Progress in Iran Nuclear Talks Depends on the Israeli Government Coming Clean on its Nuclear Disinformation Campaigns
One of the sticking points in the on-going Iran nuclear negotiations is the fate of the so-called “Possible Military Dimensions” (aka “Alleged Studies”) file. This is a compendium of allegations against Iran’s nuclear program – largely gathered by third-party intelligence agencies – that the IAEA would like Iran to respond to. Not only are the allegations largely outside the IAEA legal authority and expertise (because they do not directly deal with nuclear material diversion), but Iran has not been allowed to see much of this secret evidence that is being used against it. Such a process is, of course, not consistent with normal Western legal practice. Iran has responded to what little it has been shown of the PMD file by saying that the evidence thus far shown is fabricated.
Though this Iranian response is often cast as Iran “not cooperating with the IAEA” (or “refusing to discuss the matter”), another possibility must be considered: that Iran is correct. That is, that at least some the evidence has indeed been cooked-up by an adversarial Intelligence service (or by an agent recruited by such an Intelligence service).
A wonderful new book by Gudrun Harrer on the IAEA inspections in Iraq sheds some light on which countries could be involved in fabricating and planting such fake nuclear “evidence”. On p. 185 of the book, it is confirmed that Israel provided the IAEA with false information on Laser Isotope Separation activities in Iraq. The reference for this information is the author’s interview with David Albright of ISIS (see at this insert the relevant scanned pages from the book):
Israel has, of course, long been suspected of being behind some of the forged and suspect evidence against Iran: the neutron initiators, AP graphs, etc., but until now it was hard to definitely pin the blame on that country. Thanks to David Albright at ISIS, we now know that Israel has been guilty of planting disinformation with the IAEA in the past.
The German intelligence agency has also discredited much of the secret evidence against Iran.
Having myself analyzed some of what is (evidently) in this PMD file – with Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies – I can say that the evidence is certainly of poor quality and/or an amateurish forgery. It does not look like anything a state-level research scientist would produce. There are large and conspicuous mathematical and physical errors in the material.
Similarly, Robert Kelley has assessed that at least some of the evidence purporting to show weaponization research work continuing past 2004 is less than compelling:
[The] evidence, according to the IAEA, tells us Iran embarked on a four-year program, starting around 2006, to validate the design of a device to produce a burst of neutrons that could initiate a fission chain reaction. Though I cannot say for sure what source the agency is relying on, I can say for certain that this project was earlier at the center of what appeared to be a misinformation campaign…. Mohamed ElBaradei, who was then the agency’s director general, rejected the information because there was no chain of custody for the paper, no clear source, document markings, date of issue or anything else that could establish its authenticity…
David Albright’s confirmation of Israeli nuclear disinformation goes hand-in-glove with statements from former IAEA director, and Nobel Prize winner, Mohammed ElBaradei. In his biography, ElBaradei says that the documents that the IAEA had about the alleged neutron initiators in Iran circa 2008 were given to the Agency by Israel. He further states that Israel gave him permission to show the evidence to Iran.
So the question is, why has the IAEA not cooperated with Iran in evaluating material like they did with Iraq circa 1995, in the incident mentioned by Harrer?
Iran could be genuinely helpful if they were allowed to see the original evidence and comment on it. When the IAEA worked with Iraq to evaluate documents, the Iraqis helpfully pointed out mistakes that the IAEA could independently confirm. Isn’t that the example we would like to see with Iran?
Being charged with secret evidence also goes against every notion of Western justice. The IAEA either needs to drop the PMD file, or amend their procedures.
Unfortunately, it is quite likely that the Israeli government is once again carrying out nuclear disinformation, possibly in collaboration with the MEK, an Iranian terrorist – in some nations, formerly terrorist – organization opposed to the current Iranian regime.
Over the past weekend, it was also confirmed that Israel masterminded the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. These assassinations, too, perhaps were carried out with local MEK collaboration. If the Israeli government is capable of assassinating civilian Iranian scientists, would fabricating nuclear intel on Iran trouble their consciences? Presumably not. Especially as they have done it in the past, according to David Albright at ISIS.
Before further pursuing Iran on the PMD file – which may contain substantial forged evidence – it would make sense to ask Israel to come clean about any fabricated intelligence it may have planted with the IAEA. It is quite possible that some of the PMD file is not fake. Israel’s assistance and cooperation in identifying what is fake and what is not would be most helpful. If David Albright of ISIS has further insight into this – as he did in the Iraqi case – his involvement would also, of course, be very welcome.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to give credibility to hyperbolic Israeli statements about Iran’s underhandedness in pursuing its nuclear program, when Israel itself has been underhanded in pursuing clandestine disinformation campaigns against NPT states, while itself remaining resolutely outside the NPT.
There are several points for the IAEA to consider in light of these recent developments:
1. Should the IAEA reject all evidence from Israel against Iran and other adversarial states now?
2. Should the IAEA, generally, not accept intelligence from non-NPT states?
3. The IAEA should show Iran any evidence it wants an Iranian response on. Anything less is not consistent with Western notions of justice. Furthermore such cooperation could unveil the origin of any possible forgeries in the PMD file.
4. The IAEA and the US should ask Israel to come clean on any fabricated “evidence” it may have inserted into the PMD file.
5. As I have suggested previously, it would be best to simply drop the PMD file as it relates to decade old unauthenticated allegations of possible research. It is not even clear that what is in the PMD file – even if true – would be a violation of the NPT or the safeguards agreement.
6. If the IAEA really wants to pursue the content of the PMD in a legal way they can initiate special inspections or undertake arbitration as provided for in the CSA. The IAEA does not even have the technical expertise in-house to undertake investigations of missiles, warheads etc. which are mentioned in the PMD file.
7. Since Iran is now in compliance with its safeguards agreement, Iran’s nuclear file – currently hung-up in the Security Council – should return to the IAEA. The referral to the Security Council was unorthodox and politicized to begin with, and there is no rationale for Iran’s nuclear file to remain there post-2008. (Footnote 38 of the latest IAEA report on Iran makes clear that the remaining issues are not IAEA safeguards issues but extraneous UNSC ones).
8. This also means that the UNSC nuclear-related sanctions on Iran should now be dropped. In fact, they ought to have been dropped in 2008.
David Albright must be commended for his helpful insight into fabricated Israeli intelligence in Iraq, and hopefully can assist in tracking down similar disinformation in the case of Iran.
Relatedly, we must thank him and ISIS also for showing the international community expensive satellite pictures of Parchin, in which one can see that west of the paving activity, the site is untouched, and so the IAEA could get environmental samples there (if they even needed those). This undercuts ISIS’ own conclusion that the site has been magically “sanitized” by paving. Normally, of course, the IAEA would take such swipe samples from within the buildings where any suspect U naturally collects: in the corners and at the places where the walls meet the floor.
The technical weaknesses in ISIS’ and IAEA’s approach to Parchin were previously commented on.
The IAEA’s technically unsound obsession with environmental sampling at Parchin may also mean they are confusing the site at Marivan (where open-air implosion tests may have taken place) with the site at Parchin (where implosions in a chamber are alleged).
From the May 2008 Board report, referring to the Marivan site:
A.2. High Explosives Testing
Document 3: Five page document in English describing experimentation undertaken with a complex multipoint initiation system to detonate a substantial amount of high explosive in hemispherical geometry and to monitor the development of the detonation wave in that high explosive using a considerable number of diagnostic probes.
And the alleged weapons’ studies annex Nov 2011:
43. Information provided to the Agency by the same Member State referred to in the previous paragraph describes the multipoint initiation concept referred to above as being used by Iran in at least one large scale experiment in 2003 to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell. […...] Further information provided to the Agency by the same Member State indicates that the large scale high explosive experiments were conducted by Iran in the region of Marivan.
So what is the point of carrying out environmental sampling at Parchin (where chamber experiments are alleged) and not at Marivan where open-air experiments were allegedly done? Is the IAEA – and ISIS – confused between Marivan and Parchin?
The IAEA’s unprofessionalism in vetting the content of the PMD file, and in the obsession over Parchin (which the IAEA visited twice already) vs. Marivan smacks of an agenda to target Iran rather than any sound technical analysis. It is likely to blow up the Iran nuclear deal for no good reason. Iran has cooperated with the IAEA on the PMD file by saying that the material it was shown was fabricated – this may be true. Now Israel should also cooperate and come clean about what forged material – or material from compromised sources like “Curveball” – may be within this file. David Albright, with his past knowledge and evident expertise in fabricated Israeli intelligence should also step up to the plate.
And, certainly, Iran should be shown any evidence it is being asked to answer to by the IAEA. The Agency should also spend about half an hour and check whether the site it is interested in for environmental sampling is Marivan or Parchin. Environmental sampling at Parchin makes little sense. At Parchin, swipes would be taken from within the buildings since chamber-based implosions are alleged. While it is at it, the IAEA should also review the technical basis of their conclusions on Syria.
It is hard to take the Agency seriously when it persists in being blatantly unprofessional.
Dr Jim Walsh, a research associate at MIT, has an excellent suggestion about what to do with Iran’s “PMD” file – as paraphrased by Mark Hibbs: “If the nuclear activities were in the past, I don’t care. It’s dead, and it’s regretful, but let’s do a deal with Iran that moves forward.”
But before we do that, the IAEA should ask Israel to come clean about its potential role in fabricating some of the “evidence” within the PMD file.
Dr. Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is Director of the Emerging Technologies Program at the Cultural Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based cultural awareness among individuals, institutions, and governments. The views expressed here are his own.
Below are the remarks of US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew before the 2014 Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC) These are clearly the remarks of the banker for the Empire. It should be noted that Lew’s remarks on Ukraine appear to be in line with those of Rand Paul and though Lew’s comments clearly show that he considers Israel as the 51st, and most important state, his views on sanctions are more moderate than those of Rand.
Read the remarks only if you have a strong stomach. Note the re-introduction of the IMF as key financial enforcer. During a stop over in SF, Lew admitted that the IMF is a tool of the US.
I want to thank President Kassen, incoming President Cohen, the Board of Directors, and everyone for inviting me here today. There are so many familiar faces in this room—friends of many years from my time in Washington, New York, and around the country. It is truly wonderful to be with you.
Before turning to the focus of my remarks, let me say that we are closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine with grave concern. As President Obama told President Putin yesterday, Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity is a breach of international law. I have spoken several times to the Ukrainian Prime Minister who assures me that the government is prepared to take the necessary steps to build a secure economic foundation, including urgently needed market reforms that will restore financial stability, unleash economic potential, and allow Ukraine’s people to better achieve their economic aspirations.
The United States is prepared to work with its bilateral and multilateral partners to provide as much support as Ukraine needs to restore financial stability and return to economic growth, if the new government implements the necessary reforms.
An IMF program should be the centerpiece of the international assistance package, and the United States is prepared to supplement IMF support in order to make successful reform implementation more likely and to cushion the impact of needed reforms on vulnerable Ukrainians.
Now the reason we are all here is because for more than 40 years, AIPAC has been the indispensable leader in keeping the alliance between the United States and Israel unbreakable. And you have done that through your powerful example of advocacy and activism—you make your voices heard, you take your case to your representatives here in Washington, and you stand up for what you believe in. This is not just your right as Americans. It is your responsibility. It is the essence of our democratic system.
And as everyone here recognizes, the future of the United States is tied to the future of Israel. This is something that every President since Harry Truman has understood.
In fact, in 1948, it took President Truman only 11 minutes to recognize the Jewish state of Israel. And from then on, the American-Israel relationship has not been a Democratic cause or a Republican cause, it has been an American cause.
President Obama has remained true to this proud legacy since the first day he took office, and he has made it clear that for him and for this Administration, America’s commitment to Israel is ironclad. As he said as President-elect, before he even took office: “Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is nonnegotiable.” And he has never wavered from that position.
Like the President, Israel’s security is not only a public policy conviction for me, it is a personal one. As many of you know, no one grew up with a deeper appreciation for the state of Israel than I did. And I have no doubt that a strong and secure Israel is vital to America’s strength and America’s security.
As we meet, America’s support for Israel’s security has never been stronger. And over the next three days, you’re going to hear about all the things that the Administration is doing to advance Israel’s security—from promoting a lasting peace with the Palestinians to preserving Israel’s military edge so it can protect itself against any threat.
Today, I will discuss one of the most pressing national security concerns for Israel and the United States—and that is Iran’s nuclear program.
Let us not forget that when President Obama took office, Iran was strengthening its position throughout the region and the international community was unable to provide a unified response. But because of President Obama’s leadership, Congressional actions, American diplomacy, which AIPAC has supported, we put in place a historic sanctions regime and Iran now finds itself under the greatest economic and financial pressure any country has ever experienced.
Initially, many claimed sanctions on Iran would never work, but we have proven exactly the opposite. From the beginning, this sanctions program has had one purpose: Persuade Iran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. There can be no alternative.
To be clear, we never imposed sanctions just for the sake of imposing sanctions. We did it to isolate Iran and sharpen the choice for the regime in Tehran. And we did it by bringing the community of nations together. We are talking about China, Russia, India, Japan, Europe, Canada, South Korea, and the list goes on.
Having the international community united in opposition to Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon made an enormous difference.
We now have in place the most sweeping, most powerful, most innovative, and most comprehensive sanctions regime in history. And because of the impact of these unprecedented, international sanctions, Iran finally came to the negotiating table seeking relief and fully aware that to get relief, it had to take concrete steps to curtail its nuclear program. Those negotiations led to the Joint Plan of Action, which went into effect in January.
Today, for the first time in a decade, progress on Iran’s nuclear program has been halted and key elements have been rolled back.
The temporary deal struck in Geneva provides us with a six-month diplomatic window to try to hammer out a comprehensive, long-term resolution, without fear that Iran, in the meantime, will advance its nuclear program. Now, I want to emphasize something: Before we agree to any comprehensive deal, Iran will have to provide real proof that its nuclear program, whatever it consists of, is—and will remain—exclusively peaceful.
This deal will only be acceptable if we are certain that Iran could not threaten Israel or any other nation with a nuclear weapon.
Yet make no mistake: Even as we pursue diplomacy, and even as we deliver on our commitments to provide limited sanctions relief, the vast majority of our sanctions remain firmly in place. Right now, these sanctions are imposing the kind of intense economic pressure that continues to provide a powerful incentive for Iran to negotiate. And we have sent the very clear signal to the leadership in Tehran that if these talks do not succeed, then we are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Iran and that all options remain on the table to block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We are under no illusions about who we are dealing with. Iran has threatened Israel’s very existence, supports terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, and has failed to live up to its promises in the past.
Still, it is critically important that we give negotiations, backed by continuing economic pressure, a chance to succeed. I have sat with two presidents as they weighed the enormous decision to send men and women into harm’s way to protect our nation. And while all options must remain available, I believe it is our responsibility to do as much as we reasonably can to reserve force as a last option.
This is as much a strategic obligation as it is a moral one. You see, maintaining the sanctions regime that has crippled Iran’s economy requires international cooperation. No amount of U.S. sanctions would have the same crippling power as this international effort. For other nations to continue to remain steadfast with us, they need to know that we have given negotiations every chance to succeed. And if the moment comes when we have to use force, the whole world needs to understand that we did everything possible to achieve change through diplomacy.
To that end, we do not believe that now is the time to adopt new sanctions legislation. We do not need new sanctions now – the sanctions in place are working to bring Iran to the negotiating table and passing new sanctions now could derail the talks that are underway and splinter the international cooperation that has made our sanctions regime so effective. But as I have said, and as President Obama has said, we continue to consult closely with Congress, and if these talks fail, we will be the first to seek even tougher sanctions.
Now, in the next two days or so, you may hear some say that the very narrow relief in the interim agreement has unraveled the sanctions regime or eased the choke-hold on Iran’s economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I want to take a few moments to go through a few basic facts.
The Treasury Department, which administers and enforces the sanctions, monitors the numbers carefully. And when you consider the ongoing sanctions that remain in place, the temporary, targeted, and reversible sanctions relief is extremely limited—totaling an estimated $7 billion. To put that into context, during the same six month period, Iran will lose roughly $30 billion in oil sales alone from the sanctions that remain in place.
Put simply, this relief will not enable Iran’s economy to recover from the deep economic damage inflicted by the sanctions program. The bulk of this relief does not come from suspending sanctions on economic activity like manufacturing or exports. It comes from the measured release of Iran’s own funds that are now impounded in overseas banks. The fact is, because of years of sanctions enforcement, Iran has about $100 billion locked up in overseas banks. The interim agreement allows Iran to access $4.2 billion of these funds.
I want to underscore that Iran’s access to this limited relief is neither immediate nor instantaneous. It will be provided in separate installments on a rolling basis over the six-month period of the Joint Plan, and it will only flow if Iran demonstrates week by week that it continues to comply with its agreement to freeze and rollback its enrichment program.
Other measures amount to less than $2 billion — the limited suspension of sanctions on the export of plastics, the import of parts for Iran’s automotive sector, and tuition assistance for students studying abroad. And the core architecture that makes the program work, oil and financial sanctions, remains in effect fully.
If at any point Iran fails to fulfill its commitments under the Joint Plan, the money will stop, and the suspended sanctions will snap right back into place. And when the six-month deal expires, so does the relief.
The bottom-line is: Promises are not enough—Iran must meet its obligations. This is not a case of trust and verify. This is a case of verify everything.
No matter what, Iran’s economy will continue to feel severe economic pressure from our ongoing sanctions regime. For example, our oil sanctions that remain in place have forced Iran’s oil exports to drop by more than 60 percent over the last two years. And we will continue to enforce them.
All told, the crushing sanctions have deeply damaged economic conditions in Iran. There are four key indicators that tell the whole story: first, last year the economy shrunk by 6 percent and it is expected to shrink again this year; second, the value of its currency, the rial, has plummeted, having lost about 60 percent of its value against the dollar; third, the unemployment rate is over 15 percent; and finally, the inflation rate is about 30 percent, one of the highest in the world.
The economic sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy on many fronts.
Claims that Iran’s economy is undergoing a recovery because of the Joint Plan of Action are just plain wrong. After the election of President Rouhani last June, and well before the Joint Plan took effect, there was a slight drop in the country’s very high inflation rate and small improvements in other economic indicators. This was due to a wave of public optimism that greeted the election of a new president, the appointment of a more capable economic team, and the hope that a deal to lift sanctions would soon materialize.
But the slight improvements in these indicators only mean that a badly wounded economy is not getting worse. It does not mean the economy is getting better. And it certainly does not mean that the Joint Plan has led to a recovery.
Further, if Iran fails to reach a deal with us, business and consumer confidence will quickly erode as will many of the gains the economy has seen over the last few months.
Iran’s economy suffered a serious blow from sanctions, and the impact of sanctions is not being reversed. Iran’s economy remains in the same state of distress that brought the government to the table in the first place. Imagine how any economy would feel, if, by a recovery, it meant leveling off at the bottom of a recession. That is what is happening in Iran today.
There is no question that the relief provided under the six-month plan will not steer Iran’s economy to a real recovery. It is a drop in the bucket. In fact, there will be a net deepening of the impact of sanctions when you consider the new damage that will be inflicted like the $30 billion in additional lost oil sales.
What this relief will do is give the people of Iran and their leaders a small taste of how things could improve if they were to take the steps necessary to join the community of nations. This is a choice for Iran to make. If it wants to pull its economy out of the deep hole it is in, it must remove any doubt that its nuclear program is peaceful and come to a comprehensive agreement with the international community. Until then, we will remain steadfast in our enforcement of U.S. and international sanctions.
Now, when I say we remain firm in our enforcement of sanctions, these are not just words, we are talking about action. For instance, shortly after the Joint Plan went into effect, we moved against more than 30 Iran-related entities and individuals around the globe for evading U.S. sanctions, for aiding Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation, and for supporting terrorism. As President Obama recently said, if anyone, anywhere engages in unauthorized economic activity with Tehran, the United States will—and I quote—“come down on them like a ton of bricks.”
I have personally delivered that message to hundreds of business and banking executives in America and around the world, and we are in regular contact with our international partners—including Israel—to sustain the pressure on Iran’s government.
On top of that, our enforcement officials at the Treasury Department who have been responsible for crafting and implementing this historic sanctions regime have been traveling around the world and putting their expertise and unremitting effort to bear to keep Iran isolated.
Even though I have said this before, it bears repeating: Iran is not open for business. Have no doubt, we are well aware that business people have been talking to the Iranians. We have been very clear that the moment those talks turn into improper deals, we will respond with speed and force. Anyone who violates our sanctions will face severe penalties. Our vigilance has not, cannot, and will not falter.
In closing, let me say, this is a time of great uncertainty. But during difficult times like these, the bonds between the United States and Israel do not grow weaker, they grow stronger.
The U.S.-Israel relationship, which is rooted in our shared story of people yearning to be masters of their own destiny, is as vibrant as ever. And that vibrancy is very much on display here. As I look out across this room, I am reminded of how every year hundreds of young people come to this conference from every corner of the United States. They travel to our nation’s capital because of their boundless hope, their sense of duty, and their unshakeable belief that the future can be brighter, better, more prosperous and more secure. And I am confident that by all of us working together, we can make that happen.
The US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, has told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that all options against Iran “remain on the table.”
Lew, who is the highest ranking Jewish member of the administration of President Barack Obama, made the remarks on the opening day of AIPAC’s annual meeting which began on Sunday in Washington, D.C., and will end on Tuesday.
He also assured the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US that “the vast majority of” Washington’s sanctions against Iran “remain in place,” adding “all options remain on the table.”
“You may hear some say that the very narrow relief in the interim agreement has unraveled the sanctions regime or eased the choke-hold on Iran’s economy,” Lew said at AIPAC’s 2014 Policy Conference. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In an interview with HuffPost Live earlier this year, Noam Chomsky said Washington’s threats of war against Iran are a violation of the United Nations Charter and there is no justification for the US sanctions against Iran as the US intelligence reports do not prove Iran is pursuing non-civilian purposes in its nuclear energy program.
AIPAC is currently pressing the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Iran. Prior to its annual meeting, the lobby group distributed a position paper to congressional offices that demanded the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear energy program in order for a final agreement to be reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US – plus Germany.
AIPAC also released a letter from a bipartisan group of senators to Obama, which said US Congress needed “to rapidly and dramatically expand sanctions” against Iran.
This comes as a new study published by The Iran Project shows that new sanctions against Iran sought by hawkish senators on Capitol Hill would undermine the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear energy program and “would increase the probability of war.”
Iran and the P5+1 group signed an interim nuclear agreement in Geneva, Switzerland, last November. The deal is aimed at setting the stage for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old standoff with Tehran over its nuclear energy program.
In exchange for Iran’s confidence-building bid to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, the six world powers agreed to lift some of the existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The two sides continued their talks in the Austrian capital Vienna last month in order to reach a final agreement. According to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, the talks concluded on February 20 with “an agreement on the framework and plan of action for the comprehensive nuclear talks.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has already stated that Iran’s nuclear energy program “will remain intact” while the country is willing to address international concerns about its nuclear activities.
It is becoming clear that the Nuland/neocon/NED campaign against Russia in Ukraine was probably a covert action intended to punish Russia for not supporting US/Israeli/Saudi and Turkish policy in Syria and to some extent with regard to Iran.
I have no specific knowledge of US actions in this but “back azimuths” run into events and actors make the true story obvious. Was there to be a second phase of the spread of revolution, a phase aimed at Russia itself? We will probably never know.
In any case Putin has called Obama’s bluff:
“Mr. Putin’s request, largely a formality, signaled publicly for the first time the Kremlin’s readiness to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and it served as a blunt response to President Obama, who just hours earlier pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty. Even as Mr. Putin submitted his request to the Senate, formally called the Federation Council, it was clear that forces allied with Moscow were largely in control of the disputed peninsula.” – NY Times
You should not threaten if you are not prepared to act. The Russian Strategic Missile Forces have the ability to end civilization in North America. The same is true with regard to the capabilities of US missile forces if they were applied to the Eurasian land mass.
For those who have forgotten or never knew, this is called MAD (mutual assured destruction). Russian and US ICBM forces cancel each other out as instruments of war.
Obama threatened penalties for Russia for disobedience to his warnings.
What could they be?
- Conventional war conducted by the US in Russia’s back yard would be very foolish. The risk of escalation to nuclear war would loom large.
- The editorial board of the Washington Post suggests diplomatic and economic sanctions against Russia.
- We would close our diplomatic posts in Russia and withdraw our ambassador?
- We would boycott the G-8 meeting in Sochi?
- We would persuade the Europeans to boycott Russian natural gas?
- We would seek UN sanctions against Russia? They would veto anything like that.
- We would not allow them to participate in diplomacy involving Syria and Iran?
You get the picture.
Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has rejected Israel’s demand to release an alleged report about the Iranian nuclear energy work, saying there is no report that may indicate any diversion in Tehran’s program.
“The IAEA has not prepared any report containing new information relating to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,” spokeswoman Gill Tudor said on Friday.
The remarks came after Israel demanded that the UN nuclear watchdog agency go public with all information it has regarding the Iranian nuclear energy work.
The demand was made following a Thursday report by Reuters alleging that the agency had held off an update over the Iranian nuclear energy program last year due to concerns that it may undermine nuclear talks with Tehran.
“The agency’s reports on Iran to its Board of Governors are factual and impartial. Their content is not influenced by political considerations,” Tudor added.
Iran has repeatedly emphasized that its nuclear energy program is meant for civilian purposes.
Officials in Tehran have already called on the IAEA to come clean on anything it has regarding the suspicions over the diversion of the Iranian nuclear energy program.
However, the agency has so far found no diversion in Iran’s nuclear program to publicize it.
Iran is in talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, China, France, the UK and the US — plus Germany to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
The two sides inked an interim nuclear deal in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013. The Geneva deal took effect on January 20. The two sides are now in pursuit of a final comprehensive deal.
Israel’s allegations against Iran come as the Tel Aviv regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads.
Furthermore, the Israeli regime has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Barack Obama administration has demanded that Iran resolve “past and present concerns” about the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program as a condition for signing a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Administration officials have suggested that Iran must satisfy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the allegations in the agency’s report that it has had a covert nuclear weapons program in the past.
But the record of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA shows Tehran has been ready for the past two years to provide detailed responses to all the charges of an Iranian nuclear weapons work, and that the problem has been the refusal of the IAEA to share with Iran the documentary evidence on which those allegations have been based.
The real obstacle to providing those documents, however, has long been a U.S. policy of refusing to share the documents on the assumption that Iran must confess to having had a weaponization program.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, declared February 12, “The authenticity of each allegation should be proven first, then the person who submitted it to the agency should give us the genuine document. When we are assured of the authenticity, then we can talk to the agency.”
Neither the IAEA nor the Obama administration has responded publicly to Salehi’s statement. In response to a query from IPS, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, said the NSC officials would have no comment on the Iranian demand for access to the documents.
The spokesperson for IAEA Director Yukiya Amano did not answer a request from IPS Thursday for the agency’s comment.
But a draft text of an agreement being negotiated between the IAEA and Iran dated February 20, 2012, shows that the only difference between the two sides on resolving issues about allegations of Iranian nuclear weapons work was Iran’s demand to have the documents on which the allegations are based.
The draft text, which was later published on the website of the Arms Control Association, reflects Iran’s deletions and additions to the original IAEA proposal. It calls for Iran to provide a “conclusive technical assessment” of a set of six “topics”, which included 12 distinct charges in the report in a particular order that the IAEA desired.
Iran and the IAEA agreed that Iran would provide a “conclusive technical assessment” on a list of 10 issues in a particular order. The only topics that Iran proposed to delete from the list were “management structure” and “Procurement activities”, which did not involve charges of specifically nuclear weapons work.
The two sides had agreed in the draft that the IAEA would provide a “detailed explanation of its concerns”. But they had failed to agree on provision of documents to Iran by the IAEA. The IAEA had proposed language that the agency would provide Iran with the relevant documents only “where appropriate”. Iran was insisting on deletion of that qualifying phrase from the draft.
The first priority on the list of topics to which both sides had agreed in the draft was “Parchin” – referring to the claim of intelligence from an unnamed state that Iran had installed a large cylinder at the Parchin military reservation.
A November 2011 IAEA report suggested the cylinder was intended for testing nuclear weapons designs and had been built with the assistance of a “foreign expert”. Iran also agreed to respond in detail on the issue of the “foreign expert”, who has been identified as Vyacheslav Danilenko, a Ukrainian specialist on nanodiamonds.
The evidence associated with that claim and others published in the 2011 report shows that they were based on intelligence reports and documents given to the IAEA by Israel in 2008-09. Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei referred to a series of documents provided by Israel in his 2012 memoirs.
Iran also agreed to respond in detail to allegations that Iran had sought to integrate a nuclear weapon into the reentry vehicle of the Shahab-3 missile, and that it had developed high explosives as a “detonator” for a nuclear weapon.
Both alleged activities had been depicted or described in documents reported in the U.S. news media in 2005-06 as having come from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Those documents, about whose authenticity ElBaradei and other senior IAEA officials have publicly expressed serious doubts, have now been revealed as having been given to Western intelligence by an anti-regime Iranian terrorist organization.
Former senior German foreign office official Karsten Voigt revealed in an interview last year for a newly published book by this writer that senior officials of the German intelligence agency BND had told him in November 2004 that the BND had gotten the entire collection of documents from a member of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) who had been one of their sources, and that they did not consider the source to be reliable.
The MEK, considered by the United States and European states as a terrorist organization, had been used by Saddam Hussein’s regime to support the war against Iran and by Israel to issue intelligence and propaganda that Mossad did not want attributed to it.
ElBaradei, who retired from the IAEA in November 2009, had declared repeatedly that sharing the documents was necessary to ensure “due process” in resolving the issue, but the United States had prevented him from doing so.
In his final statement to the Board of Governors on September 7, 2009 he appealed to “those who provided the information related to the alleged weaponization studies to share with Iran as much information as possible.”
A former IAEA official, who asked not to be identified, told IPS that the United States had allowed only a very limited number of documents to be shown to Iran in the form of Power Point slides projected on a screen.
A May 2008 IAEA report described a number of documents purported to be from the Iranian weapons program but said that the IAEA “was not in possession of the documents and was therefore unfortunately unable to make them available to Iran.”
Around 100 pages of documents were given by the United States to the agency to share with Iran, the former official said, but none of the documents described in the report were among them.
The U.S. policy of denying Iranian access to the documents continued during the Obama administration, as shown by a U.S. diplomatic cable from Vienna dated April 29, 2009 and released by WikiLeaks. At a P5+1 technical meeting, both U.S. and IAEA officials were quoted as implying that the objective of the policy was to press Iran to confess to the activities portrayed in the papers.
U.S. officials said that a failure by Iran to “disclose any past weaponization-related work” would “suggest Iran wishes to hide and pursue its past work, perhaps to keep a future weapons option”.
IAEA Safeguards Chief Olli Heinonen made it clear that no copies of the relevant documents charging Iran with weaponization would be provided to Iran and complained that Iran had continued to claim that the documents were fabricated.
In its report of November 14, 2013, the IAEA said it had received more information – presumably from Israel – that “corroborates the analysis” in its 2011 report.
The past unwillingness of the Obama administration to entertain the possibility that the documents provided by the MEK were fabricated or to allow Iran the opportunity to prove that through close analysis of the documents, and the IAEA’s continued commitment to the weaponization information it has published suggest that the issue of past claims will be just as contentious as the technical issues to be negotiated, if not more so.
Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing 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”, was published Feb. 14.
The Barack Obama administration’s insistence that Iran discuss its ballistic missile programme in the negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement brings its position into line with that of Israel and senators who introduced legislation drafted by the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC aimed at torpedoing the negotiations.
But the history of the issue suggests that the Obama administration knows that Iran will not accept the demand and that it is not necessary to a final agreement guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear programme is not used for a weapon.
White House spokesman Jay Carney highlighted the new U.S. demand in a statement Wednesday that the Iranians “have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program.”
Carney cited United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, approved in 2010, which prohibited any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including missile launches. “So that’s completely agreed by Iran in the Joint Plan of Action,” he added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif not only explicitly contradicted Carney’s claim that Iran had agreed to discuss ballistic missiles but warned that a U.S. demand for discussion of its missile programme would violate a red line for Iran.
“Nothing except Iran’s nuclear activities will be discussed in the talks with the [six powers known as the P5+1], and we have agreed on it,” he said, according to Iran’s IRNA.
The push back by Zarif implies that the U.S. position would seriously risk the breakdown of the negotiations if the Obama administration were to persist in making the demand.
Contrary to Carney’s statement, the topic of ballistic missiles is not part of the interim accord reached last November. The Joint Plan of Action refers only to “addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council’s consideration of this matter” and the formation of a “Joint Commission” which would “work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern”.
It is not even clear that the U.S. side took the position in the talks last fall that Iran’s missile programme had to be on the table in order to complete a final agreement. But in any event it was not part of the Joint Plan of Action agreed on Nov. 24.
Past U.S. statements on the problem of the Security Council resolutions indicate that the administration had previously acknowledged that no agreement had been reached to negotiate on ballistic missiles and that it had not originally intended to press for discussions on the issue.
The “senior administration officials” who briefed journalists on the Joint Plan of Action last November made no reference to ballistic missiles at all. They referred only to “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear programme and to “Iranian activities at Parchin”.
The demand for negotiations on Iran’s missile programme originated with Israel, both directly and through Senate Foreign Relations Committee members committed to AIPAC’s agenda.
Citing an unnamed senior Israeli official, Ha’aretz reported Thursday that Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz had met with Sherman and senior French and British foreign ministry officials before the start of the February talks and had emphasised that Iran’s missile programme “must be part of the agenda” for negotiation of a final agreement.
By early December, however, Israel was engaged in an even more direct effort to pressure the administration to make that demand, drafting a bill that explicitly included among its provisions one that would have required new sanctions unless the president certified that “Iran has not conducted any tests for ballistic missiles with a range exceeding 500 kilometers.”
Since Iran had obviously tested missiles beyond that limit long ago, it would have made it impossible for Obama to make such a certification.
Although the bill was stopped, at least temporarily, in the Senate when enough Democratic members refused to support it, Republicans on the committee continued to attack the administration’s negotiating position, and began singling out the administration’s tolerance of Iranian missiles in particular.
At a Feb. 4 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, the ranking Republican on the Committee, Sen. Robert Corker, ripped into Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator in the nuclear talks with Iran.
After a highly distorted picture of Iran’s readiness to build a nuclear weapon, Corker asked, “Why did you all not in this agreement in any way address the delivery mechanisms, the militarizing of nuclear arms? Why was that left off since they breached a threshold everyone acknowledges?”
But instead of correcting Corker’s highly distorted characterisation of the situation, Sherman immediately reassured him that the administration would do just what he wanted them to do.
Sherman admitted that the November agreement covering the next months had not “shut down all the production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon.” Then she added, “But that is indeed something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”
Sherman also suggested at one point that there would be no real need to prohibit any Iranian missile if the negotiations on the nuclear programme were successful. “Not having a nuclear weapon,” she said, “makes delivery systems almost — not wholly, but almost — irrelevant.”
That admission underlined the wholly political purpose of the administration’s apparent embrace of the Israeli demand that Iran negotiate limits on its ballistic missiles.
The Obama administration may be seeking to take political credit for a hard line on Iranian missiles in the knowledge that it will not be able to get a consensus for that negotiating position among the group of six powers negotiating with Iran.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov clearly implied that Moscow would not support such a demand in a statement Thursday that Russia “considers that a comprehensive agreement must concern only and exclusively the restoration of trust in a purely peaceful intention of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Although U.S., European and Israeli officials have asserted consistently over the years that Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles are designed to carry nuclear weapons, Israel’s foremost expert on the Iranian nuclear programme, Uzi Rubin, who managed Israel’s missile defence programme throughout the 1990s, has argued that the conventional analysis was wrong.
In an interview with the hardline anti-Iran Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in September 2009, Rubin said, “The Iranians believe in conventional missiles. Not just for saturation but also to take out specific targets…. Remember, they have practically no air force to do it. Their main striking power is based on missiles.”
Since 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency has accused Iran of working on integrating a nuclear weapon into the Shahab-3 missile reentry vehicle in 2002-2003, based on a set of drawings in a set of purported Iranian documents. The documents were said by the George W. Bush administration to have come from the purloined laptop of a participant in an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research programme.
But that account turned to be a falsehood, as were other variants on the origins of the document. The documents actually came from the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the anti-regime organisation then listed as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. State Department, according to two German sources.
Karsten Voigt, who was the German foreign office coordinator, publicly warned about the MEK provenance of the papers in a November 2004 interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Voigt, who retired from the foreign office in 2010, recounted the story of how an MEK member delivered the papers to German intelligence in 2004 in an interview last year for a newly-published book by this writer.
Chaos, Corruption, Grand Theft, and an Experiment
On September 12, 2013, Syria’s President al-Assad committed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons, with the caveats that the United States must stop threatening his country and supplying weapons to the terrorists. He has been as good as his word. The same cannot be said for the US and its boot licking allies.
Three days earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry – who had been killing Vietnamese in the US onslaught on Vietnam as American ‘planes rained down 388,000 tons of chemical weapons on the Vietnamese people – had threatened Syria with a military strike if the weapons stocks were not surrendered within a week, stating that President Assad “isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
The ever trigger-happy Kerry was right on the second count. It can’t be done for two reasons — extracting dangerous chemicals from a war zone is, to massively understate, a foolhardy and hazardous business. Additionally, it seems having received Syria’s agreement, the “international community” and the Nobel Peace Prize winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had no disposal plan in place and had not a clue what to do with them, whilst at every turn Syria is blamed.
As ever double standards and hypocrisy rule. According to CNN (October 10, 2013): “The United States estimates it will be at least another decade before it completes destruction of the remaining 10% of its chemical weapons, estimated at more than 3,100 tons.” And Syria? “U.S. intelligence and other estimates put its chemical weapons stockpile at about 1,000 tons.” They are believed to be “stored in dozens of sites”, in the circumstances a logistical nightmare and a massive danger to the public and those driving them to be insisting on transporting them anywhere.
CNN also quotes Wade Mathews who had worked on “the U.S. project to destroy its chemical stockpile” who doubted that Syria could meet the deadlines. The US operation, he said, “took billions of dollars, the cooperation of many levels of government – including the military – and a safe environment to make sure the destruction was done safely. We had a coordinated effort, we had a government that insisted that it be done safely and that the community was protected … I don’t think those things are in place in Syria.”
Having received Syria’s compliance, the OPCW started shopping around for a country – any country it seems – to destroy the weapons. Norway, approached by the US, was first choice. They declined, since the country had no experience in dealing with chemical weapons, the Foreign Ministry website stating: “… Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction.” The second country approached was Albania, a request which the country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said also came direct from the United States.
According to the Berlin-based Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, Albania is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and the most corrupt in the Balkans, plummeting from a woeful 95 out of the 176 countries monitored in 2011, to 113 in 2012 and 116 in 2013, on their Corruption Perception Index.
In their end of year Report, the Initiative quotes Transparency International:
In Albania corruption is registering a new physiognomy in a favorable political environment, with characteristics like a new systems for money laundering, financing of political parties from illegal activities, the capture of the state through the control of procurement and privatization, human and narcotics trafficking and the impunity of high State officials before the justice system and the law.
Protestors against the weapons destruction took to the streets in thousands, some wearing gas masks and protective clothing. Protests also took place in neighbouring Macedonia, with rallying outside the Albanian Embassy.
Albania finally rejected with Rana apologetically grovelling to Washington: “Without the United States, Albanians would never have been free and independent in two countries that they are today”, he said referring to Albania and Kosovo and the massive March 24, 1999 – June 10, 1999 NATO and US assault on the former Yugoslavia with depleted uranium weapons which are, of course, both chemical and radioactive. A Science Applications International Report explains re the residue from the weapons:
Soluble forms present chemical hazards, primarily to the kidneys, while insoluble forms present hazards to the lungs from ionizing radiation … short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer.
In addition to concerns regarding corruption in Albania – terrorist groups would undoubtedly offer high sums for such weapons – safety might surely have been a consideration. In 2008 an explosion at an ammunition storage depot near Albania’s capitol Tirana, killed 26 people, wounded 300, and damaged or destroyed 5,100 homes. The disaster was said by investigators to be caused by a burning cigarette – in a depository for 1,400 tons of explosives.
Worse, when Albania was pressured to destroy its own chemical weapons stocks, some tons left over from the Cold War.
The U.S. offered to pay for their destruction and later hired some private company which destroyed the weapon capability of the chemicals but otherwise left a horrendous mess.
Hazardous waste was left in containers, on a concrete pad. Inevitably they started to leak.
“In late 2007-early 2008, the US hired an environmental remediation firm, Savant Environmental, who determined the problem was worse than originally thought. Many of the containers were leaking salts of heavy metals, primarily arsenic, lead and mercury.”
Moreover, the conexes – large, steel-reinforced shipping containers – were not waterproof, thus lethally contaminated condensation and water leakage dissolved some of the contaminants which leaked onto the ground.
“Savant Environmental repackaged the waste and placed it in twenty shipping containers. There it sits, visible from space”, on the concrete pad – in the open.
All in all, why was Albania considered?
It is surely coincidence that on October 3, 2013, Tony “dodgy Iraq dossier” Blair, also an enthusiastic backer of Washington and NATO in their Balkans blitz, was appointed as adviser to the Albanian government to advise the impoverished country how to get into the EU. Heaven forbid he might have advised that taking on lethal weapons no one else was prepared to touch, might tick quite a big approval box and made a call to someone somewhere in Washington. This is, of course, entirely speculation.
However, as Pravda TV opined at the time, apart from the sorely needed financial boost: “It will increase the status and prestige of a poor country in Europe, Albania is in Europe’s backyard, in this case it will be going foreground.”
Belgium and France also declined an invitation to dispose of Syria’s weapons, with Ralph Trapp, a consultant in disarming chemical weapons, quoted as saying that “there remain very few candidates” for the task; “the hunt continues” commented The Telegraph (November 18, 2013.)
The trail goes cold as to how many other governments may have been frantically begged to accept cargo loads of poisoned chalices as the US imposed clock ticked, but Italy caved in allowing around sixty containers to be transferred from a Danish cargo ship to a US ship in the Italian port of Giola Tauro, in Calabria, with further consignments also expected to arrive.
The permission caused widespread demonstrations in Southern Italy, the government accused of secrecy and one demonstrator summing up the prevailing mood: “They are telling us that the material carried is not dangerous, but, in fact, nobody knows what is inside those containers.” Not dangerous eh? Does any government, anywhere ever tell the truth?
The Giola Tauro port, which accounts for half the Calabria region’s economy “has been in crisis since 2011”, with 400 workers on temporary redundancies – out of a total workforce of 1300. Not too hard to arm twist, the cynic might think.
The port also suffers from allegations of being a “major hub for cocaine shipments to Europe by the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mafia.” However, Domenico Bagala, head of the Medcenter/Contship terminal where the operation is planned, countered with: “Since Gioia Tauro handles around a third of the containers arriving in Italy, it is normal that it has more containers that are seized”, adding, “We operate in a difficult territory but we have hi-tech security measures in place.”
Calabria is, in fact, plagued by corruption and organized crime. A classfied cable from J. Patrick Truhn, US Consul General in Naples (February 2, 2008) obtained by Wikileaks stated:
If it were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state. The ‘Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate controls vast portions of its territory and economy, and accounts for at least three percent of Italy’s GDP (probably much more) through drug trafficking, extortion and usury.
During a November 17-20 visit to all five provinces, virtually every interlocutor painted a picture of a region … throttled by the iron grip of Western Europe’s largest and most powerful organized crime syndicate, the ‘Ndrangheta.
Moreover: “The ‘Ndrangheta is the most powerful criminal organization in the world with a revenue that stands at around fifty three billion Euros (seventy two billion U.S. dollars – forty four billion British pounds)” records Wikipedia, noting operations in nine countries, on four continents. Arguably, a less ideal transit point than Calabria for a stockpile of chemical weapons would be hard to find.
Of special concern to Carmelo Cozza of the SUL trade union is the port’s neighbouring village of San Ferdinando which has protested the operation: “The schools are right next door!”
However, when it comes to dodgy dealings, organized crime could seemingly learn a thing or two from the EU. Large amounts of Syria’s financial assets, frozen by the European Union, have simply been spirited from accounts, in what the Syrian Foreign Ministry slams as: “a flagrant violation of law.”
Last week the EU endorsed the raiding of Syria’a financial assets frozen across Europe and the the transfer of funds to “ … the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) … a flagrant violation of the international law and the UN Charter and understandings reached by the executive board of the OPCW”, commented a Foreign Ministry source, adding: “the European step violates the resolution of the OPCW executive board adopted on 15th November 2013 which acknowledged Syria’s stance which was conveyed to the Organization, officially stating the inability to shoulder the financial costs of destroying the chemical weapons.”
The theft of Syria’s monies was condemned as a “swindle policy practiced by some influential countries inside the EU at a time when they reject to release frozen assets to fund purchase of food and medicine which is considered the priority of the Syrian state … (meanwhile) the EU allowed its members to arm the terrorist groups which are responsible for bloodshed in Syria … ” the source added.” It is hard to disagree.
The EU/UN/OPCW has apparently learned well from the UN weapons inspectors and other UN benefits from the Iraq embargo, which bled the country dry from “frozen” assets, to which they helped themselves, as the children died at an average of six thousand a month year after year, from “embargo related causes.” As the UN spent Iraq’s monies, Iraq’s water became a biological weapon, the lights went off and medical and educational facilities largely collapsed. Are UN embargoes the UN’s shameful new money spinner?
So, can things get worse in the black farce which is the chaotic, dangerous, disorganised disposal attempts of Syria’s chemical materials? You bet they can. The companies selected to destroy the chemicals are Finland’s Ekokem and the US subsiduary of the French giant Veolia.
“The most dangerous materials are to be neutralized at sea by the Cape Ray, an American naval vessel specially outfitted for that purpose, which departed its Norfolk, Va., home port on Jan. 27 for the Mediterranean.” (New York Times, February 14, 2014.) A method which has never been tried before, an experiment seemingly to take place in the Mediterranean, not in US territorial waters. “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s An Adventure”, was a US Navy recruiting slogan. Doubt the population of the countries bordering the near enclosed Mediterranean feel quite the same, from Europe to Anatolia, North Africa to the Levant.
Additionally, the inclusion of Veolia as a suitable partner in the whole dodgy venture is in a class of its own. The company has long been involved in waste management and vast transport projects in the illegal settlements in Israel.
In November 2012 Professor Richard Falk, wrote, on UN notepaper, to the (UK) North London Waste Authority who were considering awarding £4.7 billion worth of contracts to Veolia. His letter quoted in part below, detailing his concerns regarding the company’s compliance with international legal norms, speaks for itself:
I am writing to you in my capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to urge you not to select Veolia for public contracts due to its active involvement in Israel’s grave violations of international law.
Due to its deep and ongoing complicity with Israeli violations of international law and the strength of concern of Palestinian, European and Israeli civil society about the role played by Veolia, I decided to select Veolia as one of the case studies to include in my report. I have attached the report for your consideration.
Veolia is a signatory to the UN Global Compact, a set of principles regarding business conduct. Yet its wide ranging and active involvement in Israel’s settlement regime and persistent failure to exercise due diligence show utter disregard for the human rights related principles of the Global Compact.
It is my view that Veolia’s violations of the UN Global Compact principles and its deep and protracted complicity with grave breaches of international law make it an inappropriate partner for any public institution, especially as a provider of public services.
Professor Falk concludes:
I urge you to follow the example set by public authorities and European banks that have chosen to disassociate themselves from Veolia and take the just and principled decision not to award Veolia any public service contracts. Such a measure would contribute to upholding the rule of law and advancing peace based on justice.
So a company in breach of international law is being awarded a contract to a UN body (the OPCW) in spite of being condemned by a distinguished UN legal expert and Special Rapporteur.
The final anomaly, for now, as Bob Rigg – former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, and former senior editor for the OCPW and former Chair of the New Zealand National Consultative Committee on Disarmament – points out:
At present, Israel has a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the middle east. Once the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons is complete, Israel will enjoy a near regional monopoly over a second weapon of mass destruction -chemical weapons. In addition to Israel, Egypt is the only regional power with a chemical-weapons capability.
At all levels, lawbreakers rule supreme.
In late September 2001, a couple of weeks after 9/11, the United States was struck with what the Bush regime dubbed a “second wave” of terrorism. Letters laced with deadly anthrax spores arrived in the mailboxes of prominent media figures and two American senators. Five people were killed and 17 others were infected.
A concerted effort was made by the Bush regime and the mainstream US media to present the anthrax attacks as the work of the same people who perpetrated 9/11. They were, in a sense, correct, but the people behind 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax fiasco were not members of al-Qaeda or adherents of the Islamic faith.
A very clear and discernible pattern of propaganda was foisted upon the American public following 9/11. Zionists from Israel and the US took a leading role in assigning responsibility for the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour. Unsurprisingly, the Zionists immediately pointed fingers at all of their Middle Eastern rivals and adversaries, from resistance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Israel’s enemies were being portrayed as America’s enemies too. Together, said the Zionists, Israel and America can defeat “the forces of darkness.” Israel’s crude campaign of innuendo and Orwellian projection manifested within a few hours of the 9/11 attacks. Israeli politicians Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres all made public statements calling on the US and other Western powers to initiate a global “war on terrorism,” a term coined by Likudniks in the 1980s.
Israel’s army intelligence service Aman and the former Mossad chief Rafi Eitan trumpeted brazen disinformation shortly following 9/11, alleging Iraqi involvement in the attacks. In August of 2001 the Mossad delivered a propagandistic “warning” to the CIA alleging al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together and were plotting terror attacks on major US landmarks. The neoconservatives, who are for all intents and purposes emissaries of the Israeli regime in the US, went straight to work in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times and other Zionist-controlled media outlets, attempting to portray Arabs and Muslims generally as the sponsors of 9/11 and the source of all terrorism in the world.
The same pattern of Zionist deception is apparent with the anthrax attacks. Israel’s partisans immediately mobilized a propaganda initiative to link Iraq and al-Qaeda to the anthrax mailings.
On various occasions [former US] president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney told reporters that al-Qaeda was likely involved in the lethal mailings. The docile mainstream media unquestioningly repeated this unfounded assertion. A stunning piece of disinformation appeared in an Oct. 27, 2001, report in the London Times, alleging that an Iraqi official met with 9/11 patsy Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in April 2001. The report went on to suggest that during the rendezvous the Iraqi official gave Atta a flask of anthrax. The origin of this dubious claim was noted in the article: Israeli security sources. The chief of Czech foreign intelligence, Frantisek Bublan, later revealed that this supposed meeting never took place and was nothing more than a propaganda invention of interested parties. “Promoting a so-called ‘Prague connection’ between Atta and [the Iraqi official] al-Ani might have been a ploy by U.S. policymakers seeking justifications for a new military action against…Saddam Hussein,” Bublan told the Prague Post.
When the Iraq/al-Qaeda propaganda narrative fell apart, the FBI targeted two… within the US bio-weapons establishment: scientists Steven Hatfill and Bruce Ivins. The FBI began harassing Hatfill and publicly called him a “person of interest” in the anthrax investigation.
Hatfill vehemently denied the charges and was eventually exonerated. He later sued the FBI and other US government agencies, winning a settlement of more than $5 million in damages. Like Hatfill, Ivins was an unlikely suspect for the anthrax attacks as well.
There was no evidence tying Ivins to the anthrax letters and he had no conceivable motive. The FBI launched an intense campaign of innuendo against Ivins in an effort to convict him in the court of public opinion. Ivins allegedly committed suicide while in a Maryland hospital just before he was set to be indicted and stand trial. How convenient.
Ivins worked at a US bio-weapons facility called USAMRIID in Fort Detrick, Maryland. This is where the FBI claims the anthrax used in the attacks originated. Since there is no evidence that Ivins was involved in the anthrax mailings, there is likewise no reason to believe the FBI’s claim that the anthrax spores used in the letters originated from that facility.
Another curious event took place during the anthrax affair that garnered little attention from the mainstream press for obvious reasons. An Arab-American scientist who worked at the same Fort Detrick facility as Ivins was the victim of an attempted frame-up. Shortly before the first known victim of the anthrax attacks was confirmed, an anonymous letter was mailed to the FBI that attempted to implicate Dr. Ayaad Assaad as a “potential biological terrorist.” The author of the letter claimed to have worked with Assaad previously and alleged that Assaad had a vendetta against the US government, urging the FBI to stop him. The letter prompted the FBI to investigate Assaad. The FBI questioned him in early October 2001 and quickly cleared him of any involvement with the anthrax attacks.
Strangely, the FBI seemed uninterested in finding out who sent the anonymous letter implicating Assaad, even though the contents and timing of the letter were amazingly conspicuous, coming just prior to a real bio-terrorist attack. Assaad suspected the letter-writer was involved in the anthrax mailings and opined that his Arab background made him the “perfect scapegoat.”
One possible source of the frame-up letter was a man named Dr. Philip Zack, a microbiologist and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. Zack worked at USAMRIID alongside Assaad in the early 1990s. Zack and other employees at the lab formed a clique called the “camel club” to bully Arab co-workers, particularly Assaad. One day in April 1991 Assaad found a poem in his mailbox written by Zack and other members of the “camel club” which mocked his Arabic heritage. Zack and several of his fellow anti-Arab racists voluntarily left the facility when Assaad informed his superiors of the harassment campaign.
In 1992, anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other deadly pathogens went missing from the Fort Detrick facility. An internal investigation discovered that someone was entering the lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research involving anthrax. The inquiry also revealed that Dr. Philip Zack made an unauthorized visit to the lab on Jan. 23, 1992, at a time when he was no longer working at the facility. Despite Zack’s suspicious past behaviour and harassment of Assaad, the FBI made no effort to pursue him as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax investigation.
A very revealing aspect of the whole affair was the fact that the anthrax-tainted letters were made to look like a Muslim who was angry at Israel and the United States authored them. “Death to Israel, Death to America, Allah is Great,” the letters read. Whoever was actually behind the anthrax mailings was evidently attempting to lead authorities to believe a Muslim or group of Muslims was responsible.
So where did the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks come from? Researcher Robert Pate posited a plausible theory in an essay entitled, “The Anthrax Mystery: Solved” In the paper, Pate suggests Israel is the most likely culprit. According to Pate’s research, Israel had the means, motive and opportunity to secure anthrax spores and deliver them to her targets without being detected. Pate demonstrates that Israel has had a sophisticated chemical and biological weapons program since its inception in 1948. Israel has produced biological agents including anthrax at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona, located a few miles southeast of Tel Aviv.
“With the help of Jewish scientists from the former Soviet Union,” Pate opines, “Israel’s bio-weapons research has probably surpassed that of all other nations. The Soviet Union’s bio-weapons program had 32,000 scientists and staff working in 40 different research and production facilities. Two thousand of these scientists worked exclusively on the Soviet anthrax program. A significant number of these scientists may have immigrated to Israel and become employed in her bio-weapons programs.”
Pate cites a research paper by Dr. Avner Cohen titled “Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control” which outlines Israel’s biological and chemical weapons capabilities. Anthrax is certainly in Israel’s biological arsenal. In the paper, Cohen also describes how Zionist militants poisoned Palestinian water supplies with deadly pathogens during the 1948 ‘Nakba,’ wherein Zionist gangs completely destroyed and depopulated more than 500 Arab villages in order to birth… [Israel entity] . Historical examples of Zionist biological warfare noted by Pate, in addition to Israel’s penchant for false flag terrorism against its “allies” such as the Lavon Affair and USS Liberty attack, lead him to believe that Israel was willing and able to commit a biological attack in the US – a classic false flag operation to frame her enemies for political gain.
“A motive for the anthrax attacks would be to blame Arab terrorists or a ‘rogue nation’ for this atrocity and to help launch the United States into war against Israel’s enemies,” writes Pate. “[Israel’s motive] in launching the anthrax attacks would be to bring America into war against Iraq and to remove that country as a potential threat to…[Israel].” As noted earlier, Israeli intelligence contrived a false story to implicate Muslims where they claimed to have observed a meeting between an Iraqi official and alleged al-Qaeda ringleader Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in which an exchange of anthrax is said to have occurred. If Israel had nothing to do with the anthrax attacks, then why did they propagate lies with the intent to implicate Iraq and al-Qaeda? American authorities admit that no Muslim or Arab was involved in the anthrax mailings, so who else but Israel and corrupted Americans in the Bush administration could have been behind this obvious false flag?
It can be said without doubt that some members of the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the anthrax attacks. Press reports revealed that White House officials including Bush and Cheney went on a steady regimen of the drug known as Cipro, a powerful antibiotic effective against anthrax infection, weeks before the anthrax-trained letters were first discovered.
The theory that Israel and its accomplices in the Bush administration launched a biological false flag operation as a “second phase” of the overarching 9/11 deception is well within the realm of possibilities regarding 2001’s anthrax attacks in the US. It is certainly far more plausible than the FBI’s flimsy and still-unproven case against Bruce Ivins who conveniently died before any evidence could be aired in the courts.
But it would be foolish to place any hope on President Obama — a committed servant of the Israeli-American empire — to launch a new, independent investigation into any of these troubling matters.
Journalistically, there’s a problem with this passage from Monday’s New York Times: “Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of Israel … castigated Iran as being dedicated to a nuclear weapon and acting to deceive, and he repeated Israel’s warning that it would not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.” Can you tell what the flaw is?
If the New York Times were acting in a professional and objective manner, the next line would have read something like: “Of course, Israel itself developed a nuclear bomb in secret decades ago and now has possibly the most sophisticated undeclared nuclear arsenal on earth.” But the Times chose not to remind its readers of Israel’s stunning hypocrisy as a rogue nuclear-armed state condemning Iran for supposedly harboring a desire for a nuke, a weapon that Iran doesn’t have and says it doesn’t want.
That sort of double standard is common in the mainstream U.S. news media when reporting on Israel and its Muslim adversaries. But to let an Israeli official get away with castigating Iran for contemplating something that Israel has already done – without mentioning the hypocrisy – is a clear violation of journalistic standards. Indeed, it is evidence of bias.
Meanwhile, the neocon editors of the Washington Post are continuing their new campaign to pressure President Barack Obama into issuing more military ultimatums to Syria, another Israeli “enemy.” The logic seems to be that if Obama keeps issuing ultimatums eventually Syria won’t comply or won’t be able to comply, thus creating a casus belli, much as when President George W. Bush demanded that Iraq surrender WMD that it didn’t have.
In a double-barreled blast on Tuesday, the Post published a lead editorial and then a separate op-ed by its editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt making essentially the same argument – that Obama’s diplomacy over Syria has failed and that it’s time for more military threats or even a military intervention in Syria’s civil war. That “theme” was quickly picked up by other U.S. news outlets, including “liberal” MSNBC.
Yet, the real problem with Obama’s Syria strategy is that it is still based on his blustering pronouncements during Campaign 2012 when he was trying to sound tough in order to fend off the more hawkish, neocon rhetoric of Republican Mitt Romney.
During that period, Obama was drawing “red lines” regarding Syria and declaring that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go.” Obama insisted that the purpose of any peace talks must be to dissolve Assad’s government and replace it with one organized by Assad’s opponents, in other words, Assad’s negotiated surrender.
But that was never realistic, however unsavory Assad and his regime might be. He still represents major segments of Syrian society, including blocs of Alawites (an offshoot of Shiite Islam) and Christians. Plus, the strongest part of the rebel movement, seeking Assad’s ouster, is the contingent of radical jihadists representing extreme Sunni groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda and some even more extreme who are vowing to exterminate the Alawites and other “heretics.”
In the midst of this complex and dangerous mix, the Post’s neocon editors are baiting Obama to stop being so weak, so “inert,” as Hiatt wrote.
On Sunday, the Post’s editors demanded that Obama issue a new military ultimatum regarding delays in Assad’s delivery of chemical weapons to a UN agency for destruction. On Tuesday, the argument was that Obama must intervene militarily to prevent Syria from becoming a base for al-Qaeda militants to plot attacks against the American “homeland.”
“Once again, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda may be using territory they control to plot attacks against the United States, even as [Secretary of State John] Kerry pursues his long-shot diplomacy and Mr. Obama offers excuses for inaction,” the Post’s editorial read.
“With or without U.N. action, it is time for the Obama administration to reconsider how it can check the regime’s crimes and the growing threat of al-Qaeda. As Mr. Kerry reportedly conceded, for now it has no answers.”
Hiatt reiterated the same points in his companion op-ed: “It is no secret that the Obama administration’s Syria policy, to the extent that one exists, is failing. Now the man with the unenviable task of implementing that policy, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, has acknowledged as much, according to two U.S. senators who spoke with him Sunday, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
“Kerry said that the Geneva negotiating process hasn’t delivered, they said, and that new approaches are needed. … Now, though, a new factor has emerged. Last week, in Senate testimony that got less attention than it deserved, Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Syria ‘is becoming a center of radical extremism and a potential threat to the homeland.’”
Hiatt continued: “Havens in Syria, in other words, could play the same role that Afghan refuges offered al-Qaeda before 9/11. As the West cold-shouldered moderate and secular forces, extremist ranks have swelled in Syria to as many as 26,000, including 7,000 foreigners, Clapper said.”
Not surprisingly, given the always-hawkish views of McCain and Graham, their proposed “new approaches” to this new threat involved military interventions in Syria. Graham wanted to unleash armed drones over the country, while McCain called for establishing “a safe zone in which to train the Free Syrian Army and care for refugees, protected by Patriot missiles based in Turkey,” Hiatt wrote.
Of course, a big part of the Syrian problem is that al-Qaeda-connected extremists are fighting as part of the rebel coalition against Assad’s army. Indeed, the jihadists are considered, by far, the most effective part of the rebel force. To a significant degree, the Sunni jihadists – funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states – are the rebel army.
In other words, the semantic trick that the Post is pulling off is to conflate the existence of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria with the Syrian government when they are actually on opposite sides, bitterly fighting one another. The Post’s argument is a bit like blaming Fidel Castro for harboring al-Qaeda operatives in Cuba without mentioning that they are locked up at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo and thus outside Castro’s control.
Currently, the Syrian government is engaged in a brutal campaign to root out these “terrorists” – as well as other armed rebels – and is killing lots of civilians in the process. While there may be no easy solution to this catastrophe, the idea of another U.S. military intervention could easily lead to even more death and destruction.
As Hiatt noted, “Obama has doubted that the United States could intervene in such a messy conflict without making things worse. He reportedly worries that even a limited commitment would inexorably suck the nation into something deeper. There certainly is no public clamor to intervene.”
But lack of public support for another Mideast war is no concern to Hiatt and other Post editors who have never really apologized for helping to mislead the American people into the Iraq invasion which resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Indeed, the Iraqi bloodbath — initiated by President Bush and promoted by the neocons — has already been forgotten, as the Post cited the Syrian civil war as the worst humanitarian disaster since the Rwanda genocide in the 1990s, jumping over the Iraqi carnage of the past decade.
Now, Hiatt and the other neocons are promoting “themes” designed to maneuver Obama into another Mideast conflict, pushing the hot button of al-Qaeda “refuges” as if Assad is protecting the extremists, not trying to kill them.
Yet, if preventing al-Qaeda from establishing a safe haven in Syria is now the top U.S. concern – and not just the latest neocon excuse for another U.S. invasion of a Muslim country – then a more logical approach might be to seek a power-sharing arrangement between Assad’s government and the more moderate opposition, creating a united front against the jihadists.
Such an agreement could be followed by a coordinated strategy to rid Syria of these extremists. Obama also might put the squeeze on the Saudis and other oil-rich sheiks to stop funding the Sunni jihad inside Syria.
But the U.S. insistence that Assad negotiate his own surrender – especially when his forces have gained the upper hand militarily – will simply ensure more fighting and killing, while the neocons ramp up their pressure on Obama for one more “regime change.”
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The United States has penalized nearly three dozen companies and individuals in eight countries, accusing them of evading unilateral sanctions against Iran.
The move is aimed at blunting “an atmosphere of optimism” that has resulted from an interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers late last year, the New York Times reports.
The US Treasury Department said the targeted entities operated in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Georgia, Afghanistan, Iran, Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates.
The announcement marks the second time the Obama administration has penalized businesses since the deal was inked on November 24 and put into effect last month.
As part of the current agreement, the West offered Tehran modest sanctions relief in return for Iran taking steps to limit its uranium enrichment activities. The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year.
Many members of Congress and Israel have denounced the agreement, arguing that the easing of sanctions disproportionately favored Iran.
Washington has said it will continue to enforce existing sanctions until a more comprehensive deal is reached. “We strongly believe that sustaining sanctions pressure will be critical,” a senior US Treasury Department official said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
A recent visit to Iran by a French delegation of more than 100 businesspeople has greatly irritated senior US officials.
Secretary of State John Kerry called his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, on Tuesday to express concern about the business delegation.
In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs and the Obama administration’s top negotiator with Iran, said Kerry and other senior US officials believe these trade visits are “not helpful.”
“Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted,” Sherman said.
David Cohen, top Treasury sanctions official, also warned that companies or governments still risk heavy penalties under United Nations, US or European sanctions if they expanded trade with Iran.
The Treasury prohibits companies and individuals from carrying out financial transactions with Iran under US jurisdiction.
The Israeli occupation army established a field hospital on the Golan Heights to treat injured militants who belong to the terrorist groups in Syria.
These groups have treated over 700 of their injured militants in that hospital, according to Israeli media outlets.
The Zionist army prevented media outlets from broadcasting the activities of the field hospital yet allowed the Second Channel to prepare a report about it in order to promote the “humane Israeli step towards the Syrians.”
The report mainly focused on Israeli intentions behind treating the militants, clarifying that the Israelis aim at strengthening and deepening their relations with the terrorist groups in Syria in order to keep the calm and stability which now prevails between these groups and Israel at the Palestinian-Syrian borders.
The report also included interviews with a number of the militants who stated that “Zionism is not macabre as it has been portrayed by the Syrian regime.”
“The regime used to force us to believe that our enemy is all the surrounding world, yet after the beginning of the revolution, we recognized our real friends and real enemies.”