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Iran War Weekly - April 29, 2012

By Frank Brodhead - Posted on 29 April 2012

IranWar Weekly

April 29, 2012

Hello All – With negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program set to resume in Baghdad on May 23, the broad outlines of a possible settlement have begun to emerge.  The terms of an agreement – or at least a suspension of an escalation of the conflict – would include no new sanctions against Iran in exchange for no increase in the scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment programs.  Also, Iran would agree to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “Additional Protocol,” which would allow the IAEA to inspect sites inside Iran in addition to those which Iran has “declared.”

None of these terms are new; and while all parties have agreed to each of the terms in the past, previous negotiations have collapsed because of bad timing or disagreements about details.  While the optimism established at the preliminary meeting in Istanbul two weeks ago between Iran and the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) has been sustained, there is still a lot that can go wrong.

But as noted below, the Obama administration has been signaling that it is willing to concede Iran’s right to enrich uranium to the level consistent with levels needed for nuclear power – something that the United States has not been willing to do up to now.  Iranhas indicated that it is willing to resume adherence to the “Additional Protocols,” and a meeting is scheduled on May 13 to review IAEA procedures to inspect Iran’s military base at Parchin, apparently a nuclear non-issue, but one that has become a diplomatic sticking point at the insistence of Israel and its allies. 


Another major development re: Iran this week has been the public unraveling of support for the Netanyahu government’s Iran policies by Israel’s military and intelligence establishment.  Netanyahu’s governing coalition is also collapsing (for other reasons), and new elections are now expected sometime between September and November.  Whether this political instability will increase or decrease the chances that Israel would attack Iran sooner rather than later, and without US permission if it came to that, is of course a great unknown.

While cautious optimism might apply to Iran this week, the situation regarding Syria took a turn for the worse.  While the level of violence in Syria has been reduced, it is still very high.  As noted below, a report due on May 5 from Kofi Annan re: the progress of the UN/Arab League-brokered ceasefire is expected to be not too good, and if that is the case France has already pledged to call for UN military action against Syria.  While Russia would certainly veto any such proposal, the United States has raised the possibility of an attack on Syria coming from NATO, perhaps beginning with a “surgical strike” or two taking out a Syrian tank.  What could go wrong?

I very much appreciate the help that many of you have given in distributing the Iran War Weekly and/or linking it on websites.  David Swanson has kindly given me blog space on his site “War Is a Crime,” and so you can read previous “issues” of the IWW at  If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at

Best wishes,

Frank Brodhead

Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)



Understanding Iran's diplomatic strategy

By Gareth Porter, Aljazeera [April 27, 2012]

---- Iran has been developing nuclear capacities in order to obtain leverage in diplomatic talks with the United States. For Obama's advisers, assuming Iran was simply "playing for time" justifies a heavy reliance on "coercive diplomacy", which combines a boycott of the country's crude oil exports and hints that an Iranian failure to come to agreement would open the way for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites. But that conventional wisdom, which the Obama administration inherited from the Bush administration, ignores the accumulated evidence that Iran's diplomacy strategy is to accumulate centrifuges, not in order to support a weapons programme, but rather to negotiate a larger bargain with the United States.


Free Salameh Kaileh!

By Omar S. Dahi and Vijay Prashad, Jadaliyya [April 25, 2012]

---- At 2am on Tuesday April 24, the Palestinian-Syrian intellectual and activist Salameh Kaileh was arrested from his home “without explanation.” This is not Salameh Kaileh’s first time in a Syrian prison. …Interestingly Salameh, though unequivocal of his support for the Syrian revolution, has criticized for different reasons both the Syrian National Council (mainly external opposition) as well as the National Coordination Council for Democratic Change (mainly internal opposition) as not truly representing the revolutionary masses. For Salameh, these sections of the Opposition are unified by two things: neither of them trusts the capacity of the people to achieve change, and neither of them believe that the Syrian regime can be toppled by the Syrian people.



Future of nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1

From IranDiplomacy Watch [April 2012]

---- The first round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries concluded in Istanbul last weekend with a rare expression of optimism and satisfaction by both parties. The two parties characterized their talks as constructive and positive and agreed to resume their negotiations next month in Baghdad. There were several indications over the past few months that the new round of nuclear talks between Iran the P5+1 countries was going to be different than the previous talks held also in Istanbul in January 2011. Iranian officials have made it clear that the next rounds of talks should also aim at removing the unilateral Western oil and financial sanctions on Iran. While crippling unilateral economic sanctions, imposed by Western powers on Iran, have provided them with more bargaining chips vis-à-vis Iran, it should not be assumed that Iran will negotiate from a position of weakness in future talks with the West. In fact, it is a general belief among Iranian officials that Iran is in a stronger position compared to the previous talks which were held in January 2011 in Istanbul.


Iran: Talks with UN nuclear agency set for May 13-14 in Vienna

From the Associated Press [April 28, 2012]

---- A new round of talks between Tehran and the U.N.’s nuclear agency will be held in Vienna on May 13-14, Iran’s state TV reported Saturday in a signal of possible progress after separate negotiations resumed with world powers over the country’s controversial nuclear program. The technical talks in Vienna with the International Atomic Energy Agency come in addition to negotiations with the six world powers — U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — set for May 23 in Baghdad. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA, said the talks will focus on resolving “questions” about Tehran’s alleged attempt to develop nuclear weapons.


Russiawarns EU Iran oil embargo will be costly

From Reuters [April 27, 2012]

----Russia pressed its case against new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program on Friday, saying an European Union ban on purchasing Iranian oil would end up hurting the bloc's member countries.Russia has supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, which Western nations fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons and Tehran says is purely peaceful. But Lavrov reiterated Moscow's opposition to further U.N. sanctions and actions by other nations and groups, including the EU oil ban which comes into force in July.  He repeated Russia's proposal that as a start, Iran could freeze the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment at current levels, while global powers would refrain from imposing new sanctions.



The Obama administration might support letting Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity if it agrees to other U.N. restrictions.

By Paul Richter, Los AngelesTimes [April 27, 2012]

---- In what would be a significant concession, Obama administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to maintain a crucial element of its disputed nuclear program if Tehran took other major steps to curb its ability to develop a nuclear bomb. U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity, which is the upper end of the range for most civilian uses, if its government agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the United Nations has long demanded.  A shift in the U.S. position that Iran must halt all enrichment activities is likely to prompt strong objections from Israeli leaders; the probable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney; and many members of Congress. But a consensus has gradually emerged among U.S. and other officials that Iran is unlikely to agree to a complete halt in enrichment. Maintaining an unconditional demand that it do so could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop the country's nuclear program, thereby avoiding a military attack.,0,353079.story


How Obama Recycled a Lie about Iran

By Elizabeth Murray, Consortium News [April 25, 2012]

---- President Obama has joined much of Official Washington in mistranslating a comment by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad into the provocative phrase, “wiping Israel off the map.” Obama’s falsehood recalls President George W. Bush’s bogus claim about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. However, a literal translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 statement would be something like “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” a reference back to an earlier statement made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, as Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele explained in 2006.


U.S.deploys stealth jets to air base in Southwest Asia

By Walter Pincus, WashingtonPost [April 27, 2012]

---- The United States has deployed a number of stealth jets, its most modern, fifth-generation fighter bomber, to an air base in Southwest Asia, according to the Air Force. The service would not say where the F-22 Raptors would be based, but the U.S. military has recently moved other assets into the Persian Gulf amid concerns about a confrontation with Iran.


Such Nice People: Washington Bets on the Gulf Royals

By Vijay Prashad, Counterpunch [April 26, 2012]

---- The GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab NATO, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Each of these is a monarchy, with the UAE disguising the royals behind a federation and with the Saudis ecstatic to proclaim the benefits of the royal bloodline. They pretend that their great enemy is Iran, but in actual fact it is the idea of Democracy. In Riyadh, Clinton and the GCC held the First Ministerial Meeting of the GCC-US Strategic Cooperation Forum. The enemies of the new alliance were Iran, Syria and the Somali Pirates. To thwart these threats, the Gulf Arab royals pledged to become part of the US’s obsessive desire to build mini-bases to house its missile shield and to hold bigger joint military exercises that would most probably take place near the Straits of Hormuz, on Iran’s front-yard.



Iranmight sign NPT protocol for snap inspections

From the Associated Press [April 26, 2012]

---- Iran's official news agency says Iran might ratify the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The IRNA report Thursday quoted Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Reza Sajjadi. He said it could be part of a Russian framework under which Iran would stop expansion of its nuclear program if the West halts further sanctions. Sajjadi, who has no direct role in Iran's nuclear program, did not elaborate. The additional protocol allows U.N. inspectors to make snap visits to nuclear sites. The West suspects Iran is aiming for production of nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful. The U.N. has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Iran.


Defensive Maneuvers

Iransays it has identified source of reported cyber attack on oil industry

From Haaretz [Israel] [April 28, 2012]

---- Official at Islamic Republic's Oil Ministry tells Fars news agency that Iranian security officials were able to identify a computer virus designed to steal and damage data.


Iran’s Trading Partners Try to Avoid US Wrath

By Jason Ditz, [April 22, 2012]

---- Despite the European Union oil embargo, the full banking embargo and the assorted US sanctions, Iran hasn’t disappeared off the face of the earth and, like any nation, remains active in global trade. It just isn’t as easy as it used to be. With the US Congress and the Obama Administration constantly imposing new sanctions and issuing new threats, Iran’s trading partners are constantly on the defensive, as the countries that haven’t already gotten an official waiver from the US issue statements trying to defend their exchanges of goods and services.



Ex-Israeli Security Chief Questions Current Leadership

By Jodi Rudoren, New York Times [April 28, 2012]

---- The recently retired chief of Israel’s internal security agency said Friday night that he had “no faith” in the ability of the current leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat, ratcheting up the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the defense and intelligence communities.  The comments followed interviews published earlier in the week in which the current chief of the Israeli Defense Force, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, appeared to be taking a more moderate approach on Iran than Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak, although aides to all three men insisted later they were on the same page. Mr. Diskin has been widely thought to share the views of Mr. Dagan — who has been harshly attacking the government’s approach in speeches and interviews for nearly a year — but this is the first time he has spoken about it publicly.


Also useful: Jason Ditz, “Israeli Military Chief: Iran Won’t Develop Nuclear Weapons,” [April 24, 2012]; Jodi Rudoren, “Israeli Army Chief Says He Believes Iran Won’t Build Bomb,” New York Times [April 26, 2012]; and Jodi Rudoren, “Defense Minister Adds to Israel’s Recent Mix of Messages on Iran,” New York Times [April 27, 2012]


Netanyahu readies for early Israeli elections, sources say

By Ophir Bar-Zohar, Haaretz [Israel] [April 29, 2012]

---- Likud sources said on Saturday that the national elections are likely to be held between September and November. Anticipating the coming elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already meeting strategic advisers and survey experts, a political source said. "Netanyahu's associates are pressing him to push up the elections," the source said. One possible cause for holding early elections is the controversial Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from mandatory military service. The law, which the High Court of Justice declared unconstitutional in February, is to expire in August, compelling the government to deal with the explosive issue. The government is also facing other contentious issues, such as the need to proceed with a deep budget slash and the evacuation of illegal West Bank outposts, as ordered by the Supreme Court.


Is Azerbaijan Israel’s Gateway to Iran?

By Jason Ditz, [April 25, 2012]

---- Soaring trade and diplomatic ties, including a massive $1.6 billion arms deal, make it clear that Israel has more than a coincidental interest in Azerbaijan, and Israeli diplomats confirmed as much today, with one terming the nation the key to Israel’s “regional aspirations.” For the “why” of Israel’s recent interest in Azerbaijan, one need only look at a map. The considerable border with Iran and Russia has long made the nation a notorious stomping ground for spies, and few have put as much effort into “infiltrating” Iran with spies, assassins and saboteurs than Israel. Some reports have even had Israel securing airbases inside Azerbaijan that would be used in its oft-threatened attack on Iran, though this claim has been repeatedly denied by officials.



Civil war or foreign intervention? Deadlock over Syria

By Alain Gresh, Le Monde diplomatique [April 2012]

---- The Syrian people, like the Egyptians and others across the Arab world, are reviving the desires and ambitions that they abandoned after the Arab defeat in the 1967 war. The outcome, and who will influence it, can’t be predicted. The result is total deadlock. The opposition cannot bring down the government, and the government cannot put down an uprising that has a surprising determination and courage. It would be impossible to return to the status quo ante: the government could never maintain the control it used to have over a nation that has been politicised over the last few months.  There is a real risk of civil war, which could spill into Lebanon and Iraq. Foreign military intervention would intensify sectarian fighting and make the gun the only arbiter of religious divisions. It could destroy hopes of democracy in the region.


Maneuvers and Negotiations

UN Chief: Syria ‘Not Complying’ With Peace Pledge

By Jason Ditz, [April 26, 2012]

---- Though the final word on the state of the Syrian ceasefire is expected to come on May 5 in a statement by special envoy Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today issued a statement accusing the regime of “not complying” with the terms of the agreement. The statement cited some heavy weaponry remaining in major population centers as well as army personnel, saying that Ban was “deeply troubled” by that. Reports have more fighting today in the city of Hama, though both sides blamed the other for the violation. And while it’s clear the ceasefire is far from solidly in place, violence is definitely down in the two weeks since it came into place. The expectation of an imminent collapse has both sides issuing statements making it clear that they believe the other side is entirely to blame. Ban’s statement is likely to add to Western calls for the UN to invade Syria. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe made it clear yesterday that they plan to push a vote on the issue as soon as Annan’s statement is released.


Cease-Fire in Syria Exposes Heavy Price of Just Buying Time

By Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times [April 28, 2012]

---- A United Nations-backed cease-fire has neither stopped the fighting in Syria nor forced the government to pull its troops from civilian neighborhoods. It has been called a failure by activists still dodging bullets on the streets of Syria and by senior Obama administration officials questioned in Congress last week. But no one has offered a plausible alternative. The result is a bloody stalemate, with the West still endorsing a peace plan even while calling it unrealistic, and the Syrian government, if anything, empowered by the paralysis, even more confident it can weather the fractured and diffuse international pressure. A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of diplomatic negotiations, said Washington would not wait the full 90 days to try to end the mission if there was no sign of compliance. In the midst of an election campaign, the Obama administration will try to avoid getting entangled in a new Middle East war. But one plan believed under consideration is a short, sharp airstrike on tanks or other limited targets, a kind of shot over the bow warning the Assad military that it cannot act with impunity forever, said George Lopez, a professor at the University of Notre Dame and longtime United Nations adviser.


France: UN Should Prepare to Attack Syria

By Jason Ditz, [April 25, 2012]

---- It may take quite some time for the UN to ratchet up its ceasefire monitoring mission in Syria, currently involving people, to the 300 agreed to by Syria last week. France isn’t planning to wait that long, however, and is already poised to push for a UN war against Syria within the next two weeks. “We cannot allow ourselves to be defied by the current regime,” insisted French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who expected to put the war to a vote after a May 5 report by Kofi Annan on the “state of the ceasefire.” The report’s content will likely be highly politicized, but with a number of UN Security Council members keen to use it as an excuse for war, it is virtually a foregone conclusion that it will be phrased vaguely enough to allow such a vote to proceed.


Also illuminating :Anne Marie Slaughter, “Mind the Neighbours,” Aljazeera [April 2012] [FB  - Slaughter, a professor at Princeton and a war hawk, expands on Hillary Clinton’s observation last week that Syrian gunfire into Turkey could trigger (and “legitimize”) a NATO attack on Syria.]


Inside Syria

Rare inside view of Syria’s rebels finds a force vowing to fight on

By David Enders, McClatchy Newspapers [April 23, 2012]

---- After more than six months of fighting, Syria’s largest rebel group appears to have developed into a resilient guerrilla force, unable perhaps to hold large swaths of territory for very long but still capable of inflicting heavy casualties on the Syrian military and operating fluidly within supportive populations. The story of the Katiba Farouq, or the Farouq Brigade, has been eclipsed over the past year by news coverage that’s remained focused on the Syrian government’s shelling of urban neighborhoods. But in the months since they took up arms in August, Farouq fighters have discovered the Syrian military’s weaknesses, and despite some reversals, still appear capable of inflicting heavy casualties whenever the Syrian army attempts to enter rebel-held areas.


Why is the I.A.E.A. and the Western powers, which corrupted its agencies, with duplicitous arses, dictating the terms to Iran, of NON EXISTING NUCLEAR weapons, while SILENT ON ISRAEL'S /U.S. nuclear arsenals.????  Then using its own lies for sanctions , NOT AGAINST ISRAEL, but against Iran.    THE U.N. NEEDS TO CLEAN HOUSE AND DISMANTLE THE CORRUPT SECURITY COUNCIL , CORRUPT HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, CORRUPT INTERNATIONAL LAWS and end WESTERN BRIBERY, THREATS AND WAR CRIMES, WAR CRIMINALS, BY PROSECUTING THESE THUGS THEMSELVES.


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