Working for International Dialogue and Peace

Scientists to Trump: the JCPOA Is Working

(source: Lobelog) January 5, 2017

Yesterday, a group of 37 American scientists–including Nobel laureates, nuclear specialists, and former White House advisers–sent an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump in support of the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA). Trump made his opposition to the JCPOA quite clear during the presidential campaign, at one point calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and his appointment of the virulently anti-Iran Michael Flynn to serve as his National Security Advisor does not bode well for the deal’s future. However, there have been indications since Trump’s election that he may seek to change the deal but will not look to simply eliminate it. In light of that, this letter argues that the JCPOA is working as intended to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and urges Trump not to do away with it once he takes office. ››read more

Syrian army announces halt to fighting by midnight

(source: Press TV) December 29, 2016

SyriaSyriaThe Syrian military has announced a nationwide halt to fighting starting at midnight, in a move that could promote the diplomatic efforts aimed at ending years of Takfiri violence in the Arab state. ››read more

Israel’s Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam

by Juan Cole (source: Informed Comment) December 26, 2016

NetanyahuNetanyahuNetanyahu began announcing settlement expansion to coincide with the visit of high American officials, just to humiliate them. Later on in another round of talks, Secretary of State John Kerry was publicly insulted as “messianic” for trying to pursue the negotiations. In the end they collapsed. In the meantime, Netanyahu publicly humiliated President Obama on several occasions, lecturing him at a joint appearance at the White House, openly campaigning for Romney in 2012, and then trying to get Congress to derail Obama’s Iran negotiations. Netanyahu actually ran the last time on the issue of no Palestinian state, and has made it clear he wants to send hundreds of thousands more Israelis into the Palestinian West Bank, where they will steal Palestinian land. ››read more


by Rebecca Vilkomerson (source: Jewish Voices for Peace) December 26, 2016

There is an increasing understanding among U.S. political leaders, thanks to ongoing grassroots pressure, of the need to hold Israel accountable to international law. The U.S. abstention from this resolution is a welcome sign in that regard. As the only country that abstained, the evidence of the U.S.’s isolation from the global consensus during the vote was stark. However, halting settlement construction is a necessary but not sufficient step toward Israel changing its policies and Palestinians realizing their rights. ››read more

        Editor's note: Statement by Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson on UN Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlements.

U.S. abstention is a message to Europe: End Israel’s impunity

by Amjad Iraqi (source: 972 Magazine) December 26, 2016

Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin NetanyahuThe U.S.’s abstention is therefore not so much about sending a message to Trump or Netanyahu, both of whom will ignore the resolution the moment Obama leaves office. It is instead a message to other international actors – particularly its allies in Europe – about the need to end Israel’s impunity. As the world braces itself for a more bellicose and unpredictable foreign policy under Trump, it has become more vital for the EU and non-member European states to pressure Israel through their extensive political and economic ties which, despite diplomatic tensions, remain a centerpiece of Israel’s international relations. ››read more

US Easing Medical, Agro Exports to Iran

(source: Financial Tribune) December 24, 2016

TehranTehranThe US Treasury Department unveiled new regulations on Dec. 22, which make it easier for pharmaceutical, medical device and agricultural sectors to more easily sell their products in the 80-million-strong Iranian market. In a first, the Office of Foreign Assets Control is also allowing relevant companies to send Americans to Iran to help with their operation and maintenance. “In response to feedback from the regulated public regarding improving patient safety,” the regulation states, “OFAC is … expanding existing general licenses to authorize the provision of training for the safe and effective use or operation of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices.” ››read more

Rebuffing Israel, U.S. Allows Censure Over Settlements

by SOMINI SENGUPTA and RICK GLADSTONE (source: New York Times) December 24, 2016

Applause broke out in the 15-member Security Council’s chambers after the vote on the measure, which passed 14 to 0, with the United States ambassador, Samantha Power, raising her hand as the lone abstention. Israel’s ambassador, Danny Danon, denounced the measure, and castigated the council members who had approved it. “Would you ban the French from building in Paris?” he told them. The resolution describes the settlement building as a “major obstacle” to peace and demands that Israel stop the construction, which most the world regards as illegal. ››read more

Iran, Russia, Turkey start bids to solve Syria crisis diplomatically: Zarif

(source: Press TV) December 20, 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran, Russia and Turkey have started the process of finding a political solution to the Syria crisis.

There is no military solution to the Syria conflict and the country’s crisis can only be solved through political approaches, Zarif said in Moscow on Tuesday. ››read more

Iran slams 'barbarous' Russian envoy assassination in Ankara

(source: PressTV) December 20, 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian and Turkish counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, respectively, are planned to hold a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. Furthermore, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan is to hold talks with his Russian and Turkish counterparts Sergei Shoigu and Fikri Isik, respectively, in Moscow on Tuesday to address the latest developments in the region and the situation on the ground in Syria, especially in the newly liberated city of Aleppo. ››read more

IAEA content with oil-rich Iran

by Daniel J. Graeber (source: UPI) December 19, 2016

IAEAIAEAThe director-general of the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations said oil-rich Iran is meeting its commitments to downplay weapons concerns. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spent the weekend in Tehran discussing the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a multi-lateral agreement that commits Iran to stepping away from the ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The deal, implemented in early 2016, means some of the nuclear-related sanctions imposed by Western powers have eased and opened the door to Iran's fossil fuels industry. ››read more

Iran discusses nuclear ships plan with IAEA chief

(source: AFP / Daily Mail) December 18, 2016

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani last week announced the plans for nuclear-powered ships in response to news that the United States was renewing sanctions legislation, which he said was a "clear violation" of the nuclear deal. Under the deal, Iran is only allowed to enrich uranium to 3.67 percent, but that limit falls away after 15 years. Tehran says Washington has breached the nuclear accord by renewing the Iran Sanctions Act, even though almost all of its measures remain suspended under the deal. ››read more

Yes, We Do Know the MEK Has a Terrorist Past

by Amb. Daniel Benjamin (source: Politico) December 14, 2016

Rajavi and SaddamRajavi and SaddamIt’s probably too much to ask that Robert Torricelli or any of the renowned political figures supporting the MEK reconsider their views. But others in Congress and the public ought to consult the abundance of evidence of the MEK’s troubling history, including the abuse of its members relayed in reports by such observers as Human Rights Watch and the account of its efforts to buy influence on Capitol Hill contained in the memoir by former Congressman (and onetime Iran-based CIA operative) Robert Ney. A more informed debate about the MEK might start there. ››read more

There's More Propaganda Than News Coming Out of Aleppo

by Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) December 17, 2016

It has just become more dangerous to be a foreign correspondent reporting on the civil war in Syria. This is because the jihadis holding power in east Aleppo were able to exclude Western journalists, who would be abducted and very likely killed if they went there, and replace them as news sources with highly partisan “local activists” who cannot escape being under jihadi control. ››read more

Trump’s Foreign-Policy Appointees Are Set to Provoke War With Iran

by Bob Dreyfuss (source: The Nation) December 15, 2016

Trump and MattisTrump and MattisGiven these contradictory signals, when and if Trump, Flynn, Mattis, et al. trigger a confrontation with Iran, they will also create an enormous point of conflict with Russia, too. To be sure, both Trump—who, the CIA says, received covert election support from Russia’s intelligence service—and his designee for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, have business and personal ties to Russia’s elite. But the chance of a US-Russia entente will evaporate if the Trump administration seeks to build an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East. And the same goes for Syria: Although Trump has hinted that the United States might ally with Russia against ISIS, that doesn’t square with the views of Flynn, Mattis, and Pompeo that Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah are engaged in an anti-American crusade in the region in defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ››read more

Iran sanctions legally extended by U.S., but without Obama signing

(source: CBC) December 15, 2016

Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature. "The administration has, and continues to use, all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions" lifted as part of the nuclear deal, Earnest said in a statement. ››read more

With small changes, U.S. maintains military aid to Saudi Arabia despite rebukes over Yemen carnage

by Missy Ryan (source: Washington Post) December 13, 2016

Now, following months of deliberation, the administration has reached a set of interim conclusions, the official said, including a decision to reduce sharing of intelligence that the United States believes could be used to conduct similar problematic strikes in the Houthi campaign. At the same time, U.S. officials will continue or even increase other kinds of intelligence sharing, on targets such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or when the United States sees legitimate Saudi concerns about Houthi aggression. ››read more

John Bolton’s Super PAC Spent Millions On Senators Who Might Vote To Confirm Him

by Paul Blumenthal (source: Huffington Post) December 13, 2016

Bolton and MEKBolton and MEKBolton launched the John Bolton Super PAC in 2013, which some speculated was a way to promote himself ahead of a potential 2016 president run. That run never materialized, but the PAC, which could raise an unlimited amount of money, enabled Bolton to bring in huge contributions from wealthy benefactors while lending his hawkish credentials to congressional candidates. In the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, Bolton raised $11.3 million and spent $5.6 million on independent expenditures in support of Republican candidates. Three of the candidates whom Bolton’s super PAC boosted ― Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) ― could now be in a position to vote for his confirmation as deputy secretary of State. That would create an unprecedented situation: The director of a super PAC would be seeking votes to secure a prominent government position from the very same senators he helped elect. ››read more

Flynn’s Wacky Worldview

by Jim Lobe (source: Lobelog) December 13, 2016

Skepticism about Michael Flynn’s fitness for the position of national security adviser appears to be growing as more media outlets are paying closer attention to his (and his son’s) core beliefs about the world. Such scrutiny also appears to be more relevant since President-elect Trump may be relying more heavily on Flynn than on the CIA or other government intelligence agencies for his own assessment of world events. That’s a big reason why this site has been focusing so much on Flynn in recent weeks. ››read more

Iranian president orders work on nuclear propulsion device

(source: Press TV) December 14, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to plan work on nuclear propulsion devices to be used in sea transport in response to the recent violation of a multilateral nuclear deal by the United States.​ ››read more

Atomic agency leader warns of disaster if Trump tears up Iran deal

by Daniel Boffey (source: Guardian) December 12, 2016

BlixBlixHans Blix, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has claimed it would be disastrous for the world if the US tore up the Iran nuclear agreement, but warned that the president-elect, Donald Trump, would be unlikely to heed advice from the British government on the benefits of the deal. In the wake of Theresa May’s insistence last week that the agreement “neutralising” the risk of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons was vital, Blix said that while “many Brits would like to think” they could sway Trump, he could not see “anyone who would be influential in talking to him”. ››read more