The United Nations’ nuclear monitoring body says Iran is complying with the terms of an interim nuclear agreement struck between the Islamic Republic and six world powers late last year.
In its monthly report released on Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran has diluted half of its uranium earlier enriched to the 20-percent purity to a lower grade to power reactors.
The other half of the stockpile is to be converted into a form that would be relatively difficult to be reconverted to the 20 percent level.
On Wednesday, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said, “I can tell you, these measures [by Iran] are being implemented as planned.”
Iran and the six world powers – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – sealed an interim deal in Geneva on November 24, 2013 to pave the way for the full resolution of the decade-old dispute with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program. The deal came into force on January 20.
Under the Geneva deal, dubbed the Joint Plan of Action, the six countries have undertaken to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for the Islamic Republic agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period.
Iran and the six powers are scheduled to resume expert-level talks on Tehran’s nuclear energy program in New York May 5-9.
The negotiations will be held ahead of a fresh round of high-level nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, scheduled to begin in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on May 13.
Tehran and the six countries wrapped up their latest round of high-level nuclear talks in Vienna on April 9.
The Iranian defense minister says the Islamic Republic will by no means negotiate on its defense prowess and missile program in nuclear talks.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the statement in reaction to comments by top US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman who said that Iran’s ballistic capabilities should be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group.
“Iran’s missile might is our concern. We are the ones in charge and we will not brook interference from anyone [in this issue],” Dehqan said Wednesday.
The official stressed that the issue is not up for talks under any circumstances.
He said that the West claims that Iran may acquire nuclear warheads for missiles, thus insisting that the issue of the country’s missile program be part of the talks, but he reiterated that nukes have no place in the country’s defense doctrine.
Dehqan said that Iran by no means seeks nuclear arms, citing a fatwa by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of building and using such weapons.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China – plus Germany wrapped up their latest round of the talks aimed at reaching a comprehensive deal on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program last week. Iran and the six countries agreed to meet again on May 13.
The two sides had reached an interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 24, 2013. The deal took effect on January 20
Iran has sent a letter of complaint to the United Nations over the US refusal to issue a visa to the Islamic Republic’s appointee for the position of ambassador to the world body.
Iran’s diplomatic mission to the UN met with the UN Office of Legal Affairs on Tuesday over Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to the Iranian appointee Hamid Aboutalebi.
The Iranian mission has also filed a letter, which was released on Monday, with the UN’s Committee on Relations with the Host Country.
In a separate letter, Iran has asked the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to register its letter of protest as an official UN general assembly document and distribute it among member countries.
Washington has decided to deny visa to Aboutalebi over his involvement in the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran during post-revolution incidents in 1979.
On April 10, the US House of Representatives unanimously approved a legislation that prevents Aboutalebi from entering the US. The White House has also said it would not issue a visa to Aboutalebi.
Abutalebi denies any direct role in the embassy takeover, saying he worked as an interpreter while negotiations for the release of the hostages were going on.
On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian university students took over the US Embassy in Tehran, which they believed had turned into a den of espionage. Documents found at the compound later corroborated the claims by the students.
Meanwhile Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Hossein Dehqani on Tuesday called on the UN to confront the US over its illegal and unconventional move.
In a meeting with UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares, the Iranian envoy said as an international body, the UN receives representatives of independent and sovereign countries.
He expressed regret that the US as the host country has failed to meet its legal commitments under unfounded pretexts.
“This move is against the obligations of the host country according to the agreement between the [host of] the venue and the UN and other diplomatic legal regulations, and will undoubtedly have an unfavorable impact on the United Nations’ mission and the activities of member countries, and will undermine the United Nations’ standing,” Dehqani said.
Soares, for his part, said he would study Iran’s letter of complaint and added that the legal aspects of the issue are currently under investigation.
Under the 1947 Headquarters Agreement, the United States, as the host country of the UN, is required to allow access to the world body for foreign diplomats.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says Moscow will act in accordance with United Nations rules and not US regulations on sanctions against Iran in conducting any “oil-for-goods” transactions with Tehran.
“We act on the basis of the decisions made by the United Nations that set sanctions, set product groups which would be sanctioned and we operate within those decisions,” Siluanov told reporters during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings in Washington on Friday.
“There is a nuance. Our American partners have their own legislation which differs somewhat from the provisions set by the United Nations and they follow their own rules,” he added.
On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned the Russian minister that any possible oil-for-goods deal between Moscow and Iran in the future could run afoul of US sanctions.
Lew also said it would run counter to an interim deal reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US – plus Germany over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran and the six nations reached an interim nuclear deal on November 24, 2013, in the Swiss city of Geneva. The deal took effect on January 20.
Under the Geneva deal, the six countries agreed to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period. It was also agreed that no nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on the Islamic Republic within the same time frame.
Iran is not considering any replacement for its newly-appointed ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi who has been denied a visa by the US, a top Iranian diplomat says.
“We are considering no alternative to replace Mr. Aboutalebi and are pursuing the issue through legal mechanisms,” said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi on Saturday.
On Friday, the White House said it had announced to Iran and the UN that the US would not issue Aboutalebi with a visa.
The announcement came a day after the US House of Representatives unanimously approved a legislation that prevents Aboutalebi from entering the United States.
The bill, sponsored by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, was passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate through voice vote on April 7.
The legislation will be sent to the White House to be signed by President Barack Obama to take effect.
Iran has rejected the US decision as unacceptable and says it will follow up on the issue through diplomatic channels at the United Nations.
Washington has decided to deny a visa to Aboutalebi over his involvement in the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran during post-revolution incidents in 1979. Abutalebi denies any direct role in the embassy takeover, saying he worked as an interpreter while negotiations for the release of the hostages were going on.
On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian university students took over the US Embassy in Tehran, which they believed had turned into a den of espionage. Documents found at the compound later corroborated the claims by the students.
The UN regulations stipulate that each country is allowed to select its own representatives at the international organization and the US, as the host country, must grant visas to the appointed diplomats.
When U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz unsealed the indictment of a Chinese citizen in the UK for violating the embargo against Iran, she made what appeared to be a new U.S. accusation of an Iran nuclear weapons programme.
The press release on the indictment announced that between in November 2005 and 2012, Sihai Cheng had supplied parts that have nuclear applications, including U.S.-made goods, to an Iranian company, Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing, which it described as “involved in the development and procurement of parts for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
The text of the indictment reveals that the reference to a “nuclear weapons program” was yet another iteration of a rhetorical device used often in the past to portray Iran’s gas centrifuge enrichment programme as equivalent to the development of nuclear weapons.
Reuters, Bloomberg, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and The Independent all reported that claim as fact. But the U.S. intelligence community, since its well-known November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, has continued to be very clear on the pubic record about its conclusion that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons programme since 2003.
Something was clearly amiss with the Justice Department’s claim.
The indictment doesn’t actually refer to an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, as the Ortiz press release suggested. But it does say that the Iranian company in question, Eyvaz Tehnic Manufacturing, “has supplied parts for Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.”
The indictment claims that Eyvaz provided “vacuum equipment” to Iran’s two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow and “pressure transducers” to Kalaye Electric Company, which has worked on centrifuge research and development.
But even those claims are not supported by anything except a reference to a December 2, 2011 decision by the Council of the European Union that did not offer any information supporting that claim.
The credibility of the EU claim was weakened, moreover, by the fact that the document describes Eyvaz as a “producer of vacuum equipment.” The company’s website shows that it produces equipment for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, including level controls and switches, control valves and steam traps.
Further revealing its political nature of indictment’s nuclear weapons claim, it cites two documents “designating” entities for their ties to the nuclear programme: the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 and a U.S. Treasury Department decision two months later.
Neither of those documents suggested any connection between Eyvaz and nuclear weapons. The UNSC Resolution, passed December 23, 2006, referred to Iran’s enrichment as “proliferation sensitive nuclear activities” in 11 different places in the brief text and listed Eyvaz as one of the Iranian entities to be sanctioned for its involvement in those activities.
And in February 2007 the Treasury Department designated Kalaye Electric Company as a “proliferator of Weapons of Mass Destruction” merely because of its “research and development efforts in support of Iran’s nuclear centrifuge program.”
The designation by Treasury was carried out under an Executive Order 13382, issued by President George W. Bush, which is called “Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass destruction Proliferators and Their Supporters.” That title conveyed the impression to the casual observer that the people on the list had been caught in actual WMD proliferation activities.
But the order allowed the U.S. government to sanction any foreign person merely because that person was determined to have engaged in activities that it argued “pose a risk of materially contributing” to “the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery”.
The Obama administration’s brazen suggestion that it was indicting an individual for exporting U.S. products to a company that has been involved in Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” is simply a new version of the same linguistic trick used by the Bush administration.
The linguistic acrobatics began with the political position that Iran’s centrifuge programme posed a “risk” of WMD proliferation; that “risk” of proliferation was then conflated with nuclear proliferation activities, when than was transmuted into “development of nuclear weapons”.
The final linguistic shift was to convert “development of nuclear weapons” into a “nuclear weapons program”.
That kind of the deceptive rhetoric about the Iranian nuclear programme began with the Bill Clinton administration, which argued, in effect, that nuclear weapons development could be inferred from Iran’s enrichment programme.
Although Cheng and Jamili clearly violated U.S. statutes in purchasing and importing the pressure transducers from the United States and sending them to Eyvaz in Iran, a close reading of the indictment indicates that the evidence that Eyvaz provided the transducers to the Iranian nuclear programme is weak at best.
The indictment says Cheng began doing business with Jamili and his company Nicaro in November 2005, and that he sold thousands of Chinese parts “with nuclear applications” which had been requested by Eyvaz. But all the parts listed in the indictment are dual use items that Eyvaz could have ordered for production equipment for oil and gas industry customers.
The indictment insinuates that Eyvaz was ordering the parts to pass them on to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz, but provides no real evidence of that intent. It quotes Jamili as informing Cheng in 2007 that his unnamed customer needed the parts for “a very big project and a secret one”. In 2008, he told Cheng that the customer was “making a very dangerous system and gas leakage acts as a bomb!”
The authors do not connect either of those statements to Eyvaz, but they suggest that it was a reference to gas centrifuges and thus imply that it must have been Eyvaz. “During the enrichment of uranium using gas centrifuges,” the indictment explains, “extremely corrosive chemicals are produced that could cause fire and explosions.”
That statement is highly misleading, however. There is no real risk of gas leaks from centrifuges causing fires or explosions, as MIT nuclear expert Scott R. Kemp told IPS in an interview. “The only risk of a gas leak [in centrifuge enrichment] is to the centrifuge itself,” said Kemp, “because the gas could leak into the centrifuge and cause it to crash.”
On the other hand, substantial risk of explosion and fire from gas leaks exists in the natural gas industry. So even if the customer referred to in the quotes had been Eyvaz, they would have been consistent with that company’s sales to gas industry customers.
Pressure transducers are used to control risk in that industry, as Todd McPadden of Ashcroft Instruments in Stratford, Connecticut told IPS. The pressure transducer measures the gas pressure and responds to any indication of either loss of pressure from leaks or build up of excessive pressure, McPadden explained.
The indictment shows in detail that in 2009 Eyvaz ordered hundreds of pressure transducers, which came from the U.S. company MKS. But again the indictment cites no real evidence that Eyvaz was ordering them to supply Iran’s enrichment facilities.
It refers only to photographs showing that MKS parts ended up in the centrifuge cascades at Natanz, which does not constitute evidence that they came from Eyvaz.
Press TV – April 11, 2014
A political analyst says the Israeli lobby is seeking to scuttle efforts aimed at reaching a final comprehensive deal between Iran and the P5+1 over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program, Press TV reports.
In an interview on Thursday, Fo’ad Izadi, a professor at the University of Tehran, pointed to the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 and said the Israeli lobby is hell bent on spoiling attempts at reaching a final agreement. “The Israeli lobby has been working very hard to sabotage this agreement and the people in the US Congress are under a lot of pressure to pass new sanctions laws and create difficulties for this process,” he said.
The analyst also rejected the idea that the ant-Iran sanctions have brought the country to the negotiating table over its nuclear work.
“It would be a mistake for the other side to think that Iran is negotiating because of sanctions. Iran has shown for the last thirty-some years that it has some objectives in terms of its foreign policy, in terms of its scientific advances and Iran will not give up its rights under pressure,” he said.
Full article: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/…
Read this so-called “primer” on Iran’s nuclear talk over at Jim Lobe’s website.
Note that there’s no mention whatsoever that the US had until now demanded that Iran first give up enrichment, and had used that demand to prevent any talks from moving forward?
Yes, that’s a bit of fact that they would rather you forget. Just like how they’d rather you forget precisely why the Iranians restarted enrichment — notice no references to the “empty box in pretty wrapping” that killed the EU3 negotiations with Iran under the Paris Agreement. Remember, that deal died, according to Peter Osborne, because the US demanded that the EU3 never acknowledge Iran’s right to enrichment, again.
In fact this particular author over at Lobe’s website totally erases Khatami from history books* and claims that negotiations began in 2003 under president Ahmadinejad… who was elected in 2005. In 2003, the negotiations were undertaken by Khatami.
The “timeline” he links to by the Arms Control Association is similarly selective: the entire EU “empty box in pretty wrapping” affair which is the subject of Peter Oborne’s book is left out as is the fact that the Iranian negotiations were always stymied by the US “zero enrichment demand” but instead the author promotes the false narrative that it was Iran’s election Rouhani that allowed the current negotiations to happen, rather that the US giving up the zero enrichment demand. And also left out is the fact that Iran approached AQ Khan only after the US interfered with numerous legal Iranian nuclear contracts, in violation of Iran’s rights as recognized by the NPT. And also left out is the fact that the allegations against Iran turned out to be largely from Israel. The author pretends that the IAEA somehow endorsed the NIE’s conclusion that Iran had a nuclear program prior to 2003 — whereas El Baradei was explicitly clear that the IAEA had no evidence that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program. And finally this piece misrepresents the Additional Protocol issue — the IAEA does not verify the exclusively peaceful nature of ANY country’s nuclear program unless the Additional Protocol is in force, and in that Iran is no different than Argentina Brazil Egypt and many other nations — except that Iran not only voluntarily implemented the AP but exceeded it for more than 3 years with no evidence of any nukes found. The author is missing the entire point as he has not read Gareth Porter’s book: the nuclear issue was always just a pretext for regime change. It was never about trying to “prevent breakout” — 40 nations already have breakout capability, meaning that Iran has joined 1 out of 4 nations on the planet.
Jim Lobe should know better.
*Aletho News notes that the Lobelog post has been revised to correct the mistaken Iranian presidential terms. A Google cached version of the paragraph that was revised is posted below:
Iran has been negotiating on and off with the European Union (specifically the UK, France, and Germany) and on related but separate issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2003, under then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2006, the talks were widened to include the US, Russia, and China, though the US refused to fully participate until Iran met certain pre-conditions like an indefinite halt to its uranium enrichment program.
Iran should not sweat it over the P5+1 nuclear talks. Any final agreement is simple.
It must recognize Iran’s inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology, including the operation of uranium enrichment and all existing related facilities in the country. In return for Iranian guarantees over its legitimate nuclear activities, the US and its European allies must cancel the onerous burden of economic sanctions. That is the essence of any deal. And any other add-on issues are irrelevant.
Indeed, Western attempts to alter the framework of a final nuclear deal must be slapped down; or if insisted upon, Iran should reserve the right to walk away from the talks.
Negotiations this week in the Austrian capital Vienna were said to be “constructive”. Next month, discussions move on to a final accord that could pave the way for lifting of sanctions.
The stakes are high for Iran. Of course, Iran wants to see a prompt end to the Western-imposed sanctions regime that has caused economic and social hardship for its people. The morality and legality of such indiscriminate punishment is highly dubious, to say the least, and their continued imposition is a cause of much indignation.
But a final agreement must be based on the essential details: Iran’s inalienable right to civilian nuclear technology; an agreed system of verification; and immediate cancellation of economic sanctions.
If the Western states, in particular the US, Britain and France, begin to add on conditions to those essential details, Iran must not be browbeaten or seduced into making concessions for the sake of concluding a final accord.
Ominously, we saw this duplicitous Western tendency to move the goalposts this week when US Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate hearing in Washington that sanctions relief for Iran was contingent not just on Iranian guarantees over nuclear weapons, but also on allegations of Iranian involvement in international terrorism and violation of human rights.
Kerry’s comments follow on the move last week by the European Parliament to censure Iran over alleged human rights abuses. It seemed more than mere coincidence that both the US and EU expressions pre-empted the latest round of P5+1 negotiations in Vienna this week.
It is, to be sure, patently ridiculous for the Americans and Europeans to raise issues of human rights and terrorism given their own outrageous transgressions. Just this week we hear of more reports that Washington is to step up supplies of heavy weapons to terrorists running amok in Syria – the same Western-backed terrorists who are implicated in the use of chemical weapons to kill hundreds of civilians in a callous propaganda stunt.
This also follows increasing evidence last week of a decade of American torture – assisted by European collusion – of hundreds of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and countless other US black sites around the globe.
And as far as the Europeans are concerned, this week sees the plight of 12 million Roma people being highlighted for gross mistreatment by governments across the entire 28-nation bloc.
Regardless of the integrity of purported American and European concerns – terrorism and human rights – what needs to be recognized is that the ostensible issues are completely irrelevant to the nuclear dispute and a final accord. These issues are being added on in an ad hoc fashion, which suggests that the P5+1 nuclear impasse is being set up for procrastination on Western terms.
As Iranian Professor Mohammad Marandi told Press TV this week in a debate forum, the issue of alleged human rights violations is being used as a ploy to pressure Iran into making concessions over its nuclear rights. The Western logic would seem to be: if you want a P5+1 deal and an end to trade sanctions, then we want in return closure of this or that nuclear facility (in contravention of Iran’s legal rights), otherwise we are going to keep raising obstacles such as allegations of human rights abuses and international terrorism.
This is a completely unacceptable Western formula for moving the goalposts on its duplicitous terms. It will mean a never-ending impasse aimed at harassing Iran with more and more threats, including threats of war.
The essence of a long overdue nuclear accord with Iran is for the arrogant Western powers to start treating Iran as an equal, in which Iran is able to avail of its inalienable rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty – without condition or exception.
If Western states insist on adding on irrelevant – as well as hypocritical and spurious – issues it is a damning sign of their incorrigible bad faith. In that event, Iran must be prepared to walk away from the P5+1 process.
However, that is not necessarily a reckless option. Given the growing importance of international trade involving Russia, China and other emerging economies – that is, trade without the bankrupt Western states – Iran might find itself better off anyway not having to waste time and energy on these malignant has-been powers.
Iran needs to stay cool, not sweat it, and to turn the tables on the arrogant players by asserting its own rightful demands.
There exists, right now, a problem with one side’s obligations not being fulfilled as provided for under the preliminary agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action, that Iran reached with the United States and its negotiating partners (the P5+1) last November. This lack of fulfillment endangers the process of negotiating a final agreement.
It is an understandable source of consternation to the other side, which will increasingly doubt the first side’s ability and willingness to make good on its commitments, including in any final deal. Hardliners on the second side will pounce on any non-fulfillment of the terms of the JPA as a reason to scuttle the whole process.
So is Iran not living up to its commitments under the JPA? Well, we do have hardliners on our own side eager to pounce. In fact, they are so eager that they are trying to pounce even though there isn’t anything to pounce on.
Senators Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, and Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, who led the recent unsuccessful effort in Congress to impose additional deal-busting sanctions after conclusion of the JPA, have sent a letter to President Barack Obama that bemoans indications of some increased Iranian oil sales and says “If Iran moves forward with this effort to evade U.S. sanctions and violate the terms of oil sanctions relief provided for in the JPA” the United States should in effect renounce its obligation under the JPA to — this is the wording of the JPA — “pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales.”
The senators make it sound as if Iran has some obligation under the agreement to knuckle under to sanctions, don’t they? Otherwise how could Iran “violate” what they are talking about? But Iran has no such obligation.
All the obligations in the preliminary agreement concerning sanctions are obligations of the P5+1 (including that very mild “pause efforts” clause, which does not entail rolling back the existing oil sanctions). All of Iran’s obligations involve restrictions on its nuclear program. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran so far is in compliance with those obligations.
No, the current problem in implementing the agreement involves another part of the P5+1′s side of the deal, not Iran’s side. Specifically, it involves the unfreezing in installments of a small portion ($4.2 billion out of an estimated $100 billion) of the Iranian money that already was earned from prior oil sales and is sitting in non-Iranian banks.
Iran has been unable to withdraw much of the money that it was supposed to have gained access to by now. It appears the problem is not direct violation of the agreement by the U.S. Treasury or any of the other governments involved. Instead, the banks that are to handle the funds are so deathly afraid of running afoul, however inadvertently, of any continuing sanctions that Treasury is enforcing that they have not made the money move.
The fear is understandable, given how huge and complex the sanctions regime has become and also how huge have been fines that Treasury has levied on transgressors. The marvelous sanctions machine is so powerful that it continues to exude power and have effects even after a switch has been turned off. Treasury needs to do more than just saying “go,” and more than it has done so far to put banks into their comfort zone, for the JPA to be implemented the way it was supposed to be.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had a big enough challenge domestically as it was to sell a preliminary agreement that gave the P5+1 most of what it wanted in restricting the nuclear program while getting only modest sanctions relief in return. His selling task is made all the harder when even that modest relief is not properly implemented. And there certainly are hardliners on his side ready to pounce on any such developments.
This issue is a reminder of how an Iranian belief that the West and especially the United States will come through with positive action if Iran makes desired concessions is just as important as (and given how the issue has evolved, has become even more important than) an Iranian belief that it will be hit with still more negative consequences if it does not concede.
The current problem also underscores how much work — political, not just administrative — on the U.S. side remains to be done to prepare for the undoing of sanctions that will be part of any final agreement, and that necessarily will be substantially greater than the minor sanctions relief in the JPA.
Members of Congress are still talking about piling on more sanctions when they ought to be discussing how to take sanctions off the pile. We have already seen how hard it is to redirect the sanctions machine. Aircraft carriers do not turn around on a dime, and neither do sanctions, especially ones as complicated and extensive as the ones on the Iranian pile.
Even if the more optimistic projections of when a deal will be struck in Vienna do not prove true, it is not too soon for Congress and the administration to be working diligently on this and for it to be a subject of public discussion.
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Oritz
A brief news story posted by Reuters at 3pm on Friday afternoon reported that Sihai Cheng, a Chinese national is facing criminal charges brought by the U.S. government for allegedly having conspired to export “pressure transducers,” sensors that translate the application of pressure into electrical signals, to Iran in violation with sanctions that restrict trade of scientific equipment and technology to that country.
Cheng was arrested at Heathrow airport two months ago and the indictment was brought by Boston field offices of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, and the Department of Justice’s Massachusetts District Attorney.
Following the publication of the Reuters report, the news traveled fast with outlets like Bloomberg News, AFP, Telegraph, and BBC all picking it up, and inevitably tying the news to the ongoing international nuclear negotiations taking place between six world powers and Iran.
Pressure transducers have myriad industrial and scientific uses; their use in the translating pressurized gas in centrifuges to an analog electrical signal is but one of these applications. A statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office declares, “Pressure transducers can be used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce weapons-grade uranium.”
Unmentioned is the fact that, not only can transducers be used for thousands of other reasons, but also that Iran’s enrichment of uranium is legal, Iran’s enrichment facilities are under strict IAEA monitoring and inspection, and Iran has never even been accused of enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels. It’s like arresting someone over trading light bulbs, which can be used in automobiles, which can be used to run people over.
The prosecution of people accused of breaching the aggressive U.S.-led sanctions regime is nothing new; just last month, Mohammad Reza Nazemzadeh, a prolific and respected medical research scientist in Michigan was inexplicably indicted for trying to send a refurbished coil for an MRI machine to a hospital in Iran. However, certain language used in press reports to describe the indictment of Cheng – in bold below - is curious.
Reuters reported that Cheng had “supplied thousands of parts that have nuclear applications to Eyvaz, a company involved in Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran, federal prosecutors said.”
Bloomberg News used the same formulation:
From November 2005 to 2012, Cheng allegedly supplied thousands of parts that have nuclear applications to Eyvaz, an Iranian company involved in the development and procurement of parts for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Read that again. “Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” The ubiquity of this phrase in the press and political speechifying belies the fact that Iran does not actually have a nuclear weapons program and is thus, not only deliberately deceiving, but patently false.
It should now go without saying that, for years now, the United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is fully safeguarded by the IAEA and no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program. Iranian officials have consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.
This assessment has been reaffirmed year after year by the U.S. Director of Intelligence James Clapper, most recently in mid-February before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The intelligence has maintained for nearly seven years a high level of confidence that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
Nevertheless, this phraseology goes frequently unchallenged in the mainstream media – despite repeated appeals by ombudsmen and public editors for more careful and measured writing by their reporters.
The reports of the Cheng case, however, are a bit more revealing. The specific claim referencing an Iranian “nuclear weapons program” did not originate with the Reuters wire service or Bloomberg‘s own cribbed report. In fact, the phrase in its entirety came from the U.S. Attorney’s own press release about the indictment, which was posted Friday by the “Boston Press Release Service,” and has still (as of this writing) not appeared on the website for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
That the offending phrase – “Iran’s nuclear weapons program” – was literally copied-and-pasted directly from a government statement by professional reporters for major news outlets, without a shred of skepticism, scrutiny or fact-checking, is sadly par for the course in a media landscape wherein the press simply parrot the government line as a matter of policy.
“The indictment alleges that between in or about November 2005 and 2012, Cheng supplied thousands of parts that have nuclear applications, including U.S. origin goods, to Eyvaz, an Iranian company involved in the development and procurement of parts for Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the release reads.
The government prosecutor responsible for the indictment is Massachusetts’ U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who herself has a sordid history of overly-aggressive prosecution, in one case leading to the suicide of computer programmer and online activist Aaron Swartz in January 2013.
In this indictment, Ortiz has thus made an assumption about Iranian actions and intentions that directly contradicts the consensus of 16 American intelligence agencies. Furthermore, the prosecution itself is part of the Obama administration’s own economic war on Iran.
Just two weeks after Iran and the P5+1 signed their Joint Plan of Action in late November 2013, the U.S. State and Treasury Departments specifically named Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing Company among companies targeted “for evading international sanctions against Iran and for providing support for Iran’s nuclear program.”
The recent indictment and accompanying press release present a clear indication that the decades-long disinformation campaign about Iran’s nuclear program is far more powerful and sustaining than facts and evidence. And that’s bad news when the propaganda comes straight from the Department of Justice.
Highlights from the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight, broadcast less than 10 hours after the attacks on September 11.
Notable for statements by Richard Perle, who appears keen throughout to imply a connection with Iraq and Iran — thus sticking to the Project for the New American Century script, of which he is co-author.
Bush and top administration officials issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. These statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the U.S. to war under decidedly false pretenses.
935 LIES to start bloody and vicious wars to destroy Israel’s enemies. Richard Pearle is an agent of influence for Israel.