Archive for the 'Iran' Category

There will be growth in the spring

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

NYT:

I think that it’s important to recognize that Iran is a complicated country — just like we’re a complicated country

More wisdom here. Help!

2 Voices

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Thomas Sowell, who was born in 1930, and hence knows some things:

Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may — probably will — be the most catastrophic decision in human history.

So there’s The Voice of Doom, and then again there’s The Voice. It’s a heckuva voice, and it’s almost like that well-rehearsed speech was sincere and everything. (How long ago was it written?)

Bonus unfun: just how bad a deal? This bad.

Les hommes sérieux

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Foreign Policy:

A central concern is “breakout time” (the minimum time needed to make weapons-grade uranium). According to current reports, a deal would ensure Iranian breakout time would be moved back to one year. French negotiators want to ensure that Iran’s agreed upon breakout time will last the entire duration of the deal — and after. They also want a deal that lasts as long as possible. “Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.“Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.

Another diplomat summed it up: “We spent more than 10 years talking, slowly setting an architecture of sanctions, of pressure, defining principles of negotiations. Once we dismantle this, it won’t come back up. So we better get the best possible deal.”

French diplomats insist a political agreement, if reached by March 31, will only be a first step. Tough negotiations will continue. Bruno Tertrais, an expert in nuclear issues who is influential in the French diplomatic community, even suggested recently a series of temporary deals could be a better alternative to a bad definitive deal.

None of this goes against longstanding French policy, though. France has consistently been the toughest member of the European Union when it comes to Iran, going back to the administration of President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. Paris has consistently advocated for firmer sanctions and E.U. sanctions, beyond the scope of United Nations resolutions. In 2012, France was notably responsible for convincing Europeans to ban the import on oil products, despite the objections of many countries.

Nuclear deterrence has been central to France’s foreign policy ever since Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, a pillar that has been largely bipartisan. And just as nuclear doctrine has stayed remarkably stable through the years, so have the officials in charge of conducting French nuclear strategy and proliferation policy, regardless of who is in the Élysée.

In fact, some of the most preeminent positions in the French diplomatic and defense establishments are occupied by career civil servants trained as nuclear strategists who have worked on Iran for over a decade. This close-knit group of diplomats includes, among others, Araud, as well as Jacques Audibert, Hollande’s diplomatic advisor, who both previously served as France’s chief nuclear negotiator with Iran.

These diplomats generally share the conviction Tehran’s enrichment program is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a bad deal that allows the Iranians to keep enriching uranium at dangerous levels will lead to a disastrous game of regional proliferation. Araud, Audibert, and their colleagues know the situation well: They have been engaged in 12 years of talks on these issues and at this point they feel they have little reason to trust the Iranians, or believe regional arrangements with Iran would decrease its desire to acquire nuclear capabilities. But policymakers in Paris might not trust the Americans much, either — and not just when it comes to the nuclear negotiations. French officials no longer hide their dismay at many of Washington’s policies in the Middle East.

Good piece, but they forgot the Chirac Doctrine.

IAEA report

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Excepted from a WaPo story:

Iran isn’t providing needed access or information, nuclear watchdog says…Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, said in an interview that Iran has replied to just one of a dozen queries about “possible military dimensions” of past nuclear activities. Amano said that Iran has provided only “very limited” information about two other issues, while the rest have not been addressed at all.

Amano said that the six global powers negotiating with Iran should insist that the country implement the additional protocol that would allow IAEA inspectors to go anywhere at any time to examine sites suspected of harboring secret nuclear weapons development. That additional protocol, Amano said, will be “very much needed. It will give us more powerful tools to look at activities not declared to us.” Iran signed the protocol in December 2003 and initially implemented it, Amano said, but the country ended its compliance in 2006.

Amano said that near the top of his list of unanswered questions about possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities was the Parchin military complex. He said that the IAEA has information that Iran conducted experiments in a high-explosive chamber there…the agency said in its report that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Even the UN is tougher than the US. What times we live in! Eli Lake has an interesting report too.

Some French policies, now and then

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Now, via WSJ:

“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday. “No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities. In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials. France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran

Sounds like they’re hanging tough, but that’s nothing compared to their policy a decade ago.

Res ipsa loquitur

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Read this TV address transcript:

To everyone celebrating Nowruz — across the United States and in countries around the world — Nowruz Mubarak. For thousands of years, this has been a time to gather with family and friends and welcome a new spring and a new year. Last week, my wife helped mark Nowruz here. It was a celebration of the vibrant cultures, food, music and friendship of our many diaspora communities who make extraordinary contributions every day here in the United States.

We even created our own Haft Seen, representing our hopes for the new year. This year, that includes our hopes for progress between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community, including the United States. So I want to take this opportunity once again to speak directly to the people and leaders of Iran. As you gather around the Nowruz table — from Tehran to Shiraz to Tabriz, from the coasts of the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf — you’re giving thanks for your blessings and looking ahead to the future…

As the poet Hafez wrote, “It is early spring. Try to be joyful in your heart. For many a flower will bloom while you will be in clay.” For decades, our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance — a chance — to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come. Now it is up to all of us, Iranians and Americans, to seize this moment and the possibilities that can bloom in this new season. Thank you, and Nowruzetan Pirooz.

The poet Hafez? Nowruzetan Pirooz? Nowruz Mubarak? Haft Seen? (These from the guys who don’t know basic things about US history like D-Day, the Berlin Airlift, and so much more.) Scott Johnson deconstructs the flapdoodle above. If the three paragraphs above had been broadcast on US TV, would there have been any reaction to the weirdness of such an address?

Cancelled, with malice aforethought

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

We seem to be in an era of hating the past and hyping the future, a recipe for disaster. Huh? — “those who opposed Lagarde said they were attacking the IMF for being ‘a corrupt system’ that fuels the oppression and abuse of woman worldwide.” Funny/sad comments here. Finally, Ruth Wisse speaks for the geezers, the only Americans who seem not to have lost their minds. The young and their mentors in the faculty lounge have created disaster — the question of whether it will be the disaster of the 1930’s or 1970’s is still open…

Picture worth a thousand words…….and from “must” to “should” in 5 years

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Here’s the picture. (It’s not even the faculty lounge that’s doing America’s business; it’s the freshman dorm.) Here are Krauthammer’s thousand words (747 actually). Krauthammer’s piece raises a very interesting point about how things have changed over the last five years. Five years ago, the world was told what it “must” do — over two dozen times in the Cairo speech alone. Now, as Krauthammer points out, the operative word is not “must”, but “should”. As a mental exercise, try to imagine yourself lecturing a billion or more people on what they “must” do. Hmmmmm…

BTW, it’s not as though there are easy answers to these logical responses by Russia, etc, to America’s empty bloviating at this point, but speeding to energy independence, reversing course on Iran, not cutting the military, empowering a red-tape-cutting task force on the economy, and using Google and Yelp and GrubHub as metaphors for health care rather than the USSR — these could be a start.

Through a glass darkly no more

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)

Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…

“Foreign policy clip-joint”

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It is almost impossible to overstate the foolishness of US foreign policy these days. Wretchard gives it the old college try, but he can’t overstate it either. How can an entire establishment be so clueless as to squander most of what was so hard won from the 1940’s onward? No wonder Moshe Ya’alon is so vocal and direct in his criticisms. This didn’t begin well, and the only question is how badly it’s going to end.

Gas attack

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

What passes for wisdom today: “in the old Westerns or gangster movies, right, everyone puts their gun down just for a second. You sit down, you have a conversation; if the conversation doesn’t go well, you leave the room…if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.” Fellow sure likes the sound of his own voice, and he’s far from alone in his naïveté. It’s what they really believe inside the beltway, the media, the media, and the academy. There’s a war on, but only one side is fighting.

Two for two

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Reuters:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers “will not lead anywhere. Hours later a senior U.S. administration official also played down expectations, telling reporters in the Austrian capital that it will be a “complicated, difficult and lengthy process” and “probably as likely that we won’t get an agreement as it is that we will.

Meanwhile, in Syria “all of the most dangerous chemicals should have been shipped out of the country by December 31 last year. In fact, barely 11 per cent” have been. No surprise. HT: PL

Clarity vs. BS

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Zakaria:

This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. Now for the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. He also made clear in the interview with me that the two heavy water reactors would continue in operation. So this seems like — you know, this is stillborn — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about if these are the opening positions.

Clarity on one side, endless blather on the other. (BTW, Zakaria is months late in understanding what was obvious day one.) RMG has more if you’re interested.

Good riddance

Monday, December 30th, 2013

VDH takes a wrecking ball to 2013. Other large parts of the PJ crew do the same to the corrupt and poorly educated media. Meanwhile, Steyn demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything in the last dozen years. And, late breaking news: the Antarctic is really cold. Good riddance to 2013. Funny thing, 2014 doesn’t look any better in some respects.

Life of Julia / Julio and a few other things

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

It turns out that there’s a sort of male counterpart to the Life of Julia. Yuck. Speaking of males, Putin is on the rise, and Saudi Arabia has just about called it quits with the US. Does anyone think that things can possibly get better in the next few years with the clown carnival running the country?

Can’t think about that for too long. Hey kids! Lets’ put on a show! It will be about some people taking a trip and getting lost and all the adventures they have when stranded far away. Oops! It’s about time didn’t do so well, but the creator’s other series about castaways did pretty well. Given contemporary sensibilities, can the movie be anything other than awful?

What’s happening in Iran?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Amir Taheri:

Originally, Iran’s official media had presented the accord as a treaty (qarardad) but it now refers to a “letter of agreement” (tavafoq nameh). The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium, an alternate route to making a bomb. A later narrative claimed that the accord wasn’t automatic and that the two sides had appointed experts to decide the details (“modalities”) and fix a timetable.

On Sunday, an editorial in the daily Kayhan, published by the office of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khameini, claimed that the “six month” period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might “even take 20 years to negotiate.” It was, therefore, no surprise that Iran decided to withdraw its experts from talks in Geneva to establish exactly how to implement the accord. “Now we have to talk about reviving the talks on modalities,” says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi…

Tehran has been in negotiations with Russia and three other littoral states over sharing the resources of the Caspian Sea since 1992. Talks with Iraq over implementing Resolution 598 of the UN Security Council and reopening the Shatt al-Arab border estuary have been going on since 2004. Other talks over sharing water resources have been going on with Afghanistan since 2003; talks over joint exploitation of gas resources with Qatar have been going on for 25 years…

“Our centrifuges are working full capacity,” Salehi said last Thursday…Khamenei’s daily mouthpiece put it Sunday: “If our centrifuges do not continue to turn, no other wheel shall turn for our dignity, independence, power and security.”

And yet our side insists that the agreement is comprehensive and permanent. We live in unhinged times. Worse, really. We have studied these alien cultures for over a decade, and the truth is plain to see. Yet somehow the faculty lounge still can’t understand Taqiyya and Jihad.

Listen and learn

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Regarding Iran:

when I first came into office. Iran had gone from having less than 200 centrifuges to having thousands of centrifuges, in some cases more advanced centrifuges. There was a program that had advanced to the point where their breakout capacity had accelerated in ways that we had been concerned about for quite some time and, as a consequence, what I said to my team and what I said to our international partners was that we are going to have to be much more serious about how we change the cost-benefit analysis for Iran.

We put in place an unprecedented regime of sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy, cut their oil revenues by more than half, have put enormous pressure on their currency — their economy contracted by more than 5 percent last year. And it is precisely because of the international sanctions and the coalition that we were able to build internationally that the Iranian people responded by saying, we need a new direction in how we interact with the international community and how we deal with this sanctions regime. And that’s what brought President Rouhani to power. He was not necessarily the first choice of the hardliners inside of Iran.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we should trust him or anybody else inside of Iran. This is a regime that came to power swearing opposition to the United States, to Israel, and to many of the values that we hold dear. But what I’ve consistently said is even as I don’t take any options off the table, what we do have to test is the possibility that we can resolve this issue diplomatically. And that is the deal that, at the first stages, we have been able to get done in Geneva, thanks to some extraordinary work by John Kerry and his counterparts in the P5-plus-1.

So let’s look at exactly what we’ve done. For the first time in over a decade, we have halted advances in the Iranian nuclear program. We have not only made sure that in Fordor and Natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we’ve also said that they’ve got to roll back their 20 percent advanced enrichment…20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. We’re taking that down to zero. We are stopping the advancement of the Arak facility, which would provide an additional pathway, a plutonium pathway for the development of nuclear weapons.

We are going to have daily inspectors in Fordor and Natanz. We’re going to have additional inspections in Arak. And as a consequence, during this six-month period, Iran cannot and will not advance its program or add additional stockpiles of advanced uranium — enriched uranium.

Now, what we’ve done in exchange is kept all these sanctions in place — the architecture remains with respect to oil, with respect to finance, with respect to banking. What we’ve done is we’ve turned the spigot slightly and we’ve said, here’s maximum $7 billion out of the over $100 billion of revenue of theirs that is frozen as a consequence of our sanctions, to give us the time and the space to test whether they can move in a direction, a comprehensive, permanent agreement

“Comprehensive.” “Permanent.” Danger words. Blather from the faculty lounge. All from the same guy who said nice things about the “Supreme Leader” when the US should have been backing the people. As or more important, look at the oh-so glib lying about enrichment — “we’re taking that down to zero” — which is not at all what is happening.

In all our years we have never seen the likes of this guy. We’ve been saying this for years, but still we are amazed. He says the most obviously ridiculous and untrue things but appears to believe them when he is saying them. It should have its own entry in DSM-5.

Much ado

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Krauthammer:

half a dozen times, the Security Council has passed resolutions which said Iran has to stop all enrichment otherwise there’ll be no change in the sanctions, no relief. Which means six times China and Russia – not exactly hardliners on Iran – have signed on to this. And what is the result of this agreement? Iran retains the right to enrich. It continues to enrich during the six months. It is promised a final deal in which we’re going to work out the details of its enrichment. And remember, enrichment is the dam against all proliferation. Once a country anywhere can start to enrich there is no containing its nuclear capacity. So it undermines the entire idea of nonproliferation, and it grants Iran a right it’s been lusting for for a decade. That’s why there was so much jubilation in Tehran over this. Second, there’s a relaxation of sanctions which have really caused the Iranians to hurt, to worry about the stability of the regime, and to come and negotiate. What happens on sanctions? There’s going to be a huge infusion of cash which can reduce the inflation, can alleviate the shortages. Already the rial, the currency, jumped three percent instantly as a result of this agreement. This is a huge relief for the Iranians, and it can only increase over time. What do we get in return? I just heard the Secretary of State say we’re going to get a destruction of the 20 percent uranium. That is simply untrue. What’s going to happen is the 20 percent enriched uranium is going to be turned into an oxide so it’s inoperative. That process is completely chemically reversible

What’s so odd about this deal is that there’s any deal at all. Given that backward countries like North Korea can get nukes, there’s no way short of a big war to prevent Iran from doing the same, triggering a Middle East arms race. However, there’s no reason to aid and abet Iran’s effort and simultaneously outrage both Saudi Arabia and Israel, which makes this deal so peculiar. That said, peculiar is not a strong enough word to describe the obsequiousness of the administration towards the mullahs over the last four years.

There’s battle lines being drawn

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

John Bolton:

Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement. Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.” This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more. Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club.

Benjamin Netanyahu: “What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake. Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world. I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability.”

So all that sucking up to the “supreme leader” worked out. And this picture tells the tale of the current US attitude toward Israel. So does this.

Stepping back, we’re puzzled by this entire situation. North Korea and Pakistan have nukes. How is it that Iran does not have some sort of bomb already? Iran loudly announced its enrichment capabilities seven years ago. That’s a long time, and how does the west know that Iran has only 440 of the 550 pounds of enriched uranium it needs for a bomb? The Manhattan Project was 70 years ago. Iran has now bought another six months and some cash in its current deal. Is six months really a meaningful time frame?

This, that, and the other thing

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

In 1963 Sukiyaki was a big hit in the US. A couple of years later so was Hogan’s Heroes. These things happened only two decades after the end of WWII. Two bad ideologies had been defeated. Life moved on. We’re now a dozen years after 9-11 and the ideology that led to it is still mostly untouched. Not a good sign. It would be a very strange thing if the US’s fecklessness on Iran produced Sunni-Israeli cooperation that resulted in a change in a vile ideology. Probably impossible, but we’re looking for the pony in there somewhere.

In other news, Pigalle is apparently being ruined “by the banal globalization of hipster good taste, the same pleasant and invisible force that puts kale frittata, steel-cut oats and burrata salad on brunch tables from Stockholm to San Francisco.” Have a pleasant Sunday!