March 31, 2017: Former Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and six former Obama administration officials pen an op-ed in Foreign Policy outlining their opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.

May 16, 2017: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator for the JCPOA, states her opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, noting its potential to undermine the nuclear accord.

July 10, 2017: White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that at the G20 summit, President Trump encouraged foreign leaders not to do business with Iran, a clear violation of both the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231.

July 17, 2017: The Trump (regime) reluctantly certifies Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, delaying the announcement for hours and issuing new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran the next day.

October 13, 2017: Trump declares—in violation of the JCPOA and UNSCR2231—that he will not certify Iranian compliance under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Trump encourages Congress to enact legislation against the JCPOA’s “sunset clauses”. Trump says if his concerns about the deal are not resolved, he will terminate the agreement.

October 16, 2017: Iran officially invokes the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA again, in response to the unlawful decertification by Trump, but does not take remedial measures under the same paragraph to give diplomacy a chance.

May 8, 2018:

• Trump announces that he is ceasing US participation in the JCPOA and signs a presidential memorandum to institute the “highest level” of economic sanctions on Iran.

• President Rouhani announces that Iran will give diplomacy a chance for a few weeks so that the other states in the agreement can try to continue the deal without the United States.

May 10, 2018: Iran writes letters to the UN Secretary General and the JCPOA Joint Commission Coordinator, officially invoking again the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, but states that it will not take remedial measures immediately to allow diplomacy to work.

May 17, 2018: The European Commission meets in Sofia and announces that it will pursue a “blocking statute” to ban European companies and courts from complying with US sanctions against Iran.

However, EU allows all European companies to comply with US secondary sanctions and cease doing business with Iran.

July 6, 2018: A Ministerial Meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission (China, France, Iran, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union) is convened to consider Iran’s invocation of the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.

Ministers issue a joint statement promising wider economic relations and preservation of effective financial channels with Iran; continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals; continuation of sea, land, air and rail relations; promotion of export credit; effective support for economic operators trading with Iran; encouragement of further investments in Iran; protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, etc.

Not a single one of these promises have been realized to date.

August 6, 2018: In a joint statement, the French, German, and British foreign ministers as well as the EU say they “deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US” and note that they are “determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231.”

They reiterate that preserving the JCPOA is a “matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security.”

This had no actual effect on international business with Iran, which remains frozen to this day.

August 7, 2018: Certain sanctions measures reimposed by Trump on May 8 the same year come into full effect.

The measures include restricting Iran’s purchase of US dollars, trade in gold, precious metals, aluminum, steel, coal, software, and transactions related to sovereign debt and the automotive sector.

Licenses allowing certain foodstuffs to be exported to the United States and Iran to purchase commercial aircraft are also revoked.

September 24, 2018: The second Ministerial Meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, convened to discuss Iran’s triggering of the DRM under Paragraph 36 “re-affirmed their continued commitment to the objectives mentioned in the statement of the Ministerial session of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA on 6 July 2018, in particular to pursue concrete and effective measures to secure payment channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals.”

Not a single effective measure has been taken to date.

October 3, 2018: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules unanimously that the United States must remove any impediments to the export of food, agricultural products, medicine, aircraft parts, and other humanitarian goods.

The Court concludes that Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran was unfounded given Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

November 5, 2018: The second round of sanctions on Iran following Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA—targeting Iran’s banking, oil, shipping and ship-building sectors—come into effect.

In addition to redesignating entities removed from the SDN list under the JCPOA, the United States designates an additional 300 new entities.

November 6, 2018: Iran officially informs the EU, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom that having waited 6 months in vain for the EU/E3 to take measures promised following the US withdrawal, Iran will start taking remedial measures under Paragraph 36 and will “cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”

It continues, however, to fully observe the restrictions under the JCPOA for another 6 months.

November 8, 2018: Newsweek reports; “Mike Pompeo Says Iran Must Listen to US. ‘If They Want Their People to Eat.’”

November 22, 2018: The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments despite the US’ unlawful withdrawal and economic warfare.

February 13-14, 2019: The United States and Poland host a ministerial meeting on the Middle East in Warsaw where US Vice President Mike Pence explicitly calls on “our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

March 22, 2019: The US Treasury Department designates 31 Iranian entities and individuals for past involvement in Iran’s nuclear program.

April 8, 2019: The United States designates the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

April 22, 2019: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that the United States will not issue any additional sanctions waivers for states to continue importing Iranian oil on May 2.

May 8, 2019: Iran announces that it will no longer be bound by stockpiles limitations on enriched uranium and heavy water reserves in the JCPOA and could restart construction on its unfinished heavy water reactor at Arak and resume higher level enrichment in the future. Iran also declares that all its remedial measures are reversible upon the fullfilment of all JCPOA obligations by all sides.

May 31, 2019: IAEA reports for the 15th time (the 5th since Trump’s withdrawal) that Iran has continued to fully observe all of its obligations under JCPOA.

June 23, 2019: Trump says new sanctions are coming for Iran amid ongoing “economic war.”

June 24, 2019: The United States sanctions the Supreme Leader of Iran and his office.

July 1, 2019: IAEA reports for the first time that Iran has exceeded 300 Kg stock of enriched uranium—a full 14 months after Trump’s withdrawal and 8 months after Iran’s official notification of remedial measures under Paragraph 36.

July 31, 2019: The United States sanctions Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

September 3, 2019: The US Treasury sanctions the Iran Space Agency and two affiliated research

institutes.

September 20, 2019: The US Treasury imposes new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and other entities.

September 25, 2019: The White House issues a proclamation suspending the entry of senior Iranian government officials to the United States.

January 2, 2020: President Trump officially claims responsibility for the targeted extra-judicial murder of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani.

February 5, 2020: IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tells reporters in Washington, DC that Iran has not taken further steps to breach the JCPOA, and that Iran continues to comply with its ‘safeguards’ obligations mandated by the deal.

April 30, 2020:

• US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, discloses Trump administration’s plan to prevent the October 2020 expiration of UN restrictions on arms sales to and from Iran—written into UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Hook says that the Trump administration is prepared to use “every diplomatic option available” to extend the restrictions, including by making a legal argument that the United States remains a participant of the nuclear deal in order to exercise a Security Council provision to instate the UN restrictions indefinitely.

• EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell says that “it’s quite clear for us that the US is no longer a participating member in this agreement.”

May 27, 2020: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announces that the United States will terminate sanctions waivers that allow for nonproliferation cooperation projects to continue in Iran.

These waivers cover the conversion of the Arak reactor, the provision of enriched fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of Iran’s spent fuel.

This makes it impossible for Iran to continue to fullfil its commitments under the JCPOA.

June 25, 2020: The United States imposes additional sanctions on Iran targeted at the country’s metal industry.

July 3, 2020: EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell announces that he has received a letter from Iran triggering the JCPOA’s DRM, citing concerns about the E3’s implementation of the agreement.

July 4, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets that the country triggered again the JCPOA Dispute Resolution Mechanism because of violations by the European members of the deal, in addition to outright U.S. violations.

Zarif notes that European members of the deal are failing to fulfill their JCPOA duties and have given in to U.S. “bullying.”

August 14, 2020:

• In a vote on a US resolution to extend UN arms restrictions against Iran, the United States is defeated with only 2 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 11 abstentions, falling drastically short of the nine votes needed for an extension.

• In an act of piracy on the high seas, the United States seizes cargo for the first time from Iranian fuel tankers bound for Venezuela.

August 20, 2020: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivers a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General and to the President of the Security Council, invoking provisions of UNSCR 2231— which are only available to JCPOA participants—to re-instate revoked resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran.

August 25, 2020: The United Nations Security Council dismisses the US effort to re-impose UN Security Council sanctions on Iran.

The President of the Security Council says the Council is “not in position to take further action” pursuant to the US request.

September 21, 2020: Speaking at a news conference, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says, “no matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.”

Pompeo also announces new sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Defense, Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, and its director.

November 17, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif states that if the United States adheres to its commitments under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran will return to compliance with the restrictions under the JCPOA.

He further reiterates that this can be done without negotiations.

November 27, 2020: Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is assassinated near Tehran.

December 1, 2020: The Iranian Parliament responds to the assassination by requiring the Government to take further and more drastic remedial measures under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA if US unilateral sanctions are not lifted by February 23, 2021.

January 5, 2021: The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control imposes a new round of sanctions on Iran’s steel industry.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says in a statement that “the Trump administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime.”

February 21, 2021: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi travels to Tehran to meet with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as well as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

They discuss Iran’s planned Feb. 23 suspension of the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement and together reach an arrangement whereby the IAEA will continue its necessary verification activities for up to 3 months.

March 25, 2021:

• Despite promises made by incoming US President Joe Biden, his (regime) has yet to take any steps to abide by either the JCPOA or UNSCR 2231—a resolution the US itself co-sponsored.

• Iran, as evidenced by the above timeline, has shown maximum restraint in the face of “maximum pressure”, “economic war”, bullying, assassinations, cruelty and collective punishment of its

people.

• Today, the ball is firmly in the US court.

If it claims interest in the JCPOA, it must abandon its unlawful violations and verifiably remove all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017.

• Iran will stop all of its remedial measures upon verification of a US return to compliance.

The detailed account above shows why the US can never be trusted — why it’s a waste of time dealing with its duplicitous regimes.

Nonbelligerent Iran threatens no one.

Yet it’s been wrongfully vilified, lied about, and targeted by the US for regime change for over 40 years — because it won’t be subservient to its interests at the expense of its own.

Looking ahead, there’s virtually no chance that Biden regime hardliners will soften their agenda toward Iran — nor against other countries free from US control.

Whatever proposal Biden’s geopolitical team may make to Iran will no doubt be rejected unless it includes lifting all illegally imposed sanctions — and not reimposing any.

Chances for this to happen are virtually nil.

Whatever the US says publicly or proposes, its hostility toward Iran remains unchanged.

The JCPOA will likely dissolve ahead because the US won’t observe its provisions.

Nor will colonized Britain, France and Germany — going along with their US [or Israeli] master even when harming their own interests.

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Iran blasts Johnson’s ‘utter hypocrisy’ for ‘concerns’ over Tehran plutonium risk after PM announces UK nuke warhead increase

RT | March 16, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been branded a hypocrite by Iran’s foreign minister for raising concerns of the risk of Tehran developing nuclear weapons minutes after announcing an expansion to the UK’s own nuke arsenal.

On Tuesday, Javad Zarif condemned what he called Johnson’s “utter hypocrisy” in a statement on Twitter, adding: “Unlike the UK and allies, Iran believes nukes and all WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] are barbaric and must be eradicated.”

Earlier in the day Johnson revealed that the UK would lift a cap on its own nuclear stockpile, allowing it to keep a total of 260 warheads, rather than being limited to 180, as had been set by previous British governments.

The PM was then quizzed about Iran’s role in the Middle East by a fellow Tory MP after unveiling the plans as part of the government’s Integrated Review Of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

“We remain extremely concerned by Iran’s influence in the region, the disruptive behavior of Iran and particularly, of course, we are concerned by the risk of Iran developing a viable nuclear weapon,” Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons.

He added that it would be beneficial for the security of the people of Iran and the wider Middle East if the state returned to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In recent months the deal has been a major flashpoint between Iran and the Western signatories of the JCPOA, including Germany, France and the UK, which have all called for Iran to stop breaching its commitments.

US President Joe Biden has said Washington will return to the deal, which provides sanctions relief for Iran, if Tehran stops undermining the agreement by stepping up its uranium enrichment – a crucial step in the development of nuclear weapons.

For its part, Tehran has repeatedly said it would be prepared to fall back into full compliance under the deal if the US drops its sanctions against Iran.

The UK’s security review accuses Iran, Russia and North Korea of destabilizing their respective regions and the “weakening of the international order.”

The 100-page document says it is the UK’s priority to “prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon” and that it remains open about further JCPOA talks.

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Biden Regime won’t incentivize Iran to join JCPOA talks

Press TV – March 12, 2021

The US once again asserts that it will not offer any “incentives” to prompt Iran to rejoin talks with Washington on “mutual compliance” with a 2015 nuclear agreement it unilaterally left later, insisting that it is Tehran that has to take the first step.

“We will not offer any unilateral gestures or incentives to induce the Iranians to come to the table,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday, Reuters said.

“If the Iranians are under the impression that, absent any movement on their part to resume full compliance with the [nuclear deal], … we will offer favors or unilateral gestures, well that’s a misimpression,” he added.

Under his signature “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, former American president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 group of states – the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.

He then restored the economic sanctions that the deal had lifted. The US also began threatening third countries with “secondary sanctions” if they did business with Iran in defiance of the bans.

This is while the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been ratified as a United Nations Security Council resolution, making both the US’s departure from the accord and its snapping the sanctions back into place unilateral and illegal.

Iran, in turn, began confronting the sanctions under Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei’s Resistive Economy directive.

It also started a number of nuclear countermeasures on the first anniversary of the US’s withdrawal in line with its rights under the deal to retaliate for the other side’s non-commitment. The Islamic Republic gradually increased its counteractions as Washington and its allies in the deal would continue to violate their JCPOA obligations.

Price suggested that Washington could consider step-by-step resumption of each party’s nuclear commitments only after Tehran returned to the negotiation table.

“If and only if Tehran comes to the negotiating table, would we be in a position, would we be prepared to discuss proposals that would help push both sides back on that path of mutual compliance to the deal,” he said. “Ultimately, that is where we seek to go: compliance for compliance,” the spokesman added.

Iran has, on the one hand, underscored that, unlike the US, it was never the party to leave the talks in the first place. On the other, it notes that the JCPOA is a done deal and does not need any renegotiation.

As its definitive stance on the issue, the Islamic Republic also emphasizes that it will only resume its full compliance with the deal once the US lifted all the sanctions, noting that the sanction relief process is Washington’s contractual duty and should take place without any preconditions.

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment