- Published: Tuesday, 30 June 2015
By INU staff
INU - Tehran stalled negotiations with world powers on nuclear disarmament hours before the June 30 deadline to ensure its path to a nuclear bomb remained open.
By INU staff
INU - Tehran stalled negotiations with world powers on nuclear disarmament hours before the June 30 deadline to ensure its path to a nuclear bomb remained open.
Many United States luminaries are advocating for the U.S. government to open up "direct, collaborative talks" with the Iranian Resistance, according to top Middle East expert Dr Walid Phares.
"It represents the very thing that U.S. policy in the Middle East should be focused on—but isn’t, namely the empowerment of moderate and progressive Muslim groups for the sake of delegitimizing and marginalizing the all-too-common extremist element," Dr Phares wrote in Forbes on Monday.
A number of former US officials and foreign policy experts recently issued a statement to the US government calling for four specific policy initiatives, he said:
1) the application of stricter demands in the nuclear negotiations with Iran; 2) confrontation of Iran’s destructive and destabilizing role in the Middle East; 3) increased attention to the abysmal Iranian record on human rights; and 4) to help facilitate action on the first three points by engaging in “respectful dialogue with the Iranian opposition, consistent with our country’s policy of dialogue with all political groups.”
"A copy of the statement was presented to Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its main constituent organization the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, at a gathering of Iranians in Paris with more than 100,000 participants," he added.
This statement, Dr Phares argued, is significant for a number of reasons:
"First, witness the combination of the signatories which included senior former US officials and military leaders with knowledge on national security and foreign policy. And at a time of unprecedented partisan politics in Washington (particularly regarding Iran), the Policy Initiative includes both senior Democrats and Republicans."
"Second, it has identified lack of communication and dialogue with the Iranian democratic opposition by both Democratic and Republican leadership as the missing part of U.S. policy on Iran."
"Third, it offers a practical approach on nuclear negotiations with Iran as well as the crisis in the region by recognizing that Tehran’s leadership has shown no desire for abandoning its nuclear program. The regime is part of the problem—not the solution."
"Fourth, the core of the new Policy Initiative is the recommendation to 'break the stalemate' and to 'side with 80 million Iranian people and their desire, along with people everywhere, for freedom and popular sovereignty based on democratic principles' and 'engaging with the Iranian opposition.' In this respect the bipartisan collation also recognizes the role of 'Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, as a Muslim woman advocating a tolerant and democratic interpretation of Islam.'"
"The message delivered at this rally is one of broad-based change in Iran—away from the religious fascism of the current regime and towards true democracy, rule of law, respect for the rights of women and minorities, and other similar principles outlined in Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of the country."
Current US policies, Dr Phares said, seem to embrace an "inaccurate and limiting narrative about the Middle East which views radicalism as a necessary element of regional culture and politics. We can see this, for instance, in the Obama administration’s efforts to encourage Iranian influence in Iraq in hopes of playing off the Shiite theocracy against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State."
"But there are few real distinctions between those two groups, and any outcome of a conflict between them is a net loss for Western interests in the Middle East. The recent policy statement makes it clear that its American signatories understand this. The document points out that the Islamic Republic of Iran is effectively the prototype for Middle East, state-sponsored Islamist extremism. It says, 'If ISIS succeeds, what the world will get is a Sunni version of Khomeini’s Iran.'"
"Conversely, even if Iran succeeds—an outcome explicitly endorsed by the Obama administration—what we will be left with in Iraq and Syria is a series of proxies under the control of the Shiite version of ISIS. While ISIS beheads its enemies and seeks to establish a region-wide caliphate, Tehran hangs political dissenters for the sake of an Islamist political system whose founder mandated the expansion of Iranian power to unify and dominate the Muslim world."
"We should not be satisfied with these alternatives. In either case we are left with a Middle East that is less stable than it might be, owing to the constant presence of sectarian discord. This has been Iran’s legacy in the region, and it will be the legacy of the continuation of a policy that embraces Iran’s extremism in opposition to another brand of extremism. The signers of the statement know this and point out that they have been warning of Iran’s sectarian influence for some time."
"So too has the Iranian resistance. This fact alone should encourage Western policymakers to recognize the resistance as a non-sectarian, moderate alternative to our current short list of prospective partners in the Middle East and the Muslim world. What’s more, its Western-friendly ideologies also provide it with popular support from among the educated, progressive population of Iran, giving the group great power."
"The significance of that power should be clear in the issues and threats to Western security behind the other three policy recommendations offered. Still, the U.S. government has evidently been loath to seriously confront Iran on its nuclear program, its actions in Yemen. Bahrain and Syria, and its constant hangings and political imprisonments. Why? Because the current administration fears the consequences of poor relations with both sides of the sectarian divide."
"But this is nothing to fear as long as we recognize that there is an alternative—and there is. The Iranian resistance stands ready to help us in putting pressure on our enemies instead of engaging them in conciliatory negotiations. It stands ready to promote Western democratic ideals in places where some policymakers seem to think they cannot soon take hold."
"The recommendations in that document do not just represent a better way forward for U.S. policy in the Middle East; they urge the fundamental realignment of a policy in favor of freedom and democracy, instead of half-measures and unprincipled pragmatism."
Dr. Phares advises members of the US Congress on the Middle East and teaches international relations at universities in Washington D.C.
In an online Q&A session on Monday, Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), addressed the current nuclear stalemate in Vienna and the broader nuclear negotiations between the Iranian regime and the world powers.
“It is now obvious to everyone that the [June 30] deadline will be missed. But what shocked the other negotiators during this round of talks was the fact that the Iranian regime rejected many of the parameters it had agreed to in Lausanne on April 2”, Mr Mohaddessin said.
“It is true that the regime came to the negotiating table because of the sanctions and its weakness, but the main reason Khamenei is at the table is to avoid another massive popular uprising in Iran. At the same time, the regime wants and needs nuclear weapons for its survival. Let us not forget that [former President Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani in the 1990s said that having nuclear weapons will facilitate achieving the goal of dominating the region and exporting the revolution”, Mohaddessin said.
He added, “Khamenei wants to keep the regime's nuclear infrastructure intact, hence he publicly reiterated his three main red-lines in a speech last week, ruling out unconditional inspections of the regime's military sites, access to Iranian scientists and a halt in the nuclear R&D (research and development). These red-lines, among many others previously, published on Khamenei's website, stand in contrast to what the regime had agreed to in the April framework agreement.”
Mr Mohaddessin pointed out that the regime's lack of cooperation with an ongoing investigation by the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, into possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear programme is perhaps the best sign that the regime has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.
In this regard, the Iranian regime tries to set aside and divert the talks from the issue of ‘transparency’ to instead discussing the vague issue of ‘trust-building.’
Mr Mohaddessin emphasised that any final agreement that closes the Iranian path to a nuclear bomb must include five important parameters: “signing and ratifying the Additional Protocol Plus by the Iranian regime, full and unconditional access to all Iranian sites and nuclear scientists, complete disclosure of past PMD activities and full cooperation with the IAEA investigation into this matter as well as removing all enriched uranium from Iranian soil. Talk of sanction relief before these steps are secured will be irrelevant.”
Answering the question of how to stop the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, Mr Mohaddessin underscored that the regime’s Supreme Leader is currently taking advantage of the weak and misguided policy of appeasement by Western governments, and in particular by the United States, to extract more concessions from them while continuing its nuclear weapons program.
“In reality, stopping the clerical regime from acquiring a nuclear weapon is impossible without addressing the other two pillars in the regime's survival strategy, which are support for fundamentalism and terrorism and domestic repression. In this regard the conflict between the regime's various factions is not because of their different nature. No, the internal tension is a direct result of pressure from the bottom of the civic society with a growing dissent against the system and its pursuit of a nuclear project that the Iranian people do not want because it has only led to increased poverty and misery”, he added.
“What is needed is a firm policy against the Iranian regime since the current series of concessions to the regime is interpreted by the mullahs as a sign of weakness”, he said in regard to what the regional countries can do to stop a nuclear armed regime in Iran.
He added, “Of course the regional countries are not part of these nuclear negotiations but they play an important role and need to persuade the West, and in particular the United States, to adopt a more robust policy against the Iranian regime, because aside from the Iranian people, the people of the region are very much suffering from the regime's aggressions in the region and its support for terrorism”.
Ken Blackwell | Jun 29, 2015
Almost 30 years ago, when the US was negotiating with the Soviet Union about intermediate-range nuclear weapons, President Ronald Reagan was told that the Russians like to talk in proverbs.
A writer on Russia taught him the proverb “doveryain no proveryai,” which means trust but verify. It was a phrase Reagan would use many times in his dealings with Mikhail Gorbachev – and one that seems particular wise now.
As I’m writing this, the US and five other nations (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are engaged in nuclear talks with another adversary, Iran (towards a June 30 deadline for an agreement that will be missed). And the wisdom of the Russian proverb could not be more timely.
A little more than decade after that INF treaty was signed, the Soviet Union was no more, but in the meantime – indeed only a year after the treaty – a new threat appeared on the horizon. The theocratic regime of Ayatollah Khomenei came to power in Tehran and began to foment trouble in the entire Middle East.
Now, those chickens have come home to roost. Secretly, the mullahs in Tehran began a nuclear program, ostensibly to provide power to heat and light homes, business, and industries. But, thanks to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the coalition of Iranian opposition movemtn and its key component, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mek) which has kept a wary on the parts of the program that Tehran didn’t want the world to know about, it became known that the nuclear program had a more nefarious goal – development of a nuclear weapon with which it could threaten all its neighbors, including Israel.
For years, the West has played Iran’s game, allowing it to stall talks while moving ahead with its covert program. Finally, the West imposed economic sanctions in an effort to bring Khomenei’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, to the bargaining table. But even that has been excruciatingly slow.
Deadlines came and went, and new deadlines were set. Demands were made and ignored, and new demands were made. Now that the effects of the sanctions are straining the mullahs’ ability to keep a grip on power at home, the nuclear talks seem to be getting somewhere.
The question is: Where?
The mullahs still want to keep their nuclear development hidden from view. They want the sanctions to be lifted even before they have demonstrated compliance with any agreement and to keep driving to acquire nuclear weapons.
That brings us back to the Russian proverb.
Members of the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament on Monday urged the P5+1 countries that are negotiating an agreement with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program to insist that there must be international inspections of Iran's military sites.
“Without unfettered access for IAEA inspectors to Iran's military sites and nuclear scientists, any nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Tehran would be meaningless,” the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF) said in a statement on its website.
With only a day left until the 30 June deadline for an international agreement that would curb the regime’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has thus far ruled out freezing sensitive nuclear work and allowing UN Nuclear Agency monitors to access Iran's military sites and nuclear scientists.
“A nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime in Iran, which remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and engaged in politically motivated violence and repression at home, would continue to be a major threat to world peace and security,” the cross-Party committee said.
“The Tehran regime came to the negotiation table from a position of weakness, as a result of crippling international sanctions. Repeated concessions by the P5+1, in particular by the U.S., have emboldened Tehran to demand more.”
“Iran's democratic Parliament-in-exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), on Thursday published a detailed report showing that Iran has stipulated that there will be no access to military sites or nuclear scientists for the inspectors and no stopping of Research and Development (R&D) in the nuclear field,” the UK lawmakers said.
The BPCIF said it “agrees with Iranian opposition leader Mrs Maryam Rajavi who told a major Iran Freedom rally in Paris on 13 June that in order to halt Tehran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons, the UN Security Council resolutions must be fully implemented, uranium enrichment must be halted completely and all suspect sites, military or otherwise, must be inspected. In addition, the regime must also provide answers to the military dimensions of its nuclear project and make its nuclear experts available for IAEA questioning.”
“In the interest of world peace and security, the P5+1 must end the concessions to the mullahs and hold them to account before signing any final agreement with Tehran.”
Early Day Motion 342 (IRAN AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS) signed last year by more than 100 MPs from the House of Commons reiterated a similar position and warned that Tehran is engaging in deceptive tactics to find a way out of its nuclear impasse.
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, chaired jointly by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC CBE and Sir David Amess MP, has extensive cross-party support in both Houses of Parliament.
The bodies of at least five men who had been fighting for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad were buried in the city of Mashhad, northeast Iran, on Thursday.
Reporting on the burial held for the five killed in Syria, Iranian state media said that at least 400 men who have died fighting for al-Assad have been buried in Iran so far, of which 79 cases have taken place in Khorasan Razavi province.
Many of those killed are Afghan citizens that are being referred to as the ‘Fatemioun.’
The Iranian regime has been sending illegal Afghan immigrants to Syria to serve as frontline fighters alongside the Syrian dictator’s struggling troops.
The Afghans who live as illegal immigrants in Iran often are rounded up by the regime's Revolutionary Guards.
They are given the choice of either fighting in Syria or going to jail in Iran.
The German magazine Der Spiegel in May estimated that at least 700 Afghans have now been killed in fighting around Aleppo and Damascus alone.
This reliance upon Afghan fighters is part of the Iranian regime’s strategy of support for the al-Assad regime, its key regional ally, which is coming under increasing pressure from Syria’s democratic opposition fighters.
An Afghan news website has published a report on how the Iranian regime recruits Afghan immigrants:
Morad Ali, an Afghan refugee in Iran, was sentenced to six years in connection with smuggling drugs. Several months later Ali met some recruiters inside the prison and got an offer of freedom on the condition that he joined the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
The offer included monthly payments of $600 and official papers to live in Iran as a permanent resident. All would be given if Ali agreed to travel to Syria and fight in favor of the al-Assad regime.
To escape brutal prison life, Morad Ali took up the offer and agreed to join the training camp where he met dozens of other former Afghan prisoners preparing to become ‘heroes’ in the front-line. About a week later Ali and a group of other young Afghans, were deployed in a lonely tall building in Syria. Morad Ali was later captured by Syria’s moderate opposition.
Of the hundreds of Afghan prisoners and illegal immigrants that the Iranian regime has recruited to fight in Syria, few have returned to Iran, and rumor has begun spreading within Afghan communities in Iran that the ”freedom offer” is a trap. The real choice is either to be killed or captured.
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 25 June 2015
High-stakes talks to nail down a historic deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program may slip past a June 30 deadline, a top U.S. official acknowledged Thursday.
“We may not make June 30, but we will be close,” a senior State Department official told reporters as top U.S. diplomat John Kerry prepares to head Friday for potentially the last negotiations for a deal with Iran and global powers in Vienna.
The official also said all seven nations involved in the talks were committed to a self-imposed June 30 deadline but it could slip “by a short bit” if necessary to get the substance of any agreement right.
“Despite these tough issues, we can truly see a path forward that gets us to a very good agreement here,” the senior U.S. official told reporters during a conference call. “I am hopeful but it still remains to be seen whether we can get there.”
Prominent former U.S. officials, including five with ties to President Barack Obama’s first term, on Wednesday published a letter warning that a deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program was at risk of failing to provide adequate safeguards.
The letter’s release ahead of what may be the finale to the nuclear talks appeared aimed at pressuring the White House to negotiate a stronger agreement.
Kerry calls Zarif
In a related story, officials said Kerry telephoned Iran’s foreign minister in recent days to tell him that Tehran must answer questions about whether its past atomic research was arms-related if it wants a nuclear deal.
The telephone calls came after Kerry raised eyebrows among some Western officials by saying the U.S. was “not fixated” on any past Iranian work, about which it already had “absolute knowledge,” and was looking to the future instead.
The officials have also voiced concern that Kerry was backing down on a crucial demand in the talks, one Tehran has consistently ignored, and said he was overstating U.S. knowledge about Tehran’s past nuclear work in the interest of getting a deal at all costs.
A day after Kerry made those June 16 remarks, a State Department spokesman said the words of the top U.S. diplomat had been misinterpreted and dismissed the idea that Washington had climbed down from previous demands that Tehran come clean about its nuclear past.
But two Western officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, were not persuaded by the State Department denial.
“I suspect he accidentally gave a window into his negotiating stance with the Iranians,” one official said. Critics say that Kerry’s intense involvement in the talks suggest that he is chasing an agreement, signaling an eagerness for a deal that the Iranians can exploit for concessions.
The damage control went beyond the daily State Department briefings, during which reporters grilled new spokesman John Kirby on this issue for days. Kerry, officials told Reuters, called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to make sure he did not think Washington was letting Iran off the hook.
“Kerry called Zarif and told him the past does matter and the U.S. was insisting that the PMD (possible military dimensions) issue be resolved in the negotiations,” a Western source close to the talks told Reuters.
An Iranian official said Kerry spoke to Zarif twice in recent days.
“There were two calls from Kerry to Zarif, during which he corrected his stance ... He told Mr. Zarif that he had been misunderstood and the past activities are important and should be clarified,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.
“Also he said that Iran should come clean on the past activities. This is an issue being discussed.”
A senior U.S. official confirmed that Kerry had spoke to Zarif but denied there had been any shift in the U.S. position on the need for Iran to come clean about its nuclear past. “The U.S. has consistently made clear our position on PMD, and it has not changed,” the official said.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have a self-imposed June 30 deadline to finish a long term nuclear deal with Iran under which it would curb sensitive nuclear activities for at least a decade in exchange for sanctions relief.
The U.S. official said Kerry also spoke or met with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China ahead of his Friday departure for the Vienna talks with Iran, and has kept in touch with the Israelis and Saudis as well.
By INU staff
INU - Talks are ongoing with the P5 + 1 states and Iran to curb their nuclear projects in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Yet these talks have met with skepticism and criticism from many world leaders, including those in the United States.