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US State Secretary justifies spying on Brazil, calls to overlook privacy breach

Al Ahed news

US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated during his visit to Brazil on Tuesday the US would continue to monitor individual and corporate communications in Brazil for security reasons.

In a press conference with the Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Kerry urged Brazil not to damage growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations in wake of the recent revelations of wide scope US surveillance on countries.

“We are convinced that our intelligence collection has positively helped us to protect our nation from a variety of threats,” he added.

Moreover, the US Secretary of State called on to overlook the privacy breach and concentrate on bilateral relations instead.

He further vowed that the US would provide more transparency about the surveillance program.

For his part, Patriota called for an end to the controversial program, saying it violated sovereignty and privacy.

“The region and the international community are concerned over the practices which may threaten the sovereignty of countries and the rights of individuals,” he stated.

The US surveillance program on both enemies and allies was revealed by former US National Security Agency contractor whistleblower Edward Snowden, who currently lives in Russia after granted a year-long asylum there.

Pope’s visit to Brazil met with protests

Press TV

Brazilian police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Rio de Janeiro rallying against the vast amount of public funds spent on Pope Francis’ visit to the country.

The demonstration was held on Monday near the Rio state governor’s palace after a meeting there between the pope and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

One photographer suffered a head injury after being clubbed by a riot police officer and at least five protesters were arrested.

According to police, officers charged the crowd of protesters after someone threw a Molotov cocktail.

A day earlier on Sunday, Brazilian police found a homemade explosive device in a public toilet near the basilica at Aparecida, a Marian shrine that Francis will visit Wednesday.

The Brazilian government has spent USD 53 million in public funds for the
Pope’s week-long visit to the country, which is his first trip abroad after becoming head of the Catholic Church in March.

The pope’s arrival to Brazil came just weeks after the country experienced a series of protests against government corruption and public spending for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

The protesters argued that the government should instead spend public funds on health, education and other public services.

Brazilian protests continue despite government concessions

Al Ahed news

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Wednesday for a crackdown on corruption and better public services, just a day after Congress conceded to some of the key demands of protesters.

In Belo Horizonte, authorities said 40,000 people gathered to demand improved education and healthcare while Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup semi-final soccer game between Brazil and Uruguay in a warm-up for the 2014 World Cup.

Youths threw stones at police who used teargas to stop marchers from reaching the stadium, while a banner hung from a bridge read “FIFA go home”.

In Brasilia, a peaceful protest took place against the billions of dollars Brazil has spent building new stadiums for the global tournaments, in which protesters argued that funds should have been used to improve public services including health, education and transport.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate had approved a bill for stricter sentences on corruption, one day after it rejected a constitutional amendment that limited the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes, which was considered by protesters as a move by politicians to avoid corruption probes.

“Our representatives are listening to the people now. We are creating a new political consciousness,” said Amanda Caetano, spokeswoman for a group in Brasilia demanding an end to the privileges enjoyed by politicians.

The prairie fire that swept Brazil

Pandering to the Privileged

by LAURA CARLSEN, source

With a million people demonstrating in the streets of cities throughout Brazil, everyone’s scrambling to understand how a twenty-cent bus fare hike turned into a social revolt.

Government officials are the most surprised. President Dilma Rousseff hastily cancelled a long-planned trip to Japan and has called an emergency meeting of her cabinet. Her first response was to herald the protests as a sign of participatory democracy. Now that response seems to be evolving as she recognizes the significance of the unexpected grassroots movement.

Taking a harder line on Saturday she stated, “We will not live with a violence that shames Brazil; with balance and calmness—but also with firmness—we will guarantee rights and liberty.” At stake for the government are two things that they care deeply about: the millions in foreign revenue that will supposedly pour in during the mega-events and the image of Brazil as a modern, upcoming leader in a multipolar world.

No one expected the prairie-fire spread of the protests over the past few weeks. It’s been a wake-up call for leaders in federal government and for local governments in the major cities, some of the ruling Labor Party (PT), such as the capital Sao Paulo where it started,  and others of opposition parties. But government officials are scratching their heads over what exactly it is they are waking up to.

The Free Fare Movement started the ball rolling on June 7, when it called the demonstrations to protests the fare hikes. This is nothing new—protesting fare hikes and demanding free and quality public transportation is what the movement does.

Even a leader of the movement, Caio Martins, is not quite sure why this year’s protest caught on like it did. In an interview with Brazil de Fato, he replied that something had changed in people’s aspirations. “First, because it caught the people’s imagination.”

He added, “To talk about the fare hikes is to talk about the situation in the cities, and transportation is an essential element.”

What’s the situation in the cities that led people into the streets? Brazil has among the most expensive public transportation systems in the world, as well as being aggravatingly inefficient. Privatized years ago, the buses get stuck in traffic and take up inordinate amounts of people’s time and money.

Demonstrations started in Sao Paulo, the usually staid capital and financial center of the country. There the contrast between the majority of the population and the elite shows in their way of getting around. The rich fly in private helicopters that buzz through the airways over the congested streets below.

That sense of being stuck below, with the wealthy few above, has played a huge role in igniting protests. The PT government beginning with President Lula da Silva initiated social programs that greatly reduced poverty and hunger throughout the nation. But the strict adherence to neoliberal growth places a priority on maintaining the privileges of the wealthy and some widely publicized corruption scandals have created an image of at least part of the political elite partaking of those privileges—all  at the expense of the majority. Inequality continues to plague Brazil and recent increases in the cost of living have gouged the middle class.

The second image that sparked indignation in the protests also reflects the pandering to a privileged few. Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 have syphoned away billions of dollars of public funds. The new mega-stadiums, airports and hotels will not be shared by the masses of the soccer-loving public. They will accommodate an international elite that can afford to pay the high ticket prices for far fewer but more luxury seats. Not only do the poor receive little benefits from this expenditure, but the infrastructure projects have led todisplacement of poor families, especially around the stadiums.

Signs at protests bear messages like, “As you watch the ball roll, we need schools and hospitals.” The arrogance of the FIFA–the international football federation–kindled popular anger. The in-your-face inequality represented by the corrupt and wealthy soccer federation landing like a ton of bricks in poor Brazilian slums provoked signs like, “We want schools and healthcare of the same quality that the FIFA bosses have” and, “The World Cup for whom?” In Rio, the organization Rio da Paz scattered the beaches with soccer balls marked with crosses.

FIFA head Joseph Blatter attempted to wash his hands of the conflict and instead inflamed it, stating to Brazil’s Globo TV, “Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We did not impose the World Cup on Brazil. They knew that to host a good World Cup they would naturally have to build stadiums.”

The promise that the massive public investment in infrastructure would serve the people is not working out, and instead the poor are paying a heavy price international sporting events for the elite. The FIFA has demanded the suspension of basic civil liberties for the games and imposed its own rules to monopolize sales and income related to the games.

The demonstrations feed not only on sympathy for the causes, but also on indignation caused by the military police’s heavy-handed response. Repression has been widespread. The military police are a sore point for many Brazilians, a remnant of the dictatorship, trained in putting down popular uprisings and other mechanisms of social control. Although small groups of demonstrators have turned violent, with acts of vandalism reported in some places, the police’s extensive use of tear gas, rubber bullets and beatings have enraged the public.

Watching the videos, perhaps the most impressive characteristic of the protests is the highly energized presence of youth. While this is relatively common in other Latin American nations, especially in the past few years, it’s new in Brazil. Brazilian youth now join other young people throughout the world who feel hemmed into a bleak future and are ready to do something about it.

As protests have progressed, more people from the favelas have joined the primarily middle class demonstrations. Overall, it’ has become a broad-based mix of interests and people, with polls showing that the majority of Brazilians support the protests.

The city governments rescinded the fare hikes in an attempt to quell protests, but the demonstrations continued over the weekend, especially in Salvador de Bahia and Belo Horizonte. Broader demands to remove public transportation from the private sector, to fund schools and hospitals, and against the FIFA and corruption in general, among others, keep people in the streets.

The movement originally under the umbrella of the Free Fare Movement is so broad and amorphous that there isn’t a formal petition. The protests now are the public space to express discontent with a society that has seen its economy and the aspirations of its population grow, while generating a sense that the majority is not seeing the benefits it’s entitled to. The movement’s lack of leadership and coordination is seem by some as a risk factor and by others as an encouraging sign of citizens acting for a better society.

Even as protesters launched offensives on government buildings in Brasilia, the demonstrations are not directed at specific parties or politicians, nor is it likely they will be appeased by solutions brokered by a political elite.

As one of the signs confiscated near the Fonte Nova Stadium as the Brazilian team faced off with the Italians —in normal times, a ritual of nationalist pride—said: “We’re in the street to change Brazil.” No more, no less.

A million people across Brazil say: “It’s not about 20 cents”

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians protest country’s harsh inequities

Brazil Recognizes Palestine; Move Irks US Lawmakers, “Israel”

by Umayyah Jiha

Al Manar

04/12/2010 US lawmakers and Israel have attacked Brazil for recognizing the state of Palestine based on the borders that existed prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.
 
US legislators described Brazil’s decision as “regrettable,” saying the move might threaten peace and security in the Middle East.
 
The decision of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “is regrettable and will only serve to undermine peace and security in the Middle East,” AFP quoted Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as saying on Friday.
 
The move “is severely misguided and represents a last gasp by a Lula-led foreign policy which was already substantially off track,” charged Democratic Representative Eliot Engel.
 
Israel on Saturday said it was disappointed by Brazil’s decision saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a “peace deal.” “Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority 1995 which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations,” it said.
 
On December 1, Lula sent a letter to acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, saying Brazil recognizes Palestine and hopes that the recognition will help lead to a situation where Israel and Palestine will “coexist peacefully and in security,” the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
 
Brazil made the decision in response to a request made earlier this year by Abbas to President Lula and also in line with Brazil’s support for United Nations resolutions, which demand that Israel must end the complete occupation of the Palestinian territories.
 
The international community backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem), all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Iran, Turkey, Brazil open nuclear talks

Sun, 25 Jul 2010, Press TV

Foreign ministers of Iran, Brazil and Turkey open trilateral talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul to review the Tehran nuclear declaration on possible nuclear fuel swap.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived in Istanbul on Sunday to hold talks with his Turkish and Brazilian counterparts Ahmet Davutoglu and Celso Amorim on the Tehran Declaration, Fars News Agency reported.

The three diplomats are expected to attend a press conference later Sunday.

The meeting will be the first such gathering since the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran on June 9 over its nuclear program, two weeks after Iran, Brazil and Turkey issued a joint nuclear fuel swap declaration.

Based on the Tehran Declaration, Tehran agreed to exchange 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with fuel for a research reactor.

The US and its European allies snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran.

Both Ankara and Brasilia condemned the new sanctions, saying it was a major setback for progress on resolving the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Saturday that the meeting was scheduled after a telephone conversation between the Iranian foreign minister and his Turkish and Brazilian counterparts Friday night.

The Islamic Republic has announced that the Tehran Declaration would form the framework of any future nuclear talks with the West.

“Nuclear Diplomacy”: Brazil and Iran. Our Motives and the Bullying Trio

by Toles

by Tomás Rosa Bueno, Global Research, June 18, 2010, source

Despite what the experts of barefoot diplomacy [1] never stop repeating, there is nothing even remotely anti-American in the Brazilian position on Iran: our motives, unlike those of the bullying trio (USA, France, United Kingdom), are clear, transparent and openly stated several times.

We support the peaceful development of nuclear energy. We do not believe there is any evidence that Iran has a secret nuclear-weapons program. Defending Iran, we are defending our own right to master the full nuclear-fuel cycle, we are defending our right to develop our own enrichment technology, we are defending our right to build our own reactors that will move the nuclear submarines that will defend our sovereignty. No more,  no less. We want for Iran just what we want for ourselves.

There is no proof that Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the only international body that has the authority to speak on this subject and, being managed by a 32-country, hard-to-manipulate board, is relatively independent. If you don’t believe everybody could be lying so brazenly, read all the actual reports, here on IAEA’s page on Iran, and especially the latest one, here.

What the IAEA does state to keep the bullying trio and their lesser Chinese and Russian partners happy, after saying in unequivocal terms that the Iranian nuclear program is fully tracked and monitored and that there is no evidence of “diversion of purpose”, is that it cannot guarantee that a secret program is not active somewhere. Yet the very same thing can be said about Brazil, or South Korea, or Taiwan or even about Argentina. Iran is a signatory to the NPT and, according to what the IAEA has said repeatedly, it complies with all the safeguards established by the UN body.

The IAEA, however, complains that Iran refuses to comply with illegal Security Council resolutions demanding that it ceases enriching uranium, a right Iran has under the NPT terms. Nobody, not even the Security Council, has the legal power to prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology within the limits established by the NPT without overwhelming evidence that these limits are being exceeded. The IAEA complains that Iran does not adhere to the Additional Protocol, which is only voluntary – Brazil, for example, has not adhered to it  and denounces the AP as detrimental to national sovereignty. And it requires Iran to grant UN inspectors access to the sites where the centrifuges are designed and manufactured, which not only is not an obligation for Iran or for any other party to the NPT but is also absurd: a country under threat of a military attack by two nuclear powers (one of which has just reformed its nuclear posture to include the possibility of a nuclear attack against a non-nuclear country – an obvious violation of the NPT basic tenets) cannot be asked to reveal  where it manufactures the equipment that would allow it to rebuild what may be bombed, for these sites would then become the first targets.

Iran grants UN inspectors more access than for example Brazil, who, citing industrial secrecy, will not allow them to see what happens within our centrifuges: they can see what goes in at one end and what comes out from the other, but not what happens between them. Brazil, South Korea and Taiwan also do not disclose the sites where their centrifuges are designed and manufactured, and at least Brazil, in full compliance with the safeguards negotiated with the IAEA by the Brazilian government at the time we joined the NPT in 1997, allows no access to the development program for nuclear-submarine reactors, claiming military secrecy – Brazil does have a military nuclear program, Iran does not.

The Iranian government  even volunteered to abide by the intrusive NPT Additional Protocol terms in 2003, giving UN inspectors unrestricted and unannounced access to  any facility in Iran in which in their opinion there could be anything related to a nuclear-weapons development program, but withdrew from them almost two years later after realising that throwing everything wide open and having inspectors poking around did nothing to diminish the “West’s” suspicions – because, of course, these “suspicions” are and have always been unfounded, and thus resistant to any contrary evidence.

So, despite all attempts at negotiation and the guarantees the Iranians have made for the past  20 years, despite lacking the technological capacity to enrich uranium to the levels needed to make atomic weapons or to reprocess spent fuel and for producing plutonium, despite the Iranian nuclear program being  subject to strict surveillance by the IAEA with on-site inspections and 24/7 cameras installed at all sites linked to the production of LEU at 3.5% and 20%, despite  postponing the start of uranium enrichment programme to 20% so that the IAEA staff could inspect the centrifuges and install surveillance cameras, despite all fissile material in Iran being fully accounted for and tracked, despite Iran’s repeated agreements in the past to suspend enrichment activities,  to which they are entitled, so as to boost confidence and facilitate negotiations,  despite Iran’s agreement with Brazil and Turkey to export most of their LEU according to the exact terms proposed by the Vienna Group and despite fulfilling its obligations under the IAEA Safeguards even though the country has been put under unjustified sanctions, Iran is still officially accused of “non- transparency” and of having a secret military program, and unofficially of being on the brink of making an atomic bomb (read here how to lie about Iran with UN support).  And gradually, what was just rabid media scaremongering becomes the basis for the next round of official lies.

In short, it is clear that the charge that Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons is just another excuse, sustained by lies, for  ulterior motives.

If it was possible to blatantly lie about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” and then devastate Iraq, if they can lie shamelessly about the Iranian nuclear program and threaten Iran with a military strike, what is to ensure that the same thing will not happen to Brazil tomorrow? Today, we are friends and allies of the United States, and even signed a military cooperation agreement with them, but who can tell what our relations would  be like in two, ten, twenty years? If the U.S., France and the UK have reasons to want to attack Iran for who knows exactly what reason, how can we be sure that they will not find a bunch of similar reasons to attack Brazil, or prevent it from developing this or that technology if it is convenient to them?

If we allow Iran to be illegally prevented from developing a peaceful nuclear program they are entitled to, the NPT would become a dead letter, and we may be subject to the same treatment in the future. The illegal attack against Iran’s rights and the preparation of another illegal military intervention against a sovereign country under false pretenses obviously needs to be stopped now, while it is still possible. Brazil has a duty to defend the rights of Iranians today, lest we endanger our own rights in the future. Our status as an emergent global power and the very continuity of our development depend on our unconditional support for the right of the Iranian people to develop a peaceful nuclear program without interference, threats and attacks.

Russia and China have their own motives (some perhaps recognisable but almost all venal and none related to Iran’s nuclear program) to support the attempt to push Iran into a corner. The U.S., Britain and France have a very long track record of meddling in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries, and it is no surprise that they now may want to attack yet another country in the list of those they have invaded in the region since the eighteenth century – all except Iran and modern, post-Ottoman Turkey. The other seven countries (including two – Bosnia-Herzegovina and Uganda, whose GDPs are equivalent to the budget of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia income-transfer program, and another – Togo – with a GDP lower than the budget for education in the state of Bahia) yielded to the formidable pressure and blackmail of the United States and the two former colonial powers that have caused much misery in the Middle East over the past two centuries. This bullying  trio has even tested  us and almost succeeded against Turkey on the eve of the Brazil-Iran-Turkey agreement – which was forged  only at the insistence of the Brazilian president.

Countries that were not subjected to these pressures, such as Indonesia, India, Central Asia nations, Pakistan, South Africa and most African countries who voiced their views on Iran’s nuclear programme, Portugal, Norway (both part of the EU, officially pro-sanctions), all of South America except Colombia and Chile, all of Central America except for Panama, the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference and the 118 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement declared themselves against the imposition of new sanctions. And, with the exception of the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK and the few others who were quiet about it, every country in the world, including France, hailed the Tehran Declaration.

Brazil has now the obligation to live up to the trust and solidarity it got from the real international community and be faithful to the principles that guided the negotiations leading to the May 17 agreement, defending  by all means the path of negotiation and dialogue to solve the Iranian impasse.

Note

[1] Shortly after 9/11, a Brazilian Foreign Minister on his way to Brazil from a UN
conference bowed to airport security in New York and agreed to take his shoes off before being allowed to board his plane. “Barefoot diplomacy” has since become a synonym for a submissive foreign policy in Brazil.

The Day When Obama Took Off His Mask

by Carlos Latuff

By Yusuf Fernandez, source

On May 18, the Obama Administration introduced a draft into the UN Security Council to impose new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programs. This was the US official answer to an agreement brokered by Brazil and Turkey on May 17 to revive last year’s arrangement for Iran to exchange much of its low-enriched uranium for fuel rods for its research reactor in Tehran. With this decision, the US has shown its contempt not only to Iran, Brazil and Turkey but also to the whole world that has welcomed the Tehran Declaration and supports a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
 
Significantly, the agreement itself had been proposed by the US administration last october. It involved Russia and France, which would be the countries that would supply Iran with the fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. However, Iran asked for guarantees and recalled that France has a history of non-compliance of nuclear agreements with Iran. Moreover, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, have maintained the most hardline stance towards Iranian nuclear program. The West did want to offer Iran this reassurance.
 
Things changed with Turkey and Brazil, two South emerging powers, took a step and offered Iran these guarantees. Both countries have opposed US-sponsored santions against Iran and recognize Iran´s right to have a peaceful nuclear program and to enrich uranium, rights being included in the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran is a signatory member. Therefore, they were in a good position to act as intermediaries and they fulfilled that mission successfully.
 
Shortly after it knew this news from Tehran, the US Administration acted angrily and immediately to try to undermine the agreement. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 18 that the agreement was “not acceptable to us and to our partners” and promised to proceed with “a strong sanctions resolution” that would send “an unmistakable message” to Iran. According to a statement by the US State Department, the US administration was not willing to hold talks with Iran unless this country agreed to a complete halt in uranium enrichment. That announcement was accompanied by the revelation that the objective of the original swap proposal last autumn was to get Iran to agree to eventually to suspend its enrichment program. The Obama administration had not previously declared publicly that it was demanding an end to all enrichment by Iran.
 
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would ban Iran from pursuing “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” freeze assets of nuclear-related companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard, bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles. It would also call on all countries to cooperate in cargo inspections -which must receive the consent of the ship’s flag state- if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.”
 
On the financial side, the draft calls on -but does not require- countries to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance, and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
 
Therefore, everybody now knows that from the beginning, the Obama administration’s offer of talks with Iran was only a ploy designed to gain the support of the other major powers, particularly Russia and China, for greater pressure and harsher sanctions against Iran. The proposed nuclear exchange was only ever a temporary measure to remove most of Iran´s stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
 
Brazil and Turkey reacted angrily to what was an obvious slap in their face. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been to the Iranian capital for the official signing and both countries knew that they had showed that they can play greater roles in the international sphere and that the South can solve its own problem without the interference of declining Western powers that have controlled the world up to now.
 
The head of the Turkish parliament´s foreign relations committee, Murat Mercan, predicted that the UN sanctions resolution would not be voted on. A vote would “create tensions” and would be “dangerous,” he said. Marco Aurelio Garcia, a special adviser to the Brazilian president, declared that sanctions would be “totally ineffective”. As a protest, Brazil did not take part in UN Security Council discussions on May 18 on the new sanctions.
 
US dishonesty
 
There is now compelling evidence that US President Barack Obama has showed dishonesty in his policy towards Iran. Shortly after he took over his post, he appointed an anti-Iranian Zionist, Dennis Ross, as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the “Central Region”, which includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia in the National Security Council. From his post, he was in charge of leading US efforts to promote some type of engagement with Iran. However, Ross failed. Later, he founded, with another Democratic Jew, Richard Holbrooke, “United Against Nuclear Iran”, which has been pushing for sanctions in the Congress against companies having commercial links with Tehran.
 
Another clear evidence of dishonesty comes is a letter from President Obama to his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva dated April 20, 2010. (The full text of the letter is available at http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10195)
 
“In the letter, Washington supported mediation by Brazil and Turkey when it did not expect them to succeed and turned its back when they accomplished exactly what the Obama administration said it sought from Iran”, wrote campaigniran.org.
 
In the letter, the White House strongly encouraged the intermediaries to negotiate with Iran for a single purpose, namely to persuade the Islamic Republic to send 1200 kg of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, added campaigniran.org. Brazil’s respected daily O Estado de S. Paulo also quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as revealing that he, too, had received a (presumably similar) letter from Obama.
 
As the website reports, this initial US stance completely contradicted Washington’s hostile response three weeks later to the Tehran Declaration, in which Iran agreed to precisely such an exchange. On May 18, a day after the declaration was issued, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the Brazil-Iran-Turkey offer and announced instead a draft UN Security Council resolution to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran.
 
US hostility to the Tehran Declaration contradicts also what Washington insisted it wanted last October, when the White House supported a UN-sponsored nuclear fuel swap that was essentially identical to what Iran is now offering. Even if one disregards that background, the main point in the May 17 Tehran Declaration is precisely what Obama had asked for in his letter as a satisfactory step forward for Iran to prove its goodwill.
 
To quote from Obama’s letter, “For us, Iran’s agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s LEU stockpile. I want to underscore that this element is of fundamental importance for the United States. For Iran, it would receive the nuclear fuel requested to ensure continued operation of the TRR to produce needed medical isotopes and, by using its own material, Iran would begin to demonstrate peaceful nuclear intent.”
 
The contradiction between President Obama’s letter to President Lula and the US response to the Brazil-Iran-Turkey offer is the latest evidence that the US does not intend to negotiate with Iran in good faith and has hidden motives.
 
One motive is mentioned by the website campaigniran.org. “Washington grew visibly nervous as signs emerged that Brazil and Turkey might achieve peacefully what threats and sanctions from major powers had not accomplished in Iran”, added the website.”
 
However, there is a second and more powerful reason: the pressure by Israel and US Zionist organizations. As they did previously before the Iraq war, these Zionist circles want to pass crippling sanctions and then to launch a war against Iran.
 
Recently, for example, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that Iran might “soon gain a nuclear weapon” and said that “the world cannot afford to wait too long.” He warned that if the international community waits too long, Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon that would “change the landscape” of the entire world, not just of the Middle East. Israeli leaders who visit the US always pressure the American Administration to take a bellicose stance towards Iran.
 
The Obama administration and US Congress also under pressure from the Zionist-controlled organizations and think tanks, which have encouraged the US government to take much tougher action, including a ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel to Iran.  They spread outright lies about Iran’s nuclear program, plant anti-Iran articles in the mainstream media and pressure the Congress to pass tough resolutions for sanctions against Iran.
 
Powerful pro-Israel US lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee also pressed (AIPAC) in a rare letter to every member of the US Congress,  called for “crippling new sanctions on Iran.” The Zionist group´s letter claimed that “Iran has pursued a nuclear weapons capability, flouting its international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and presenting the international community with a growing, and now urgent, threat.” “As Iran continues to reject US-European engagement efforts and to defy UN Security Council resolutions requiring that it halt its illicit uranium enrichment efforts, the United States must take action now,” it said.
 
The letter is a compendium of flagrant lies and falsehoods that Zionist media spreads about the Iranian nuclear program. Firstly, US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have claimed that there is no evidence showing that the Iranian nuclear program has military goals. In 2007, the US intelligence community released a National Intelligence Estimate that suggested that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
 
Secondly, Iran has violated none of its obligations under de NPT. The Treaty gives Iran, like the rest of signatory countries, the right to enrich uranium. Therefore, it is the US who is violating the international law by trying to force Iran to renounce a legitimate right under pressure. Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the UNSC demands for a suspension of enrichment have no legal backing. “Nowhere in the IAEA statute and the inspection systems of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is there a clause for the suspension of nuclear programs. In spite of this, Western countries have used this concept exclusively for Iran,” Soltanieh told the Beirut-based An-Nahar daily.
 
Thirdly, it is Israel, and not Iran, who is violating dozens of UN resolutions which force it to withdraw from the Palestinian and Arab lands that has been occupying since 1967, including East Jerusalem. A Zionist organization demanding respect for UN resolutions is just a bad joke.
 
Knowing that China and Russia won´t allow the UN Security Council to pass crippling sanctions damaging their important interests in Iran, the AIPAC also calls on the US to pass more unilateral sanctions. “In addition to these actions, we hope you will join with us in urging the administration to impose tough new multilateral sanctions with like-minded states without delay while continuing to pursue the widest possible sanctions through the UN Security Council,” the letter said.
 
This campaign is being supported by Zionist-controlled media in the US. The neocon Wall Street Journal recently published an article by former Senators Charles Robb and Daniel Coats and retired four-star Air Force General Chuck Wald claimimg that Iran “will be able to manufacture enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2010”. The authors urged Obama “to begin preparations for the use of military options” against Iran. A Wall Street Journal editorial painting the tripartite agreement in Tehran as a “debacle” for US President Barack Obama’s diplomacy.
 
Other corporate media outlets followed the same tone. The New York Times -a newspaper which repeated all US official lies that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq- criticized Lula for his mission in Iran (“Iran Deal Seen as Spot on Brazilian Leader’s Legacy”). The newspaper promptly claimed the deal reached by Iran, Turkey and Brazil was “complicating the sanctions talk”. For its part, The Washington Post published an analysis with the headline, “Iran creates illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations.”
 
This media repeated the usual anti-Iran propaganda with the same arrogance that they once showed in declaring that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. After the US invaded Iraq and found no WMD caches, the Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt acknowledged that if there indeed were no WMD, “it would have been better not to say it.” No word about hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US soldiers who lost their lives because of those lies. The articles by the Washington Post and the New York Times have also left out the relevant fact that Israel, which has been aggressively pushing for sanctions from Iran over its suspected interest in nukes, is the only country in the Middle East having nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the NPT.
 
Bill Kristol, a neocon working in Fox News and is editor of The Weekly Standard, a leading neocon magazine, said that it would be better for the US to attack Iran before Israel. “I think we have to have a credible threat of force and the preparation to use force against Iran,” Kristol told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Israel and its neocon agents in the US want to push the United States into a war against Iran because they know that Israel, despite all its threats, is incapable of attacking Iranian military facilities successfully.
 
A recent article by Israeli analyst Yossi Melman in Haaretz quoted Brigadier General Relik Shafir, who until recently occupied the third-most important post in the Israeli Air Force hierarchy, as saying: “The Iranians have learned the lessons from the attack on the Iraqi reactor (by Israel in 1981),” Shafir said. “In Iraq, the entire nuclear program was concentrated in the reactor. The Iranians on the other hand have built a number of nuclear facilities in different areas around the country. Some of them are located in eastern Iran. They have “hardened” their facilities by building them underground or by placing them in bunkers. In all honesty, the IAF lacks a real strategic capability to bomb distant targets over a prolonged period of time while using the necessary level of firepower.” That is, Israel lacks a real capacity to attack Iran. Even worse, an Israeli attack on Iran would lead to massive attacks with missiles on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities and military and economic centers. That would mean a severe blow to Israeli economy. For these extremists, the desirable solution would be to push the US into a huge disastrous conflict against Iran and the Muslim masses of the world who support the Islamic Republic.
 
Recently, the New York Times published a report that said the US military high command in the Middle East was expanding clandestine activities to prepare the ground for “possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate”, as laid out in a “secret” directive by the chief of America’s Central Command, General David Petraeus. This another proof that the US Administration wants to provoke another catastrophic conflict in the Middle East. However, there are evidences that the real international community appears to be determined to stop US aggressors this time.

Russia Says in Talks with Iran on More Nuclear Plants, S-300 Sale

Al Manar

11/06/2010 The repercussions of the UN sanctions against Iran has turned into offers to appease the Islamic Republic especially after acknowledging the unfairness that took place during the security council meeting. This comes after Turkish Prime Minister revealed that the nuclear swap deal signed by Turkey, Brazil and Iran wouldn’t have passed without pre-arrangement with Western powers, esp. Russia and the US.
 
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was in talks on building further nuclear power plants in Iran — a step that, if followed through, would rile the West — in addition to the Bushehr site, due to open in August after years of delay.
 
Lavrov’s statement came just hours after Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the new UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program did not oblige Moscow to scrap a deal to deliver surface-to-air missiles to Tehran.
 
The UN Security Council’s adoption — with Kremlin support — of a fourth round of sanctions against Iran on Wednesday raised fresh questions over the future of Russia’s contract to sell S-300 missiles to Tehran.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko spoke after the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Russian arms industry source as saying Moscow would freeze the S-300 contract because of the newly passed sanctions. “The UN Security Council decision is binding for all countries and Russia is no exception,” Interfax quoted the source as saying. “Naturally, the contract to deliver S-300 missile systems will be frozen.”
 
But Nesterenko said that portable missile systems like shoulder-launched weapons were the only air defense weapons whose sale to Iran would be banned under the sanctions. “Air defense weapons, with the exception of portable missile systems, are not included in the UN registry of conventional weapons which are mentioned by the resolution on Iran,” he said.
 
“We will strictly and unswervingly follow the criteria and requirements in the resolution”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement posted on the foreign ministry website. The official was responding to a question on whether an agreement by Russia to supply Iran with S-300 would be affected by Wednesday’s UN sanctions resolution against Iran.
 
The Security Council resolution bans the sale of missile systems listed in the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms. That register does not include the S-300 so the contract would not technically be banned. But Security Council diplomats said the resolution’s call for all UN member states to “exercise vigilance and restraint” regarding any arms sales to Iran meant that Moscow was being strongly discouraged from delivering the missiles.
 
In Washington, Republican US Senator Jon Kyl criticized the UN sanctions resolution on Wednesday for excluding the S-300 deal and Russia’s construction of Iran’s first nuclear power plant near Bushehr, which Moscow says will open in August.
 
Lavrov, speaking to reporters in the Uzbek capital Tashkent late on Thursday, said Russia was in discussions with Iran on possible additional nuclear power plants. “We are practically discussing this now,” he said.

Extending Hands or Clinching Fists? Obama’s Doublespeak on Iran

by Carlos Latuff

By ESAM AL-AMIN, source

On April 12, 2010, President Barack Obama hosted a forty-seven nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. He met with dozens of heads of state making his case for a fourth set of crippling sanctions on Iran because of its intransigence on the nuclear issue. His main argument was the refusal of Iran to accept the proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of transferring the bulk of Iran’s low enriched uranium outside the country in exchange for medical nuclear isotopes.

The following day Obama met with President Luiz Lula Da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey. Both countries are currently members of the UN Security Council, considered friends of the US and are emerging economic and regional powers.

Lula and Erdogan emphasized to the US president the importance of a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear issue in an effort to diffuse the crisis and build confidence-building measures for further negotiations. During the meeting Obama not only encouraged them to pursue a diplomatic breakthrough, but he also vowed to be constructive and flexible, as well as promising to send them in writing the parameters of any deal deemed acceptable to the US.

Encouraged by the American response, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutolu flew to Brazil on April 16 to meet with its president in order to coordinate their diplomatic efforts in a last ditch effort to persuade Iran to accept the IAEA proposal. By April 20, the Turkish foreign minister was in Tehran testing the waters regarding a possible resolution to the crisis.

As promised, Obama sent two separate letters on April 20 to Lula and Erdogan detailing the US parameters of a possible deal. He wrote that his proposal represented “a detailed explanation” of his perspective and offered “a suggestion of a way ahead.” He said that his offer was based on the proposal put forth by former IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei, which he characterized in the letter as “fair and balanced,” and would enable “both sides to gain trust and confidence.”

In his letter, Obama detailed four conditions for any resolution to be satisfactory to the US. The first condition was “Iran’s agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country.” He emphasized that this condition was essential and non-negotiable.

Second, he demonstrated his willingness to be “flexible and creative in order to build mutual confidence” by agreeing “to support and facilitate action on proposal that would provide Iran nuclear fuel using uranium enriched by Iran,” a crucial demand by Iran which it has always insisted was its right under the NPT treaty.

Third, Obama offered his acceptance to the compromise suggested by the IAEA last November by allowing “Iran to ship its 1,200 kg of LEU to a third country,” suggesting Turkey as the designated country. He went further by offering assurance to Iran that its fuel would be held “in escrow” in Turkey “as a guarantee during the fuel production process that Iran would get back its uranium if we failed to deliver the fuel.”

His final condition was that Iran has to convey to the IAEA in writing its “constructive commitment to engagement through official channels.”

Armed with the concrete American conditions and after receiving a positive response to negotiate, conveyed to Davutolu by the Iranian leadership, the foreign minister of Brazil Celso Amorim flew to Iran a week later on April 27, to prepare for a state visit by Lula to hammer out a final agreement based on the American proposal.

The Brazilian president arrived in Tehran on May 15 and was joined by the Turkish prime minister the following day. In an 18-hour negotiation marathon session, the two world leaders impressed on the Iranian leadership the significance of accepting all four parameters outlined in Obama’s letter.

On May 17, an agreement based on the American and IAEA proposals was signed by the foreign ministers of all three countries.  A week later Iran submitted an official letter to the IAEA acknowledging the pact and stating its intention to transfer its LEU to Turkey within one month once the plan was accepted.

To the complete surprise of Brazil and Turkey, the White House and the State Department dismissed the deal out of hand within 24 hours, rejecting the same principles outlined in Obama’s letter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called it “a ploy” before a hearing in the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations on May 18, declaring that a sanctions resolution against Iran in the Security Council is imminent.

In an interview on June 3 in Jornal do Brasil, a major newspaper in Brazil, ElBaradei expressed his profound disappointment and surprise at the American reaction. He explained that the proposal signed in Iran was the same as his proposal, which was accepted by the West in the past.

Further, he explained that “if you remove over half of the material that Iran has to Turkey, that is clearly a confidence-building measure regarding concerns about Iran’s future intentions.” As for the remainder of the nuclear-enriched material in Iran he stated that, “the material that will remain in Iran is under IAEA safeguards and seals. There is absolutely no imminent threat that Iran is going to develop the bomb tomorrow from the material that they have in Iran.”  

The refusal of the Obama administration to embrace its own proposals not only undermines its credibility before its foes but also confuses its friends such as Brazil and Turkey. Obama was elected on the promise of hope and change by offering the international community, especially the Muslim World, new politics based on honesty and mutual respect.

In his inaugural address, repeated in the Cairo speech, Obama said regarding Iran “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” But in Elbaradei’s view, it was the US that has clenched its fist when Iran stretched its hand.

The former IAEA head effectively exposed Obama’s doublespeak in the same interview to the Brazilian paper by declaring that the deal signed in Tehran “should be perceived as a first good confidence measure, a first effort by Iran to stretch its hand and say we are ready to negotiate.”

UN Security Council Set to Vote on US-Drafted Iran Sanctions

by Carlos Latuff

Al Manar

09/06/2010 For the fourth time in as many years, the 15 nation U.N. Security Council is set Wednesday to vote on US-drafted sanctions resolution against Iran. United States, Britain, France, Germany had wanted much tougher measures — some targeting Iran’s energy sector — but Beijing and Moscow worked hard to dilute the steps proposed in a 10-page draft.
 
While 118 countries have supported Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, the US is calling the new sanctions on Iran the “most significant ever.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the remarks during her visit to Ecuador. “These are the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced,” Reuters quoted Clinton as saying at a news conference in the Ecuadoran capital, Quito, on Tuesday.
 
Non-permanent members Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon are not expected to support the move. This is while 118 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), once again voiced support for Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy on Tuesday. NAM member states sent a letter to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, underscoring their support for Iran’s nuclear energy program.
 
Tehran says it will never buckle under Western pressure to give up the legitimate nuclear rights of Iran.
 
The United States, France and Russia have handed over to the UN atomic watchdog their official responses to Iran’s proposals for a nuclear fuel swap, a diplomat close to the IAEA said Wednesday. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano met with the envoys of the three countries earlier on Wednesday, where the responses were formally handed over, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in London said the measure would pass and pave the way for tougher additional measures by the US and its allies. “The strategy here is a combination of diplomacy and pressure to persuade the Iranians that they are headed in the wrong direction in terms of their own security, that they will undermine their security by pursuit of nuclear weapons, not enhance it,” Gates said.
 
Annexes to the resolution, agreed to Tuesday, would target 40 new Iranian companies or organizations, including 15 linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard. One person was added to the previous list of 40 Iranians subject to an asset freeze, Javad Rahiqi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center.
 
In New York, Mexico’s UN Ambassador Claude Heller, the current council president, told reporters that the Security Council vote would take place at 10 am on Wednesday. The Security Council held a private meeting Tuesday afternoon on Iran to meet some of the concerns of Brazil and Turkey, which had called for an open “political debate” on the broader Iranian nuclear issue first.
 
After Tuesday afternoon’s council meeting, US Ambassador Susan Rice predicted the resolution would be adopted by “a strong majority.” “It is a strong, broad-based resolution that will impose meaningful and significant new sanctions on Iran,” she said. “Our aim remains to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program and negotiate constructively and in earnest with the international community.”
 
Iran’s UN ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, said in an interview Tuesday with the Islamic Republic News Agency that the fuel-swap, brokered by Turkey and Brazil recently, would have led to “more constructive” regional and international cooperation, but moving ahead with sanctions shows some council members “prefer confrontation.” “In such a condition … Iran has no choice but to react accordingly in the way it consider(s) appropriate,” he was quoted as saying.

Obama, “Israel” Denounce UN Nuclear Document; Iran Praises it

by Carlos Latuff

by Batoul Wehbe, Al Manar

29/05/2010 Again and again the US emerges to behave in a double standard and selective manner by disguising Israel’s nuclear weapons program while on the other hand accuses Iran of preparing to manufacture a nuclear bomb. At a UN conference on Friday US President Barack Obama welcomed a nuclear non-proliferation deal reached at the UN conference but “strongly” opposed singling out Israel over talks for a Mideast atomic weapon-free zone.
 
The agreement reached at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference “includes balanced and practical steps that will advance non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which are critical pillars of the global non-proliferation regime,” Obama said in a statement.
 
The US president expressed concern however with the document’s most controversial issue, a commitment to hold a regional conference in 2012 that would aim to create a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. “The United States has long supported such a zone, although our view is that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full compliance by all regional states with their arms control and nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for its establishment,” he said. “We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”
 
Obama’s national security advisor, General James L. Jones, also issued a statement to the same effect. “The United States will not permit a conference or actions that could jeopardize Israel’s national security,” he said. “We will not accept any approach that singles out Israel or sets unrealistic expectations. The United States’ long-standing position on Middle East peace and security remains unchanged, including its unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”
 
Jones added that Washington had reservations about the declaration because it names “Israel” while ignoring Iran. “The United States deplores the decision to single out Israel in the Middle East section of the NPT document,” he said. “The failure of the resolution to mention Iran, a nation in longstanding violation of the NPT and UN Security Council Resolutions which poses the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region and to the integrity of the NPT, is also deplorable.”
 
Iran is a signature of the NPT treaty and is cooperating with the IAEA, while Israel is not. The 28-page Final Declaration was approved by consensus on the last day of the month-long conference, convened every five years to review and advance the objectives of the 40-year-old NPT.
 
Under its action plan, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – commit to speed up arms reductions, take other steps to diminish the importance of atomic weapons, and report back on progress by 2014. The declaration also calls on Israel to submit its nuclear facilities to inspection by the UN, a clause the US sought to avoid, but it apparently withdrew objections in order to get the final draft approved.
 
Israel on Saturday denounced what it called the “hypocrisy” of a UN nuclear non-proliferation deal on the Middle East. “This accord has the hallmark of hypocrisy. Only Israel is mentioned, while the text is silent about other countries like India, Pakistan and North Korea, which have nuclear arms, or even more seriously, Iran, which is seeking to obtain them,” a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “The fact that no reference is made to Iran is even more shocking, given that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has disclosed more and more information in recent months on the military character of Iranian nuclear projects,” the official added.
 
IRAN PRAISES UN DOCUMENT
 
Iran’s representative to the UN atomic watchdog on Saturday hailed the UN document calling on Israel to open its so far undeclared atomic facilities to international inspection. Iran’s IAEA representative Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who attended the conference at the United Nations, welcomed the move. “It is a step forward in creating a world without atomic weapons,” Soltanieh told the official IRNA news agency.
  
Israel has been maintaining an ambiguous policy over its own atomic arsenal by neither denying nor admitting its existence. Soltanieh told IRNA that the United States, despite opposing the NPT text on Israel, will have to fall in line with other countries. “The US reservation is symbolic and it is obliged to go along with the world’s request, which is that Israel must join the NPT and open its installations to IAEA inspectors,” he said.
 
WHO CRITICIZES DEAL SHOULD ELIMINATE HIS WEAPON STOCKPILES
 
However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that nations criticizing an Iranian nuclear fuel-swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey should eliminate their own nuclear weapon stockpiles.
 
Erdogan made the comments just hours after saying that the West was “envious” of Brazil and Turkey’s achievement in getting Iran to agree to the deal. “Those who speak to this issue should eliminate nuclear weapons from their own country and they should bear the good news to all mankind by doing that,” Erdogan said while attending a UN conference in Rio de Janeiro.
 
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters in Rio the fuel swap deal contains all the elements that the US and other nations were seeking in similar agreement last year. “The agreement contains all that which was proposed by the Group of Vienna, especially by Russia, the United States and France, and now we need time to see if it will bear results.” “The world needs a peaceful Middle East,” he said.
 
Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said world powers cannot use their nuclear weapons to bully other nations into giving up efforts to obtain peaceful nuclear energy. In a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart in Sofia, Mottaki said, “Today, the world public opinion and the international community do not accept double standards and selective dealings.”
 
Mottaki highlighted Iran’s role as one of the founders of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and one of those contributing to the “nuke-free Middle East” initiative. The minister reiterated that Iran’s stance was one of “nuclear energy for all, nuclear arms for none” — the slogan introduced by Tehran at an international nuclear disarmament conference hosted by the Islamic Republic.
 
“Those who have used nuclear arms against humanity and are now threatening other nations with such weapons have no right to prohibit others from exercising their inalienable right to peaceful nuclear energy,” Mottaki added.
 
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, for his part, hailed Iran’s recent move to issue a trilateral nuclear fuel swap declaration with Brazil and Turkey. He described the May 17 declaration as a positive effort toward achieving a reasonable solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.
 
US GRAPPING OPPORTUNITY ON IRAN
 
In the meantime, senior U.S. officials were working hard this week on criticizing and undermining the much successful swap deal.
 
“The underlying problem is that Iran continues to enrich uranium, and that is what it is obliged to suspend under three (UN Security) Council resolutions,” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “In our view the joint declaration falls short of what’s necessary. But regardless of this … proposal, it is important that we proceed to New York to adopt the resolution.”
 
The U.S. officials said the proposed deal was “too little too late and could not buy more time for Iran.” But the senior U.S. officials made clear the new fuel proposal will in no way slow the Washington-led drive to slap new UN sanctions in Iran, with the resolution expected to move to the full Security Council within weeks. “That was in essence grasping at straws, that somehow this would help resolve the issue,” a second official said.

US Says Only Reason for Talks With Iran is Enrichment Halt: Nuclear Swap Meet

by Carlos Latuff

By GARETH PORTER, source

The agreement on draft Security Council resolution sanctions against Iran has grabbed the headlines on the Barack Obama administration’s response to Iran’s nuclear swap proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil. But the more consequential response is the acknowledgement by the U.S. State Department Monday that the administration is not willing to hold talks with Iran unless it agrees to a complete halt in uranium enrichment.

That announcement was accompanied by the revelation that the objective of the original swap proposal last autumn was to get Iran to agree to eventually to suspend its enrichment program.

The Obama administration had not previously declared publicly that it was demanding an end to all enrichment by Iran, and had suggested directly and indirectly that it wanted a broader diplomatic engagement with Iran covering issues of concern to both states.

The new hard line ruling out broader diplomatic engagement with Iran and the new light on the strategy behind last year’s swap proposal confirms what has long been suspected – that the debate within the Obama administration last year over whether to abandon the demand for an end to Iranian uranium enrichment as unrealistic had been won by proponents of the zero enrichment demand by late summer 2009.

U.S. State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said Monday the United States would not negotiate with Iran on its proposal to send 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium to Turkey to be replaced with 120 kilograms of fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor, unless the Iranians agree to take up the broader subject of their nuclear program – and specifically an end to their uranium enrichment program.

Responding to a question about the U.S. willingness to meet with Iran on the new proposal, Crowley said, “[I]f it’s willing to engage the P5+1, “then it has to commit that it’s willing to engage the P5+1 on its nuclear program.”

The P5+1 groups the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

Crowley noted that Iran had offered to have discussions with “the international community” but not about its nuclear program. “[I]n our view, the only reason to have that discussion,” Crowley said, “first and foremost, would be to address our core concerns in the – with regard to Iran’s nuclear program.”

Crowley revealed for the first time that the original proposal for Iran to swap 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium for 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to nearly 20 percent roughly a year later “was meant as a means to a larger end, which was to get Iran to fundamentally address its – concerns the international community has”.

He went on to explain that “the fact that Iran…continues to enrich uranium and has failed to suspend its uranium enrichment program, as has been called for in the U.N. Security Council resolutions: that’s our core concern.”

Crowley was clearly suggesting that the talks which were supposed to follow Iran’s acceptance of the deal would be focused on ending its nuclear enrichment program rather than on addressing the sources of conflict between the United States and Iran.

Last October, the swap proposal was presented as a “confidence building measure” that would gain enough time for a broader diplomatic dialogue between Iran and the United States to take place. It would allow the Obama administration to argue with Israel that Iran had temporarily given up its “breakout capability” by transferring most of its low enriched uranium abroad.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the lame duck director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), declared on October  21 that the swap agreement “could pave the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly argued, moreover, that the swap proposal implicitly accepted Iran’s right to enrich uranium, although nothing in the proposal addressed that issue.

The history of the swap proposal shows, however, that its origins were intertwined with the objective of halting Iranian uranium enrichment.

Gary Samore, Obama’s chief adviser on nuclear proliferation, devised the swap deal. He had published a paper in December 2008 with co-author Bruce Reidel of the Brookings Institution proposing that the new administration demand that Iran’s LEU be exported to Russia to be converted into fuel rods for the Bushehr reactor in order take away Iran’s nuclear “break-out capability”.

Ironically, it was Ahmadinejad’s public suggestion of interest in a straight commercial deal under which Iran would send LEU to any country that would enrich it to 20 per cent for the Tehran Research Reactor that led to the formulation of the swap proposal.

Samore simply shifted the focus of that proposal from Bushehr to the Tehran Research Reactor, and it quickly became a P5+1 initiative to temporarily strip Iran of nearly 80 per cent of its low enriched uranium.

Samore was known to be a strong proponent of demanding that Iran end its uranium enrichment program, who privately expressed certainty that Iran intends to manufacture nuclear weapons. He had publicly expressed pessimism that Iran would accept any proposal demanding an end to enrichment without a credible military threat, whether by the United States or Israel.

Before entering the administration Samore had advocated offering a lifting of economic sanctions, assurances against regime change and even normalization of relations as inducements to accept that demand.

No Iranian regime could have accepted a complete end to enrichment as part of a deal with the United States, however, because of popular support for the nuclear program as a symbol of Iran’s technological advancement.

Proponents of the zero enrichment option were confident enough to leak to the press the fact that the aim of broader talks with Iran would be to end enrichment entirely. The Washington Post reported October  22, 2009 that U.S. officials commenting on the proposed uranium swap “stressed that the deal would be only the first step in a difficult process to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and that suspension remains the primary goal.”

Now the administration has given up whatever flexibility it had previously retained to adjust its position in the face of a firm Iranian rejection of the zero enrichment demand. That position portends a continuation of high and possibly rising tensions between the United States and Iran for the remainder of Obama’s administration.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy. 

By GARETH PORTER

The agreement on draft Security Council resolution sanctions against Iran has grabbed the headlines on the Barack Obama administration’s response to Iran’s nuclear swap proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil. But the more consequential response is the acknowledgement by the U.S. State Department Monday that the administration is not willing to hold talks with Iran unless it agrees to a complete halt in uranium enrichment.

That announcement was accompanied by the revelation that the objective of the original swap proposal last autumn was to get Iran to agree to eventually to suspend its enrichment program.

The Obama administration had not previously declared publicly that it was demanding an end to all enrichment by Iran, and had suggested directly and indirectly that it wanted a broader diplomatic engagement with Iran covering issues of concern to both states.

The new hard line ruling out broader diplomatic engagement with Iran and the new light on the strategy behind last year’s swap proposal confirms what has long been suspected – that the debate within the Obama administration last year over whether to abandon the demand for an end to Iranian uranium enrichment as unrealistic had been won by proponents of the zero enrichment demand by late summer 2009.

U.S. State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said Monday the United States would not negotiate with Iran on its proposal to send 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium to Turkey to be replaced with 120 kilograms of fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor, unless the Iranians agree to take up the broader subject of their nuclear program – and specifically an end to their uranium enrichment program.

Responding to a question about the U.S. willingness to meet with Iran on the new proposal, Crowley said, “[I]f it’s willing to engage the P5+1, “then it has to commit that it’s willing to engage the P5+1 on its nuclear program.”

The P5+1 groups the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

Crowley noted that Iran had offered to have discussions with “the international community” but not about its nuclear program. “[I]n our view, the only reason to have that discussion,” Crowley said, “first and foremost, would be to address our core concerns in the – with regard to Iran’s nuclear program.”

Crowley revealed for the first time that the original proposal for Iran to swap 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium for 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to nearly 20 percent roughly a year later “was meant as a means to a larger end, which was to get Iran to fundamentally address its – concerns the international community has”.

He went on to explain that “the fact that Iran…continues to enrich uranium and has failed to suspend its uranium enrichment program, as has been called for in the U.N. Security Council resolutions: that’s our core concern.”

Crowley was clearly suggesting that the talks which were supposed to follow Iran’s acceptance of the deal would be focused on ending its nuclear enrichment program rather than on addressing the sources of conflict between the United States and Iran.

Last October, the swap proposal was presented as a “confidence building measure” that would gain enough time for a broader diplomatic dialogue between Iran and the United States to take place. It would allow the Obama administration to argue with Israel that Iran had temporarily given up its “breakout capability” by transferring most of its low enriched uranium abroad.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the lame duck director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), declared on October  21 that the swap agreement “could pave the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly argued, moreover, that the swap proposal implicitly accepted Iran’s right to enrich uranium, although nothing in the proposal addressed that issue.

The history of the swap proposal shows, however, that its origins were intertwined with the objective of halting Iranian uranium enrichment.

Gary Samore, Obama’s chief adviser on nuclear proliferation, devised the swap deal. He had published a paper in December 2008 with co-author Bruce Reidel of the Brookings Institution proposing that the new administration demand that Iran’s LEU be exported to Russia to be converted into fuel rods for the Bushehr reactor in order take away Iran’s nuclear “break-out capability”.

Ironically, it was Ahmadinejad’s public suggestion of interest in a straight commercial deal under which Iran would send LEU to any country that would enrich it to 20 per cent for the Tehran Research Reactor that led to the formulation of the swap proposal.

Samore simply shifted the focus of that proposal from Bushehr to the Tehran Research Reactor, and it quickly became a P5+1 initiative to temporarily strip Iran of nearly 80 per cent of its low enriched uranium.

Samore was known to be a strong proponent of demanding that Iran end its uranium enrichment program, who privately expressed certainty that Iran intends to manufacture nuclear weapons. He had publicly expressed pessimism that Iran would accept any proposal demanding an end to enrichment without a credible military threat, whether by the United States or Israel.

Before entering the administration Samore had advocated offering a lifting of economic sanctions, assurances against regime change and even normalization of relations as inducements to accept that demand.

No Iranian regime could have accepted a complete end to enrichment as part of a deal with the United States, however, because of popular support for the nuclear program as a symbol of Iran’s technological advancement.

Proponents of the zero enrichment option were confident enough to leak to the press the fact that the aim of broader talks with Iran would be to end enrichment entirely. The Washington Post reported October  22, 2009 that U.S. officials commenting on the proposed uranium swap “stressed that the deal would be only the first step in a difficult process to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and that suspension remains the primary goal.”

Now the administration has given up whatever flexibility it had previously retained to adjust its position in the face of a firm Iranian rejection of the zero enrichment demand. That position portends a continuation of high and possibly rising tensions between the United States and Iran for the remainder of Obama’s administration.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy.