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Clarity vs. befoggery: Troglodytes, Weasels and Young Turks

By John Grant

 

I’m a leftist, but I have a weakness for my brothers and sisters on the right. For some reason, I’m compelled to see what troglodytes like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly are thinking. They’re all quite entertaining as they do their best to un-man Barack Obama and advocate day-in, day-out for a war with Islam. They are masters of malicious fog.

Then there’s a writer like New York Times columnist David Brooks, a man who must sit around observing current events until he figures out a safe, center-right position he can express in the most reasonable, muddled language possible. Reading David Brooks is like trying to get a grip on jello.

Who's On First?: The War of the Heads

By John Grant

 

Ain’t no time to wonder why.
Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.

                  - Country Joe MacDonald

 

A Tale of Two Alleged Iran Nuke Leakers

By Marcy Wheeler

Published by ExposeFacts

https://exposefacts.org/a-tale-of-two-alleged-iran-nuke-leakers/

James Carwright testifies before the Senate; 2010 defense imagery photo.

General James Cartwright testifies before the Senate; 2010 defense imagery photo.

Last week focused a lot of attention on New York Times reporter James Risen, who is facing the threat of jail time for refusing to testify in a leak case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. The Supreme Court refused to hear Risen’s appeal of a subpoena to testify in June.

On Monday, a bunch of fellow Pulitzer Prize winners signed a statement supporting Risen. On Thursday, a coalition of press freedom groups submitted 100,000 signatures calling on DOJ to halt its pursuit of Risen’s testimony. In an interview with Maureen Dowd after a press conference on press freedom on Thursday, Risen called President Obama, “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Meanwhile, even as Risen waits to find out whether the Department of Justice will send him to jail to attempt to force him to testify about his source, Sterling also waits, as he has since January 2011, when he was first arrested. The government has done nothing official in Sterling’s case since the Supreme Court refusal to take Risen’s appeal in June.

Sterling is accused of providing Risen classified information regarding Operation Merlin, a bungled CIA effort to deal Iran bad nuclear weapons information. The information appeared in Chapter 9 of Risen’s 2006 book, State of War, which exposed a number of the Bush Administration’s ill-considered intelligence programs.

Risen’s account revealed not just that CIA tried to thwart nuclear proliferation by dealing doctored nuclear blueprints to American adversaries, but that in this case, the Russian defector the US charged with dealing the blueprints to Iran told them the blueprints were flawed. In other words, Risen’s story — for which Sterling is one alleged source  – demonstrated questionable judgment and dangerously incompetent execution by the CIA, all in an effort to thwart Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program.

Sterling’s story, then, makes an instructive contrast with that of retired General James Cartwright, who is alleged by the press, but not yet — publicly at least — by the government, to have served as the source for another story about the intelligence community’s questionable judgment and dangerously incompetent execution of counter-proliferation plots targeting Iran.

A Meditation on Peacemaking: Americans Need to Break the Cycle of War

By John Grant


All we are saying is give peace a chance
             -John Lennon


War Stories: Bad Wars and the Voice of Disillusion

By John Grant

 

      When lo! An angel called him out of heaven,

      Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, . . .

Supporting Democracy is So Yesterday: Washington’s Rats are Abandoning Maliki

By Dave Lindorff 


The rat, among mammals, is one of the most successful animals on the planet. Cunning, ruthless, competitive and above all adaptable -- it is able to change its habits quickly as needed to accommodate the situation it finds itself in.  


When it comes to foreign policy, the US government is filled with rats.

Krauthammer is right: The US Empire is in Decline

By Dave Lindorff


I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. 


Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.


Hillary Clinton: Not the Democratic Savior.

           


            The media is awash with information about a potential presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has the overwhelming support of Democrats, unparalleled name-recognition, and the assurance of more money for her campaign than either candidate had in the historically-expensive Obama-Romney match-up of 2012. Her credentials – mastermind of her husband’s comeback campaign for Governor of Arkansas, former first lady, former senator from a heavily populated state, presidential candidate, former Secretary of State – look very impressive, if one doesn’t look too closely. However, it is high time one did so.

Possibly the Biggest Unknown Known Risks Exposure

A petition to the President and the Attorney General has just been posted by several organizations, including one I work for, asking that the Department of Justice stop threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with prison if he refuses to reveal a confidential source.

This story, among other stunning features, I think, threatens to expose an unknown known of the highest magnitude -- by which I mean, not something lying outside Donald Rumsfeld's imagination, but something that everyone paying attention has known all about for years but which would explode the brains of most consumers of corporate media if they ever heard about it.

Here's a great summary of the matter at the Progressive.  The focus there and in the petition is on the threat to freedom of the press.  But read this offhand bit of the explanation carefully:

"The information concerns a source for a chapter in Risen’s terrific 2006 book, 'State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.' That chapter dealt with a scheme to give the Iranians faulty blueprints for a nuclear weapon."

Not only is the Justice Department (universally understood to take its orders from the White House) trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source, but it's trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source who told him that the United States gave Iran plans for building a nuclear bomb.

Imagine if the general public had a clue that this had happened!

Rather than reporter, I should probably be saying author.  And I should stop attaching the insulting modifier "New York Times" in front of "reporter".  Because this was a story published in a book.  The same book included several interesting stories that I don't think ever made it into major media outlets. 

One exception was a story about NSA mass-surveillance.  The New York Times had sat on that story for over a year and explained that failure as a desire not to inform the public of what its government was up to prior to an election (the 2004 election).  When the book came out, the New York Times finally reported the story.  But if the Times or other outlets have informed the public that the CIA gave Iran nuke plans, I've missed it.  This shocker certainly has not been extensively covered.

The genius plan was to give Iran nuclear bomb plans with some little portion altered. But reportedly it was quite clear to scientists -- yes, even in Iran they have scientists -- which bit had been altered. 

The result was not the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb program.  As Gareth Porter's new book documents in detail, Iran has never had a nuclear bomb program, and we've simply been lied to about that fact for 35 years. 

But, here's the point: if your Uncle Homer knew the sort of moron stunts the CIA was engaged in with a nation marketed for 35 years as a force of evil, the result would out-do by far the outrage heard last summer when Obama and Kerry proposed joining a war in Syria on the side of al Qaeda (which everyone had been told was Evil Inc. up to that moment).

Don't Obama and Holder risk bringing more attention to this lunacy by prosecuting James Risen? Can they really trust the Press Corpse (sic) to bury the substance of the story? 

More to the point: Will we let them? Please sign the petition to the President and the Attorney General.

Negotiations With Iran Serve U.S. Interests

By Nathaniel Batchelder, Americans Against the Next War

Ongoing negotiations with Iran could lead to normalized relations, even a major trading partner with the US. Iran would import US beef and grains, benefiting Oklahoma producers. US firms serving the petroleum and other industries are eager to open offices in Iran and become trading partners.  Releasing Iran’s oil production would lower the world oil price, giving Americans relief at the gas pumps.

As diplomatic relations improve, Iran might well become an ally for regional stability, peace, and the security of US interests.  Iran is the size of Alaska with a population of 75 million and an advanced military. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are western educated and pro-western, reaching out to change Iran’s image. 

TV personality Rick Steves (“Rick Steves’ Europe”) calls Iran “the most misunderstood country he has ever visited.” His 2008 documentary about his tourism in Iran reports a modern and developed society, the majority of whom admire the US and the western world. 

Iran maintains that their nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes - nuclear energy and medical uses.  Skeptics in Congress and Israel do not believe this, but the IAEA, doing inspections in Iran for years, has never reported evidence to the contrary. 

Despite naysayers and obstructionists, the negotiations that Iran agreed to with the P5+1 nations (U.S., China, France, Russia, the UK, and Germany) are on track. There is great promise in the progress thus far:

UN inspectors with the IAEA report that Iran is complying with the demands of the agreement. According to the IAEA, Iran has stopped producing 20% enriched uranium (UF6); has disabled centrifuges producing UF6; has begun diluting its stockpile of UF6 to be complete in six months;  has stopped installing additional centrifuges;  has begun providing information required by the agreements;  and is granting increasing access to IAEA inspectors. 

The IAEA is doubling the numbers of their inspection teams and is installing additional monitoring equipment. All this means enhanced transparency of Iran’s nuclear program for the international community. “Trust but verify” has an honorable tradition in serious negotiations.

38 Organizations Write to Congress on Iran

To: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

As negotiations proceed between the P5+1 and Iran, the following organizations urge Congress to uphold the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and refrain from considering any measures that would violate the letter or spirit of the JPOA or renegotiate the basic terms for a final agreement outlined in the JPOA. We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to ensure diplomacy can succeed in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and averting an unnecessary and costly war.

The JPOA advances U.S. national security objectives by freezing and rolling back key elements of Iran's nuclear program as negotiations towards a comprehensive nuclear agreement proceed. Congress has an important role to play to ensure the terms of the JPOA are upheld by Iran. At the same time, it is critical that Congress not cause the United States to violate our own terms under the deal. The Senate’s decision to abstain from considering new Iran sanctions has helped give diplomacy the best possible chance to succeed.  It is critical that Congress not legislate new sanctions while talks are proceeding, which would violate the JPOA and, according to a U.S. Intelligence Community assessment, “would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”

Furthermore, Congress should refrain from issuing ultimatums that would contradict the broad terms outlined in the JPOA for what may constitute a final deal. The JPOA is clear that a final agreement would "Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs", albeit one which in the words of Under Secretary Wendy Sherman would have to be “highly constrained, highly monitored, and verified on a quite regular basis.” The issuance of ultimatums through legislation or resolutions expressly or implicitly calling for zero enrichment and complete dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would only contradict the terms of the JPOA and jeopardize negotiations towards a final agreement. Any ultimatums beyond the goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran can only serve to tie the hands of our negotiators, empower Iranian hardliners and prevent creative solutions to resolve the serious issues that remain.

Finally, the JPOA is also clear that, if Iran makes the necessary concessions to meet the terms required in a final comprehensive nuclear agreement, nuclear-related sanctions will be lifted. To ensure a final deal can be reached, Congress and the administration must work together to ensure that, in exchange for verifiable Iranian concessions that provide concrete assurances against nuclear weaponization, the necessary authorities exist to lift sanctions.

The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are an essential opportunity for the United States and its negotiating partners to secure an agreement that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon and averts a war.  We are hopeful that Congress and the Administration will work together to ensure diplomacy can succeed so that these important national security goals can be achieved.

Signed,
Ameinu
American Friends Service Committee
Americans for Peace Now
Arab American Institute
Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
Center for International Policy
CODEPINK
CREDO
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
GlobalSolutions.org
International Civil Society Action Network
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace
J Street
Just Foreign Policy
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
MoveOn.org
National Council of Churches
National Iranian American Council
Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Peace Action
Peace Action West
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Progressive Democrats of America
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
The Shalom Center
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Veterans for Peace
WarIsACrime.org
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

OVER 100 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL FOR DIPLOMACY WITH IRAN

Washington, D.C. — Days before talks on a permanent agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran are set to begin in Vienna, 104 Members of the US House of Representatives sent President Obama a bipartisan letter supporting continued diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Representative David Price (D-NC) said, “I believe that we must take advantage of the opportunity before us to pursue a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, and that we must resist calls by some in Congress to prematurely enact a bill or resolution that risks inadvertently derailing or impeding our ongoing negotiations.”

“While difficult and uncertain, diplomacy represents our best hope to prevent nuclear weapons in Iran and ensure the safety of our families and others around the world. Congress should not undermine diplomacy by giving the Iranian hardliners an excuse to scuttle the negotiations. So many of our colleagues have expressed their determination for diplomacy, and so many more share the same view,” added Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.

The text of the letter and the list of signers in alphabetical order are included below.

***
Dear Mr. President,

As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.

The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.

We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.
Sincerely,


1 CA Bass
2 OH Beatty
3 GA Bishop, Sanford
4 OR Blumenauer
5 Guam Bordallo
6 FL Brown
7 NC Butterfield, GK
8 CA Capps
9 MA Capuano
10 IN Carson
11 PA Cartwright
12 VI Christensen
13 NY Clarke, Yvette
14 MO Clay
15 MO Cleaver
16 SC Clyburn
17 TN Cohen
18 VA Connolly
19 MI Conyers
20 TN Cooper
21 CT Courtney
22 MD Cummings
23 IL Davis, Danny
24 OR DeFazio
25 CO DeGette
26 CT DeLauro
27 MI Dingell
28 TX Doggett
29 TN Duncan Jr (R)
30 MD Edwards
31 MN Ellison
32 IL Enyart
33 CA Eshoo
34 CA Farr
35 IL Foster
36 OH Fudge, Marcia
37 CA Garamendi
38 AZ Grijalva
39 IL Gutierrez
40 NY Hanna (R)
41 NJ Holt
42 CA Huffman
43 TX Jackson-Lee
44 TX Johnson, EB
45 GA Johnson, Hank
46 NC Jones, Walter (R)
47 OH Kaptur
48 MA Keating
49 IL Kelly, Robin
50 MI Kildee
51 NH Kuster
52 CT Larson
53 CA Lee, Barbara
54 GA Lewis
55 IA Loebsack
56 CA Lofgren
57 MA Lynch, Stephen
58 UT Matheson
59 KY Massie (R)
60 NY McCarthy
61 MN McCollum
62 WA McDermott
63 MA McGovern
64 CA McNerney, Jerry
65 NY Meeks
66 CA Miller, George
67 WI Moore
68 VA Moran, Jim
69 CA Negrete McLeod
70 MN Nolan
71 DC Norton
72 TX O'Rourke
73 AZ Pastor
74 NJ Payne
75 PR Pierluisi
76 ME Pingree
77 WI Pocan
78 CO Polis
79 NC Price, David
80 WV Rahall
81 NY Rangel
82 CA Roybal-Allard
83 MD Ruppersberger
84 IL Rush
85 OH Ryan, Tim
86 NMI Sablan
87 IL Schakowsky
88 VA Scott, Bobby
89 NH Shea-Porter
90 NY Slaughter
91 CA Speier
92 CA Takano
93 MI Thompson, Bennie
94 CA Thompson, Mike
95 MA Tierney
96 NY Tonko
97 MA Tsongas
98 MD Van Hollen
99 NY Velazquez
100 IN Visclosky
101 MN Walz
102 CA Waters
103 VT Welch
104 KY Yarmuth

Talk Nation Radio: Gareth Porter: Iran Has Never Had a Nuclear Weapons Program

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talknationradio-20140212

Gareth Porter discussed his new book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

U.S. “Dismantling” Rhetoric Ignores Iran’s Nuclear Proposals

 

John Kerry's rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations.  Credit: US Mission/Eric Bridiers

By Gareth Porter

John Kerry's rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations. Credit: US Mission/Eric Bridiers

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 2014 (IPS- Iran’s pushback against statements by Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House that Tehran must “dismantle” some of its nuclear programme, and the resulting political uproar over it, indicates that tough U.S. rhetoric may be adding new obstacles to the search for a comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto Wednesday, “We are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching over five percent.”

When CNN’s Fareed Zakaria asked President Hassan Rouhani, “So there would be no destruction of centrifuges?” Rouhani responded, “Not under any circumstances. Not under any circumstances.”

Those statements have been interpreted by U.S. news media, unaware of the basic technical issues in the negotiations, as indicating that Iran is refusing to negotiate seriously. In fact, Zarif has put on the table proposals for resolving the remaining enrichment issues that the Barack Obama administration has recognised as serious and realistic.

The Obama administration evidently views the rhetorical demand for “dismantling” as a minimum necessary response to Israel’s position that the Iranian nuclear programme should be shut down. But such rhetoric represents a serious provocation to a Tehran government facing accusations of surrender by its own domestic critics.

Zarif complained that the White House had been portraying the agreement “as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme. That is the word they use time and again.” Zarif observed that the actual agreement said nothing about “dismantling” any equipment.

The White House issued a “Fact Sheet” Nov. 23 with the title, “First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program” that asserted that Iran had agreed to “dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.”

That wording was not merely a slight overstatement of the text of the “Joint Plan of Action”. At the Fordow facility, which had been used exclusively for enrichment above five percent, Iran had operated four centrifuge cascades to enrich at above five percent alongside 12 cascades that had never been operational because they had never been connected after being installed, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported.

The text of the agreement was quite precise about what Iran would do: “At Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium, and not increase enrichment capacity. Not feed UF6 into the other 12 cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections between cascades.”

So Iran was not required by the interim agreement to “dismantle” anything. What Zarif and Rouhani were even more upset about, however, is the fact that Kerry and Obama administration spokespersons have repeated that Iran will be required to “dismantle” parts of its nuclear programme in the comprehensive agreement to be negotiated beginning next month.

The use of the word “dismantle” in those statements appears to be largely rhetorical and aimed at fending off attacks by pro-Israel political figures characterising the administration’s negotiating posture as soft. But the consequence is almost certain to be a narrowing of diplomatic flexibility in the coming negotiations.

Kerry appears to have concluded that the administration had to use the “dismantle” language after a Nov. 24 encounter with George Stephanopoulos of NBC News.

Stephanopoulos pushed Kerry hard on the Congressional Israeli loyalist criticisms of the interim agreement. “Lindsey Graham says unless the deal requires dismantling centrifuges, we haven’t gained anything,” he said.

When Kerry boasted, “centrifuges will not be able to be installed in places that could otherwise be installed,” Stephanopoulos interjected, “But not dismantled.” Kerry responded, “That’s the next step.”

A moment later, Kerry declared, “And while we go through these next six months, we will be negotiating the dismantling, we will be negotiating the limitations.”

After that, Kerry made “dismantle” the objective in his prepared statement. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Dec. 11, Kerry said the U.S. had been imposing sanctions on Iran “because we knew that [the sanctions] would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear programme.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed Zarif’s comment as “spin” on Iran’s commitments under the Joint Plan of Action “for their domestic political purposes”.

He refused to say whether that agreement involved any “dismantling” by Iran, but confirmed that, “as part of that comprehensive agreement, should it be reached, Iran will be required to agree to strict limits and constraints on all aspects of its nuclear programme to include the dismantlement of significant portions of its nuclear infrastructure in order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in the future.”

But the State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, was much less categorical in a press briefing Jan. 13: “We’ve said that in a comprehensive agreement, there will likely have to be some dismantling of some things.”

That remark suggests that the Kerry and Carney rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations.

Kerry and other U.S. officials involved in the negotiations know that Iran does not need to destroy any centrifuges in order to resolve the problem of “breakout” to weapons grade enrichment once the stockpile of 20- percent enriched uranium disappears under the terms of the interim agreement.

Zarif had proposed in his initial power point presentation in October a scheme under which Iran would convert its entire stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium into an oxide form that could only be used for fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor.

U.S. officials who had previously been insistent that Iran would have to ship the stockpile out of the country were apparently convinced that there was another way to render it “unusable” for the higher-level enrichment necessary for nuclear weapons. That Iranian proposal became the central element in the interim agreement.

But there was another part of Zarif’s power point that is relevant to the remaining problem of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium: Iran’s planned conversion of that stockpile into the same oxide form for fuel rods for nuclear power plants as was used to solve the 20-percent stockpile problem.

And that plan was accepted by the United States as a way of dealing with additional low-enriched uranium that would be produced during the six-month period.

An element included in the Joint Plan of Action which has been ignored thus far states: “Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.”

The same mechanism – the conversion of all enriched uranium to oxide on an agreed time frame — could also be used to ensure that the entire stockpile of low-enriched uranium could no longer be used for “breakout” to weapons-grade enrichment without the need to destroy a single centrifuge. In fact, it would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a low level for a nuclear power programme.

The Obama administration’s rhetoric of “dismantlement”, however, has created a new political reality: the U.S. news media has accepted the idea that Iran must “dismantle” at least some of its nuclear programme to prove that it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo was shocked by the effrontery of Zarif and Rouhani. “That’s supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the United States perspective,” Cuomo declared, “is that they scale back, they dismantle, all this stuff we’ve been hearing.”

Yet another CNN anchor, Wolf Blitzer, who was an official of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee before becoming a network journalist, called Zarif’s statements “stunning and truly provocative,” adding that they would “give ammunition” to those in Congress pushing for a new sanctions bill that is clearly aimed at sabotaging the negotiations.

The Obama administration may be planning to exercise more diplomatic flexibility to agree to solutions other than demanding that Iran “dismantle” large parts of its “nuclear infrastructure”.

But using such rhetoric, rather than acknowledging the technical and diplomatic realities surrounding the talks, threatens to create a political dynamic that discourages reaching a reasonable agreement and leaves them unresolved.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”, will be published in February 2014.

They Never Announce When You Prevent a War

There exists, I suppose, some slight chance of this one making it into the State of the Union address, no doubt in a distorted, bellicose, and xenophobic disguise.  Typically, there's no chance of any announcement at all. 

We're stopping another war.

There are a million qualifications that need to be put on that statement.  None of them render it false.  A bill looked likely to move through Congress that would have imposed new sanctions on Iran, shredded the negotiated agreement with Iran, and committed the United States to join in any Israeli war on Iran.  This would be a step toward war and has become understood as such by large numbers of people.  Efforts to sell sanctions as an alternative to war failed. Tons of pushback has come, and is still coming, from the public, including from numerous organizations not always known for their opposition to war.  And the bill, for the moment, seems much less likely to pass. 

This is no time to let up, but to recognize our power and press harder for peace.

Pushback against the sanctions bill has come from the White House, from within the military, and from elsewhere within the government. But this bill was something the warmongers wanted, AIPAC wanted, a majority of U.S. senators wanted, and corporate media outlets were happy to support.  The underlying pretense that Iran has a nuclear weapons program that endangers the world had the support of the White House and most other opponents of the March-to-War bill.  That pretense has been successfully sold to much of the public. The additional supporting pretense that sanctions have helped, rather than hindered, diplomacy has similar widespread backing. But when it comes to a measure understood as a step into war, the public is saying no, and that public response is a factor in the likely outcome.

In this instance, President Obama has been on the right side of the debate. I've never known that to actually be true before. But there's been a whole infrastructure of activism set up and fine-tuned for five years now, all based around the pretense that Obama was right on various points and Congress wrong.  So, when that actually happened to be true, numerous organizations knew exactly what to do with it. War opposition and Obama-following merged.  But let's remember back to August and September.  That was a different situation in which . . .

We stopped another war.

Raytheon's stock was soaring. The corporate media wanted those missiles to hit Syria. Obama and the leadership of both parties wanted those missiles to hit Syria.  The missiles didn't fly.

Public pressure led the British Parliament to refuse a prime minister's demand for war for the first time since the surrender at Yorktown, and the U.S. Congress followed suit by making clear to the U.S. president that his proposed authorization for war on Syria would not pass through either the Senate or the House.  Numerous Congress members, from both houses and both parties, said they heard more from the public against this war than ever before on any issue. It helped that Congress was on break and holding town hall meetings.  It helped that it was Jewish holidays and AIPAC wasn't around. 

And there were other factors.  After the public pushed Congress to demand a say, Obama agreed to that.  Perhaps he wanted something so controversial -- something being talked about as "the next Iraq" -- to go to Congress.  Perhaps he expected Congress would probably say No.  In such a scenario, the decisive factor would remain the past decade of growing public sentiment against wars.  But I don't think that's what happened.  Obama and Kerry were pushing hard and publicly for those missiles to fly.  When they couldn't get the "intelligence" agencies to back their fraudulent case, they announced it anyway.  Those lies are just being exposed now, in a very different context from that in which the Iraq war lies or the Afghanistan or Libya war lies have been exposed.  Obama told us to watch videos of children suffering and dying in Syria and to choose between war and inaction.  We rejected that choice, opposed war, and supported humanitarian aid (which hasn't happened on remotely the necessary scale).

In the space of a day, discussions in Washington, D.C., shifted from the supposed necessity of war to the clear desirability of avoiding war. The Russians' proposal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons had already been known to the White House but was being rejected. When Kerry publicly suggested that Syria could avoid a war by handing over its chemical weapons, everyone knew he didn't mean it.  In fact, when Russia called his bluff and Syria immediately agreed, Kerry's staff put out this statement: "Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used. His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment." In other words: stop getting in the way of our war! By the next day, however, with Congress rejecting war, Kerry was claiming to have meant his remark quite seriously and to believe the process had a good chance of succeeding, as of course it did.  Diplomatic solutions are always available.  What compelled Obama to accept diplomacy as the last resort was the public's and Congress's refusal to allow war.

These victories are limited and tentative.  The machinery that pushes for war hasn't gone away.  The arms are still flowing into Syria.  Efforts to negotiate peace there seem less than wholehearted.  The U.S. puppeteer has stuck its arm up the rear end of the United Nations and uninvited Iran from the talks.  The people of Syria and Iran are no better off.

But they're also no worse off. No U.S. bombs are falling from their skies.

There could be other proposals for wars that we'll find much harder to prevent.  That's precisely why we must recognize the possibility of stopping those proposals too, a possibility established by the examples above, from which we should stop fleeing in panic as if the possibility that everything we do might have some point to it horrifies us.

Any war can be stopped.  Any pretended necessity to hurry up and kill large numbers of people can be transformed into a negotiation at a table using words rather than missiles.  And if we come to understand that, we'll be able to start dismantling the weaponry, which in turn will make the tendency to think of war as the first option less likely.  By steps we can move to a world in which our government doesn't propose bombing someone new every few months but instead proposes helping someone new. 

If we can stop one war, if we can stop two wars, why can't we stop them all and put our resources into protection rather than destruction?  Why can't we move to a world beyond war?

Protestors in Roanoke urge Warner to back off Iran sanctions bill



Plowshare_at_Taubman2

Note from Dan: The following was sent to me last week by Brent Riley, a member of the Plowshare Peace and Justice Center in Roanoke. They demonstrated outside the Taubman Museum of Art this past Saturday, and these photos are from that.

Currently, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is lobbying Congress hard to co-sponsor their bill to contaminate Obama's negotiating with Iran toward resolving the nuclear weapon problem. Additionally, the bill would obligate the US to back up Israel in the event Israel determined it needed to initiate war on Iran in self defense .... with a pre-emptive attack.

The President has said he would veto the bill because it would compromise the integrity of the negotiations already behind him. AIPAC is trying to work up the list of Senate co-sponsors to a veto-proof number before putting the bill to a vote. This is an epic battle for control of Middle East policy and the stakes are very high. It could make a difference in a regional Middle East war or not.

A big problem for Virginians is Sen. Mark Warner was an early co-signer. He betrayed Obama's appeal not to meddle at this point and he jumped on board with Netanyahu's lobby ... a big problem for those who expect diplomacy before war.

Saturday is the last day for Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace Event at the Taubman.

Please consider making it down to the Taubman at noon, Saturday to show you want respectful diplomacy with Iran, not threats of additional sanctions.  We'll make sure Sen. Warner knows some think he's allowing himself to be a fundamental part of our war problem.

Please tell Warner that you would like him to withdraw his co-sponsorship for the Menendez-Kirk bill, which increases sanctions against Iran. Tell him to support President Obama's negotiations to settle the nuclear proliferation issue without further violence in the Middle East.

Contact Sen. Warner at his Roanoke office: 540-857-2676

Contact him via email.

Addicted to the fruit of a poisoned tree: Thanks to George Bush, Talks with Iran Make Sense

By John Grant


US military history from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is too often a combination of destructive stumbling around followed by an effort to sustain and project forward the notion of US power and exceptionalism. To forge another narrative is very difficult.

Senator Kirk's War Prayer

Senator Kirk was praying to Senators Schumer and Menendez, or rather to his god but for their benefit. He was praying in his office where the three were gathered late at night. He was praying for a chance to drop bombs on Iran.

An aged stranger entered the office without a sound, despite the closed door.  He moved with slow and noiseless step toward Senator Kirk's desk, his eyes fixed upon the senator, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he reached the desk and stood there waiting. With shut lids the senator, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled senator did -- and took his place in the senator's leather chair. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience of three bewildered senators with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the room with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the senator -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the Iranians. O Lord our God, help us to tear their men and women and children and infants to bloody shreds with our missiles; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Apologies to Mark Twain.

Kirk-Menendez-Schumer Wag the Dog Act of 2014

by Jim Lobe Copies of the bill that Sens. Kirk, Menendez, and Schumer hope to introduce in the Senate this week — presumably to be pressed for passage after the Christmas/New Year recess — are circulating today around Washington, and, as predicted, it is clearly designed to sabotage last month’s first-phase deal (the Joint Plan of Action) on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as prospects for a final agreement. The bill is called the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013, although I would prefer to call it the Wag the Dog Act of 2014, given the implicit discretion it gives to Bibi Netanyahu to commit the U.S. to war with Iran. Its key provisions, as described by the sponsors, are laid out at the end of this post.

READ THE REST.

Iran, Israel and the United States

 

            It is a given that no elected Republican government official can agree with anything President Obama says or does. Whether or not this is due to genuine philosophical differences with the president, or, more simply, because he’s of African-American descent and therefore has no business being president, is a topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, not much is getting done in the nation’s capital these days.

            On the international stage, it appears that Mr. Obama has had considerably more success in negotiating with Iran than he has with the U.S. House of Representatives. He and several other nations involved in the negotiations have brokered a deal with Iran, wherein Iran will scale back its nuclear ambitions, and the west will scale back some of its sanctions.

A Pre-Conspiracy Theory: What If Our Premature Nobel Laureate President’s Having a ’63-Style Kennedy Moment?

By Dave Lindorff


I’m going to engage here in a thought experiment which may make some readers a little queasy, but bear with me.

It’s been half a century since the wrenching experience of having a charismatic young president cut down by bullets in what most Americans apparently still believe was a dark conspiracy by elements of the US government unhappy with the direction he was taking the country in international affairs.

Overplaying Its Hand, Israel Still Holds Plenty of U.S. Cards

By Norman Solomon and Abba A. Solomon

More than ever, Israel is isolated from world opinion and the squishy entity known as “the international community.” The Israeli government keeps condemning the Iran nuclear deal, by any rational standard a positive step away from the threat of catastrophic war.

In the short run, the belligerent responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are bound to play badly in most of the U.S. media. But Netanyahu and the forces he represents have only begun to fight. They want war on Iran, and they are determined to exercise their political muscle that has long extended through most of the Washington establishment.

While it’s unlikely that such muscle can undo the initial six-month nuclear deal reached with Iran last weekend, efforts are already underway to damage and destroy the negotiations down the road. On Capitol Hill the attacks are most intense from Republicans, and some leading Democrats have also sniped at the agreement reached in Geneva.

A widespread fear is that some political precedent might be set, undercutting “pro-Israel” leverage over U.S. government decisions. Such dread is inherent in the negative reactions from Netanyahu (“a historic mistake”), GOP lawmakers like House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers (“a permission slip to continue enrichment”) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (“we’ve let them out of the trap”), and Democratic lawmakers like Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (“this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran’s nuclear program”) and Senator Charles Schumer (“it does not seem proportional”).

Netanyahu and many other Israelis -- as well as the powerhouse U.S. lobbying group AIPAC and many with similar outlooks in U.S. media and politics -- fear that Israel’s capacity to hold sway over Washington policymakers has begun to slip away. “Our job is to be the ones to warn,” Israel’s powerful finance minister, Yair Lapid, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “We need to make the Americans to listen to us like they have listened in the past.”

This winter and spring, the Israeli government and its allies are sure to strafe U.S. media and political realms with intense barrages of messaging. “Israel will supplement its public and private diplomacy with other tools,” the New York Times reported Monday from Jerusalem. “Several officials and analysts here said Israel would unleash its intelligence industry to highlight anticipated violations of the interim agreement.” Translation: Israel will do everything it can to undermine the next stage of negotiations and prevent a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Looking ahead, as a practical political matter, can the U.S. government implement a major policy shift in the Middle East without at least grudging acceptance from the Israeli government? Such questions go to the core of the Israeli occupation now in its 47th year.

Israel keeps building illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank; suppression of the basic human rights of Palestinian people continues every day on a large scale in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no reason to expect otherwise unless Israel’s main political, military and economic patron, the United States, puts its foot down and refuses to backstop those reprehensible policies. They can end only when the “special relationship” between the USA and Israel becomes less special, in keeping with a single standard for human rights and against military aggression.

Such talk is abhorrent to those who are steeped in the notion that the United States must serve as a reliable enabler of Israel’s policies. But in every way that those policies are wrong, the U.S. government should stop enabling them.

The longstanding obstacles to such a halt stand a bit less tall today, but they remain huge. No less than before, as William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” This certainly applies to the history of gaining and maintaining unequivocal U.S. support for Israel.

Today’s high-impact American groups such as AIPAC (which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”), Christians United for Israel (“the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S., with more than a million members,” according to the Jerusalem Post) and similar outfits have built on 65 years of broad and successful Israel advocacy in the United States.

Baked into the foundation of their work was the premise of mutuality and compatibility of Israeli and American interests. Until the end of the Cold War, routine spin portrayed aid to Israel as a way to stymie Soviet power in the region. Especially since 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been equated with support for a precious bulwark against terrorism.

Ever since the successful 1947 campaign to press for UN General Assembly approval of Palestine partition, Israel’s leaders have closely coordinated with American Jewish organizations. Israeli government representatives in the United States regularly meet with top officers of American Jewish groups to convey what Israel wants and to identify the key U.S. officials who handle relevant issues. Those meetings have included discussions about images of Israel to promote for the American public, with phrases familiar to us, such as "making the desert bloom" and “outpost of democracy.”

As any member of Congress is well aware, campaign donations and media messaging continue to nurture public officials cooperative and sympathetic to Israel. For the rare officeholders and office seekers who stand out as uncooperative and insufficiently sympathetic, a formulaic remedy has been applied: withholding campaign donations, backing opponents and launching of media vilification. Those political correctives have proved effective -- along the way, serving as cautionary tales for politicians who might be tempted to step too far out of line.

The mainstream American Jewish Committee decided in 1953 that for its pro-Israel advocacy, “To the utmost extent, non-Jewish and non-sectarian organizations should be used as spokesmen.” Such a strategic approach has borne fruit for the overall Israel advocacy project in the USA. It is time-tested and mature; broadly distributing messages through organizations of most political flavors; and adept at touching almost all sizable media.

This year, Israeli leaders have intensified their lurid casting of Iran as the next genocidal Third Reich, and Israel as the protector absent for Jews during the Holocaust. For some, the theme is emotionally powerful. But it must not be allowed to prevent a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran.

From now till next summer, the struggle over talks with Iran will be fierce and fateful. All signs point to determined efforts by Israel -- and its many allies in the United States -- to wreck prospects for a peaceful solution.

________________________________

Norman Solomon is the founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews,’ Given to the Baltimore Chapter American Jewish Committee, February 15, 1948.”

Veterans' Day

Veteran’s Day is over. The sparkling parades are a vague memory, and the soaring oratory has passed. The citizenry can now return to its complacency, tossing the bright, red, plastic poppies into the trash, and picking up new ones next year.

Give peace a chance - huge opportunity in Iran negotiations

"Diplomatic heavyweights including US Secretary of State John Kerry have flown to Geneva for nuclear talks on Iran, in a sign that there could be an end to a decade-long deadlock. However, Israel has resolved to reject any proposal under discussion." RT, Nov 8

usiranwrestlingRussian President Vladimir Putin scored a perfecta in September when he offered up two deals the Obama administration couldn't refuse.  The first was chemical weapons disarmament by Syria.  That was followed closely by an opening by Iran's new president to the United States and the West.   Syrian disarmament has gone very well senior foreign ministry officials from Iran, Germany, the UK, and France began talks on Iran's nuclear program. (Image: AndrewDallos))

US may be committing robotic war crimes: Two Human Rights Groups Blast US for Drone Killing Campaigns

By Dave Lindorff


Last week President Obama was largely successful at blacking out from the American public word that Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani advocate of girls’ education nearly killed by Taliban gunmen a year ago, used a photo-op invitation to the White House to ask the president to halt to his drone killings of Pakistanis. But Obama cannot so easily silence the condemnations today of his remote drone “Murder, Inc.” program by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.


No nuclear evidence on Iran

The Daily Progress

There has never been any evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Iran has always denied having such a thing.

The U.S. Department of Defense has admitted that currently Iran has no such program. All of the U.S. so-called intelligence agencies believe Iran has no nuclear weapons program. The New York Times (January 2012) and the Washington Post (December 2011) were compelled to issue corrections after referring to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Yet here comes Donald Nuechterlein in the Oct. 13 Daily Progress referring repeatedly to this mythical nuclear weapons program and claiming, for instance, that “Iran can be induced to suspend nuclear weapons development.”

Gee, what a diplomatic accomplishment that would be! You cannot suspend nuclear weapons development unless you are engaged in nuclear weapons development.

David Swanson

Charlottesville

Netanyahu Thinks You're an Idiot and a Coward

Israeli Claim of Iranian ICBM Exploits Biased U.S. Intel

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 2013 (IPS- In an effort to provoke any possible opposition in U.S. political circles to a nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned to exploiting an old claim that Iran is building intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit the United States.

The Netanyahu claim takes advantage of the extreme position that has been taken on the issue by Pentagon and Air Force intelligence organisations but goes even further.

In an Oct. 1 interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS News, Netanyahu said Iranians are “building ICBMs to reach…the American mainland within a few years”. And in an interview with Charlie Rose a week later, he said the Iranians “are developing ICBMs – not for us, but for you.”

Netanyahu added, “The American intelligence agency knows as well as we do that Iran is developing ICBMs.”

Independent specialists on the issue say, however, that no evidence supports Netanyahu’s claim.

Michael Elleman of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the author of an authoritative study on Iran’s missile programme, told IPS, “I’ve seen no evidence of Iranian ICBM development, let alone a capability.”

Elleman said Iran would need to test a missile at least a half dozen — and more likely a dozen times — before it would have an operational capability for an ICBM.

Thus far, however, Iran has not even displayed, much less tested, a larger version of its existing space launch vehicle that would be a necessary step toward an ICBM, according to David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Iran has only tested a space launch vehicle that can put a very small satellite into orbit, Wright told IPS.

“The fact that it’s not happening suggests something is holding them back,” said Wright. “Clearly we’re not seeing them moving very fast in that direction.”

The highly politicised nature of U.S. intelligence assessments on the Iranian ballistic missile programme has given Netanyahu the opportunity to make the claims of an incipient Iranian ICBM without fear of being called out.

Pentagon and industry interests pushing the idea of an Iranian ICBM threat to get support for spending on a missile defence system have long had a deep impact on intelligence assessments of the issue.

Netanyahu actually began warning of Iranian ICBMs targeting the United States 15 years ago, after a commission on foreign ballistic missile threats led by Donald Rumsfeld had warned in mid-1998 that Iran and North Korea “could” threaten the United States with ICBMs within five years.

The Rumsfeld Commission, which was organised to pressure the Bill Clinton administration to approve a national missile defence system, arrived at its five-year timeline by inviting the four major military contractors to suggest how Iran might conceivably succeed in testing an ICBM.

It also rejected the normal practice in threat assessment of distinguishing between what was theoretically possible and what was likely.

Since 2001, the U.S. intelligence community has been saying that Iran “could” have the capability to test an ICBM by sometime between 2012 and 2015, if it was given enough foreign – meaning Russian – assistance.

But it was generally recognised that the Russian government was unlikely to assist Iran in building an ICBM. And as the report on the issue published by the National Intelligence Council in December 2001 explained, “We judge that countries are much less likely to test as early as the hypothetical ‘could’ dates than they are by our projected ‘likely’ dates.”

In other words, “could” actually meant “is unlikely to”. But that fact was never covered in news articles, so it remained unknown except among a few policy wonks.

By 2009, it had become obvious to most of the intelligence community that the 2015 date could no longer be defended, even with the misleading “could” formulation. A National Intelligence Estimate that year, which was never made public, reportedly said Iran couldn’t achieve such a capability until sometime between 2015 and 2020.

Intelligence organisations connected with the Pentagon and the Air Force, however, never gave up the 2015 date. The Air Force’s National Air and Space intelligence Centre and the Defence Intelligence Agency published a paper that repeated the mantra: “With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”

In April 2010, the Pentagon quoted that statement word for word in a report to Congress.

When Netanyahu wanted to turn the heat up on the Iran nuclear issue in February 2012, his close allies cited that military estimate in support of an even more extreme claim. Strategic affairs minister Moshe Yaalon said Iran was developing a missile with a 6,000-mile range, which would allow it to reach the east coast of the United States.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz went even further. “We estimate,” he said, “that in two or three years they will have the first ICBMs that can reach the east coast of America.”

Steinitz said the Israeli assessment was in line with the assessment of the Pentagon. But even the military estimate doesn’t say that Iran would have such an ICBM. It said only that Iran could test an ICBM, which would still leave Iran several years away from having an operational ICBM.

In July 2013, the Air Force National Air and Space intelligence Centre, DIA and Office of Naval Intelligence issued a new report on “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat” that states flatly, “Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”

That language omitted any reference to foreign assistance, which had always been a key element in the formula that had been adopted to satisfy missile defence interests.

But those interests were obviously pressing for even stronger language. Missile defence advocates have been pressing Congress to approve a missile defence site on the East Coast, making an Iranian ICBM threat even more important politically.

Iran, meanwhile, has said it is not interested in ICBMs at all. Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in April 2010 that Iran “has no plans to build such a missile”.

And Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has guided Iran’s missile programme for decades, said in 2011 that Iran had no intention of producing missile with ranges beyond 2,000 km.

Iran was only interested in missiles that targeted U.S. bases in the region, Hajizadeh said.

Iran had a good strategic reason for its disinterest in an ICBM, according to a team of U.S. and Russian specialists who analysed the Iranian missile programme in May 2009. Iran would have to use rocket motor clusters, the U.S.-Russian team observed, and longer-range missiles based on that technology would have to be launched from above ground.

It would take days to prepare for launch and hours to fuel – all of which would be clearly visible to spy satellites, according to the team.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Israel, Palestine and Iran It's Time To Feed the Hungry Peace Wolves

By John Grant

 


All we are saying is give peace a chance
        - John Lennon
 

Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.

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