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Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘Pathetic’ American Media

September 30th, 2013 - by admin

Lisa O’Carroll / The Guardian – 2013-09-30 02:23:08


NEW YORK (September 27, 2013) — Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism — close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times, which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” — or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden Changed the Debate on Surveillance
He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence — although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.

“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.

“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America — the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of Redemption
Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the Hours
For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.

“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like — I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard — but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.

“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say — here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people — the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”

He says in some ways President George Bush’s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.

“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this — just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Moment the US Ended Iran’s Brief Experiment in Democracy

September 30th, 2013 - by admin

Robert Scheer / The Nation & TruthDig – 2013-09-30 02:15:33


(August 20, 2013) — Sixty years ago this week, on August 19, 1953, the United States, in collaboration with Britain, successfully staged a coup in Iran to overthrow democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh that a newly declassified CIA document reveals was designed to preserve the control of Western companies over Iran’s rich oil fields.

The US government at the time of the coup easily had manipulated Western media into denigrating Mossadegh as intemperate, unstable and an otherwise unreliable ally in the Cold War, but the real motivation for hijacking Iran’s history was Mossadegh’s move to nationalize Western-controlled oil assets in Iran. According to the document, part of an internal CIA report:

The target of this policy of desperation, Mohammad Mosadeq, [sic] was neither a madman nor an emotional bundle of senility as he was so often pictured in the foreign press; however, he had become so committed to the ideals of nationalism that he did things that could not have conceivably helped his people even in the best and most altruistic of worlds.

In refusing to bargain — except on his own uncompromising terms — with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, he was in fact defying the professional politicians of the British government. These leaders believed, with good reason, that cheap oil for Britain and high profits for the company were vital to their national interests.

There you have it, the smoking-gun declaration of the true intent to preserve high profits and cheap oil that cuts through all of the official propaganda justifying not only this sorry attempt to prevent Iranian nationalists from gaining control over their prized resources but subsequent blood-for-oil adventures in Iraq and Kuwait.

The assumption is that “the best and most altruistic of worlds” is one that accommodates the demands of rapacious capitalism as represented by Western oil companies.

Tragically, the coup that overthrew Mossadegh also crushed Iran’s brief experiment in democracy and ushered in six decades of brutal dictatorship followed by religious oppression and regional instability. If Iran is a problem, as the United States persistently and loudly insists, it is a problem of our making.

Mossadegh, who earned a doctorate in law from Neuchatel University in Switzerland, was not an enemy of the American people; he was an Iranian nationalist who as the CIA’s own internal report concedes was preoccupied with the well-being of his people as opposed to the profitability of Western oil interests.

The CIA report derides the Western media’s acceptance at the time of the coup of the demonization of all actors on the world stage that fail to follow the approved script provided by the US government. As the report notes, the “complete secrecy about the operation,” breached only by leaked information, made it “relatively easy for journalists to reconstruct the coup in varied but generally inaccurate accounts.”

Without conceding responsibility for misleading the media, the report says, “The point that the majority of these accounts miss is a key one: the military coup that overthrew Mosadeq [sic] and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.

It was not an aggressively simplistic solution, clandestinely arrived at, but was instead an official admission that normal, rational methods of international communication and commerce had failed. TPAJAX (the operation’s codename) was entered into as a last resort.”

Parts of the formerly top secret report, an internal CIA study from the 1970s titled “The Battle for Iran,” which detailed the CIA-directed plot, have been revealed previously. But the section disclosed Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the National Security Archive is, as the archive’s research director Malcolm Byrne writes in Foreign Policy magazine, the first time the CIA admits to “using propaganda to undermine Mossadegh politically, inducing the shah to cooperate, bribing members of parliament, organizing the security forces, and ginning up public demonstrations.”

All of these actions were described in great detail by veteran CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt in a lengthy interview with me for the Los Angeles Times in 1979.

Roosevelt is confirmed in the newly released documents as having the leading role in planning and executing the coup. In the interview, Roosevelt revealed his part for the first time, but instead of celebrating the success of the venture, he cautioned that it had set a terrible example.

As I summarized the conversation in the story that appeared on March 29, 1979: “Roosevelt said that the success of the operation in Iran — called Project AJAX by the CIA — so inspired then–Secretary of State John Foster Dulles that Dulles wanted to duplicate it in the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia and Egypt, where he wanted to overthrow President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Roosevelt said that he resisted these efforts and finally resigned from the CIA because of them.”

Roosevelt, as he recounted in his memoir published five months after our interview, came away from the coup he engineered with serious concerns about the efficacy of such ventures. But unfortunately it became the model in Vietnam, Guatemala, Cuba, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and other countries, where the full official record is apparently judged still too embarrassing for our government to declassify.

Washington’s Iran policy is still a disaster.

This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

An Unnecessary Crisis: Setting the Record Straight about Iran’s Nuclear Program

September 30th, 2013 - by admin

The Mossadegh Project – 2013-09-30 02:02:11


(September 29, 2013) — In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners. Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapon program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies.

In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted representation of the developments over the past 25 years.

Before the international community is lead to another “crisis of choice”, it is imperative that the public knows all the facts and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe

1- Systematic Pattern of Denial of Iran’s Rights and Its Impact on Transparency
Since early 1980s, Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and its inalienable right to nuclear technology have been the subject of the most extensive and intensive campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention and misinformation.

Valid and binding contracts to build nuclear power plants were unilaterally abrogated;

Nuclear material rightfully purchased and owned by Iran was illegally withheld;

Exercise of Iran’s right as a shareholder in several national and multinational nuclear power corporations was obstructed; Unjustified and coercive interventions were routinely made in order to undermine, impede and delay the implementation of Iran’s nuclear agreements with third parties; and

Unfounded accusations against Iran’s exclusively peaceful nuclear program were systematically publicized.

As a result, and merely in order to prevent further illegal and illegitimate restrictions on its ability to procure its needed materials and equipments, Iran had been left with no option but to be discrete in its perfectly legal and exclusively peaceful activities.

In doing so, Iran broke no laws nor diverted its peaceful program to military activities. It only refrained from disclosing the details of its programs. In nearly all cases, it was not even obliged to disclose these programs under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Therefore, while Iran’s rights under the NPT continued to be grossly and systematically violated, and while major state parties to the Treaty persisted in their non-compliance with many of their obligations under Articles I, IV and VI of the Treaty in general, and under paragraph 2 of Article IV vis-à-vis Iran in particular, Iran nevertheless continued to diligently comply with all its obligations under the Treaty.

2. Nuclear Technology OR Nuclear Weapons?
A vicious cycle of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and attempts by Iran to circumvent them through concealment and black market acquisitions have fueled mutual suspicions. In this self-perpetuating atmosphere, the conclusion is already drawn that Iran’s declared peaceful nuclear program is just a cover for developing atomic weapons.

But this conclusion is based on two erroneous assumptions, which have been repeated often enough to become conventional wisdom.

2.1- Iran Needs Nuclear Energy

2.1.1. Nuclear Energy for an Oil-Rich Country
The first is that Iran has vast oil and gas resources and therefore does not need nuclear energy. Although it is true that Iran is rich in oil and gas, these resources are finite and, given the pace of Iran’s economic development, they will be depleted within two to five decades.

With a territory of 1,648,000 km2 and a population of about 70 million, projected to be more than 105 million in 2050, Iran has no choice but to seek access to more diversified and secure sources of energy.

Availability of electricity to 46,000 villages now, compared to 4400 twenty five years ago, just as an example, demonstrates the fast growing demand for more energy. And the youthfulness of the Iranian population, with around 70% under 30, doesn’t allow complacency when it comes to energy policy.

To satisfy such growing demands, Iran can’t rely exclusively on fossil energy. Since Iranian national economy is still dependant on oil revenue, it can’t allow the ever increasing domestic demand affect the oil revenues from the oil export.

2.1.2. US Support for Iranian Nuclear Program
Iran’s quest for nuclear energy picked momentum following a study in 1974 carried out by the prestigious US-based Stanford Research Institute, which predicted Iran’s need for nuclear energy and recommended the building of nuclear plants capable of generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity before 1994.

Now, 30 years later, Iran aims at reaching that level by 2020, which may save Iran 190 million barrels of crude oil or $10 billion per year in today’s prices.

Therefore, Iran’s nuclear program is neither ambitious nor economically unjustifiable. Diversification — including the development of nuclear energy — is the only sound and responsible energy strategy for Iran.

Even the US State Department was convinced of this in 1978 when it stated in a memo that the US was encouraged by Iran’s efforts to expand its non-oil energy base and was hopeful that the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement would be concluded soon and that U.S. companies would be able to play a role in Iran’s nuclear energy projects.

2.1.3. Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Producing fuel for its nuclear power plants is an integral part of Iran’s nuclear energy policy. While domestic production of fuel for this number of nuclear power plants makes perfect economic sense, Iran’s decision should not be judged solely on economic grounds. Having been a victim of a pattern of deprivation from peaceful nuclear material and technology, Iran cannot solely rely on procurement of fuel from outside sources.

Such dependence would in effect hold Iran’s multi-billion dollar investment in power plants hostage to the political whims of suppliers in a tightly controlled market.

Furthermore, it is self evident that the time-consuming efforts to gain the necessary technology and develop the capability for fuel production must proceed simultaneously with the acquisition and construction of nuclear power plants. Otherwise constructed plans may become obsolete in case of denial of fuel without a contingency capacity to produce it domestically.

2.2. Iran Does Not Need Nuclear Weapons for Its Security
The second false assumption is that because Iran is surrounded by nuclear weapons in all directions — the U.S., Russia, Pakistan and Israel — any sound Iranian strategists must be seeking to develop a nuclear deterrent capability for Iran as well.

It is true that Iran has neighbors with abundant nuclear weapons, but this does not mean that Iran must follow suit. In fact, the predominant view among Iranian decision-makers is that development, acquisition or possession of nuclear weapons would only undermine Iranian security. Viable security for Iran can be attained only through inclusion and regional and global engagement.

Iran’s history is the perfect illustration of its geo-strategic outlook. Over the past 250 years, Iran has not waged a single war of aggression against its neighbors, nor has it initiated any hostilities.

Iran today is the strongest country in its immediate neighborhood. It does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests. In fact, to augment Iranian influence in the region, it has been necessary for Iran to win the confidence of its neighbors, who have historically been concerned with size and power disparities.

On the other hand, Iran, with its current state of technological development and military capability, cannot reasonably rely on nuclear deterrence against its adversaries in the international arena or in the wider region of the Middle East.

Moreover, such an unrealistic option would be prohibitively expensive, draining the limited economic resources of the country. In sum, a costly nuclear-weapon option would reduce Iran’s regional influence and increase its global vulnerabilities without providing any credible deterrence.

There is also a fundamental ideological objection to weapons of mass destruction, including a religious decree issued by the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran prohibiting the development, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons.

3. Negotiations with UK, France and Germany (EU3)

3.1. Iran’s Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures
In October 2003, Iran entered into an understanding with France, Germany and the United Kingdom with the explicit expectation to open a new chapter of full transparency, cooperation and access to nuclear and other advanced technologies. Iran agreed to a number of important transparency and voluntary confidence building measures and immediately and fully implemented them.

It signed and immediately began full implementation of the Additional Protocol;

It opened its doors to one of the most expansive and intrusive IAEA inspections;

It provided a detailed account of its peaceful nuclear activities, all of which had been carried out in full conformity with its rights and obligations under the NPT;

It began and has continuously maintained for the past 2 years a voluntarily suspension of its rightful enrichment of Uranium as a confidence building measure;

It further expanded its voluntary suspension in February and November 2004, following agreements with EU3 in Brussels and Paris respectively, to incorporate activities which go well beyond the original IAEA’s definition of “enrichment” and even “enrichment-related” activities.

3.1.1. Resolution of Outstanding Issues
Iran has worked closely with the IAEA, during the course of the last two years, to deal with the issues and questions raised about its peaceful nuclear program.

All significant issues, particularly those related to the sources of HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) have now been resolved. Indeed, except for few mostly speculative questions, nothing more remains to close this Chapter.

3.1.2. No Indication of Non-Peaceful Activity
The Agency’s thorough inspections of Iran have repeatedly confirmed Iran’s assertion that no amount of inspection and scrutiny will ever show the slightest diversion into military activity. The Director-General confirmed in Paragraph 52 of his November 2003 report that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.”

After one more year and over a thousand person-days of the most rigorous inspections, the Director-General again confirmed in Paragraph 112 of his November 2004 report that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.” This conclusion has been repeatedly reaffirmed in every statement by responsible authorities of the IAEA.

3.2. Broken Promises and Expanded Demands by the EU3
Regrettably, Iran received very little, if anything, in return for its transparency, cooperation and voluntary suspension of the exercise of its legitimate and inalienable right. The European negotiating partners, pressured by the US, instead of carrying out their promises of cooperation and open access, have repeatedly called for expansion of Iran’s voluntary confidence building measures only to be reciprocated by more broken promises and expanded requests:

The October 2003 promises of the EU3 on nuclear cooperation and regional security and non-proliferation was never even addressed.

The February 2004 written and signed commitment by the EU3 to:
“work actively to gain recognition at the June 2004 Board of the efforts made by Iran, so that the Board works thereafter on the basis of Director-General reporting if and when he deems it necessary, in accordance with the normal practice pertaining to the implementation of Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol” was violated, even though Iran had in fact carried out its part of the deal by expanding its suspension to include assembly and component manufacturing. Instead, the EU3 proposed a harsh resolution with further unjustifiable demands in June 2004; The EU3 never honored its recognition, in the Paris Agreement of November 2004, of “Iran’s rights under the NPT exercised in conformity with its obligations under the Treaty, without discrimination.”

In spite of its repeated and publicized claims, the EU3 never offered, throughout the negotiations process, any meaningful incentives to Iran, other than empty and demeaning “promises” of “consideration” of “possible future cooperation”.

4. The Paris Agreement
In November 2004, following extensive negotiations, Iran and EU3 agreed on a package that has become known as the Paris Agreement. The objective of the Paris Agreement was to “to move forward” in “negotiations, with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on long term arrangements.

The agreement will provide objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes. It will equally provide firm guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues.”

The Paris Agreement envisaged that “while negotiations proceed on a mutually acceptable agreement on long-term arrangements,” and “to build further confidence, Iran has decided, on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities.”

At the same time, the EU3 recognized “that this suspension is a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation” as well as “Iran’s rights under the NPT exercised in conformity with its obligations under the Treaty, without discrimination.”

The Paris Agreement rested on the premise that the purpose of the Agreement was reaching mutually acceptable long term arrangements and that suspension was a temporary measure for as long as negotiations were making progress. The Agreement further envisaged specific mechanisms to monitor and assess progress.

4.1. March Report: Lack of Progress
In March 2005, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, senior officials from Iran and the three European countries were mandated to make an assessment of the progress that had been achieved.

The reports of over three months of negotiations by the working groups, created by the Paris Agreement, made it evident that while there was every prospect for reaching a negotiated solution based on the Paris Agreement, and while Iran had made many significant and far-reaching proposals benefiting both sides, the EU3, faced with extraneous pressure, were simply trying to prolong fruitless negotiations.

This policy, in addition to its devastating impact on mutual trust, was detrimental to Iran’s interests and rights as it attempted to superficially prolong Iran’s voluntary suspension by dragging the negotiations.

It also became evident that despite repeated requests by Iran from EU3 representatives to present their proposals and ideas on the implementation of various provisions of the Paris Agreement to the working groups, the European three did not have the intention or the ability to present its proposals on “objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes [and] equally … firm guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues” as called for in that Agreement.

In short, it became evident that after massive pressure from the United States in the winter of 2005, the EU3 had conceded to unilaterally altering the Paris Agreement into solely an instrument of de-facto cessation of Iranian peaceful enrichment program, in violation of the letter and spirit of that Agreement.

4.2. Iran’s Proposals
In February 2005, Iran suggested to the EU3 to ask the IAEA to develop technical, legal and monitoring modalities for Iran’s enrichment program as objective guarantees to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program would remain exclusively for peaceful purposes.

While one member of EU3 accepted the suggestion, unfortunately the lack of consensus among the EU3 prevented resort to the IAEA as an authoritative and impartial framework for solving the impasse.

On March 23, 2005, in a clearly stated desire to salvage the Paris Agreement, Iran offered a collection of solutions for objective guarantees suggested by various independent scientist and observers from the United States and Europe. The package included:

Strong and mutually beneficial relations between Iran and the EU/EU3, which would provide the best guarantee for respect for the concerns of each side;

Confinement of Iran’s enrichment program, in order to preclude through objective technical guarantees any proliferation concern:

Open fuel cycle, to remove any concern about reprocessing and production of plutonium;

Ceiling of enrichment at LEU level;

Limitation of the extent of the enrichment program to solely meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran’s power reactors; Immediate conversion of all enriched Uranium to fuel rods to preclude even the technical possibility of further enrichment; Incremental and phased approach to implementation in order to begin with the least sensitive aspects of the enrichment program and to gradually move to enrichment as confidence in the program would be enhanced;

Legislative and regulatory measures

Additional Protocol; Permanent ban on the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons through binding national legislation; Enhancement of Iran’s export control regulations;

Enhanced monitoring

Continued implementation of the Additional Protocol; and Continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at the conversion and enrichment facilities to provide unprecedented added guarantees.

4.2.1. EU3 Inability to React
Extraneous pressure had resulted in the absence of any desire or Ability by EU3 to even consider any “objective guarantee” as called for in the Paris Agreement and instead to maneuver to achieve a de-facto cessation of Iran’s lawful activities.

This extraneous political element precluded even a serious review by EU3 of these independently worked out proposals, which continue to have the most credible potential of providing a basis for allaying all reasonable concerns.

Even Iran’s further good-faith effort on April 29, 2005 to salvage the process by suggesting the negotiated resumption of the work of the UCF– which had never had any past alleged failures, and is virtually proliferation free – at low capacity and with additional confidence building and surveillance and monitoring measures was rejected outright by EU3 officials without even consideration at political level.

4.2.2. Prelude to Breakdown in Nuclear Talks
Iran replied to such intransigence with self-restraint to ensure that no opportunity was spared for an agreed settlement. In a ministerial meeting in Geneva in May 2005, Iran agreed to extend the period of full suspension for another two months, in response to a commitment made by the EU3 ministers to finally present their comprehensive package for the implementation of the Paris Agreement by the end of July or early August 2005, that is nearly nine months after the Agreement.

Iran made it clear in Geneva that any proposal by the EU3 must incorporate EU3’s perception of objective guarantees for the gradual resumption of the Iranian enrichment program, and that any attempt to turn objective guarantees into cessation or long-term suspension were incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement and therefore unacceptable to Iran.

4.2.3. A Further Compromise Suggested by Iran
Eager to salvage the negotiations, in a further message to the ministers, Iran offered the most flexible solution to the EU3 as they were finalizing their package:

Commencement of the work of Esfahan plant (UCF)

At low capacity,

Under full scope monitoring, Agreed arrangements for import of the feed material and export of the product;

Initial limited operation at Natanz following

Further negotiations on a mutually acceptable arrangement, or Allowing the IAEA to develop an optimized arrangement on numbers, monitoring mechanism and other specifics;

Full scale operation of Natanz:

Based on a negotiated agreement;

Synchronized with the fuel requirements of future light water reactors.

4.3. EU’s Package: Too Many Demands, No Incentives
Against all its sincere efforts and maximum flexibility, on 5 August 2005, Iran received a disappointing proposal. It not only failed to address Iran’s rights for peaceful development of nuclear technology, but did not offer anything to Iran in return.

It even fell far short of correcting the illegal and unjustified restrictions placed on Iran’s economic and technological development, let alone providing firm guarantees for economic, technological and nuclear cooperation and firm commitments on security issues.

While Iran had made it crystal clear that no incentive would be sufficient to compromise Iran’s inalienable right to all aspects of peaceful nuclear technology, the offers of incentives incorporated in the proposal were in and of themselves demeaning and totally incommensurate with Iran and its vast capabilities, potentials and requirements.

4.3.1. Extra-Legal Demands of Binding Commitments from Iran
The proposal self-righteously assumed rights and licenses for the EU3 which clearly went beyond or even contravened international law and assumed obligations for Iran which have no place in law or practice.

It incorporated a series of one-sided and self serving extra-legal demands from Iran, ranging from accepting infringements on its sovereignty to relinquishing its inalienable rights.

It sought to intimidate Iran to accept intrusive and illegal inspections well beyond the Safeguards Agreement or the Additional Protocol. It asked Iran to abandon most of its peaceful nuclear program.

It further sought to establish a subjective, discriminatory and arbitrary set of criteria for the Iranian nuclear program, which would have effectively dismantled most of Iran’s peaceful nuclear infrastructure, criteria that if applied globally would only monopolize the nuclear industry for the Nuclear-Weapon States.

4.3.2. Vague, Conditional and Demeaning Offers to Iran
The proposal had absolutely no firm guarantees or commitments and did not even incorporate meaningful or serious offers of cooperation to Iran. It amounted to an elongated but substantively shortened and self-servingly revised version of an offer that had been proposed by EU3 and rejected by Iran in October 2004 even prior to the Paris Agreement.

This indicated that there was no attempt on the part of EU3 to even take into consideration the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement in their proposal.

This point is further illustrated by the fact that the proposal never even mentioned the terms “objective guarantees”, “firm guarantees” or “firm commitments”, which were the foundations of the Paris Agreement.

Instead it tried to replace “objective guarantees” with termination of Iran’s hard gained peaceful nuclear program, and replace “firm guarantees and firm commitments” with vague, conditional and partial restatements of existing obligations.

In the area of security, the proposal did not go beyond repeating UN Charter principles or previously-made general commitments.

Worse yet, the proposal even attempted to make EU3’s commitment to these general principles of international law optional, partial, and conditional by prefacing the segment with the following statement: “The EU3 propose that, within the context of an overall agreement, this section could include, inter alia, the following mutual commitments in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.”

Another example is the negative security assurances provided in the proposal by the nuclear-weapons states of the EU3. The proposal offered the mere repetition — only by UK and France — of a universal commitment already made by all nuclear weapon states in 1995 to all NPT members. It even made the application of that commitment to Iran contingent on an overall agreement by stating “Within the context of an overall agreement and Iran’s fulfillment of its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the United Kingdom and France would be prepared to reaffirm to Iran the unilateral security assurances given on 6 April 1995, and referred to in United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 (1995).”

In the area of technology cooperation, it failed to include even an indication – let alone guarantees — of the EU3 readiness to abandon or ease its violations of international law and the NPT with regard to Iran’s access to technology. For instance, while under the NPT, the EU3 is obliged to facilitate Iran’s access to nuclear technology, the proposal makes a conditional and ambiguous offer “not to impede participation in open competitive tendering.”

And far from the generally advertised offer of EU cooperation with Iran in construction of new nuclear power plants, the proposal generously offered to “fully support long-term co-operation in the civil nuclear field between Iran and Russia.”

In the area of economic cooperation, the proposal only included a conditional recital of already existing commitments and arrangements. While most of the document amounted to general promises of future considerations, even specific offers went no further than conditional expressions of “readiness to discuss.”

Two examples may be sufficient in this regard: “The EU3 would continue to promote the sale of aircraft parts to Iran and be willing to enter into discussion about open procurement of the sale of civil passenger aircraft to Iran.” Or, “the EU3 and Iran, as well as the Commission, would discuss possible future oil and gas pipeline projects.”

This proposal made it self-evident that negotiations were not “proceeding” as called for in the Paris Agreement, due to EU3 policy of disregarding the requirements of that Agreement, reverting to their pre-Agreement positions, and prolonging a semblance of negotiations without the slightest attempt to move forward in fulfilling their commitments under the Tehran or Paris Agreements.

This protracted continuation was solely designed to keep the suspension in place for as long as it takes to make “cessation” a fait accompli. This was contrary to the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement and was not in line with principles of good faith negotiations.

In short, the proposal, read objectively in the context of the Negotiating history of the Paris Agreement as well as its letter and spirit, clearly illustrates the total abandonment of that Agreement by the EU3, who have conveniently accused Iran of the same.

4.3.3. Minimal Reaction from Iran
After such a long period of negotiations and all that Iran had done and continues to do in order to restore confidence as well as the flexibility that Iran has shown, there was no pretext for any further delay in the implementation of the first phase of Iran’s proposal, by limited resumption of UCF at Esfahan, which has been free from any past alleged failures, and is virtually proliferation free.

In this context, Iran informed the Agency of its decision to resume the uranium conversion activities at the UCF in Esfahan and asked the Agency to be prepared for the implementation of the Safeguards related activities in a timely manner prior to the resumption of the UCF activities.

4.4. Who Violated the Paris Agreement?
According to the Paris Agreement, “the suspension will be sustained while negotiations proceed on a mutually acceptable agreement on long-term arrangements.”

It also envisaged a mechanism for assessment of progress within three months. In the meeting of 23 March 2005, it was clear that there had been no progress over the preceding three months. As a clearly-stated attempt to salvage the agreement, Iran made its March 23rd proposal in terms of a package of objective guarantees.

The refusal of the EU3 to even consider that package coupled with their behavior in the course of the negotiations, their August 2005 proposal and their repeated statements during the time of the presentation of that proposal and since then made in abundantly clear that under pressure from the US following the Paris Agreement, the EU3 had decided to unilaterally change the nature of the Paris Agreement. This amounted to a breach of the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement as well as the principle of good-faith negotiations.

The EU3 negotiating posture and the empirical evidence of lack of progress had in fact removed any onus from Iran to continue the suspension. However, Iran decided to maintain the suspension of all enrichment related activities and resume only the UCF process, which is by definition a pre-enrichment process. Therefore, the assertion that Iran broke the Paris Agreement is a self-serving and factually false proposition. In fact, the reverse is the case.

5. Iran Goes the Extra Mile for a Negotiated Solution
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always wanted to ensure that no effort is spared in order to reach a negotiated resumption of its enrichment activities.

It, therefore, engaged in good faith and intensive negotiations with the EU3 and other interested delegations during the Summit of the United Nations in September 2005 in order to remove obstacles to the resumption of good-faith and result-oriented negotiations in accordance with established rights and obligations under the NPT.

In this context, Iran responded positively to a proposal which would have removed any concern about the continued operation of the UCF in Esfahan at lower capacity for a specific period to allow negotiations to reach results. Iran also agreed to resume negotiations with the EU3 and to consider all proposals that had been presented.

Furthermore, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in his address to the General Assembly on September 17, 2005, made yet another far reaching offer of added guarantee by inviting international partnership in Iran’s enrichment activities.

While the President reiterated that Iran’s right to have fuel cycle technology was not negotiable, he presented the following confidence-building positions and proposals in his statement:

Readiness for constructive interaction and a just dialogue in good faith;

Prohibition of pursuit of nuclear weapons in accordance with religious principles;

Necessity to revitalize the NPT;

Cooperation with the IAEA as the centerpiece of Iran’s nuclear policy;

Readiness to continue negotiations with the EU3;

Readiness to consider various proposals that have been presented; Welcome the proposal of South Africa to move the process forward; Acceptance of partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment program in Iran which engages other countries directly and removes any concerns.

6. Abuse of IAEA Machinery
Regrettably, the EU3, pressed by the United States, adopted a path of confrontation in the September 2005 IAEA Board of Governors meeting. In clear violation of their October 2003 and November 2004 commitments, the EU3 moved a politically motivated and factually and legally flawed resolution in the IAEA Board of Governors, and together with the United States and using all their combined diplomatic and economic leverages imposed it on the Board through an unprecedented resort to voting rather than the previously unbroken practice of consensus.

6.1. No Legal or Factual Grounds for IAEA “Findings”
The imposed resolution makes a mockery of the proceedings of the Board of Governors by rehashing alleged failures that had already been dealt with in the November 2003 Board.

At that time, despite the existence of ambiguities and serious questions on important issues such as the source of HEU contamination, “findings” of “non-compliance” or “absence of confidence” in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s program were impossible.

The Board refrained from making such findings in 2003 not because of a now-claimed “voluntary restraint” by EU3, but because such were factually and legally impossible due to the nature of failures – which were solely of technical reporting character — and also because of the fact that the Director-General had specifically stated in his November 2003 report that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.”

It is ironic that after two years of cooperation, over 1200 person/days of intrusive inspections, resolution of nearly all outstanding issues particularly the foreign source of contamination, and after repeated reiteration of the finding of non-diversion including the conclusion in the IAEA November 2004 report that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities,” the imposed resolution discovered ex post facto that the failures “detailed in Gov/2003/75 [the aforementioned report of November 2003] constitutes non-compliance.”

6.2. The Real Story: Pressure to Deny Iran’s Inalienable Rights
While the resolution attempted to create a convenient – albeit false – pretext of these alleged and old reporting failures for its so-called “findings”, it is abundantly clear that the reason for production of this resolution was by no means those alleged failures, but instead the resumption of Iran’s perfectly legal and safeguarded activities in Esfahan.

In this context, it must be underlined that all States party to the NPT, without discrimination, have an inalienable right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. As this right is “inalienable”, it cannot be undermined or curtailed under any pretext. Any attempt to do so, would be an attempt to undermine a pillar of the Treaty and indeed the Treaty itself.

Iran, like any other Non-Nuclear-Weapon State, had no obligation to negotiate and seek agreement for the exercise of its “inalienable” right, nor could it be obligated to suspend it. Suspension of Uranium enrichment, or any derivative of such suspension, is a voluntary and temporary confidence-building measure, effectuated by Iran in order to enhance cooperation and close the chapter of denials of access to technology imposed by the west on Iran. It is not an end in itself, nor can it be construed or turned into a permanent abandonment of a perfectly lawful activity, thereby perpetuating, rather than easing, the pattern of denial of access to technology.

The suspension of Uranium enrichment has been in place for nearly two years, with all its economic and social ramifications affecting thousands of families. The EU3 failed to remove any of the multifaceted restrictions on Iran’s access to advanced and nuclear technology.

In a twist of logic, it even attempted to prolong the suspension, thereby trying to effectively widen its restrictions instead of fulfilling its commitments of October 2003 and November 2004 to remove them.

As the IAEA Board of Governors had underlined in its past and current resolution, suspension “is a voluntary, non-legal binding confidence building measure”. When the Board itself explicitly recognizes that suspension is “not a legally-binding obligation”, no wording by the Board can turn this voluntary measure into an essential element for anything. In fact the Board of Governors has no factual or legal ground, nor any statutory power, to make or enforce such a demand, or impose ramifications as a consequence of it.

7. The Way Forward: No Coercion, Good-Faith Negotiations
The recently imposed resolution on the IAEA Board of Governors is devoid of any legal authority, and any attempt to implement it will be counter-productive and will leave Iran with no option but to suspend its voluntary confidence building measures. The threat of referral to the Security Council will only further complicate the issue and will not alter Iran’s resolve to exercise its legitimate and inalienable rights under the NPT.

At the same time, Iran is determined to pursue good-faith interaction and negotiations, based on equal footing, as the centerpiece of its approach to the nuclear issue. A diplomatic and negotiated framework is the desired approach for a successful outcome and Iran is ready to consider all constructive and effective proposals.

Iran welcomes consultations and negotiations with other countries in order to facilitate the work of the Agency and calls on the EU3 to replace the course of confrontation with interaction and negotiation to reach understanding and agreement.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to non-proliferation and the elimination of nuclear weapons, and considers nuclear weapons and capability to produce or acquire them as detrimental to its security. Iran will continue to abide by its obligations under the NPT and will continue to work actively for the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Why Are Brian Williams and Barack Obama Lying about Iran’s Nuclear Program?

September 30th, 2013 - by admin

Glenn Greenwald / The Guardian & Ken Dilanian / Los Angeles – 2013-09-30 01:40:25


Brian Williams and NBC’s Iran Propaganda
Glenn Greenwald / The Guardian

(September 28, 2013) — There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, beginning with the fact that numerous US political and media figures are vested in the narrative that Iran is an evil threat whose desire for a peaceful resolution must not be trusted (and some hard-line factions in Iran are similarly vested in ongoing conflict).

Whatever one’s views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries [the recent phone call between the US president and Iran’s new leader, Hassan Rouhani] is a historically significant event.

Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event when leading off his broadcast last night, with a particularly mocking and cynical tone used for the bolded words:

“This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran — suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons!; what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there’s a good reason for it.”

Yes, Iran’s claim that they don’t want nuclear weapons sure is “sudden” — if you pretend that virtually everything that they’ve said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. Here, for instance, is previous Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an August 13, 2011, interview:

Question: ‘Are you saying that at some point in the future you may want to acquire a nuclear deterrent, a nuclear weapon?’

Ahmadinejad: ‘Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that.

“Firstly, our religion says it is prohibited. We are a religious people. Secondly, nuclear weapons have no capability today. If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they in fact waste their money and resources and they create great danger for themselves. . . .

“Nuclear weapons are the weapons of the previous century. This century is the century of knowledge and thinking, the century of human beings, the century of culture and logic. . . . Our goal in the country and the goal of our people is peace for all. Nuclear energy for all, and nuclear weapons for none. This is our goal.

“All nuclear activities in Iran are monitored by the IAEA. There have been no documents against Iran from the agency. It’s just a claim by the US that we are after nuclear weapons. But they have no evidence that Iran is diverting resources to that purpose.”

In fact, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared:

“There is nothing higher than the exalted supreme leader’s fatwa to define the framework for our activities in the nuclear field.” He added: “We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. When the highest jurist and authority in the country’s leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow. So, this fatwa will be our top agenda.”

The following month, Khamenei himself said:

“We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don’t want to build atomic weapons.” The New York Times noted that “American officials say they believe that Ayatollah Khamenei exercises full control over Iran’s nuclear program.”

These are identical to the statements top Iranian officials have been making for years. In 2012, Khamenei “insisted his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, claiming that ‘holding these arms is a sin as well as useless, harmful and dangerous.'” The following month, Iran’s top leader gave what Professor Juan Cole described at the time as “a major foreign policy speech” and said:

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

Can that be any more absolute? Iran’s top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace — exactly what Brian Williams told his viewers last night was a “sudden” and newfound claim.

Obviously, the fact that Iran claims it does not want nuclear weapons is not proof that it is not seeking them or will not seek them at some point in the future; all government statements should be subjected to skepticism (and one can only dream of the day when US media stars subject the statements of their own government to the same skepticism accorded to those of leaders of non-allied countries).

But what is true is that US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded [See story below] that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.

But whether Iran is sincere is an entirely separate question from the one about which Williams radically misled his viewers last night. While Iran’s actual intentions regarding nuclear weapons may be debatable, the fact that they have repeatedly and over the course of many years emphatically disclaimed any interest in acquiring nuclear weapons is not debatable. It is indisputable fact that they have done exactly that. There is nothing new or “sudden” about this claim.

To the contrary, Iran has been trying to make Americans hear for years that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have repeatedly made clear that they have not only banned such weapons but favor region-wide nuclear disarmament, including of Israel’s vast nuclear arsenal, which actually exists. It is Israel, not Iran, which has steadfastly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear arsenal (despite UN demands they do so) or to join the NPT or other conventions designed to monitor and regulate nuclear weapons.

But these facts have been excluded almost entirely from the dominant US media narrative for years. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don’t know, because the country’s media stars have barely ever mentioned it.

Brian Williams himself was either ignorant of this history, or chose to pretend last night that it did not happen when framing this historic event for his viewers.

Whichever of those two options is true, NBC News feels free to spout such plainly false propaganda — “suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons!” — because they know they and fellow large media outlets have done such an effective job in keeping their viewers ignorant of these facts. They thus believe that they can sow doubts about Iran’s intentions with little danger that their deceit will be discovered.

Many NBC News viewers have likely never heard before that Iran has emphatically claimed not to want nuclear weapons and have even formally banned them, and thus are easily misled into believing Williams when he tells them that these current claims represent some “sudden”, inexplicable, and bizarre reversal that are not to be trusted.

US Does Not Believe Iran Is
Trying to Build A Nuclear Bomb

Ken Dilanian / Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON, DC (February 23, 2012) — As US and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: US intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.

A highly classified US intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 US intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

Although Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, US officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior US officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analysis.

But Israel appears to have a lower threshold for action than Washington. It regards Iran as a threat to its existence and says it will not allow Iran to become capable of building and delivering a nuclear weapon. Some Israeli officials have raised the prospect of a military strike to stop Iran before it’s too late.

It’s unclear how much access US intelligence has in Iran, a problem that bedeviled efforts to determine whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US-led invasion in 2003.

The assessment that Saddam Hussein had secretly amassed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was seeking to build a nuclear weapon, cited by the George W. Bush administration to justify the invasion, turned out to be wrong.

Iran barred inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog group, from visiting Parchin, a military site, this week to determine whether explosives tests were aimed at developing nuclear technology.

An IAEA report in November cited “serious concerns” about “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” but did not reach hard conclusions. Another IAEA report is imminent.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted Wednesday that Tehran had no intention of producing nuclear weapons. In remarks broadcast on state television, he said that “owning a nuclear weapon is a big sin.”

But he said that “pressure, sanctions and assassinations” would not stop Iran from producing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The US and European Union have imposed strict sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors, and unidentified assassins on motorcycles have killed several nuclear scientists in Iran, attacks for which Tehran has blamed Israel.

For now, US military and intelligence officials say they don’t believe Iran’s leadership has made the decision to build a bomb.

“I think they are keeping themselves in a position to make that decision,” James R. Clapper Jr., director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 16. “But there are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time.”

Clapper and CIA Director David H. Petraeus told a separate Senate hearing that Iran was enriching uranium below 20% purity. Uranium is considered weapons grade when it is enriched to about 90% purity, although it is still potentially usable at lower enrichment levels.

US spy agencies also have not seen evidence of a decision-making structure on nuclear weapons around Khamenei, said David Albright, who heads the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security and is an expert on Iran’s nuclear program.

Albright’s group estimates that with the centrifuges Iran already has, it could enrich uranium to sufficient purity to make a bomb in as little as six months, should it decide to do so.

It is not known precisely what other technical hurdles Iran would have to overcome, but Albright and many other experts believe that if it decides to proceed, the country has the scientific knowledge to design and build a crude working bomb in as little as a year. It would take as long as three years, Albright estimated, for Iran to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

Albright said a push by Iran to build a nuclear weapon probably would be detected.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the former CIA director, told a House committee that such a decision would be a “red line” prompting an international response.

Stephen Hadley, who was President Bush’s national security advisor, said it would be too late to respond then.

“When they’re assembling a bomb, that’s going to be the hardest thing to see,” said Hadley, now a senior advisor at the US Institute of Peace, a government-funded think tank.

Some developments have bolstered the view that Iran is secretly pursuing a weapon.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Israel Demands US Arms; Lobbies for War with Iran

September 29th, 2013 - by admin

United Press International & M. J. Rosenberg – 2013-09-29 11:10:01


Israel Starts Campaign to Boost US Military Aid
United Press International

TEL AVIV, Israel (September 27, 2013) — Israel’s military chiefs are pushing for a bump in the $3.1 billion a year the Jewish state receives in US military aid even though the 10-year agreement doesn’t expire until 2017 and America is struggling with domestic economic issues.

Among other things, the Israelis are citing a 2008 US law that for the first time legally committed Washington to maintain the Jewish state’s technological superiority — its Qualitative Military Edge, or QME, in military terminology — over its regional adversaries, particularly Iran, which has been pursuing nuclear technology.

The QME, the cornerstone of the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel for the past few decades, was long viewed as a negotiating principle between the two allies, but was made law under the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008. The act requires US military aid at all times ensures Israel is technologically capable of countering any array of hostile states and non-state combatants such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The $3.1 billion a year in military aid is by far the largest single package of its kind provided by the United States but the Israelis argue a new set of security threats in the Middle East — such as the Syrian civil war, the turmoil in Iraq and Egypt, and the increased danger from al-Qaida now operating in Syria and Egypt — justify an increase in foreign military finance, or FMF, grants.

Military analyst Nathan Guttman said in preliminary talks now under way, Israel is laying out “the principles it would like to see guide the next aid package.”

“One will aim to put a dollar sum on the cost of maintaining Israel’s QME. This estimate will take into account what it will take to ensure that Israel’s armed forces are always one step ahead of their adversaries — or those Israel argues are adversaries — in the region,” he wrote in the US Jewish newspaper the Forward.

“The second will be to include missile defense programs, currently funded through a separate Pentagon budget line, in the foreign aid program managed through the State Department’s budget.”

The Pentagon has provided $600 million in the last two years to fund the development and production of several Israeli missile-defense systems that have a major role in Israeli strategy to counter Iran’s growing ballistic missile arsenal — which could carry nuclear warheads at some point — and short-range weapons in the hands of Hezbollah and Palestinian hard-liners.

Syria, too, is seen as a potential missile threat.

The Israeli systems include Israel Aerospace Industries’ Arrow anti-ballistic system, with the state-owned IAI and the Boeing Co. jointly developing Arrow-3, the most advanced variant of the system that’s designed to intercept long-range missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere.

The Raytheon Co. has a similar program with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to develop David’s Sling, a lower-altitude weapon designed to counter mid-range missiles.

US funds were also involved in the production of Rafael’s short-range Iron Dome anti-missile system. It’s been operational since early 2012 and has, by official tally, racked up an 85 percent kill rate against Palestinian rockets.

Israel’s military is undergoing a major strategic shift away from large conventional air and ground forces to meet the challenges posed by new technologies, such as the cyberwar threat.

Guttman noted that in the current US-Israel talks, “Israel is pointing to, among other things, recent sales of advanced American weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

The United States has sold the Saudis new and upgraded Boeing F-15 combat jets, along with dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache gunships and Sikorksy UH-60M Black Hawks.

The Emirates acquired Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems, known as THAAD, and Boeing CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters. Egypt, Iraq and Oman received Lockheed F-16s.

When the Americans unveiled these contracts, officials said Israel had been assured the sales would not undermine its QME.

But Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, noted that “the nexus between QME and FMF has become stronger.”

He said the “very large contracts to the Middle East … raise the question of armies having capabilities similar to our own and how we make sure we can maintain our QME.”

(c) 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Lobby Sets Out To Defeat Obama on Iran
M. J. Rosenberg / MJRosenberg.com

(September 25, 2013) — The two presidents have spoken: Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani. And they are on the same page. By that I mean not they agree about the issues dividing the two countries but that they are both ready to move forward, to test each other and see if agreement is possible.

As tentative as this is, it is also huge — as anyone who has paid even a little attention over the past 34 years knows.

However, I do not see this process leading anywhere because the Netanyahu government and its lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are both determined to end the process and have the ability to do it.

They intend to use the United States Congress to pass resolutions that will cause Rouhani to walk away by making clear that Congress will accept nothing short of an Iranian surrender on nuclear issues. Although President Obama wants to negotiate with Iran about ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program not be used to produce weapons, the lobby, which writes the laws imposing sanctions on Iran, insists that Iran give up its nuclear program entirely.

AIPAC listed its demands in a statement last week.

The bottom line is this: Congress must not consider lifting economic sanctions until the Iranians stop uranium enrichment, stop work on installing new centrifuges, allow international inspection of nuclear sites, and move out of the country its stockpile of highly enriched uranium.

In contrast to the administration which, recognizing that Iran (like every other country) has the right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, AIPAC says that Iran has no such right. (Israel, of course, has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons but, hey, that’s different).

Not only that, if Iran does not agree to total nuclear surrender, “The United States must support Israel’s right to act against Iran if it feels compelled — in its own legitimate self-defense — to act.”

In other words: the only way for Iran to avoid a military attack is by totally dismantling all its nuclear facilities and potential (to address the “potential,” Israel has repeatedly assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists on Iranian soil). This contrasts with the US view that each step toward compliance by Iran would result in the lifting of some sanctions.

AIPAC is already preparing legislation that will send a clear message to Rouhani: don’t bother reaching out to the West because you will achieve nothing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who with Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is AIPAC’s top lieutenant in the Senate says that “if nothing changes in Iran, come September or October, ” he will introduce a bill “to authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.” He says that the “only way to convince Iran to halt their nuclear program is to make it clear that we will take it out.”

Senators Menendez, Chuck Schumer (D-NY, John McCain and Graham also sent letters to President Obama urging “full compliance” by Iran before the United States offers anything. In short, led by AIPAC, the senators want “unconditional surrender” by Iran to avoid attack. This is diplomacy? It sounds more like the way the Germans and later the Russians addressed Czechoslovakia.

But why would anyone think the Senate will pass AIPAC’s war bills. The answer is simply that the midterm elections are coming up and that means Members of Congress need campaign cash. And AIPAC helps provide it.

Remember what AIPAC’s former #2 guy, Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act) told New Yorker writer Jeff Goldberg in 2005. Goldberg asked Rosen just how powerful AIPAC is. Goldberg described Rosen’s response.

A half smile appeared on his face, and he pushed a napkin across the table. “You see this napkin?” he said. “In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

Obama better be prepared. AIPAC has been pushing war with Iran for a decade. Its bills to achieve it won’t be written on napkins.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Let’s Be Honest About Israel’s Nukes

September 29th, 2013 - by admin

Victor Gilinsky and Henry D. Sorolski / New York Time Op-Ed Contributors – 2013-09-29 10:59:14

(September 18, 2013) — The recent agreement between the United States and Russia on Syria’s chemical weapons made clear what should have been obvious long ago: President Obama’s effort to uphold international norms against weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East will entangle the United States in a diplomatic and strategic maze that is about much more than Syria’s chemical arsenal.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria insists that the purpose of his chemical arsenal was always to deter Israel’s nuclear weapons. If Syria actually disarms, what about Egypt and Israel? Egypt (about whose chemical weapons the United States has been strangely silent) points to Israel. And Israel of course, has its own chemical weapons to deter Syria’s and Egypt’s, and it is not about to give them up. A headline in the Israeli daily Haaretz a few days ago stated: “Israel adamant it won’t ratify chemical arms treaty before hostile neighbors.”

These three countries have not adhered to the Biological Weapons Convention either. And Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, despite having developed a formidable nuclear arsenal of its own, which will soon become the central fact in this drama, whether the United States likes it or not.

An obstacle of America’s own making has long prevented comprehensive negotiations over weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. While the world endlessly discusses Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the likelihood that it will succeed in developing an atomic arsenal, hardly anyone in the United States ever mentions Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama, like his predecessors, pretends that he doesn’t know anything about them. This taboo impedes discussions within Washington and internationally. It has kept America from pressing Egypt and Syria to ratify the chemical and biological weapons conventions. Doing so would have brought immediate objections about American acceptance of Israel’s nuclear weapons.

What sustains this pretense is the myth that America is locked into covering up Israeli nuclear bombs because of a 1969 agreement between President Richard M. Nixon and Israel’s prime minister, Golda Meir.

For Mr. Nixon, it was mainly about gaining Israeli support in the cold war. He and Mrs. Meir understood the need to discourage the Soviets from providing their Arab allies with nuclear weapons. A declared Israeli nuclear arsenal would have led to pressure for Moscow to do so.

But such cold war reasons for America to stay mum evaporated decades ago. Everyone knows the Israelis have nuclear bombs. Today, the main effect of the ambiguity is to prevent serious regional arms-control negotiations.

All other countries in the region are members of the nonproliferation treaty, but there are still unresolved issues. Syria was caught building an illicit nuclear reactor in 2007, which Israel swiftly bombed. Mr. Assad still has not allowed international inspectors to fully investigate that obliterated reactor site. And Syria’s ally Iran is suspected of trying to assemble its own weapons program to challenge Israel’s nuclear monopoly.

Indeed, many analysts believed that Mr. Obama’s decision to issue a “red line” barring the use of chemical weapons in Syria was, in fact, driven by the perceived need to demonstrate that he was prepared to use force against Iran if it moved further toward nuclear weapons.

This witches’ brew was supposed to become the subject of an international conference, mandated in 2010 by the unanimous vote of the members of the nonproliferation treaty, including the United States. But that conference hasn’t happened, in part because of White House ambivalence about how it might affect Israel.

In April, the American assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, Thomas M. Countryman, expressed hope that the conference would be held by this fall. And earlier this month, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, urged all parties to set a conference date “as quickly as possible.”

He also argued that it should include Israel and Iran. Russia attempted to include the conference in last week’s agreement, but Secretary of State John Kerry resisted. It is not going to go away.

If Washington wants negotiations over weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East to work — or even just to avoid making America appear ridiculous — Mr. Obama should begin by being candid. He cannot expect the countries participating in a conference to take America seriously if the White House continues to pretend that we don’t know whether Israel has nuclear weapons, or for that matter whether Egypt and Israel have chemical or biological ones.

And if Israel’s policy on the subject is so frozen that it is unable to come clean, Mr. Obama must let the United States government be honest about Israel’s arsenal and act on those facts, for both America’s good and Israel’s.

Victor Gilinsky, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is an energy consultant. Henry D. Sokolski, a former deputy for nonproliferation policy in the defense department, is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

From Syria to Iran: Will Obama Do a Nuclear Deal with Tehran?

September 29th, 2013 - by admin

Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News – 2013-09-29 10:56:10


(September 22, 2013) — “Let’s Make a Deal” seems to be the new White House riff, which beats rattling sabers and sending in the Tomahawk missiles. But it’s too early for undue enthusiasm.

First, the Syrian deal could easily fall apart. Who will provide the boots on the ground to secure Assad’s chemical weapons? Who will pay for the destruction of the weapons, their chemical precursors, and their production facilities?

How much longer will Team Obama insist that the Security Council resolution include the threat of force, a blank check the Russians would be fools not to veto? And, when, if ever, will both Moscow and Washington stop their one-sided assertions of guilt?

The Syrian tragedy has more than one bad guy, and the world needs an objective look at all the suspected uses of chemical weapons in Syria, whether by the loathsome Basher al-Assad and his partners in crime, lesser elements of the Syrian army, or the Sunni rebels and their Saudi-led suppliers.

Second, the world faces a momentous contradiction between demands for justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the compelling need to find a messy compromise that will end the Syrian slaughter.

Third, all the players have hidden agendas, from competing imperial dreams of oil and gas pipelines to Obama’s murderous strategy of making certain that none of the factions ever win Syria’s civil war.

Still, even as the war hawks cheer every hint of failure on Syria, the rest of us will find hope that Obama, the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and even the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei all seem to be looking for a way beyond the devastating economic sanctions and the looming U.S. and Israeli military strikes on Iran’s nuclear program.

The dispute has long appeared to hinge on Iran’s intentions. As I wrote in “Nukes, Neo-Cons, and the Bush Who Cried Wolf” back in 2004, “Do the oil-rich Ayatollahs simply want to use atomic energy to generate electricity, as they insist? Or do they seek to join Pakistan, India, and Israel as a regional nuclear power?” My conclusion was – and is – that “the intelligence looks iffy, as it usually does when the questions count.”

At the time, George W. Bush’s CIA was warning Congress that Tehran was “vigorously” pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program. By November 2007, in their declassified National Intelligence Estimate, all 16 American agencies declared “with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.” This calls into question the sincerity of President Rouhani’s current insistence that Iran has “never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb.”

The American spooks believed with the same high confidence that Tehran had stopped its weapons program in 2003, the year before the CIA’s warning. They maintain, with high confidence in their 2012 estimate, that Iran is not actively attempting to build a bomb, but is pursuing research that might enable it to do so. British, French, and German spymasters believe that the Iranians continued some form of their weaponization program.

And, at least publicly, the Israelis have taken an even dimmer view, remaining unmoved by Rouhani’s charm offensive as the affable anti-Ahmadinejad. “His strategy is to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Smile and build a bomb.”

Take sides as you will, holding in mind that intentions can change. Understanding this, current discussions revolve more around two terms of art – “breakout period” and “nuclear capability.” At least for Team Obama, these are the crux of the dispute and the key to its resolution.

Unlike the Israelis, who have an all-but-admitted nuclear arsenal, the Iranians have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). This permits the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to regularly inspect and continually monitor all of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, though the agency suspects that the country has hidden sensitive activities.

The safeguards would not prevent the Iranians from diverting their fuel-grade enriched uranium for nuclear power (3.5% U-235) or higher grade enriched uranium for medical research (near 20% U-235) and further enrich them to weapons-grade (90% U-235). But the world would know of the initial diversion and other countries would have time to react, creating far more of an existential threat to Iran than to Israel.

For Team Obama and their European and Israeli allies, the big question is how much warning they would have. They call this the breakout period, and worry less about the Iranians actually building a bomb than in their getting enough weapons-grade uranium to do so. This is a politically expanded definition of nuclear capability. The term used to apply to Japan or Germany, who were often thought to be just a screwdriver away from having the bomb.

According to the well-connected Institute for Science and International Security, in October 2012, Iran’s Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant would have needed at least 2-4 months to get enough weapons-grade uranium to build a single bomb. The estimate assumes a race to enrich enough highly enriched uranium for only a single bomb. The time needed would expand if Iran tried to get enough to build more than one bomb.

Other, far less authoritative commentators have warned that Iran’s new advanced centrifuges could soon make the breakout period as short as ten days. This seems hysterical, and more propaganda than science. But that does not matter. The real question is how much of a breakout period Obama and his allies will find adequate.

Whatever Iran’s intentions, they are not likely to make a deal unless Rouhani can convince them that he is taking steps to maintain that amount of warning time should Iran ever choose to break out of IAEA safeguards. And, even if their demands sound a bit imperialistic, he just might do it with the blessings of his boss, Supreme Leader Khamenei.

According to Der Spiegel, their intelligence sources tell them that Rouhani is prepared to shut down the nuclear site at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom. The facility is 70 meters underground and believed to be virtually indestructible, even to bunker-buster bombs.

More important, its centrifuges are Iran’s most advanced and are enriching uranium to near 20%, ostensibly for medical research. This is just a short step to the weapons-grade uranium.

Closing down Fordo would eliminate this particular danger. Rouhani, the magazine’s sources tell them, “is reportedly prepared to decommission the Fordo enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to monitor the removal of the centrifuges.

In return, he could demand that the United States and Europe rescind their sanctions against the Islamic Republic, lift the ban on Iranian oil exports and allow the country’s central bank to do international business again.”

If Der Spiegel’s intelligence sources are correct, Obama may well do the deal, and even right-wing pundits will be writing that he finally deserves the Nobel Prize that he prematurely got in his first year of office. Rouhani would deserve a Nobel as well. As I think the Iranians would say in the borrowed Arabic of the Koran, Inshallah.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Turkish Government’s Chemical Gas Attack Injures Thousands of Citizens

September 29th, 2013 - by admin

Sebnem Arsu / The New York Times – 2013-09-29 10:49:02

Turkish Protesters Are Still Said to Be Ailing From Tear Gas
Sebnem Arsu / The New York Times

ISTANBUL (September 25, 2013) — Almost 40 percent of protesters surveyed by a Turkish medical group complained of continuing repercussions from their exposure to the tear gas that security forces used to quell last spring’s antigovernment demonstrations, the group says.

In a report released last week, the Turkish Medical Association, based in Ankara, the capital, said it had questioned more than 11,000 protesters nationwide who were exposed to tear gas for up to eight hours a day over multiple days during the protests, which convulsed Turkey for weeks in June. It said 39 percent complained about continuing effects from the exposure, with 14 percent saying they suffered skin irritations and 10 percent reporting dizziness and balance problems.

The government has strongly criticized the medical association, saying it is biased because its members – doctors, nurses and medical students – treated the wounded. During the protests, riot police officers detained dozens of doctors and other medical workers on charges of violating the public order.

The large protests grew out of more modest demonstrations in late May over the government’s plans to raze Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a shopping mall, and left five people dead and thousands injured. The riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons liberally, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was widely criticized for the harshness of the crackdown.

Separately, Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based organization, released a report Wednesday that said Turkish security forces used tear gas on a large scale and targeted medical facilities during the demonstrations.

“The level and type of force used by Turkish authorities against peaceful protesters during the Gezi Park demonstrations, as well as the targeting of doctors who courageously treated them, was unnecessary and inexcusable,” Dr. Vincent Iacopino, the senior medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights and the report’s co-author, said in a statement. “The use of all tear gas in Turkey must be banned, and government authorities must ensure these rampant abuses are never repeated.”

The report said 11 lost their eyes after tear-gas canisters were fired directly at their faces.

The protests, which spread to more than 60 cities, moved beyond civil unrest to become an unprecedented outcry against the more than 10-year leadership of Mr. Erdogan and his pro-Islamic government, which demonstrators said had adopted authoritarian tactics.

Mr. Erdogan dismissed the criticisms and said the protests were the work of extremists and international interest groups, whom he would not identify, that are trying to overthrow the government.

President Abdullah Gul, in a speech on Tuesday in New York, where he attended the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, praised environmental concerns that set off the protests but said the New York police would have responded the same way had protesters shut down the city center.

The Ministry of Health submitted a draft bill in July that seeks to criminalize certain provisions of emergency medical care, levying severe penalties on any medical worker who assists the wounded without official authorization, said Ali Cerkezoglu, the general secretary of the Istanbul Medical Association.

“By this draft law, the government treats any ad hoc clinic or medical assistance as a crime to be penalized by imprisonment and heavy fines,” Mr. Cerkezoglu said. “If it becomes law, medical service, even an emergency situation in the street, would be controlled by the government.” The proposal is expected to be debated when Parliament reconvenes next month.

Health Ministry inspectors interrogated several members of the Istanbul Medical Association about the care they provided during the Gezi Park protests, Mr. Cerkezoglu said.

The Physicians for Human Rights report, based on reviews of physical and psychological data on 169 victims, concluded that almost all were exposed to tear gas and experienced multiple symptoms, including respiratory problems, skin rashes, hearing loss, high blood pressure and allergic reactions. The report also included interviews with 53 victims and witnesses that members of the group conducted in Istanbul and Ankara from June 25 to July 2.

Turkish security forces reportedly used 130,000 cartridges of tear gas in just 20 days following the outbreak of the protests, nearly draining the country’s entire yearly supply. Some news reports said the army’s stocks were used as replenishment.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: US Plans Nuclear Missile Tests Around International Day of Peace

September 29th, 2013 - by admin

David Kreiger / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation & Iam Bloom / The Las Vegas Guardian Express – 2013-09-29 10:38:10


US Plans Nuclear Missile Tests
Around International Day of Peace and
UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

(September 16, 2013) — Two dates this month have special significance to those who want to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons: the International Day of Peace (September 21) and the UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament (September 26).

Instead of honoring the significance of these dates and working in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament, the United States has chosen to schedule two tests of its Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on September 22 and September 26.

Just hours after the International Day of Peace ends, the US plans to launch a Minuteman III — the missile that delivers US land-based nuclear weapons — from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Then, on the same day that most countries will send their head of state or foreign minister to New York for the UN’s first-ever High-Level Meeting on nuclear disarmament, the US plans to send another Minuteman III missile from California to the Marshall Islands.

These missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads capable of killing thousands of times more people than the chemical weapons used in Syria.

Your actions have helped stop Minuteman III tests before: in 2011 on the International Day of Peace, and in 2012 on the anniversary of the largest-ever nuclear weapon test conducted by the US (Castle Bravo in the Marshall Islands).

We need your support to stop these two tests as well. Click here to send a message to President Obama, telling him to cancel these two provocative nuclear missile tests and to attend the UN High-Level Meeting on September 26.

The Letter:
Cancel Upcoming Nuclear Missile Tests

September 21 is the International Day of Peace. Just hours after the International Day of Peace ends, the US plans to launch a Minuteman III — the missile that delivers US land-based nuclear weapons — from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

September 26 is the UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament. On that day, the US plans to test-launch another Minuteman III missile.

It is unacceptable for the United States to conduct these tests, particularly on dates of such significance. Instead of allowing the military to conduct provocative nuclear missile tests, I encourage you to attend the UN High Level Meeting on September 26 and engage in good-faith dialogue with other nations’ leaders about how to go about creating a world free of nuclear weapons. Continued testing of nuclear weapon delivery systems is certainly not the way forward.

What Kind of Message is US Send to the World?
Laura Lynch / Coalition Against Nukes

(September 22, 2013) — US flexing its so-called muscle … unbelievable! A nuclear weapons test on International Day of Peace? You’ve got to be kidding ….

Who’s idea was this? … and another one scheduled for September 26!? — the same day scheduled for high-level talks in the UN for nuclear disarmament in New York.

What kind of posturing for PEACE is this!? All the while we are participating in high-level talks with world leaders about nuclear disarmament we’re going to test an ICBM capable of deploying any one of our 7,700 nuclear warheads to anywhere in the world? This nuclear weapons test from Vandenberg Air Force Base by the US is unconscionable! … not in my name! How dare they! …

Nuclear Weapons Test from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Iam Bloom / The Las Vegas Guardian Express

CALIFORNIA (September 16, 2013) — Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a Minuteman III rocket this morning, September 22, at 3:01 AM PST. The target of this morning’s test was Kwajalein Atoll, an island in the Pacific Ocean some 4,200 miles away from the launch site. This is the first of two tests of a nuclear weapons delivery system scheduled this week from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

A LGM-30 Minuteman rocket, or the Minuteman III, completed a test this morning from the California Air Base located some 140 miles north of Los Angeles. The letter “L”, in “LGM”, stands for a silo-launched missile; the “G” stands for ground attack; the “M” stands for guided missile.

The “Minuteman” designation refers to the Minuteman Militia during the revolutionary war, a group ready to respond at a minutes notice to engage the English. In the same way, the Minuteman III can be prepared and launched in a few minutes with proper code authorization.

The test itself is not as concerning as what day it follows and the day the next test is scheduled for. September 21, 2013 was the International Day of Peace and it could be taken as a slap in the face of the world community, and the larger world peace process, that the US decided to test an InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of nuclear warhead deployment mere hours after its end.

As reported by allvoices.com, Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation spoke of the ill timing of the US missile tests. Not more than three hours after the end of the “Day of Peace” the US tests a Minuteman III ICBM. Not only that, but it seems that the US is planning another test, later this week, on September 26, 2013.

September 26 of this next week is significant because it is the day scheduled for high-level talks in the UN for nuclear disarmament in New York. It seems a bit incongruous that we would participate in high-level talks with many world leaders about nuclear disarmament when we plan on testing an ICBM capable of deploying any one of our 7,700 nuclear warheads to anywhere in the world. (This number of warheads is according to Global Zero a group promoting the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world.) This nuclear weapons test from Vandenberg Air Force Base seems a bit ill timed.

While both the US and Russia like to talk about how they are reducing the number of nuclear weapons they have, there has been no significant moves to actually get rid of them. A fact that has not been lost on the rest of the world.

It is not only a resistance to eliminating their nuclear weapons stockpiles that is a slap in the face to the rest of the world community, it is the fact that both countries continue to improve the delivery method as well as modernizing their arsenal.

Whether this is a calculated test politically or not, who can say for sure. Yet, the implications of these actions, on the day after the Day of Peace and the day of nuclear disarmament talks, seems to speak volumes.

There was a point in time when America was the noble country of morals. We would take the hard steps first to address freedom and cooperation. Yet, we seem to be terrified that if we actually get rid of our nuclear stockpile that we will be at the mercy of other countries.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

NSA Calls Drone Opponents ‘Threats’ and ‘Adversaries’

September 28th, 2013 - by admin

Glenn Greenwald / The Guardian – 2013-09-28 01:42:16


UK Detention of Reprieve Activist Consistent with NSA’s View of Drone Opponents as ‘Threats’ and ‘Adversaries’
A top secret NSA document provides context for abusive detention of Baraa Shiban

• Read the excerpts of the drone document here

LONDON (September 25, 2013) — A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country’s “anti-terrorism” law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he objected that his political views had no relevance to security concerns, UK law enforcement officials threatened to detain him for the full nine hours allowed by the Terrorism Act of 2000, the same statute that was abused by UK officials last month to detain my partner, David Miranda, for nine hours.

Shiban tells his story today, here, in the Guardian, and recounts how the UK official told him “he had detained me not merely because I was from Yemen, but also because of Reprieve’s work investigating and criticising the efficacy of US drone strikes in my country.”

The notion that Shiban posed some sort of security threat was absurd on its face. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, “he visited the UK without incident earlier this summer and testified in May to a US congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen.”

Viewing anti-drone activism as indicative of a terrorism threat is noxious. As Reprieve’s Cory Crider put it yesterday, “if there were any doubt the UK was abusing its counter-terrorism powers to silence critics, this ends it.”

But perceiving drone opponents as “threats” or even “adversaries” is hardly new. Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of “propaganda campaigns” from America’s “adversaries”.

The entry is part of a top secret internal US government website, similar in appearance to the online Wikipedia site. According to a June interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, the only individuals empowered to write these entries are those “with top secret clearance and public key infrastructure certificates”, special access cards enabling unique access to certain parts of NSA systems. He added that the entries are “peer reviewed” and that every edit made is recorded by user.

One specific entry discusses “threats to unmanned aerial vehicles”. It lists various dangers to American drones, including “air defense threats”, “jamming of UAV sensor systems”, “terrestrial weather”, and “electronic warfare employed against the command and control system”.

But alongside those more obvious, conventional threats are what the entry describes as “propaganda campaigns that target UAV use”.

Under the title “adversary propaganda themes”, the document lists what it calls “examples of potential propaganda themes that could be employed against UAV operations”.

One such example is entitled “Nationality of Target vs. Due Process”. It states:
“Attacks against American and European persons who have become violent extremists are often criticized by propagandists, arguing that lethal action against these individuals deprives them of due process.”

In the eyes of the US government, “due process” — the idea that the US government should not deprive people of life away from a battlefield without presenting evidence of guilt — is no longer a basic staple of the American political system, but rather a malicious weapon of “propagandists”.

The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights, among many other groups, have made exactly that argument against the US drone targeting program (“the US government’s killings of US citizens Anwar Al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011 violated the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law”).

Another paragraph from the NSA entry complains that the phrase “drone strike” is a “loaded term”, as it “connote[s] mindless automatons with no capability for independent thought” and thus “may invoke an emotional reaction”. This, the document asserts, “is what propaganda intends to do”.

Although the document at one points suggests that some drone opposition may come from “citizens with legitimate social agendas”, the section on “adversary propaganda themes” includes virtually every one of the arguments most frequently made in the US against the US drone policy, including that the threat of terrorism is small when compared to other threats, that drone strikes intensify rather than curb the risk of terrorism by fueling anti-American animus, and that drones kill too many civilians.

The NSA entry further claims that “manipulation of statistics” over civilian deaths is a frequent propaganda tool of “adversaries”, citing one study that concluded that roughly 9 out of 10 victims from drone strikes are civilians.

To contrast such propaganda studies, the NSA entry cites a New America Foundation study concluding that “civilians make up about one-third of those killed”.

Also included in the broader section on “threats” to drones are various lawsuits brought by the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights, reports of human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and UN investigations into the legality of drone attacks.

The US has previously denounced drone opponents as US adversaries and even terrorist sympathizers. In 2011, the Bureau of Investigative Journalists published a study documenting numerous civilian deaths in Pakistan during the same time period for when John Brennan, then the chief White House counterterrorism adviser and now CIA Director, had falsely asserted there were no such deaths. Subsequent reports further proved the clear falsity of Brennan’s statements.

Nonetheless, a New York Times article on that Bureau report granted anonymity to a “senior American counterterrorism official” to say: “one must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation.”

The anonymous official added: “Let’s be under no illusions — there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al-Qaeda succeed.”

About those anonymous accusations aired by the New York Times, former Washington Post reporter John Hanrahan criticized the NYT for granting anonymity to enable such toxic innuendo and wrote that the Bureau reporters documenting civilian deaths from US drones were “being smeared by anonymous US government officials, who have even accused them of being sympathetic to al Qaeda.”

These latest documents suggest that such themes are pervasive in national security agencies of the US government, where at least some officials view drone opponents as propagandists and adversaries of the United States.

That someone like Baraa Shiban is detained under a “terrorism” law by UK officials and threatened with prolonged detention if he refuses interrogation about his political views and drone activist reflects the same pathology.

Also yesterday, the Obama administration yesterday once again denied a visa to a Pakistani lawyer working with Reprieve, Shahzad Akbar, who represents family members of victims killed by US drones and is suing the US government, alleging that the drone kills are illegal.

As Reprieve put it, by denying Akbar a visa, the Obama administration succeeded in “preventing him from speaking in congress on the CIA drone programme next week”, to which he had been invited by House members to testify. Reprieve added: “Before 2010 Mr Akbar travelled regularly to the US. It was not until 2011, when he began representing victims of CIA drone strikes, that Mr Akbar began having significant difficulty getting a US visa.”

The US government has a long history of treating drone opponents as national security threats. In 2012, it denied a visa to filmmaker Muhammad Danish Qasim, a Pakistani student at Iqra University’s Media Science. He had released a short film entitled The Other Side, a 20-minute narrative that “revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical effects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan.”

The film highlighted the pain and havoc wreaked on surviving children and other relatives of drone victims. The visa denial meant he was barred from receiving the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2012 National Film Festival For Talented Youth, held annually in Seattle, Washington.

To most of the world, opposition to drones is the norm, with a 2012 Pew poll finding overwhelming opposition in virtually every country surveyed. But for the US and its loyal servants called “UK officials”, such views are evidently reflective of national security threats or even, in London now, suggestive of “terrorism”.

Also yesterday, the Libyan-American rapper Khaled Ahmed, better known by his stage name “Khaled M”, was removed from an airplane in the US without any explanation. During the civil war in Libya, he was hailed in US media circles for using his music to protest against the Ghadaffi regime. As his Twitter feed makes clear, this was part of ongoing harassment he experiences when flying at the hands of his own government.

Finally, Sarah Abdurrahman, an American Muslim and producer of the NPR program “On the Media”, was detained for 6 hours at the US border in Niagra Falls when returning from a vacation in Canada with her family (all US citizens). She then reported on her own experiences as well as the systemic border harassment of US Muslims by their own government; the 20-minute segment (which includes the plight of Khaled M, among many others) is truly infuriating and really worth hearing.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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