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Washington Times EXCLUSIVE: Obama Agrees To Keep Israel's Nukes Secret

EXCLUSIVE: Obama agrees to keep Israel's nukes secret
By Eli Lake | Washington Times

President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.

The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs. Read more.

New Doubt Cast on U.S. Claim Qom Plant is Illicit

New Doubt Cast on U.S. Claim Qom Plant is Illicit
By Gareth Porter | IPS News

An Iranian assertion that construction on its second enrichment facility began only last year and further analysis of satellite photos of the site have cast fresh doubts on the Barack Obama administration's charge that the construction of the plant near Qom involved a covert decision to violate Iran's obligations to report immediately to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on any decision to build a new facility.

At a Sep. 25 briefing on the site, senior administration officials refused to provide any specific information to back up the claim that construction had begun before the March 2007 Iranian withdrawal from an agreement requiring that it inform the IAEA immediately of any decision to build a nuclear facility.

The U.S. charges on the Qom facility, coming a week before the first opportunity for negotiations with Iran on a full range of issues since 1981, appear to have been a deliberate ploy to make the Obama administration appear tough and on the offensive when the talks started.

Iran's Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told a news conference Tuesday that his agency took over a military ammunition dump in 2008 to begin work on the enrichment facility near Qom.

Meanwhile, a new photo analysis by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) of the Qom site in 2004 and 2005 suggests it was not dedicated to building a uranium enrichment facility at that time. Read more.

The Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran Crowd Is Getting All Riled up Again

The Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran Crowd Is Getting All Riled up Again
By Pepe Escobar | Asia Times

Apparently even Saudi Arabia is on board with the idea of an Israeli strike on Iran.

The United States and Western "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" crowd - hysteria running at fever pitch ahead of Thursday's multilateral nuclear talks in Geneva - could do worse than have a word with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Lula actually talked to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad face-to-face for over an hour on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week. He invited Ahmadinejad to visit Brazil in November. About the meeting, he went straight to the point, "What I wish for Iran is what I always wanted for Brazil - a peaceful, civilian nuclear program."

Lula is an island of common sense in an ocean of hysteria. French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly gave a December deadline for Iran not to make a "tragic mistake", as in provoking Armageddon. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reiterated the Group of Eight was giving Iran only three more months.

United States President Barack Obama - now running three wars (Iraq and the AfPak combo) - demanded that Iran (which is not at war with anybody) demonstrate "its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law". Read more.

"Beneath the Hype: Is Iran Close to Nukes?"

Foreign Policy Briefing: Congressional Staff and Public

Speakers:

Mr. McGovern was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer in the 1960s and then spent 27 years as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency, during which he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and briefed the President's Daily Brief under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Mr. Thielmann is the former Office Director for Strategic and Proliferation Issues in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, tasked with analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat. He was a senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association." His Sept. 10 Iran Threat Assessment Brief, "Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?" can be accessed at Arms Control Association.

Contact/RSVP: Daniel McAdams, 225-52831.

Japan's Election and Anti-Nuclear Momentum

By Lawrence S. Wittner
Editor: John Feffer, Foreign Policy In Focus

Although the smashing victory of the opposition Democratic Party in Japan's parliamentary elections of August 30 had numerous causes, one of the results will be a strengthening of the campaign for a nuclear weapons-free world.

Iran Agrees To Ship Enriched Uranium To Russia For Refinement

Iran agrees to ship enriched uranium to Russia for refinement
By Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev | McClatchy

Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program.

The agreement was announced after more than seven hours of high-level talks in Geneva among Iran and representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, which also featured the highest-level official U.S.-Iranian encounter in three decades.

Iran also pledged that within weeks it would allow the inspection of a previously covert uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that he'd head to Tehran to work out the details.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the talks marked "a constructive beginning" and showed the promise of renewed engagement with Iran, but added that "going forward, we expect to see swift action. We're not interested in talking for the sake of talking."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the talks had "opened the door" to potential progress on the nuclear issue. "It was a productive day, but the proof of that has not yet come to fruition, so we'll wait and continue to press our point of view and see what Iran decides to do," she said.

In Geneva, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said he hoped the talks — which are to reconvene later this month — were the beginning of intensive engagement with Iran after a 15-month pause. Read more.

US Press Corps Fails Again on Iran

US Press Corps Fails Again on Iran
By Robert Parry | Consortium News

The U.S. press corps appears to have learned little or nothing from the Iraq debacle as a new crisis looms with Iran.

Yet, the most dangerous parallel between the misreporting on Iraq and the current hysteria about Iran may be that major U.S. news outlets, especially the New York Times and the Washington Post, continue to paint the disputes in black and white and leave shades of gray out of the frame.

In doing so, these news organizations again are casting aside their own rules about objectivity and balance. Just like in the run-up to the Iraq War, they obsess about a villain (with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replacing Iraq’s Saddam Hussein) – and have thrown down the memory hole inconvenient facts and important context.

For instance, prior to the June 12 election in Iran, it was well known and widely reported that President George W. Bush had signed a covert action finding targeting Iran’s Islamic government with a major program of propaganda and political destabilization.

In the July 7, 2008, New Yorker magazine, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote that late the previous year, Congress had agreed to Bush’s request for a major escalation in covert operations against Iran to the tune of up to $400 million.

“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” one person familiar with its contents told Hersh. The operation involved “working with opposition groups and passing money,” the person said. Read more.

Is The Media Exaggerating The Iranian Nuke Threat?

Is the media exaggerating the Iranian nuke threat?
If Iran is open to U.N. inspections, it's probably not constructing nuclear weapons
Editor's note: For more from Juan Cole, visit his blog Informed Comment.
By Juan Cole | Salon

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, reaffirmed Monday that a date would soon be set for the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the planned nuclear enrichment facility near Qom about which the Iranian government informed the IAEA on Monday a week ago.

If Iran really does permit full, ongoing IAEA inspections of the facility, then it cannot be used for weapons production. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted Sunday that Iran cannot use the Natanz plant for bomb-making because it is being regularly inspected by the UN.

Scott Ritter, an experienced inspector himself, dispels the myths about the new Qom facility and urges against new economic sanctions on Iran as counter-productive. Greater transparency and more inspections should be the demand of the West, he says.

I made the same point on MSNBC on Monday with Nora O'Donnell:

 

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Read more.

Seen This News? Wonder If Iran Should Bomb Us Now?

US Nukes Agency Pushes New Bomb Production
By Matthew Cardinale, North American Correspondent, Inter-Press Service; and News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (September 30, 2009)
http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/news/0522.html
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48654

ATLANTA, Georgia, Sep 30 (IPS) - Despite statements by U.S. President Barack Obama that he wants to see the world reduce, and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration continues to push forward on a programme called Complex Modernisation, which would expand two existing nuclear plants to allow them to produce new plutonium pits and new bomb parts out of enriched uranium for use in a possible new generation of nuclear bombs.

U.S. Story on Iran Nuke Facility Doesn't Add Up

U.S. Story on Iran Nuke Facility Doesn't Add Up
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS News

The story line that dominated media coverage of the second Iranian uranium enrichment facility last week was the official assertion that U.S. intelligence had caught Iran trying to conceal a "secret" nuclear facility.

But an analysis of the transcript of that briefing by senior administration officials that was the sole basis for the news stories and other evidence reveals damaging admissions, conflicts with the facts and unanswered questions that undermine its credibility.

Iran's notification to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the second enrichment facility in a letter on Sep. 21 was buried deep in most of the news stories and explained as a response to being detected by U.S. intelligence. In reporting the story in that way, journalists were relying entirely on the testimony of "senior administration officials" who briefed them at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh Friday.

U.S. intelligence had "learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised", one of the officials said, according to the White House transcript. The Iranians had informed the IAEA, he asserted, because "they came to believe that the value of the facility as a secret facility was no longer valid..."

Later in the briefing, however, the official said "we believe", rather than "we learned", in referring to that claim, indicating that it is only an inference rather than being based on hard intelligence. Read more.

The Most Dangerous Nuclear Facility in the Middle East

Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

The Most Dangerous Nuclear Facility in the Middle East
By Juan Cole | Informed Consent

There is no good evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. It has offered to allow regular International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of the newly announced facility near Qom, which would effectively prevent it from being used for weapons production.

There is a secret nuclear facility in the Middle East, however, producing plutonium and not just enriched uranium, which has the capacity to make 10 nuclear warheads a year.

It is Israel's ongoing nuclear weapon production that drives the nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Saddam wanted a bomb because Israel had one. The Iranians were then worried both about an Iraqi and an Israeli bomb. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others are annoyed at their geostrategic helplessness in the face of Israeli nukes.

Israel's nuclear arsenal is the region's Original Sin.

U.S. Missile Shield System Deployments: Larger, Sooner, Broader

U.S. Missile Shield System Deployments: Larger, Sooner, Broader
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

Synchronized announcements on September 17 by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the U.S. was abandoning plans to station interceptor missiles in Poland and a forward-based missile radar site in the Czech Republic are now ten days ago and information surfacing in the interim indicates that its new plans are more far-reaching than their predecessor.

Two days after the statements by the American president and defense chief the latter, Pentagon head Robert Gates, was granted a column in the New York Times.

The most representative segment of Gates' comments is arguably this:

"I have been a strong supporter of missile defense ever since President Ronald Reagan first proposed it in 1983. But I want to have real capacity as soon as possible, and to take maximum advantage of new technologies....American missile defense on the continent will continue, and not just in Central Europe, the most likely location for future SM-3 sites, but, we hope, in other NATO countries as well....We are strengthening - not scrapping - missile defense in Europe." [1]

Remarking that the earlier-envisioned system in Poland and the Czech Republic would not have been operative until 2015 and that opposition among both nations' parliamentarians would have delayed the process at least another two years, Gates evinced both impatience with and far grander designs for the European wing of the U.S.'s global missile shield program by asserting, "President Obama...decided to discard that plan in favor of a vastly more suitable approach. In the first phase, to be completed by 2011, we will deploy proven, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles - weapons that are growing in capability...."

The new deployments, which will be examined in depth later, are to be more mobile and less capable of being anticipated and defended against; will be implemented, according to Gates' own schedule, at least eight years ahead of the prior plan's timeline; and will extend worldwide missile interceptor networks into far broader swathes of Eurasia, the Middle East and ultimately the planet as a whole.

Keeping Iran Honest

Keeping Iran honest
Iran's secret nuclear plant will spark a new round of IAEA inspections and lead to a period of even greater transparency
By Scott Ritter | Guardian.co.UK

Beware politically motivated hype. While on the surface, Obama's dramatic intervention seemed sound, the devil is always in the details. The "rules" Iran is accused of breaking are not vague, but rather spelled out in clear terms. In accordance with Article 42 of Iran's Safeguards Agreement, and Code 3.1 of the General Part of the Subsidiary Arrangements (also known as the "additional protocol") to that agreement, Iran is obliged to inform the IAEA of any decision to construct a facility which would house operational centrifuges, and to provide preliminary design information about that facility, even if nuclear material had not been introduced. This would initiate a process of complementary access and design verification inspections by the IAEA....

While this action is understandably vexing for the IAEA and those member states who are desirous of full transparency on the part of Iran, one cannot speak in absolute terms about Iran violating its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. So when Obama announced that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow", he is technically and legally wrong.

It was very much a moment of high drama. Barack Obama, fresh from his history-making stint hosting the UN security council, took a break from his duties at the G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh to announce the existence of a secret, undeclared nuclear facility in Iran which was inconsistent with a peaceful nuclear programme, underscoring the president's conclusion that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow".

Obama, backed by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, threatened tough sanctions against Iran if it did not fully comply with its obligations concerning the international monitoring of its nuclear programme, which at the present time is being defined by the US, Britain and France as requiring an immediate suspension of all nuclear-enrichment activity.

The facility in question, said to be located on a secret Iranian military installation outside of the holy city of Qom and capable of housing up to 3,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium, had been monitored by the intelligence services of the US and other nations for some time. But it wasn't until Monday that the IAEA found out about its existence, based not on any intelligence "scoop" provided by the US, but rather Iran's own voluntary declaration. Iran's actions forced the hand of the US, leading to Obama's hurried press conference Friday morning. Read more.

Canada Says India Nuclear Deal Imminent

Canada says India nuclear deal imminent | Reuters

Canada is close to signing a deal with India to sell nuclear technology and materials, Trade Minister Stockwell Day said on Friday, adding he was confident that remaining security concerns would be resolved.

Day made similar comments in May, saying at that time that a deal was imminent.

He told reporters on a conference call that he was now ironing out a few final stumbling blocks.

"I had a telephone meeting just last week with India's national security adviser. We are down to four fine points ... He and I both agree that final agreement is possible within days, if not just a matter of a few weeks," Day told reporters on a conference call from India.

Day said he did not foresee any threat of Canadian materials being diverted to military uses elsewhere in the region because of India's commitment to allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as tough transparency and reporting requirements.

"These are very strong provisions," he said.

Read more.

Obama, Sarkozy and Brown Unite Against Iran

Obama, Sarkozy and Brown Unite Against Iran
Leaders Accuse Iran of Building Secret Nuclear Plant, Call for Immediate Action
By Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer | ABC News

New revelations about Iran's nuclear ambitions are center stage at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh today, where President Obama, French President Nikolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Iran has until December to reverse course or face stiff international sanctions.

Sarkozy said that "if by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken."

Obama called evidence of Iran's second, secret underground nuclear fuel plant a "direct challenge" to the principles of nuclear non-proliferation.

"Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people," Obama said. "But Iran is breaking rules all nations must follow… It's time for Iran to act immediately to restore the confidence of the international community by fulfilling its international obligations."

"We expect the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to immediately inspect this disturbing situation," he said.

The president said Iran "must be prepared to cooperate fully" at the upcoming Oct. 1 meeting between Iranian officials and representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the U.S., Russia, China, U.K., and France -- plus Germany.

Obama said at that meeting Iran must "demonstrate that it is committed to establishing its peaceful intentions through meaningful dialogue and concrete actions." Read more.

Obama Leads Security Council Session on Sidelines of UN General Assembly

Obama Leads Security Council Session on Sidelines of UN General Assembly
By Margaret Besheer | VOA

President Barack Obama chaired a summit level-session of the Security Council Thursday that unanimously adopted a resolution committing to work toward a nuclear weapons-free world. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the second day of the U.N. General Assembly where the annual debate continued.

The Security Council session focused on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and the resolution urged action to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

President Obama presided over the meeting, the first time a U.S. president has done so. He told the council that the United Nations has a "pivotal role to play" in preventing a nuclear crisis.

"The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons," said President Obama. "And it brings Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal." Read more.

Queen Noir On A Nuclear-Free World


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Queen Noir interview starts at 2:37.

Sign the Declaration to eliminate nuclear weapons globally at Global Zero.

Another Santayana Moment

22 SEP 1979, 00:53 GMT -- US VELA SATELLITE 6911, SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DETECT NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS, REPORTS DUAL FLASHES OF LIGHT INDICATING A NUCLEAR DETONATION IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC.

The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.

An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.

Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?

Wikipedia

Nuclear Weapons Archive

George Washington University

But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.

Israel's Netanyahu: Let's Talk with Palestinians -- and Stop Iran's Threat

Israel's Netanyahu: Let's Talk with Palestinians -- and Stop Iran's Threat
Prime Minister Tells ABC's Charles Gibson Iran's Nuclear Ambitions Threaten World Peace
By Ned Potter | ABC News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC's Charles Gibson tonight he welcomes talks -- without preconditions -- to set up a Palestinian state in the Middle East. But he said it is up to Palestinian leaders to exert leadership, and added he is not going to back down on the right of Israelis to settle in Palestinian territory.

"There are a quarter of a million people living in these communities," said Netanyahu. "You know, they need kindergartens. They need schools. ... You can't freeze life."

In a one-on-one interview with Gibson, Netanyahu said he is especially worried about Iran -- which, he said, could destabilize the entire Middle East with the development of nuclear weapons. Read more.

Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran

Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran
Secret updates to White House challenge European and Israeli assessments
By Mark Hosenball | Newsweek

The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003.

The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's "Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had "high confidence" that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program." The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had "moderate confidence" that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts.

One of the two officials said that the Obama administration has now worked out a system in which intelligence agencies provide top policymakers, including the president, with regular updates on intelligence judgments like the conclusions in the 2007 Iran NIE. According to the two officials, the latest update to policymakers has been that as of now—two years after the period covered by the 2007 NIE—U.S. intelligence agencies still believe Iran has not resumed nuclear-weapons development work. Read more.

Nuclear Agency Demanding Iranian Missile Blueprints

Nuclear Agency Demanding Iranian Missile Blueprints
Gareth Porter | IPS News

Iran stopped meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency last year over Western allegations of covert Iranian nuclear weapons work because the nuclear agency was demanding access to the designs for its Shahab-3 missile and other secret military data, according to both Iranian and IAEA officials.

The United States and other Western states have cited Iran's refusal to cooperate with the IAEA on resolving issues related to intelligence documents on a purported covert nuclear weapons programme as further evidence of its guilt.

"They've been asking for Shahab-3 drawings for about a year," Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told IPS in an interview. "We found out a year ago and that's when we stopped the meetings with IAEA."

A senior official of the IAEA familiar with the Iran investigation, who insisted on anonymity as a condition for being interviewed, confirmed to IPS that the agency had requested not only that Iranian officials discuss the details of the Shahab-3's reentry system, but access to the actual engineering designs for the missile.

"We want them to explain to us that the design studies are not for nuclear weapons," said the official. "We're saying, you say you've done reentry vehicle reengineering [on Shahab-3], so show us some documentation."

The latest IAEA report, dated Aug. 28, notes that the agency "has been unable to engage Iran in any substantive discussions about these outstanding issues for over a year", but it does not link the Iranian disengagement to the demand for military secrets. Read more.

Nuclear Conference Criticizes Israeli Nukes

Nuclear conference criticizes Israeli nukes
By George Jahn, Associated Press | Google News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

Overriding Western objections, a 150-nation nuclear conference on Friday passed a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program for the first time in 18 years. Iran hailed the vote as a "glorious moment."

The result was a setback not only for Israel but also for the United States and other backers of the Jewish state, which had lobbied for 18 years of past practice — debate on the issue without a vote. It also reflected building tensions between Israel and its backers and Islamic nations, backed by developing countries.

Of delegations present at the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting Friday, 49 voted for the resolution. Forty-five were against and 16 abstained from endorsing or rejecting the document, which "expresses concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities," and links it to "concern about the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons for the security and stability of the Middle East."

In an attempt to sway the assembly before the vote, U.S. chief delegate Glyn Davies spoke out against an "attempt to use this resolution to criticize a single country."

"Such an approach is highly politicized and does not truly address the complexities at play regarding crucial nuclear-related issues in the Middle East," he said. Read more.

U.S. to Shelve Nuclear-Missile Shield

U.S. to Shelve Nuclear-Missile Shield
Defense Plans for Poland, Czech Republic to Be Dropped as Iran Rocket Threat Downgraded; Moscow Likely to Welcome Move
By Peter Spiegel | WSJ

The White House will shelve Bush administration plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to people familiar with the matter, a move likely to cheer Moscow and roil the security debate in Europe.

The U.S. will base its decision on a determination that Iran's long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The findings, expected to be completed as early as next week following a 60-day review ordered by President Barack Obama, would be a major reversal from the Bush administration, which pushed aggressively to begin construction of the Eastern European system before leaving office in January. Read more.

US Says 6 Powers Accept Iran's Offer To Talk

US says 6 powers accept Iran's offer to talk
By Robert Burns, Associated Press | Washington Post

The United States and five partner countries have accepted Iran's new offer to hold talks, even though Iran insists it will not negotiate over its disputed nuclear program, the State Department said Friday.

Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that although Iran's proposal for international talks - presented to the six powers on Wednesday - was disappointing for sidestepping the nuclear issue, it represented a chance to begin a direct dialogue.

"We are seeking a meeting now based on the Iranian paper to see what Iran is prepared to do," Crowley said. "And then, as the president has said, you know, if Iran responds to our interest in a meeting, we'll see when that can occur. We hope that will occur as soon as possible."

In its proposal, Iran ignored a demand by the six world powers - the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - for a freeze of its uranium enrichment, which is suspected of leading to production of a nuclear weapon. Iran insists that its nuclear work is strictly for peaceful non-military purposes.

Iran pronounced itself ready to "embark on comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations." Read more.

A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy

A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy
By Daniel Ellsberg | Truthdig

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of Daniel Ellsberg’s personal memoir of the nuclear era, “The American Doomsday Machine.” The online book will recount highlights of his six years of research and consulting for the Departments of Defense and State and the White House on issues of nuclear command and control, nuclear war planning and nuclear crises. It further draws on 34 subsequent years of research and activism largely on nuclear policy, which followed the intervening 11 years of his preoccupation with the Vietnam War. Subsequent installments also will appear on Truthdig. The author is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

American Planning for a Hundred Holocausts

One day in the spring of 1961, soon after my 30th birthday, I was shown how our world would end. Not the Earth, not—so far as I knew then—all humanity or life, but the destruction of most cities and people in the Northern Hemisphere.

What I was handed, in a White House office, was a single sheet of paper with some numbers and lines on it. It was headed “Top Secret—Sensitive”; under that, “For the President’s Eyes Only.”

The “Eyes Only” designation meant that, in principle, it was to be seen and read only by the person to whom it was explicitly addressed, in this case the president. In practice this usually meant that it would be seen by one or more secretaries and assistants as well: a handful of people, sometimes somewhat more, instead of the scores to hundreds who would normally see copies of a “Top Secret—Sensitive” document.

Later, working in the Pentagon as the special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense, I often found myself reading copies of cables and memos marked “Eyes Only” for someone, though I was not that addressee, nor for that matter was my boss. And already by the time I read this one, as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, it was routine for me to read “Top Secret” documents. But I had never before seen one marked “For the President’s Eyes Only,” and I never did again. Read more.

Hunger Strike a Daily Reminder of U.S.'s Forsaken Promise

Hunger Strike a Daily Reminder of U.S.'s Forsaken Promise
By Robert McCartney | Washington Post

On a sunny patch of Pennsylvania Avenue a half-block from the White House, middle-aged men and women recline on beach lounge chairs under four canopies festooned with colorful flags. They haven't eaten solid food in a month. Before them stands a row of large photographs of 11 men, each draped with a wreath of red flowers. A soft-spoken woman carrying a light-blue umbrella hands out leaflets....

The beach chair protest provides an especially interesting tale, including a troubling message about America's actions abroad. The demonstrators are ethnic Iranians, most of them U.S. citizens. They are pressing the Obama administration to intervene to protect about 3,400 Iranian exiles in Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad, which was stormed by Iraqi security forces July 28. The 11 men in the photographs were killed (plus one other), and hundreds of the camp's unarmed residents were injured. U.S. military forces stationed nearby, who once pledged solemnly to safeguard the camp's residents, stayed out of it.

"This is going to bring attention that people are getting beaten and killed in a place where you [the U.S. government] promised to protect them," said Zahra Rashidi, 51, of Chantilly....

The embarrassment for Washington is that it made a show earlier in the decade of assuring Ashraf's residents that they would be safe in exchange for their formal agreement to disarm and repudiate violence. The United States did so even though it has listed the MEK as a terrorist organization since 1997, mostly because of attacks that the group staged decades ago. America warmed to the MEK in part because the group provided valuable help monitoring Iran's nuclear program. In 2004, a U.S. Army general issued each Ashraf resident a written declaration with congratulations "on their recognition as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention." Read more.

U.S. Says Pakistan Made Changes to Missiles Sold for Defense

U.S. Says Pakistan Made Changes to Missiles Sold for Defense
By Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger | NY Times

The United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India, according to senior administration and Congressional officials.

The charge, which set off a new outbreak of tensions between the United States and Pakistan, was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials.

The accusation comes at a particularly delicate time, when the administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, and when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attentions on fighting the Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.

While American officials say that the weapon in the latest dispute is a conventional one — based on the Harpoon antiship missiles that were sold to Pakistan by the Reagan administration as a defensive weapon in the cold war — the subtext of the argument is growing concern about the speed with which Pakistan is developing new generations of both conventional and nuclear weapons.

“There’s a concerted effort to get these guys to slow down,” one senior administration official said. “Their energies are misdirected.” Read more.

ElBaradei Foes Leak Stories to Force His Hand on Iran

ElBaradei Foes Leak Stories to Force His Hand on Iran
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS News

Western officials leaked stories to the Associated Press and Reuters last week aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.

The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear programme, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003.

The story by Reuters United Nations correspondent Louis Charbonneau reported that "several" officials from those states had said the IAEA has "credible information" suggesting that the U.S. intelligence estimate was "incorrect".

The issue of credibility of the NIE is particularly sensitive right now because the United States, Britain, France and Germany are anticipating tough negotiations with Russia and China on Iran's nuclear programme in early September.

The two parallel stories by Charbonneau and Associated Press correspondent George Jahn in Vienna, both published Aug. 20, show how news stories based on leaks from officials with a decided agenda, without any serious effort to provide an objective historical text or investigation of their accuracy, can seriously distort an issue.

Reflecting the hostile attitude of the quartet of Western governments and Israel toward ElBaradei, the stories suggested that ElBaradei has been guilty of a cover-up in refusing to publish information he has had since last September alleging that Iran has continued to pursue research on developing nuclear weapons. Read more.

Walk for Peace In Wisconsin

WALK FOR PEACE IN WISCONSIN
By Jay Kvale (Minnesota Peace Project) for Voices for Creative Nonviolence

About 40 peace activists gathered at Mill Bluff Park in western Wisconsin on Thursday, August 6, for the Walk for Peace organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The event began with a solemn ceremony commemorating the tragic atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 64 years ago.

On Friday morning the Walk began from Camp Williams with leaders Jeff Leys and Dan Pearson holding a large banner proclaiming the objectives -- end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, keep the Wisconsin National Guard home, ban depleted uranium munitions, ban nuclear weapons, and provide compensation for war victims. Another large banner said, “Hiroshima – Never Again.” Despite a steady rain during the second half of the 13-mile leg, the walkers arrived in Tomah by early afternoon, led by 10-year old Kasey Ball.

My Book Is Now Available from Publisher Before Stores Get It

"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.

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