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Iran Ready to Hold Talks With US if Sanctions Lifted – Rouhani

Sputnik -July 15, 2019

Iran is ready to hold negotiations with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and gives up “bullying,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Berlin, Paris and London called for a dialogue between all parties of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying the deal risks falling apart due to the US sanctions against Iran and Tehran’s decision to partially discontinue its obligations and.

“We are always ready for negotiation. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready,” Rouhani said, as quoted by the Mehr news agency.

Rouhani added that Iran shifted its approach from “strategic patience” to “reciprocal action” and would respond in kind to any of Washington’s steps related to the nuclear deal.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the JCPOA and imposed several consecutive rounds of economic sanctions on Iran. A year later, Tehran announced its own decision to partially suspend obligations under the deal and giving the other signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the European Union – 60 days to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran.

On July 7, as the deadline expired, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi announced that his country was ready to begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent level set in the JCPOA, adding that Tehran would go on gradually abandoning its nuclear commitments every 60 days.

July 14, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Foreign Ministry: No ongoing negotiations between Iran, US at any level

Press TV – July 14, 2019

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry says there are no ongoing talks between the Islamic Republic and the United States at any level, denying certain media reports in this regard.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Abbas Mousavi said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is engaged in no negotiations with the American officials at any level.”

Mousavi was reacting to recent reports by certain social and other media outlets alleging that Iran has been in talks with the US through Russian mediation. They went as far as claiming that the talks were being conducted between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

Rumors about clandestine Iran-US talks come at a time that Iranian officials at various levels have said time and again that there would be no talks with Washington after the United States unilaterally left a nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and re-imposed tough sanctions against the country, which had been lifted under the deal.

On May 29, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei ruled out the possibility of talks between Tehran and Washington, saying such negotiations will be “fruitless,” “harmful,” and “a total loss.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will absolutely not sit for talks with America … because first, it bears no fruit and second, it is harmful,” the Leader said in a meeting with a number of university professors, elites and researchers in Tehran.

The Leader referred to negotiation as a tactic used by Americans to complement their strategy of pressure. “This is actually not negotiation; it’s rather a means for picking the fruits of pressure.”

The only way to counter this trick, he said, is to utilize the means of pressure available for use against Americans. “If they are used properly, the Americans will either stop or decrease pressures.”

on May 26, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi met with Omani State Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Muscat, categorically rejecting recent claims about the beginning of negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the United States with the goal of reducing tensions between the two sides.

Rejecting all reports about any form of direct or indirect talks with the United States, the Iranian diplomat emphasized, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to establish balanced and constructive relations with all countries in the Persian Gulf region based on mutual respect and interests.”

Earlier in April, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Washington’s claims of seeking negotiations with Iran were “mere lies” and that the United States, in fact, intended to force the Iranian nation to its knees.

Contrary to what some are trying to promote, “the US does not possess the willingness for negotiations at all,” the president told a cabinet session in Tehran.

“The actions that it is taking are aimed at defeating the Iranian nation” and “making a return” to Iran, he added, referring to Washington’s ample presence and influence in the country prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

July 14, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Ending the myth of the ‘Millionaire Mullah’

Part 1

By Ramin Mazaheri | Press TV | July 2, 2019

There are many pieces of nonsense about Iran, which are fervently believed in the West but which have zero credibility inside Iran. “Millionaire Mullahs” is a concept which has captivated the Western imagination, even though it has no basis in reality.

The idea of “Millionaire Mullahs” was conceived in 2003 by the uber-capitalist magazine Forbes. What’s worse, it was created by their longtime Russia editor during the age of Yeltsin, when neoliberal capitalism was shamelessly gutting all the nations of the former Soviet Union and transferring the longtime assets of the people/state to Western high finance.

The idea “sounds right” to Western ears for three likely reasons: they are often ardently secular and suspicious of all religious authority; they assume all Muslim religious authorities are as rabidly capitalist as the Roman Catholic Church has often been; and also because they know nothing about the revolutionary (unique) and inherently anti-capitalist post-1979 changes to the Iranian economy.

Let’s stop with the nonsense: being a mullah in Iran usually places one in the lower middle class. Iranian Shia clergy do not have extravagant lifestyles, and they have certainly chosen the wrong calling if that was their aim. Furthermore, the Iranian press – which casts an open and intensely critical eye on the government, contrary to Western perceptions – would absolutely have a field day were there any mullahs living the lavish lives of millionaires. The entire idea is absurd and – rather crucially – unproven.

The subject has come up again, due to the incredibly foolish sanctions by the US against Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Ayatollah Khamenei, like his predecessor in the Leader post, Ruhollah Khomeini, and his family are known by all Iranians for living simple lifestyles and for possessing absolutely common levels of personal wealth. How does all of Iran know this? Well, doesn’t everyone in the US know the general financial background of Trump?

But first, a bit of background for non-Iranians: Ayatollah Khamenei is from clerical families on both sides of his parents. They were not rich clerics, but lower-middle class, like the majority of Iranian clergy. The 1979 Revolution was decidedly class-based — it was called “the revolution of the barefooted” — and this extended to the clerical class as well, so it should not be surprising that someone from Ayatollah Khamenei’s class background rose so high.

Because clerics are humans, they have a right to have varied personal interests: ex-Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani was rather an Iranian Islamic Revolution anomaly – a revolutionary cleric from a rich background (pistachio farmers) – and he had a personal interest in the affairs of business. It is common knowledge that Ayatollah Khamenei has never evinced this interest, and nor have his several brothers, who are also clerics – the family’s interests are clearly religion and politics.

Furthermore, simply check out his speeches on YouTube (and perhaps while you still can do so, as Press TV was banned from YouTube in April): Ayatollah Khamenei is always discussing the example of his namesake, Imam Ali, the personification of personal austerity in Islam. “Shia” means “partisan of Ali,” so non-Muslims should be able to easily imagine that if Ayatollah Khamenei was constantly exhorting everyone to follow “Pope” Ali’s worthy example, yet not following it himself, this would be cause for immediate and widespread comment among the highly-educated, very politically-involved Iranian general public.

So even the whiff of a mere rumor of personal embezzlement would be a major risk to Ayatollah Khamenei’s job status!

Part 2 will fully quote and explain the begrudging exoneration of Ayatollah Khamenei by one of his biggest adversaries – Western mainstream media – that there is “no evidence” that Ayatollah Khamenei has used Iran’s wealth to enrich himself. And, of course, there is no logical reason why he would thus tolerate theft and fraud among his fellow lower-ranking clergy who also work as civil servants.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s and Ayatollah Khamenei’s precedents of clearly living in a manner, which rejects worldly riches will certainly help produce this same type of Leader in the future, but whoever is the Leader at any time in the Islamic Republic of Iran will likely be forced to live lives of transparent piety and to display moral, spiritual and fiscal rectitude, which combined with self-sacrificing patriotism, is the very essence of the job. The Leader’s post is not that of a technocrat, as Western leaders are now often merely supposed to be; he is essentially called to act as the “soul of the nation,” and, I would also add, “of the government.”

Such values are anathema to Western secularism, which is a governmental philosophy that was certainly available in 1979 for Iranians to select. However, even atheistic secularists must concede that Western-style secularism was democratically rejected by Iranians, and this fact cannot be ignored no matter how disagreeable non-Iranians may find this fact.

To put it plainly: Does the West really think that Iranians don’t have a good sense of Ayatollah Khamenei’s personal morality? He has been living in the public eye longer than French President Emmanuel Macron has been alive, and the French all know about Macron’s privileged upbringing, marriage to a chocolate heiress who was his high school teacher, and Rothschild banker-paid lifestyle. An entire nation simply cannot be kept in the dark about the true personal nature of its leaders; people are not stupid, anywhere, and the Iranian press is far from being either non-existent or totally subservient to power.

You can take the average Iranian’s word for it: if Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei was living lavishly – or, living like every single Western CEO does – and with absolutely zero Western media condemnation, sadly – all of Iran would know it, and there would be serious repercussions.

This all explains why Iranians view the recent US sanctions on their Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as absurd and based on both propaganda and ignorance. The sanctions put The New York Times in a quandary: they had to choose between their iron-law Iranophobia and their equally unobjective anti-Trump editorial policy. Their jeering-but-accurate headline, “Iran Greets Latest US Sanctions with Mockery,” reflects that the anti-Trumpers drowned out the Irano-/Islamophobes on that day in their newsroom.

Beyond Ayatollah Khamenei, I can very briefly explain how and why the West can persist with their “Millionaire Mullah” mythology:

There are many economic principles that guide the Iranian economy, which have no basis in the West – they are, after all, “revolutionary.” Many are based on principles of Islamic charity and of Islamic finance; many are also based on anti-capitalist principles, which were obviously drawn from 20th century socialism. There are almost too many to list, but in Part 2 of this three-part article I will pick a few key ones, which specifically relate to clergy, and which – when added with Iranophobia – create such widespread and ignorant propaganda.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Iran, Russia say US ‘was isolated’ at IAEA’s special meeting

Press TV – July 11, 2019

Tehran says the UN nuclear watchdog’s special meeting held at Washington’s request to win the Board of Governors’ support for its anti-Iran claims turned into another failure for Americans.

“Another failure for the US at the mockery of the IAEA’s Board of Governors,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi tweeted on Wednesday in reference to an emergency meeting of the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, which wrapped up with no conclusion earlier in the day in Vienna.

“The US was once again isolated by its own hands,” Mousavi added.

“The legal strength of the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal], the active diplomacy and the fruitful political and ethical record of Iran block all the paths to arrogant deal-breakers,” he added.

The meeting was held a few days after Iran increased the level of its uranium enrichment to 4.5%, which is beyond the limit set by the JCPOA. The move was part of the second phase of the country’s May 8 decision to reduce its commitments under the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal in reaction to the US violations and Europe’s inaction.

The emergency meeting was held at the request of US Ambassador to International Organizations Jackie Wolcott. Iran later criticized the US’ request as a “sad irony” as Washington is the party that has violated the deal first by unilaterally pulling out of it and imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The US had approached various delegations before requesting to convene the special meeting but in the end had to make the request itself, says Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib-Abadi.

“We have been informed that the United States were seeking to have some formal outcome of this meeting, something like a resolution […] but because they haven’t been in a position to convince the others to have their support for their claim, regarding consideration of Iran’s ceasing its implementation of the JCPOA, there has been no conclusion,” he told Press TV following the special session.

“The majority of the members of the Board supported the JCPOA, multilateralism and deplored unilateral actions of the US,” he added.

The Iranian envoy earlier told the IAEA’s special meeting that “the sadistic tendency of the United States to use illegal, unilateral sanctions as an instrument to coerce sovereign states and private entities should come to an end.”

‘US practically isolated’

The Russian Ambassador to the IAEA, Mikhail Ulyanov, also tweeted after the meeting that the US “was practically isolated on this issue”.

Ulyanov told the assembled diplomats it was an “oddity” that the meeting had been called by the US, “the country that declared the JCPOA to be a ‘terrible deal’”.

He said “in practice, it turns out that Washington is aware of the importance of the Plan (JCPOA).”

Also in a statement to the meeting, the UK, France, and Germany said such issues “should be addressed by participants to the JCPOA, including through a meeting of the Joint Commission to be convened urgently.”

The E3 at the same time called on Iran to implement its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal in full despite the fact that Iran’s decision to reduce its commitments under the deal was made after Europe’s failure to live up to its side of the bargain.

The European parties to the JCPOA were supposed to compensate for the US withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 and the impact of its sanctions on the Iranian economy. Back in January, the E3 officially announced a special payment mechanism, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), which was aimed at facilitating trade with Tehran despite the US bans.

However, it took a long time for the trade channel to become fully operational. The first transaction is set to take place soon, but Iran says without injection of sufficient money into the channel, it cannot help the country reap the benefits of the deal.

“Iran would only accept the European financial mechanism known as INSTEX if it covers all countries rather than just the current ten, if it covers all items in the sanctions, rather than just food stuffs and medicine, and if it is sufficiently funded,” Gharib-Abadi told Press TV on Wednesday.

“We have told them that if they are not ready to put money in the INSTEX, so you have to consider the import of the Iranian oil, so that the money can go to the INSTEX to fund it,” he added.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran’s shock therapy breaks JCPOA stalemate

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | July 8, 2019

A series of announcements in Tehran through the past week took the situation around the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA) — and the US-Iranian standoff — to an inflection point.

On July 1, it transpired that Iran has exceeded the limit of enriched uranium stockpile under the JCPOA, which is 300 tons. On July 8, Tehran announced a rollback in its obligations under the JCPOA by starting to enrich uranium to a higher purity than 3.67% that would fulfil the needs of its power plants. (Iran had previously said that it needed 5% enrichment for its Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and 20% for Tehran research reactor.)

A criticality has been reached. The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Fact Sheet outlines how this came about.

Tehran has characterised the past week’s moves as remedial steps under Para 36 of the JCPOA, which it is entitled, to protect its interests. Tehran also says these are reversible steps if only the E3 (Britain, France and Germany) comply with the JCPOA.

Tehran has forewarned that every 60 days, it might otherwise make further moves to jettison its commitments under the JCPOA. Nonetheless, Tehran also acknowledges that although the E3 are yet to meet Iran’s demands, especially in regard to a non-dollar direct payment channel known as INSTEX, certain efforts in that direction are continuing, and they could still bear fruit.

Equally, talks are going on with China and the UK regarding the redesign of Arak reactor (which the US had originally undertaken to carry out under the JCPOA) although Iran has the technology to redesign the reactor on its own if these talks do not show results.

All in all, Tehran has taken certain modest steps that do not even remotely amount to a surreptitious dash for nuclear weapons. On the contrary, these moves are transparent and there is no attempt to restrict the IAEA inspectors’ access to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Nor is Tehran challenging the IAEA intrusive safeguards.

This is crucial. In sum, Tehran has given a two-fold signal. One, the costs for the US’‘maximum pressure’ policy is going to steadily rise, as Tehran will steadily counter-escalate. Two, the remaining signatories to the JCPOA (E3, Russia and China) cannot waffle any longer and must reciprocate Iran’s impeccable compliance  with the JCPOA by providing it with an economic lifeline.

Again, there is a hidden message too. Much as Iran is inch by inch distancing itself from the JCPOA — although reluctantly and with caveats — it is not conspiring to kill the 2015 deal. Curiously, Iran’s principal drive still is to somehow bring the US back into the JCPOA. And Tehran takes seriously Trump’s stated aversion to war.

The bottom line, therefore, remains where it was: Does the Trump administration have the intellectual capacity and sensitivity to fathom the Iranian (Persian) culture and psyche? Does it get the point that Iranians never negotiate under threats?

The good part, paradoxically, is that Trump has overplayed his cards and is left with few options today aside a military strike that would have incalculable and catastrophic consequences. The US’ maximum pressure strategy has effectively driven Iran to the pre-2015 position. On the other hand, the regime-change project piloted and uttered by National Security Advisor John Bolton and extravagantly funded by the State Department has flopped.

There is no sign of an uprising in Iran against the authorities. Of course, there is dissent within Iran, but then, it was always there and will always be there — but is far from life-threatening for the regime.

Unfortunately, it is being overlooked that the negotiations leading to the 2015 deal were only possible after the US unequivocally jettisoned the ‘regime change’ agenda towards Iran and, secondly, after the US conceded that Iran shall have the right to enrich uranium like any non-weapon member state of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

That is to say, if President Trump is serious about negotiating with Tehran, he needs to abandon the ‘maximum pressure’ approach by at least freezing the escalation ladder and offering economic reprieve by suspending some of the sanctions. One way could be by allowing the INSTEX — Europe’s trade channel for doing business with Iran despite US sanctions — to become really functional in the coming days. Trump can do this if he wants to, by simply feigning indifference to the INSTEX providing the mechanism for European, Russian, Turkish, Chinese or Indian companies to resume trading activities with Iran.

This brings us to the phone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday. For sure, Macron is acting as an intermediary between Trump and Rouhani to facilitate negotiations. The French have clarified that there is no move to trigger the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism for now — “It’s not an option at this moment” — although Macron said Tehran’s announcement on Sunday amounted to a ‘violation’ of the JCPOA.

Hectic behind-the-scenes consultations are taking place even as an emergency meeting of the IAEA is scheduled in Vienna on Wednesday at US request. Iran’s cooperation with the highly intrusive IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities is the focal point. Iran will attend the meeting.

Macron sounded out Rouhani on Saturday about American officials being present during the future talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA —  ‘4+1’ (China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany). Rouhani concurred with the rider that it shouldn’t mean re-negotiation of the JCPOA. He added that Tehran will not object to the US participation in 4+1 meetings, provided the Trump administration removes the sanctions.

The chances are that these high-level exchanges and discussions on new ideas and initiatives may open the door to the pathway leading to the formation of new talks involving the US and Iran.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Cory Booker’s Foreign Policy Echoes His Biggest Donors

Ben Chouake
By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | July 2, 2019

In last Wednesday’s Democratic debate, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) stood apart from the other candidates on the stage by declining to commit to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Videos viewed by LobeLog show that Booker’s unusual position is shared by NORPAC, a pro-Israel PAC aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). As Booker’s biggest donor, NORPAC contributed $185,871 to Booker’s campaign committee in 2018, a cycle in which Booker wasn’t even up for election.

During the first Democratic debate, the candidates were asked whether they would commit to returning to the nuclear deal. Every candidate on the stage except Booker raised their hand.

When questioned, Booker said:

We need to renegotiate and get back into a deal, but I’m not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I’m going to rejoin that deal… I am going to do the best I can to secure this country and that region and make sure that if I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal I’m going to do it.

That language closely parrots Trump’s claims that he can use the leverage of abrogating the Iran deal to negotiate a better deal with Iran. Under the guidance of Iran hawks like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, this strategy has brought the United States 10 minutes away from a war with Iran and no closer to a better deal.

But Booker’s language didn’t just echo Trump. He also echoed NORPAC, a group that normally puts out very little documentation on their positions, talking points, and agenda.

A training video published on YouTube in May 2019, showed NORPAC leadership preparing members for a “NORPAC Mission” to Washington, in which the group’s members meet with members of Congress to advance the group’s agenda.

Ben Chouake, NORPAC’s biggest donor in the 2018 cycle, gave introductory remarks on what the mission should convey to members of Congress regarding Iran. He emphasized the volatile situation in the Gulf and offered a litany of the ways that he sees Iran posing a threat to the United States, Israel, and their allies in the Gulf. Chouake rolled out the talking points that Iran is an “existential threat to all our allies in the area” and “an 800-pound gorilla in the room which is causing all kinds of problems.”

But Chouake made clear that NORPAC only wants to highlight the alleged dangers posed by Iran, not be held accountable for advocating for war.

“The last thing we want is to be accused of facilitating the initiation of a war,” said Chouake. “We don’t want a war but we want to tell our leaders this is a very, very big problem and one way or another you have to address it.”

Laurie Baumel, co-chair of the 2019 Mission, went on to add, “… [T]o just reenter the JCPOA as many in Congress have suggested does not seem to be a winning formula to me and I think we can certainly tell [members of Congress] about that.”

Indeed, Booker’s comments were not identical to Baumel’s, but the meaning was the same. NORPAC and Booker oppose upholding the commitments made by the Obama administration and the P5+1 via the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a deal that Booker actually ended up supporting in 2016.

Either Booker is echoing his biggest donors or he is coincidentally out of step with the Democratic Party and aligned with NORPAC, which just happens to be based in his home state of New Jersey.

With candidates looking to distinguish themselves in a crowded Democratic primary, Booker may have done just that and secured himself valuable campaign cash to fuel his presidential campaign. But Democratic voters aren’t with him on Iran. A May 2019 J Street poll found that 72 percent of Democratic voters support reentering the JCPOA while only 18 percent oppose reentering.

Booker is clearly the candidate catering to that 18 percent.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump outflanks Iran to the west and east

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | July 5, 2019

The Turkish state news agency Anadolu has featured an analysis titled US sanctions on Iran increasing public unease, which is highly critical of the Iranian ruling elite’s approach to the current standoff with the US. The thrust of the commentary is that the Iranian ruling elites are deliberately provoking a showdown with the US by spurning President Trump’s repeated offers for unconditional negotiations because Tehran harbours the notion that it can lethally damage his bid for a second term in the 2020 election by entangling the US in an asymmetrical war and creates a Middle Eastern quagmire for him. The sub-text of the commentary is that the newfound belligerence in Tehran is attributable to the Supreme Leader and is not in the interests of the Iranian nation.

The opinion piece comes at a time when Turkey is quietly pleased with President Trump’s pragmatism in accommodating its purchase of the S-400 ABM system from Russia. It reinforces the impression from Trump’s extraordinary remarks at the press conference in Osaka on June 29 on Turkish President Erdogan that some sort of a deal has been struck by the two leaders. Trump  had gone out of the way to defend Erdogan’s decision on purchase of the S-400 missiles (because “he got treated very unfairly” by the Obama administration), which is “not really Erdogan’s fault”. Trump had said he’s “working on it (S-400 deal). We’ll see what we can do.”

Erdogan claimed later that Trump told him at their meeting in Osaka that the US will not impose sanctions against Turkey on account of the S-400 deal with Russia. Meanwhile, the actual delivery of the S-400 system in Turkey is expected next week. (Erdogan had also said recently that a visit by Trump to Turkey in July “is being talked about”.)

Some sort of an understanding between Trump and Erdogan with regard to Iran cannot be ruled out. Of course, Turkey is in a position to render invaluable help to Iran to bust the US sanctions (which it actually did in the past under the infamous oil-for-gold deal between Turkish and Iranian business elites during the Obama presidency.) Trump would know that if Turkey denies “strategic depth” to Iran, it can be a game changer for the  “maximum pressure” strategy against Tehran.

Significantly, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is also due to visit the US to meet Trump on July 22. Turkey and Pakistan aren’t exactly comparable but there are common elements here. Turkey is an estranged NATO ally which is open to reconciliation, whereas Pakistan is keenly seeking the resuscitation of its moribund strategic ties with the US.

The bottom line is that the US stands to gain out of “win-win” cooperation with both these Cold War allies over the vexed Iran problem.

Turkey’s cooperation is vital for the US to plug Iran’s land route to Syria’s ports in eastern Mediterranean and the US bases in eastern Turkey are key intelligence outposts eavesdropping on Iran. Similarly, the US hopes to keep a “very large” intelligence presence in the Afghan bases, which requires Pakistan’s acquiescence. Certainly, these US intelligence assets are not merely focused on the terrorism problem but also target Russia, China and Iran. In sum, the US intelligence assets in Turkey and Pakistan will play a crucial role in any military confrontation with Iran.    

Fundamentally, in regard of both Turkey and Pakistan, their estrangement as allies happened due to the US’ flawed policies that failed to adequately accommodate their legitimate interests. In both cases, the degradation of the relationships and the ensuing nosedive took place under President Obama. The alienation of Turkey when the Obama administration began soft-pedalling on the regime project in Syria in 2012 and it exacerbated following the failed coup attempt in 2016 to overthrow Erdogan.

In the case of Pakistan also, that watershed moment was reached in 2011 when a series of incidents took place that rocked the US-Pakistan ties — the detention of ex-CIA employee Raymond Allen Davis in Lahore in January that year, the Abbottabad operation to kill Osama bin Laden in May and the slaughter of 28 Pakistani troops at two Pakistani border posts in Mohmand tribal agency by NATO Apache helicopters, an AC-130 gunship and fighter jets in November.)

Unsurprisingly, Trump didn’t say at the press conference in Osaka as to what Erdogan’s side of the bargain might be. But the Anadolu commentary hints that Turkey won’t erode the US’ “maximum pressure” on Iran. Turkey has closed its ports to Iranian oil, fully complying with US sanctions against its main supplier — although Erdogan had previously slammed the sanctions, saying they are destabilising for the region. Prior to May 2018, when the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord, Turkey imported an average of 912,000 tonnes of oil a month from Iran, or 47% of its total imports.

Again, last Tuesday, the US put the Baluchistan Liberation Army on its global terrorist watchlist and on Thursday, Islamabad made the formal announcement on Imran Khan’s visit to the US. Pakistan comes under the US Central Command theatre of operations. (So does Iran.) Currently, there are no US bases in Pakistan.

But Pakistan, like Turkey, also has a long history of hosting American military bases. In Baluchistan alone, there were several US drone bases — Shamsi Airfield, shrouded in secrecy, which exclusively used to conduct drone operations and housed US military personnel; PAF base on the Sindh-Baluchistan border, which was also used for CIA drone operations; Pasni Airport where US spy planes used to be based, and so on.

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

Arak reactor to resume pre-deal activities if EU fails to meet pledges: Rouhani

Press TV – July 3, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor — which was agreed to be redesigned under a 2015 nuclear agreement — will resume its previous activities after July 7 if the other signatories to the deal fail to uphold their end of the bargain.

“As of July 7, the Arak reactor would be restored to its former condition, which they (other parties) used to claim was ‘dangerous’ and could produce plutonium” if the other deal partners fail to fully act on their commitments under the accord, Rouhani said at a Wednesday cabinet meeting.

The agreement was initially reached between the P5+1 group of states — the United States, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — and Iran in Vienna in July 2015. It is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to redesign the 40-megawatt research reactor, which is located in the central Iranian Markazi Province, to cut its potential output of plutonium.

Rouhani said Iran’s decision concerning the reactor could only be reversed “if they (the other signatories) act on all of their commitments concerning the facility.”

The fate of the deal has been in doubt since last May, when the US pulled out and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that it had lifted under the document.

Bowing to Washington’s pressure, Europe has been throwing only verbal support behind the agreement ever since, refusing to guarantee the Islamic Republic’s business interests in the face of American bans despite being contractually obliged to do so.

The decision concerning the reactor is among the countermeasures, which Iran began this May in reaction to the US’s withdrawal and the other parties’ failure to keep their side of the agreement.

Rouhani further said Iran would, in addition, surpass the limit placed by the nuclear agreement on the level of purity of the uranium it produces when the July 7 deadline set by Tehran for the remaining deal partners expires.

“The level of uranium enrichment will no longer stay at 3.67 percent,” he said. “This commitment [taken under the nuclear deal] will be set aside, and we will enhance [the enrichment level] to whatever amount, which we deem necessary and need.”

‘Fear fire? Don’t start a flame!’

The chief executive also commented on US President Donald Trump’s reaction to Iran’s recent move to exceed the 300-kilogram limit on its low-enriched uranium production as part of its nuclear responses.

Reacting to the nuclear measure, Trump had said Tehran was “playing with fire.”

“If the US is so afraid of the word ‘fire,’ it should not start a flame then,” Rouhani said, reminding, “This fire could only be doused by returning to commitments and United Nations Security Council resolutions.” The JCPOA was ratified in the form of Security Council Resolution 2231 upon conclusion.

‘Worst deal? Why blame Iran then?’

He also referred to Trump’s hostile stance on the JCPOA, which the US president has, on several occasions, called the “worst deal ever.”

If Washington considers the nuclear deal to be a bad one, what was the reason behind its unease at Iran’s suspending its commitments to it? Rouhani asked. Similarly, if the deal can be rated as a good pact and Iran is advised to remain a part of it, “why do the US and Europe [themselves] fail to observe it?” he also questioned.

Rouhani further said Iran’s retaliatory actions were “never emotional” in nature, but meant to preserve the deal by prompting others to honor their obligations.

The countermeasures would be reversed as soon as the other partners begin to observe to their contractual commitments, he added.

Zarif: Europe duties far exceed INSTEX

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had also joined the meeting, told reporters afterwards that the Europeans have undertaken 11 commitments to the country under the JCPOA.

These include Iran’s oil sales, which the US has been trying to block through the sanctions, secure financial returns from the sales and investment in Iran, as well as facilitation of transport, aviation, and shipping activities involving the country, he noted.

Zarif described the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX)— which Britain, France, and Germany announced in January to enable non-dollar trade with Iran — as just a prelude to implementation of the 11-fold commitments.

The JCPOA obliges the European partners to prove their commitment to the nuclear deal in action, Zarif said, adding that the Islamic Republic would commit to the agreement in exactly the same way as those countries would.

“If Europe commits to the JCPOA, we will do so, too,” he stated.

The top diplomat also commented on Trump’s “playing with fire” remarks.

“If he (Trump) feels entitled to issue such a reaction, he should first reverse [the US’s] violation of the JCPOA and its withdrawal from it as well as the illegal sanctions that are tantamount to economic terrorism against 82 million Iranians,” Zarif said.

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Kushner behind Trump’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal: Writer

Press TV – June 28, 2019

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner represents Jewish interests in the United States that basically caused the US president to withdraw Washington from the Iran nuclear agreement, says an American writer and former professor.

E Michael Jones, the current editor of Culture Wars magazine, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on a statement by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said that Kushner conducted diplomacy without his knowledge when he was in the administration, leading to several embarrassing incidents.

Tillerson, who was fired by Trump in March 2018, recounted the incidents during a testimony last month at the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a transcript of a congressional hearing released on Thursday.

The former top US diplomat and CEO of ExxonMobil described his frustration with Kushner conducting his own diplomacy from the White House, at times without informing the US State Department and the Pentagon.

“This is illegal according to American political system. It violates – I believe – a Logan Act. But in this instance it is going to go unpunished because the part of the story that’s not reported here is Jared Kushner is representing Jewish interests here,” Jones said.

“And no one is allowed to question Jewish interests, if you bring it up you will be called an anti-Semite. There are Jewish interests. It is obvious but no one is allowed to talk about them,” he added.

“So the real significance of the story will be covered over by the mainstream media who were limited to the two areas of insignificance. This of course has direct relevance to Iran because it was Jewish interests that basically caused Donald Trump to abandon the Iran nuclear agreement,” the analyst noted.

“It’s Jewish interests that are once again pushing America into war in the Middle East this time with Iran,” he said.

“Donald Trump I think — recent events have shown – that he does not want war with Iran. He is using the military power to threaten Iran,” Jones noted.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

‘Dialogue at gunpoint’: Bolton says Iran’s ‘silence’ is DEAFENING while it’s actually pretty vocal

RT | June 25, 2019

US National Security Advisor John Bolton has said that defiant Iran stays silent over meaningful talks with Washington, when, in fact, Tehran repeatedly argued that a barrage of threats and sanctions has made talks impossible.

Bolton blamed Iran for avoiding dialogue with the US during his visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday.

“As we speak, American diplomatic representatives are surging across the Middle East, seeking a path to peace. In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening.”

The official insisted that Washington “has held the door open for real negotiations,” and all Iran needs to do is to “walk through that open door.” Bolton explained that by doing so Iran must fulfill a laundry list of demands put forward by the US, including the one to “completely and verifiably” eliminate its “nuclear weapons program” and end “malignant behavior worldwide.”

Iran, meanwhile, has been anything but silent about the prospect of negotiating with the US. The country had consistently maintained that it is ready to talk if Washington refrains from issuing threats and slapping new sanctions on Tehran.

Iran stands ready for dialogue, given that it goes on “equal footing and mutual respect,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in January. The minister often blamed Bolton and other foreign policy hardliners at the White House for pushing President Donald Trump from peaceful solutions towards a more bellicose stance.

The Islamic Republic also made it clear that meaningful talks cannot go in hand with the Trump administration’s strategy of applying “maximum pressure” on Iran. On Monday, the US announced plans to blacklist Zarif along with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in retaliation to Iran downing a US drone it claims violated its airspace last week. Tehran responded by saying that sanctions against the nation’s top leadership effectively close “the path of diplomacy” and do not create the right atmosphere for talks.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani put it more bluntly, saying that the new sanctions are a sign of Washington’s “desperation” and “the White House actions show it is mentally retarded.”

“You [the Americans] call for negotiations. If you are telling the truth, why are you simultaneously seeking to sanction our foreign minister, too?”

The promise to enact new sanctions shows that the US is “lying” in the offer of talks with Tehran, Rouhani stressed.

Moscow, whose senior security official Nikolai Patrushev met with Bolton on Tuesday, had also blasted the new round of US sanctions on Iran. The restrictions “negate all of the repeatedly-sent signals that Washington is open and ready to engage in dialogue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

“You can’t have dialogue at gunpoint, literally and figuratively speaking.”

All the recent diplomatic maneuvers by the US have been “aimed at mobilizing an anti-Iranian front,” Ryabkov stated.

The decades-long row between Tehran and Washington escalated dramatically last year when the US unilaterally abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, while accusing Iran of secretly violating the agreement. Iran denied this, and the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its latest reports had confirmed that the nation was following the deal.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

Trump: War President or Anti-Interventionist?

By Patrick J. Buchanan • Unz Review • June 25, 2019

Visualizing 150 Iranian dead from a missile strike that he had ordered, President Donald Trump recoiled and canceled the strike, a brave decision and defining moment for his presidency.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence had signed off on the strike on Iran as the right response to Tehran’s shootdown of a U.S. Global Hawk spy plane over the Gulf of Oman.

The U.S. claims the drone was over international waters. Tehran says it was in Iranian territory. But while the loss of a $100 million drone is no small matter, no American pilot was lost, and retaliating by killing 150 Iranians would appear to be a disproportionate response.

Good for Trump. Yet, all weekend, he was berated for chickening out and imitating President Barack Obama. U.S. credibility, it was said, has taken a big hit and must be restored with military action.

By canceling the strike, the president also sent a message to Iran: We’re ready to negotiate. Yet, given the irreconcilable character of our clashing demands, it is hard to see how the U.S. and Iran get off this road we are on, at the end of which a military collision seems almost certain.

Consider the respective demands.

Monday, the president tweeted: “The U.S. request for Iran is very simple — No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!”

But Iran has no nuclear weapons, has never had nuclear weapons, and has never even produced bomb-grade uranium.

According to our own intelligence agencies in 2007 and 2011, Tehran did not even have a nuclear weapons program.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, the only way Iran could have a nuclear weapons program would be in secret, outside its known nuclear facilities, all of which are under constant U.N. inspection.

Where is the evidence that any such secret program exists?

And if it does, why does America not tell the world where Iran’s secret nuclear facilities are located and demand immediate inspections?

“No further sponsoring of terror,” Trump says.

But what does that mean?

As the major Shiite power in a Middle East divided between Sunni and Shiite, Iran backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war, Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, Alawite Bashar Assad in Syria, and the Shiite militias in Iraq who helped us stop ISIS’s drive to Baghdad.

In his 12 demands, Pompeo virtually insisted that Iran abandon these allies and capitulate to their Sunni adversaries and rivals.

Not going to happen. Yet, if these demands are nonnegotiable, to be backed up by sanctions severe enough to choke Iran’s economy to death, we will be headed for war.

No more than North Korea is Iran going to yield to U.S. demands that it abandon what Iran sees as vital national interests.

As for the U.S. charge that Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East, it was not Iran that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, overthrew the Gadhafi regime in Libya, armed rebels to overthrow Assad in Syria, or aided and abetted the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

Iran, pushed to the wall, its economy shrinking as inflation and unemployment are rising, is approaching the limits of its tolerance.

And as Iran suffers pain, it is saying, other nations in the Gulf will endure similar pain, as will the USA. At some point, collisions will produce casualties and we will be on the up escalator to war.

Yet, what vital interest of ours does Iran today threaten?

Trump, with his order to stand down on the missile strike on Iran, signaled that he wanted a pause in the confrontation.

Still, it needs to be said: The president himself authorized the steps that have brought us to this peril point.

Trump pulled out of and trashed Obama’s nuclear deal. He imposed the sanctions that are now inflicting something close to unacceptable if not intolerable pain on Iran. He had the Islamic Revolutionary Guard declared a terrorist organization. He sent the Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and B-52s to the Gulf region.

If war is to be avoided, either Iran is going to have to capitulate, or the U.S. is going to have to walk back its maximalist position.

And who would Trump name to negotiate with Tehran for the United States?

The longer the sanctions remain in place and the deeper they bite, the greater the likelihood Iran will respond to our economic warfare with its own asymmetric warfare. Has the president decided to take that risk?

We appear to be at a turning point in the Trump presidency.

Does he want to run in 2020 as the president who led us into war with Iran, or as the anti-interventionist president who began to bring U.S. troops home from that region that has produced so many wars?

Perhaps Congress, the branch of government designated by the Constitution to decide on war, should instruct President Trump as to the conditions under which he is authorized to take us to war with Iran.

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 3 Comments

Boxed in by Neocons and the Media, Will Trump Launch Iran War?

By Ron Paul | June 24, 2019

President Trump did the smart thing last week by calling off a US airstrike on Iran over the downing of an American spy drone near or within Iranian territorial waters. According to press reports, the president over-ruled virtually all his top advisors – Bolton, Pompeo, and Haspel – who all wanted another undeclared and unauthorized US war in the Middle East.

Is Iran really the aggressive one? When you unilaterally pull out of an agreement that was reducing tensions and boosting trade; when you begin applying sanctions designed to completely destroy another country’s economy; when you position military assets right offshore of that country; when you threaten to destroy that country on a regular basis, calling it a campaign of “maximum pressure,” to me it seems a stretch to play the victim when that country retaliates by shooting a spy plane that is likely looking for the best way to attack.

Even if the US spy plane was not in Iranian airspace – but it increasingly looks like it was – it was just another part of an already-existing US war on Iran. Yes, sanctions are a form of war, not a substitute for war.

The media are also a big part of the problem. The same media that praised Trump as “presidential” when he fired rockets into Syria on what turned out to be false claims that Assad gassed his own people, has been attacking Trump for not bombing Iran. From Left to Right – with one important exception – the major media is all braying for war. Why? They can afford to cheer death and destruction because they will not suffer the agony of war. Networks will benefit by capturing big ratings and big money and new media stars will be born.

President Trump has said he does not want to be the one to start a new war in the Middle East. He seemed to prove that by avoiding the urgings of his closest advisors to attack Iran. It is hard to imagine a president having top advisors who work at cross-purposes to him, planning and plotting their wars – and maybe more – behind his back. Even Trump seems to recognize that his national security advisor is not really serving his administration well. Over the weekend he said in an interview, “John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay?”

I think when you have a national security advisor who wants to fight the whole world at once, you have a problem. Does anyone believe we will be more secure after spending a few trillion more dollars and making a few hundred million more enemies? What does “victory” even look like?

President Trump is in a bind and it is of his own making. Iran has shown that it is not willing to take its marching orders from Washington, which means “maximum pressure” from the US will not work. He has two options remaining in that case: risk it all by launching a war or make a gesture toward peace. A war would ruin his presidency – and a lot more. I would urge the president to issue waivers to China, India, Turkey, and the others who wish to continue buying Iranian oil and invite the Iranian leadership to meet at a neutral location. And fire Bolton and Pompeo.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments