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Bible Quotation for today/God
John 04/07-19: "Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If we declare that Jesus is the Son of God, we live in union with God and God lives in union with us. And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us.
God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ's. There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. We love because God first loved us. If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also."
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 25/13
Dear Lebanon – From Tom Fletcher/Randa Takieddine/Al Hayat/ November 25/13
Lebanon: Changing The Nation/By: Abdullah Iskandar/Al Hayat/November 25/13
Winners and losers of nuclear deal/By: Roi Simyoni/Ynet news/November 25/13
The Al-Qaeda Interviews/By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat/November 25/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For
Lebanese Related News
Bomb Found in Taamir Ain el-Hilweh, Palestinian Suspects Arrested
Kataeb party celebrates 77th anniversary
Berri Arrives in Iran, Hopes Nuclear Deal Will Lead to 'Settlement in Syria'
Amin Gemayel Slams Hizbullah for Adhering to Regional Strategy, Says Lebanon Can't Bear Results of its Actions
Charbel Appeals for All-Party Talks to Ward Off Dangers
Palestinian Leadership, Relatives of Suicide Bomber Disavow his Actions
Berri Disappointed and Shocked as Authorities ID Suicide Bombers
Firefighters Control Huge Blaze in Beirut Sawmill
Mansour hails Iranian-Western deal
Hariri says Hezbollah responsible for terrorism
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Seven loopholes favoring a nuclear Iran in deal signed by the world powers
Israel Says Iran Deal 'Historic Mistake' that Gave it 'Greatest Diplomatic Victory'
Rouhani: Nuclear Deal Accepts Iran Enrichment, Cracks Sanctions
Iranians Hail 'Smiling' FM as Hero of Nuclear Deal
Gulf States Fear Deal Will Boost Iran Regional Ambitions
Putin Says Iran Deal a 'Breakthrough' but First Step on Long Path
EU Hails Iran Deal, Urges Implementation as Ban Says Agreement Potentially 'Historic'
China Says Iran Deal Will 'Safeguard Peace' in Middle East
Canada's Statement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
World Powers and Iran Strike Nuke Deal
Six powers clinch breakthrough deal curbing Iran's nuclear activity
U.S., Iran held secret talks on march to nuclear deal
Obama declares Iran deal 'important first step' that cuts off likely path to a bomb
Iran nuclear deal seen reducing bomb risk despite Israeli criticism
Ottawa taking a wait-and-see approach to the nuclear deal with Iran
U.S. Official: Back Channel U.S.-Iran Talks Preceded Nuclear Deal
Old bones: Vatican publicly unveils disputed bone fragments said to belong to St. Peter
'More Than 11,000 Children' Killed in Syria War
Syria Government Welcomes 'Historic' Iran Nuclear Deal
Report: Israel PM to Meet Pope Francis on December
The Deluge Of Lies
Dear Lebanon – From Tom Fletcher
Randa Takieddine/Al Hayat
Tom Fletcher, Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, used to follow the news about the Middle East from the British Embassy in France. Fletcher was then appointed as an advisor to former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street, and then remained with his successor David Cameron, before he was appointed to his first ambassadorial post in Lebanon, around two years ago.
Before he arrived in Lebanon, he learned Arabic for six months. After that, he assumed his post, and succeeded with his presence, energy, and diplomatic shrewdness. He belongs to a generation of young diplomats, and yesterday, he sent a brilliant open letter to Lebanon on its independence anniversary that deserves pause. Fletcher addressed Lebanon as though Lebanon was a person, and wrote,
I wanted to write to say Happy 70th birthday.
I know that in reality you have been around thousands of years, and were trading and writing long before my ancestors. But that moment of your birth in November 1943 was special, different – you took your first steps as a new nation founded on uniting principles rather than lines of division.” Fletcher then recalls some of the things that he said made him tell Lebanon, “You’re so much better than you admit.”
He then expresses his frustration, and writes, “Your politics are dynamic on the surface. Yet broken and paralyzed beneath it. You talk of unity. Yet often say things like ‘Lebanon would be wonderful if it wasn’t for the Lebanese’, ‘it will always be like this – this is Lebanon.’ You have an impressive ability to absorb hardships such as power cuts. Yet you rarely confront the causes of them. You invest more than any country in the education of your youth. Yet they feel excluded from changing the country for the better. You have been a beacon for women’s rights. Yet only elect a tiny handful to parliament. You were the first country in the region to stand up against dictatorship and tyranny in the 21st century Middle East. Yet your voice in calling for your own rights and those of others seems to have fallen silent, and in too many cases been silenced.”
He then gives advice to Lebanon and says, “First and most important, start ignoring advice from outsiders, including me: this is your country. Second, celebrate the success that is all around you, [by saying], “and carrying on our lives is the best response to violence and division’.”Fletcher then recalls the importance of understanding the meaning of independence, where Lebanon’s interests are placed above those of foreign patrons. He wrote, “You’re stuck together I’m afraid, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse.”The UK ambassador then concludes, “You’re at a moment of jeopardy. 70 is too young for a country to retire...Whether you make it to 75 depends on whether you can find a way to regroup, to focus again on what unites rather than divides you. That is not something that you can leave to outsiders. You have to decide whether you’re on the side of those who are fighting over Lebanon. Or with those who are fighting for it.”No doubt, Fletcher’s letter comes from a diplomat who loves the country and loves working in it, and who has many friends in all circles. His letter is the result of this love and his feeling of regret for a country that is almost a paradise, were it not for the reasons of frustration that Fletcher mentioned, and which any Lebanese who wants his country to recover is no doubt aware of. But what is happening today on the ground in Syria, in Lebanon, and in the region as a whole, makes the return of unity among the Lebanese nothing a pipe dream. How can the country unite when Iran and Syria control the decision making of Hezbollah, which represents a large part of the Lebanese people? Lebanon that Fletcher addresses did not retire, but is suffering from a disease whose cure is no longer in its hands. True, there is a lot of successful Lebanese abroad and at home, but the state is corrupt and paralyzed, and there is no hope for it to stand on its feet amid deteriorating and dangerous regional circumstances, and a disappointing division among its people. Fletcher’s letter to Lebanon contains the wishes any true Lebanese would have for his country. But in reality, it is almost impossible to implement Fletcher’s advice to rescue the country. Lebanon has not retired; it is just in constant danger.
Lebanon: Changing The Nation
Abdullah Iskandar/Al Hayat
It is no longer convincing to lament over the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon and to condemn conspiracies and bombings. Indeed, to the same extent as voices are rising to claim concern for calm and stability, the amount of explosives discovered is increasing – explosives aimed at targets in Lebanon. Years could go by while we debate the sources and the beneficiaries, after decades of debating the issue itself. Meanwhile, what is unraveling is what remains of the fragile nervous system of a country which everyone considers to have become a mere instrument in the major changes taking place in the region.
The crisis in Lebanon no longer concerns the issue of political obstinacy doing away with opportunities to form a government cabinet, the problem of political vacuum following the renewal of the parliament’s term, or the possibility of reaching the end of the President’s term in office without having the ability to elect a new one. The crisis now concerns the increasingly apparent conviction among part of the Lebanese that consensus with the other side is no longer necessary for coexistence. Most dangerous about such a conviction is that it comes from that part of the Lebanese population that is most armed and most willing to fight in the domestic arena, after having fought in Syria, where the conflict has turned into an openly sectarian one, with the different sides fighting it as such. This party has also made sure to announce having made such advances, in order to assert that the fact that it has been holding back, so far, from making use of force inside Lebanon against members of the other sect, some of whom are fighting in Syria, in a way represents giving others the opportunity to join it willingly and carry out its goals, before later having to force and coerce them to do so.
Such an approach is not the result of local political disputes, but rather one that stands against what is left of the nation and of the state, including its constitutional institutions. Indeed, if there is consensus between this party and the Speaker of Parliament for reasons of confessional agreement, its opposition to the work of this institution has appeared clearly in its efforts to obstruct it, in the past as well as today. As for its opposition to the executive branch of government, and in particular to the head of the executive, the President of the Republic, it requires no evidence, after the numerous campaigns and abundant criticism that have been directed at the President in person. Security services and the judiciary, for their part, work only with the approval of this party, in view of it having infiltrated them or of its indirect influence on them.
The problem now concerns the integrity of the nation and of the state, not just the Lebanese formula of coexistence. And indeed everything that is contributing to maintaining the current crisis of power only feeds the root problem. All claims of taking care to overcome this crisis by providing illusory concessions regarding shares are thus null and void.
The issue now regards political choices, as well as national choices. And to the same extent as one adheres to the Syrian conflict and participates in it, one deepens sectarian alignment in the country and furthers the waning of the basic requirements for the survival of nation and state in Lebanon.
No one denies that the phenomenon of intolerance is a cross-confessional one, and no one denies that confessional fanaticism drives towards mutual hatred and denial, reaching up to infighting. But plans to change a nation require infighting that would by far exceed the mere mutual exchange of acutely confessional stances. They require massacres that would sever the ties of a form of coexistence that has characterized Lebanon, in view of the balance that exists there at this level, and has prevailed in the country ever since its foundation, even if the formula for such a balance does require some change in order to survive.
Engaging in the conflict in Syria and considering it to represent an existential issue can no longer bear a balanced nation in Lebanon. It has become urgent, within the framework of the necessities of this conflict, to hasten the liquidation of the structure of nation and state.
And there is no better justification for asserting such a sense of urgency than the Al-Qaeda brand of terrorism, being confessional in nature, and having been raised by the Syrian regime since the start of the peaceful protest movement as a justification for the ongoing implementation of a military solution. Al-Qaeda’s brand of terrorism functions across borders, does not recognize nations and works to destroy existing states. This is why it strikes randomly in any location where the circumstance makes it possible, especially in places where capabilities have been weakened and feelings of confessional frustration are on the rise. That is what has happened to Lebanon, in a very systematic way. Thus Al-Qaeda in Lebanon has become a necessity for plans of changing the nation… and that is what has happened and is happening in Iraq and in Syria.
Kataeb party celebrates 77th anniversary
November 24, 2013/The Daily Star/BEIRUT : The Kataeb Party celebrated the 77th anniversary of its foundation during a ceremony at Beirut’s BIEL. Speaking during the ceremony, Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel slammed Hezbollah’s role in Syria and called for developing a system based on ‘the nation’ and not ‘the sects’ in Lebanon. “We have reached an understanding at the National Dialogue to use Hezbollah’s arms in support of the army and not of regimes abroad [which operate] at the expense of Lebanon and in favor of regional powers,” he said in reference to Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian battles. Gemayel also said that the “level of sectarianism and hegemony is high in our political life.”“This is the real threat that should be resolved before it is too late,” he said, adding that “[the formula] in Lebanon should be ‘the people, the Army and the martyrs’.” Kataeb bloc MP Sami Gemayel also said during the ceremony that his party will “remain at the service of Lebanon and nothing else.” “You challenged us and thought that by assassinating Pierre Gemayel you would be killing us, but in this hall, [we are all] Pierre Gemayel,” he added. The Kataeb Party was formed in 1936 as a Maronite paramilitary youth organization turning later into a political party that played a major role in the Lebanese Civil War. Pierre Gemayel, son of Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel, was assassinated by gunmen in the Metn town of Jdeide on November 21, 2006.
Berri Arrives in Iran, Hopes Nuclear Deal Will Lead to 'Settlement in Syria'
Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/Speaker Nabih Berri on Sunday hoped a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers will pave the ground for a “settlement” in war-torn Syria, after he arrived in Tehran for an official visit. Speaking to reporters at an airport in the Iranian capital, Berri thanked his Iranian counterpart Ali Larijani for inviting him to visit the Islamic republic, hoping his talks there will “strengthen relations between the two countries, especially that this visit comes amid a very delicate period.” “Who said that there are no births in politics? Right now, politics is being born in Iran, specifically in Tehran, after this (nuclear) agreement, or this international deal,” Berri was quoted as saying by Lebanon's National News Agency. The speaker reminded that he had noted that such an agreement would represent a “political nuclear bomb,” adding that the deal is “in the interest of peace in the Arab region and the Islamic world.”Berri also hoped the agreement will “pave the ground for a settlement in brotherly Syria and for restoring confidence between Arabs and Iran. The speaker is accompanied by a parliamentary delegation comprising MPs Abdul Latif al-Zein, Hagop Pakradounian, Ghazi Zoaiter, Ali Fayyad and Qassem Hashem.According to NNA, Berri is scheduled to hold talks Monday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Speaker Larijani on "bilateral ties between the two countries, the developments in the region and parliamentary cooperation." Iran and world powers reached a preliminary accord Sunday curbing Tehran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, the biggest breakthrough in a decade-old standoff. Berri's visit to Tehran comes days after a twin suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed 25 people, including Iran's cultural attache, and wounded dozens others. The bombing outside the embassy in Bir Hassan was claimed by the Qaida-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
Bomb Found in Taamir Ain el-Hilweh, Palestinian Suspects Arrested
Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/A bomb was found Sunday evening in the Taamir Ain el-Hilweh area in Sidon and two Palestinians were arrested after planting the explosive device. “The army intelligence captured the Palestinian brothers Alaa and Ahmed al-Saleh as they were planting a bomb targeted against members of al-Dirani family who belong to the (Hizbullah-affiliated) Resistance Brigades in Sidon,” state-run National News Agency reported. “An army unit cordoned off the al-Taamir al-Tahtani area near al-Zaatari High School where the bomb was found and an army military expert examined the explosive device and started dismantling it ahead of determining its weight and components,” NNA said. The agency added that the two suspects were taken to an army barracks in the city for interrogation. Earlier on Sunday, LBCI and al-Jadeed TV networks had also reported that the two men were arrested while planting a bomb targeted against al-Dirani family. The development comes days after a twin suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed 25 people, including Iran's cultural attache, and wounded dozens others. Following investigations and DNA tests, the two suicide bombers have been identified as Moein Abu Dahr, who hails from Sidon, and Palestinian national Adnan Mohammed from the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp. Mohammed lived in Zahrani near Sidon and both men were staunch supporters of fugitive Islamist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir. A Facebook page apparently belonging to Abu Dahr, which had been taken down by Saturday, expressed support for al-Qaida and for Asir, whom he vowed to "avenge" after the army overran the cleric's headquarters in the Sidon suburb of Abra following a deadly battle. Asir, also from Sidon, is a fierce critic of Hizbullah and had frequently expressed support for the Syrian uprising and encouraged Lebanese Sunnis to join it.
Gemayel Slams Hizbullah for Adhering to Regional Strategy,
Says Lebanon Can't Bear Results of its Actions
Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/Phalange leader Amin Gemayel lashed out at Hizbullah on Sunday over its involvement in Syria's civil war and for serving regimes abroad, saying Lebanon cannot bear the consequences of its actions. During a speech on the anniversary of his party's 77th establishment in BIEL, Gemayel said: “Through its latest stances in Lebanon and Syria, Hizbullah put itself in front of dangers that neither it nor Lebanon can bear the consequences.”He rejected “taking a unilateral decision in deciding the fate of the Lebanese.” “We are the party of the martyrs and not the party of arms. Don't get the address wrong,” Gemayel said. “We are not terrorized by statements,” he said, adding “we don't look for arms but we resist all weapons.” “It is still possible for the state to rise but statelets are rejected,” he said in reference to Hizbullah. Referring to the Baabda Declaration, Gemayel said that the country's rival leaders had reached an agreement at the national dialogue table for Hizbullah's arms to be used in support of the Lebanese state as part of a defense strategy led by the army. Hizbullah's arsenal “should not be in the service of foreign regimes as part of a regional strategy,” he added. He told his supporters and top officials present at the ceremony that his “party was in favor of Lebanon and worked for partnership with all the Lebanese. The former president made his speech as the Phalange celebrated the founding of the party and remembered its martyrs, mainly former Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel. Pierre, who is Amin's son, was shot in broad daylight on November 21, 2006 as he was driving his car in the North Metn town of Jdeideh. His bodyguard was also killed. “The martyr lives forever and doesn't die,” his brother MP Sami Gemayel said earlier when he took to the podium along with Pierre's two sons. “The more you try to kill the Phalange,” the more the supporters of the party will expand, the lawmaker said.
A video was broadcast on the young Gemayel's life during the ceremony in BIEL, showing a monument in his memory at the entrance of Nahr al-Kalb tunnel.
In his speech, Amin Gemayel warned that the level of confessionalism is rising in Lebanon's political life. “This is the real threat that should be resolved before it is too late,” he said. “We still believe in Lebanon despite desperation … and the paralysis of institutions,” he said. “Our belief in Lebanon is stronger than all challenges.” The Phalange leader called for partnership among the Lebanese – Christians and Muslims - to resolve its crises and for making initiatives to end the shattered state of the country. Turning to the presidential elections that should be held next year when Michel Suleiman's term expires in May, Gemayel said: “Lebanon is awaiting a new president who safeguards the free patriotic decision and is aware of the consequences of the regional and international conflicts.”He called for a head of state who proposes a plan to salvage the nation and who is brave enough to take an independent decision. On Thursday, the seventh commemoration of Gemayel's assassination was marked by a mass held at the Mar Mikhael Church in the North Metn town of Bikfaya. “We have overcome a lot of challenges because of him,” said Amin Gemayel as mourners packed the church. “He is still with us daily,” he said.
Israel Says Iran Deal 'Historic Mistake' that Gave it 'Greatest Diplomatic Victory'
Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers as a "historic mistake,” his spokesman said. "PM Netanyahu: What was achieved yesterday in Geneva is not a historic agreement but rather a historic mistake," Ofir Gendelman posted on his official Twitter account, quoting Netanyahu's comments to a weekly cabinet meeting. Earlier, Netanyahu's office said the deal was "bad" as Tehran had obtained "what it wanted." "This is a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wanted: the partial lifting of sanctions while maintaining an essential part of its nuclear program," said a statement published a few hours after the historic accord was signed in the Swiss city. "The agreement allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium, leaves the centrifuges in place and allows it to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon," it added. "The accord did not lead to the dismantling of the Arak plant,” the heavy water reactor being built 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Tehran. "Economic pressure on Iran could have produced a much better agreement that would have led to a dismantling of Iran's nuclear capacities."Israel's President Shimon Peres was more cautious in his response, pointing to the fact the agreement was "an interim deal" which allowed time for a diplomatic solution. In a statement, however, he did not rule out a military response. "Reject terrorism," Peres pleaded with the Iranian people. "Stop the nuclear program. Stop the development of long-range missiles. Israel like others in the international community prefers a diplomatic solution. "But ... if the diplomatic path fails, the nuclear option will be prevented by other means," Peres warned. Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the deal has handed Iran its "greatest diplomatic victory." "This agreement is the greatest diplomatic victory of Iran, which has gained recognition for its so-called legitimate right to enrich uranium," Lieberman told public radio. The historic deal came after five days of intensive negotiations in Geneva between Iranian interlocutors and high-ranking delegations from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany in the grouping known as the P5+1. Israel's Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of a far-right party, meanwhile said his country was not bound by the Geneva deal and had a right to self-defense. "Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself," he told a military radio station. Cabinet minister for intelligence issues, Yuval Steinitz, also said the last-minute changes to the deal were "far from satisfactory" and did nothing to change Israel's position. "This agreement is still bad and will make it more difficult than before to achieve an appropriate solution in the future," he said. Instead, he compared it to a failed 2007 international deal with North Korea and said it "is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb." "Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and (international) self-delusion," said Steinitz, whose responsibilities include monitoring Iran's nuclear program. Source/Agence France Presse
Rouhani: Nuclear Deal Accepts Iran Enrichment, Cracks Sanctions
by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers signaled an acceptance of uranium enrichment in Iran and that punitive sanctions were starting to crumble."Iran's right to uranium enrichment on its soil was accepted in this nuclear deal by world powers," he said in a speech broadcast live on state television. "The structure of the sanctions against Iran has begun to crack," said Rouhani, referring to Western punitive sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, while adding that the "Iranian nation has never sought nuclear weapons."Earlier, Rouhani said the agreement would "open new horizons.”
"Constructive engagement (in addition to) tireless efforts by negotiating teams are to open new horizons," Rouhani said on Twitter after intensive talks in Geneva produced a long-elusive accord.
Rouhani said the deal had been made possible due to "Iranian people's vote for moderation,” referring to his surprise election victory in June against a pool of conservatives. The historic deal came after five days of intensive negotiations between Iranian interlocutors and high-ranking delegations from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany in the grouping known as the P5+1.
The talks had hit snags over a few points of difference, including Iran's insistence to have what it calls its "right" to enrich uranium to be recognized by the six major powers. The White House said such a right was not inserted in the deal, while a senior Iranian negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, said Iran's "enrichment program" had been recognized. His boss Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking to Iranian journalists shed some light on the issue. "This right does not need to be independently recognized. Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and the recognition is included in the article" four of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."The sanctions are being reduced," Zarif said in the remarks reported by Iranian media, adding that the reduction would be implemented within "two or three weeks.” Zarif also said Iran's cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog would increase over the next six month, the period for the interim agreement.Also Sunday, Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed the "achievement" of the country's negotiating team in clinching the deal with world powers, Fars news agency reported.
"The nuclear negotiating team should be thanked and appreciated for this achievement. God's grace and the support of the Iranian nation were the reasons behind this success," Fars quoted Khamenei as saying.
"Resistance against excessive demands should be the criteria for (nuclear) officials," he added.SourceAgence France Presse.
Seven loopholes favoring a nuclear Iran in deal signed by the world powers
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis November 24, 2013, The first preliminary nuclear deal the six world powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France and German) signed with Iran before dawn Sunday, Nov. 24, at the end of a four-day marathon, failed to address the most questionable aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, i.e. its clandestine military dimensions. The accord confined itself to aspects of uranium enrichment and stockpiles. UN inspections were expanded – but not applied, for instance, to Iran’s concealed nuclear sites - or even the Parchin military base where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear-related explosions.
Israel, the Gulf States and others are therefore highly dubious of the deal’s capacity for freezing Iran’s nuclear program where it stands today, least of all roll it back, as President Barack Obama claimed.
debkafile’s intelligence and military sources list seven of the most glaring loopholes in the first-step accord:
1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry boasted after the signing that daily IAEA inspections will take place at Fordo and Natanz. However, cameras are already fixed at both those facilities without an agreement, whereas Tehran’s consistent denial of IAEA access to Parchin is not addrfessed.
2. Secret nuclear locations: Under the heading "Possible Military Dimensions," the last IAEA report noted: "Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.”
The watchdog has received information indicating activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." This was further corroborated by new information obtained since November 2011.
Tehran’s non-cooperation for investigating these findings is not mentioned in the Geneva interim accord, nor was it addressed in the negotiations.
3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran.
This peril too was ignored by the six powers in Geneva.
4. Rollback. While President Obama has presented the deal as a first step toward freezing or even rolling back “key aspects” of Iran’s nuclear program. The fact remains that, so long as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium, even though this is restricted to a low 5 percent grade, it is free to produce as much fissile material as it wants, whenever it wants. This seems more like roll forward than roll back.
5. Enrichment. Obama and Kerry said the new deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. They were contradicted by the Iranian president and senior negotiator as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. So what is the truth? If Iran won recognition for this right, it blows the bottom out of the Non-Proliferating Treaty because, in no time, all the signatories may start enriching uranium with permission from the big powers. Neither is there any point in making Iran join the NPT’s Additional Protocol for snap inspections.
6. Centrifuges. Iran has undertaken not to add new centrifuges to its enrichment facilities, according to President Obama, but there is nothing to stop it from keeping up their production. In the six-month interregnum for negotiating a comprehensive nuclear deal, Tehran wins time to turn out enough centrifuges to substantially expand its production of enriched uranium.
9. A leap to breakout: Far from being static or in freeze, as the Americans claim, Iran is free to step up centrifuge production and boost its stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, thereby accumulating enough material to enhance its capacity for producing enough weapons-grade uranium to break through to a nuclear bomb rapidly enough to defy detection by the IAEA or Western intelligence until it is too late.
The first loophole appeared hours after the new accord was signed:
Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, announced that his country’s enrichment rights had been recognized in the negotiations, after which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised the supreme leader’s guidelines for achieving world power recognition of Tehran's “nuclear rights.”However, Secretary of State John Kerry in his first appearance after the signing denied this concession had been made. He said: “The first step, let me be clear, does not say that Iran has a right to enrich uranium."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lined up solidly behind the Iranian version of the accord, confirming world recognition had been extended for Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, including the right for enrichment.
Out of step with the celebratory mood in Geneva and Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that the deal would not impede Iran’s capacity to gain a nuclear weapon. He challenged President Obama’s words that the deal was a historic achievement and called it a historic mistake, which would not obligate Israel. Israel, he said stood by its right to self defense against a regime dedicated to its destruction. As prime minister, Netanyahu pledged not to allow Iran to procure a nuclear weapon.
President Obama also announced that key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will be “rolled back” against limited sanctions relief and the release of deposits (nettng Iran $6-7 billion in revenue.) He said that no new centrifuges would be activated for the enrichment process, work would stop at the Arak heavy water reactor and UN inspections expanded to daily visits at the Natanz and Fordo enrichment plants to ensure that uranium is not enriched above the 5 percent permitted by the accord. The core sanctions architecture will remain in place, Obama promised, pending a comprehensive solution to be negotiated in the next six months, but no new sanctions would be imposed. Lavrov summed up the four-day conference by saying: "Considering the whole body of circumstance, there are no losers [in the Geneva deal], all sides are winners” - a view seriously challenged by Israel, Saudi Arabia and most other Middle East governments.
World Powers and Iran Strike Nuke Deal
Naharnet Newsdesk 24 November 2013/
Iran struck a historic nuclear deal Sunday with the United States and five other world powers, in the most significant development between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement between the two nations. The agreement commits Iran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for limited and gradual sanctions relief. It builds on the momentum of the dialogue opened during September's annual U.N. gathering, which included a 15-minute phone conversation between President Barack Obama and Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani. Obama hailed the deal's provisions as key to preventing Iran from proliferating. "Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb," he told reporters. The deal marks a milestone between the two countries, which broke diplomatic ties 34 years ago when Iran's Islamic revolution climaxed in the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Since then, relations between the two countries have been frigid to hostile — until the recent outreach between the two presidents.
Obama hailed the deal as putting "substantial limitations" on a nuclear program that the United States and its allies fear could be turned to nuclear weapons use. "While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal," Obama said. "For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back." Although the deal lowered tensions between the two countries, friction points remain — notably Iran's support of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. The United States has accused Iran of supporting terrorism throughout the region and of widespread human rights violations. A White House statement called the nuclear agreement an "initial, six-month step." Specifically, the statement said the deal limits Iran's existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms.The statement also said the accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran ability to "produce weapons-grade plutonium" from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction.
The statement also said Iran's nuclear program will be subject to "increased transparency and intrusive monitoring.""Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community's concerns," said the statement. In return, the statement promised "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible (sanctions) relief" to Iran, noting that "the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place." And it said any limited sanctions relief will be revoked and new penalties enacted if Iran fails to meet its commitments. Those conditions have been highlighted by the Obama administration in its efforts to persuade Congress to hold off on any new sanctions and give the Iran accord a chance to prove its worth. But one influential member of Congress was quick to criticize the deal. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed "serious concerns," saying the United States was "relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years," while allowing Tehran to "keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capacity." Royce called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to "address the many concerns with this agreement" in front of the committee. Kerry flew to Geneva on Saturday, joining forces with foreign ministers of the nations negotiating with Iran to push the deal through early Sunday, as the negotiations entered their fifth day. "Agreement in Geneva," Kerry tweeted. "First step makes world safer. More work now."Kerry said the first-step deal will make Israel — an arch enemy of Iran — safer. He was trying to pacify Israel's vehement opposition to the deal.Source/Agence France Presse.
Canada's Statement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
November 24, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement: “Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. We appreciate the earnest efforts of the P5+1.“Effective sanctions have brought the regime to present a more moderate front and open the door to negotiations. Today's deal cannot be abused or undermined by deception. The Iranian people deserve the freedom and prosperity that they have been denied for too long by the regime's nuclear ambitions. Until then, Canadian sanctions will remain tough, and in full force. “A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Canada and its allies, but it would also seriously damage the integrity of decades of work on nuclear non-proliferation. It would provoke other neighbouring states to develop their own nuclear deterrent in an already volatile region. “We will evaluate today's deal not just on the merits of its words, but more importantly on its verifiable implementation and unfettered access of all Iranian nuclear facilities.”
A backgrounder follows.
Backgrounder – Sanctions Against Iran
Iran remains subject to eight United Nations Security Council resolutions, including sanctions, and 12 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors resolutions for its undeclared and proliferation-relevant nuclear activities. Canada has implemented a system of sweeping and stringent nuclear and economic sanctions against Iran, expanding those imposed by the UN Security Council and our Allies, to compel Iran to engage meaningfully with the international community, including through the P5+1 and the IAEA. The Canadian ban on Iranian imports and exports goes well beyond sanctions stipulated by the Security Council. Canada will maintain these tough sanctions against Iran in order that it take a different path for its nuclear program. Iran also recently agreed to a “New Framework for Cooperation” with the IAEA (November 11, 2013), which includes access to some new nuclear sites in Iran. In order to establish that the Iranian nuclear program is devoted solely to peaceful purposes, the IAEA requires access to all relevant sites, equipment, persons, and documents in Iran. We urge Iran to provide this access without delay.
Six powers clinch breakthrough deal curbing Iran's nuclear activity
By Parisa Hafezi and Justyna Pawlak | Reuters – By Parisa Hafezi and Justyna Pawlak
GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran and six world powers clinched a
deal on Sunday curbing the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for initial
sanctions relief, signaling the start of a game-changing rapprochement that
would reduce the risk of a wider Middle East war. Aimed at easing a long
festering standoff, the interim pact between Iran and the United States, France,
Germany, Britain, China and Russia won the critical endorsement of Iranian
clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. U.S. President Barack Obama said
the deal struck after marathon, tortuous and politically charged negotiations
cut off Tehran's possible routes to a nuclear bomb. But Israel, Iran's
arch-enemy, denounced the agreement as an "historic mistake".Halting Iran's most
sensitive nuclear activity, its higher-grade enrichment of uranium, it was
tailored as a package of confidence-building steps towards reducing decades of
tension and ultimately creating a more stable, secure Middle East. Indeed, the
United States held previously undisclosed, separate direct talks with Iran in
recent months to encourage diplomacy towards a nuclear deal, a senior U.S.
official said. Washington and Tehran have lacked diplomatic relations and been
locked in hostility since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Any new detente
between the two will be opposed by Washington's Israeli and conservative Gulf
Arab allies as it could tilt the regional balance of power towards Tehran.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been coordinating
diplomatic contacts with Iran on behalf of the major powers, said the accord
created time and space for follow-up talks on a comprehensive solution to the
"This is only a first step," said Iranian Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif. "We need to start moving in the direction of restoring confidence, a direction which we have managed to move against in the past."Downtrodden by sanctions, many Iranians expressed joy at the breakthrough and prospect of economic improvement. Iran's rial currency, decimated earlier this year due to sanctions, jumped more than 3 percent on news of the deal on Sunday. Obama said that if Iran did not meet its commitments during the six-month period covered by the interim deal, Washington would turn off the tap of sanctions relief and "ratchet up the pressure".
"There are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon," he said in a late-night appearance at the White House after the deal was sealed. "Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb." But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the deal as it left the nuclear fuel-producing infrastructure of its arch-foe intact. "What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake," he said. "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world's most dangerous weapon," he said in public remarks to his cabinet. He reiterated a long-standing Israeli threat of possible military action against Iran - even as a member of his security cabinet conceded that the interim accord limited this option.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Sunday to reassure Israel, saying Iran's bomb-making potential had been restricted and its atomic program would be more transparent.
"I believe Israel in fact will be safer, providing we make sure that these ... sanctions don't get lifted in a way that reduces the pressure on Iran - and we don't believe they will be, there's very little sanctions relief here - that the basic architecture of the sanctions stays in place," he told CNN.
RELIEF, ELATION IN GENEVA
Some analysts pointed out the risk of hardliners in Iran - elite Revolutionary Guards who see any opening to the West as dangerous - and in the U.S. Congress, which could enact harsher sanctions - acting to scuttle the breakthrough. But big power foreign ministers seemed relieved and elated after Ashton read out a statement proclaiming the deal in the middle of the night at the United Nations office in Geneva.
Ashton and Kerry U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hugged each other. Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov shook hands. Minutes later, as Iran's delegation posed for photos, Zarif and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius embraced. France had taken the hardest line on Iran in recent talks. The West has long suspected that Iran has been seeking covertly to develop a nuclear weapons capability. The Islamic Republic, a major oil producer, denies that, saying its nuclear program is a peaceful quest for an alternative source of electricity to serve a rapidly expanding population.
The United States said the deal halts advances in Iran's nuclear program, including construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor that deeply worries the West as it could yield plutonium, another atomic bomb ingredient, once operational. The accord would neutralize Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to a fissile purity of 20 percent, a higher-level stage nearing the threshold needed for a bomb, and mandates more frequent U.N. nuclear inspections, U.S. officials said. A U.S. fact sheet said Iran had also committed to suspending enrichment above a concentration of 5 percent - the level suitable for running nuclear power stations, which is Iran's stated purpose. Refined uranium provides the core of an nuclear warhead if refined to a high degree. In return, Iran could obtain access to $1.5 billion in revenue from trade in gold and precious metals and the suspension of some sanctions on its automotive sector, and see its petrochemical exports revive.
LIMITED, REVERSIBLE SANCTIONS RELIEF
But the agreement, while freezing U.S. plans for deeper cuts to Iranian oil exports, will not allow any extra Iranian oil into the market or let Western energy investors into the country, U.S. officials said.
Iranian oil exports will remain for now at currently markedly reduced levels. "$4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfils its commitments," the White House fact sheet said.
Much of the sanctions infrastructure, anchored by a Western embargo on Iranian crude oil and a ban on Iranian use of the international banking system, would remain in place pending a final deal aimed at removing all risk of an Iranian atom bomb. "The approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place," the White House said. "The vast majority of Iran's approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted." Relief from sanctions is to begin in two to three weeks, Iran's Mehr news agency quoted Zarif as saying.
"Important and encouraging first stage agreement with Iran. This ... shows it is possible to work with Iran, and through diplomacy address intractable problems," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said via his Twitter account. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the result a victory for all and said the sides should seek a long-term solution guaranteeing Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear energy program and security of all in the region including Israel. "It is only the first step in a long and uneasy path ... (But) the principle of step-by-step (movement) and reciprocity have found reflection in the approved document which has won ... global recognition," Putin said in an email to Reuters.
Leaders of the Islamic Republic welcomed the accord. "This can be the basis for further intelligent actions. Without a doubt the grace of God and the prayers of the Iranian nation were a factor in this success," Khamenei, a veteran hardliner with the ultimate power in Iran, said in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani published by state news agency IRNA. Rouhani, a moderate elected by a landslide in June promising "constructive engagement" with the world and relief from sanctions, said the "outcome of these negotiations is that the ... world powers have recognized Iran's nuclear rights". Rouhani's attempts to repair diplomatic bridges broken by his bellicose predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his success in winning the backing of Khamenei reignited negotiations which had dragged on inconclusively, with the two sides talks reciting irreconcilable positions to each other, for 10 years.
PITFALLS TO IMPLEMENTING DEAL
"Ultimately, it is the Iranian people and the American people who deserve the most credit. Both are responsible for this initial victory by rejecting defeatists who said that a brighter future was not possible (and) diplomacy could not succeed," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) think-tank. But many obstacles remain, he cautioned. "Hardliners in both countries will work harder than ever to sabotage this pivot towards a diplomatic path. Those whose only currency is confrontation will search for any opportunities they can find to undermine and sabotage this interim deal."For now though, many Iranians were joyful. A post in Farsi by Zarif announcing the deal on his Facebook page received 47,979 "likes" in two hours. There was an outpouring of gratitude and many described him as a "national hero". "I am writing this comment with my eyes filled with tears. Thank you for everything ... After many years, you have returned happiness to the people. You have restored hope in our hearts and pride in my country," commented Mehrnoosh Mohebi. (Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Fredrik Dahl, John Irish, Arshad Mohammed, Louis Charbonneau in Geneva, Alexei Anischuk and Katya Golubkova in Moscow, Isabel Coles, Jon Hemming and Yara Bayoumy in Dubai, Caren Bohen and Will Dunham in Washington, Dan Williams and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
U.S., Iran held secret talks on march
to nuclear deal
By Arshad Mohammed and Parisa Hafezi | Reuters – By Arshad Mohammed and Parisa Hafezi
GENEVA (Reuters) - U.S. and Iranian officials met secretly in such out-of-the-way places as Oman, using military planes, side entrances and service elevators to conceal their efforts to lay the ground for Sunday's nuclear agreement. The contacts, first reported in detail by the Associated Press and later confirmed by U.S. officials and a former Iranian official, helped to bring about a deal that could help to end a decade-long impasse over Iran's suspect nuclear work. They also illustrate a U.S. desire, dating to the start of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration in January 2009, to explore whether there might be a way to reconcile two nations that have been at odds for more than a third of a century. After four days of talks, Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, known as the P5+1 - clinched an interim deal curbing the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. The path to that pact, however, included a series of secret meetings - personally authorized by Obama - between top U.S. State Department, White House and Iranian government officials this year, a senior U.S. official said. A former Iranian official confirmed the secret talks and said they took place with the wary approval of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was skeptical of the outcome but agreed to all the meetings to take place. According to the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, key Americans involved in the effort were William Burns, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The two men, at times with other officials such as White House national security staff member Puneet Talwar, met Iranian officials at least five times this year, the official said. Burns, Sullivan and technical experts arrived in Muscat, Oman in March on a military plane - a way to preserve secrecy - to meet Iranians, the official added. The former senior Iranian official, who took part in one of the meetings, said they had the wary endorsement of Khamenei. "All the meetings with Americans had the (supreme) leader's blessing. The first one was the most difficult one as we had to convince our top authority about the positive outcome of such meetings," said the former senior Iranian official.
"WE TOOK A RISK BUT WE WON"
"The leader gave the green light but was not optimistic about the result," he said. "We took a risk but we won."The Oman channel itself was nurtured by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who, as chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee made an unannounced trip to the Gulf state to meet Omani officials. When Kerry became secretary of state, a job he has held since February 1, it was decided this channel would continue to help feed into the P5+1 talks, and Kerry visited Oman himself in May for talks with Omani officials. The U.S. outreach accelerated after the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, as Iran's president in August, an event that appears to have opened the possibility of easing the long estrangement between the two countries. The senior U.S. official said that four of the secret U.S.-Iranian meetings took place since Rouhani's August inauguration, a sign that the United States was trying to exploit the opportunity presented by the Iranian official's ascent. Kerry met Iran's foreign minister at the U.N. General Assembly in September and, soon thereafter, Obama and Rouhani spoke by telephone, marking the highest-level contact between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Kerry also spoke to the Iranian foreign minister by telephone on October 25 and November 2 - discussions that were not revealed by the State Department at the time. The United States was so eager to keep the role of Burns and Sullivan secret that it brought them to Geneva twice this month for wider talks between Iran and the major powers but left their names off the official delegation list and made them use hotel side entrances and service elevators to keep the secret. Asked if the clandestine meetings were instrumental in helping achieve Sunday's nuclear agreement between Iran and the six major powers, the senior U.S. official replied: "Yes."(Editing by Peter Graff)
Obama declares Iran deal 'important
first step' that cuts off likely path to a bomb
By Julie Pace And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama declared an interim nuclear deal with Iran an "important first step" that cuts off the Islamic republic's most likely path toward a bomb. "These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon," Obama said during remarks from the White House late Saturday. The president spoke shortly after the U.S. and five international partners agreed to a short-term deal with Iran that is aimed at making the way for a broader agreement to curb Tehran's disputed nuclear program. Under the terms of the deal, Iran agreed to halt progress on key elements of its nuclear program in exchange for modest relief from U.S. economic sanctions.
Obama pledged to hold off from imposing new sanctions during the terms of the six-month agreement, a position likely to anger some in Congress who have been pushing for even tougher penalties against Iran. "If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure," he said. Some in Congress remained wary about the deal.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, pledged to work with others in the Senate to increase the economic pressure on Iran until it "completely abandons" its capability to enrich and reprocess the uranium needed to make weapons. "This agreement makes a nuclear Iran more, not less, likely," Rubio said in a statement. Obama came into office promising to talk to Iran without preconditions. The U.S. and Iran broke off diplomatic ties in 1979 after the Islamic revolution and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where dozens of Americans were held hostage for more than a year. The June election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a more moderate-sounding cleric, helped pave the way for a thaw in diplomatic relations with the U.S., a historic phone call between the two presidents and this latest round of nuclear negotiations. Obama's outreach to Iran has worried Israel and Persian Gulf nations, which fear Iran is using the negotiations as a delay tactic while it continues to pursue a nuclear weapon. The president said those nations "have good reason to be skeptical of Iran's intentions." But he said "only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program." Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said that while "Iran has done little to deserve our trust," the agreement "has the potential to serve as a valuable stepping stone to a final agreement that can serve the long-term security interests of the United States, Israel, the Middle East and the entire international community."Gutow said any final agreement must not leave Iran able to continue its drive for nuclear weapons capability, or able to easily restart its program at any point in the future.
"The menace of a nuclear-armed Iran needs to be eliminated once and for all," Gutow said.....
Iran nuclear deal seen reducing bomb
risk despite Israeli criticism
By Fredrik Dahl | Reuters –By Fredrik Dahl
GENEVA (Reuters) - A breakthrough agreement between Iran and six world powers to restrain its nuclear program has been denounced by Israel as an "historic mistake" but should nevertheless make it harder for Tehran to build any atomic bomb if it wanted to. By halting Iran's most sensitive enrichment of uranium and stopping other aspects of its nuclear activities from expanding, Sunday's interim accord is designed as a "first step" to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old dispute. However, Iran will for now retain thousands of centrifuges refining uranium - albeit only to concentrations far below that needed for nuclear weapons - and a stockpile that could potentially be devoted to bomb-making if processed much more. A senior U.S. official said the agreement "rolls (Iran's nuclear program) back in some important respects".
Former chief U.N. inspector Olli Heinonen disputed this, saying no enrichment capability would be dismantled. "But it is a temporary halt of many of the elements of the program," Heinonen, now at Harvard University, told Reuters. The Islamic Republic has long denied accusations that it seeks the capability to make nuclear weapons, saying it only aims to produce electricity and isotopes for medical use. "The short-term deal accomplishes a great deal," nuclear proliferation expert David Albright of the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said. For example, he said, it would eliminate Iran's stock of uranium gas refined to a fissile purity of 20 percent, a source of profound concern for the West as it represents a relatively short technical step away from bomb-grade material. Under the agreement that gets it some sanctions easing, Iran must halt this higher-grade enrichment and also dilute or convert its existing reserve of such uranium to a form that is not suitable for further enrichment, according to a U.S. fact sheet. Once this is done, the breakout time - how long it would take Iran to produce sufficient highly-enriched uranium (HEU) for one atomic bomb - would lengthen from at least 1-1.6 months to at least 1.9-2.2 months if the Iranians used all their installed centrifuges, Albright said in an e-mail.
"This may seem a small increase. But with the IAEA daily checking the camera film at Natanz and Fordow, this increase in breakout times would be significant," he said, referring to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
ISRAEL DENOUNCES DEAL
Iran has committed to grant IAEA inspectors daily access to its underground enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, its most contested nuclear plants, the U.S. fact sheet said. "This access will provide even greater transparency ... and shorten detection time for any non-compliance," it said. The IAEA, whose mandate is to ensure no nuclear material is diverted for military purposes in member states, is currently believed to visit Natanz and Fordow about once a week. "This agreement virtually eliminates the possibility of Iran dashing towards a nuclear weapon without prompt detection by the U.N. nuclear inspectors," said Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group think-tank. But analysts caution that no one can rule out the existence of secret nuclear sites in Iran without it agreeing to let the IAEA conduct snap inspections anywhere beyond declared atomic installations under the agency's Additional Protocol regime. Diplomats say they have no clear indication that Iran harbors any such clandestine facility now but - given Tehran's previous concealment of some nuclear sites from the IAEA - world powers are expected to seek Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol as part of a broad, final settlement. Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants - Iran's stated goal - but can also furnish the fissile core of an atomic bomb if refined to the 90 percent threshold. Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, made clear already before this week's talks in Geneva between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany that it opposed the proposals on the table.The Jewish state regards Iran as a mortal threat and wants it to dismantle its entire enrichment infrastructure. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the deal with Iran as an epic error because it left the production of atomic weapons within Tehran's reach. "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world's most dangerous weapon," he said.
But proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in London, said the deal "significantly sets back" Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon without being detected and stopped."Just a few weeks ago analysts were projecting that by next summer Iran might be able to produce a weapon's worth of uranium within a week or so," he said. "Now it will be months."
Still, verification of the deal's implementation will be "full of landmines", warned Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank. "This will require a level of cooperation and information-sharing between the IAEA, the powers and Iran which is probably unprecedented concerning one country's nuclear program."The official agreement text has not been made public. But the U.S. fact sheet said Iran had also agreed not to hook up additional centrifuges of any type, leave inoperable roughly half of the installed such machines at Natanz, and not increase its stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, among other things.
"It is not quite a freeze, but in the most important respects it is," Shashank Joshi, an Iran expert at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, said.
According to the IAEA's latest report on Iran, the country already has more than 7,000 kg (15,400 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, an amount experts say could be enough for four bombs or more if refined to weapons-grade fissile concentration. After sharply escalating its nuclear program since it started refining uranium in 2007 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, Iran now has more than 19,000 installed centrifuges, of which some 10,000 are operating. That would not appear to change much under Sunday's interim agreement. The United States said Iran had also agreed not to continue with construction of its Arak heavy-water reactor, which could produce plutonium once operational - an alternative fissile source for nuclear bombs. Albright said "very tough" issues remained to be negotiated to achieve a long-term comprehensive agreement that would ensure Iran that does not build nuclear weapons. "Iran and the United States remain far apart. What will be the exact limits on the size and scope of Iran's centrifuge program?"(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Ottawa taking a wait-and-see approach to the nuclear deal with Iran
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press –OTTAWA - The Canadian government is taking a wait-and-see approach to the newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran. A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the government hopes to see words backed up with actions. Rick Roth says the government wants to see every diplomatic measure used to ensure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. The agreement reached in Geneva during talks between Iran, the United States and five other world powers commits Tehran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for limited and gradual relief from crippling economic sanctions. In a statement issued late Saturday Roth said the Canadian government appreciates "the earnest efforts" of the negotiating parties, but now it wants to see Iran act. He said Ottawa will evaluate the accord "on the merits of its words, but more importantly on its verifiable implementation and unfettered access of all Iranian nuclear facilities." Roth added, “A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Canada and its allies, but it would also seriously damage the integrity of decades of work on nuclear non-proliferation." U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the deal's provisions as key to preventing Iran from proliferating. "Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb," he said.
A White House statement said the deal limits Iran's existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms. The statement also said the accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran's ability to "produce weapons-grade plutonium" from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction. In addition Iran's nuclear program will be subject to "increased transparency and intrusive monitoring." In return, the statement promised "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible (sanctions) relief" to Iran, noting that "the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place." And it warned that any sanctions relief will be revoked and new penalties enacted if Iran fails to meet its commitments. ecretary of State John Kerry joined forces with foreign ministers of the nations negotiating with Iran to push the deal through early Sunday, as the talks entered their fifth day. Kerry said the first-step deal will make Israel — an arch enemy of Iran — safer.Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program, said there is no reason for the world to be celebrating. He said the deal reached in Geneva is based on "Iranian deception and self-delusion."With files from The Associated Press
Old bones: Vatican publicly unveils
disputed bone fragments said to belong to St. Peter
By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – VATICAN CITY - The Vatican publicly unveiled a handful of bone fragments purportedly belonging to St. Peter on Sunday, reviving the scientific debate and tantalizing mystery over whether the relics found in a shoe box truly belong to the first pope. The nine pieces of bone sat nestled like rings in a jewel box inside a bronze display case on the side of the altar during a Mass commemorating the end of the Vatican's yearlong celebration of the Christian faith. It was the first time they had ever been exhibited in public. Pope Francis prayed before the fragments at the start of Sunday's service and then clutched the case in his arms for several minutes after his homily. No pope has ever definitively declared the fragments to belong to the Apostle Peter, but Pope Paul VI in 1968 said fragments found in the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica were "identified in a way that we can consider convincing." Some archaeologists dispute the finding. But last week, a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said it almost doesn't matter if archaeologists one day definitively determine that the bones aren't Peter's, saying Christians have prayed at Peter's tomb for two millennia and will continue to, regardless.
"It's not as if pilgrims who go to the altar (of Peter's tomb) think that in that moment in which they profess their faith that below them are the relics of Peter, or of another or another still," he told reporters. "They go there to profess the faith." The relics were discovered during excavations begun under St. Peter's Basilica in the years following the 1939 death of Pope Pius XI, who had asked to be buried in the grottoes where dozens of popes are buried, according to the 2012 book by veteran Vatican correspondent Bruno Bartoloni, "The Ears of the Vatican."
During the excavations, archaeologists discovered a funerary monument with a casket built in honour of Peter and an engraving in Greek that read "Petros eni," or "Peter is here."
The scholar of Greek antiquities, Margherita Guarducci, who had deciphered the engraving continued to investigate and learned that one of the basilica workers had been given the remains found inside the casket and stored them in a shoe box kept in a cupboard. She reported her findings to Paul VI who later proclaimed that there was a "convincing" argument that the bones belonged to Peter.
Top Vatican Jesuits and other archaeologists strongly denied the claim, but had little recourse.
"No Pope had ever permitted an exhaustive study, partly because a 1,000-year-old curse attested by secret and apocalyptic documents, threatened anyone who disturbed the peace of Peter's tomb with the worst possible misfortune," Bartoloni wrote. The Vatican newspaper, l'Osservatore Romano, published excerpts of the book last year, giving his account a degree of official sanction.
In 1971, Paul VI was given an urn containing the relics, which were kept inside the private papal chapel inside the Apostolic Palace and exhibited for the pope's private veneration each June 29, for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Sunday marked the first time they were shown in public.
Winners and losers of nuclear deal
Roi Simyoni Published: 11.24.13/Ynet news
Deal reached in Geneva between Iran, western powers left certain sides satisfied, others less. As Iran, US are triumphant, Israel, Saudi Arabia come up short. How does deal affect Israel's Mideast neighbors? Political balance sheet
The historic deal that was struck late Saturday night between Iran and the international community was received with much joy in Tehran, great satisfaction among the biggest world powers and with great disappointment among several Middle Eastern countries. Iran
Tehran is celebrating the accord, as the international community has imposed four rounds of economic sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program in recent years, which has substantially deteriorated the Iranian economy. The Geneva talks and eventual signing of the historic deal pulled the Islamic Republic out of its isolation and allowed it to gasp for air, at least for the next six months prior to signing a permanent deal.
As part of the agreement, Iran received sanctions relief in several fields, including metals, vehicle-aircraft parts and refined oil products (estimated at $7 billion). Most importantly, it was agreed no further sanctions will be imposed on Iran, despite Israeli requests. Additional achievements for the Iranians: They can continue to enrich uranium, though not beyond 5%, and keep their centrifuges. However, Tehran will have a harder time to conceal its nuclear activity, as it committed as part of the agreement to allow increased supervision of its nuclear sites.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani often pitched the nuclear talks as a potential for a "win-win" outcome with the West. On one level, he got his take by securing a deal that allows Iran to maintain uranium enrichment, although at lower levels. His hard-line opponents would have pounced on anything that could have sacrificed Iran's nuclear self-sufficiency. It was likely that Rohani could have gone that route in any event. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said giving up enrichment was a "red line" in the talks.
A 15-minute phone call in late September between US President Barack Obama and Rohani did more than break the diplomatic ice that had accumulated over 34 years. It became a rallying cry for those urging to revive stalled nuclear talks and test the "new era" claims of the moderate-leaning Rohani after his election in June. The UN General Assembly also had a shining moment as the backdrop for the outreach that led to the latest round of talks in Geneva.
Obama received a lot of criticism after he declined to attack Syria and preferred to join forces with the Russians in an agreement that dismantled Syria's chemical warfare arsenal. On the Iran issue, Obama also preferred to choose the diplomatic option over the military one, and for that, he brought out all the "big guns" in his administration in order to reach his target – a nuclear deal with Iran
Diplomats in Washington are satisfied with the deal struck in Geneva because it stops the Iranian nuclear plan, and makes the Iranians obligated to let International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agents monitor the nuclear sites more frequently. In 2009, just months after he stepped into office, Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, before he had achieved any significant peace deals. True to today, he now has two significant accords in hand – one with Syria and the other with Iran. He has earned praises from the international community, but has also been fairly criticized, specifically from Israel and the Gulf nations.
To be fair, the credit for the Iranian deal does not just go to Obama. It is shared by other senior American diplomats, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, who travelled across continents in order to achieve the deal. Next to Kerry is Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who was the head of the American delegation in the Geneva talks.
In 2012, the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize for six decades of "advancing peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." Saturday night, the bloc of nations justified its earning of the precious prize when it signed the accord with Iran and the world powers without firing a single bullet. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton spent the last few months in long debates and discussions with the Iranian representatives, including Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister. During all the talks, Ashton supported a diplomatic solution, and for the time being, it looks as if she has the upper hand in the negotiations, and with a permanent deal ready to be signed that will further Iran from its nuclear ambitions.
Like in Syria's case, Moscow refused to put additional sanctions on Iran, and called for negotiations in order to find a diplomatic solution. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday morning that in the deal that was achieved in Geneva, there are no losers, only winners. But the diplomat that thinks he's the real winner is President Vladimir Putin. Putin, not for the first time, took the military option off the table, and wasn't terribly impressed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pressure when he visited last week. "We must reach an agreement with Iran as soon as possible," Putin said in his meeting with Netanyahu. "We are optimistic about the talks in Geneva." The optimism paid off in the form of a deal. Lavrov was one of the key architects in the deal. He, like Kerry, accumulated thousands of travel miles, met with the Iranian and Western representatives, and at the end of day helped achieve the deal and strengthened Russia's status in the Middle East.
Asian Oil Customers
Sanctions on Iran's oil exports will remain in place during the six-month period covered by the deal, but world powers promise no new economic measures against Tehran as long as compliance moves ahead. This is good news for energy-hungry Asian economies such as India, China and Japan, which have received US waivers to continue Iranian oil imports. The waivers are likely to remain and the prospect of further talks – if the first-step provisions go smoothly – could begin to peel back the wider restrictions on oil sales.
Long before the Gulf city-state was a symbol of gilded excess, it prospered as a commercial crossroads with places such as Iran. Its ports and air cargo terminals were once brimming with Iran-bound goods. Sanctions have sharply cut into the traditional trade and livelihood of many in the large Iranian expatriate community in Dubai. Anything that brings back Iranian business, even in limited steps, is welcome in Dubai. A statement from the United Arab Emirates said the deal "represents a step toward a permanent solution that preserves the stability of the region and protects it against nuclear proliferation concerns and risks."
What didn't Netanyahu try to stop Iran's nuclear plan? He brought to the UN the plans to build the Auschwitz death camp. He brought a cartoon of a bomb detailing Tehran's atomic weapon progress and drew on the bomb a red line, which showed just how dangerous a nuclear Iran can be. Netanyahu and his administration's campaign led Israel into a public debate with the US and Obama. Netanyahu demanded from the world powers to enforce more sanctions on Iran in order to suppress it. He said any deal made with Iran wouldn't be applicable to Israel, and that Israel would remain with the right to self-defense. The deal that was signed in Geneva didn't lead to an interruption in Iran's uranium enrichment or get rid of the centrifuges or heavy water reactor. And if that wasn't enough, there won't be additional sanctions enforced on Iran. "What was agreed upon in Geneva isn't an historic agreement, it's an historic mistake. Today, the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weaponry in the world," Netanyahu said. Even with the loss, the prime minister can count some minor victories, including an increase in IAEA monitoring.
The military-backed leaders in Cairo have rolled back much of the Iran outreach by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government ousted in July. The nuclear deal and the possibility of expanding US-Iran dialogue could cut into Egypt's traditional standing as the guiding force in shaping Western policy in the region.
Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
Even though Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf nations don't have diplomatic ties with Israel, the common worry of Iran's influence and ambitions brought them (according to foreign publications) to secret communications and warm relations on the topics related to defense and strategic interests. The Geneva deal is considered bad news for Saudi Arabia and its neighboring Sunni countries, and Saudi Arabia has already warned that it won't stand on the sidelines as long as the Iran nuclear program isn't stopped, a clue that Saudi Arabia might try for itself to obtain nuclear armaments. Saudi Arabia, which generally dictates the terms for the rest of the Gulf countries, called on the US to raise its tone against Tehran, and it sees in Iran a dangerous neighbor, attacking it for its supposed support in the Arab Spring. After the deal was signed, voices of warning came out of Saudi Arabia, which said Iran may give up on certain things by signing, but is getting for it something in return. One thing is for certain, the agreement will bother the Saudis, which believe anyway that Iran is involved in Saudi Arabia's politics. The only Saudi representative who agreed to talk since the signing was relatively low-ranking, Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Saudi Arabia's appointed Shoura Council, a quasi-parliament that advises the government on policy. "I don't have an official government response, but personally I'm worried," he said. "I'm worried that Iran is giving up something in order to get something else in the regional-political field. I'm worried about giving Iran more space or a free hand to operate in the region. The Iranian government has proved that it has a condemned agenda. No one in the region thinks things will be handled smoothly."Al-Askar also threatened the world powers. If the agreement will let Iran make a nuclear bomb, it will spark a race in the region, he said. "I believe that Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and maybe even the UAE, will take steps in order to obtain the technology."
The politician didn't express a strange opinion in regards to Saudi Arabia's official publications. Last week, before the signing in Geneva, the ambassador in Britain Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz said his country won't sit with crossed arms in front of an Iranian nuclear threat. In an interview with the British Times, he said, "All options are open for Saudi Arabia in order to stop the danger of Iran's nuclear plan." Similar statements, however, were not heard after the signing. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been ideological and geopolitical foes for many years. Saudi Arabia is considered the crib of the Sunni faction of Islam, and Iran is the cradle of Shi'a Islam. Both are considered the leaders of their respective factions in the Muslim world, and are both trying to achieve regional hegemony. More than once has Saudi Arabia blamed Iran in attempts to start revolutions in Saudi Arabia's allies, such as Bahrain, or to start a Shi'a revolution in Saudi Arabia itself. Iran, on its part, has a large influence on its neighbor Iraq, which has a Shi'a majority. Saudi Arabia is worried that a nuclear Iran will act more freely in the Middle East and will try to take power over areas that Saudi Arabia considers under its rule. The United Arab Emirates said in an announcement that the "Cabinet hopes that the deal will be a step towards a permanent deal that will preserve the stability in the region and will protect against the tensions and dangers of nuclear proliferation." Another concerned neighbor of Iran is Jordan. The former Jordanian publicity minister, Salah al-Klab, talked about John Kerry's statement in an al-Arabiya interview where he said the deal would bring security to Israel. "The deal may bring security to Israel, but not to Arab states or the Gulf nations, of which Iran is threatening," the former minister said mockingly.
In the Hezbollah camp, there have already been satisfied voices from the accord, and last week leader Hassan Nasrallah said that both Iran and his own organization come out of the negotiations strengthened.
A member of the March 8 Alliance (identified with Hezbollah) said the deal is a loss for the March 14 Alliance (coalition opposed to Hezbollah and the Syrian regime). The deal forces a new reality on the world. Decision-making in the world doesn't just belong to the US. A member of parliament who supports Hezbollah added: "This is the first time that the US didn't force a deal for the good of Israel at the expense of the nations of the region." Another politician said that the world should pay attention to Israel's nuclear plan.
The Syrian foreign ministry was quick to publish a congratulatory announcement about the "historic" agreement. The announcement said the outline guarantees the interests of the Iranian nation and recognizes its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. "The agreement paves the way for an international effort to demilitarize the Middle East from weapons of mass destruction, specifically after Syria joined the convention for the prevention of chemical warfare proliferation."The announcement also said, referring to Israel, that the only obstacle remaining in order to achieve this effort is the single country that has nuclear weapons and has refused to put its facilities under the supervision of the international agency for atomic energy.
The Syrian publicity minister, Amran a-Zoabi, joined the celebrations and said in a television interview that the deal was a victory for the dialogue over the threats and sanctions. "Israel's position isn't surprising because its common-sense is to attack," he said. "There are countries that are harmed from the agreement, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Their statements establish the fear and anxiety that they have in regards to the deal. This shows the level of coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia in Iraq and in Syria." As a close ally of Iran, Syria is a stiff opponent of Saudi Arabia, specifically against the background of Saudi support of the Sunni rebels fighting Bashar Assad's regime for the past two and a half years.
The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, wasn't one to hide its happiness over the deal. Mahmoud Abbas 's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rodeina, said the deal "sent an important lesson to Israel of which it needs to learn that peace is the only solution for the Middle East, and the world powers have to be wound up in order to advance a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians." He said the Palestinians want a "Middle East free of nuclear weapons," hinting to a nuclear Israel.
An additional congratulator was Iraq. In an announcement that the Shi'a prime minister made, Nouri al-Maliki, he spoke of the giant step forward on the security and stability field in the region and eliminating the military tensions. "The process of confidence-building and stimulating dialogue will continue in a way that will fulfill the interests of both sides by preventing nuclear warfare proliferation."
Roi Kais, Eyal Lehman, AP contributed to this report
The Al-Qaeda Interviews
By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat
The Saudi Interior Ministry has done well to grant Saudi journalist Dawood Al-Shirian the opportunity, via Al-Arabiya TV, to meet with Al-Qaeda prisoners in Saudi prisons.
Al-Arabiya conducted interviews with three prisoners, the most important of which was an interview with Walid Al-Sinani.
Sinani, who is also known as Abu Subay’i, has spent 18 years in prison. He is a figure who will only be familiar to those who paid close attention to the field of Islamic preaching 20 years ago. Everyone who knew Walid, including myself, will never forget him. He was a person who was nice to be around, friendly, full of stories from local folklore and popular poetry. He also had some habits which distinguished him from others, such as personally brewing coffee for his guests, even roasting the coffee beans himself, all the while talking and telling interesting stories.
That is the exciting part of Walid’s character. The part that is disturbing is his ferocious attack on the Saudi state based on Takfirist ideology. He described the state as being tyrannical, not due to any specific injustice or as the result of economic or political demands, as some smart alecks claim. Rather, he raised this Takfirist ideology based on a simple and direct reason: Because the state was not being ruled based on divine law, or at least according to his understanding of God’s law. This is something that led to a belief in the illegitimacy of the military, and Walid at the time became known for his campaign to outlaw the “military salute,” viewing this as being a tyrannical salute. When I saw Walid on television, he seemed the same to me, professing the same ideas, although he has now added calls for jihad and migration from Saudi Arabia because it has become a Dar Kafr (House of Apostasy), or at least according to his own views. Therefore the claims that Walid’s long prison sentence has affected him are incorrect, for he was like this 20 years ago.
The man expresses revolutionary ideas under the pretext of religion. These are precisely the same ideas that he expressed before. He is proud of these ideas and ideologies, and is prepared to fight for them. The ideas form the basis of Al-Qaeda’s discourse, and which provide a pretext for murder, assassination, and terrorism. Walid himself defended the Riyadh Compound Bombings, of 2003, on the pretext of a historic fatwa.
In an attempt to avoid pandering to the street and to the freedom of opinion brigade, which seems to appeal to people who accuse others of being infidels for the slightest thing, the truth of the matter is that these ideas are very dangerous and incite murder and terrorism. This cannot be true freedom of opinion or expression!
Should we allow somebody to advocate for the murder of children, for example, on the basis that they themselves are not physically killing children?
It is important that we speak openly, because failing to do so allows others to play political games, and misuse human rights causes for their own ends.
*Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.
The Deluge Of Lies
Jihad al-Khazen/Al Hayat
Had the lies of Israel and the American pro-Likud gang of war and evil been made of water, the world would have witnessed a deluge greater than that seen by Noah. The second round of negotiations in Geneva keeps stumbling then rising, only to stumble again. The Iranian side is now carrying out negotiations with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in her capacity as the representative of the five permanent state members in the Security Council in addition to Germany. These negotiations are surrounded by a sea of lies with well-known sources and causes.
- The impostor Benjamin Netanyahu told a German magazine that Iran possesses enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb within weeks. International experts, mostly Americans, responded to his claims by saying that this is “absolute nonsense.”
- Yaakov Amidror, who recently resigned from his post as national security consultant in Israel, said that Netanyahu is bracing to launch a military strike against Iran now that the USA is no longer likely to launch such strike. First of all, I don’t believe that Israel is capable of launching an effective military strike against Iran. Second, why would the USA strike Iran while the latter poses no threat to it neither today nor in the future?
- Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington, is an Israeli-American who said that Netanyahu is trying to shield Israel against the threat to its very existence. The only truth in this context is that Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal and represents a threat to the existence of every country in the Middle East; while Iran possesses no nuclear weapons and therefore poses no threat to anyone. Oren told one additional useless lie. He claimed that Israeli experts and intelligence officers revealed the existence of an Iranian nuclear program. The truth however is that Iranian opposition parties revealed the existence of this Iranian program. Oren himself said nothing to deny that. The other truth is that the USA itself offered Iran a nuclear reactor in the last years of the Shah’s era as part of the “atom for peace” project and with the aim of conducting medical experiments. The reactor operates through twenty percent enriched uranium (while the uranium used to make a bomb must have a level of enrichment above ninety percent.)
- The pro-Likud Weekly Standard magazine claimed that the American Administration “appointed” or contracted Israel to carry out a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities. The same column quoted statements that Gamal Abdul Nasser had allegedly made to the Americans. I did not understand what all this has to do with the negotiations with Iran. The piece then recalled that warmonger Senator John Mc Cain turned the lyrics of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys to “Bomb Iran.”
Israel’s supporters want “their country” to strike Iran on behalf of Israel even if this should result in a regional war primarily affecting the American interests.
But when it comes to telling lies, Netanyahu is the best. He tried, during interviews that he had on American televisions, to mobilize the public opinion against the Obama administration. He claimed that the American president offered “a lot” to Iran knowing that all what the US offered was to release the billions of Iranian assets frozen in banks in return of temporarily halting the Iranian nuclear program.
It seems that Netanyahu failed to attract the American public opinion. Several opinion polls have been conducted and the last one I read was carried by the Washington Post and the ABC network. This poll showed that 64 percent of the Americans oppose an American strike against Iran and that only 30 percent support such a strike.
Once again, a lie is being spread indicating that Saudi Arabia and Israel are both allied against Iran. Saudi Arabia does have its reasons to confront the Persian greed in the region. However, it would never ally itself or cooperate with Israel. There is no communication of any sort between the two sides. Anyone who says otherwise is a professional liar.