Working for International Dialogue and Peace

The IAEA Faces a Major Credibility Test

by Robert Kelley (source: LobeLog) December 15, 2014

On December 11, the spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that his agency was, as Gareth Porter asserted on this website earlier this month, not interested in accepting a recent invitation by Iran to visit Marivan, at least at this time.

The spokesman, Serge Gas, reportedly told Reuters in an email that the agency had “explained clearly to Iran—on more than one occasion—that an offer of a visit of Marivan does not help address specific concerns related to the issue of large-scale high explosive experiments.” No further elaboration was made in the email, according to Reuters.

As someone who has worked at a senior level for the IAEA and who has respect for its mission and its dedicated personnel, I found this statement—and the decision not to accept Iran’s invitation—disappointing and worrisome. ››read more

        Editor's note: Robert Kelly had been in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna as a Director for challenging nuclear inspections in Iraq and many other countries.

Ashton Carter, Iran, Neo-Realism And ‘Incident At Sea’

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (source: Iran Review) December 12, 2014

US President Barack Obama’s pick of hawkish Ashton Carter as the next secretary of defense in place of the relatively dovish Chuck Hagel has been widely interpreted as the administration’s intention to increase its reliance on America’s ‘hard-power’ in light of the growing global instabilities and the dawn of a ‘new cold war’ between US and Russia. ››read more

Tell Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today: Diplomacy with Iran!

(source: December 9, 2014

On November 24, the U.S., negotiators from five other world powers, and Iran agreed to extend talks surrounding Iran's nuclear program until July 2015.

And as Congress returned from recess and negotiators made plans to resume talks, GOP pressure on Senate Democrats who are more likely to side with hawkish Republicans on Iran mounted—rapidly. ››read more

Iran’s Enrichment Offer: So Near And Yet Not Far Enough

by Peter Jenkins (source: Lobelog) December 4, 2014

This analysis ........ is an attempt to clarify the progress that has been made on enrichment over the last 12 months; to explain why the current Iranian offer is reasonable from a legal and from a confidence-building perspective; and to counter the pernicious influence on US negotiating goals of people who want the bar set so high that Iran will refuse the jump. ››read more

        Editor's note: Peter Jenkins was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna) in 2001-2006.

The Parchin Puzzle

by Robert Kelley (source: LobeLog) December 3, 2014

In the seemingly never-ending debate over Iran’s nuclear program, specifically the “possible military dimensions,” or PMD, of its past work, much has been made over the thus-far frustrated demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect a building at the sprawling Parchin military complex near Tehran. It has repeatedly been alleged by Iran’s critics that there is an explosive containment chamber in that building and that a visit there would go far toward establishing that Iran has nuclear-weapons ambitions.
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        Editor's note: Robert Kelly has been in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna as a Director for challenging nuclear inspections in Iraq and many other countries.

Russia-Iran ‘oil for goods’ program to launch soon - minister

(source: RT) December 1, 2014

Deliveries of Russian goods in exchange for Iranian oil will begin soon, according to Russia’s minister of economic development. He says the two countries are also working on a plan to trade in national currencies.

Aleksey Ulyukayev said grain is a primary commodity, while other goods on the list are being negotiated.

“We can export a big volume of our non-raw materials exports, such as equipment for the oil and gas industry, agricultural machinery, motor vehicles, aircraft, railway cars, power machines, electricity generators,” he said. “Russia can receive a serious portfolio of orders for machine-building, for industries with high added value.” ››read more

Opening the 'Black Box' of Geneva Agreement’s Legal Status

by Kaveh Afrasiabi (source: Iran Review) November 30, 2014

The latest 7-month extension of the Geneva “interim” agreement has infuriated some hawkish members of US Congress, who have threatened to pass new Iran sanctions bills in the near future. Should this happen, then the US lawmakers would be putting the US at odds not only with Iran but also with the international norms and laws, notwithstanding Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which requires a state “to refrain from acts which could defeat the object and purpose of a treaty before its entry to force by that state.” ››read more

Was the Iran Deal Threatened by US Sanctions Provisions?

by Peter Jenkins (source: LobeLog) November 28, 2014

What went wrong? Why were the United States and Iran unable to come to a comprehensive agreement in Vienna on Monday?

According to an Iranian source close to the negotiations, the main obstacle was the inability of the US negotiators to convince Iranian counterparts that the administration could persuade Congress to repeal relevant sanctions provisions. ››read more

        Editor's note: Peter Jenkins was UK Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency and other UN organisations at Vienna between 2001 and 2006.

Another Missed Opportunity

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (source: Iran Review) November 26, 2014

In historical retrospect, future historians may well regard the latest failure to reach a final-status nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers as a splendid though unfortunate example of 'missed opportunity'. While many of the crucial details of the intense week-long negotiation that ultimately fell short of a final deal have yet to be publicly revealed, still there is sufficient data to reach the conclusion that the description of a 'missed golden opportunity' is apt and can indeed shed some insight on the complexities of the issue at hand. ››read more

Pro-Israel Hawks Take Wing over Extended Iran Nuclear Talks

by Jim Lobe (source: IPS) November 25, 2014

Washington—Buoyed by the failure of the US and five other powers to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear program after a week of intensive talks, pro-Israel and Republican hawks are calling for Washington to ramp up economic pressure on Tehran even while talks continue, and to give Congress a veto on any final accord. ››read more

Interview with RT International on Iran Nuclear

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (source: RT) November 25, 2014

Following the extension of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and p5+1, Russia Today interviewed Kaveh Afrasiabi on the significance of this extension. ››read more

Debate: Iran’s nuclear negotiations

(source: Press TV) November 22, 2014

Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says the P5+1 group has offered no significant proposals so far during nuclear talks to solve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program. ››read more

Nuclear deal could reset US-Iran relations

by Nader Entessar and Kaveh Afrasiabi (source: Boston Globe) November 20, 2014

After several marathon rounds of negotiations since the interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers in Geneva last November, substantial progress toward a final deal has been achieved, thus making it likely that the November 24th deadline can be met. The parties have come too far, invested too much effort and, indeed, made too much progress to let the opportunity for a “win-win” resolution of the Iranian nuclear standoff slip out of their grasp. ››read more

Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity

by Hooman Majd (source: The Guardian) November 19, 2014

After at least a century of being dictated to by foreign powers, in 1979 the people of a once-great nation – arguably the world’s first multi-ethnic state – chose dignity over subservience, whatever the cost. It didn’t matter that the shah and his father before him had wrested, by force, their nation out of its 19th-century stupor and into a 20th-century modern state. What mattered was that they, and particularly the younger shah, had done so at the cost of their dignity. In the waning years of the second world war, the great powers had removed occupied Iran’s first Pahlavi king and replaced him with his unprepared 21-year-old son; it was decided at the Tehran conference in late 1943, attended by Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill – who couldn’t even be bothered to pay a courtesy call to the monarch he helped install, the self-proclaimed “king of kings” and “light of the Aryans”. Iran’s independence was guaranteed, but in the minds of most Iranians nothing could be as humiliating as having their fate decided by three farangis, or foreign powers. The 1953 CIA- and MI6-backed coup against the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh only confirmed their sense of helplessness. The Islamic revolution put an end to that notion – Iran was never again to play a subservient role, in the region or in the world. ››read more

Iran and the Expanding World Enrichment Programs

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (source: Iran Review) November 10, 2014

One of the ironies of the current nuclear negotiations between Iran and the "5+1" nations is that the latter are united in their demand from Iran to curtail its uranium enrichment program precisely at a time when they themselves are expanding their own programs, reflecting a broader trend in the world profile of uranium enrichment plant operations driven by commercial and economic interests.

This, of course, makes a perfect case for legal discrimination against Iran, which has a comparatively small enrichment program under full-scope IAEA inspections, which has repeatedly, including in its latest November 2014 Safeguard Report on Iran, confirmed the absence of any evidence of diversion from peaceful nuclear work. ››read more

Iran slams EU's fresh bans against Iranian institutions, companies

(source: Press TV) November 9, 2014

Iran has strongly condemned the European Union’s latest move to impose fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian institutions and companies despite the ongoing negotiations between representatives of Iran, the US and the EU in the Omani capital, Muscat. ››read more

If Nuclear Negotiations With Iran Fail, US Will Be Blamed

by Muhammad Sahimi (source: November 3, 2014

At a symposium in Washington on October 23, Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State who leads the US negotiation team with Iran, asserted that, "We hope the leaders in Tehran will agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that this program will be exclusively peaceful. If that does not happen, the responsibility will be seen by all to rest with Iran." Given all the concessions that Iran has made, given US excessive demands on Iran, and given the fact that, in effect, the US is trying to impose a new and illegal interpretation of Iran’s obligations under the NPT and its SG Agreement and the meaning of "peaceful nuclear program," it will be the US that will be blamed for the failure of the negotiations, not Iran. ››read more

        Editor's note: Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is co-founder and editor of the website, Iran News & Middle East Reports.

The Iranian Nuclear Issue and Sino-Iranian Relations

by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett (source: Going to Tehran) November 1, 2014

As the world waits to see if Iran and the P5+1 reach a final nuclear agreement by November 24, we remain relatively pessimistic about the prospects for such an outcome. Above all, we are pessimistic because closing a comprehensive nuclear accord will almost certainly require the United States to drop its (legally unfounded, arrogantly hegemonic, and strategically senseless) demand that the Islamic Republic dismantle a significant portion of its currently operating centrifuges as a sine qua non for a deal. ››read more

Israeli policy on Iran is the biggest threat to its 'special relationship' with America

by Ali Gharib (source: The Guardian) November 1, 2014

Is the US-Israel relationship in crisis? The prominent journalist Jeffrey Goldberg – the man a White House aide once called the “official therapist” of the relationship – seems to think so.

But while most coverage of Goldberg’s long article in The Atlantic revolves around an unnamed official calling Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu “chickenshit” – which the Obama administration spent two days disavowing – lost in the pearl-clutching is the insightful look at how Netanyahu’s policies on Iran are a direct affront on American interests. ››read more

Resolving key nuclear issue could turn on Iran-Russia deal

by Gareth Porter (source: Middle East Eye) October 29, 2014

US and Iranian negotiators are working on a compromise approach to the issue of Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities, which the Barack Obama administration has said in the past Iran was refusing to make concessions on.

The compromise now being seriously discussed would meet the Obama administration's original requirement for limiting Iran's "breakout capability" by a combination of limits on centrifuge numbers and reduction of Iran's stockpile of low enriched uranium, rather than by cutting centrifuges alone.

That approach might permit Iran to maintain something close to its present level of operational centrifuges.
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