Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Geneva 3 Talks; Iran Nuclear Negotiations 4 Dummies

The third round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 is well under way in Geneva.  Both proponents of peace, and of war, are looking to the outcome of these negotiations with abated breath.   Hope and fear abound, an understanding of the demands and expectations is a good indicator of the direction these talks are likely to take.   Moreover,  the key to the potential of these talks is to review why Iran’s nuclear program is the subject of these negotiations in the first place.  

The Road to Sanctions – and Talks

At the onset of the 1979 revolution, Iran abandoned its nuclear power program.  However, the considerable damage to Iran’s infrastructure during the Iran-Iraq war, and the demand by the growing population prompted the Iranian government to revisit and resume its quest for nuclear power.  It announced these intentions in 1982.    Thereon, the United States made every attempt to stop Iran – unsuccessfully (see details HERE). 

In 2002, Israel provided the means to place further obstacles in Iran’s path.  It provided the MEK terrorist group a report indicating Iran had undertaken clandestine activities[i].  Iran came under scrutiny for building nuclear sites  (which it was entitled to as an NPT member).  In 2003, as an act of goodwill, Iran voluntary suspended its enrichment program for two years and allowed intrusive inspections in order to alleviate concerns over its peaceful nuclear program (The Iran-EU Agreement).  

To understand what pursued, it is imperative to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)  to which Iran is a signatory.  The main pillars of the NPT are non-proliferation (Articles I & II), disarmament (Article VI), and peaceful uses of nuclear energy (Articles III and IV).   While Article IV reiterates the "inalienable right" of member states to research, develop, and use nuclear energy for non-weapons purposes, Article III demands that non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty “undertake to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”  Iran concluded such and agreement with the IAEA.

There is consensus that Iran has not proliferated. In other words, it has not weaponized or helped another state weaponize, nor has it received or delivered weapons material from or to another state.    This much is indisputable.  Furthermore, in 2005, the IAEA reported that all declared fissile material in Iran had been accounted for, and none had been diverted.   

Yet, contrary to its findings, and in direct conflict with the safeguard agreement it had concluded with Iran, specifically Article 19 (the Agency may refer Iran to the UN Security Council if it is “unable to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”), the IAEA reported that Iran “had violated Tehran’s IAEA safeguards agreement.”  

What led to this decision was a push by the United States.  This was made possible due to the fact that there is no definition of non-compliance.  As the prominent Arms Control Association opines: “Surprisingly, although the IAEA Board of Governors has determined on five occasions that a state was in noncompliance with its NPT safeguards agreement-Iraq (1991), Romania (1992), North Korea (1993), Libya (2004), and Iran (2006)-there remains no established definition of noncompliance.

Noteworthy that the United States contributes about 25% of the total IAEA Technical Cooperation budget.   The lack of definition allowed flexibility to enforce a political motivation.   America’s ability to impose its will was not limited to the IAEA.  As former Assistant Secretary for Non-proliferation and International Security at the U.S. State Department, Stephen G. Rademaker confirmed:  "The best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA. I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced."

Iran’s nuclear dossier was sent to the United Nations Security Council.   Politics and America’s might prevailed at the expense of international treaties – and Iran.   Sanctions -- war by other means, were imposed on Iran.  Numerous round of negotiations have only brought harsher sanctions – and progress in Iran’s civilian program. 

Current Demands

According to Western sources, there have been three demands placed on Iran: 1) limiting the 3.5% enriched uranium, 2) suspension of 20% enriched uranium, 3) halting the construction of the Arak heavy water plant.    It has also been reported that Iran is required to ratify the Additional Protocol.     Given that the talks hang on these issues, they must be explored.

Limitations on 3.5% enriched uranium -  Uranium enriched below 5% is strictly used for fuel.   There are several reasons why Iran has ‘drawn a red line’ on its right to enrich uranium:

Bulletin 26Dual Use: Avoiding The Nuclear Precipice of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation  (INESAP) confirms that Iran’s share in the French uranium enrichment plant --Eurodif , and France’s refusal to supply Iran with [its own] enriched uranium for use in its power plants, which according to them, justifies Iran’s desire to exercise her inalienable right under Article IV of the NPT to enrich uranium indigenously versus importing from any other country.  

As important, if not of more concern to the Tehran, is the undeniable fact that prior to the Iranian revolution the United States had signed National Security Decision Memorandums  (NSDM) that demanded of Iran to be a hub for enriching and distributing uranium to profit the United States (see full article HERE).

Furthermore, given the rising demand and cost of uranium, Iran is being asked not to enrich its indigenous uranium, and instead be exploited in the same manner that Africans have been exploited with regard to their resources.  As  explained by Halifa Sallah: “So they getting the raw materials from Africa at very cheap prices and they were processing and selling it back to us at more expensive prices.”    In the same vein, Iran is being asked to import its fuel needs at a higher cost to benefit the potential providers.

Suspension of 20% Enrichment -  20% enriched uranium is used to produce medical isotopes.   In a 1999 report by the Department of Energy two important issues stand out -- a coming shortage in medical isotopes, and a promise of new treatments such as ' isotopes for cancer therapy and pain control'.

There are simply not enough medical isotopes to meet demand.    It is important to note that Iran uses LEU (low enriched uranium) of under 20% to produce medical isotopes.  In sharp contrast, the United States supplies weapon-grade uranium (HEU, 90-percent 235U) to the Canadian radioisotope producers.  Not only are there inherent dangers (and legal hurdles) in transporting weapons grade material, but also the conversion of HEU to LEU is a feat in itself.

Demanding a stop to the production of medical isotopes in the face of growing demand and shortage reflects the callous nature of the demands being placed on Tehran.

The Arak Heavy Water Plant - The media, egged on by Western countries, has been quick to refer to Arak heavy water plant as a ‘plutonium plant for making bombs’.   This is patently false.     

Any reactor fueled by uranium can be used to produce Plutonium, including light water reactors. According to World Nuclear Association “Plutonium, both that routinely made in power reactors and that from dismantled nuclear weapons, is a valuable energy source when integrated into the nuclear fuel cycle.”  Reactor grade plutonium is a by-product of typical used fuel from a nuclear reactor. Weapons grade plutonium is recovered from uranium fuel that has been irradiated 2-3 months in a plutonium production reactor.     

It is worth mentioning here that Japan, a close American ally, has more plutonium than any other non-weapons state, with enough plutonium stored in Japan to build 1,000 weapons.   In fact, the United States circumvented laws to provide Japan with plutonium.

Arak is a heavy water reactor (HWR) of the type highly recommended by the IAEA.  A 2002 IAEA publication encouraged the use of heavy water reactors stating: “HWR technology offers fuel flexibility, low operating costs and a high level of safety, and therefore represents an important option for countries considering nuclear power programmes. “    Contrary to NPT commitments, the Treaty is being used as a political tool ‘doling out’ assistance to chosen allies, while depriving others.

Geneva 3

The current negotiations are said to be a ‘beginning’ in which Iran has to meet the above demands in exchange for ‘some easing of sanctions’, and with ‘all options on the table’.   This cowboy diplomacy has been in the making for years.   

In 2007, while still a junior senator, Barack Obama had “crippling sanctions” in mind for the Iranian people when he introduced S. 1430 in 2007.   His commitment caught the attention of AIPAC's president and a major donor to his campaign: Lee Rosenberg.     In 2008, during his presidential run, he addressed AIPAC:

"Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to join our cause.   If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation and that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council.”

But Mr. Obama’s vision is as limited as his knowledge of Iranians.  During the Iran-Iraq war,  isolated, disarrayed, and reeling from a revolution, Iran repelled not only Iraq’s attacks, but all its backers including America, European and Arab states.  Today, Iran is in a much stronger position not only by virtue of its defense forces, its determination and accomplishments, but also due to its relations with the outside world.  Iran has the full backing of the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM)120 countries as well as powerful allies including  Russia. 

These negotiations present a unique opportunity – not for the United States, but for the revival of international law and treaties – and the rejection if imperialism.   Let us hope that the opportunity is not plundered.

[i] Connie Bruck, “A reporter at large: Exiles; How Iran’s expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat”.  The New Yorker, March 6, 2006

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Iran’s Nuclear Talks: Theater of the Absurd

For the umpteenth time, Iran and the P5+1 are holding talks to ‘resolve’ the impasse in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.   And for the umpteenth time, the absurdity of these meetings is reflected in the futile, repetitious, meaningless dialogue amidst threats and ultimatums.  Feigned smiles and optimism add to the theatrics.   While theatrics are part and parcel of US foreign policy, surely one must wonder why the rest participate in this absurd political drama.

The current negotiations, as with past talks, place a great deal of emphasis on Iran’s enrichment activities giving the impression that enrichment is at the crux of the matter. It is, as far as Iran goes, but this is not the whole narrative.   There is far more at stake in the outcome of these talks  - America’s power to shape and implement international treaties according to its whim.

Leading up to the latest round of negotiations, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman claimed that “"... it has always been the U.S. position that that article IV of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty does not speak about the right of enrichment at all [and] doesn't speak to enrichment, period.”  (Eminent scholars have successfully argued that Iran has the right to enrich uranium under the Treaty).    This has not always been America’s ‘position’.

There is clear indication of a direct correlation between America’s ‘position’ on Article IV and the degree to which a nation is willing to comply with American demands.   In this case, during the rule of the Shah, one of America’s pet dictators, Iran had the right not recognized today. During the administration of President Ford National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM) 292, dated April 22, 1975, stated that the U.S. shall "Permit U.S. materials to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors and for pass-through to third countries with whom we have Agreement."  

A year later, the United States went from giving its permission to enrich to demanding that Iran do so.  In NSDM 324, dated April 20, 1976, President Ford authorized the U.S. negotiating team to "Seek a strong political commitment from Iran to pursue the multinational/binational reprocessing plant concept, according the U.S. the opportunity to participate in the project."    The United States was looking to make a profit from Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities.

However, the 1979 Iranian Revolution put an end to American plans and aspirations.  Iranians sent a clear message: Iran would no longer seek America’s “permission” to declare its rights under international treaties.    Iran’s insistence on reclaiming its sovereignty led to a decision by the United States to stop Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks  (and overthrow the regime).   It failed.

These negotiations are not about Iran, but they are centered on Iran.   The outcome of these talks is equally important to all countries, specifically to Russia and China --and to a lesser degree, Europe.  For the first time since the end of the Cold War, there is a perception of a shift away from the unipolar world.   At this fateful juncture, should America prevail in hijacking international law to suit its polices of the day (dictated by Israel), then all nations will be subjugated – including Russia and China. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Human Rights Advocate: Censor Them!

On November 4th, Iranian lawyer and the 2003 Nobel Laureate announced that the United States and Europe should ban Iran from using broadcast satellites.  Censor them, is what this ‘human rights’ advocate is suggesting.  Shocking as this is, given Ebadi’s track record, the call for censorship comes as no surprise.   She is, after all, a former judge.

During the brutal dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, Ebadi was a judge (she managed to become a “judge” with an undergrad degree – without legal practice experience, simply by passing a ‘qualification exam to become a judge!).  One can only surmise what the ‘qualification exam’ consisted of, however, a cursory look at the political environment of the time may shed light on the judgeship qualifications of Ebadi.

Ebadi, today’s ‘human rights’ activist, enjoyed the status and privileges of a judge at a time when the Shah’s secret police (SAVAK)  trained by the CIA and Mossad , engaged in brutal torture. According to Amnesty International, the methods included  “whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape."  As one of its many “friendly” dictators, the US covered up the crimes with censorship.  

The United States did more than train torturers and keep it under wraps.  But the US did much more for its pet dictator.  Right up until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, “the CIA worked with SAVAK, the shah's secret police, to destroy "antishah" elements in the Iranian student community in the United States. The CIA and SAVAK set up a front group called the International Association of Patriotic Students (IAPS), which organized demonstrations in favor of the shah and beat up students who differed with their view of the ruler.”  Ebadi’s judgeship remained in tact, as did human rights violations, and the censorship of these crimes. Judge Ebadi was silent – engulfed in a  culture of abuse and censorship. The 1979 Iranian Revolution put an end to her career as a judge.   She was forced to practice law instead of passing judgment!

After the Revolution,  Ebadi sank into obscurity – and resurfaced in 2002.   She appeared in the headlines as the Founder of ‘Defenders of Human Rights Center’.  Their website states: “Defenders of Human Rights Center ( was first established in Iran in 2002 at the initiative of the Nobel Peace Laureate Shiring [sic]Ebadi”.  Ebadi was given the Noble Peace prize in 2003.  No longer a judge, Ebadi dedicated her time to defending the rights of all those opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran at the exclusion of the rights of all Iranians and Iran.  She was awarded a Nobel Peace prize in 2003. 

The Nobel gave her the necessary platform to undermine the government in Tehran - at a cost to the Iranian nation.   In 2010, this ‘human rights’ attorney displayed a total disregard for human life and international law as reported by Foreign Policy.   Referring to sanctions, Ebadi “insisted” that “Iranians will endure considerable hardship if they think the endgame is greater respect for human rights”.    
This ‘human rights advocate and attorney  further opined that the United States should use VOA and Radio Farda to reach Iranians inside Iran '”to convince them  that the sanctions are targeted at the regime and not the ordinary Iranians”.    (Perhaps she is of the opinion that had VOA broadcasted into Iraq, the lives of 500,000 children would have been spared by sanctions. )   However, in spite of daily broadcast into Iran, sanctions continue to take lives.  No amount of radio wave has managed to save lives.

So while Ebadi, former judge,  ‘human rights’ advocate, recommends the violation of a bilateral agreement -  the Algiers Accords, Point I.1 of which states: “The United States pledge that it is and from now will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.” ( Per Article VI of the Algiers Accords, the violated party, Iran, has the right to refer the matter to the Tribunal at Hague, the Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice will have jurisdiction) by encouraging US government broadcasts into Iran, she is calling for the censorship of Iranian broadcast .

In 2010, Ebadi [wishfully] predicted the end of the Islamic Republic and a new start for her.   Her hopes were dashed with the election of Rohani and the popular support behind him.  But clearly her ambition is unchecked.  As such, one has to wonder what will be the next game plan for this ‘human rights’ activist who advocates death (sanctions) and censorship.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Iran nuclear negotiations - October 2013

Once again, we witness the theatrics of the West vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program.   In  reality, nothing has changed.    Interview with RT on these talks.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Syria Resolution: What does it mean?

On September 27th, UNSC Resolution 2118 was unanimously adopted calling for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.    All hailed the Resolution including the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari.   Without a doubt, and thanks to Russian diplomatic efforts and Bashar al-Assad’s readiness to cooperate, direct military action against Syria was suspended.  Inarguably, when war is averted, there is cause for celebration.   And yet, it seems we can’t see the forest for the tree.

There has been zero evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on August 21s or at any other time.   While the UN inspectors report did confirm the use of chemical weapons, it was outside its mandate to determine who carried out the heinous crime. Western experts were quick to point to the trajectory of the rockets as evidence of Assad’s involvement conveniently leaving unmentioned the important possibility of mobile launching by non-government forces.

While there is no evidence (or motive) pointing to the Assad government  there is little doubt among analysts that the rebels were responsible for the chemical attacks. Colonel Wilkerson, a former high-ranking Bush era official has pointed to the possibility of a false flag operation by the Israelis.   Analysts are not alone.

For well over a year prior to the August 21 incident, Iranian officials had warned Washington  and voiced their concern that rebels had acquired chemical weapons. Turkey, Washington’s ally and culprit in the assault on Syria’s sovereignty, arrested rebels who possessed the nerve agent Sarin.  Most importantly, the US military claimed that the rebels had chemical weapons.  Russia claimed it had evidence that the rebels were responsible.   So what happened? 

UNSC Resolution 2118 sent a loud and clear message.  Terrorist can get away with mass killing – even if they use chemical weapons.   The provision to safeguard against future use of chemical weapons is not without its irony:   “Underscores that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons;”.  Given that that in face of solid indication to the contrary, the Assad government was held responsible for the chemical attacks which resulted in the passing of UNSC 2118 – exonerating the culprits.   A new and dangerous precedent has been set amidst the sight of relief.