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By Gareth Porter*
TEL AVIV, Apr 2, 2012 (IPS) - A striking feature of the Israeli political landscape in recent months has been the absence of a serious debate on the issue of the threat of war with Iran led by national security figures.
Obama's War on Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Washington's war on Iran includes cyber attacks, other sabotage, targeted assassinations, deadly explosions, sophisticated satellite, drone, and other type spying, bogus accusations, a virtual blockade, hostile saber rattling, multiple rounds of sanctions, and attempts to cripple its central bank and oil industry.
By Gareth Porter, IPS
TEL AVIV, Mar 29, 2012 (IPS) - The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that Israel can attack Iran with minimal civilian Israeli casualties as a result of retaliation, and that reassuring message appears to have headed off any widespread Israeli fear of war with Iran and other adversaries.
A U.S. Republican lawmaker on Tuesday blocked Democrats from passing legislation designed to further punish Iran for developing its nuclear program, and each side blamed the other for its failure in a presidential election year that will put extra scrutiny on President Barack Obama to be tough on Tehran.
The legislation, which had the backing of many Democratic and Republican Senators, focused on foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran's national oil and tanker companies, and included a host of measures aimed to close loopholes in existing sanctions.
A handful of Republicans wanted to include additional measures to the bill such as sanctions on companies that insure trade with Iran. But Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to take up the legislation without amendments.
"New changes to the bill at this time will only slow down its passage," Reid, a Democrat, said before he sought unanimous consent from Senators to approve the legislation - a procedure that allows no amendments.
Senator Rand Paul formally objected to taking up the legislation unless the Senate would also consider his amendment to it saying that nothing in the bill could be construed as an authorization of war against Iran or Syria. This effectively blocked the bill from advancing.
The timing of the next step was not immediately clear.
The latest set of penalties signed into law by President Barack Obama in December have made it increasingly difficult for Tehran to sell its oil. They are aimed at slowing Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran has said is purely for civilian purposes. The United States and some other Western countries say the program is for nuclear weapons.
The bill would have built on efforts by the United States and other Western nations to implement oil and banking sanctions.
"These sanctions are a key tool as we work to stop (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel and ultimately jeopardizing U.S. national security," Reid said earlier on Tuesday.
The Senate Banking Committee easily passed the sanctions bill on February 2 and the full House of Representatives passed its version in December.
Since then, several lawmakers have floated additional proposals to penalize underwriters that insure oil and gas trade with Iran; to block foreign companies dealing with Iranian energy companies from U.S. financial markets; and to ban foreign companies that buy Iranian oil from buying oil from U.S. emergency reserves.
Before Paul blocked the bill, Reid said Democratic senators had agreed to move forward without offering any amendments, which could speed a vote. "I'm willing to move this bill without amendments at any time," Reid said afterward.
Democrats were quick to blame Republicans for blocking the bill. "I hope that the select few Republicans who reportedly blocked this important bill will reconsider their opposition and allow it to move forward as soon as possible," said Tim Johnson, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
Israelis and Iranians Against War
by Stephen Lendman
Israelis aren't all like Netanyahu and Knesset extremists like him. Most want peace, not war. On March 24, Haaretz headlined, "Hundreds of Israelis march in Tel Aviv to protest war with Iran," saying:
British Ambassador Peter Jenkins on the alternatives to bombing Iran.
From In These Times
War is not a satisfactory answer. There is no guarantee that we would succeed in eliminating all the facilities that might be relevant to Iran producing a nuclear weapon.
In terms of nuclear nonproliferation, the West’s clash with Iran over its nuclear program appears to make sense. But once one peels back the layers of rhetoric surrounding the West’s demands, our real priority seems to be regime change. Those opposed to an unnecessary war with Iran are thus faced with two complicated challenges: First, to debunk
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization having consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is dedicated to uphold international law, particularly the peaceful resolution of disputes as set forth in the UN Charter and basic human rights instruments.
IADL notes with concern that while the UN Human Rights Council is on the verge of adopting a new, updated declaration on the Human Right to Peace, the major Western powers are poisoning the atmosphere by creating hysteria to wage war against Syria and Iran. The IADL condemns in the strongest possible terms these threats to international peace and security which are prohibited by the UN Charter and the doctrine of jus cogens.
To all the wonderful peacemakers in national peace conference
To all of our brothers and sisters in the beautiful world
We are sending you the message of peace and friendship from Iran, the land of love and poetry, friendship and roses. Iran, a country that has not initiated any violence on another nation in the past 200 years, but unfortunately has been the subject of such violations many times in her recent history.
OWS-ANTI-WAR and other anti-war groups will picket the New York City offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their support of a pre-emptive war on Iran.
Senator Schumer, a self-declared guardian of Israel, and his protegée Senator Gillibrand, have joined Senator Leiberman and other AIPAC supporters, backing S. Res. 380 to pressure our President for a first strike on Iran.
As Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, has noted:
"This resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran....it's effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war."
OUR SENATOR SCHUMER
PROUDLY VOTED FOR WAR WITH IRAQ
KILLING AND MAIMING TENS OF THOUSANDS
OUR SENATOR WALL STREET
TOOK CAMPAIGN MILLIONS FROM BANKERS
PROUDLY HELPED KILL GLASS-STEAGALL
BILLIONS FOR BANKS, MILLIONS PUT IN POVERTY
AND NOW, ONE MORE FOR AIPAC!
PUSHING US TO ATTACK IRAN
BRINGING ALONG YOUR PROTEGÉE SEN. GILLIBRAND
YOU HAVE NO SHAME!
Demonstration on Thursday, March 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at 780 Third Avenue, the New York City offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.
Forum: U.S.-Israeli Assault on Iran: The Growing Danger of War, the Urgency of Resistance, and the Need to Bring Forward Another Way
March 22, Thursday, 7pm Revolution Books 146 W. 26th Street New York City
Leila Zand is the Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation's Task Force on the Middle East. She is an Iranian-American who lived in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and the reform years of the late 1990s.
Perils of Attacking Iran
by Stephen Lendman
In mid-April, Istanbul or Geneva will host nuclear talks with Iran. America, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany will attend. Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov calls them a "last chance" to avoid war.
What would you do if someone had a button that could destroy the earth and they were walking across the room to push it? Would you stand in the way? Would you talk them out of it? Would you sit by and watch, maybe make a sarcastic remark or two? What if the button might destroy the earth or might just destroy part of it? What if it might leave most of the earth intact but kill millions of people, but what if you had no way of being sure how far the destruction would spread?
Here is an animation made by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the damage a strike on Iran would likely cause, including the death of three million people.
Here is a New York Times article on what would likely happen next, including a war at least regional in scope and involving the United States.
The information used in the animation above and reported by the New York Times as well comes from that peacenik hippie source of antiwar propaganda: the Pentagon, the same institution that says Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
Here's a lot more information on what attacking Iran would involve.
United for Peace and Justice has created a place where we can pledge not to sit by and watch: http://iranpledge.org
Here's the pledge:
"If the United States applies increased sanctions, invades, bombs, sends combat troops or drones, or otherwise significantly escalates its intervention in Iran or the region directly or through support of its allies, I pledge to join with others to engage in acts of legal protest and/or nonviolent civil disobedience to prevent or halt the death and destruction which U.S. military actions would cause to the people of Iran, the Middle East, our communities at home, and the planet itself."
When you take the pledge you can choose to commit to legal protest (is protesting still legal? who knew?) or nonviolent civil resistance (or "disobedience"). I encourage you to do both: http://iranpledge.org
Samantha Miller of Military Families Speak Out, who helped organize the pledge, told me, "Ten years of war have taken a serious toll on service members and their families. Frequent deployments and lack of access to mental health care have left military communities in a precarious situation, with 18 veterans committing suicide every day. We need to end the war in Afghanistan and take care of our veterans, not start new wars."
Medea Benjamin, cofounder Code Pink and Global Exchange, said "Right now, our government is hearing from the 1 percent who are gunning for a war with Iran. We, the 99%, must raise our voices and let our government know just how profoundly committed we are to stopping another catastrophic war. That's why I'm taking the pledge."
Imagine if 99 percent of us, or even 10 percent of us, took this pledge and followed through. We would prevent this war and every other war to come. War would be a thing of the past.
If we do not act, our species could end up becoming the thing of the past.
Let's choose survival and peace.
By Michael Collins
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has his pretext for an attack on Iran. He left Washington disappointed by President Obama's reluctance to saddle up for Armageddon. Now he's got the formula.
Haaretz (daily news), one of Israel's few liberal media voices, linked Gaza based missile attacks on Israel to the presence of Iranian military experts. This fits nicely into the Netanyahu strategy. Here's how Haaretz reported events:
"Iran pressured Islamic Jihad and popular resistance groups in Gaza to continue firing rockets into Israel despite cease-fire, says high-ranking Jerusalem official.
"Iranian military experts are active in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai, according to a high-ranking official in Jerusalem. The official said the Iranians entered the areas via Sudan and Egypt, and added that some of the rocket-launching systems in Gaza were manufactured under Iranian supervision." Haaretz.com, March 19
The paper went on to say how shocked members of the Israeli left were with the overall theme of the article announcing a unified Israel in support of an attack on Iran.
Of course, any attack is so crazy on so many levels, it is exhausting to comprehend. Aside from the potential collapse of the world economy and the pervasive suffering, let's focus on a sure fired reason that the United States won't green light such a move.
On Saturday night, an Israeli couple – two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir – decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice:
Heading for War with Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Israel wants it. So does Obama, but not until after November elections. Policy now focuses on winning. Waging more wars can wait, except for Syria, despite strong public support for Assad's reform agenda promising real change.
As we approach the 9th anniversary of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, we are once again seeing American politicians claiming that an oil-rich nation in the Persian Gulf might soon build nuclear weapons. Top U.S. and many Israeli intelligence and military leaders, and all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not building a nuclear weapon and has not even made the political decision of whether to move in the direction of a nuclear weapon. And yet politicians are ratcheting up calls for military threats and even military strikes, this time against Iran – and the result could lead to war.
You can find out details for the event here: http://washingtonpeacecenter.net/node/6912.
RSVP via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/194107337360924/
The evening event will include time for participants to reflect on what the many years of anti-Iraq war organizing has meant to us, our communities and the movements.
Below are questions and guidelines to help you prepare. Please let us know if you wish to tell your story no later than Wed, 3/14.
Many thanks in advance for generously considering our request.
- tell a story from anti-iraq war organizing about a moment that made you realize why you were doing this work
- tell a story from anti-iraq war organizing about something that made you realize a lesson about how to organize/movement build/create the world we want.
- how have you felt the impact of the war and the organizing in your own life
- how has organizing against the war changed you and your life.
- where were you during “shock and awe” – March 19, 2003?
- what was the moment you came out against the war and why?
- how did the Feb 15, 2003 protests happen?
As mentioned, below are more guidelines for thinking through your story:
“A community that loses its stories loses its memory” ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Our history is kept alive when we bear witness to our significant life experiences—recalling and honoring our stories in the presence of the community.
Storytelling Guidelines (By Candace Wolf, Storyteller)
CHOOSING A STORY – follow these two principles:
The ‘one suitcase’ principal—
Imagine that you were suddenly ordered into political exile and allowed to take only one small suitcase. You would have to think deeply about what was most important to pack. Now, imagine that you were allowed to share ONE—and only ONE STORYfrom your anti-war/peace work. Be sure to tell a story that has great personal meaning, so that you can tell it with passion and conviction. Ask yourself: ‘Why is this story important to tell?’ Choose a story that you feel will INSPIRE in some way. ‘Inspire’ means to breathe again. Stories have the power to encourage us to take one more breath—to swim up to the surface, above our despair, above disappointments and failures—to go forward with our life and work with greater courage and determination.
Tell a story about something that you experienced firsthand—not just heard or read about. The story might be about a personally transformative encounter or event that is unforgettable—that still grips your soul and memory. Remember that folks listen with keen interest to compelling stories about authentic and dramatic lived experiences.
SHAPING YOUR STORY– follow these two principles:
The ‘sense of immediacy’ principle—
In order to tell your story effectively, you must reach back and reconnect with the sensations, images and emotions of the memory, so that you can take the listener on a journey through the landscape of your experience. Relive the experience in your memory and then paint a picture using vivid descriptions in order to bring the story to life for the listener.
The ‘lessons learned’ principle—
Reflect on the larger significance of your personal experience. Figure out what you want people to understand; a story ismore satisfying if the listener takes away fresh insights.
Speak from your heart....and please keep your story fairly brief: 3-5 minutes
WASHINGTON, Mar 12, 2012 (IPS) - News stories about satellite photographs suggesting efforts by Iran to "sanitise" a military site that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said may have been used to test nuclear weapons have added yet another layer to widely held suspicion that Iran must indeed be hiding a covert nuclear weapons programme.
1. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.
According to the Iranian government, the International Atomic Energy Agency and American intelligence assessments, the common assumption that Iran already has a nuclear bomb is wrong. Even Israeli intelligence agrees.
Yet 71 percent of Americans said “Yes” to the question, “Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?” in the last poll to ask that question. The question was asked a little over two years ago and public opinion could have become more accurately informed. Then again, when widely read newspapers like the Wall Street Journal publish weekly pieces suggesting that “evil” Iran is “building a nuclear bomb” (while justifying terrorism against Iranian citizens), and when Republican presidential contenders like Mitt Romney write that Iranian “Islamic fanatics” are “racing to build a nuclear bomb,” the truth can understandably become muddied for the average person.
When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying. After all, he was a Republican. But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo.
Now President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going. We might suspect a lack of sincerity, given the insistence that Iran put an end to a program that the U.S. government simultaneously says there is no evidence exists, given the increase in free weapons for Israel to $3.1 billion next year, given the ongoing protection of Israel at the U.N. from any accountability for crimes, given the embrace of sanctions highly unlikely to lead to anything other than greater prospects of war, and given Obama's refusal to take openly illegal war "off the table." We might suspect that peace was not the ultimate goal, except of course that Obama is a Democrat.
However, we now have Wikileaks cables and comments from anonymous officials that served as the basis for a report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday. The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible. During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Following Obama's entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament. Diplomatic cables exposed by the WikiLeaks website exposed discussion concerning advanced weapons shipments. In one cable which surveyed defense discussions between Israel and the United states that took place on November 2009 it was written that 'both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.'"
Why supply Israel with the weapons to attack Iran more forcefully if you don't want Israel to attack Iran? The Israeli newspaper Maariv claims to have the answer. Apparently people in the know are spilling the beans earlier this war cycle:
"The United States offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for it committing not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities this year, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday. Citing unnamed Western diplomats and intelligence sources, the report said that during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, the US administration offered to supply Israel with advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refuelling planes. In return, Israel would agree to put off a possible attack on Iran till 2013, after the US elections in November."
One point can be little doubted here, namely that this would be the biggest damn story in U.S. "progressive" circles if Obama were a Republican. But even though he isn't, there could conceivably be SOME interest in the fact that a serious news outlet is reporting that Obama has taken steps to facilitate an attack on Iran and to delay it until after his own hoped-for reelection.
Even Reuters has noted this development:
"A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012."
Now, the usual handful of progressive Congress members has just introduced a bill that would compel the U.S. government to talk to the government of Iran. Seems sensible enough (even if it frames it as an effort to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon). We do ask that much of our children when they become involved in disagreements.
But Congressman John Conyers, one of the cosponsors of that bill, had another trick up his sleeve when Bush was in the White House. Nobody believed him, of course, but for what it was worth, after refusing to impeach Bush for countless offenses, Conyers swore that if Bush attacked Iran, then he Conyers would launch impeachment proceedings. Now, Conyers is back in the minority party in the House, but even minority members can raise the threat of impeachment efforts. And at the moment they could join a member of the majority in doing so. That's because Congressman Walter Jones has introduced H. Con Res 107, which reads:
"Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress's exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."
Now, this does not clearly cover an attack with U.S. weapons and advice carried out by another nation, but it does cover the question of U.S. entry into a war started by Israel, even if U.S. troops and bases abroad have been attacked in retaliation. And it covers possible U.S. war making in Syria. And it covers over 100 nations where U.S. Special Forces are now operating. And it covers our current and prospective drone attacks in various parts of the world.
Of course, such an impeachment effort is also treasonous, given Obama's membership in the Democratic Party -- unlike the completely non-treasonous acts of openly "legalizing murder," or lying to the nation about efforts to avoid a war.
Letter to the Editor
A Neighborly Dispute
Here is my problem. I'm well known in my neighborhood. Ask anybody. They know me as "the guy who keeps a tank hidden in his garage." (Maybe I do. Maybe I don't.)
Anyway, I've got a problem with this guy up the street. I don't think he likes me much and, frankly, the feeling's mutual.
He's got this workshop in his garage where he builds bicycles.
My problem is: I suspect he's secretly building a tank. That makes me feel threatened.
He tells the neighbors all he wants to do is build bicycles. He even says building tanks is against his religion!
The neighborhood cops (and even some close members of my own family) say there's absolutely no evidence this guy is building a tank. They tell me to chill; get a grip.
But, the way I see it, as long as he has that bicycle workshop, there's always the possibility that he could someday build a tank.
So here's my question: Don't I have a sovereign right, as a homeowner, to walk over and burn down that guy's house?
Really, it's the only way I'll ever feel safe.
Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act (Introduced in House - IH)
H. R. 4173
To direct the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 8, 2012
Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Mr. JONES, Mr. CONYERS, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. WATERS, Mr. STARK, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. FILNER, and Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
To direct the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10, 2009, President Obama said, `I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach--and condemnation without discussion--can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.'
(2) In his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 4, 2012, President Obama said, `I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power. A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.'
(3) While the Obama Administration has rejected failed policies of the past by engaging in negotiations with Iran without preconditions, only four of such meetings have occurred.
(4) Official representatives of the United States and official representatives of Iran have held only two direct, bilateral meetings in over 30 years, both of which occurred in October 2009, one on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council negotiations in Geneva, and one on the sidelines of negotiations brokered by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (referred to in this Act as the `IAEA') in Vienna.
(5) All of the outstanding issues between the United States and Iran cannot be resolved instantaneously. Resolving such issues will require a robust, sustained effort.
(6) Under the Department of State's current `no contact' policy, officers and employees of the Department of State are not permitted to make any direct contact with official representatives of the Government of Iran without express prior authorization from the Secretary of State.
(7) On September 20, 2011, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, called for establishing direct communications with Iran, stating, `I'm talking about any channel that's open. We've not had a direct link of communication with Iran since 1979. And I think that has planted many seeds for miscalculation. When you miscalculate, you can escalate and misunderstand.'
(8) On November 8, 2011, the IAEA issued a report about Iran's nuclear program and expressed concerns about Iran's past and ongoing nuclear activities.
(9) On December 2, 2011, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that an attack on Iran would result in `an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think it could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.'
SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.
It should be the policy of the United States--
(1) to prevent Iran from pursuing or acquiring a nuclear weapon and to resolve the concerns of the United States and of the international community about Iran's nuclear program and Iran's human rights obligations under international and Iranian law;
(2) to ensure inspection of cargo to or from Iran, as well as the seizure and disposal of prohibited items, as authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 (June 9, 2010);
(3) to pursue sustained, direct, bilateral negotiations with the Government of Iran without preconditions in order to reduce tensions, prevent war, prevent nuclear proliferation, support human rights, and seek resolutions to issues that concern the United States and the international community;
(4) to utilize all diplomatic tools, including direct talks, targeted sanctions, Track II diplomacy, creating a special envoy described in section 4, and enlisting the support of all interested parties, for the purpose of establishing an agreement with Iran to put in place a program that includes international safeguards, guarantees, and robust transparency measures that provide for full IAEA oversight of Iran's nuclear program, including rigorous, ongoing inspections, in order to verify that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes and that Iran is not engaged in nuclear weapons work;
(5) to pursue opportunities to build mutual trust and to foster sustained negotiations in good faith with Iran, including pursuing a fuel swap deal to remove quantities of low enriched uranium from Iran and to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor, similar to the structure of the deal that the IAEA, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany first proposed in October 2009;
(6) to explore areas of mutual benefit to both Iran and the United States, such as regional security, the long-term stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan, the establishment of a framework for peaceful nuclear energy production, other peaceful energy modernization programs, and counter-narcotics efforts; and
(7) that no funds appropriated or otherwise made available to any executive agency of the Government of the United States may be used to carry out any military operation or activity against Iran unless the President determines that a military operation or activity is warranted and seeks express prior authorization by Congress, as required under article I, section 8, clause 2 of the United States Constitution, which grants Congress the sole authority to declare war, except that this requirement shall not apply to a military operation or activity--
(A) to directly repel an offensive military action launched from within the territory of Iran against the United States or any ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement;
(B) in hot pursuit of forces that engage in an offensive military action outside the territory of Iran against United States forces or an ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement and then enter into the territory of Iran; or
(C) to directly thwart an imminent offensive military action to be launched from within the territory of Iran against United States forces or an ally with whom the United States has a mutual defense assistance agreement.
SEC. 4. APPOINTMENT OF HIGH-LEVEL U.S. REPRESENTATIVE OR SPECIAL ENVOY.
(a) Appointment- At the earliest possible date, the President, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran.
(b) Criteria for Appointment- The President shall appoint an individual under subsection (a) on the basis of the individual's knowledge and understanding of the issues regarding Iran's nuclear program, experience in conducting international negotiations, and ability to conduct negotiations under subsection (c) with the respect and trust of the parties involved in the negotiations.
(c) Duties- The high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran shall--
(1) seek to facilitate direct, unconditional, bilateral negotiations with Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran;
(2) lead the diplomatic efforts of the Government of the United States with regard to Iran;
(3) consult with other countries and international organizations, including countries in the region, where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set forth in paragraph (1);
(4) act as liaison with United States and international intelligence agencies where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set for in paragraph (1); and
(5) ensure that the bilateral negotiations under paragraph (1) complement the ongoing international negotiations with Iran.
SEC. 5. DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.
(a) Elimination of `No Contact' Policy- Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall rescind the `no contact' policy that prevents officers and employees of the Department of State from making any direct contact with official representatives of the Government of Iran without express prior authorization from the Secretary of State.
(b) Office of High-Level U.S. Representative or Special Envoy- Not later than 30 days after the appointment of a high-level United States representative or special envoy under section 4(a), the Secretary of State shall establish an office in the Department of State for the purpose of supporting the work of the representative or special envoy.
SEC. 6. REPORTING TO CONGRESS.
(a) Reports- Not later than 60 days after the high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran is appointed under section 4, and every 180 days thereafter, the United States representative or special envoy shall report to the committees set forth in subsection (b) on the steps that have been taken to facilitate direct, bilateral diplomacy with the government of Iran under section 4(c). Each such report may, when necessary or appropriate, be submitted in classified and unclassified form.
(b) Committees- The committees referred to in subsection (a) are--
(1) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives; and
(2) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
The administration may have bribed Israel to hold off on Iran war until after the 2012 presidential elections
The Obama administration offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for putting off a possible attack on Iran until after the 2012 presidential elections.
The Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday citing anonymous diplomats and intelligence sources that the Obama administration meeting with Israeli leaders earlier this week offered them advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes if he promised to postpone a preventive war on Iran until at least 2013.
The Obama administration had for months been pressing Israel to calm its calls for war on Iran, primarily because the consensus in the U.S. military and intelligence community is that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so. An attack is therefore wholly unnecessary, but fears ran high that Israel might attack anyway.
The White House has denied the validity of the reports. “In meetings the president had there was no such agreement proposed or reached,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. ”We have obviously high-level cooperation between the Israeli military and the U.S. military, and at other levels and with other agencies within their government and our government”, Carney said, adding: “That was not a subject of discussion in the president’s meetings.”
But Ha’aretz also quoted an Obama official saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had specifically asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the GBU-28 bunker busting bombs as well as for the advanced refueling aircraft.
Netanyahu told Israeli news media on Thursday that a strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a “matter of days, weeks, but not a matter of years,” adding: “If I don’t make the right call [on Iran] maybe there won’t be anyone to explain to.” This of course completely ignores U.S. intelligence which says Iran is very far off from even deciding to begin development of nuclear weapons.
Whether or not the Obama administration’s deal-cutting was sincere in its attempts to deter reckless Israeli aggression against Iran, it seems clear that giving Israel better capability to unilaterally attack increases the likelihood of it happening.
Netanyahu asked Panetta to approve sale of bunker-busting bombs, U.S. official says
Top administration source says Obama instructed Defense Secretary to work with Defense Minister Barak, to give all due consideration to the request for purchasing GBU-28 bombs, advanced refueling aircraft.
By Barak Ravid
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.
During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Following Obama's entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.
Diplomatic cables exposed by the WikiLeaks website exposed discussion concerning advanced weapons shipments. In one cable which surveyed defense discussions between Israel and the United states that took place on November 2009 it was written that "both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran."
Another issue raised during Obama's Monday meeting with Netanyahu was the Syrian crisis. Netanyahu pointed out that Israel feared that chemical and biological weapons from Syrian army stockpiles could end up in the hands of Hezbollah or other terror groups.
A top U.S. official indicated that the United States recently discussed the issue with Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to prepare for the possibility that a collapse of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad would endanger the country's WMD stockpiles.
At this point the American administration does not possess information that indicates that chemical or biological weapons were passed from Syria to Hezbollah.
Netanyahu and Obama also discussed the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey. The United States feels that, amid ongoing unrest, that there existent a supreme interest to rehabilitate Jerusalem-Ankara ties. Obama told Netanyahu at the meeting that an effort should be exerted to reconcile between the two states.
By Dave Lindorff
The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.
The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran -- Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.