The US government has slapped oil services giant Schlumberger with a $232.7 million fine for “violating” its sanctions on Iran and Sudan.
The US Justice Department says the company had admitted “knowingly and willfully conspiring to violate” unilateral American sanctions.
The French-US services company is charged with secretly providing services to Iran and Sudan.
While Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings was allowed to work in both countries, the government says the fine involved the company’s US Drilling and Measurements unit which was not.
Schlumberger is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
“Over a period of years, Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd. conducted business with Iran and Sudan from the United States and took steps to disguise those business dealings,” John Carlin, US assistant attorney general for national security, was quoted as saying.
US companies have coveted Iran’s lucrative energy sector with utmost attention despite unilateral American sanctions which are in place since the Islamic Revolution.
They see the punishments a case of lost opportunities where European and Asian rivals have used the absence to their advantage.
According to the Economist, citing unnamed foreign businessmen, American enterprises are using local middlemen to seal initial deals in Iran.
“If there is a nuclear deal (with Iran), you will find overnight that the Americans have signed one-year options on the best projects,” the weekly newspaper recently quoted one middleman as saying.
“The Europeans will be queuing up, but they will end up negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron, just as happened in Libya,” he said.
A delegation of Israeli officials, including Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, has traveled to France in a bid to hamper a deal on Iran’s nuclear program as marathon talks on the issue are entering a critical juncture.
The delegation, includes the Israeli intelligence minster, Yossi Cohen, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some other senior figures in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and intelligence community.
The Israeli officials are scheduled to hold talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and members of the French negotiating team in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program on Monday.
Steinitz was “on a mission from Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] for a short visit to Europe in an attempt to influence the details of the emerging agreement on the Iran nuclear issue,” a statement by Eyal Basson, an spokesman for the Israeli Intelligence Ministry said.
Netanyahu delivered an anti-Iran speech at the US Congress on March 3, where he called on Washington not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Tehran.
In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have ruffled the feathers of one aggressive and occupying regime, whose existence hinges on belligerence.
“The regime, which has been after atomic weapons, has already produced nuclear bombs and stockpiled a large number of the bombs in defiance of international law and unseen by international observers as it does not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to oversee its nuclear facilities by refraining from signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Rouhani said.
The latest round of nuclear negotiations ended in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday after six days of intense and serious discussions among representatives of Iran, the United States and the European Union. The talks will resume on March 25.
Talks between the US and Iran are part of broader negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group -the US, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China – to reach a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program as a deadline slated for July 1 draws closer.
On February 8, Netanyahu turned up the rhetoric against Iran, saying Tel Aviv will do everything to prevent a “bad and dangerous” nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1. Addressing a weekly cabinet meeting, he said Iran and the six major powers “are galloping toward an agreement” which would pose a danger to Israel….” “We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement,” Netanyahu said.
Similarly, in an address at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, the Israeli premier claimed that Iran had reached 70 percent of the way to completing “plans to build a nuclear weapon.” “By next spring (2013), at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb,” Netanyahu alleged at the time.
On March 9, Iran’s U.N. mission circulated the following press release detailing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s reaction to the GOP letter on a nuclear deal.
Asked about the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 [Britain, China, France, Germany Russia and the United States] results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that the majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”
Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”
Photo credit: Robin Wright
There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature
There have been times when history has played tricks with man and… has magnified the features of essentially small persons into a parody of greatness.
— Rabindranath Tagore (on Benito Mussolini)
How is it that the ruler (Benjamin Netanyahu) of a puny country (Israel) of 8.2 million (6.2 million Jews) with the 37th biggest economy (GDP in current prices) in the world dictates war policy and secures the willing submission of the legislature of the largest economy and most powerful military empire in the world?
What significance does Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress have, beyond the fact that he uses it as a platform to attack the elected President of the US, to denounce US peace negotiations, and to demand that Congress adopt policies designed to precipitate a war with Iran?
Netanyahu’s Dominant Presence in the US
There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature: over the past quarter of a century, Israel’s proxy in the US, an entire panoply of Zionist political organizations, government officials, propaganda mills, media moguls, billionaires and millionaires, have deeply penetrated the legislature, executive and administrative centers of decision making. Netanyahu’s arrogance and “brazen” presumption (Financial Times, 3/4/15, p. 6) to dictate policy to the US Congress is rooted in the pre-existing power base created by the proxy Zionist power configuration.
Netanyahu can sneer, with a crooked smile, at the US President, because, after several decades of Zionist permeation of the US state, he knows that he comes not as an outside power but as a leader and spokesperson of an inside power.
His presence was hailed by all the mass media as a major event, as international news, for over a month in advance. With Napoleonic presumption he dared to announce in advance that he would advance a war thesis in the fashion of any head of state. He can act as an unelected dictator because the elected officials have been converted into docile and complicit subjects by his proxy power structure.
The crucial theoretical point is that the conditions, that enabled Netanyahu to come, to see and to conquer, were not of his doing. His presence in the US Congress and his message is derived from the power of his supporters, deeply embedded in the structure of political power in the US.
Otherwise, who would take serious his delusional military fantasies, his clinically paranoid vision of peaceful adversaries, conspiring to “nuke Israel” and then the world, without a single nuclear bomb!
Prominent among Netanyahu’s financial backers are a group of prominent Zionist lumpen-bourgeoisie, billionaires who lent to millions of borrowers at extortionate rates (between 1400 and 4000% ) and played a leading role in the fraudulent mortgage induced crises of 2009-forward. They include Al Goldstein co-founder of AvantCredit and CashNetUSA; Sasha Orloff and Jacob Rosenberg founders of Lendup; Daniel Gilbert founder of QuickenLoans — a predator subprime lender; Ronald Arnall owner of Ameriquest… They used part of their ill-gotten gains to ease their consciences by donating millions to Israeli and US Jewish causes. Being generous to Israel provides a sort of perverse “absolution” for screwing millions of Americans.
One does not need much imagination to envision them cheering Netanyahu’s AIPAC and Congressional diatribes. It is not surprising that the lumpen-bourgeoisie backs a lumpen-prime minister.
The best and the brightest among the Zionist phalanx of pundits, professors, lawyers, economists, and financiers have created an aura of gravitas and profundity around this vulgar beerhall brawler.
This raises a basic question: Why do upwardly mobile, prosperous and elite-educated Zionist majorities enthusiastically pledge unconditional loyalty to a crude authoritarian foreign ruler who humiliates their country of birth?
Why did ten thousand American-born Zionist professionals stand and cheer, as they did the day before his congressional speech, as Netanyahu dictated his rabid bellicose political line to them at the AIPAC conference?
Is it because they believe he is their Chosen Leader of their Chosen Fatherland?
Netanyahu, with all his vulgarity and mediocrity, strikes a deep and abiding chord in the soul of his Zionist followers. They believe they are the collective geniuses of a superior species, who need not abide by the legal norms of non-Zionist states and international laws which hinder his colonial rule over millions of Palestinians.
What else but that identity of superiority allows the educated and prosperous, the humane and the cruel, to bond and welcome Netanyahu, as a modern secular Moses crossing the Potomac, delivering “the Jews” (for the messianic Netanyahu claims to speak for “all Jews”) from the mortal threats (Iran) cultivated by gentile politicians. The great majority of Zionist activists are deaf, dumb, and blind to those who criticize and refute his infantile and grotesque lies, the scrofulous screeds about non-existing “existential threats” which infest his speeches. Worse they will terrorize and cow any critic, demand that their employers fire them, as they have done over the past two decades. They believe that the Palestinians, who Israel bombed into the Stone Age, are threats to Israel. They believe that nuclear weapon-less Iranians, facing hundreds of Israeli nuclear bombs, are a threat to Israel. They believe there is one “truth”: that all measures, speeches and actions, which enhance the power and glory of Israel, are virtuous. It is this “truth” that motivates hundreds of thousands of “virtuous” Zionists to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to buy and/or intimidate presidents and congresspeople, governors and mayors, university presidents and faculty, police informers and academic thugs. It is this Zionist power configuration, which allows a political low-life like Netanyahu to enter and dominate the legislative chamber and tell US citizens where and when their next war should take place. It is for this power configuration that Congressmen and women “perform” — applauding and jumping up on cue for each and every one of Netanyahu’s emotional ejaculations.
Broad sectors of the Israeli public were immensely impressed by Netanyahu’s capacity to humiliate the President, by his willingness to dictate policy to the US and by the hyperkinetic docility and submissiveness of US Congress people. But this is not surprising: After all, Israelis are used to dominating Palestinians and torturing them into submission and colonizing a whole people. Why shouldn’t they gloat and puff up with pride when Netanyahu speaks and acts as a colonial viceroy to the US? After all, their leader is dominating a so-called ‘world power’!
No doubt the Israeli empire loyalists will overwhelmingly vote for Netanyahu, even if the “opposition” claims they also denounce the US-Iranian peace negotiations. Opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni don’t have Netanyahu’s gangster look, that crooked smile that says to the US leaders: “We lead you by the nose and you love it!” What the rest of the world thinks of a braying donkey in Washington led by the nose is not hard to imagine: US world leadership certainly is not foremost in their minds…
There is much idle chatter from liberals, leftists and progressives, claiming that Netanyahu’s ‘brazen intervention’ would backfire; that it would damage relations with the US; that it would weaken and undermine US-Israeli relations and allow Iran to secure nuclear weapons. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken support for Israel among Democratic congress people. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken US support for Israel (God forbid!).
These lamentations have no substance; they are mendacious concoctions of minds which lack any capacity to understand power, especially the permanent power of the Zionist power configuration.
Even a cursory reading of the political facts which preceded, accompanied and followed Netanyahu’s Congressional dictates, demonstrates the exact opposite.
Immediately after Netanyahu’s intervention, Congressional leaders moved ahead to fast track legislation to heighten Iranian sanctions, to veto any Executive agreement. The Republication majority and over half of the Democrats chose to back the “foreign Viceroy” on policies of war and peace.
Far from “prejudicing” relations with the Obama regime, the Administration in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry vetoed a measure passed by the UN Human Right Commission condemning Israel’s savage war crimes against Palestinians. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power did her usual belly crawl for Israel at the AIPAC conference following Netanyahu’s rousing diatribe. US-Iranian “negotiations” in Switzerland increasingly turned on exactly the issues Netanyahu demanded. US Secretary of State Kerry insisted on on-going intrusive inspections of Iran’s entire nuclear and military installations; retaining most sanctions for a decade; eliminating most enriched uranium … In a word disarming Iran, increasing its military vulnerability to an Israeli nuclear attack, without any deterrence or retaliatory capacity! Iran is formally negotiating with Kerry on behalf of the 5 plus 1, but the agenda and demands are set by the raucous over-voice of Netanyahu, who is the most influential invisible presence.
In other words, there is ample evidence that Netanyahu’s intervention, far from ‘damaging’ US-Israeli relations, further reinforced Israel’s power over the US. By securing the Administration’s declarations of unconditional loyalty while humiliating the President and seizing executive prerogatives, Israel demonstrates to the world that it can and will dictate US strategic policy and denounce its President with total impunity.
Netanyahu is far from being ostracized. He has a global platform from which to spew his rabid chauvinist diatribes against peace and negotiations. His speech, its content and style, received front page and extended prime time coverage. His war-mongering resonated with the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and US News and World Report.
Netanyahu’s political line inspired AIPAC’s ten thousand ultra-Zionists, who stormed Capital Hall and demanded Congress people and Congressional staff act on His message. Not a single dissenting voice emanated from the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish organizations whose first loyalty continued to be toward Israeli interests as defined by their Prime Minister.
The voices of dissent among the few dozen Jews on Capitol Hill, and outside the AIPAC conference hall, did not register in Congress or among the vast majority of Jewish community leaders or in the mass media.
Contrary to the lamentations and claims that Netanyahu has “weakened” Israel, the facts on the ground demonstrate that he has strengthened his “leadership” among the billionaires who buy US Congressional leaders. He has demonstrated that US officials, even ones who he insults and attacks, will continue to support Israeli war crimes in international forums; regale Israel with $3 billion a year in military aid to enhance its military supremacy in the Middle East; and incorporate its demands in any strategic negotiations with ‘Islamic’ countries like Iran, even if it undermines the basis of any negotiated agreement.
Clearly Netanyahu alienated a minority of US Congressional Democrats but mostly on procedural issues of protocol rather than on the more substantive issues of mongering for war and sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu’s messianic claim to speak for “all Jews” did arouse over 2,000 American Jews and non-Jews to sign a paid advertisement denying his status as the Second Coming of Moses.
But as the rousing welcome and conclusion to his speech by the Congressional majority and the unanimity of AIPAC’s thousands demonstrate, Israel’s formidable Zionist power configuration still dominates US policy in the Middle East.
The ‘debate’ over Netanyahu’s episodic presence in the US Congress and humiliation of the US President is misplaced. What really needs to be debated is the more fundamental question of the permanent presence, power and prerogatives of the Zionist power configuration in the making of US Middle East policy.
No other visiting Prime Minister or President will be received with so much media attention and political fanfare as Netanyahu because none possess the formidable, organized, well-financed and disciplined political apparatus which Israel possess. This is an apparatus which defends and promotes US wars on behalf of Israel, Israel’s war crimes, land seizures and torture of Palestinians. That they support Netanyahu’s gross humiliation of Obama is not surprising – it merely confirms the “Law of the Return”: that for American Zionists there is only one true state of the Jews – and that is Israel; and that their only “true” leaders are Israelis. As it happens, today he is called Benjamin Netanyahu. And that any US policy, negotiations or agreements in the Middle East have to be in accord with their leader.
Congress knows that.
The “52” know that.
Only the majority of the American electorate, who still believe they live in a free and independent country, is not privy to that reality, even though Netanyahu’s intervention in the US Congress and gross humiliation of the President should tell them otherwise.
But then we live in a peculiar sui generis ‘meritocracy’ in which the opinions of the 2%, the so-called chosen people, counts more than that of 98% of our citizens.
The critics, Jews and non-Jews, must realize that their problem with Netanyahu requires them to delve deeper, and that their opposition needs to become more systematic and more directly confrontational with the Zionist power configuration. Otherwise, there is no basis for believing that the US can end national humiliations and regain its status as a free and democratic republic.
US congresspeople got quite the workout on the morning of 3 March 2015. ‘Twas on this fateful day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, addressed US Congress, in what one might refer to as an historic occasion—the lector himself saw no problem in proclaiming it to be.
Such an occasion did not occur without much hullaballoo in the US press, primarily because the foreign head of state was invited directly by Capitol Hill. The White House was not consulted.
If there is one word to describe Congress’ response to the affair, it would be “ecstatic.” In the drug-addled sense. A bit too ecstatic—verging on the delirious. Maniacal, almost.
To say it was just well received would be to commit the callous crime of understatement. In Netanyahu’s pep rally, rather speech before the US legislative branch, Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations. 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s exhortation consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
I repeat: Over one-fourth of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
Our representatives doubtless did not have to worry about going to the gym this lazy Monday morning; they worked up enough of a sweat standing up and sitting back down every minute or so in the legislative equivalent of calisthenics.
Through three painful hours of careful counting, I compiled statistics on the incidence of applause. These figures use time frames from the 40:30 New York Times video of the disquisition.
Applause Statistics for Netanyahu’s
Pep Rally Speech before Congress
- Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations.
- 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
0:50-1:10 applause, standing ovation
1:17-1:40 applause, standing ovation
2:27-2:42 applause, standing ovation
3:58-4:16 applause, standing ovation
4:48-5:04 applause, standing ovation
- In the first 6:26 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 11 times. 5 of these were standing ovations.
- 2:14 of the first 6:26 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 35% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
11:39-12:00 applause, standing ovation
14:14-14:32 applause, standing ovation
15:05-15:25 applause, standing ovation
25:37-25:56 applause, standing ovation
26:07-26:25 applause, standing ovation
26:28-26:42 applause, standing ovation
26:47-27:13 applause, standing ovation
27:54-28:12 applause, standing ovation
30:11-30:31 applause, standing ovation
30:44-31:03 applause, standing ovation
32:54-33:13 applause, standing ovation
33:33-34:19 applause, standing ovation
34:26-34:46 applause, standing ovation
35:27-35:54 applause, standing ovation
36:14-36:32 applause, standing ovation
36:44-36:59 applause, standing ovation
37:03-37:28 applause, standing ovation
38:53-40:30 applause, standing ovation
* In the last 14:53 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 24 times. 15 of these were standing ovations.
* 7:35 of the last 14:53 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 51% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
A Saccharine Sermon for Sycophants
Netanyahu broke with many a shibboleth in his screed—primarily that which dictates that one provide extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims—instead preferring to rail against the “death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad” of the “dark and brutal” Iranian regime and rehash wholly unsubstantiated myths about the supposed impending second Shoah. (The fact that a slow-moving holocaust of Palestinians—what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls an “incremental genocide“—continues under his very watch eludes this jingoist harbinger of hate.)
The self-appointed “representative of the entire Jewish people” reached back 2.5 millennia, to the Persian viceroy Haman the Agagite, likening him to the contemporary Iranian regime.
Apparently Netanyahu is not familiar with the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Netanyahu may no longer be a boy—he has long renounced his youth for a life as a hardened war criminal—but he certainly has no problem fabricating exaggerated lupine threats, whether they be Iraq yesterday or Iran, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The inane US political system, nonetheless, simply blindfolds itself—much like Lady Liberty, yet for antithetical reasons—plugs its ears, and lets Bibi cry wolf until the cows come home.
While engaging in every cliché imaginable, he managed to invent a few of his own, coining some admittedly creative phrases such as
* “three tentacles of terror,”
* “you can Google it,”
* “deadly game of thrones,”
* “nuclear tinderbox,”
* “Persian bazaar,”
* “gobbling up,”
* “He tweets!,” and
* “hide and cheat”
among others. Such lexical ingenuity inspired some to speak of the new Netanyahu in Congress Drinking Game (trademark pending).
The Israeli commander-in-chief even went so far in the hallowed quest of prosaisms as to quote Robert Frost’s 1916 opus “The Road Not Taken” (apparently the only poem the literary legend every penned, considering the frequency with which it is cited). And there was clearly no dearth of alliteration in the three-quarter-hour invective; it is as if he and his speechwriters purchased a Speechwriting 101 manual and employed every worn-out tool in the cheap toolbox they could find.
In the ultimate bromide, Bibi concluded his philippic by drawing upon the memory on Moses, to stir the hearts of the 92% Christian Congress before him. “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America,” rang the dénouement of his odious ode.
Were someone to have asked me what I was up to on my Monday night, I would have had no choice but to have answered, “Oh, nothing much, you know, just counting the number of times our obsequious Congress applauded during Netanyahu’s speech.”
For the entire duration of the political pep rally, I was frankly expecting a sports team to be mere seconds from spiritedly bursting through the august doors, accompanied by cheerleaders somersaulting, fanfare blasting, and torrents of confetti dropping from the ceiling.
Were I not a stodgy teetotaler, I would have considered a potable palliative to facilitate the enumerative and observational process. Alas, pain adds character, and sometimes sobriety is the best—if not the only—way to appreciate the violent inebriation in which the contemporary political order ingratiates itself.
Besides, no amount of libational sedative could have shielded mine own eyes from the burning effulgence, nor saved me from drowning in the sea, of pasty bourgeois WASPs. This is what an 80% white male Congress, with a 94% white Senate, looks like. (I searched quite laboriously and could not find a single person of color in the lengthy video).
If one were forced to classify the event, one would be compelled to call it—one avoids the phrase in professional settings, yet one must choose it out of linguistic necessity and articulative accuracy—a giant circle jerk.
In the epitome of this exercise in gratuitous self-pleasure, the legislature broke out in sizzling, hand-clapping approbation in response to the very first line of the opprobrious homily, in which Netanyahu declared he was “humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the US Congress.”
One cannot help but wonder why our congresspeople even bothered sitting down—or, better yet, why they even bothered letting Netanyahu say anything at all. They might as well have just applauded for 11 minutes and left. Such a decision would have garnered the same effect as this public relations stunt, and would have proved to be just as substantive (that is to say, completely vacuous) of a message.
Even the most assiduous of bootlickers have the decency to give those whom they admire a chance to speak. Yet Congress “gobbled up,” to use the prime minister’s words, a quarter of Bibi’s time, taking every opportunity and then some to not just scratch his back, but to lewdly pat its own.
Progressive political comedian John Stewart stood in accord. Republicans gave Netanyahu “the longest blowjob” a politician ever received in Congress, he quipped. Such a characterization may lack in poetry, but it is not hyperbolic.
Netanyahu’s congressional pep rally eroticized the morbid, turning war into peace and delusion into prospective policy.
Ben Norton is a freelance writer and journalist. His website can be found at http://BenNorton.com/.
Iran has once again announced its readiness to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) to visit a site in the country’s western region of Marivan.
Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said in a Thursday statement that Tehran has already asked the agency to visit the site to clear allegations of large-scale experiments on explosives.
According to the statement, the international body rejected the offer.
Najafi said the agency cannot cover up its mistake regarding false accusations against Iran by simply rejecting the Islamic Republic’s offer.
He said Iran has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as baseless and fabricated.
A 2011 IAEA report claimed that it had information indicating large-scale high-explosive experiments at the site, which is located more than 700 kilometers west of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
On November 20, 2014, Najafi said Iran will, on a “voluntarily basis,” give the Vienna-based IAEA access to the Marivan site.
Iran has been cooperating with the IAEA as part of efforts to provide more transparency on the country’s peaceful nuclear program on a voluntary basis.
A team from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, headed by Tero Varjoranta, IAEA’s deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, is due in Tehran later in the month for technical talks.
The last technical meeting between the two sides was held in November.
Iran says it has granted the IAEA access to the sites that the agency claims need to be investigated in order to clarify outstanding issues.
The Islamic Republic has time and again emphasized its readiness for full cooperation with the IAEA.
Separately, Iran and the P5+1 group – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – are negotiating to narrow their differences over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program ahead of a July 1 deadline for a comprehensive agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington this week to prepare the American people for war against Iran. Backed by American neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and assorted other war hawks, Netanyahu insists that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon and thus is an “existential threat” to Israel. He has no confidence that President Obama will negotiate an agreement that once and for all will end Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.
Thus the prime minister’s objective is nothing less than to wreck the current negotiations and push America into a regime-changing war against Iran.
Netanyahu’s narrative is a fabric of lies and omissions.
To begin, Iran has not sought a nuclear weapon, and the country’s leader declares such weapons contrary to Islam. (For details, see Gareth Porter’s well-documented Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) For a quarter century, Netanyahu has warned that an Iranian bomb is imminent. But U.S. and Israeli intel say he’s wrong.
Iran nevertheless wants to reassure the world so that crushing economic sanctions will be lifted. Hence, the current negotiations. (Iran made similar overtures before.)
Iran’s government is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subjecting it to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which can account for every atom of uranium.
Members of the NPT are free to have a civilian nuclear-power program, including the ability to enrich uranium, and Iran insists that it be treated as other members are. Nevertheless, for decades the U.S. government has exerted pressure to stop Iran from having a civilian nuclear industry. When Iran a few years ago agreed to forgo enrichment and obtain enriched uranium from abroad, the U.S. government blocked the deal. Netanyahu and his American allies oppose Iran’s having any enrichment capability.
Moreover — and this ignored fact seems rather important — Israel is the nuclear monopolist of the Mideast. That hardly anyone talks about this is at once remarkable and unsurprising. But think about it: Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads — some of them on invulnerable submarines capable of surviving a first strike. Even if Iran built one warhead, it would be useless — except as a deterrent against Israel — and the country’s rulers know it. Israel has not signed the NPT and does not submit to IAEA inspections. It is a nuclear rogue state.
As Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine (published by the establishment Council on Foreign Relations), said on CNN recently, Israel could “destroy Iran this afternoon.” If there is an existential threat, Israel is the source and Iran is the target.
How does Netanyahu’s alarmist narrative look now?
It is erroneously believed that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. In fact, Israel and the United States have been waging war — economic, covert, proxy, and cyber — against Iran for decades. Since the repressive U.S.-backed Iranian regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a close friend of Israel, was overthrown in 1979, Israel’s leaders have openly rattled sabers at the Islamic Republic. American presidents have repeatedly declared that “all military options are on the table” — which would include nuclear weapons. The United States helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein fight a war of aggression against Iran in the 1980s, providing him with components for chemical weapons and satellite intelligence. Why wouldn’t Iran feel threatened by the United States and its close ally Israel? Even so, Iran has not threatened to attack Israel or America.
Netanyahu would have us believe the Iranian regime wants to exterminate all Jews. But that’s hard to square with the continuous presence of a Jewish community in Iran — today the largest in the Muslim Middle East — for two thousand years. Iran’s steadfast opposition to Israel’s institutionalized injustice against the Palestinians is not anti-Semitism.
So why is Netanyahu pushing war? Among several reasons, demonizing Iran reduces pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. Many Israelis prefer building Jewish settlements on Palestinians’ land instead. Moreover, Israel’s rulers oppose any development — such as an Iranian-U.S. detente — that could diminish Israel’s U.S.-financed hegemony in the region.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe all around. Netanyahu and his hawkish American allies — the same people who gave us the disastrous Iraq war and ISIS — must be repudiated.
Addressing Congress in the style of a State of the Union speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won 41 rounds of applause as U.S. lawmakers eagerly enlisted in the Israeli-Saudi conflict against Iran and its allies – an enthusiasm that may well entangle the U.S. military in more wars in the Middle East.
Speaking to a joint session of Congress for the third time – tying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for the record – Netanyahu went far beyond excoriating President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran to restrict but not eliminate its nuclear program. He portrayed Iran as a dangerous enemy whose regional influence must be stopped and reversed, a position shared by Israel’s new ally, Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”
Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression” was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. During that bloody eight-year war, Israel – far from being an enemy of Iran – became Iran’s principal arms supplier. Israel drew in the Reagan administration, which approved some of the Israeli-brokered arms deals, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986.
In other words, Israel was aiding Iran after the Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979 and during the time when Netanyahu blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and various acts of terrorism allegedly committed by Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in Lebanon. Israel only shifted toward hostility against Shiite-ruled Iran in the 1990s as Israel gradually developed a de facto alliance with Sunni-ruled and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which views Iran as its chief regional rival.
Netanyahu’s choice of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was strange, too. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government — on Netanyahu’s recommendation. After the invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.
More recently, Iran has supported the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.
Netanyahu cited Damascus, too, where Iran has helped the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. In other words, Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. But Netanyahu portrays that as Iran “gobbling up” a nation.
The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.
Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Leading the Battle
Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations. In effect, what Netanyahu asked the Congress to do – and apparently successfully – was to join Saudi Arabia and Israel in identifying Iran, not Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, as America’s chief enemy in the Middle East.
That would put the U.S.-Iranian cooperation in combating Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in jeopardy. It could lead to victories by these Sunni terrorists in Syria and possibly even Iraq, a situation that almost surely would force the U.S. military to return in force to the region. No U.S. president could politically accept Damascus or Baghdad in the hands of openly terrorist organizations vowing to carry the fight to Europe and the United States.
Yet, that was the logic — or lack thereof — in Netanyahu’s appeal to Congress. As he put it, “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” He also argued that Iran was a greater threat than the Islamic State, a position that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has expressed, too.
“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime [in Syria] as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in a 2013 interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran” – even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
In June 2014, then speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.
Netanyahu made a similar point: “The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”
Of course, Iran has disavowed any interest in developing a nuclear bomb — and both the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities agree that Iran has not been working on a bomb. Further, the negotiated agreement between Iran and leading world powers would impose strict oversight on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, leaving little opportunity to cheat.
Instead, Netanyahu wants the United States to lead an aggressive campaign to further strangle Iran’s economy with the goal of forcing some future “regime change.” […]
Shared Israeli Interests
The Israelis also have found themselves on the side of these Sunni militants in Syria because the Israelis share the Saudi view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – reaching from Tehran to Beirut – is the greatest threat to their interests.
That attitude of favoring Sunni militants over Assad has taken a tactical form with Israeli forces launching attacks inside Syria that benefit Nusra Front. For instance, on Jan. 18, 2015, Israel attacked Lebanese-Iranian advisers assisting Assad’s government in Syria, killing several members of Hezbollah and an Iranian general. These military advisers were engaged in operations against Nusra Front.
Meanwhile, Israel has refrained from attacking Nusra militants who have seized Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria told me that Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces, who have even received medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have found themselves on the same side in other regional struggles, including support for the military’s ouster of the elected Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, but most importantly they have joined forces in their hostility toward Shiite-ruled Iran.
I first reported on the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia in August 2013 in an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower,” noting that the complementary strengths of the two countries made their alliance a potentially powerful influence in the world. Israel wields enormous political and media clout — and possesses nuclear weapons — while the Saudis use their oil, money and investments. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran.”]
What the world saw in Netanyahu’s bravura performance on Tuesday before the wildly applauding members of the U.S. Congress was him proving his value to his Saudi cohorts, demonstrating how he can make some of America’s most powerful politicians behave like trained seals, bouncing up and down to cheer him even when he openly seeks to undermine the sitting U.S. President.
Some of the loudest applause came when Netanyahu told the Congress, “My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”
Netanyahu’s enthusiastic reception signaled to President Obama that he has little political support for a negotiated agreement with Iran and signaled to Iran that all their concessions are unlikely to lead to any meaningful easing of sanctions from the U.S. Congress.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
GMP product photo
The latest NCRI revelations of a new “Lavizan 3″ facility has been sent to the right wing and pro-war media and has been playing in the US non-stop. The group claims it has photo of a “steel door” designed to prevent radiation leaks. (Washington Post).
The report feature only one singular picture as proof, they say was taken from an underground bunker that is “anti nuclear radiation”. But the picture is from an Iranian safe company GMP It’s a product shot for their “explosive resistant” door.
Page 10 of NCRI Report, Feb 24, 2015
The NCRI is a front organization controlled by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a violent terrorist organization at war with Iran. It has targeted and killed many civilians including American citizens since the 1960’s. The group was listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 in the United States.
The cult-like group has also perpetrated human rights abuses against its own members. But in the post-Iraq invasion era, it has become a vocal supporter of military action by US and Israel. MEK participated in assassination of Iranian scientists and has an established relationship with Israel. Read this National Interest article for some of the details.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 statement at the UN, in which he warned the world of Iran being too close to making a nuclear bomb, allegedly contradicted his country’s intelligence assessments, according to leaked spy documents.
Netanyahu famously declared to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012 that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon,” and drew another “red line” at 90 percent, claiming Tehran’s first bomb would be ready “by next spring, at most by next summer.”
However, leaked Mossad documents suggest the country was much further from such development.
According to Spy Cables – a cache of hundreds of leaked secret intelligence papers from all over the world, published by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Guardian newspaper – at the time of Netanyahu’s statement, Israel’s intelligence service concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” estimating that Iran had 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent.
“Even though Iran has accumulated enough 5 percent enriched uranium for several bombs, and has enriched some of it to 20 percent, it does not appear to be ready to enrich it to higher levels. It is allocating some of it to produce nuclear fuel for the TRR [Tehran Research Reactor], and the amount of 20 percent enriched uranium is therefore not increasing,” said the secret report, which Mossad shared with South Africa’s State Security Agency a few weeks after the prime minister’s UN speech.
With world leaders worried by a possible nuclear threat, a series of political decisions led to Iran’s consent to neutralize or destroy its enriched uranium under an agreement with the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany – the so-called P5+1 group.
Talks between world leaders on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and uranium enrichment capacity have taken place since sanctions were imposed on Tehran in 2012.
Iran insists it has no nuclear weapons ambitions and seeks enrichment capabilities to develop reactor fuel, and for other peaceful purposes. However, the West believes Tehran has been using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for developing a bomb.
Since the parties failed to reach a conclusion by the previous deadline of November last year, Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers carry on. Iran and P5+1 countries are expected to reach a basic framework agreement by the end of March, with a final accord due by June 30. Netanyahu plans to address the US Congress next month to once again warn against a nuclear compromise with Tehran.
Iran has refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a centrifuge used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with six world powers, a UN report showed, allaying concerns it might be violating the accord.
An interim accord in 2013 between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia stipulated Tehran could continue its “current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices,” implying they should not be stepped up.
But a UN nuclear agency report in November said Iran had been feeding one of several new models under development, the so-called IR-5 centrifuge, with uranium gas, prompting a debate among analysts on whether this may have been a violation.
A confidential document by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), distributed among its member states on Thursday and obtained by Reuters, showed the IR-5 had been disconnected.
“The disconnection reflects Iran addressing concerns about its enrichment (of uranium),” said the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear program.
“The disconnection provides additional confidence that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the 2013 agreement.
International talks have been resumed in Geneva on Friday with the aim of narrowing remaining gaps in negotiations to end Iran’s 12-year standoff with the six powers.
Washington suspects Iran’s nuclear program is designed to develop nuclear weapons; Iran denies this, saying it is for peaceful purposes.
The deal sought by the powers would have Iran accept limits to its uranium enrichment capacity and open up to unfettered IAEA inspections.
In return, Iran would see a lifting of international trade and financial sanctions that hobbled its oil-based economy.
The IAEA document about the UN inquiry, which has run parallel to the big power talks, was issued to IAEA member states only weeks before a deadline in late March for a framework agreement between Iran and the powers.
They have set themselves a deadline for a final deal at the end of June. Two deadlines for a permanent agreement have already been missed since the November 2013 interim deal.
Negotiators are now working toward reaching a political framework by March 31, with the final technical details to be laid out in a comprehensive accord by June 30.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that his country would resist global sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, saying that Iran might respond to international pressure by cutting back gas exports.
“If sanctions are to be the way, the Iranian nation can also do it. A big collection of the world’s oil and gas is in Iran, so Iran if necessary can hold back on the gas that Europe and the world is so dependent on,” Khamenei said.
Disagreements in the talks between Iran and P5+1 center on the extent of nuclear activities Iran would be allowed to continue and the timetable for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear efforts.