Sunday, November 24, 2013

Iran reaches deal with P 5 + ! on Nuclear Program - Interim Deal announced by French foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ... Some aspects of Iran Nuclear Program rolled back or halted during th 6 month period of the Interim Deal , in exchange some sanctions relief has been extended. ....Israel and Saudis reserve their perceived option for a military attack - as the UN Security Council has signed onto the Interim Deal , that anger from Israel and Saudi Arabia appears to be like" Sound and fury signifying nothing ! "

The Middle East warmly welcomes Iran Deal, sees it as Step toward Denuclearizing Israel

Posted on 11/26/2013 by Juan Cole
Israel and Saudi Arabia have loomed large in reporting about the regional reaction to the UN Security Council plus Germany’s preliminary deal with Iran as they negotiate an end to the international boycott of Iran in return for practical steps permanently forestalling an Iranian nuclear weapon. Israel is a small country of 7.5 million with a GDP around the same as Portugal’s, and it isn’t actually all that important in the Middle East, which contains 600 million people if you include North Africa– and with which the US does $400 billion a year in trade.
But despite the fear-mongering and hysteria of Israeli politicians [see below], the general reaction in the region has been much more positive than the Likud government would have us believe. Moreover, far from there being an Israel-Arab consensus against the agreement, much of the Arab world welcomed the Iran deal and saw it as a first step toward getting nuclear weapons out of the Middle East altogether. That is, they are hoping that once Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is restructured as permanently peaceful, the United Nations Security Council will turn up pressure on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.
Turkey, a NATO ally of the US that has some disputes with Iran (notably over Syria) nevertheless warmly greeted the announcement. Turkey has a population of 76 million, as does Iran, i.e., both are just a little less populous than Germany.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Twitter on Sunday,
 “I welcome today’s agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. I have been advocating a solution through diplomacy and we hosted many diplomatic efforts in Turkey to this end . . . This is a major step forward. I hope it’ll be sealed with a final agreement soon. I congratulate all parties for their constructive engagement.”
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has a doctrine of seeking good relations with neighbors in order to expand trade. After AK came to power in 2002, Turkey’s foreign trade expanded a great deal ( it was $239 billion in 2012) and trade with the Middle East expanded from almost nothing under the nationalist, secularist generals to 22%. (Turkey’s GDP is $788 billion in nominal terms, more than that of the Netherlands and just behind Indonesia, making it the 17th largest economy in the world, lagging behind not only Indonesia but Mexico and South Korea).
The new commerce of the past decade is worth billions to Ankara and comes as cream on top of expanded trade with Europe and Asia. By 2011, Turkey’s trade with Iran had gone from almost nothing to $16 bn. Some 2500 Iranian companies have invested in Turkey. But in 2013 the value of the trade has fallen from the previous year, largely because of international sanctions that make it difficult for Iran to develop its oil and gas production and difficult for Turkish banks to interface with Iranian ones. Turkish officials view the level of trade with Iran as far below what could be achieved, and as currently almost insignificant. They would like to expand the trade to $100 billion, and had aimed for $30 billion by 2015.
International sanctions were therefore extremely inconvenient for Turkey’s policy of trade expansion in the region. Moreover, Turkey depends on inexpensive natural gas from Iran for some of its own electricity production. Compared to the Turkish-Iranian tiff over Syria, the possible cooperation in energy and trade expansion is much more important to Ankara. Likewise, the AKP supports the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, and has that in common with Iran. Turkey is champing at the bit to trade unhindered with Iran and to invest in it, as well as to welcome further Iranian investment in Turkey. The Kerry-Zarif deal could not be more welcome in Ankara.
Iraq, with a population of over 30 million and a GDP of $212 bn., also enthusiastically greeted the news. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said,
 “Reaching an agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the six nations over Iran’s nuclear program is a major step in the security and stability of the region… We hope that the process of confidence-building and dialogue will continue in the interest of both sides to prevent nuclear proliferation and to recognize the right of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.”
Iran and Iraq were probably at one point in a nuclear arms race with one another (and with Israel, which started it), so it is remarkable that Baghdad defends Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful energy purposes. Al-Maliki has poor relations with the Sunni Gulf oil monarchies and so is isolated. He depends on Iran for trade and electricity and for support in his war of attrition with Sunni extremists who keep blowing up his capital.
Iraq hasn’t paid any attention to the international sanctions on Iran because it needs Iran too much, and indeed it may have been extending aid to Iran to help it in its economic difficulties. The Maliki government has been caught between its American ally and its Iranian one, and been subject to pressure from each side. Kurdish Member of Parliament Mahmoud Osman made this point, saying that if relations between Washington and Tehran improved, it would reduce pressures on Iraq. Osman said that Iraq would benefit economically, because it would not have to extend aid to Iran to help it get through the harsh sanctions. This is the first time I’ve seen the allegation that Iraq is helping Iran with aid (it used to be the other way around). I would be very surprised if Iraq is not helping Iran smuggle petroleum out in contravention of American sanctions.
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, welcomed the agreement as “positive.” In particular, he tied it to Iran’s agreement never to produce a bomb, and saw it as a step toward the de-nuclearization of the Middle East. That is, Lebanon is hoping that after the Iran nuclear problem is dealt with, the world community will next turn to the Israeli nuclear problem, which Mansour says threatens his country.
Egypt, a country of 84 million with a GDP of $254 bn, took much the same tack as Lebanon. A spokesman for interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy“welcomed” the agreement and also saw it as a move toward the de-nuclearization of the Middle East.
The spokesman for the Jordanian government, Muhammad al-Mumini , said that the agreement was “a step in the right direction.” He went on to express his hope that the international community would go on to take equal interest in resolving the other security problems in the region. (He meant the Syrian civil war, which is putting an enormous burden on Jordan, and the problem of Palestinian statelessness, which concerns the 60% of Jordan’s population that consists of families ethnically cleansed by the Israelis from their original homes). Jordan’s King Abdullah II had long warned that a war with Iran would be a catastrophe for the whole Middle East, but a few years ago in the Bush era he was not always on the same page with his American and Saudi allies.
The Gulf Cooperation Council of oil monarchies was not as negative as the US media keeps reporting. The cabinet of the United Arab Emirates praised the agreement and said it hoped it would lead to regional stability and an end to nuclear proliferation. Likewise, Qatar and Bahrain welcomed the development, and like Lebanon and Egypt said they hoped it would lead to a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. We know Oman approves because it hosted the preparatory meetings between the US and Iran. Kuwait (a country of 3.2 million with a GDP of $173 bn) seems to dislike the agreement, since it appears to be silent on it.
As for Saudi Arabia, which some pundits allege is so upset by the negotiations that it is ready to throw in with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, well, not so much. The Saudi Minister of Culture, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Muhyi’d-Din Khoja, said that the preparatory agreement could lead to a resolution of the Iran nuclear problem, assuming that that country acts in good faith. He was also glad that the agreement recognized the right of countries in the region to benefit from nuclear power. (Saudi Arabia wants nuclear reactors, something Iran already has at Bushehr, but Israel had bombed Iraq when it built a light water nuclear reactor, so Riyadh seems to see the UNSC undertakings as removing any Israeli veto against peaceful reactors in the region). Like Egypt and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia also saw the understanding as a first step toward also removing Israeli nukes from the Middle East.
Algeria, a country with a population of 38 million and a GDP of $209 bn, warmly welcomed the deal.
There was no question that Syria would be happy about the breakthrough, and Damascus said it showed that the region’s problems can be resolved through negotiation.
So actually, folks, the Likud government of Netanyahu is completely isolated in its loud rejection of these negotiations. Virtually everyone else in the Middle East is positive, and most of the countries that count (by size and power) are absolutely enthusiastic. The degree of Israeli isolation is matched only by the extremeness of its rhetoric. One Israeli cabinet member who has read too much Tom Clancy warned of “suitcase bombs” provided by Iran to terrorist for use in Western cities. Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon and there aren’t any such things as suitcase bombs and no country has ever given away a nuclear weapon to anyone, let alone to a scruffy terrorist. And, again, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon or any particular prospect of one. Israel in contrast has several hundred warheads and the means to deliver them, bombs that it developed sneakily and under false pretenses. And Israel routinely uses its nuclear stockpile to threaten or blackmail other countries (as with Ariel Sharon’s threats directed at Saddam Hussein’s Iraq).

US Officials Hint at Reservations on Final Nuclear Deal
by , November 26, 2013
The “first step” agreement between Iran and the United States that was sealed in Geneva over the weekend is supposed to lead to the negotiation of a “comprehensive settlement” of the nuclear issue over the next six months, though the latter has gotten little attention.
But within hours of the agreement, there are already indications from senior U.S. officials that the Barack Obama administration is not fully committed to the conclusion of a final pact, under which economic sanctions would be completely lifted.
The administration has apparently developed reservations about such an “end state” agreement despite concessions by the government of President Hassan Rouhani that were more far-reaching than could have been anticipated a few months ago.
In fact the Rouhani government’s moves to reassure the West may have spurred hopes on the part of senior officials of the Obama administration that the United States can achieve its minimum aims in reducing Iran’s breakout capacity without giving up its trump cards – the harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil expert and banking sectors.
The signs of uncertain US commitment to the “end state” agreement came in a background press briefing by unidentified senior US officials in Geneva via teleconference late Saturday night. The officials repeatedly suggested that it was a question of “whether” there could be an “end state” agreement rather than how it could be achieved.
“What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5+1 partners over the next six months,” said one of the officials, “is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian program is peaceful.”
The same official prefaced that remark by stating, “In terms of the ‘end state’, we do not recognize a right for Iran to enrich uranium.”
Later in the briefing, a senior official repeated the same point in slightly different words. “What the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that…gives us assurance that the Iranian program is peaceful.”
Three more times during the briefing the unnamed officials referred to the negotiation of the “comprehensive solution” outlined in the deal agreed to Sunday morning as an open-ended question rather than an objective of US policy.
“We’ll see whether we can achieve an end state that allows for Iran to have peaceful nuclear energy,” said one of the officials.
Those carefully formulated statements in the background briefing do not reflect difficulties in identifying what arrangements would provide the necessary assurances of a peaceful nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry declared at a press appearance in Geneva, “Folks, it is not hard to prove peaceful intention if that’s what you want to do.”
The background briefing suggested that in next six months, Iran would have to “deal with” U.N. Security Council resolutions, which call for Iran to suspend all enrichment activities as well as all work on its heavy reactor in Arak.
Similarly, the unnamed officials said Iran “must come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency].”
Those statements appeared to suggest that the administration would be insisting on a complete end to all enrichment, at least temporarily, and an end to all work on Arak.
The actual text of the agreement reached on Sunday states, however, that both the six powers of the P5+1 and Iran “will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures,” apparently referring to the measures necessary to bring Security Council consideration of the Iran nuclear issue to a conclusion.
The Obama administration has yet to release an official text of the “first step” agreement, although the official Iran Fars new agency released a text over the weekend.
Iran has demonstrated its determination to achieve such an agreement by effectively freezing and even partially reversing its nuclear program while giving the IAEA daily access to Iran’s enrichment sites.
The Washington Post story on Sunday cited Western officials in Geneva as saying that the Iranian concessions “not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected.”
But since the early secret contacts with Iran in August and September, the Obama administration has been revising its negotiating calculus in light of the apparent Iranian eagerness to get a deal.
In mid-October, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported that the White House and State and Treasury departments were interested in an idea first proposed in early October by Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who had lobbied the Obama administration successfully for the sanctions aimed at cutting Iranian oil export revenues.
The Dubowitz proposal was to allow Iran access to some of its own money that was sitting in frozen accounts abroad in return for “verified concessions” that would reduce Iranian nuclear capabilities.
Meanwhile the United States and other powers would maintain the entire structure of the sanctions regime, at least in the interim period, without any change, Goldberg reported, “barring something like total capitulation” by Iran.
The scheme would give greater rewards for dismantling all but a limited number of safeguards than for lesser concessions, according to Goldberg’s report, based on information from “several officials”.
And if Iran refused, the plan would call for even more punishing sanctions against Iran’s natural gas sector.
That was essentially the policy that the Obama administration adopted in the negotiations in Geneva. In the first step agreement, Iran agreed to stop all enrichment to 20 percent, reduce the existing 20 percent-enriched stockpile to zero, convert all low enriched uranium to a form that cannot be enriched to higher level and allow IAEA inspectors daily access to enrichment sites.
In return for concessions representing many of its key negotiating chips, Iran got no relief from sanctions and less than seven billion dollars in benefits, according to the official US estimate.
But the Iranian concessions will hold only for six months, and Iran has made such far-reaching concessions before in negotiations on a preliminary that anticipated a later comprehensive agreement and then resumed the activities it had suspended.
In the Paris Agreement of Nov. 15, 2004 with the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, France, Iran agreed “on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend an existing suspension of enrichment to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities”.
That meant that Iran was giving up all work on the manufacture, assembly, installation and testing of centrifuges or their components. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was under the impression it was an open-ended suspension and initially opposed it.
Khamenei relented only after Hassan Rouhani, then the chief nuclear policy coordinator and now president, and other officials, assured him that it was a temporary measure that would endure only until an agreement was reached that legitimized Iran’s enrichment or the determination that the Europeans were not serious, according to Ambassador Hossein Mousavian’s nuclear memoirs.
After the Europeans refused to negotiate on an Iranian proposal for a comprehensive settlement in March 2005 that would have provided assurances against enrichment to weapons grade, Khamenei pulled the plug on the talks, and Iran ended its suspension of enrichment-related activities.
The United States had long depended on its dominant military power to wage “coercive diplomacy” with Tehran, with threat of an attack on Iran as its trump card. But during the George W. Bush administration, that threat begin to lose its credibility as it became clear that the US military was opposed to war with Iran over its nuclear program.
Obama administration officials are now acting as though they believe the sanctions represent a diplomatic trump card that is far more effective than the “military option” that it had been lost.
Some news stories on the “first step” agreement have referred to the possibility that the negotiations on the final settlement could stall, and the status quo might continue. But the remarks by senior US officials suggest the administration may be hoping for precisely such an outcome.

Congress Threatens to Derail Iran Deal With New Sanctions

Hawkish Leadership Vow to Push Sanctions Through

by Jason Ditz, November 24, 2013
The P5+1 deal with Iran may be finalized, but keeping it intact is still a battle, as the sanctions relief in the deal is under immediate threat from the US Congress, wherehawks are threatening to impose more sanctions on Iran.
For some, like Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R – GA), the argument is that Iran is in a weak position right now and the sanctions could really stick it to them and dictate even harsher terms. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is warning that new sanctions would kill the deal, however, and for many Congressmen, that’s the whole point.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – NY) and others have made it no secret they oppose the deal, and are pushing new sanctions as a way to “protest” against the deal, and ideally sabotage it outright.
President Obama has opposed new sanctions, and is set to veto any such sanctions bills, meaning Congress would have to try to override a veto if it really wants to kill the deal. That would be extremely difficult, but with the Israeli lobbies behind them on the issue, a battle is looming.

Officals: Israelis in secret trip to inspect Saudi bases. Could be used as staging ground for strikes against Iran

By Aaron Klein

TEL AVIV — Israeli personnel in recent days were in Saudi Arabia to inspect bases that could be used as a staging ground to launch attacks against Iran, according to informed Egyptian intelligence officials.

The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.

The officials said the U.S. passed strong messages to Israel and the Saudis that the Americans control radar capabilities over the skies of Iran and that no strike should be launched without permission from the Obama administration.

It was unclear whether the purported visit to Saudi Arabia by Israeli military and intelligence officials signals any real preparation for a strike or if the trip was meant to signal the West that Israel retains the right to defend itself.

The trip came prior to the announcement of a deal today the aims to halt key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed what he called a “bad” and “dangerous” deal, while affirming that Israel will not allow Iran to go nuclear.

“”Israel is not obligated by this agreement,” Netanyahu said.  “I want to make clear we will not allow Iran to obtain military nuclear capability.”

“Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world,” he said.

The deal reportedly halts the installation of new centrifuges, but allows Iran to keep current centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The agreement caps the amount and type of enriched uranium Iran can produce and opens many nuclear sites up to daily inspections.  However, Israel is warning that even the low-grade uranium allowed in the agreement can be used to eventually assemble a nuclear weapons capability.

As part of the deal, Iran agreed to halt work on key components of its Arak heavy-water reactor that could be used to produce plutonium, but the country doesn’t have to dismantle the reactor.

In response, Iran gets sanctions relief, including the freeing of $7 billion or more in frozen assets.

Hours after deal was signed, President Hassan Rouhani said the agreement recognizes Tehran’s “rights” to maintain an atomic program.

The first preliminary nuclear deal the six world powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France and German) signed with Iran before dawn Sunday, Nov. 24, at the end of a four-day marathon, failed to address the most questionable aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, i.e. its clandestine military dimensions. The accord confined itself to aspects of uranium enrichment and stockpiles. UN inspections were expanded – but not applied, for instance, to Iran’s concealed nuclear sites - or even the Parchin military base where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear-related explosions.

Israel, the Gulf States and others are therefore highly dubious of the deal’s capacity for freezing Iran’s nuclear program where it stands today, least of all roll it back, as President Barack Obama claimed.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources list seven of the most glaring loopholes in the first-step accord:

1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry boasted after the signing that daily IAEA inspections will take place at Fordo and Natanz. However, cameras are already fixed at both those facilities without an agreement, whereas Tehran’s consistent denial of IAEA access to Parchin is not addressed.

2. Secret nuclear locations:  Under the heading "Possible Military Dimensions," the last IAEA report noted: "Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.” 

The watchdog has received information indicating activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." This was further corroborated by new information obtained since November 2011.
Tehran’s non-cooperation for investigating these findings is not mentioned in the Geneva interim accord, nor was it addressed in the negotiations.

3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran.

This peril too was ignored by the six powers in Geneva.

4. Rollback. While President Obama has presented the deal as a first step toward freezing or even rolling back “key aspects” of Iran’s nuclear program. The fact remains that, so long as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium, even though this is restricted to a low 5 percent grade, it is free to produce as much fissile material as it wants, whenever it wants. This seems more like roll forward than roll back.

5. Enrichment. Obama and Kerry said the new deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. They were contradicted by the Iranian president and senior negotiator as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. So what is the truth? If Iran won recognition for this right, it blows the bottom out of the Non-Proliferating Treaty because, in no time, all the signatories may start enriching uranium with permission from the big powers. Neither is there any point in making Iran join the NPT’s Additional Protocol for snap inspections.

6. Centrifuges. Iran has undertaken not to add new centrifuges to its enrichment facilities, according to President Obama, but there is nothing to stop it from keeping up their production. In the six-month interregnum for negotiating a comprehensive nuclear deal, Tehran wins time to turn out enough centrifuges to substantially expand its production of enriched uranium.

7. A leap to breakout:  Far from being static or in freeze, as the Americans claim, Iran is free to step up centrifuge production and boost its stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, thereby accumulating enough material to enhance its capacity for producing enough weapons-grade uranium to break through to a nuclear bomb rapidly enough to defy detection by the IAEA or Western intelligence until it is too late.
The first loophole appeared hours after the new accord was signed: 

Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, announced that his country’s enrichment rights had been recognized in the negotiations, after which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised the supreme leader’s guidelines for achieving world power recognition of Tehran's “nuclear rights.”
However, Secretary of State John Kerry in his first appearance after the signing denied this concession had been made. He said: “The first step, let me be clear, does not say that Iran has a right to enrich uranium."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lined up solidly behind the Iranian version of the accord, confirming world recognition had been extended for Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, including the right for enrichment.

Out of step with the celebratory mood in Geneva and Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that the deal would not impede Iran’s capacity to gain a nuclear weapon. He challenged President Obama’s words that the deal was a historic achievement and called it a historic mistake, which would not obligate Israel. Israel, he said stood by its right to self defense against a regime dedicated to its destruction. As prime minister, Netanyahu pledged not to allow Iran to procure a nuclear weapon.

President Obama also announced that key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will be “rolled back” against limited sanctions relief and the release of deposits (nettng Iran $6-7 billion in revenue.) He said that no new centrifuges would be activated for the enrichment process, work would stop at the Arak heavy water reactor and UN inspections expanded to daily visits at the Natanz and Fordo enrichment plants to ensure that uranium is not enriched above the 5 percent permitted by the accord.

The core sanctions architecture will remain in place, Obama promised, pending a comprehensive solution to be negotiated in the next six months, but no new sanctions would be imposed.

Lavrov summed up the four-day conference by saying: "Considering the whole body of circumstance, there are no losers [in the Geneva deal], all sides are winners” -   a view seriously challenged by Israel, Saudi Arabia and most other Middle East governments.

US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment

Posted on 11/24/2013 by Juan Cole
The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled.
In response for a loosening of sanctions, worth some $7 billion to Iran, President Hasan Rouhani undertook to freeze enrichment activities at their present level. He also pledged to cast Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.75% for the production of medical isotopes in a form that makes it impossible to further enrich it. Nor will Iran produce more 19.5% low enriched uranium. (Uranium enriched to 95% is suitable for a bomb, and the Western diplomats figure that 19.75% is closer to 95% than is the stock of uranium enriched to 3.5% to serve as fuel for the three nuclear power plants at Bushehr. Iran also agreed to do no further work on its proposed heavy-water reactor at Arak. (Heavy-water reactors produce plutonium, with which bombs can easily be constructed).
Iran’s nuclear facilities have been being inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the inspectors have repeatedly certified that no uranium has been diverted to weapons purposes. This agreement will increase the frequency of the inspections and widen their scope somewhat.
The agreement did not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium, but Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the right was implicit in the agreement (which does not forbid enrichment to 3.5% for reactor fuel) and in the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In a press conference on Sunday morning, Iranian president Hasan Rouhani reaffirmed that he understands the agreement to recognize Iran’s right to enrich. But he strongly reaffirmed that Iran does not want and never will want to build an atomic bomb (nuclear weapons are forbidden in Shiite law according to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwas, but it has been hard to get suspicious Westerners to take these theocratic pronouncements seriously).
The agreement is actually an agreement to negotiate, and the hard bargaining is yet to come. The terms agreed upon are more confidence-building measures than anything else.
In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.
The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. A majority of Democratic representatives in the lower house of Congress voted against the idea of going to war. The Iraq War, trumped up on false pretenses and mainly to protect the militant right wing in Israel from having a credible military rival in the region and to put Iraqi petroleum on the market to weaken Saudi Arabia, cost the United States nearly 5000 troops, hundreds more Veterans working as contractors, and probably $3 or $4 trillion– money we do not have since our economy has collapsed and hasn’t recovered except for wealthy stockholders. Perhaps George W. Bush could paint for us some dollars so that we can remember what they used to look like when we had them in our pockets instead of his billionaire friends (many of them war profiteers) having them in theirs.
Binyamin Netanyahu was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. He is now deeply wounded that the US is making peace with Iran. He seems to see the US as his personal doberman pinscher, which he is used to siccing on his rivals in the region whenever they complain about his aggressive land thefts.
The irony is that in early 2003, the reformist Iranian government of then-President Mohammad Khatami had sent over to the US a wide-ranging proposal for peace. After all, Baathist Iraq was Iran’s deadliest enemy. It had invaded Iran in 1980 and fought an 8-year aggressive war in hopes of taking Iranian territory and stealing its oil resources. Now the US was about to overthrow Iran’s nemesis. Wouldn’t it make sense for Washington and Tehran to ally? Khatami put everything on the table, even an end to hostilities with Israel.
The Neoconservatives threw the Iranian proposal in the trash heap and mobilized to make sure there was no rapprochement with Iran. David Frum, Bush’s speech-writer, consulted with eminence grise Richard Perle (then on a Pentagon oversight board) and Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby (vice presidential felon Richard Bruce Cheney’s chief of staff), and they had already inserted into Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech the phrase the “axis of evil,” grouping Iran with Iraq and North Korea. Iran had had sympathy demonstrations for the US after 9/11, and, being a Shiite power, feared and hated al-Qaeda (Sunni extremists) as much as Washington did. But the Neoconservatives did not want a US-Iran alliance against al-Qaeda or against Saddam Hussein. Being diplomatic serial killers, they saw Iran rather as their next victim.
All through the Cheney-Bush administration, repeated leaks from the Pentagon to Sy Hersh and other investigative journalists warned that machinations were afoot to draw the US into a war against Iran, as an outgrowth of the illegal and aggressive attack on and occupation of Iraq. The Neocons plotted against the lives of our children until their last day in office, in January of 2009.
After seeing what Bush did to Iraq, Tehran ramped up its nuclear enrichment program, in hopes of making the point that if the US looked like it might try to invade (which it often looked like), Iran might go for broke and come up with a small nuclear device. In 2003 when Khatami made the peace proposal, Iran had just declared a small set of nuclear experiments. As of 2006, it began serious nuclear enrichment activities, though UN inspectors have never found evidence of a nuclear weapons program.
As Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out Saturday night, if the Bush administration had accepted iran’s 2003 proposal, the rancor, saber-rattling, sanctions and the rapid advances in Iran’s nuclear program could have been avoided.
President Barack Obama came into office wanting a diplomatic deal with Iran. He addressed “the Islamic Republic of Iran” on the occasion of the Persian New Year (the vernal equinox in mid-March). Those plans were derailed, first by the outbreak of domestic unrest in Iran in summer of 2009, and then by hard liners around Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who backed out of commitments made at negotiations in fall of 2009.
After that, US-Iranian relations got worse and worse. The US Congress, goaded on by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Israel lobbies, imposed increasingly crippling sanctions on Iran. Ultimately, the US attempted to use its favored position in financial markets to stop Iran from selling its petroleum on the international market. It is a financial blockade, and blockades are acts of war. I have been worried for the past year and a half that this financial and oil blockade would lead to hostilities. All it would take would be for a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to lose a cousin who could not afford medicine any more and to go off the deep end and order an attack on US facilities in Iraq or the Gulf. The very severe sanctions the US put on Iraq in the 1990s in many ways lead to the Iraq War.
Now, the tides of war are ebbing. Assuming that the negotiations over the next six months are successful, a compromise will be reached whereby Iran’s “break-out capacity” or ability to construct a nuclear weapon will be constrained, and whereby the international blockade on Iranian commerce will be lifted. President Rouhani, elected as a mild reformist this summer, is eager to nail down a deal before his own hard liners have time to derail the negotiations. President Obama, eager for some sort of achievement for his second term, has every reason to accept a deal on Iran that involves a heavy inspection regime and gives reasonable assurance that Iran is not weaponizing its nuclear enrichment program.
Republican critics of the deal in the US Congress, who say no to everything, said no to this negotiation as well. They accused Iran of being the world’s primary backer of terrorism.
Really? The GOP backed the Mujahidin and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Contras in Nicaragua, the MEK in Iraq and Iran, and are backing the extremist Sunni rebels in Syria. They aren’t even skittish about allying with al-Qaeda affiliates, even today!
Hamas has largely broken with Iran. The only “terrorist” group Iran is backing is Hizbullah, which isn’t a terrorist group but a party-militia recognized by the Lebanese government as its national guard for its southern border, a border repeatedly breached by Israeli attacks (including an attempt to annex 10% of Lebanon, with a 20-year military occupation).
Even Israeli military intelligence sees some potential benefits to the agreement.
Besides, the US has negotiated and reached agreements with lots of authoritarian governments that support the use of terror, as long as it is right-wing death squads. It had even made up with Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, a serial terrorism-supporter, and put him on the CIA payroll.
The only question here is whether the agreement is in American interests. It is. Ever more severe sanctions increasingly risked war with a country three times as big geographically and 2.5 times as populous as Iraq (the American occupation of which did not go well). That danger is now receding, which can only be a good thing. And if negotiations and UN inspections can indeed succeed in allowing Iran a civilian enrichment program while forestalling a weapons program, it is a breakthrough for the whole world and an important chapter in the ongoing attempts to limit proliferation.

Iran, P5+1 Reach Deal on Nuclear Program

French FM First to Confirm Historic Pact

by Jason Ditz, November 23, 2013
The first confirmation came shortly after 3 AM on Sunday morning Geneva time, when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that the P5+1 talks with Iran had concluded, and an interim deal has been reached on Iran’s civilian nuclear program. Other P5+1 leaders, including President Obama, have since confirmed it.
Full details of the final pact are still not a matter of public record, but are said to include a halt of 20 percent enrichment, continue enrichment at 3.5 percent, and $4.2 billion in Iranian assets will be unfrozen, along with unspecified easing to sanctions. Comments throughout the pact few weeks suggested that most of the deal was already finalized, and it was only a few minor issues of wording that had yet to be settled.
Interestingly, Iran and the US are disputing what the pact says about Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, as Iran insists the  deal does grant that right, but the White House has claimed it does not.
The Saturday talks never ended, but continued overnight into Sunday before the pact was reached. It is intended to cover six months, involving some limitations to Iran’s civilian enrichment of uranium and other aspects of its program in return for sanctions relief.
The six months is intended to give both sides time to work out a permanent agreement on ending the sanctions as well as international complaints about the nuclear program.

White House Releases Iran Deal Fact Sheet - President Obama To Speak

Tyler Durden's picture

The White House has released their (lengthy) fact sheet...
"During the six-month initial phase, the P5+1 will negotiate the contours of a comprehensive solution... Over the next six months, we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. If Iran cannot address our concerns, we are prepared to increase sanctions and pressure.

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
Israelis, Saudis, and Republicans are already questioning the decision...

Full Fact Sheet:

A Comprehensive Solution

During the six-month initial phase, the P5+1 will negotiate the contours of a comprehensive solution. Thus far, the outline of the general parameters of the comprehensive solution envisions concrete steps to give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful. With respect to this comprehensive resolution: nothing is agreed to with respect to a comprehensive solution until everything is agreed to. Over the next six months, we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. If Iran cannot address our concerns, we are prepared to increase sanctions and pressure.

In sum, this first step achieves a great deal in its own right. Without this phased agreement, Iran could start spinning thousands of additional centrifuges. It could install and spin next-generation centrifuges that will reduce its breakout times. It could fuel and commission the Arak heavy water reactor. It could grow its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to beyond the threshold for a bomb's worth of uranium. Iran can do none of these things under the conditions of the first step understanding.
Furthermore, without this phased approach, the international sanctions coalition would begin to fray because Iran would make the case to the world that it was serious about a diplomatic solution and we were not. We would be unable to bring partners along to do the crucial work of enforcing our sanctions. With this first step, we stop and begin to roll back Iran's program and give Iran a sharp choice: fulfill its commitments and negotiate in good faith to a final deal, or the entire international community will respond with even more isolation and pressure.
The American people prefer a peaceful and enduring resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime. This solution has the potential to achieve that. Through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do its part for greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
The P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) has been engaged in serious and substantive negotiations with Iran with the goal of reaching a verifiable diplomatic resolution that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
President Obama has been clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is in America’s national security interest. Today, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects. These are the first meaningful limits that Iran has accepted on its nuclear program in close to a decade. The initial, six month step includes significant limits on Iran's nuclear program and begins to address our most urgent concerns including Iran’s enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor. The concessions Iran has committed to make as part of this first step will also provide us with increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program. In the past, the concern has been expressed that Iran will use negotiations to buy time to advance their program. Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community's concerns.
In return, as part of this initial step, the P5+1 will provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief to Iran. This relief is structured so that the overwhelming majority of the sanctions regime, including the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place. The P5+1 will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously. If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the limited relief and impose additional sanctions on Iran.
The P5+1 and Iran also discussed the general parameters of a comprehensive solution that would constrain Iran's nuclear program over the long term, provide verifiable assurances to the international community that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful, and ensure that any attempt by Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon would be promptly detected. The set of understandings also includes an acknowledgment by Iran that it must address all United Nations Security Council resolutions – which Iran has long claimed are illegal – as well as past and present issues with Iran’s nuclear program that have been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program, including Iran’s activities at Parchin. As part of a comprehensive solution, Iran must also come into full compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its obligations to the IAEA. With respect to the comprehensive solution, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Put simply, this first step expires in six months, and does not represent an acceptable end state to the United States or our P5+1 partners.
Halting the Progress of Iran’s Program and Rolling Back Key Elements
Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:
· Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.
Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium:
· Dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase.
Iran has committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity:
· Not install additional centrifuges of any type.
· Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.
· Leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.
· Limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile centrifuges.
· Not construct additional enrichment facilities.
Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:
· Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.
Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track. Iran has committed to:
· Not commission the Arak reactor.
· Not fuel the Arak reactor.
· Halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.
· No additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.
· Not install any additional reactor components at Arak.
· Not transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site.
· Not construct a facility capable of reprocessing. Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.
Unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program
Iran has committed to:
· Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow. This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring. This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.
· Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.
· Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.
· Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.
· Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor. This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.
· Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.
· Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1.
Verification Mechanism
The IAEA will be called upon to perform many of these verification steps, consistent with their ongoing inspection role in Iran. In addition, the P5+1 and Iran have committed to establishing a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise. The Joint Commission will also work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin.
Limited, Temporary, Reversible Relief
In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture. If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief. Specifically the P5+1 has committed to:
· Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.
· 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.
· License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
· Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago. $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.
· Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.
Humanitarian Transactions
Facilitate humanitarian transactions that are already allowed by U.S. law. Humanitarian transactions have been explicitly exempted from sanctions by Congress so this channel will not provide Iran access to any new source of funds. Humanitarian transactions are those related to Iran’s purchase of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices; we would also facilitate transactions for medical expenses incurred abroad. We will establish this channel for the benefit of the Iranian people.
Putting Limited Relief in Perspective
In total, the approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place. The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted by sanctions.
In the next six months, Iran’s crude oil sales cannot increase. Oil sanctions alone will result in approximately $30 billion in lost revenues to Iran – or roughly $5 billion per month – compared to what Iran earned in a six month period in 2011, before these sanctions took effect. While Iran will be allowed access to $4.2 billion of its oil sales, nearly $15 billion of its revenues during this period will go into restricted overseas accounts. In summary, we expect the balance of Iran’s money in restricted accounts overseas will actually increase, not decrease, under the terms of this deal.
Maintaining Economic Pressure on Iran and Preserving Our Sanctions Architecture
During the first phase, we will continue to vigorously enforce our sanctions against Iran, including by taking action against those who seek to evade or circumvent our sanctions.
· Sanctions affecting crude oil sales will continue to impose pressure on Iran’s government. Working with our international partners, we have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd. That’s a loss of more than $80 billion since the beginning of 2012 that Iran will never be able to recoup. Under this first step, the EU crude oil ban will remain in effect and Iran will be held to approximately 1 million bpd in sales, resulting in continuing lost sales worth an additional $4 billion per month, every month, going forward.
· Sanctions affecting petroleum product exports to Iran, which result in billions of dollars of lost revenue, will remain in effect.
· The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings remain inaccessible or restricted by our sanctions.
· Other significant parts of our sanctions regime remain intact, including:
o Sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors;
o Secondary sanctions, pursuant to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) as amended and other laws, on banks that do business with U.S.-designated individuals and entities;
o Sanctions on those who provide a broad range of other financial services to Iran, such as many types of insurance; and,
 Restricted access to the U.S. financial system.
· All sanctions on over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.
· Sanctions on several sectors of Iran’s economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.
· Sanctions on long-term investment in and provision of technical services to Iran’s energy sector remain in effect.
· Sanctions on Iran’s military program remain in effect.
· Broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world’s biggest economy.
· All UN Security Council sanctions remain in effect.
· All of our targeted sanctions related to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.

The P5+1 world powers and Iran have struck a historic deal on Tehran’s nuclear program at talks in Geneva on Sunday. Ministers overcame the last remaining hurdles to reach agreement, despite strong pressure from Israel and lobby groups.
Under the interim agreement, Tehran will be allowed access to $4.2 billion in funds frozen as part of the financial sanctions imposed on Iran over suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at producing an atomic bomb. In return, Iran has agreed to halt enriching uranium up to 20 percent for six months, but will continue to enrich it to 5 percent.
Iran’s current stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium will also be diluted as part of the agreement.
In addition, Tehran will build no nuclear centrifuges or seek to expand its nuclear facilities, agreeing to halt the construction of a reactor in Arak for the next six months.
Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the deal a “major success” and said Tehran would expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 
While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the deal reached in Geneva shows that world powers have recognized Tehran's “nuclear rights.”
“Constructive engagement [and] tireless efforts by negotiating teams are to open new horizons,” Rouhani said on Twitter shortly after the announcement.