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The Race for Iran

The Real Obstacles to Successful Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Lie in Washington, Not Tehran

We are just back from another visit to the Islamic Republic and see even more clearly that the real obstacles to successful nuclear diplomacy with Iran lie in Washington, not Tehran.  Prior to our visit, we outlined several of the reasons for this in an extended interview on Ian Masters’ Background Briefing about our forthcoming Going to Tehran; click here to listen.

We open by taking issue with the conventional wisdom that the upcoming talks between the P5+1 and Iran will be the “last chance” to reach a nuclear deal with Tehran before the Islamic Republic gears up for its presidential election next year.  On this point, Flynt notes that the only reason nuclear talks over the next few months would be a “last chance” is

“because of arbitrary deadlines and frameworks that the United States and some of its partners have imposed on these negotiations.  In the end, the Iranian nuclear problem is actually quite simple:  if the United States was prepared to accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium, under safeguards, on its own territory, you could have a deal in fairly short order…You could probably get limits on Iran’s 20-percent enrichment, you could get much more intrusive verification on its nuclear activities.  But you would have to accept the Islamic Republic as kind of a normal state, with legitimate interests and rights.”

The Obama administration, of course, has shown no willingness to approach nuclear talks with Iran on such a basis.  Instead, it has imposed the arbitrary deadlines and frameworks highlighted by Flynt.  The dysfunctionality of this approach is reinforced by deeply flawed—and self-deluding—assessments of Iranian decision-making.  As Hillary explains,

“The anxiety here, or the urgency, is because it’s put out that, if we don’t do something now, if we don’t try to make a deal now, the Iranian elections will come…and that will somehow derail any possibility for talks.  This is something that, time and time again, permeates the American debate—that somehow the problem with negotiating with Iran is in Iran, is in Tehran…It’s either the “mad mullahs” are so crazy, so irrational that we can’t count on them to negotiate like a rational state, or various things are going to come up in their calendar, particularly elections (which in itself should make us question this idea that there are “mad mullahs” there)…

The whole debate here is that something is wrong in Iran, something is wrong in Tehran that is going to derail talks.  There’s never any examination of what drives American politics to demonize countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran…The issue is something here; it’s about domestic politics here.

If President Obama cannot get a negotiation going with the Iranians in the next few months, he has a problem domestically here, because domestic constituencies here—and the Israeli government—will say, ‘Time is upYou’ve had enough time.  We can’t let the Iranians continue to progress in their nuclear programYou have to take even more coercive action, either more coercive sanctions or military action.’  It’s a domestic problem here.  It’s not because of something going on in the decision-making or some irrational craziness among Iranian clerics or Iranian lay leaders.

On Israel’s role—and its motives for constantly pushing an alarmist view of the Islamic Republic, Flynt says,

“The Israelis are perpetually concerned—I think that their concern is exaggerated—but they are perpetually concerned that the Obama administration is going to try, in a serious way, to pursue a deal.  Because the Israelis know that the only kind of deal you could really get out of this process that would have any meaning for both sides would be a deal that actually recognized Iran’s right to enrich—again, under safeguards, not building a nuclear weapon, but they do have a right to enrichThat’s what the Israelis are out to stop.   They do not want the United States, other Western powers, to accept this basic fact of international law and international life—that the Iranians have this right, and they are not going to be bullied into giving it up.

This is something that I think the United States really has to come to terms with.  For its own interests, it needs to get a nuclear deal with Iran; it needs to start realigning its relations with this important country in the Middle East.  And we need to be able to separate Israeli preferences—that have more to do with [Israel’s] own commitment to military dominance in the Middle East—and Israeli security.  Iran enriching uranium under safeguards doesn’t affect Israeli security at all.  But we need to be able to sort out what our real interests are.”

Against the stereotypes of Iranian “irrationality” and internal political divisions that render effective diplomatic engagement with Tehran impossible, Hillary outlines some important realities about the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy and national security strategy:

There is consensus [among Iranian policymakers] that Iran should and can engage with almost any country in the world, if [engagement] is to protect its own interests.  Where it draws the line is anywhere that Iran would be asked to or expected to cede any of its sovereign rights.  Iran is not going to agree to that kind of negotiation…In terms of what Iran should push for, what kind of deal Iran could make in the end, there is certainly discussion and debate—vociferous debate—in Iran about those kinds of tactics.  But the strategy—that Iran is a strong country, that it can and should negotiate and deal with other countries in its own interests—is something that is really put forward by the Supreme Leader, by Ayatollah Khamenei.  And it’s something, I think, that every senior official follows…

You hear in Washington, especially, periodic discussion…some days it’s Ahmadinejad is the hardliner and he would never be able to deal with the United States.  And then someone points out, ‘Well, he actually wrote a 20-page letter to Bush.  He actually wrote a congratulatory letter to President Obama on his first election.’  Then people say, ‘Well, maybe the issue is really the speaker of the parliament, or maybe it’s this person or that person.’  There’s a constant attempt in the United States, particularly in Washington, to read the tea leaves, as if [the Islamic Republic is] a very opaque system.  These kinds of critics analogize it to the Soviet system.

But it’s not really opaque.  If you listen, read, talk to [Iranian] officials, talk to a range of people in their political class, on their political spectrum, and take what they have to say seriously…you can really understand their strategyYou can understand where they’re coming from, and their strategic determination to be a very strong, independent countryThe problem, I think, on our side—why we try always to see where there’s some daylight, where this person is competing with that person—is that we’re very reluctant to accept that Iran could be a strong, independent, not secular, not liberal, but still legitimate political entity

We document rather exhaustively in our book the number of times that the Iranians have engaged with the United States…[In one of these episodes, I] worked personally with them as an official in the State Department and in the White House, with a small team of American officials, to deal with Afghanistan and the problem we were facing there after 9/11 with Al-Qa’ida…[The Iranians] were not paralyzed by internal conflict.  The internal conflict was here.  It’s the opposition that I had when I was in the White House, from my superiors or people who worked for Vice President Cheney, trying to undermine what Ryan Crocker and I were trying to do with the Iranians.”

Looking ahead, Flynt underscores that, notwithstanding recurrent debate among American political and policy elites over Tehran’s willingness to talk directly, on a bilateral basis, with Washington, “the Iranian position on dealing with the United States has been pretty clear and consistent for a long time, for years.  They are open to improved relations, they are open to dialogue and diplomacy to facilitate serious improvement in relations.  But they want to know, upfront at this point, that the United States is really prepared to accept the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political order representing legitimate national interests.  And they want to know upfront that the United States is really serious about realigning relations with them.

They are not interested in having negotiations just for the sake of having negotiations.  They are not interested in having negotiations if they think that the United States is just going to keep piling sanctions on them.  They want to know upfront that the United States is serious.

So they will go the P-5+1 talks; they certainly are not refusing to participate in the P-5+1 process.  And if, as part of that, the United States makes it clear that it really is interested in a different sort of relationship—that it really does accept the Islamic Republic and wants to come to terms with it as an important player in the Middle East—at that point the Iranians would be very open, very receptive to bilateral dialogue.”

In the interview, we also discuss the 2003 non-paper sent to Washington by Iran via Swiss intermediaries and why incremental, step-by-step cooperation between the United States and the Islamic Republic doesn’t work to improve the overall relationship (mainly because Washington won’t allow it to do so).

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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162 Responses to “The Real Obstacles to Successful Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Lie in Washington, Not Tehran”

  1. Kooshy says:

    fyi says:
    December 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    FYI
    That’s not going to happen unless India agrees with IPI pipeline

  2. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    Do you think FYI is correct to claim that Britain, France, Germany and the US conspired to bring about the collapse of Yugoslavia?

  3. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Israel “can do no wrong in the US”? Or, Israel can get away with a great deal of wrongdoing, due to strength of the ISRAEL LOBBY?

    Hasn’t Chuck Hagel openly criticised “wrongdoing” by Israel and the ISRAEL LOBBY? Isn’t that the reason so many fantaical supporters of Israel in the US are trying to block his nomination? (For SecDefense.)

  4. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    You think that if Iran suspends production of 20% uranium, as insisted upon by Russia and China, Iran “will cease to be an independent state”?

    I am not suggesting Iran should stop supporting Syria, or Hezbollah, or Hamas.

  5. fyi says:

    All:

    A prejudiced Indian perspective on North-South Corridor:

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Russian-nod-for-Indias-bid-to-link-south-with-central-Asia/articleshow/17822137.cms

    [I call it so since it inaccurately attributed the dealy to Iran; in fact, Russia and India dragged their feet waiting for Iranian surrender.]

    Evidenlty, Indian and Russian leaders have finally come to the conclusion that they cannot afford to wait indefinitely for Iran to be defeated by Axis Powers; that, in fact, such a victory is not in the cards.

    The other inducement is this: the country that is benefiting the most in the Middle East is Chia; she has excellent relations with all the protogonists and antagonists in the Middle East.

    China has been the chief beneficiary of turmoil in the Middle East.

    And she has the money and the technology to upend Axis Powers.

  6. fyi says:

    Castellio says:

    December 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I wish I were wrong; I am still waiting for $ 1 billion jury award against the State of Israel for the murder of the late Rachel Corey.

    It will never happen.

  7. Karl.. says:

    Bibijohn,

    Right, I will no longer engage James.

  8. Dave Kimble says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    What was more interesting about Farley’s article was what was not said.

    Firstly, it was assumed that this was indeed a ballistic missile test, whereas it was in fact a satellite launch, presumably with a military flavour to it. No ballistic missile stands on the launch-pad to be fuelled up. But imagine what strategic information might flow from such an eye in the sky over South Korea – absolutely invaluable to a country still at war and beset on all sides by enemies.

    Secondly, an inter-continental ballistic missile has to make an atmospheric re-entry, which doesn’t just make it “inaccurate”, it could easily skim off the atmosphere and miss an entire continent.

    Thirdly, it was assumed that North Korea is already nuclear capable, whereas its 2006 test was a definite “fizzle”, and the 2009 test created no radioactive signature at all – despite the CTBTO monitoring stations being well located and in full readiness, given that the test was announced before hand. The CTBTO rushed to declare that it must have been a nuclear explosion because it would be impossible to detonate 4,000 tonnes of TNT if the nuclear test had failed. But the test site was an old coal mine, with rail infrastructure still in place, and so this could have been relatively easily arranged. Wouldn’t someone in the CTBTO have blown the whistle on this cover up? Well, the man in charge of collating the various computer inputs and making the calculations, Timothy Hampton, did “commit suicide” by throwing himself off the 12th floor of the CTBTO building in Vienna.

    So while it does call it “An Overhyped Threat”, it should really have provided all the background, and called it “Yet another blatant WMD scare-job by US”.

  9. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Happy 9th of Dey Anniversary

    I recommended this book when the forum began. It supports fyi’s argument that US/UK identity and behavior is essentially religious/Protestant, even if sometimes coached in secular language such as “exceptionalism” or “indispensable nation”.

    Remember that one of the attacks by Gingrich and ilk on Obama was that he didn’t believe America to be the “exceptional” nation. Obama believes it as nearly all US elites- the liberals using secular language, the conservatives using religious language when necessary.

    I would say that the problem that Hilary called “cultural” in her Aljazeera appearance is deeper than that. It’s about identity- as Carville might say “it’s the identity, stupid!”

    And the only thing that permanently changes identities is victory and defeat in wars, not rational discussions.

    Chosen People: The Big Idea that Shapes England and America
    Clifford Longley

    http://www.amazon.com/Chosen-People-Shapes-England-America/dp/0340786574/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356854029&sr=1-1-fkmr1&keywords=Chosen+People+the+big+idea+that+shapes+England+and+the+US

  10. Pirouz says:

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:
    December 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    December 29, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Colonel Lang used to question the validity of Iran’s ballistic missile strike force. After hearing the logic put forth by myself and others, he has come round to see the utility behind the Iranians’ indigenously produced strike force.

    Robert Haddock, a contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command, had previously advocated an indigenously produced ballistic missile strike force for Taiwan as a deterrent against Chinese aggression, when American F-16 deliveries became questionable. I pointed out to him that he was actually advocating Iran’s up to now successful approach against U.S./Israeli aggression. Obviously this was not his intention, and he no longer puts forward such advocacy. But the point had been made by Haddick (and others).

  11. Castellio says:

    fyi says:
    December 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    If anyone wanted to learn how limited and misguided your understanding of contemporary politics really is, this should do it. In any case, you can fool a good number, for the same reasons that Huntington does.

  12. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm
    And you have made it very clear that you favor appeasement as irans foreign policy,which I have no doubt most of the contributors to this site would not agree with,if the west wants a war they will find or manufacture an excuse,are you saying that iran should do nothing that may displease the west for fear of western military action?,if iran did as you said it would cease to be an independent state

  13. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    You are mixing cause and effect.

    From the time of Blake (“Till we have built Jerusalem/In England’s green and pleasant land”) to the present time, Anglo-American protestanism has been enamoured of (Ancient) Israel – Ameirca being the New Jerusalem and other such nonsense.

    This religious orientation, initiated in UK and later imported into US, persists to this day.

    That is the reason that Israel can do no wrong in the United States.

    And this is the reason, among many, that US and UK are marching to the drumbeat of religious war – while all the time denying it.

    The continental states, on the other hand, have their public gods – the trinity of Human Rights, Democracy, and the Cult of Shoah.

    And these gods are in conflict with the militant monotheism of Islam as more and more Muslim states enter mass politics.

    And I believe I have explained all of this in detail in this forum.

    A statesman will understand all of this and try to work around it – rather that try to cut through it.

    Koreans (both North and South), Chinese, Indians, Japanese and South Americans understand all of this and accept Muslim they way they are – a separate and alien tradition.

    US and EU refuse to do so.

  14. Rehmat says:

    9/11, Netanyahu and Paul Craig Roberts

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/30/911-and-netanyahu/

  15. BiBiJon says:

    Please do not engage James.

  16. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The collapse of Yugoslavia came about even though the American ambassador hoped it wouuld not happen.

    What gain to the US from collapse of Yugoslavia? ZERO.

  17. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Strategically, Iran would be richer and stronger if it had not re-started uranium enrichment. Full stop.
    .
    Has Iran pushed Saudi Arabia and Qatar toward supporting the overthrow of the Syrian gov’t? This seems clearly the case.

  18. James Canning says:

    Karl..,

    Do you regard China and Russia as “rapists” of Iran? Because they insist Iran stop enriching to 20%?

    Are you contending the civil war in Syria has nothing to do with Iranian enrichment to 20%?

  19. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Surely you are aware Netanyahu has tried, and is trying, to force Obama into declaring a “red line” if Iran enriches 20% U to a certin specified amount.

    You believe Iran should help Netanyahu force Obama into war with Iran, by stockpiling USELESS 20 percent uranium. Amazing.

    And you think it makes sense for you to help the haters of Iran in the US, in their anti-Iran propaganda. Amazing.

  20. Karl... says:

    James,

    Your arguments getting weirder by the minute.
    Rapists use that argument too that you use, that the female are to be blamed for being raped because of whatever reason the rapists come up with.

    If Iran said that UK must x within 24 hours, and if not, force will be used by Iran, would you buy into that argument?

    I dont expect you to adress this as you usually approach these things, so dont bother to answer, just want to show other users on this board.

  21. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Those gentlemen are journalists and not strategists.

    They do not understand the strategic situation.

    I tried to educate you on the strategic situation and yet you keep on coming back to 20% enrichment.

    Should Axis powers decide to go to war, they will manufacture a cause belli; just as they did in case of Yugoslavia and Iraq.

    If Iran ceases 20% enrichment tomorrow, and Axis Powers wish to go to war, they will.

    As for Mr. Obama, – a man whose policy was going to result in war with Iran in early Spring of 2012 – he must be understood as a man that is capable of gorss mis-calculation.

    War with Iran will not improve the strategic situation for the Axis States; it only expedites their expulsion from Western Asia.

    That is because these states are incapble of articulating a positive view of future for several hundred million people – people with whom they do not even empathize at a cultural level. Just look at the harm they are causing their allie – Turkey – a stalwart member of NATO!

    The empirical fact is that since the collapse of the Peace of Yalta, Axis States have destroyed 3 states: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (the best government that Afghanistan ever had), and the Republic of Iraq.

    The results, subsequent to state destruction, is viewable for everyone on this planet.

    Yet, they persist in the same vein against the Axis of Resistance states; discounting their own shortcomings.

  22. James Canning says:

    Xinhua report today: “Iran to continue high-grade enrichment: lawmaker”

    http://english.cri.cn/2012/12/30/191s741173.htm

  23. James Canning says:

    New report on hopes Obama will move forward with Hagel nomination for Defence.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2012/12/clemons-support-announce.html

  24. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    David Sanger and James Risen of The New York Times yesterday reported that Iran is virtually certain to be attacked if it continues to stockpile 20% U that has not been converted into TRR fuel. And you contend the 20 U is not an issue!

  25. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You obviously are aware that there has been a number of occasions when relations between the US and Iran could have been restored, since 1979.

    Aipac propaganda line is that Iran has been virtually at war with the US since 1979. Remarkable how you promote the propaganda line of Iran’s enemies in the US.

  26. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    Tell me: do you think Condoleezza Rice was duped into blocking Iran’s IAEA application, and that she believed Iran would be unable to enrich to 20 and build working fuel plates for the TRR?.
    .
    You strongly believe that “dark forces” control the US and other countries. Was Rice duped? Or has she only pretended she believed Iran could not enrich to 20 and build the plates?

  27. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iranian intelligence ministry says Obama went along with sanctions against Iran, in effort to avoid war with Iran. This is correct assessment. Obama may have been told – - and believed – - that the sanctions would force Iran to stop enriching to 20 etc etc etc.

  28. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    I seriously doubt that British, French, German and American intelligence would believe Iran capable of enriching uranium to 95%, but not be able to enrich to 20%.

    Western intelligence could not think Iran capable of building nukes, but not be capable of building fuel plates for the TRR.

    Was Condoleezza Rice duped? Or, did she block Iran’s application to buy TRR fuel, knowing that Iran would virtually certainly then enrich to 20% and build the fuel plates?

  29. Persian Gulf says:

    The level of support, among those who despise Ahmadinejad or even IR as a whole, for Mr.Assad in the streets of Tehran is amazing. and hatred toward the regime in charge of Saudi Arabia is on the peak.

  30. Empty says:

    Sakineh Bagoom,

    I’d say the list pretty much sums up the themes for the year. I doubt we’ll be hearing new tunes for the new year. Have a happy one anyway…..

  31. nahid says:

    A country surrounded by American military bases and aircraft carriers is somehow managing to break free! A country whose television and radio broadcasts are being suppressed is somehow managing to get its message through!

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/29/280709/irans-rising-power-spreads-panic-in-us/

  32. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    “I of course deeply regret the civil war in Syria.”

    Are you acknowledging your regret for UK’s £5 million to Support Terrorist in Syria?

  33. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    December 29, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Let’s look at some of the claims made in that article and see if they hold up to criticism.

    Claim 1: “First, they are difficult to integrate with other military operations, unless they are very accurate.”

    Nonsense. They are no more difficult to coordinate and use than any other significant military asset. And of course, this does not even apply to Iranian ballistic missiles since they are in fact very accurate. I have already linked to footage of multiple tests that prove this beyond question so I will not do so again.

    Claim 2 “they represent an inefficient means of delivering ordnance, usually carrying smaller payloads than aircraft or modern artillery, at greater cost.”

    Once again completely wrong. A large number of ballistic missiles can be maintained at very low cost with little maintenance in dispersed locations, can be fired at short notice, and do not require a large number of highly trained personnel to operate. In addition individually missiles cost far less than a comparable aircraft alone, not counting the great additional costs of maintaining all the additional infrastructure required to allow such aircraft to be used. As an example let’s assume that a single aircraft costs $50 million. For the same cost, 50-100 missiles can be manufactured. Than add the costs of pilot training, maintaining military airfields, storage depots, supply routes, and so forth (All of which are highly vulnerable to attack with those “expensive” ballistic missiles) and the real cost equation becomes clear. The problem with those aircraft that deliver those “inexpensive” bombs is they will be destroyed on the ground by those “expensive” missiles. In addition, the huge military airbases they rely on will also be destroyed by those “expensive” missiles. 50 missiles that cost less than $50 million can easily destroy an entire airbase with billions of dollars of equipment and infrastructure. A single plane that costs the same amount cannot.

    Claim 3: “This is why we care about Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles, and about other hyper-accurate Chinese and Russian (some reports suggest that Iskander missiles launched during the South Ossetia War may have done some damage, although these reports remain sketchy) ballistic missile systems”

    Yeah…like the Persian Gulf missile which is just as accurate and powerful as those “hyper accurate” Chinese anti ship missiles? Or the Fateh 110 fourth generation, which is nearly as accurate or as accurate as the Iskander missile? In other words, the author of this article is completely clueless and lacks basic knowledge of the subject he is discussing.

  34. Rehmat says:

    More anti-Iran propaganda lies against Islamic Republic.

    NYT: Ahmadinejad sacks “the only woman minister”!

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/29/nyt-ahmadinejad-sacks-the-only-woman-minister/

  35. kooshy says:

    This guy’s analysis is very true “Panic” is the stage that American foreign policy currently is

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/29/280709/irans-rising-power-spreads-panic-in-us/

    Rodney Shakespeare

    “There is PANIC in Washington. A country of only 75,000,000 people (17th in the world list), without an atomic bomb, is extending its influence!

    A country surrounded by American military bases and aircraft carriers is somehow managing to break free! A country whose television and radio broadcasts are being suppressed is somehow managing to get its message through!

    A country which is not attacking any other country, which is not occupying any other country, which is not dealing in drugs, which is not dealing with al Qaeda, which is not deliberately stirring up sectarian hatred, which is not bent on trapping everybody else into debt, which dares to want justice for Palestine and whose foreign policy is based on conferences and discussion rather than conflict and drones, is being honoured by others!

    A country subject to economic sanctions, political sanctions and international sanctions; which is shackled, embargoed and restrained; which is hindered and prohibited, is somehow managing to trade with others!”

    And it’s not dealing in dollars! And it’s running, with increasing success, the Non-Aligned Movement!
    Worst of all, Iran (yes, you’ve guessed it, well done) is “pursuing cooperation with Latin American countries by signing economic and security agreements in order to create a network of diplomatic and economic relationships to lessen the blow of international sanctions and oppose Western attempts to constrict its ambitions.”

    Panic! Do something

    Which is why the USA has just passed into law the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act particularly aimed at countering Iran’s growing influence in South America. This law requires the USA State Department, within 180 days, to develop a strategy to “address Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity” in Latin America.”

  36. Richard Steven Hack says:

    A correct analysis…

    An Overhyped Threat: Ballistic Missiles
    http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/12/27/an-overhyped-threat-ballistic-missiles/2/?all=true

  37. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm
    James I`m sure even you know that there is a huge difference between producing reactor fuel assemblies and building a first generation gun type atomic weapon,and at the time that the decision to prevent iran acquiring the fuel was taken a lot of the so called experts seemed to think that iran was having enough problems enriching to 5%.Throughout the existence of the iri the west has tried to present iran as a backward country run by a medieval theocracy that shuns modernity and whos achievements are all propaganda and bluff and that at best iran is no different to the arab oil states ie one trick ponies whos economy relies on exporting oil and importing everything else.The problem with this sort of propaganda is that after a decade or two the people producing it actually start to begin believing it themselves

  38. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I doubt that you can infer all of that Mr. Obama accurately.

    He is the man who approved the plans put into action for overthrow of Syrian government as well as the Siege War against Iran.

    This had nothing to do with trying to protect Democratic supporters of Iraq War from exposure and everything to do with combatting Iranian power.

    Now, he and others are trying to fan the Shia-Sunni conflict.

    I hope they are successful as the flames of such conflagration will destroy every single Sunni-dmoinated state that is a friend of Axis Powers: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, and UAE.

    Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon are immune to this.

    And let us see how Azerbaijan Republic will fare when her “Turkic” Sunni brothers turn on her.

    At the end of the day, Iranians will be there to pick up the pieces as the only functioning state between Hinukush to the Mediterranean Sea.

    [In Syria, the war will go on until one side destroys the other; Russian-American perscription have no chance of succeeding unless Iranian and Syrian governments agree.]

    So, set the 20%, 5%, NPT, Shia-Sunni games aside. There is a war and I personally have every expectation that Iranians and their allies will prevail.

  39. Richard Steven Hack says:

    I see this has become the “James Canning Engagement Site”.

    Seriously? You guys have nothing else to do?

  40. kooshy says:

    وی خاطرنشان کرد: غربی ها به دنبال بهانه ای هستند که در یک مرکز جدید در منطقه مستقر شوند ، ضمن اینکه دائما ایران را تهدید به حمله نظامی می کنند و می گویند گزینه نظامی روی میز است. البته آنها توانایی حمله نظامی بر علیه ایران را ندارند چراکه در حمله نظامی طرف
    مهاجم ضرر و زیان را در نظر می گیرد و آنها در حمله به ایران باید هزینه های بسیاری را پرداخت کنند.

    مهمانپرست گفت: ما آماده دفاع از خود هستیم اما هشدار مقامات نظامی ایران این است که باید مراقب فتنه در منطقه باشبم . از طرف دیگر هم برخی از مقامات ترکیه بر علیه ایران صحبت می کنند. معاون نخست وزیر ترکیه گفته است که حالا اکه ایران موشک دارد ما پاترویت در اختیار داریم و مقامات نظامی ایران می گویند که اختیار موشک های ما در دست خودمان است اما پاتریوت های ترکیه در اختیار ناتو هستند.

    مهمانپرست درباره اینکه ایران چه انتظاری از نتیجه مذاکرات ایران و 1+5 دارد، گفت: این مسئله بستگی به طرف های مذاکره کننده از 1+5 دارد. کاملا آماده مذاکره هستیم و چارچوب منطقی داریم. معاهده ان پی تی باید چارچوب فعالیت ها باشد .متعهد هستیم که به سمت فعالیت های نظامی نرویم و آنها نیز باید فعالیت های صلح آمیز ما را به رسمیت بشناسند . در این صورت تحریم و فعالیت های خصمانه معنی ندارد . اگر نگرانی خاصی وجود داشته باشد نیز حاضریم که نگرانی ها را برطرف کنیم و امیدواریم مذاکرات به نتیجه برسد.

    وی درباره بیماری جلال طالبانی در عراق و اینکه ایران تیمی را به این کشور فرستاده است، گفت: ما هر کاری که از دستمان بر بیاید برای کمک به آرامش و ثبات در عراق می کنیم و در کنار مردم عراق خواهیم بود

    نشست مهمانپرست در استانبول:

    آماده مذاکره با 1+5هستیم/دلشان به حال مردم می سوزد چرا درباره بحرین کاری نمی کنند
    http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1777958

  41. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    No, it started in 1979.

  42. fyi says:

    Nasser says:

    December 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I am not stating anything very profound here.

    Just that after the defeat of Iran, the reconstruction, modernization, and upgrade of her industrial sectors, transportation, and power will be done by the EU states as rewards and compensation for their war contribution against Iran.

    After all, they have harmed themselves in their Siege War against Iran and should be compensated.

  43. James Canning says:

    Pat Buchanan on American warmongers who are trying to block Hagel:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-the-war-party-fears-chuck-hagel/

  44. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Writing in the Financial Times Dec. 28th, David Gardner noted that: “It was the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, a fresh roll of the regional dice, that reignited the historic battle between Sunni and Shia Islam.” Fair statement?

  45. James Canning says:

    I recommend T G Otte’s fine piece in the New Statesman 14-20 Dec. 2012 (“The Great Carnage”), about the blunders that brought on the catastrophic First World War.

    Quote: “If anything, the haphazard and chaotic nature of decision-making [by various diplomats, ministers and officials] belies assertions of Europe’s ineluctable progress to war [in 1914].”

  46. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Jacques Chirac of France told Tony Blair (and G W Bush) that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would strengthen Iran by putting the Shia into power in that country.

    I doubt Obama thinks Iran has not been strengthened by American stupidity in Iraq. However, Obama is well aware how many powerful Democrats lobbied for the idiotic and illegal US invasion of Iraq. To protect Israel. He is sensitive to their desire not to be exposed as fools.

  47. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    David Sanger and James Risen in the NYT today speculate Iran may cause itself to be attacked if it stockpiles too much 20% U that has not been converted into fuel plates for the TRR. Current rate of stockpiling may be 15 kg per month.

  48. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    James Canning says: December 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm
    “You appear to argue that if Iran wants to force Obama to attack Iran, that is Iran’s right.”
    Yes James. That is what I’m doing.
    I say talk is cheap.
    I say bring it on — as if they haven’t already.
    I say I like to see how many Brits can go without heat at night. Americans?
    I say I like to see how many Brits can go without food when food cannot be delivered due to high transportation costs. Americans?
    I say I like to see the whole world collapse because those Iranians can’t stop themselves, when they know full well that enriching to 20% would bring a certain war, because James Canning said so.
    Yes James. That is exactly what I’m doing.

  49. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Financial Times opposed any energy sanctions against Iran. Thus the FT was not interested in “wounding Iran” by means of those sanctions.

  50. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    I of course deeply regret the civil war in Syria.

  51. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    I do not “blame Iran” for civil war in Syria. I think Qatar and Saudi Arabia get more credit than Iran for that appalling situation.

    I do argue that the change in attitude toward Syria, by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, owes a good deal to Iran’s enriching of uranium to 20%.

    “International crises generate their own dynamic and internal logic, of which events are both cause and consequence”. — T. G. Otte, writing in “The Great Carnage” (cover story for the New Statesman, 14-20 December 2012.

  52. Nasser says:

    fyi says:

    “For EU states, the rape of Iran after her defeat will take the fhorm of “Economic Modernization” – that is what US has promised them.”

    - Can you expand on this?

  53. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    “Fair statement, in your view?”

    Why do you think Mr. Exchequer was in NY visiting the banksters? Now the banksters rip the rest of the world and your exchequer is asking them for money? How cunning..

    Ironically, now we see UK’s cameron/hague much more hostile to Iran, supporting more sanctions, and to top it off, spend £5 million to Support Terrorist in Syria and promote Syria’s destruction. And you blame that on Iran?

    And here is the fruits of your £5 million to the terrorist salafi’s in Syria;

    “Syrian rebels sidetracked by scramble for spoils of war“

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/27/syrian-rebels-scramble-spoils-war

    now you tell me, is this a fair statement in your view?

  54. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    No FT has not the correct understanding.

    The correct one is this: “Wound Iran as much as possible while avoiding all out war.”

  55. fyi says:

    All:

    On the Duration Iran-US Confrontation:

    I set the date for the start of this to 1979 – i.e. 33 years.

    It is also clear that we are not at the beginning or the end of confrontation.

    We could ask if we are at 1/3 point, 1/2 point, or 2/3 point from the end of this confrontation.

    Since I have no way of knowing; I will assign the probability of 1/3 to the likelihood of each case above (1/3 way to the end of the confrontation, 1/2 of the way to the end, etc.).

    Then the average time to the end of confrontation will be:

    case 1: time to end of confrontation 66 years.
    case 2: time to end of confrontation 33 years.
    case 3: time to end of confrontation 16 years.

    Expected time to the end of confrontation: 66/3+ 33/3+ 16/3 = 22+ 11+ 5 = 38 years

    Roughly – 2 more generations.

    This is plausible given the emotional nature of the confrontation in both countries’ populations – including their leaders.

    One has to wait for most current antagonists and protogonists to die.

    EU confrontation with Iran will end more quickly; very likely there soon won’t be an EU (God Willing).

    This argument can be refined but this much will suffice.

  56. James Canning says:

    James Risen and David Sanger, in NYT today, regarding Iranian enrichment to 20 percent:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/world/middleeast/irans-slowing-of-enrichment-efforts-may-show-it-wants-deal.html?_r=0

  57. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    As long as the Axis Powers do not accept this buutal truth (to them) that a major expansion of Iranian power has been caused by the destruction of the Ba’ath state in Iraq, no improvements in relations are possible.

    The Axis Powers are in the state of denial in regads to the irrversibility of this change as well; the legal structure of their economic war against Iran is predicated
    on Iranian defeat.

    [For EU states, the rape of Iran after her defeat will take the fhorm of "Economic Modernization" - that is what US has promised them.]

    20%, 5%, Parchin Visit, Syria, etc. are all battle fields in a much wider war.

    We are looking at years of confrontation.

    As things are going, within this coming year, Axis States will sacrifice the well-being of Turkey to plug a hole in their Siege of Iran. They will harm Turkey, they have no longer any choice as their war against Iran continues.

    Many states beside Iran are being affected – we shall see who can endure the most.

  58. James Canning says:

    Steve Walt has excellent piece on Chuck Hagel and the effort by much of the Israel lobby to derail the nomination.

    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/26/whats_at_stake_in_the_hagel_affair

  59. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    Leader in the Financial Times today states: “The military option, while open, can never be the first choice, given the real risk that any conflict [with Iran] could result in a cure worse than the disease.”

    Fair statement, in your view?

  60. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    In your comments to Rd., you in effect argue that the Financial Times has no understanding of the thinking of leaders in the UK, France, Germany, the US, etcc.

    David Gardner writes today in the FT (“The seismic tussles that will shape the Middle East”): “If Barack Obama wishes to avoid being sucked into conflict with Iran, he and his allies must set realistic negotiating goals.”

    True, in your view?

  61. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You think US intelligence thought Iran could enrich to 95%, but not be able to enrich to 20%? That Iran could build nukes but not build fuel plates for the TRR?

    Are you buying a cover story put out to conceal the utter stupidity of Condoleezza Rice, in blocking Iran’s IAEA application to refuel the TRR?

    The New York Times does not even want to mention the fact it was stupidity on the part of the US, that blocked Iran’s IAEA application.

  62. James Canning says:

    Financial Times leader today (“Hagel for Defence”): “[Hagel's] belief that the US must try hard to find a negotiated solution iwth Iran is right and realistic.”

    I agree.

    Your opinion, Sakineh?

  63. James Canning says:

    David Gardner writes in today’s Financial Times: “Tehran will have to be allowed to enrich uranium to a low level [5%].” True, in my view.

    Your opinion, Sakineh?

  64. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    The New York Times today says Iran may cause itself to be attacked, by stockpiling too much 20 percent uranium that has not been converted into fuel plates for the TRR.

    You appear to argue that if Iran wants to force Obama to attack Iran, that is Iran’s right.

  65. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Iran already has the “Japan option”. The real question is whether Iran will stockpile too much 20 U and bring about a blockade.

    Read the NYT article today and offer comments, if you have time.

  66. James Canning says:

    The New York Times has a report today on Iran’s enriching to 20 percent, and the article suggests some of the 20 U has been “diverted” into making fuel plates for the TRR. In fact, the enriching to 20 was of course for the purpose of making those plates.

  67. Jay says:

    James Canning says:
    December 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm
    Sakineh,

    Why don’t you complete this sentence: Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because…

    James’ question is the typical “when are you going to stop beating your wife?” question!

    The implied assertion that 20% production was the causal – the effect being sanctions – is completely unsubstantiated. In fact, based on the weight of evidence to date, it is more likely to be false – such a linkage is merely opportunistic.

  68. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm
    You`re missing out option #3 the japan option ie just because you have a stockpile of fissile material doesn`t mean you`re going to build a nuclear arsenal,under the current circumstances option #3 would be the most prudent thing to do.
    If obama wanted a war,and that is what a blockade would mean lets not kid ourselves,he would be sure he had plenty of excuses,if it was not enrichment then it was arak if not that then something else,the real problem is that the iri by its very existence poses an enormous challenge to the rotted out western backed status quo the nuclear issue is just a small aspect of this

  69. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    James Canning says: December 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Ooh, ooh, fill in the blanks. I like that game. Let’s see:

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – James Canning needs to get a clue. It wasn’t the percentages issue, but the Iranian power that brought on the sanctions.

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – James Canning needs to get a clue. It wasn’t the percentages issue, but Iran constraining freedom of US/Israeli action in the ME that brought on the sanctions.

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – James Canning needs to get a clue. It wasn’t the percentages issue, but the EU wanting to show US that they are good poodles that brought on the sanctions.

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – James Canning needs to get a clue. It wasn’t the percentages issue, but the policymakers in US/EU thinking that they could bankrupt Iran and break its will that brought on the sanctions.

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – it is nobody’s business. Iran as a signatory to NPT has the right to low level enrichment, which BTW includes 19.8%.

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because — it is nobody’s business. Iran can build an A bomb if it deems necessary. [personally I don’t think it does]

    Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because – it is only a James Canning issue. Keep spamming us on this James.

    Alas, I thought it’d be more exciting/satisfying to fill in the blanks, but it wasn’t. My apologies to the board. Next…?

  70. fyi says:

    Sineva says:

    December 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I do not think Axis Powers expected Iran to be able to fabricate fuel plates for TRR; I think that was something that they had considered but did not find probable.

    They still do not believe that Iranians have the technical ability to reverse engineer the plates.

    Note also that there is years of TRR spent fuel in Iran that can be re-processed and plutonium extracted.

    The key was always the ability to enrich.

  71. fyi says:

    Rd. says:

    December 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Global trade is shrinking and states are cheapening their currency to control damage to their economies that quantitative easing (printing money) in US and EU is doing to their economies.

    This is going to go on for very many years – decades perhaps – as Japan clearly demonstrates.

    Axis Powers will not relent against Iran – however, the Iranians now and since 2011 have had and will have ample opportunities to manage and overcome the economic war against them.

    It is, nonetheless, critical for Iran to help Mr. Assad and his government survive in Syria – there is no going back for Iran – Russian and American machinations notwithstanding.

  72. Rehmat says:

    “Western bullies cannot scare Iran,” Seyed Hossein Mousavian Ph.D, a research scholar at Princeton and former Iranian diplomat.

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/28/western-bullies-cannot-scare-iran/

  73. James Canning says:

    Tom Friedman, writing in The New York Times this week: “Most US senators, policymakers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous.”

    Friedman backs Hagel for Defence.

  74. Rd. says:

    Fiorangela says:

    “ Great Britain’s active participation in the “unraveling of 300 year old trade relationships with Iran” that will ultimately harm Great Britain”

    The brit Exchequer was in NY early dec with his knee pads.. looking for more business from uncle sam!! the triple deep recession is looming and peddling is as good a career the cameron/hague think not tank are imposing on their own people..

    The markets are way too heavy and there will be more adjustments this coming year. Lets see how we hear those hip hip hoorays in london, ny and DC later this year when the indexes start falling.

  75. Rd. says:

    Sakineh Bagoom says:

    “Well, I am afraid if Icontinue, I would land on the naughty list. As you said, you get the point though”

    You missed the top ‘fairy’ story Sakineh….

    Iran mobile enrichment lab!!!.. enriching uranium while traveling mountain to mountain converting ur to nuke and loading into a war head and carrying an ICBM on its roof disguised as a luggage case!!!

  76. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Interesting comments by Vladimir Yevseyev that you linked. Quote: “Unfortunately, I do not see in the West an understanding of Iranian psychology.” Fair statement.

  77. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You seem to forget I have opposed the foolish US policy of sanctions against Iran.

  78. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Yes, an argument can be made that Iran should not on its own accord stop stockpiling 20% uranium. And, instead, Iran should make itself appear willing to build nukes, to pressure the P5+1.

    The problem I see is that Obama will be forced to blockade Iran if Iran continues to stockpile 20% U (not fashioned into fuel plates).

    Best estimates I have seen say Iran has enough 20% U to operate the TRR for decades.
    If this is not correct, Iran would be wise to announce just how many years it can operate the TRR with existing stocks of 20U (fashioned into fuel plates).

  79. James Canning says:

    Empty,

    Are you contending that the reaction of Saudi Arabia, the UAE et al., after Iran announced it would treble production of 20% U, was all pretense? No real concern?

    What is your explanation for the reason Qatar ended its effort to improve relations with Syria and instead allowed support for Sunni insurgents?

  80. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Norman Lamont’s comment that Britain backed the sanctions “for want of a better alternative” would appear to be the assessment of the Iranian ministry of intelligence. Assuming the UK does not want to break with the US (or other P5+1 countries) regarding nuclear dispute with Iran. (I am of course aware that China and Russia object to the unilateral sanctions against Iran.)

  81. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    There is a difference between facts and opinions.

    It is a fact that John Kerry thought the Bush administration had been stupid to refuse to accept Iranian enrichment to 5%. We know this because Daniel Dombey interviewed Kerry for the Financial Times.

  82. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Many times I have noted that powerful Democrats in the US Congress want to prevent Obama from improving US relations with Iran. To “benefit” Israel. Even if this course of action is very damaging to the American people.

  83. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Who do you want to see named as Secretary of State, by Obama?

  84. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Why don’t you complete this sentence: Iran was wise to treble production of 20% uranium and to incur strong sanctions, because______________________.

  85. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    I take it you think US intelligence was well aware Iran could enrich to 20% and produce the fuel plates for the TRR, when the Bush administration so very stupidly blocked Iran’s IAEA application to buy replacement nuclear fuel for the TRR.

    You’ve been reluctant to say whether you think Condoleezza Rice was duped by neocon warmongers, who may very well have wanted Iran to enrich to 20%.

  86. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    December 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

    It is not just UK; France and Germany have also determined that the destruction of the Iranian power is in their national interest and convinced others in EU to follow suite.

    You have to understand that this is not a personal decision by this or that leader in US, UK, France, or Germany.

    The aim of destroying Iranian power is a consensus strategic aim of these states for they are loath to admit the existence of a new independent power in the Middle East.

    The Northern European and North American policy makers specially loath and despise the Islamic Republic of Iran because for 250 years their own political and social history has been predicated and defined as opposition to (Catholic) religion – in the state, in culture, in politics, etc.

    They hate Islamic Iran so much that they forced the Islamic government in Turkey, using their economic leverage, to facilitate their war for them in Syria. Turkey, a country 92 to harm a state with human development index 119.

    Furthermore, their historical hatred for Catholic and Orthodox Christinaity is so deep and abiding that they clealry accepted any consequent harm befalling Christian communities in Syria as being part of accepted collateral damage needed for wounding Iran.

    Specifically Americans, Canadians, and the English, dominated by various forms of Protestanism, are clearly oblivious to the harm done to (Papist) Christian communities in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.

    I stress again that this need not have been so, but the Axis States have been in the driving seat (in Persian – “sitting in the saddle”) and preferred confrontation to accomodation.

    This will be a long story.

  87. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Empty says: December 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Empty,
    This is the time of year to make a list and check it twice.
    Here is my list of what I believe to be ‘THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH’ because it has been repeated here ad nauseam.
    If you repeat it enough times, it becomes true ya’know.

    Iran blundered by stockpiling 20% U.
    The US very foolishly in effect forced Iran to enrich to 20%.
    Southern Persian Gulf monarchs/autocrats/dictators are concerned about Iran’s trebling of production of 20% U
    If Iran stops enriching to 20 on its own accord, perhaps it can avoid a blockade
    Britain/Hague/Cameron favor better relations with Iran. No nokar/sarvar relations.
    Iran is responsible for Syrian war in which the FSA/SNC is funded by SA/Qatar and advised by the West.
    I Lobby/AIPAC/Israel/NeoCons are responsible for ALL decision made in US re ME.
    John Kerry has courage. This is a good thing for Iran.
    All FT reporting is fact, especially Gideon Rachman’s.
    Obama does not want war with Iran. Obama may be forced into war with Iran, due to Iranian mistakes.
    Dennis Ross – well, you need a special category for him.

    Well, I am afraid if Icontinue, I would land on the naughty list. As you said, you get the point though.

  88. Fiorangela says:

    On Pat Lang’s blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis, participants discussed reasons for Great Britain’s active participation in the “unraveling of 300 year old trade relationships with Iran” that will ultimately harm Great Britain (the original question involved EU AND Great Britain “unraveling 300 year old relationships,” but the response analyzed only the British).

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2012/12/obama-will-not-pick-hagel.html#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef017c34ee484a970b

    The menu of reasons for thus acting against self-interest includes:

    QUOTE: “‘”It is a way for Britain to prove to the United States that it is its key ally in the world,” says one. “It also gives the British who have lost their military power a chance to act as if they are still a super-power, thanks to their financial position.”

    ‘”A lot of the support for the sanctions is for want of a better alternative and sometimes they are in place to keep Israel happy and prevent military action,” says Lord Norman Lamont . . .

    Both a deeply ingrained habit of deference to the United States, and imperial nostalgia – what might be called the Connie Sachs syndrome – are important elements in British policy. . . .

    The element of inanity is also important. . . .” END QUOTE

    The list is not taken from a Chinese take-out menu but from an article in Haaretz. The Haaretz article’s author concludes:

    QUOTE: “Britain has made the basic mistake of attempting coercive diplomacy for maximalist goals in a situation where they are deeply averse to going to war. Because of this, politicians and officials here have been effectively panicked by Netanyahu’s sabre-rattling, and looked to an escalation of sanctions as a means of escaping the alternatives of climbing down or resorting to war. They then – as Lamont’s remarks illustrate – fool themselves about the likelihood that the sanctions will work, and so avoid thinking about what they will do in the likely event that they fail.” END QUOTE

    The author of the comment on Sic Semper Tyrannis concluded: QUOTE “in the wake of the retreat and collapse of Soviet power, ‘end of history’ fantasies became prevalent in London, as in Washington. These lead naturally to the assumption that there is no real need, confronted with the rise of other centres of power, to attempt compromise and accommodation.” END QUOTE

  89. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas,

    By the way, after the victory of the Egyptian Revolution, while most people here were saying that as a result of an Islamic Awakening, Islamic groups were on the rise in Egypt. In response you claimed that it was a secular revolution and that such ideas were simply Iranian propaganda. Have you seen the election results?

    Seriously, you should stick to teaching US history.

  90. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas,

    Ali Akbar Velayati was not involved in any negotiations with the US regime and Mr. Dolatyar is in no position to carry out negotiations on behalf of Iran. You should stick to teaching American history.

  91. Karl... says:

    Kerry: ‘Climate Change’ As Much Of A Threat As Iran’s Nukes

    breitbart.com/breitbart-tv/2012/08/03/Sen-John-Kerry-Climate-change-as-much-of-a-threat-as-irans-nukes

    Non existential nukes are a threat according to Kerry… In that statement he also indirectly acknowledge that he wont accept NIE conclusions, instead he like any other warmonger base his rhetoric on false, political accusations that have no bearing in the real world.

  92. Empty says:

    James Canning says,

    As you are aware, I regret the vicious civil war in Syria. But once again I ask whether Iran helped to bring it about, by enriching to 20%.

    Are you aware that Iran’s 20% Uranium enrichment also led to the following events:

    Resignation of the prime minister Anthony Eden (related to the Suez Canal)
    The casualties in the battle of the Somme
    The casualties of Gallipoli
    The number (0) of British soldiers who survived the Isandhlwana battle
    1842, 1880, 1919, 2001 (and onward) cat and mouse in Afghanistan
    Dianna’s death
    Kate Middle.’s miscarriage
    Britain’s Singapore surrender in 1942
    The British retreat from Pas de Calais

    well, the list is too long……you [doubtfully] get the point.

  93. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm
    Iran would only have decades worth of fuel for the trr if it operated it at its lowest power settings,if operated at normal settings it would have around 4-8 years worth,in fact irans stockpile has gone down recently as it has converted more 20% enriched into fuel plates/fuel plate material in which form it is useless for weaponisation
    http://armscontrolnow.org/2012/09/17/irans-20-enriched-uranium-stockpile/
    http://www.isisnucleariran.org/static/444/
    But the real value of 20% enrichment is as a valuable bargaining chip,not something to be tossed away in the vain hope of appeasing an enemy whos aims are clear

  94. fyi says:

    All

    Dr. Cordesman on GCC Military Integration etc.

    http://csis.org/publication/december-gcc-ministerial-meeting-and-improved-integration-gulf-military-forces

    I sincerely hope so, an integrated and competent military force in UAE will depose all these skeikhs and replace them with a republic.

    Let us hope for the speedy integration of UAE and other militries in the Southern Persian Gulf states and the subsequent miliary take-overs.

  95. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Once again, I suggest you go back and spend sometime studying strategy – say from Dr. Walt.

    The idiotic thing for US, EU, Russia, and China was to continue on their sanctions and pressure tack after 2007; when the US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran became public as well as Iran supplying answers to IAEA issues.

    When P5 refused to de-escalate it became clear that Iranian power was the issue and not Iranian enrichment.

    As for the Arabs of Southern Persian Gulf; I do not personally care one whit about what they think – they are enemies of Iran and established their credentials in that regard between 1980 and 1988.

    What are they going to do to harm Iran more that they have not done yet?

    The demise of those regimes is in the national interests of Iran, Iraq, Syria.

    I can only hope that the Hidden Imam will take note.

  96. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm
    Iran has been doing exactly this tho` without much success but then no one really believed that that was possible to begin with,it helps to keep the pressure on israel and to point out the hypocrisy of the west regarding the nuclear double standard in the middle east and so weaken their stance on iran yet further,as for leaving the npt all that would require would be a suitable justification like an,oh let us say a pr blunder on the part of the west,say an act of war for instance,but I`m sure that would all be part of some “cunning plan” right james?

  97. James Canning says:

    Karl..,

    The Mehrnews.com comments today about John Kerry, including various statements by Kerry, reflect a lack of understanding of Kerry and the reality of American politics.

  98. James Canning says:

    Karl..,

    John Kerry has courage. This is a good thing for Iran.

    “John Kerry says CIA lied about Iran Contra cocaine dealing”

    http://newsone.com/187661/john-kerry-says-cia-lied-about-iran-contra-cocaine-dealing/

  99. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    We could state this another way. Did the utter lunacy of the Bush administration, in forcing Iran to enrich to 20%, help to bring about Iran’s unwise decision to treble production of 20% U? Answer is affirmative, surely.

  100. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I take it you agree the US very foolishly in effect forced Iran to enrich to 20%.

    Your apparent assumption that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have no concern about Iran’s trebling of production of 20% U is unsound.

    Surely you are aware that the Sunni insurgency in Syria depended on Qatar to a considerable degree.

  101. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran’s leaders seem to see little risk Iran will be attacked with nukes. And they have good reasons for thinking this way.

  102. Scott Lucas says:

    Liz,

    I said Dolatyar — who is very well-connected within the regime — was one of the Iranians in the back-channel talks, not the only one.

    And I suspect even you would agree that Ali Akbar Velayati, another of the Iranians involved, is far from insignificant.

    S.

  103. fyi says:

    All:

    The sequence of events according to Mr. Cannings:

    - In reply to David Kimble:

    “the utter stupidity of the Bush administration in effectively forcing Iran to enrich to 20%. ”

    - In reply to fyi:

    “Iran helped to bring it (Syrian Civil War) about, by enriching to 20%.”

    Now, in classical logic, there is the concept of syllogism, the application of which here gives the following:

    “the Bush administration helped to bring it (Syrian Civil War) about”.

  104. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    As you are aware, I regret the vicious civil war in Syria. But once again I ask whether Iran helped to bring it about, by enriching to 20%.

  105. fyi says:

    All:

    The views of late Lt. General William Odom on Iran (with which I agree):

    “I would have a secret chamber with Iran and say, ‘You hate the Taliban, we hate the Taliban; you want to sell oil, we need to buy oil; your alliance with Russia is very unnatural; if you want to discuss the West Bank- I’ll talk about it but won’t give anything away.’

    ‘Oh, and by the way, I’m taking the nuclear issue off the table. You want nukes, have them. You live in a bad neighborhood.’ There’s no single diplomatic move that would so revolutionize our position up there.”

    http://hammernews.com/odomspeech.htm

  106. fyi says:

    All:

    Sir Michael Quinlan, former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, in a conference in 2002 in Herzliya, Israel (headquarters of MOSSAD) observed that to prevent the nuclearization of Iran absolute iron-clad guarantees must be given to Iran that she will not be attacked by nuclear weapons.

    He then proceeded to demonstrate why that was not feasible.

    Likewise, the late Lt. General Williom Odom, observed similarly that that was a precondition of any successful negogiations with Iran.

    He also understood that such guarantees to Iran were not possible.

    The reason was that the nuclear forces of one of the P5 states (US, UK, France, Russia, and China) must target Israel (an impossibility for US, UK, France) or Pakistan (and impossibility for China, US, UK, France) or India (an impossibility for Russia, US, UK, or France) and so on.

    And the other commentator on this forum, Mr. Smith, discussed in detail the potential nuclear threats to Iran – with which I agreed.

    So, nuclear industry in Iran is not an issue of pride – it is one of national survival of Iran as well as allied peoples.

    Axis States had 2 choices with regards to Iran: A nuclear-capable Iran that is cooperative with them or a nuclear-capable Iran that is uncooperative with them.

    They chose the second one the consequences of which will be felt for decades to come.

  107. James Canning says:

    “Certain powers seek to sabotage Tehran-P51 talks: Iran Majlis Speaker”

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/17/278494/some-powers-seek-failed-iranp51-talks/

  108. James Canning says:

    Scott McConnell has ome interesting observations regarding the possible nomination of Chuck Hagel for defence sec.:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/about-obama-more-than-hagel/

  109. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran has enought 20% U to fuel TRR for decades. ZERO need to produce more. Your sense of pride prompts you to claim Iran faces disaster if it on its own accord stops producting 20% U, and anoounces that fact to the world.

    China and Russia insist Iran stop enriching to 20%. Full stop.

  110. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Yes, Iran on its own accord can “adjust” levels of 20% U, and by converting 20% U into TRR fuel make an attack less likely.

    Obama does not want war with Iran. Obama may be forced into war with Iran, due to Iranian mistakes.

    What evidence do you have supporting your contention Obama forced Turkey into seeking the overthrow of the government of Syria?

  111. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Most European experts seem to be of the opinion that for Israel to sign the NPT likely would require a resolution of the Israel/Palestine problem.

    Iran should try to work with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries in seeking to strengthen the NPT and achieve Israeli adherence to the treaty.

    Leaving the NPT would be a gross PR blunder by Iran.

  112. James Canning says:

    Dave Kimble,

    John Kerry clearly was correct to tell the Financial Times in June 2009 that the Bush administration had been ridiculous in its demand that Iran stop enriching to 5%.

    What gets little attention, comparatively, is the utter stupidity of the Bush administration in effectively forcing Iran to enrich to 20%. Utter stupidity on the part of Robert Gates, Condoleezza Rice, and of course George W. Bush.

  113. James Canning says:

    DaveKimble,

    Bravo. Daniel Dombey of the Financial Times got the issue “out there” in the early days of the Obama administration, and John Kerry clearly was correct to say that the Bush administration’s demand that Iran stop enriching to 5% was ridiculous.

    Do we thank Dennis Ross for Obama’s refusal to be more open about accepting Iranian enrichment to 5%?

  114. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Souldn’tany brief historical sketch of the power of the Shia mullahs in Iran, mention the fact the mullahs in effect forced Reza Khan to become Shah (as opposed to seular ruler in style of Mustafa Kemal in Turkey)? And the role of the mullahs in overthrowing Mossadegh?

  115. Cyrus says:

    Canadian Defense Ministry quitely removes report on Israeli killing of Canadian UN Peacekeeper from public view

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/story.html?id=7742746

  116. Cyrus says:

    I think there is another angle to this: if the US starts to negotiate — GENUINELY negotiate — and there’s some sort of deal worked out, then what comes of the US pro-Israeli lobby that has consistently pressed from more sanctions and wars? What other policy positions that they’ve endorsed can be brought into question?

  117. fyi says:

    All:

    This is a net assessment by Axis States’ analysts.

    http://www.acus.org/files/publication_pdfs/403/Envisioning2030_web.pdf.pdf

    On Iran, we read (page 43):

    “It is difficult to see the Shia regime in Iran not
    being contained or perhaps rolled back in such a
    political environment. Opportunities for Iran’s Shia
    expansionism in the region would be extremely low.
    And it is difficult to envision an already globalized
    Iranian public not being inspired by regional examples
    of popular democratic governance. For US strategy,
    Iran should be viewed as a potential natural partner
    in the region, as it was until 1979. A post-Mullah
    dominated government shedding Shia political ideology
    could easily return to being a net contributor to stability
    by 2030.”

    This kind of wishful thinking, written by otherwise intelligent men and women, leaves me to conclude that the confrontation between Iran and Axis States will continue for many more decades.

  118. Karl.. says:

    Dave Kimble,

    Kerry is already a lost cause, just google his latest statements on Iran. Its very belligerent and implying Iran is developing nukes.

  119. fyi says:

    kooshy says:

    December 26, 2012 at 2:01 am

    The Axis Powers leaders and planners might even understand all of that.

    But they are determined to cripple, wound, or otherwise harm this rising power that is also tied to the political rise of the various Shia religious communities across multiple states in that region.

    Of course, they will fail but given their strategic asymmetry, the Axis Leaders and Planners have every expectation of winning – although I can no longer discern what “winning” means to them; they no longer can articulate that.

    The Shia communities now have the best chance in more than a millenia to reverse their political positions – diktats from Western Christians is not going to sway them.

  120. Rehmat says:

    On Tuesday, the civilized world was shocked to learn that 63.8% Egyptian voters said yes to president Morsi’s blessed Islamic Consitution based on horrible Biblical punishments and Talmudic racism against non-Muslims with no freedom of speech as per American Hate Law.

    Yes sir, you heard me right. The scary ‘Islamic Constitution’ recognizes Jewish occupation of Palestine, West’s right to exploit country’s natural resources and bring pro-Israel regime changes in Egypt’s antisemite neighbors – allows country’s Christian minorities to build new churches and preach their religion among Muslim majority and half-naked tourists to enjoy country’s beautiful beeches. It also allows top military officials to visit United States and Israel for “strategic consultation” and learn how to control “Islamic terrorism” against the US and Israeli interests….

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/26/egyptian-approve-islamic-constitution-really/

  121. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas,

    The person who you named (Mostafa Dolatyar) is not a “senior official” or significant political figure in Iran. Also, it’s clear that you do not know what you are talking about, as you are not even clear abut names.

  122. kooshy says:

    The True Nature of the Iranian System

    The United States must understand several things when it comes to Iran. First of all, Iran has a very important geostrategic location: Almost all of the greater Middle East’s oil and gas resources lie either in the Persian Gulf or the Caspian Sea regions. The Persian Gulf possesses, by some accounts, 55 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves and 40 percent of global oil exports, while Iran dominates over 50 percent of the whole Persian Gulf from the Iraqi border to the Strait of Hormuz. Furthermore, Iran has about 500 kilometers of Arabian Sea frontage, and its coast of the Caspian Sea stretches for nearly 650 kilometers.

    As Robert D. Kaplan’s explains in his book, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, “Just as shipping lanes radiate from the Persian Gulf, pipelines will increasingly radiate from the Caspian region to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, China, and the Indian Ocean. The only country that straddles both energy-producing areas is Iran, stretching as it does from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf. In a raw materials’ sense, Iran is the Greater Middle East’s universal joint (emphasis added).

    In addition to possessing access to oil and shipping lanes, Iran has an ability to withstand international pressure and sanctions. None of the current sanctions could surpass what Iran endured during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, which in effect was a global assault on the young Islamic Republic. The coalition behind Saddam transcended Cold War politics in that both the West and the East gave military, intelligence, financial, and political backing to Saddam. The unity of the international community against Iran was so firm that the United States led the group in turning a blind eye to Saddam’s use of chemical and biological weapons during the war. All this occurred within the early months following the Islamic Revolution that left the country in a weak position with limited ability to even maintain its own internal security. Yet, Iran countered the Iraqi aggression for eight years and in its aftermath had not lost any territory to the Iraqis.

    Many factors have enabled Iran to resist the United States, the West, their Arab allies, and the Israelis since the 1979 revolution, and even become stronger. Beyond its vast natural resources, geostrategic location, or ability to resist sanctions, one important reality that US strategists on Iran should understand is the role of religion and clerics in political equations of Iran and the region. The most powerful ideological-political party in the world is neither the United States’ Republicans nor the Democrats; nor is it the Communist Party in China nor the Russian political establishment; rather it is the Shiite Cleric Organization in Iran.

    It is this lack of understanding of the religious structure that leaves Western policymakers and some of their “Iranian experts” in awe of the resilience of the Islamic Republic. The religious establishment historically has had a vast influence over the country. When an Iranian ruler during the Qajar dynasty in 1890 made the decision to grant a full monopoly of the Iranian tobacco trade to the British in return for annual royalties, the Iranian population saw this as a clear violation of their sovereignty. As a result, Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi issued a Fatwa that forbid the use of tobacco as a religious duty. This ultimately forced the Shah to nullify the agreement with the British. Once nullified, Ayatollah Shirazi removed the Fatwa, permitting tobacco use once again.

    In another case, popular discontent with a one-/sided oil agreement between Iran and Great Britain in the 1940s set in motion the desire for Iran to have more control over its natural resources. While the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, is largely credited with championing the cause for oil nationalization, the role of the Shiite religious establishment has been largely omitted from the pages of Western history books. The turning point in the movement actually came when Ayatollah Kashani issued a Fatwa on December 21, 1950, stressing all “sincere Muslims and patriotic citizens to fight against the enemies of Islam and Iran by joining the nationalization struggle”.
    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107129947

  123. Dave Kimble says:

    With John Kerry being promoted to Secretary of State, I wonder if he will be forced to recant from this 2009 position. Kerry has often been used to float policy ideas for the President to test the reaction, which I think in this case was a deafening silence, at least publicly.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dae7c01c-55f8-11de-ab7e-00144feabdc0.html
    Kerry Defends Tehran on Uranium
    June 10, 2009
    Transcript: John Kerry interview
    By Daniel Dombey in Washington

    In an interview with the Financial Times, John Kerry, the top Democrat on foreign policy in the US Senate, labels the long standing demand that Iran stop enriching uranium as ”ridiculous”.

    A series of UN Security Council resolutions has demanded that Tehran halt enrichment, which can produce both nuclear fuel and weapons grade material. But Mr Kerry, a former Democratic presidential nominee who gave Barack Obama one of his first big political breaks, argues that the world’s big powers should frame more enforceable demands based on treaty obligations Iran has not met.

    His comments are an indicator of how the debate on Iran’s nuclear programme may be shifting in the run up to possible negotiations with Tehran – both bilateral and multilateral. He also suggests that extending the US nuclear umbrella to cover Israel may help meet that country’s security concerns.

    What follows is a partial transcript of the June 9 interview, containing Mr Kerry’s main comments about Iran. (Other parts of the interview dealt with other topics.)

    Financial Times: Can I ask you about Iran? In both your Brookings and your Aipac speeches, you talked about how the Bush administration had set a series of red lines to see them ignored, to see that the policy had failed. The last red line that the US, that the Bush administration set and saw ignored was the call for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. You’ve called for an effort to decide a red line and to defend it. What should that red line be?

    John Kerry: Well, I want to be very careful there, because I know the administration. I wrote a memo to the president regarding this, in which I outlined my thoughts about the nature of that line.

    Suffice it to say it needs to be a line that realistically protects the region and Israel, I emphasise the region, from a perception of completed proliferation. And there are several different ways to define that, I think we should leave that to that definition….

    Certainly [the line should be for Iran] not to be a quote nuclear weapon state. Now some people can argue about when you are a nuclear weapons state. Capability versus, different definitions of that, just leave that there for a minute.

    The key here is that, first of all the Bush administration [argument of] no enrichment was ridiculous, on its face, because Iran is a signatory to the [nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty and whether they are inside or outside their obligations, to ask them to give up something that was within their rights within the treaty assuming they were up to their obligations is a non-starter. It was bombastic diplomacy. It was wasted energy. It sort of hardened the lines, if you will (inaudible).

    Because it seemed so unreasonable to people. They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose. But they don’t have a right, obviously, to be outside of the other restraints of the IAEA and of the non-proliferation agreement. And so the key here was to really open a different kind of dialogue with them about where you draw the line.

    It’s also complicated slightly by Israel. Does Israel make a decision that it has to play its interests differently, i.e. that its security is only protected by guaranteeing its definition of a line and therefore do they decide to do something simply to delay Iran’s programme even though they know that’s all they get? And that has very real dangers.

    And that’s why it is important for the President to work out ahead of time what the understandings are with Israel and what the modalities [are] here and how we proceed. I thought he went relatively far publicly in making the statement he made about by the end of the year and so forth. I thought that was a pretty big public gift, bigger than might have been necessary.

  124. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    December 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    He lies on behalf of his Tribe; that is all.

  125. Fiorangela says:

    correction: Eli Lake interview on Dec 25 2012

  126. Fiorangela says:

    link to the Eli Lake interview on C Span on Dec 15 2012 http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/PolicyWr

  127. Fiorangela says:

    Dan Joyner posted this brief note about an article he published recently, concerning the right to withdraw from NPT. http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/12/23/esil-reflection-on-npt-withdrawal/#comments

    Joyner’s comments are highly relevant, particularly in light of Eli Lake’s comments in a C Span Washington Journal appearance today. A member of C Span’s television audience asked Lake about Israel’s nuclear weapons, and Lake offered this explanation:

    QUOTE “Caller: “Do you think the Israeli-Palestinian situation is going to come up next pretty soon? I think there’s going to be a showdown. My question is, do you think we should put pressure on Israel to get rid of their nuclear weapons? This way we don’t come across as like supporting a double standard because if we really want peace over there, shouldn’t we want everyone in that region not to have nuclear weapons?”

    Eli Lake: “It’s funny …, I am reading a great book – re-reading a great book – by Michael Oren, Six Days of War. The author is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and an historian. Throughout much of the 1960′s, President Kennedy and President Johnson and later President Nixon tried to persuade and cajole Israel about their project in Dimona [Israel]. Eventually, it was determined – there was a famous memo by Henry Kissinger where he says, okay, if Israel is determined to have a nuclear program, there’s not much we can do to stop them, it’s better that they never declare they have a nuclear program which is what Israel’s policy is.
    We talk about it today as fact largely because of a nuclear engineer Mordecai Vanunu … who smuggled out photographs and descriptions… The difference, I think, is that Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is one of three countries, India and Pakistan being the other two, so the deal that kind of exists it doesn’t have a treaty obligation to foreswear nuclear weapons… Israel does not declare its nuclear arsenal, and the United States does not pressure Israel … to sign the non-proliferation treaty. … There’s a deal that was kinda struck between Nixon and Golda Meier in about 1970 … There was some stress on that secret understanding … in 1970 because of efforts by other Middle East states that are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty who have conferences on creating a weapon-free WMD zone in the Middle East. In the latest round of talks and amendments to the non-proliferation treaty, the U.S. agreed to language that were to have those conversations…” END QUOTE

    Considering the positions of Joyner and Lake, one is tempted to ask, Why doesn’t Iran merely withdraw from the NPT and demolish all of the US & UNSC’s pretense for punishing Iran?

    PS After starting the interview with praise for US/Israel success in “sabotaging …and sanctioning Iran,” Lake endorsed David Ignatius’ fiction — also broadly derogatory toward Iran. In fact, Lake’s interview was peppered with castigation of Iran. “If things break the right way with Iraq, the relationship between US and Iraq will be [better than what used to exist between US and Egypt] [unspoken: and the US will be able to suborn Iraq to attack or otherwise destabilize Iran].

    PS 2: CAMERA was deeply pained by the suggestion of a C Span audience member that Israel should be called upon to sign NPT. CAMERA posted an edited transcript of Eli Lake’s reply to that caller. The transcript elided significant elements of Lake’s reply.
    Further, in the course of his reply, Lake referred to a recently declassified memo of Henry Kissinger’s concerning Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
    I’m just an ordinary person. It’s Christmas. I want to spend my time with family that I see only at Christmas. Given that CAMERA has somewhat distorted and significantly mischaracterized the exchange between the caller and Lake, and that Lake has denigrated Iran repeatedly in the course of his interview, can Eli Lake of Daily Beast be trusted to fairly and accurately report on and characterize Iran; Kissinger’s memo; US relations with Iran; or anything else?

    And if Eli Lake cannot be trusted to fairly characterize Iran and to provide an unbiased assessment of US-Iran relations, why is C Span providing him a platform?

    Given that C Span provides him a platform, does it also provide a more trustworthy source for information about Iran?

  128. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    “The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin”
    ~ Jay Leno

    Merry Christmas Everyone.

  129. Scott Lucas says:

    Liz,

    The Iranians in the back-channel talks included officials from Tehran and Mostafa Dolatyar, who is based in Europe. The Americans have not been named, but a likely high-level representative is Gary Samore, President Obama’s advisor on non-proliferation — he has been in previous talks with the Iranians in a “private” capacity (2008) and “official” capacity (since summer 2009).

    S.

  130. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I endevour not to respond to your posts since I find them to be singularly devoid of strategic understanding and context.

    I will make an exception here:

    Iranians will not agree to any formal constraint on their nuclear program – that is not on the table.

    They may, per Dr. Abbasi-Davani statements, adjust the levels per the fuel needs of TRR.

    Which they have.

    No deal with P5+1 is on the table or feasible.

    No deal with Axis Powers is feasible or on the table.

    Iran’s intelligence minister is only partly correct; Mr. Obama was the one who initiated the set of policies in 2010 that were going to result in war with Iran in early spring of 2012.

    It was Mr. Obama who obliged Turkey to pursue the hare-brained scheme of overthrowing the Ba’ath State in Syria – using the dire economic dependencies of Turkey on EU – and against her own national interests.

    When, in Febrary-March of 2012 he realized that his policies were leading to certain war with Iran and with no end in sight to the war in Syria, he looked for other ways of wounding Iran and avoiding a war.

    In this, Mr. Obama was not alone, the leaders of EU, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan had massively miscalculated in Syria and in Iran.

    The intensifications of the economic siege war against Iran was a substitute for the hot war that US-EU policies were inexorably leading to up to march of 2012.

    As I see it, contrary to my earlier expectations, there is a long hard slog in Syria for the Syrian government and Iran to destroy the anti-government forces. No one has any leverage on Iran or Syria in this. Both states are in the sate of siege and they will do anything that they must do to defeat their enemies.

    P5+1 – as a political/diplomatic venue – cannot alter Iranian and Syrian calculations.

    [In Syria, we are only a single incident away from sectarian war across Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere - that is when Jihadis gang-rape Christian women in some Christian village in Syria and the videoes are posted on the Internet.

    Things will get very ugly and very quickly after that - I can state that with metaphysical certainity.

    And for that you can thank Mr. Obama, Mr. Danilon, Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Slaughter, Mr. Cameron, Mr. Hauge, Mr. Sarkozi, and Dr. Merkel.]

    Since Mr. Obama and – by implication – other leaders of Axis Powers are devoid of Mantiq (Speech informed by Reason) it follows that the alienation of Axis States and Iran will be semi-permanent feature of the international system. That is, they cannot bring themselves to settle with Iran at the strategic level.

    Nor do they have the power to destroy Iran without using nuclear weapons (thus destroying their own security).

    Furthermore, since the commencement of their economic siege war against Iran, they have used up the fwe remaining leverages that they have had with Iran – they have sanctioned themselves out of influence and leverage with Iran.

    I point out that regardless of their strategic preponderance vis a vis Iran, they are too far away and have too many other committments to be able to sustian their war against Iran and Syria indefinitely.

    Iranians are fighting for their survival and that of their allies locally and do not have external committments half-way around the world.

    That does not obtain for the Axis States – a conflagration elsewhere in Asia could sap their streght.

    This is part of the strategic situations as I see it (I did not address Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.)

  131. James Canning says:

    James W. Antle III on the campaign by some of the fanatical Republican supporters of Israel in the US Congress, against Chuck Hagel:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/somehow-a-republican

  132. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I think the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia would accept Iran’s enriching to 5 percent. (France might be reluctant.) They would be highly unlikely to support a blockade to stop Iranian enrichment to 5%.

    The folly of Iran’s stockpiling of 20% U should be obvious. ZERO need for it, apart from sense of “honour”.

  133. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Is it not more accurate to say that Brazil and Argentina could not agree on which of them should possess what became Uruguay?

    Argentina believed Paraguay should belong to Argentina.

  134. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I mentioned the interesting article in The Economist, on the insane war Paraguay fought with the Empire of Brazil, and Argentina, and Uruguay, in the years following the Civil War in the US, because I thought you would enjoy reading it.

    The cause of the war was simply the incredible arrogance and stupidity of the dictator of Paraguay.

  135. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Yes, Merry Christmas to all.

  136. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    Are you unable to comprehend that China and Russia insist on Iran’s stopping enrichment to 20 percent?

  137. James Canning says:

    Sassan,

    I take it you are offended by any efforts to facilitate “back-channel” communications between the US and Iran.

    You seem to be ardent in your support of Netanyahu’s programme of endless war in the Middle East.

  138. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    The US would have little or no support for a blockade against Iran, if Iran stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent (unless more was needed to fuel the TRR). Obama in the view of Iranian intelligence ministry has been obliged to impose sanctions in order to avoid war with Iran. The latest sanctions were triggered by Iran’s ill-considered decision to treble prodeuction of 20 percent uranium.

  139. Rd. says:

    fyi says:

    “Naval blockade of Iran is a pipe-dream.”

    I think our dearest james is stuck in the previous century. He has forgotten the sun sat long ago on those imperial ambitions. Further, if his hague and Cameron continue their belligerent policies, it is likely the sun will set in their little island too.

    We are beyond 19th century james. Please remember, all those finance and insurance business keeping London afloat are not guaranteed to last for ever.. when you end up drowning in that cold north sea water, it would be nice to have some friends to thru you a life saver.. if you are not sure, see where Israel stands today, even with their mighty mouse IDF.

    Constant is an ever changing variable in nature. Specially in global politics, more so in our times. When those waters start rising james, lets hope you folks still have some friends left around the world. For your sake ofcourse..

  140. Fiorangela says:

    Merry Christmas to All.

    Bill Bennett was on C Span yesterday, Christmas eve, when much of the conversation was concerned with the shootings in Connecticut. He said:

    “These are sad things, these are terrible things to be talking about, especially at this time of year. This is our history as a people. A newspaper headline two days after this slaughter was, “The Massacre of the Innocents.” …Remember, the massacre of the innocents had to do with the birth of Christ, which we Christians celebrate tomorrow. Herod was very worried about a would-be king and so he ordered the death of all these children.

    Human history is intertwined this way with human tragedy and suffering and brutality and then rebirth and forgiveness and redemption.
    And it’s Christmas eve so let’s look to this child whom we believe the world changed.”

  141. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas,

    There have been no talks between the Iranians and the US regime (iI use the word regime, because you use it for Iran) over the past few months and that includes Dr. Velayati.

    If you have evidence for your unfounded claim, tell us who he negotiated with.

  142. Pirouz says:

    Scott Lucas says:
    December 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m always hopeful that progress can be made in the direction of improving US-IRI relations.

    If talks we’re authorized, great. Let’s hope there’s more. Let’s hope the upcoming nuclear talks produce some movement. Yes, the odds are against, due to the US diktat and the domestic political problem of lifting sanctions here in the US. But hey, hope is what we have.

  143. Sineva says:

    fyi says:
    December 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm
    I agree,the only way the west could even consider that course of action would be with unsc backing and they would have a snowballs chance in hell of that,otherwise there is simply too much risk of say china sending some warships to escort one of their tankers on its way to iran,and of course the most obvious is an iranian counter blockade of the straights and hey presto anywhere from one fifth to one third of the worlds oil is off the market and you don`t need to be an economist to know what that would mean.The west has reached the point now where any economic damage it inflicts on iran also costs it economically,a blockade would be the ultimate example of this and a very dangerous one because it could easily become a shooting war

  144. fyi says:

    Sineva says:

    December 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    It is ironic, in a way, that Mr. Cannings mentions the 1865 war; it was instigated by the British, in fact.

    [Uruguay being a country that the British created since it suited them having a country there.]

    I will address the naval blockade: so Iran suspends 20% or else there would be naval blockade. Well, why stop there? Why not go for dismantling of all enrcihment under the threat of blockade?

    Naval blockade of Iran is a pipe-dream.

  145. fyi says:

    Scott Lucas says:

    December 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Rather than trying to prove a negative, Mr. Khamenei yet again allowed discussions to commence and proceed to their usual fruitless end. Something that he had done on several previous occasions.

    In regards to your number 2, I do not know. Personally, since US has been a negative force in the International Arena since at least 1980s, I expect that she could not put any positive inducements on the table; likely to the chagrin of her negogiators.

    In regards to number 3; there are tatctical steps that Iran could take – such as suspending 20% enrichement, or even suspending all uranium enrichment, or threatening to leave NPT, or allowing unrestricted access to Parchin or elsewhere.

    However, these will not alter the strategic confrontation and will not the war against Iran or Syria.

    Both will continue regardless of P5+1 venue; thus they are worthless to Iran since even a resolution at the UNSC level will not undo the American sanctions. And the EU sanctions cannot be removed within any time frame that would make any difference to Iran.

    The Iran-UNSC confrontation is here to stay for decades.

  146. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    The problem with that strategy james is what happens if the us ignores or misconstrues your incredibly generous act and still goes ahead and attempts a blockade anyway what then?,halt all enrichment,scrap the nuclear program,bring back the shah,unconditional surrender??

  147. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Economist this week has an interesting article on the 1865-69 war between Paraguay on the one hand, and the Empire of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay on the other. Most of the male population of Paraguay was dead by the time the idiotic war ended.

  148. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I would only expect Obama to embargo Iranian oil exports, if Iran continues to stockpile 20 percent uranium (not processed into fuel plates for TRR). And Obama would only order an embargo as a means of avoiding attacking Iran.

  149. Scott Lucas says:

    fyi,

    Thank you — while I agree that the strategy of the US and the European 3 ultimately has not offered enough for genuine negotiations, the point remains that the Supreme Leader authorised direct talks with the US in Turkey, probably in September. These offered enough of a possibility for Mr Velayati, the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor, to meet an American official in early October.

    1. Why did the Supreme Leader authorise the direct talks? Genuine hope for an agreement? Belief that Iran was in an advantageous political position with the Islamic Awakening? Pressure of the economic situation?

    2. What was said in September to offer hope for further talks in October, only for that hope to disappear after that?

    3. What strategy can Iran pursue now to make talks with 5+1 a reality, rather than a declared wish?

    S.

  150. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    December 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    As my grand mother used to say: “By 2014, who knows whom will be dead and whom alive?”

    A lot can happen between now and 2014.

    About naval blockade – I seriously doubt that.

    For it means certain war.

  151. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You think Iran can “eviscerate” the sanctions? I doubt this is the view of the Iranian intelligence ministry, judging from the piece you linked in the last thread.

    If Iran stops enriching to 20 on its own accord, perhaps it can avoid a blockade (in event of no deal with P5+1).

  152. fyi says:

    Scott Lucas says:

    December 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    You are reading too much into this.

    The most plausible scenario is that US, estimating that Iran is ripe for a deal, initiated a back-channel discussion to see what can be squeezed out of Iran.

    Mr. Khamenei, not wishing to come across as a contrarian, authorized the talks – letting those Iranian leaders that thought a deal with US is possible to find out for themselves that that was not the case.

    Around the same time, during the UNGA, a number of EU representatives met with Iranians in New York, expecting to find Iranians amenable to a deal skewed to the Axis States’ interests. Iranians agreed to the talks – talk is cheap – estimating that there might be a basis for a resolution.

    None of those talks reached a deal.

    My guess is that just as in the case of Oslo Porcess, the US-EU leaders, safely ensconed in the knowledge of their strategic preponderance, tried to squeeze as inequitable deal as possible out of Iran.

    Iranians demurred.

    When it became clear to both Iranian and Axis States leaders that no deal is possible, Axis States went on their merry way of sanctioning Iran more. The position of Iranians was articulated by Mr. Khamenei:

    1: US is incapable of “mantiq” – that is, Speech informed by Reason. In this manner the Supreme Jurisprudent damned the Juris Doctor.

    2: Iran cannot have normal intercourse with US and EU states and that is the new “normal” for Iran.

    In terms of immediate Iranian policies what all of this means is that they have no incentive to compromise and will do their best to eviscterate the economic war against them.

    Furthermore, there will be zero cooperation with US and EU on Afghanistan. When USSR forces were evacuating Afghanistan, Iranians facilitated that by urging the Mudjahedeen to not shoot at the re-treating troops. I very much doubt that Iranians will make any such advise now.

    In Syria, Iran will go her own way and ignore Russia, US, EU, Arabs, China, Turkey or anyone else. Their advise, almost certainly, will be for Mr. Assad and his government to ebdure and fight.

    Again, Iranians will be playing the long game that they played in Lebanon, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan.

    My reading of US and EU is that they have no alternative but to escalate to strategic Nowhere – but short of war with Iran for they have endured too many diplomatic, political, economic etc. costs to now settle with Iran on a strategic level.

    For that, we need men like the late Richard Nixon in US, UK, France and Germany.

  153. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas

    Iran had no back-channel or bilateral talks with the US regime in September and October.

  154. Rehmat says:

    Six NATO Patriot batteries along Turkish-Syrian border are to protect Israel from Iranian jets – says General Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s army chief of staff.

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/24/turkey-okays-israels-chosen-status-at-nato/

  155. James Canning says:

    Iran has offered a number of times to stop enriching to 20 percent. Hillary Clinton apparently did not even want to listen to those offers.

  156. James Canning says:

    Iran has said a number of times lately that it will participate in further P5+1 talks.
    Will getting Hillary Clinton out of the State Dept. be of some help, in making a deal more feasible? Only if her replacement has a larger ability to think clearly and not be so beholden to the I Lobby.

  157. James Canning says:

    Philip Stephens in the Financial Times Dec. 21st noted that Netanyahu is trying to set up a war between the US and Iran. But Obama is acting as if he has no time to devote to diplomacy concerning the Middle East. Perhaps Obama is pretending to have no time? Hillary Clinton clearly has no wish whatever to offend the ISRAEL LOBBY in her last days at State.

  158. James Canning says:

    Yes, of course the real obstacles to diplomacy between Iran and the US are to bne found in Washington. ISRAEL LOBBY.

  159. Jay says:

    Leveretts restate what some of us here have pointed out:

    “For its own interests, it needs to get a nuclear deal with Iran; it needs to start realigning its relations with this important country in the Middle East.”

    In other words, absent a strategic realignment by the US, little can be achieved with talks and more talks.

    The second very astute observation is with respect to the conflation of security vs. dominance:

    “And we need to be able to separate Israeli preferences—that have more to do with [Israel’s] own commitment to military dominance in the Middle East—and Israeli security.”

    Once again pointing to the need for strategic realignment.

  160. Richard Steven Hack says:

    It’s already clear – as it was before the last round of talks – that the US is not going to offer any significantly different deal in the next round than was offered in the last round. It’s been described as the same deal “with different tattoos”.

    So the talks are a joke, just another “diplomatic check mark” on the way to war.

    It’s time to accept that there is never going to be a “diplomatic resolution” to this conflict.

    We’re looking at war with Syria (and Lebanon) in 2013 and probably war with Iran in 2014 or later, possibly preceded by a naval blockade. Time IS “running out”.