Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says projects by the Israeli and Saudi Arabian regimes to portray Iran as a threat to the world have been falling flat over the past years.
Speaking to a group of Iranian expatriates in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra on Monday evening, Zarif said Tel Aviv and Riyadh, “two like-minded regimes,” are investing heavily in Iranophobia to draw attention away from their crimes and their collaborations.
“It is obvious that the cooperation of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the Saudi regime, which are two like-minded and congruent regimes, has today become known and can no more be concealed,” Zarif said.
He said the two regimes are concerned about their collaboration having become publicly known and are thus “investing further in Iranophobia” as a means of distraction.
He said, however, that, “The world has today waken up to the fact that the danger of Wahhabism is the real threat.”
Wahhabism is an extreme ideological strand openly preached by Saudi Arabian clerics, who have the blessing of ruling Saudi authorities. It is the main ideological feature of Takfiri terrorist groups — particularly Daesh — which declare people of other faiths and beliefs as “infidels” and, based on “decrees” from clerics, rule that they should be killed.
Most Arab governments have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt and Qatar are the only two Arab states to have open diplomatic ties with Israel.
Some Arab governments, however, while posing as Israel’s traditional adversaries, have been revealed to have secret ties with the Tel Aviv regime. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are two such countries.
Last week, a retired general in the Saudi military traveled to Israel at the head of a delegation, meeting with Israel’s foreign ministry director general Dore Gold Yoav Mordechai and a number of Knesset members.
Both Riyadh and Tel Aviv were and continue to be fiercely opposed to a nuclear deal between Iran and a group of six world powers.
In his Monday remarks, Foreign Minister Zarif said the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), succeeded in proving to the world the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.
The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on July 14, 2015.
Zarif is in Ghana on the second leg of a four-nation African tour. He was in Nigeria before arriving in Ghana and will be traveling to Guinea-Conakry and Mali on the third and fourth legs of his tour.
Forbes in a report has hailed Iran’s success in the development of its gas industry and says the country can soon become a main rival over market access to key players like the United States.
The world’s leading business magazine says Iran owes the progress it has made in its gas industry to its high exploration success rate which it says stands at a whopping 79 percent.
The rate, it says, is specifically high given that the world’s average is only 30 to 35 percent.
The Forbes report further emphasizes that the progress in Iran’s gas industry could soon enable it to exploit the promising markets in India, Pakistan, Kuwait, and UAE.
It adds that the country’s planned reductions in subsidized pricing, which will help reduce wasteful usage, will free up more of its gas for exports.
Forbes further stresses that Iran’s plans to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) will specifically have a prosperous future.
“Iran is currently working on several options to join the same ‘international LNG club’ that the US is also joining,” wrote Forbes in its report. “And Europe is the mid- and long-term target. Europe’s gas demand is projected to increase 15-20 percent by 2025. This means that Iran is competition for the US”.
The report emphasizes that Iran’s LNG plans are expected to become operational after 2020, adding that the country could benefit from the growing demand over the succeeding years particularly given that Europe’s gas demand, for example, is projected to increase 15-20% by 2025.
A senior Iranian commander strongly criticizes France and Saudi Arabia over their cooperation with the anti-Iran terrorists, including the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), saying any act of terror in the Islamic Republic would be blamed on Riyadh and Paris.
“Incriminating finger would be pointed at Riyadh and Paris over potential acts of terror in Iran,” Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, said on Sunday.
Paris on July 9 hosted an annual meeting organized by the MKO terrorist group which was attended by former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The former Saudi spy chief gave a 30-minute-long address to the gathering.
The MKO is the most hated terrorist group among the Iranians because of its dark history of assassinations and bombings and for siding with Saddam Hussein in his eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s.
Jazayeri said the Paris meeting in the presence of some Western political officials and the former Saudi intelligence chief further cast light on the link between Wahhabism and the MKO terrorists and marked a stain on the French government’s record and constituted a blatant act of intervention in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic.
“Hosting the MKO terrorist group as one of the most dangerous and criminal terrorist groups in the world and the presence of Arab and Western political figures show these countries’ support for terrorism,” he said.
“Although the evil hands of the MKO traitors have been cut off thanks to the resolve of the Iranian nation as well as the vigilance and readiness of the Armed Forces and security and intelligence organizations, the network of founders and promoters of global terrorism jumps at every opportunity to revive this deceased and hated current and present it as an active and influential element against [Iran’s] Islamic revolution and establishment,” the Iranian commander added.
Jazayeri said terrorism is an ominous phenomenon that takes many forms and shapes, including Takfiri-Salafi groups like Daesh, counter-revolutionary groups supported by Zionists, the US and their allies, atrocities committed in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, Saudi war crimes against Yemen and MKO terrorism in the past but they all share a “single evil spirit.”
He added that hegemonic powers “see terrorism as a tool for achieving their ominous objectives” and devise their policies accordingly.
Jazayeri expressed regret that the Saudi regime and other “reactionary regimes in the region” are conspiring with the US and the Zionists in spreading acts of terror in Muslim states, saying, “The Muslim world is today the main target of the international terrorism.”
He said France’s double-standard polices regarding terrorism and its classification of terrorist groups into good and bad as well as its blatant discriminatory policies have contributed to the rise of international terrorism.
“The role of the French in supporting and directing the phenomenon of terrorism is undeniable,” the commander said, adding, “The advocates of combating terrorism, especially Western governments, better set aside their dual policies and genuinely step into the arena of fighting the ominous phenomenon of terrorism.”
The influential Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat, which belongs to Prince Faisal bin Salman (son of King Salman), Governor of Madinah, tore into Turkish President Recep Erdogan with a series of vicious attacks that brings to the fore the cracks in the politics of the Muslim Middle East following the failed coup in Turkey last Friday. On successive days, three Op-Eds have appeared, authored by two of the most authoritative establishment talkers in the Saudi media – Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (currently general manager of Al-Arabiya television and formerly editor-in-chief of the daily) and Eyad Abu Shakra (incumbent managing editor of the daily).
The first Op-Ed entitled Will Turkey Boycott the West? by Al-Rashed appeared on Tuesday in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt in Turkey. Its message to Erdogan was two-fold: a) Do not annoy the West (read US); and, b) There will be dire consequences if Erdogan pressed for the extradition of the Islamist cleric Fetullah Gulen from the US.
Evidently, Erdogan ignored Al-Rashed’s advice and doomsday predictions and went ahead to allege a likely US role in the coup attempt and warn that Washington will be making a “big mistake” if Gulen is not extradited. On Thursday, Shakra and Al-Rashed in separate articles followed up with a scathing attack on Erdogan personally and his politics.
Shakra in his article titled About Erdogan and Turkey’s Coup Attempt condemned Erdogan for the crackdown on ‘Gulenists’ and all but cited Gulen as a torch bearer of political Islam as much as Erdogan claims himself to be. The article hinted that Gulen casts an appeal within the ruling party AKP. Shakra pointedly brought in former president and AKP’s co-founder Abdullah Gul and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu). He virtually advised a patch-up between Erdogan and Gulen.
Al-Rashed in a second article alleged that Erdogan is grandstanding on the ‘Arab Street’ and his fate cannot be any different from that of Abdel Gamal Nasser and Sadam Hussein. Worse still, he drew comparison with Imam Khomeini. His article They All Walked This Path also seems to suggest Saudi displeasure that Erdogan draws support from parts of the Arab world. Qatar — whose Emir is close to Erdogan?
What is it that is frightening the Saudi royal family? Prima facie, the disclosures by the famous Saudi whistleblower Mutjahid (who many suspect to be a dissenter within the House of Saud) to the effect that Gulen has strong links with Saudi Arabia and that the powerful deputy crown prince and defence minister Mohammed bin Salman was in the know of the Turkish coup seems to have some basis. There is indeed a tone of panic in the Saudi media attack on Erdogan.
According to Mutjahid, Mohammed bin Salman apparently suspects that the Turkish intelligence knows about the Saudi-UAE role in the attempted coup against Erdogan. (Curiously, according to reports, Turkish military attaché in Kuwait tried to flee to an unnamed western country from the Saudi airport of Dammam before being detained for involvement in the coup attempt.) The Saudi talkers have probably gone on the offensive as the best form of defence, fearing a retaliation by Erdogan.
More importantly, Saudis must be feeling frightened about the manner in which the coup attempt in Turkey was countered by Erdogan, who invoked ‘people’s power’. Shades of ‘Arab Spring’! This is the spectre that always haunted the Saudis – masses pouring out into the streets in their tens of thousands as the final arbiters of political power in a Muslim country. Worse still, this political tactic also leaps out of the manifesto of the Muslim Brotherhood, which poses an existential threat to the Saudi regime.
The point is, from the Saudi viewpoint, the most dangerous thing about Erdogan is not his ‘neo-Ottomanism’ but his close links with the Brothers for whose sake he even sacrificed Turkey’s state-to-state relations with the Egyptian regime of President Abdel Fattah- el-Sisi (who came to power through a Saudi-backed military coup).
Finally, the Saudis are big losers – next only to Israel – in the rapprochement between Turkey and Iran that is getting under way in regional politics. Erdogan told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a phone conversation on Tuesday that he is ready to work with Iran and Russia to restore regional peace. The Iranian official news agency quoted Erdogan as saying,
- Today, we are determined more than ever before to contribute to the solution of regional problems hand in hand with Iran and Russia and in cooperation with them.
Of course, such a realignment in the Muslim Middle East would profoundly impact the balance of forces in regional politics, virtually isolating Saudi Arabia.
The commission monitoring the implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is to convene for a fourth meeting in Vienna.
The Iranian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, arrived in the Austrian capital on Tuesday to attend the Joint Commission meeting, which is to convene later in the day.
The first meeting of the commission was held last October, agreeing to reconvene every three months.
The deal between Iran and the world powers, namely Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, envisages Tehran scaling back its nuclear program in return for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
However, months after the accord went into effect in January, the US and the European Union (EU) continue to maintain some sanctions on Iran, scaring off companies from resuming trade with the country.
European banks have balked at the idea of resuming transaction with Iran, fearing punitive US measures. US Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing through three anti-Iran bills in the Congress.
Commenting on the upcoming commission meeting on Sunday, Araqchi said it would be trying to prevent any potential problems from turning into “critical obstacles” in the way of the implementation of the deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“There are numerous instances of insufficient progress in the removal of the sanctions. It was up to the opposite side to bring about some circumstances, but it did not,” he complained.
He acknowledged that major banks have not resumed transactions with the Islamic Republic, attributing this to the atmosphere surrounding the agreement.
The Americans “did not create the requisite circumstances needed for the removal of the sanctions… In some places, they even created a destructive atmosphere,” he said.
On Monday, Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said that, “If the sanctions are not supposed to be lifted and banking transactions to take place, there would remain no reason [to continue with] this agreement.”
“Iran has lived up to all its commitments in the nuclear agreement, from the reduction of centrifuges to decreasing of heavy water and enriched materials. But there has been reneging on promises by the other side, especially the US,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said the Islamic Republic is keeping a close eye on the US “bullying, illogicality, and disloyalty” under the JCPOA.
Shamkhani said Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had raised the alarm as to the opposite side’s potential backtracking on its promises at the start of the negotiations.
Iran says the latest report by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the implementation of last July’s nuclear agreement between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries violates the letter and spirit of the deal.
Speaking ahead of a scheduled meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, dismissed as unbalanced and biased the UN chief’s report about the implementation of the council’s Resolution 2231 that endorsed the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“This report runs counter to the letter and spirit of the JCPOA and even the Resolution 2231,” Qasemi said, adding, “This report has been drawn up under obvious pressure by the US on the United Nations secretariat and the allegations made in it against Iran are baseless.”
On July 7, Reuters quoted a confidential report by the UN secretary general as saying that Iran’s ballistic missile launches “are not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the JCPOA.
Ban, however, said that it is up to the UN Security Council to decide if Iran’s missile launches violated the resolution the Security Council adopted last year as part of the nuclear agreement.
“I call upon Iran to refrain from conducting such ballistic missile launches since they have the potential to increase tensions in the region,” the UN chief wrote in his first biannual report to the 15-member Security Council.
The Iranian spokesperson further described as a positive move the UN chief’s inclusion in his report of the failure of the US and the Western sides to fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA.
“However, it is regrettable that the report ignores such cases very easily and refrains from making a serious request on the P5+1 members to remain committed to their obligations,” Qasemi added.
He emphasized that the international community expects the UN chief to explicitly state the cases of the failure of the US and some members of the P5+1 to fulfill their JCPOA obligations, an issue which has been verified by many countries.
“The expression of concern by the report about Iran’s missile tests was a completely spiteful and biased move because the secretary general has made comments about the issue in blatant violation of the very content of Resolution 2231 and by merely resorting to criteria declared by the US, which violate all professional principles,” the spokesman said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran once again emphasizes that Iran’s ballistic missiles by no means fall within the jurisdiction of Resolution 2231, because they have not been designed to carry nuclear warheads and the Islamic Republic of Iran will, therefore, not allow anyone to even opine about its defense system,” Qasemi pointed out.
He said the JCPOA was the outcome of long-term collective measures in order to find a diplomatic solution to a fabricated and unnecessary crisis, adding that the agreement’s longevity requires the political will of all sides to remain committed to their obligations as well as professional and supportive measures by bodies such as the UN.
He once again reiterated Iran’s commitment to its obligations but emphasized that the country would “take exigent reciprocal action” in case the other sides fail to honor their part of the deal.
Qasemi emphasized that it has been repeatedly proved that the adoption of hostile approaches by the UN Security Council against Iran will bear no fruit.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran warns that repetition of previous experiences will poison the spirit of the JCPOA and the positive atmosphere created as its result and this will never be beneficial to any side and the international community,” he said.
On March 9, Iran successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles as part of military drill to assess its defense capabilities. The missiles dubbed Qadr-H and Qadr-F were fired during a large-scale drill, code-named Eqtedar-e-Velayat.
A day earlier, the country’s Armed Forces had fired another ballistic missile called Qiam from silo-based launchers in different locations across the country.
The US claims that Iran’s missile tests violate the UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Resolution 2231 adopted on July 20, 2015 provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear program and establishes specific restrictions that apply to all states without exception.
The resolution calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.
Breathless reports are again circulating that Iran will deploy warships to the Atlantic Ocean. Based on a mid-June announcement by Iranian Navy chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, news is spreading that Iran plans to establish a naval base somewhere along the Atlantic coast. Sayyari said, “We have yet to determine which country will assist us regarding the presence of our naval fleet. When the name of the chosen country is confirmed and announced, our strategic naval forces will deploy a training and military flotilla to the Atlantic Ocean.”
Taking this declaration at face value, Al-Monitor contributor Abbas Qaidaari noted that while “Iran’s limited fleet is incapable of facing possible threats of much stronger naval fleets… the presence of a middle power such as Iran in the Atlantic Ocean could have a major psychological impact on its rivals, especially the United States.” Qidaari continues, “It thus appears that Iran, just as is the case with its missile program, is trying to use its navy to achieve the goals of its broader gunboat diplomacy,” speculating that “countries such as Venezuela and Cuba would be likely hosts.”
But this kind of talk from Iranian military officials is nothing new (Qaidaari even points this out in his own report). In fact, news of an imminent Persian Armada docked off American shores has been floating around for years, despite never actually holding water. Here’s a quick look back at previous iterations of the same story, beginning with the latest:
Arutz Sheva, June 19, 2016:
The Algemeiner, March 22, 2016:
Trend, March 18, 2016:
The Iranian bogeyman establishing a foot (or flipper) hold in the Western hemisphere is a tried-and-true trope of right-wing alarmism, seen now for years in Israeli propaganda, the press and overwrought political theatrics.
In September 2012, Congressman Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, argued in favor of passing his own “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012,” warning of an “emerging Iranian-backed terror network here in the Western Hemisphere” and insisting that the “U.S. must have the capabilities to defend itself from a potential Iranian attack on the homeland.”
In his litany of nefarious Iranian activity, Duncan lamented, “Since 2005, Iran has increased its embassies from 6 to 11 and built 17 cultural centers in Latin America. Iran’s diplomacy has led to soaring trade with Latin American countries. Brazil increased its exports to Iran seven-fold over the past decade to an annual level of $2.12 billion. Iranian trade with Argentina and Ecuador has grown, and economic contracts between Iran and Venezuela have exploded to more than $20 billion in trade and cooperation agreements.”
Oh, the horror.
Still, the hysteria worked. Not only did both houses of Congress pass the bill, President Obama actually signed it into law in December of that year.
Duncan hasn’t let up his crusade to play Paul Revere warning of the coming Iranian invasion. Hyping the threat of bloodthirsty Iranians lurking beneath our southern border is an obsession of his. On June 9, 2013, he held a House Subcommittee hearing, entitled, “Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere,” featuring a who’s-who of neocon think tankers like Douglas Farah, Matthew Levitt of AIPAC-offshoot WINEP and Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council.
As always, what’s missing from all of these terrifying tales of America-based Iranian argonauts and agents is the fact that Iran – like most nations on the planet – doesn’t actually have a single permanent overseas base. When it comes to foreign military outposts, however, no one even comes close to the United States.
“Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan,” American University professor David Vines wrote last year, “the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant ‘Little Americas’ to small radar facilities. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.” This means that “the United States has approximately 95% of the world’s foreign bases.”
Vines, author of Base Nation, explains that “[a]lthough few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.” Consequently, our own imperialism goes unquestioned and ignored as “we consider the situation normal and accept that US military installations exist in staggering numbers in other countries, on other peoples’ land. On the other hand, the idea that there would be foreign bases on US soil is unthinkable.”
Even the US Navy’s own recruitment commercials boast of omnipresence. Not only self-labelled “a global force for good” that’s “100% on watch” across the seven seas, the Navy is also positioned as operating without limitation or restraint in the American bathtub known as Planet Earth.
Just check out this creepy ad:
And that’s what this hysteria about Iran is all about, really. The threat doesn’t actually exist, but the mere implication by Iran that it would dare send soldiers or sailors so far from home and so close to the shores of the US empire is so unimaginable that bills must be passed, sanctions imposed, walls built, troops deployed, and brows furrowed. In essence, all reactions to Iranian pronouncements echo a similar tune: just who do they think they are and why don’t they know their place?
So, no, the Iranians aren’t coming. But, fear not, more frenzied headlines and incredulous pearl-clutching surely will be.
Russia has verified Iran’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear agreement signed between Iran and six world powers last year.
Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister and a chief negotiator at the talks that led to the deal, made the remarks in a meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mahdi Sanayi on Tuesday.
“While referring to Iran’s commitment in fulfilling its JCPOA commitments, the Russian deputy foreign minister said, ‘Moscow would also lend its support to other parties’ fulfillment of their obligations,’” the Iranian Embassy in Moscow said in a press release.
Ryabkov’s remarks come even as certain Western parties have accused Iran of having violated the spirit of the JCPOA and a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that endorsed it by engaging in developing and testing missiles.
Resolution 2231 was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse the JCPOA, which was itself signed six days before.
The accusations against Iran come despite the fact that Resolution 2231 puts no limits on Iran in terms of missile activities, and merely “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is involved in no such missile work and has no such weapons.
Under the JCPOA, Iran has in fact limited its nuclear program and provided enhanced access to international atomic monitors. The other sides have in return committed to terminating all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) against Iran.
During the Tuesday meeting, Sanayi, for his part, called Russia’s cooperation with Iran in the fulfillment of the JCPOA obligations valuable and constructive.
Moscow played an instrumental role in the negotiations leading to the agreement and the implementation of the deal.
Ryabkov and Sanayi also expressed satisfaction with the increased level of cooperation between Iran and Russia in the wake of the implementation of the JCPOA.
American aerospace and defense giant Boeing has criticized a possible ban by Congress on its multi-billion dollar agreement with Iran, saying that all rivaling companies should also withdraw their contracts with Tehran in case the ban is finalized.
Speaking in London on Sunday, Ray Conner, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Boeing’s commercial jetliner unit, said that attempts by American lawmakers to block the company’s 80-jet deal with Iran would only put Boeing in a disadvantaged position against its rivals.
Iranian airliner IranAir and Boeing reached a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in June, under which a total of 80 aircraft will be sold to Iran and a further 29 will be leased with Boeing’s support as part of a $25 billion contract.
However, the US House of Representatives blocked the deal on Thursday, with opponents arguing that Iran would use aircraft parts for “a military purpose.”
Congress passed two of the three measures that were drafted by its Financial Services subcommittee about the deal.
One of the measures would require the the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC ) not to license the sale of the planes to Iran.
Another measure prohibits the Export-Import Bank from financing any entity engaged in business with Tehran or any other one that provides financing to another entity to facilitate transactions with it.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s European rival Airbus is also awaiting Washington’s approval of an agreement with Tehran over the purchase of 118 planes, worth over $27 billion.
More than 10 percent of Airbus components are made in the US, making the US Treasury’s green-light mandatory before the deal can proceed.
“If we’re not allowed to go forward, then sure as heck no other US company should be allowed to go forward either and that would be any US supplier to any other manufacturer,” Conner was quoted as saying by the Seattle Times.
Aside from Airbus, companies like Bombardier; Embraer and COMAC also use American parts and should be subjected to the ban, Conner added.
The deals with Boeing and Airbus came after aircraft sanctions against Tehran were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations—the US, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany—reached in July last year.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has dismissed a recent NATO communiqué concerning the Islamic Republic’s missile program as “a repetition of past baseless allegations.”
NATO, in a statement released on June 9, expressed “serious concern over the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program and continuing missile tests,” claiming that they “are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231.”
Resolution 2231 was adopted on July 20, 2015 to endorse a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — and puts no limits on Iran in terms of missile activities. The resolution merely “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is involved in no such missile work and has no such weapons.
“Not only does not Iran’s missile program have anything to do with the JCPOA…, but also, as reiterated numerous times, it is not in breach of Resolution 2231, either,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday in reaction to the NATO statement.
“As declared repetitively, our country’s missile capabilities merely fall within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legitimate defense program, and [the missiles] are by no means designed to carry nuclear warheads,” he added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany struck the JCPOA on July 2015 and started implementing it on January 16 this year.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program and provide enhanced access to international atomic monitors in return for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) against the country.
The Chilcot Report was released on Wednesday, and a hard copy can be yours for just £767 (though I would suggest reading it free online here), and while there will doubtless be many and varied autopsies of the evidence and documents, this early observation is an interesting one.
An eagle-eyed reader brought the following documents to our attention, as they contain many sections that hint war with Syria may have been on the NATO/US agenda as far back as October 2001.
First there is this, from a letter dated 11th of October 2001 (all emphasis ours):
… The uncertainty caused by Phase 2 seeming to extend to Iraq, Syria etc because it seems to confirm the UBL [Osama Bin Laden] propaganda this is the West vs Arab [sic]. Tony Blair, letter to GW Bush, 11/10/01
This quote suggests that Syria and “etc.” (Lebanon or Iran, at a guess) were already in the crosshairs. Interestingly, it is followed by:
Incidentally, the leaders all warned about treating Syria like Iraq.
It’s safe to say the warnings of these “leaders” (their names are all redacted), were not heeded by the subsequent administrations.
…urgent pressure on Syria and Iran to crack down on terrorists as a quid pro quo for a warmer relationship with the West and getting a Middle East peace process going – with the unstated threat that risk becoming the next target for military action if they do not co-operate…
And then this from a memo entitled “The War against Terrorism: The Second Phase”, dated December 4th 2001:
If toppling Saddam is a prime objective, it is far easier to do it with Syria and Iran in favour or acquiescing rather than hitting all three at once. I favour giving these two a chance at a different relationship…
This quote is interesting, because while it sets out that the British position seems to be in favour of a “different relationship”, the fact that it references “hitting all three at once” very strongly implies that such a recourse was suggested (probably by the US).
While there is nothing absolutely concrete here, there is certainly enough to smoke to suggest a little fire. It definitely adds a little weight to the famous claim of the Gen. Wesley Clark that the Project for a New American Century planned to “take out 7 countries in 5 years.”
Many people have suspected there was a plan to topple countries, such as Iraq, that are also enemies of Israel, the US, and UK, security analyst and former UK army officer Charles Shoebridge told RT.
The Chilcot Report on the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war was finally released, after seven years of investigation. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said he apologized for the mistakes made in planning and executing the intervention but he stood by the decision to go to war. He also dismissed accusations that his decision undermined the UN Security Council’s authority.
RT: Blair says Russia and France would have vetoed Iraq intervention at the Security Council. So is that fair justification for his decision to invade Iraq?
Charles Shoebridge: No, if anything, it is saying publicly as indeed many of us were saying at the time that: “It has been ruled unlawful, but therefore I am going to go ahead anyway.” After all, other than self-defense, which is clear and was clear at the time – notwithstanding how it was marketed at the time – that there was no imminent danger from Saddam Hussein; notwithstanding how much of the intelligence community, much of our politicians, and indeed much of the UK and US media tried to spin it into some kind of imminent threat.
Therefore, there was no imminent treat, so self-defense couldn’t be invoked. It would have to be by a UN resolution in the Security Council to allow that action to take place. Of course Blair knew that. But in some ways possibly France, particularly at the time and Russia even maybe perhaps unwittingly played into Tony Blair and George Bush’s hands by announcing that so publicly beforehand that they would veto it if it went to a UN Security Council resolution.
The reason they were going to veto, remember, is because the UN’s own arms inspectors hadn’t completed their work. They wanted to give a chance to Hans Blix and others to find those weapons that the US and the UK were claiming existed. Hans Blix and the inspectors were saying at the time to the US and the UK intelligence services: “Give us that information, give us that intelligence. We will go and check this out!” That intelligence was never forthcoming. That in itself, along with all the other aspects that are contained in this report, many of which are still to emerge, because it is still going to have very close scrutiny. It is of course questionable as to the extent to which that intelligence was reliable, and whether people knew it was reliable at the time.
RT: Tony Blair also said he regretted that parliament had voted against intervention in Syria. What do you make of that?
CS: It is an interesting line in one of his memos from 2001 – as far back as that to Bush – saying that shortly after 9/11 seeing the opportunity to attack Saddam; saying in many ways it could be interpreted as: “Ok, we’re looking at toppling Saddam, we can move on to Syria and Iran at a later stage.” Many people have suspected over the years that there was a plan, of which Iraq was just a part, to topple countries that by coincidence, some might say, are also enemies of Israel, of the US, and the UK, notwithstanding their own geopolitical situations. But that aside, it is really clear that much of the intelligence we know from Chilcot, that it was badly assessed; it was ill-thought-out and ill-informed intelligence in the first place. It was rushed; it wasn’t correctly assessed and analyzed properly.
It will still leave many, including so many in the intelligence community, who will ask the question, which doesn’t seem to have been addressed, or at least the accusation has not been made by Chilcot, as far as I can see at this stage whether there was any deliberate falsification of that intelligence; whether MI6 particularly and… other actors within the US and UK intelligence establishment deliberately falsified or exaggerated intelligence to support the government of the day and Tony Blair in a decision already made to go to war.
It seems that in many ways the security services have been let off lightly, because they have been condemned not for dishonesty, deceit, or perhaps even for illegal activity – which many suggest has taken place – but for gross incompetence, which at the end of the day that intelligence – some would argue and argued at the time, was intended to justify going to war. Once that war decision was taken and war happened, of course it doesn’t matter if subsequently it was found that intelligence was faulty, or even didn’t exist, because some would argue that the whole purpose of it was to justify the war, not be the real reason behind it.
Time for people to demand US ‘war criminals’ face charges
When US and UK forces invaded Iraq, the country had not one weapon with which to resist, and had been totally disarmed and starved down by the sanctions, said Sara Flounders the head of the International Action Center.
RT: What do you expect to be Washington’s reaction to the inquiry? Do you expect anyone to be held accountable for what happened?
Sara Flounders: Of course the US wants to bury this immediately and Pentagon officials refuse to study it. But the real question the people of the world should be asking is: “When do the war crimes trials start?” Clearly this war by every count, and once again confirmed in this report, was a criminal violation of international law by every measure and by every standard. Any discussion that doesn’t involve a war crimes trial against these criminals that destroyed Iraq and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, left a whole society in ruins, and has led to the terror that we face on a global scale today. Anyone who is isn’t asking that question and is going to push this off for further study or bury it – is not in any way serious, or really part of the cover-up. This report which was to take a year, took seven years, 12 volumes. It is ridiculous and yet it must be used as a basis to demand accountability of these criminals in Britain and certainly here in the US.
RT: How likely is it that the US will hold a similar investigation?
SF: The US won’t discuss their criminal conduct in any way whatsoever and they have refused to account for this war. I don’t expect them to respond to this, or to their use of torture; their use of tens of thousands of people detained in the war on terror; their massive destruction of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Libya – on all of these they are silent. Yet, I think this is a time for the people of the world to demand that they be charged as criminals.
RT: David Cameron has given his take on the report, saying lessons should be learned. So have lessons been learned?
SF: The lesson they want to learn is that they didn’t do proper planning on what to do with the occupation. And that meant that there was enormous resistance by the people of Iraq in a heroic stand, yet completely unable stop the occupation, the destruction of Iraq and the conscious plan – which was a British and US plan on using sectarian violence to divide and as a way of overcoming the resistance they faced to the occupation.
RT: Given the findings of the report, which said Blair had presented the existence of weapons of mass destruction as a certainty which wasn’t the case, and the fact the conflict left Iraq in ruins, how do you assess Blair’s decision to invade the country?
SF: The report says it wasn’t right, it wasn’t necessary, it wasn’t justified, it was ill-prepared, and that Iraq presented absolutely no threat. Whether one more imperialist power piled on, which would be France to that invasion, or not, wouldn’t have made it anymore right, or wouldn’t have made Iraq anymore of a threat. Iraq had not one weapon with which to resist, and had been totally disarmed and starved down by the sanctions that had gone on for 12 years before the actual invasion and occupation. And this was well understood. There were UN inspectors across Iraq…