Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Iran Interim Deal aftermath - sorting through the details of what was and wasn't agreed upon..... positioning for the next steps by concerned parties and non parties to Iran's nuclear talks... Giving peace a chance ? Israel isn't the only anxious party - Saudis having fits over what successful talk with Iran might mean as well !

Still sorting through things .... What does the Interim Deal cover and not cover ? What do Israel and Saudis do in response ? Some things coming to light....November 27th items....

« Breaking News »

Iran FM Zarif: Iran will continue building Arak reactor 
DEBKAfile November 27, 2013, 9:31 PM (GMT+02:00)
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Wednesday, Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy water reactor despite the deal he signed with world powers Sunday to shelf a project capable of yielding plutonium for nuclear weapons. This was presented by Barack Obama as one of the great Iranian concessions for the first-step nuclear accord achieved in Geneva. France said this is a violation of the accord. Nonetheless, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said wasn’t sure what Zarif meant but road or building work might be allowable.

Iran Seizes Saudi Fishing Vessels, Arrests 9 Sailors

Tyler Durden's picture

It didn't take long to escalate Iran-Saudi relations, or the lack thereof, following this weekend's nuclear (non) deal. Moments agoIran's Fars news agency reported that Iran’s coast guards have seized two Saudi fishing vessels after they entered the Islamic Republic's territorial waters, a provincial official announced on Wednesday. “Yesterday, the coast guards deployed in the country’s Southern waters came to spot two vessels in Iran’s protected waters in the South using electronic and optic tools and equipment,” Commander of Bushehr province Coast Guards Qalandar Lashkari said. He said that the Iranian coast guards rushed to the scene and were faced with two vessels which were illegally fishing in the Iranian waters under the Saudi flag.
It was not immediately clear if, as in the case of China's air defense zone, the US promptly decided to drive a battleship in Iran's territorial waters, just because it can. However, the Saudi response will certainly be just as acute.
Noting that 9 sailors were arrested thereafter, Lashkari said further investigation showed that the 9 people are nationals of different countries.

Also earlier this year, forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s second naval zone seized another Saudi vessel and its four-strong crew after it illegally entered Iranian waters. The vessel was later expelled.

In a relevant event on January 3, Saudi Arabia detained 21 Iranian nationals who were aboard two boats near al-Harqus Island 42 miles (78 km) off the Saudi coast, the Saudi border guard said.
We may need before an Israeli boat is arrested, and mysteriously blows up, before the middle-east returns to its wild type irrational, militant state.

Today's links.....

Across Political Spectrum, Iran Media Largely Supports Nuclear Deal

In Iran, Big Symbolic Payoff in Sanctions Relief

Iran Says Nuclear Deal Makes Oil Exports Smoother, Cheaper

Iran Deputy FM Responds to Kerry's 'Fallacy'

November 26th items....


( Doesn't this guy seem like a Tom Clancy character ? )




Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, advised Israel in a televised interview not to attack Iran. 

While acknowledging Israel's independent right to self-defense, Rhodes--who rose inexplicably from speechwriter to the highest levels of foreign and military policy--told Israel's Channel 10 that an Israeli military strike against Iran might in fact encourage the regime to develop nuclear weapons.
“Our case to Israel will be: Let’s give the negotiations a chance to succeed. A military strike has no guarantee of eliminating the nuclear infrastructure or what they [the Iranians] already know how to do, and could incentivize them to break out," he said,according to the Times of Israel
Rhodes added that he did not think it would be likely that Iran would have to give up all nuclear enrichment, as Libya did, in a final agreement.


Iran: White House Lying About Details of Nuke Deal

Iranian officials say White House fact sheet is ‘invalid’

White House / Wikimedia Commons
White House / Wikimedia Commons
Iranian officials say that the White House is misleading the public about the details of an interim nuclear agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva.
Iran and Western nations including the United States came to an agreement on the framework for an interim deal late Saturday night in Geneva. The deal has yet to be implemented
The White House released a multi-page fact sheet containing details of the draft agreement shortly after the deal was announced.
However, Iranian foreign ministry official on Tuesday rejected the White House’s version of the deal as “invalid” and accused Washington of releasing a factually inaccurate primer that misleads the American public.
“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action, and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told the Iranian press on Tuesday.
Afkham and officials said that the White House has “modified” key details of the deal and released their own version of the agreement in the fact sheet.
Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran.
“This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein,” the agreement reads, according to a copy released to Iranian state-run media.
“This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme,” the Iranian draft reads. “This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Iran’s objection to the deal as presented in the fact sheet raises new concerns about final stage talks meant to ensure that the deal is implemented in the next few weeks.
The White House confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon on Monday that the final details of the plan have yet to be worked out, meaning that Iran is not yet beholden to a six month freeze its nuclear activities.
“Technical details to implement the Joint Plan of Action must be finalized before the terms of the Plan begin,” a senior administration official told the Free Beacon. “The P5+1 and Iran are working on what the timeframe is.”
The White House could not provide additional details on the timeframe when approached by the Free Beacon on Tuesday.
As the details are finalized, Iran will have the ability to continue its most controversial enrichment program. This drew criticism from proponents of tough nuclear restrictions.
“The six month clock should have started early Sunday morning,” said former Ambassador Mark Wallace, the CEO of United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). “If this is a serious agreement, the P5+1 must ensure that these negotiations do not become a tool for Iran to further increase its enrichment abilities.”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Executive Director David Brog said he fears that the White House may have been “played by the Iranians.”
“This may prove to be yet another worrisome sign that the Obama Administration was played by the Iranians,” Brog told the Free Beacon in a statement. “Their concessions were either illusory or meaningless, while ours will resuscitate the Iranian economy.”
The White House said in its fact sheet on the deal that it could release up to $7 billion dollars to Iran during the first phase of the agreement.
The United States additionally agreed to suspend “certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue,” according to the now disputed fact sheet.
Iran could earn another $4.2 billion in oil revenue under the deal.
Another “$400 million in governmental tuition assistance” could also be “transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students,” according to the White House.
While Iranian foreign ministry officials did not specify their precise disagreements with the White House, they insisted that “the Iranian delegation was much rigid and laid much emphasis on the need for this accuracy.”

The missile defense issue could be resolved if Russia and US continue to build relations based on confidence, Anoush Ehteshami, Professor of International Relations, told RT.
Another expert, Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, told RT that “The threat from Iran was used as a justification for the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. It has been at a sore point in US-Russia relations aimed at destabilizing arms control talks. In effect, from the point of view of the US defense sector this missile defense system is a waste of money, we’ll all be better off when it’s away”.
Ehteshami, who is also a Head of the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, said that Iran was “an obvious choice to justify missile defense in Europe.”
RT: What are the chances of the United States scrapping its European missile defense plans if the deal with Iran proves successful?
Anoush Ehteshami: I think we are in a long way from this. Frankly, I think we are a long way away from a deal with Iran becoming permanent as well. I think the best we can hope for is this to go into some sequence. To be honest, I think Iran was used to be a bit of, if you like, an obvious choice to justify missile defense in Europe. Without Iran there would be other reasons for US to pursue that option, but Iran was a particular case in point.
However, beyond that, I think, there is a room for optimism as Russia and the United States are beginning to converge on a wide range of issues - putting missile defense aside for a moment - around the Russian periphery and certainly in the Middle East. The announcement, for example, of the Geneva-2 talks about Syria in January is positive. I know that Russian, American and UN officials met in Geneva on the back of the conversations they were having over the Iranian nuclear negotiations. If the first negotiations have gone so well, then we can hope that it will continue to build on this confidence generated to resolve other issues, such as missile defense.
In this image released by the US State Department, US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before a bilateral meeting on the margins of talks focused on Iran's nuclear capabilities, Geneva, Switzerland, on November 23, 2013. (AFP/US State Department)
In this image released by the US State Department, US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before a bilateral meeting on the margins of talks focused on Iran's nuclear capabilities, Geneva, Switzerland, on November 23, 2013. (AFP/US State Department)
RT: Let’s talk about this missile defense. You mentioned that this deal with Iran is a long way from becoming successful. Why are you skeptical about that?
AE: Of becoming permanent. I think that the 6 months we have got is a honeymoon period during which Iran has made quite a number of concessions to the international community. All of which are well within its reach to deliver, none of them are hugely technically, politically controversial, internationally. But domestically, obviously, it might be seen by some on the conservative side that Iran is giving away the family silver for very little. As you know, the financial gains for Iran are just under $7 billion for the 6-months period, just over a billion a month, which is a small fry, given Iran’s major economic problems.
This is very much what parties have made clear, part of the confidence-building process and this is exactly what they are doing. The fact that IAEA is going to be there, the cameras and monitoring staff on a daily basis, then reporting back to HQ in Vienna and from there to the Security Council, etc. All of that is vital to provide the guarantees that America’s allies need that Iran is sticking to the script. And of course also for the administration in Washington to show its own adversaries there that this is actually a good deal, not just for Iran and the Middle East region, but also for United States.


U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift as Power Shifts

Pool photo by Jason Reed
Secretary of State John Kerry was escorted by the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, as he arrived in Riyadh on Nov. 3.

WASHINGTON — There was a time when Saudi and American interests in the Middle East seemed so aligned that the cigar-smoking former Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was viewed as one of the most influential diplomats in Washington.

Readers’ Comments

"The Saudi's currently perceive we are allowing Iran time to build nuclear capability. We ignore their advice at our peril. "
SoCal Observer, Southern California
Those days are over. The Saudi king and his envoys — like the Israelis — have spent weeks lobbying fruitlessly against the interim nuclear accord with Iran that was reached in Geneva on Sunday. In the end, there was little they could do: The Obama administration saw the nuclear talks in a fundamentally different light from the Saudis, who fear that any letup in the sanctions will come at the cost of a wider and more dangerous Iranian role in the Middle East.
Although the Saudis remain close American allies, the nuclear accord is the culmination of a slow mutual disenchantment that began at the end of the Cold War.
For decades, Washington depended on Saudi Arabia — a country of 30 million people but the Middle East’s largest reserves of oil — to shore up stability in a region dominated by autocrats and hostile to another ally, Israel. The Saudis used their role as the dominant power in OPEC to help rein in Iraq and Iran, and they supported bases for the American military, anchoring American influence in the Middle East and beyond.
But the Arab uprisings altered the balance of power across the Middle East, especially with the ouster of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of both the Saudis and the Americans.
The United States has also been reluctant to take sides in the worsening sectarian strife between Shiite and Sunni, in which the Saudis are firm partisans on the Sunni side.
At the same time, new sources of oil have made the Saudis less essential. And the Obama administration’s recent diplomatic initiatives on Syria and Iran have left the Saudis with a deep fear of abandonment.
“We still share many of the same goals, but our priorities are increasingly different from the Saudis,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Vermont. “When you look at our differing views of the Arab Spring, on how to deal with Iran, on changing energy markets that make gulf oil less central — these things have altered the basis of U.S.-Saudi relations.”
The United States always had important differences with the Saudis, including on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the spread of fundamentalist strains of Islam, Mr. Gause added. But the Obama administration’s determination to ease the long estrangement with Iran’s theocratic leaders has touched an especially raw nerve: Saudi Arabia’s deep-rooted hostility to its Shiite rival for leadership of the Islamic world.
Saudi reaction to the Geneva agreement was guarded on Monday, with the official Saudi Press Agency declaring in a statement that “if there is good will, then this agreement could be an initial step” toward a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
In recent days, Saudi officials and influential columnists have made clear that they fear the agreement will reward Iran with new legitimacy and a few billion dollars in sanctions relief at exactly the wrong time. Iran has been mounting a costly effort to support the government of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, including arms, training and some of its most valuable Revolutionary Guards commandos, an effort that has helped Mr. Assad win important victories in recent months.
The Saudis fear that further battlefield gains will translate into expanded Iranian hegemony across the region. Already, the Saudis have watched with alarm as Turkey — their ally in supporting the Syrian rebels — has begun making conciliatory gestures toward Iran, including an invitation by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, to his Iranian counterpart to pay an official visit earlier this month.
In the wake of the accord’s announcement on Sunday, Saudi Twitter users posted a wave of anxious, defeatist comments about being abandoned by the United States.

In many ways, those fears are at odds with the facts of continuing American-Saudi cooperation on many fronts, including counterterrorism. “We’re training their National Guard, we’re doing security plans and training for oil terminals and other facilities, and we’re implementing one of the biggest arms deals in history,” said Thomas W. Lippman, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute who has written extensively on American-Saudi relations.

And despite all the talk of decreasing reliance on Saudi oil, the Saudis remain a crucial producer for world markets.
But none of this can obscure a fundamental split in perspectives toward the Geneva accord. The Saudis see the nuclear file as one front in a sectarian proxy war — centered in Syria — that will shape the Middle East for decades to come, pitting them against their ancient rival.
“To the Saudis, the Iranian nuclear program and the Syria war are parts of a single conflict,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton. “One well-placed Saudi told me, ‘If we don’t do this in Syria, we’ll be fighting them next inside the kingdom.’ ”
How the Saudis propose to win the struggle for Syria is not clear. Already, their expanded support for Islamist rebel fighters in Syria — and the widespread assumption that they are linked to the jihadist groups fighting there — has elevated tensions across the region. After a double suicide bombing killed 23 people outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last Tuesday, the Arab news media was full of panicky reports that this was a Saudi “message” to Iran before the nuclear talks in Geneva. A day later, a Shiite group in Iraq claimed responsibility for mortars fired into Saudi Arabia near the border between the two countries.
The Saudi-owned news media has bubbled with vitriol in recent days. One prominent columnist, Tareq al-Homayed, sarcastically compared President Obama to Mother Teresa, “turning his right and left cheeks to his opponents in hopes of reconciliation.”
American efforts to assuage these anxieties, including Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Riyadh earlier this month, have had little effect.
The Saudis have already broadcast their discontent about the Iran agreement, and America’s Syria policy, by refusing their newly won seat on the United Nations Security Council last month. It was a gesture that many analysts ridiculed as self-defeating.
Beyond such gestures, it is not clear that the Saudis can do much. The Obama administration has made fairly clear that it is not overly worried about Saudi discontent, because the Saudis have no one else to turn to for protection from Iran.
The Saudis have increased their support for Syrian rebel groups in the past two months, including some Islamist groups that are not part of the secular American-backed coalition.
“They are working with some people who make us squeamish,” said one United States official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But they’re effective, they’re the real deal. These are Islamists who foresee a Syria where Alawites and Christians are tolerated minorities, but at least they’re not enemies to be slaughtered.”
In its most feverish form, the Saudis’ anxiety is not just that the United States will leave them more exposed to Iran, but that it will reach a reconciliation and ultimately anoint Iran as the central American ally in the region. As the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh put it recently in an unsigned column: “The Geneva negotiations are just a prelude to a new chapter of convergence” between the United States and Iran.
That may seem far-fetched in light of the ferocious and entrenched anti-Americanism of the Iranian government. But the Saudi king and his ministers have not forgotten the days of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, who cherished his status as America’s great friend in the region.
“The Saudis are feeling surrounded by Iranian influence — in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Bahrain,” said Richard W. Murphy, a retired American ambassador who spent decades in the Middle East. “It’s a hard state of mind to deal with, a rivalry with ancient roots — a blood feud operating in the 21st century.”