Inter Press Service » Nuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:41:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.12 Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Sweden Among New Members of UN Security Councilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:27:14 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145864 Italy and the Netherlands have taken the unusual step of splitting the term of a UN Security Council seat. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine.

Italy and the Netherlands have taken the unusual step of splitting the term of a UN Security Council seat. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine.

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 29 2016 (IPS)

Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sweden were elected on Tuesday to serve on the UN Security Council (UNSC) as non-permanent members, while Italy and Netherlands have split the remaining contested seat.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) met to choose five new non-permanent members who will serve a two-year term starting January 2017 alongside the 15-member council.

As the UN’s most powerful body, the UNSC is responsible for international peace and security matters from imposing sanctions to brokering peace deals to overseeing the world’s 16 peacekeeping missions.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom expressed how “happy” and “proud” Sweden is to be joining the UN’s top decision-making body.

“We will do now what we promised to do,” she told press. Among its priorities, Sweden has pledged to focus on conflict prevention and resolution.

“With 40 conflict and 11 full-blown wars, it is a very very worrisome world that we have to take into account,” Wallstrom stated.

Despite its location in Northern Europe,  Sweden has not been untouched by recent conflicts, including the ongoing civil war in Syria. With a population of 9.5 million, the Scandinavian country took in over 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. The government has since imposed tougher restrictions on asylum seekers including a decrease in permanent residence permits and limited family reunification authorisations.

Ethiopia has also highlighted its position in promoting regional and continental peace and security. The country is the largest contributor of UN peacekeepers and is actively involved in mediating conflicts in Africa, most recently in South Sudan. It has also long struggled with its own clashes, including a crackdown on political dissent.

The Sub-Saharan African country has also promised to work towards UNSC reforms.

During the 70th Session of the UNGA in September 2015, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn remarked that he was “proud” that Ethiopia is one of the UN’s founding members, but stressed the need to reform and establish a permanent seat for Africa in the council.

“Comprehensive reform of the United Nations system, particularly that of the Security Council, is indeed imperative to reflect current geo-political realities and to make the UN more broadly representative, legitimate and effective,” he told delegates.

“We seize this occasion to, once again, echo Africa’s call to be fully represented in all the decision-making organs of the UN, particularly in the Security Council,” Dessalegn continued.

Ethiopia has been a non-permanent member of the UNSC on two previous occasions, in 1967/1968 and 1989/1990.

It will also be the third time that Bolivia will have a non-permanent SC seat. Bolivia campaigned unopposed with the backing of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

“Bolivia is a country that has basic principles…one of those principles is, without a doubt, anti-imperialism,” the Bolivian delegation said following their election, adding that they will continue implementing these principles as a member of the UNSC.

Since the election of Evo Morales, its first indigenous leader, the South American country has largely focused on social reforms and indigenous rights. Most recently, Morales has been reportedly implicated in a political scandal that is threatening journalists and press freedom.

Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian country to be a member of the UNSC after beating Thailand for the seat.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said that he was “very happy” and their selection was a “privilege.” He also reiterated the country’s priority focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan relinquished its nuclear weapons and has been actively advocating for non-proliferation around the world.

“We have a lot to offer to the world and we believe that it is time to attract attention to the need of development in our part of the world,” Idrissov stated.

However, Human Rights Watch has scrutinized the Central Asian nation’s human rights record, including restrictions on freedom of expression.

Netherlands and Italy were up for the last Western European seat on the UNSC, but after four rounds of voting, they were deadlocked with each country receiving 95 votes while needing 127 to win.

Following deliberations, Italian and Dutch foreign ministers announced that they would split the seat, with Italy in the UNSC in 2017 and the Netherlands in 2018.

Since May, the six countries have been campaigning for council seats by participating in the first-ever election debates in the UN’s 70-year history.

The debates were a part of a new effort to increase transparency in the institution.

The new non-permanent members will work alongside the five veto-wielding permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Following their controversial exit from the European Union, known as “Brexit”, the UK may face an uncertain future in the UNSC as the prospects of Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK loom.

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An Elite Club of Suicide Bombershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:50:10 +0000 Editor Dawn http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145729 By Editor, Dawn, Pakistan
Jun 21 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

It is always baffling, isn’t it, to see the yawning difference in our responses in South Asia to a gathering communal threat, for instance, as opposed to the catastrophic prospect of nuclear annihilation? Only recently, Pakistan toggled between public outcry and terrified whispers when teeming mourners showed up at the funeral of an executed religious zealot, the savage killer of a popular provincial governor.

57682f60102e5_In India, the sight of glistening, unsheathed swords or trishuls used to disembowel helpless people, as happened in Gujarat in 2002, evokes outrage from the middle classes among others. The remorseless lynching of men, women and children and an almost formulaic public gang rape of women that accompanies such abhorrent outings fill us with horror. It all horrifies us because we abhor bloodshed and hurting innocents. We are outraged because we see the rule of law collapsing; we see injustice ruling, where women bear the brunt of a hideous mob.

Remember the piles of bodies on military trolleys in Jaffna? They included the sexually tortured cadavers of women from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. We acknowledged at the time that though the LTTE included ruthless killers in its ranks, the military response was even more inhuman. Some of the cases we petitioned before international arbiters.

The middle classes that quake at the thought of gore and fascist hordes seem incorrigibly sanguine about a nuclear calamity.

So one thing is clear. We abhor bloodshed or at least most of us do. We are not inclined to accept organised mass rape or torture and targeted lynching as an occurrence we have to learn to live with. In fact, even laden with our unending grief and sorrow, as glimpsed in the case of Zakia Jafri and her doughty supporter, Teesta Setalvad, we want the severest retribution for our killers but not capital punishment.

What goes wrong when it comes to the prospect of nuclear annihilation? Why do we go silent or even appear indifferent? The middle classes that quake at the thought of gore and fascist hordes seem incorrigibly sanguine about a nuclear calamity. The cavalier way in which we behave towards our own or someone else’s nuclear arsenal is clearly not the standard global response to weapons of mass destruction, not even to nuclear power. Are we thus behaving like the third world that we are, people who are so busy warding off starvation and so on, that we don’t have the time or inclination to reflect on a major existential issue? Or is it because very few among us believe that a nuclear exchange, say between India and Pakistan, or between India and China, is really possible?

Examine: India joining NSG will escalate nuclear race in South Asia: US senator

We hear ever so often from nation-first analysts who try to assure us that the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is adequate to deter a nuclear war. If Pakistan, for example, targets India then Pakistan would be made extinct by India, or so goes the doctrine. In which case the world should relax. There cannot be war. Yet there is that lingering doubt. What if the Pakistani ruler or the man with the trigger control says enough is enough, it’s time for all the faithful to go to heaven? And he or they pull the trigger? This is a common and pervasive fear across the world. North Korea could do it. Vladimir Putin could. Donald Trump, if he succeeds in his presidential bid will only be a shade more fraught than Hillary Clinton in posing a global threat. That’s a given.

In the cluster of those that are genuinely sensitive to the ticking of the Doomsday Clock are New Zealand and South Africa. They have opposed the US-backed move to include India in the elite club called NSG, the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

But why should India or Pakistan or Israel, which would be the ultimate beneficiary of the current dogfight between India and Pakistan over the NSG bone, be indulged? What does it signal to the rest of the world — that we are ready to honour two more or possibly three new members to the elite club of suicide bombers? That is what they are, nothing less. Suicide bombers. How are they different — the so-called P5 from those that wear belts to blow up people? To suggest that India’s participation in the club of bombers would make the world more stable or secure is to ignore history. The NSG was barely a decade old in 1983 when the presence of mind of a Soviet officer manning the early warning system prevented a nuclear war and thereby the end of the world. India and Pakistan will not have the luxury of the time gap that may have saved us in 1983.

Read: Nuclear leak in Gujarat may be more serious than the Indian government is claiming

That doesn’t answer the question though. Why are we in South Asia, laden with the potential to destroy ourselves many times over, so blasé about the issue? One Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union sent shivers down the spine of the world. I was in Tokyo the day the Fukushima calamity took place in Japan. It was scary. But I have to say something about the discipline of the Japanese, the way they trooped out of their offices and schools and homes and forded through the crisis without treading on the toes of the person next to them.

The mile-long lines to the telephone booths moved steadily, with everyone sure they would get their chance to send a message to their folks. Consider the melee that occurs in our patch at the drop of a hat. So many crushed in a stampede in such and such religious fair. Can we even begin to imagine the stampede if and when a nuclear calamity takes place? It rained exploding missiles at a military arms depot in Maharashtra the other day. It was an accident. There have been several close calls at our nuclear facilities as well. That somehow doesn’t frighten us as much as fidayeen suicide bombers and unsheathed swords do. Why?

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi. jawednaqvi@gmail.com

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

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Strange Spectacle: Nuclear Security Summit 2016http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 15:59:17 +0000 John Burroughs2 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144461 John Burroughs is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and a member of the Marshall Islands’ International Legal Team.]]>

John Burroughs is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and a member of the Marshall Islands’ International Legal Team.

By Dr. John Burroughs
NEW YORK, Apr 4 2016 (IPS)

At the invitation of President Obama, on April 1 more than 50 leaders of countries, including all countries possessing nuclear arsenals, except Russia and North Korea, gathered in Washington for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit.

The focus was on securing civilian highly enriched uranium (HEU) and other modest and voluntary steps aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials usable in weapons. HEU intended to fuel civilian nuclear reactors is a small fraction of the total amount of weapons-usable HEU and plutonium in the world.

It was a strange spectacle indeed to see so much political capital invested in limited measures which do not address:
• the estimated 15,000-plus nuclear weapons in the possession of states which say they are prepared to use them; there are no safe hands, state or non-state, for these horrific devices
• the large stocks of HEU and plutonium in military programs
• the large stocks of reactor-grade but weapons-usable plutonium
• ongoing production of HEU and plutonium and construction of new reprocessing plants to yield plutonium

The contrast is stark with the global negotiations on prevention of climate change that culminated in the Paris Agreement last December. While that agreement is only a start, at least its negotiators acknowledged and sought to address the reality of climate change in its entirety.

Also remarkable and deplorable is that the United States and the other nuclear-armed states are so far boycotting the 2016 United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Negotiations on Nuclear Disarmament. Established by the General Assembly in late 2015 with the support of 138 countries, the Working Group is charged with discussing legal measures and norms needed to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. Its next session will be held in Geneva in May.

The United States and five other nuclear-armed states (China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia) have additionally refused the Marshall Islands’ requests to defend their stances on nuclear disarmament before the International Court of Justice.

Referring to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to the long history of General Assembly resolutions on nuclear disarmament, in a 1996 Advisory Opinion the Court unanimously concluded: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective control.”

The Marshall Islands contends that the obligation applies universally, binding those few states (India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan) not party to the NPT, and further contends that all states possessing nuclear arsenals are failing to comply with the obligation.

Cases are proceeding against the India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. They are the only nuclear-armed states which have accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as to disputes involving other states, including the Marshall Islands, having likewise accepted the Court’s jurisdiction.

Hearings on preliminary issues were held in The Hague from March 7 to 16, and rulings by the Court on whether the cases will go forward to the merits are expected within the next six months.

The limited scope of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, and the nuclear-armed states’ resistance to the enterprise of nuclear disarmament in other forums, corrodes the international cooperation badly needed in the nuclear arena and as to climate and other urgent issues as well.

The world would have been far safer if this had been the fourth Nuclear Abolition Summit. It is past time for the United States, Russia, and other states to embrace and urgently implement a broader agenda to achieve without delay a world free of nuclear weapons.

(End)

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US Nuclear Security Summit Shadowed by Rising Terrorismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 18:31:20 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144363 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 25 2016 (IPS)

When some of the world’s major nuclear powers meet in Washington DC next Friday, they will be shadowed by the rising terrorist attacks– largely in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, which will take place 31 March-April 1, will the fourth and final conference in a series initiated by US President Barack Obama in 2009 to address one key issue: nuclear terrorism as an extreme threat to global security.

According to the US State Department, the overarching theme of the summit meeting, to be attended by the world’s nuclear leaders, is “the risk of nuclear or radiological terrorism and how nations can mitigate this threat.”

Dr Rebecca Johnson, a London-based expert on non-proliferation and multilateral security agreements, told IPS the terrorist attacks that ripped through Brussels “tragically remind us that President Obama’s key objective in setting up the Nuclear Security Summits was to prevent nuclear materials getting into the hands of anyone wishing to use them for nuclear or radiological weapons.”

“As well as strengthening intelligence and transnational cooperation, I hope they won’t forget that the risks start with the nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nine nuclear-armed states”.

These nine include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council –the US, Britain, France, China and Russia –plus India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Johnson said access to nuclear weapons and materials would be greatly reduced if governments would take bold steps to prohibit everyone from using and deploying nuclear weapons, along with activities like transporting warheads and nuclear materials.

This is one of the initiatives being discussed in a UN Working Group in Geneva this year.

“But the Obama administration appears determined to block any progress towards this nuclear security objective, which would put nuclear weapons on the same illegal, pariah footing as chemical and biological weapons,” said Dr Johnson, who founded the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy in 1996 after working as an activist and then analyst on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations

Dr M.V. Ramana, a physicist and lecturer at Princeton University’s Programme on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, told IPS: “As the last nuclear security summit during the Obama administration’s term, I hope that the summit will not be an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, I don’t think we should have any expectations of any dramatic breakthroughs”.

To start with, he said, all the Security summits have been very narrowly focused on just civilian HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium). Occasionally there is some talk about plutonium, but this is more the exception than the rule.

The real big stockpiles of fissile material are the military stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and weapon grade plutonium that are possessed by countries with nuclear weapons, and the large quantities of reactor grade plutonium accumulated by countries that reprocess their spent fuel, he pointed out.

“These stockpiles should be the real focus of any process that is interested in reducing nuclear dangers—and unfortunately I think the upcoming summit will fail that test”, said Dr Ramana, the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.

Dr Johnson told IPS though it’s essential to share intelligence and ensure the best possible safety and security practices around nuclear facilities and materials, but more sustainable security requires ending the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium – not only for weapons purposes, but also for military purposes like naval nuclear reactors in submarines and for all commercial purposes.

“There’s no need for these highly dangerous fissile materials to be produced or used any more”.

She said banning the production, use and trade in plutonium and HEU should be a no brainer for anyone who really cares about preventing nuclear use and terrorism.

But unfortunately the US and many others who plan to be in Washington next week are so stuck in their own outdated nuclear dependencies that they will prefer to rearrange the deckchairs rather than tackle the tough challenges that require them to change direction, he added.

“The two most salient measures they could take to prevent nuclear terror are the ones they will try to avoid – a nuclear ban treaty to take these WMD (weapons of mass destruction) out of circulation, and measures to end the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for all purposes,” declared Dr Johnson.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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CTBTO to Install Two Nuclear Monitoring Stations in Ecuadorhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:41:25 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144095 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 7 2016 (IPS)

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), based in Vienna, will soon install two new monitoring stations in Ecuador.

CTBTOs Executive Secretary Dr Lassina Zerbo told IPS the two stations in Ecuador, RN 24 and IS 20, “will brings us an important step closer to the completion of the International Monitoring System – the network that monitors the globe 24/7 for signs of nuclear explosive testing.”

Courtesy of CTBTO

Courtesy of CTBTO

“I am very grateful to the Government and the people of Ecuador for this valuable contribution to global security, especially given the special status of the Galapagos Islands,” he added.

The stations will be located on Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and a province of Ecuador.

Zerbo underlined the importance of both stations which are expected to enhance global coverage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification regime.

The stations will be located near the Equator, where detection capabilities through infrasound and radionuclide monitoring are relatively lower due to the absence of steadily flowing winds.

The two stations will considerably enhance coverage for the Pacific Ocean, where hundreds of nuclear tests were conducted in past decades.

According to CTBTO, the infrasound station in the Galapagos will not only enhance the verification regime’s global detection capabilities but also assist in regional disaster warning efforts, including detections of volcanic eruptions.

There are a number of volcanoes in Ecuador, including the Tungurahua volcano which last erupted in April 2014. Data generated by both stations can also contribute to research of the atmosphere, storm systems and climate change.

The CTBTO’s global monitoring network now comprises over 300 stations, some in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the earth and sea.

The network captures four types of data: seismic (shockwaves in the earth), hydroacoustic (measuring sound through water), infrasound (low frequency sound) and radionuclide (radioactivity). It is about 90 percent complete.

When completed, the system will have 337 stations placed globally to monitor every corner of the planet effectively

Currently, there are three certified seismic stations in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil), 16 auxiliary seismic stations, six certified infrasound stations, with two still planned, including the one in Ecuador, one hydroacoustic station (Juan Fernandez Island, Chile), and nine radionuclide stations, two of which are under construction – not including the one planned in Ecuador.

There are also radionuclide laboratories in Argentina and Brazil.

The locations of the various stations is prescribed by the CTBT and based on scientific methods which are designed to ensure complete coverage of the globe.

Every additional station that is certified, improves the overall reliability of the network (which, incidentally, is already performing at a far higher and more accurate rate than was envisaged when the Treaty was being negotiated), according to CTBTO.

The network is a way to guard against test ban treaty violations because the CTBT prohibits nuclear explosions worldwide: in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

“The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System has found a wider mission than its creators ever foresaw: monitoring an active and evolving Earth,” said Zerbo.

He said some compare the system to a combined giant Earth stethoscope and sniffer that looks, listens, feels and sniffs for planetary irregularities.

It’s the only global network which detects atmospheric radioactivity and sound waves which humans cannot hear, said Zerbo.

He said the CTBTO would work closely together with all national stakeholders involved to ensure that the establishment of the two stations at the Galapagos Islands would be amongst the quickest ever undertaken by the organization, while ensuring the highest environmental protection standards during the stations’ installation and operation.

He also expressed his appreciation for the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry’s excellent coordination in this regard.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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New Nuclear Hysteria in the Middle Easthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east/#comments Mon, 29 Feb 2016 17:37:44 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144035 Image by The Official CTBTO Photostream – flickr.com

Image by The Official CTBTO Photostream – flickr.com

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Feb 29 2016 (IPS)

Three years ago when the tsunami of panic around Iran’s potential capability to develop nuclear weapons reached its peak, a combined diplomatic, media campaign warning that a Gulf Arab state would think of purchasing atomic bombs was spread like an oil spot.

Now that the so-called P5+1group (US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) few months ago concluded an agreement with Iran to prevent the risk of an eventual military nuclear programme in exchange of lifting massive Western sanctions, a new wave of nuclear hysteria seems to be in the air.

In fact, just a few days ago, a news item that the Gulf states would be now seeking nukes, came out of the Munich Security Conference, which was basically meant to set an accord between the US and Russia to establish a humanitarian ceasefire as a step on the 18 December 2015 UN Resolution 2254 (2015) roadmap for Syria.

The majority of Arab media did not pay due attention to this piece of news which, if translated into real facts, would change the fate of the whole region.

What is this all about ?

The Persian Gulf states seeking nuclear weapons to counter “bad guy” Iran have held clandestine meetings with Israel despite not having official ties with Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon revealed at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, RT on 15 February reported.

Arabs Ready to Acquire Nukes?

“We see signs that countries in the Arab world are preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with Iran on brink of a nuclear or atomic bomb,” Ya’alon told fellow defense ministers on Sunday [14 February], the final day of the Munich Security Conference.

Ya’alon did not name specific countries who might be interested in developing nuclear weapons and gave no evidence to back up his claims –RT informed– however, he then made a surprise statement that the Gulf states – officially hostile to Tel Aviv because of its occupation of the West Bank – had held clandestine meetings with Israel.

“Not only Jordan and Egypt,” he said, referring to the only Arab countries who signed peace treaties with Israel after three Arab-Israeli wars, according to this television network which runs cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside the Russian Federation.

“I speak about the Gulf states and North African states too. Unfortunately they are not here to listen. For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes. They are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms.”

In the meantime, Israel is widely believed to possess dozens of nuclear warheads, although official statistics do not exist… Israel possesses Jericho-3 ballistic missiles capable of delivering up to 1,000kg load at ranges of 4,800 to 6,500km. Additionally, it is believed to have a naval nuclear strike capability, using Dolphin-class submarine-launched nuclear-capable cruise missiles, said RT.

The Israeli Air Force also has F-15I and F-16I Sufa fighter aircraft, which can be utilized to deliver tactical and strategic nuclear weapons at long distances using external fuel tanks or aerial re-fueling fleet of modified Boeing 707s, according to the Russian network.

“We do have atomic bombs. This is no news. World powers know that we have the bomb and we want to test it. This would take place should Iran conduct a nuclear test,” prominent Saudi political analyst, Daham to Anzi, told RT,” the Russian TV network on 20 February½ reported in its Spanish service.

“US sources said in May last year that Saudi military had traveled to Pakistan, an ally country, to acquire nuclear weapons “available for sale”. This action of the Saudi military was motivated by Ryiad’s concerns of a hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran.”

A Nuclear Free Middle East

This is not the first time that the risk that Gulf countries may acquire nuclear arms has been raised. Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, had over two years ago warned that nuclear threats from Israel and Iran might force Saudi Arabia to follow suit.

As the Wall Street Journal on November 2013 pointed out, the Saudis may conclude that international acceptance of a nuclear programme of any kind by Iran may compel them “to seek their own nuclear weapons capability through a simple purchase.” The likely source: Pakistan, whose nuclear programme was partly funded by the Saudis.

Inhumane suffering from nuclear bombs - Hiroshima. Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Inhumane suffering from nuclear bombs – Hiroshima. Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)


Anyway, these reports bring to mind the half-a-century-long debate around the Egyptian-led Arab proposal to free the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction, starting with the nuclear ones.

In fact, the 22 states forming the Arab region are all signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which meets, every five years, to review the state of implementation of this global agreement aimed at preventing the proliferation of atomic warheads. In all successive review conferences, the Arab states reiterated their proposal to declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Though the UN Security Council adopted in 1995 a resolution meant to pursue this goal, the NPT review conferences have so far failed to move forward in such direction, mainly due to Israeli, US-backed position against any attempt implying that Tel Aviv dismantles its nuclear arsenal.

Israel is widely believed to posses between 210 and 250 nuclear warheads, an amount that largely exceeds those in the hands of India (80 nuclear bombs) and Pakistan (90). The government of Tel Aviv systematically refuses either to confirm or deny the existence of such nuclear arsenal.

The sole attempt to implement the 1995 Security Council’s resolution, came out in 2010, when the NPT review meeting called for an “international conference” –not under the UN umbrella– to deal with that resolution. Following intensive efforts to find a country ready to host the conference, Finland volunteered to have it in Helsinki. But diplomatic talks failed to organise the meeting.

In view of this yet another frustration and also of the brinkmanship games being played by big military powers in the region, the Arab countries in general, and in the Gulf region in particular, have lately been expressing fresh fears of Iran’s nuclear programme and therefore focusing, again, on nukes.

Not That the Arabs Want to Go Nuclear, But…

Arab states have repeatedly heralded their opposition to any kind of nuclear activity in the region.

In fact, a couple of years ahead of the 2015 NPT conference, both Bahrain’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ghanum Fadhel Al Buainain, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, told this journalist in Manama in March 2013 that their nation – likewise all other Gulf countries – do not want to hear a word about any nuclear activities, even for peaceful purposes.

Their arguments are that even civil nuclear activities of whatever nature, have strong, negative impacts on the very lives and livelihoods of the Gulf peoples, from polluting waters and thus affecting the fish –which historically constituted an important source of living– to the risk of a nuclear accident.

The Bahraini stand is still valid and it applies to all the Gulf states, said to IPS this week a retired high governmental official. “None of us want to have to do with any atomic weapon. But you must understand our fears from both nuclear Israel and a potential nuclear Iran… We have to defend ourselves, protect our people.”

The Real “Security”

In an evident signal confirm their stand, the Bahraini capital, Manama, hosted a major anti-nuclear campaigners activity–the international exhibition “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Towards a World Free from Nuclear Weapons”

Organised by the Tokyo-based non-governmental civil society association Soka Gakkai International (SGI), with the support of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), together with the Inter Press Service IPS and the UN Information Centre in Manama, and promoted by the Bahraini and Japanese ministries of foreign affairs, the exhibition was held in Manama from Mar. 12-23, 2013.

“Nuclear weapons – the most inhuman and destructive of all tools of war – are at the peak of a pyramid of violence in this increasingly interdependent world,” said anti-nuclear campaigners. “The threat of atomic weapons is not in the past… It is a major crisis today.”

“This exhibition –the first ever in an Arab country – (represents) a step further toward making the human aspiration to live in a world free from nuclear weapons a reality,” SGI’s executive director for peace affairs, Hirotugu Terasaki, told this journalist.

“The very existence of these weapons –the most inhuman of all– implies a major danger,” said Terasaki, who is also the vice president of this Buddhist organisation that promotes international peace and security, with more than 12 million members all over the planet.

Asked about the argument used by nuclear powers that the possession of such weapons is a major guarantee of safety and security – the so-called “deterrence doctrine” – Terasaki said, “The world should now move beyond this myth.”

According to the exhibition’s promoters, “Security” begins with basic human needs: shelter, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. People need to work, to care for their health, to be protected from violence.

These—and not nuclear bombs, are exactly the basic human needs that are lacking in Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen… and more to come.

(End)

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Elections in Iran, a Test for the Regimehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime/#comments Mon, 22 Feb 2016 12:57:14 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143945 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 22 2016 (IPS)

Iran will hold two crucial elections on February 26, 2016, which could decide the fate of the Islamic Republic for many years to come. Earlier this month, Iranians celebrated the 37th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. During that period, the country experienced revolutionary upheavals, a disastrous eight-year war with Iraq that killed and wounded nearly a million Iranians, eight years of populist rule by a hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and crippling Western sanctions.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Yet, despite all these crises and upheavals, not only has the Islamic Republic survived, it could be argued that Iran is now the most stable country in the region.

This year the election for the 290-seat parliament (Majles), which will serve for four years, coincides with the election of the 88-member Assembly of Experts, which has a eight year term. The Assembly of Experts is in charge of selecting the next Supreme Leader. The current leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 76 and ailing, and the next Assembly will likely select his successor. In view of the importance of the role that the Supreme Leader plays in Iranian politics, the person who is chosen will decide the direction that the Nizam (the establishment) will take in the coming years.

At the moment, the country is split between the reformists and the moderates on one side, and the hardliners on the other. Whether the next parliament and more crucially the next leader are reformist or extremist will have a major impact on the course of Iran’s domestic and foreign policy. This is why the forthcoming elections are so critical.

There have been regular, if flawed, elections in Iran since the revolution, but the fairness of the elections has been compromised by the enormous power that the right-wing Guardian Council wields in vetting the candidates. The Supreme Leader appoints six clerical members of the Guardian Council, and the head of the Judiciary, who is appointed by Khamenei, appoints six jurists to the Council. Therefore, the Council acts as a rubber stamp for the wishes of the Supreme Leader and the clerical establishment.

On the eve of the forthcoming elections, the Guardian Council rejected the qualifications of the vast majority of reformist candidates, while the majority of the so-called ‘Principleists’, or right-wing extremists, have been allowed to contest the elections.

Initially, there were more than 12,000 candidates from the three main political movements, the hardliners, the reformists and the moderates. In total, about 6,200 candidates ¬ including 586 women ¬ have now been cleared to run, while the rest have been disqualified. Nine moderate parties issued a statement complaining that only 30 of the 3,000 reformist candidates had been allowed to run.

In the absence of organized political parties, anyone can put his or her name down for election. There is certainly a need for a body to vet the candidates and make the elections more manageable, but the problem with the Guardian Council is that it functions in a very partisan way.

In 2009 election, there was widespread support for the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Musavi, but the Guardian Council declared Ahmadinejad the winner, and Khamenei put his full support behind him. That controversial decision led to the biggest demonstrations and protests since the early days of the revolution, which were brutally put down. A number of protestors were killed, and hundreds, including the leaders of the Green Movement, were arrested and most of them are still either in jail or under house arrest.

The hardliners had hoped to repeat the success of their candidates in the last presidential election in 2013, but the rightwing candidate Saeed Jalili received only 11.3% of the vote. When Hassan Rouhani declared his candidacy, opinion polls put his popularity at only 5%, but an energetic campaign with the promises of greater freedoms at home and a policy of engagement with the West, brought more than 72% of the electorate to the polling stations, and he won in the first round with nearly 51% of the vote.

It was hoped that after the successful implementation of the nuclear deal with the P5+1, President Rouhani’s supporters would have greater success in the forthcoming election and that he would face a less hostile Majles. However, as the result of massive disqualifications of reformist candidates, the Guardian Council has dashed all those hopes.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, Hassan Khomeini, who is a reformist and who had supported President Rouhani in the last election, has been barred from running for the Assembly of Experts, and Morteza Eshraqi, another grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, was prevented from running for Majles, as were former President Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s son Mohsen and daughter Fatemeh Hashemi.

These disqualifications have given rise to a great deal of anger and criticism. Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Khomeini’s return to Tehran on February 2nd, Hashemi-Rafsanjani criticized the Guardian Council’s decision to disqualify Hassan Khomeini. Rafsanjani said: “They disqualified the grandson of Imam Khomeini, who is the person who is closest to his grandfather.” Addressing the hardliners, Rafsanjani said: “Who has given you the right to judge others? Who has given you the right to take all the guns, have all the podiums, have Friday prayer platforms and radio and television?”

This criticism is extremely significant because it is not directed only at the Guardian Council but at the entire clerical establishment, and at the IRGC that holds all the guns. He is also indirectly criticizing the Supreme Leader who appoints the heads of the IRGC, the Friday prayer leaders and the head of the state-run broadcasting.

President Rouhani too strongly criticized the hardliners. Speaking on Tuesday 9 February, referring to the IRGC, Ruhani said: “If an organization possesses intelligence, weapons, money, newspapers, news agencies, and if other tools of powers were put altogether in the hands of one organization, even if they were saints they would become corrupted.” He said that if Iran wants to move forward, “we should get rid of monopolies and move towards real competition. The sanctions were not the only chains tying our hands. Bureaucracy is also a chain that we must remove from our hands one day.”

These strong criticisms of the Guardian Council, the IRGC and implicitly the Supreme Leader, show that the forthcoming elections are going to be tense. However, despite all these obstacles put in the path of the reformers, former reformist President Khatami, while expressing disappointment that “capable” and “deserving figures” have been disqualified, urged the people to vote because “your vote is your voice”.

At this election, there are around 53 million voters, 30% of whom are under the age of 30, and 70% under the age of 50. The balance of power in Iran has shifted to a younger, more cosmopolitan and more reform-minded generation. The forthcoming elections will set the stage for major changes in Iran.

(End)

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The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: Can the Deal with Iran Survive Iranian and US Elections? (part three)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2016 10:23:30 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143909 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 17 2016 (IPS)

Although the implementation of Iranian nuclear deal has been welcomed by all those who had been involved in the negotiations as part of the P5+1, the deal has had many vociferous opponents.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

In the United States, the opposition to the Iranian deal has not stopped at verbal denunciation alone. Only one day after the January 16th announcement of the implementation of the deal, the US Treasury unveiled new sanctions on Iran on the excuse that Iran had tested Emad missiles in October, contrary to the Security Council resolutions. These sanctions are at least against the spirit of the nuclear deal as the US had pledged not to impose new sanctions on Iran. First of all, Resolution 2231 had rescinded all nuclear-related resolutions, and the nuclear deal has ensured that Iran has no nuclear weapons.

In December 2015, the US Congress passed a new law seeking to stop terrorists from traveling to the US. The law changed the rules of the visa waivers afforded to citizens of some 38 countries, including a provision that dual citizens from Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Iran or anyone who has visited any of those countries over the past five years must obtain a visa in advance, including an in-person interview, prior to visiting the US. This law would inconvenience many dual Iranian citizens and many other nationals who wish to travel to Iran on business or tourism, thus violating the provisions of the nuclear deal. Iran’s name was added to the list at the last moment as a pure act of hatred.

It is no wonder that many Iranian officials say that they do not trust the US. It is clear that such acts are not aimed at improving relations between the two countries and encouraging Iranians to have closer relations with the West.

However, Iran did not waste any time in making the best use of the nuclear deal. The unfreezing of Iranian assets, said to be worth about 100 billion dollars, will help the Iranian economy that has been suffering for years under crippling sanctions. Even before the formal Implementation Day, President Vladimir Putin travelled to Iran in November 2015, his first visit for ten years. The two sides signed many deals on economic cooperation. The Russian engineering company Tekhnopromexport will build a 1.4 GW thermal power plant in Iran and a desalination plant with a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters of water per day near the city of Bandar Abbas. Moscow will extend Tehran a government loan worth 5 billion dollars to cover the implementation of 35 priority projects in the fields of energy, construction, seaports, railway electrification, and others. A further 2 billion dollars in the form of export credits is due to be provided by Russia’s State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs. Victor Melnikov, head of the Iran-Russia Trade Council, said that the two countries could boost bilateral trade exchanges to 10 billion dolars in coming years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to visit Tehran following the lifting of international sanctions. During his two-day visit to Iran (22-23 January), the two sides agreed to raise the level of their bilateral trade more than tenfold, from 51.8 billion dollars in 2014 to600 billion dollars in the next 10 years. In an article on the eve of his visit to Iran, the Chinese President referred to the first Iranian delegation that had visited China more than 2,000 years ago, and he referred to the Silk Road that had connected those two ancient lands over many centuries. Presidents Rouhani and Xi oversaw the signing of 17 politico-economic agreements between the two countries worth tens of billions of dollars.

Perhaps even more important than the economic deals was Iran-China’s strategic partnership. The Chinese president confirmed his support for Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Iran enjoys a unique geopolitical position, as a link between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, between Central Asia and the Caucasus, also linking China and India to Europe, thus acting as a hub for Eurasian integration.

During his visits to Italy and France (25-29 January), the Iranian president signed some 55 billion dollars in deals focused on the hydrocarbons, metals, transport, and automotive sectors. Unquestionably the biggest deal was Iran’s purchase of 118 Airbus planes, at a total cost of 25 billion dollars. Iran’s transport minister, Abbas Akhoundi, has remarked that Iran is in the market for some 400 medium and long-range planes, as well as 100 shorter-haul aircraft. He also said that Iran was open to deals with American aviation companies.

The wide range of deals across multiple industries highlights the overall appeal of the Iranian market to the world. Iran’s 80 million young and educated population, as well as Iran’s vast natural resources, have made it the biggest hope for the recovery of a sluggish European economy. Iran owns more than 7 per cent of the total global mineral reserves, ranking first in terms of proven gas and second in terms of oil reserves (fourth if shale oil is also taken into account). Iran also ranks first in the world in terms of zinc, 2nd in copper, 9th in iron, 10th in uranium and 11th in lead mines, as well as possessing 68 different types of minerals.

In addition to all its economic benefits, Europe also sees Iran as a major ally in the battle against ISIS. The world has moved on from the era of sanctions, which were on the point of collapse even prior to the nuclear agreement. It would be futile to try to reverse the global trend and to isolate Iran again. All that the attempts to isolate Iran would do is to push her further into the arms of the Russians and the Chinese, while most Iranians are strongly pro-Western and pro-American. There is a very large community of Iranian-Americans with a vast network of friends and relatives in Iran that could be used to bring Iran closer to the Western orbit. This asset should not be wasted.

It is time for US politicians to realize that past US policies in the Middle East have destabilized the region and have given rise to ISIS and other terrorist groups. They should turn a new leaf and make use of America’s soft power, rather than giving priority to military options and regime change.

(End)

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Views Split on Nuclear Deal Implementation (Part Two)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:21:29 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143861 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 11 2016 (IPS)

The implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal with the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) on January 16, which resulted in the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iran, has split the views of current and former US politicians.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Two days later 53 U.S. national security leaders issued a statement welcoming the implementation of the nuclear agreement. The council included some leading foreign policy experts, including former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski; Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, and Defense Secretary William Perry; Ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Ryan Crocker and Daniel Kurtzer; military leaders Admiral William Fallon, Admiral Eric Olson and Lieutenant General Frank Kearney; and members of Congress Richard Lugar, Tom Daschle and Lee Hamilton.

In their statement, they pointed out that the success of the agreement “had reaffirmed the value of diplomacy as an invaluable tool for conflict resolution.” They added that “new mechanisms for cooperation should be established between the executive and legislative branches to monitor compliance and evaluate suspected violations.” The views of such eminent national security leaders cannot be easily ignored.

Coinciding with the Implementation Day, there was a successful prisoner exchange, involving five Americans and seven Iranians. A few days earlier, Iran had released ten US sailors who had “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters, in less than 24 hours.

A few years ago, these events could not be envisaged and the holding of American sailors could have resulted in intense hostility and even military clashes; with possible disastrous consequences of another war in the Middle East with a country much larger and stronger than Iraq to appreciate what has been achieved by diplomacy at a much smaller cost. Now having established a reliable channel of communication between the two countries, it will be much easier in the future to persuade Iran to help resolve some of the intractable crises in the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya; as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This landmark agreement has shown how diplomacy can succeed when sanctions and military action fail. This provides an example for resolving other major crises in the Middle East and in the rest of the world. If two adversaries that had threatened each other for over 37 years are able to resolve their differences and extend the hand of friendship to each other, there is reason to hope that other complicated issues and crises in the world can also be resolved through persistent efforts, talks in an atmosphere of goodwill. Maybe one can begin to hope that the time of wars is coming to an end; making way for a new chapter in international relations.

However, the implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement has not satisfied the hawks on neither side. On the Iranian side, the hardliners that control the Guardian Council, which vets the credentials of the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) candidates, has disqualified a large number of reformist candidates. The Guardian Council has even rejected the qualifications of Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic revolution, as a candidate for the Assembly of Experts that is in charge of selecting the next Supreme Leader. Hassan Khomeini is regarded a reformist and in the controversial 2009 presidential election that resulted in a second term for President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Khomeini had supported the Green Movement and the reformist candidates.

Many reformists fear that the hardliners wish to prevent President Hassan Rouhani from winning a second term, and in any case they will try to make his job much more difficult by the creation of a confrontational Majlis. Many candidates have appealed those rulings and some of the disqualifications may be reversed.

In the United States and Israel, the opposition to the nuclear deal has been strong and continuous. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reverted to his refrain about the deal, saying: “This is a very dangerous deal and it threatens all of us.” He appealed to American Jews to oppose the accord. One group of Jewish activists in Pittsburgh even warned that the deal would hasten a “Second Holocaust in Israel”, neglecting to mention that the deal had in fact blocked all the paths to Iran’s acquisition of even a single nuclear weapon, while Israel possesses hundreds of such weapons.

Immediately after the Implementation Day, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that it was “akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1.” A number of Republican presidential candidates have even stated that they would not honor the deal. Senator Marco Rubio has threatened to tear the Iran deal up on day one if he were elected president. Iran’s ultimate goal, Rubio said, was to be able to “hold America hostage.” Senator Ted Cruz also echoed Rubio’s comments. During the September 2015 GOP debate he said: “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”

Chris Christie strangely linked Iran’s nuclear deal with ISIS: “Well, I think we have to focus…on exactly what the priorities are. And to me, what I’ve always said is that the president has set up an awful situation through his deal with Iran, because what his deal with Iran has done is empower them and enrich them. And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here.” Another presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, is so scared of the implementation of the deal that he has said that it jeopardizes “the survival of Western civilization.” He continued, “this threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power.”

Despite all this hyperbole, all the experts who have studied the issue, the NIE, and above all the IAEA that has been closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program agree that there has been no diversion of Iran’s nuclear program towards military uses. In his final assessment of the Iranian nuclear program, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano wrote: “The agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

It seems that some people prefer to resort to force in resolving international problems, rather than resolving them through talks and negotiations.

(End)

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Violence Is a Preventable Diseasehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/violence-is-a-preventable-disease/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=violence-is-a-preventable-disease http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/violence-is-a-preventable-disease/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:55:00 +0000 mairead-maguire http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143837 Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland is a 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate ]]>

Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland is a 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate

By Mairead Maguire
BELFAST, Feb 9 2016 (IPS)

The World Health Organization has said that ‘Violence is a preventable disease’ and people are not born violent, rather we all live in cultures of violence. This can be changed through nonviolent peacemaking and the persuit of ‘just peace’ and nurturing of cultures of peace.

Mairead Maguire

Mairead Maguire

In Northern Ireland for over thirty years we faced violence from all sides, as we lived in a deep ethnic/political conflict. This violence only ended when everyone acknowledged that militarism and paramilitarism could not solve our human problems, and only through unconditional, all inclusive dialogue and negotiations could we reach a political agreement based on nonviolence, forgiveness, compromise and cooperation. We spoke ‘to our enemies’ and made peace with them, because we recognized that without peace nothing is possible, and with peace, everything is possible. We also began to tackle the root causes of our violence, by painstakingly making policy changes. Today in Belfast, while it is good for all its citizens to live in a city at peace, we all acknowledge that our peace process is a work in progress and we must continue to work on justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This is a time when, I believe, Europe is at cross-roads and hard choices regarding policies and priorities have to be made. Today’s refugees and migration challenge has shown the best and the worst of European values, often beamed via television onto our screens. The best have been the compassionates response of some spiritual leaders such as Pope Francis and the people of Italy, government and political leaders, such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and millions of ordinary citizens across Europe, moving to help in any way they can the refugees, and migrants who have arrived from war torn countries.

The worst has been the fearology fuelled by negative forces which has resulted in an increase in racism, islamophobia, hate crimes and speech, and fascism in some European cities, hitherto known as cities of cultural diversity and tolerance. The stream of refugees andmigrants from Africa, Middle East and Asia, will continue pouring in to Europe, and the question is: what is the role of Europe and its citizens? I hope that Europe will continue to demonstrate compassion and offer to host those who are so desperate they had to flee all they loved in order to save their lives, or for a better life elsewhere.

The consequences of NATO/US policies of invasions and occupation is the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, to name but a few. A real question now to be asked by Europeans is: Do you want to continue being part of the perpetual wars of US and its most belligerent states of UK and Israel, and the militarization and nuclearization of Europe to continue?

All across the European Union (UE) young Europeans are travelling to other EU countries and further afield, trying to find jobs, and many continue to immigrate overseas. Austerity cuts, imposed by many European Union (UE) governments, are driving people deeper into poverty. In spite of this lack of jobs and falling In to poverty for many families, political leaders insist on governments policies, supporting foreign wars instead of human security of EU citizens, health care, education and the environment.

The British government has implemented austerity cuts which have devastated social services for many poor families and it is currently promising the renewal of the UK nuclear trident missile (these nuclear weapons, although on European soil, are in the control of the US government). This is all done in the face of millions of citizens protesting nuclear weapons and calling for a nuclear weapons free Britain and World.

Many governments in Europe are in denial that they are in a crisis but unless courageous policy reversals are implemented and more funding put into human security by dealing with unemployment and poverty, things will not change for the better for our societies in the forseeable futre. But we do not need austerity cuts, we live in a very rich world it’s just that we have got our priorities wrong!

Billions of Euros spent by NATO and Europe hosting war exercises, increases fearology, prepares people mentally for enmity and war, and lines the pockets of the rich, of arms manufacturers and war profiteers. In November 2015, while the worlds political leaders, and media, focused on the refugee crisis and the violence of illegal groups of Daesh (Islamic state) and other fundamental Islamic extremists, almost unknown to the civil community, as it was little reported, one of the great threats to the survival of humanity was taking place in Northern Europe, across three European states. Some 36,000 military troops, 200 fighter aircrafts and more than 60 warships carried out NATO’s biggest war games in 13 years.The military troops were from over 30 states.

They were carrying out war exercises preparing to fight together in battle groups if necessary in a war, which should it come to pass, would be a horror of horrors and one of the greatest crimes against humanity, a nuclear/conventional war on European soil, and spreading quickly across the world. The NATO (led by the US) has fought many illegal wars. They argue that it is necessary to fight terrorism and that it must defend its members from threats from the Middle East and North Africa.

The cold war propaganda against Russia continues and NATO by its expansionist and aggressive strategy has brought Europe to a situation similar to that of the Cold War causing a new dangerous confrontation with Russia.

I believe Europe (and indeed the world) must now ask the tough questions and make hard, brave and courageous choices: ‘Do we continue down the road of re-arming Europe and the World, and building a culture of militarism and war, creating enemy images and demonizing other countries and their leaders, implementing ‘regime change’ through bogus ‘right to protect’ military intervention, or do we choose to start disarming our conscience, hearts and minds, dismantling our weapons, ending militarism and war and implementing International law?’

Europe and the world needs a New Vision of Unity and Demilitarization of Regions, with power devolved to communities where people feel empowered and true democracy can be established. A demilitarized world is something we can all work together to build.

It is not an impossible dream, but begins with each one of us, choosing to live lives of nonkilling and nonviolence and building friendships between peoples and regions in order to cooperate as the human family on the problems we all need to deal with such as environment and poverty. We have imagination and genius and with confidence and trust in ourselves and each other, we can move away from nationalism and war, towards regional solutions built on demilitarized societies of peaceful co-existence ¬ we can and we must learn to live together in all our diversity. Peace Demilitarized and Devolved Democracy is possible and is a human right for all.

(End)

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The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: A Win-Win Agreement (part one)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 15:27:39 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143828 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 8 2016 (IPS)

After many years of unprecedented, crippling Western sanctions that stopped Iran’s oil exports and even banking transactions, the long and arduous negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed on 14 July 2015. That agreement finally reached the Implementation Day on 16th January 2016, coincidentally 37 years to the day when the late Mohammad Reza Shah left Iran for good and paved the way for the victory of the Islamic revolution.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

In a Joint statement, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, speaking for the European Union, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated:

“Today, we have reached Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Ever since Adoption Day, we worked hard and showed mutual commitment and collective will to finally bring the JCPOA to implementation. Today, six months after finalization of the historic deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has implemented its nuclear related commitments under the JCPOA.”

On the same day, United Nations sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program were lifted, and the Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the JCPOA, terminated the provisions of resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2007), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015).

In order to reach Implementation Day, Iran had to carry out its part of the deal, which it did meticulously and ahead of the deadline. According to the JCPOA, Iran halted its production of uranium enriched to 20 per cent, removed the core of the heavy water reactor in Arak and filled the channels with cement, rendering it inoperable. Iran dismantled over 13,000 centrifuges, leaving the country with 6,104 first-generation IR-1 machines, of which 5,104 are enriching uranium to 3.67 percent, and 1,044 machines at the Fordow site will remain inoperative. Meanwhile, all of this has been carried out under strict IAEA supervision, which will also continue to closely monitor Iran’s future nuclear activities.

The Implementation Day coincided with the successful prisoner exchange, involving five Americans (including four dual citizens) held in Iran, in return for seven Iranians (including six dual citizens) who had been charged with violating US sanctions against Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry called it “one of the days that I enjoyed the most as secretary of state.”

A few days earlier, Iran had released ten US sailors who had “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. Initially, it was said that the two boats travelling between Kuwait and Bahrain, equipped with three 50-caliber machine guns, had developed mechanical problems, or their GPS equipment had failed, or that they had run out of fuel, but later all those excuses were proven to have been incorrect. So far, US authorities have provided no satisfactory explanation as to how two US Navy ships had lost their way together and had ended up miles away in Iranian waters next to Farsi Island, a very sensitive Iranian naval base. Some Iranian hardliners saw it as a provocation and an attempt to spy on Iranian military installations.

It should be noted that Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr on the eve of Implementation Day. Al-Mimr’s execution led to attacks on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, leading to Saudi Arabia cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran and forming a mainly Sunni coalition against that country. Some conspiracy theorists have wondered whether al-Nimr’s beheading and the US Navy ship that “drifted” into Iranian waters might have been a last-ditch effort by some of the opponents of the deal to derail the agreement.

Be that as it may, some hawks in Washington immediately accused Iran of aggressive behavior and called for harsh punishments. Sen. John McCain criticized what he called Iran’s “provocative behavior”. Sen. Cory Gardner even suggested that President Barack Obama had to postpone his State of the Union address until the sailors had been released. The columnist Charles Krauthammer seized on the incident to discredit the nuclear deal. He wrote: “The premise of the nuclear deal was that it would constrain Iranian actions. It’s had precisely the opposite effect.” However, the speedy release of American sailors disappointed the hawks on both sides and paved the way for closer cooperation between the United States and Iran.

President Obama rightly celebrated the combination of those events as the vindication of his efforts over the previous years. In a Sunday 17 January 2016 statement at the White House, the President said: “This is a good day, because once again we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy.” The President touted his administration’s efforts at diplomacy and advancing relations between the two adversaries, “rather than resorting to another war in the Middle East”.

Obama also pointed to the speedy release of the U.S. sailors as more evidence of the benefits of diplomacy. “Some here in Washington said this was the start of another hostage crisis,” Obama said, referring to some Republicans in Congress. “Instead we secured their release in less than 24 hours.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, speaking almost simultaneously with President Obama, said that the official implementation of the landmark deal had satisfied all parties except radical extremists. He said the deal had “opened new windows for engagement with the world.”

He described the deal as a win-win agreement for all negotiating parties and all factions inside Iran and in the West: “Nobody has been defeated in the deal, neither inside the country nor the countries that were negotiating with us.”

The agreement has provided the best example of the resolution of one of the most difficult international issues through negotiations and without resorting to war, which would have had a devastating outcome for the region and beyond. Indeed, it can serve as a model for the resolution of other difficult conflicts such as the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

(End)

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After 20 Years, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Still in Political Limbohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:58:05 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143792 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS , Feb 4 2016 (IPS)

After nine years in office, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will step down in December perhaps without achieving one of his more ambitious and elusive political goals: ensuring the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

“This year marks 20 years since it has been open for signature,” he said last week, pointing out that the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – the fourth since 2006 — was “deeply destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international non-proliferation efforts.”

Now is the time, he argued, to make the final push to secure the CTBT’s entry into force, as well as to achieve its universality.

In the interim, states should consider how to strengthen the current defacto moratorium on nuclear tests, he advised, “so that no state can use the current status of the CTBT as an excuse to conduct a nuclear test.”

But how close – or how further away– are we from the CTBT coming into force?

Jayantha Dhanapala, a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the Executive Secretary of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), told IPS: “The CTBT was widely acclaimed as the litmus test of the sincerity of nuclear weapon states in their commitment to nuclear disarmament. The concrete promise of its conclusion was among the causes that led to the permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 under my Presidency.”

He said the fact that this important brake on the research and development of the most destructive weapon invented is not in force is ominous as relations between the major nuclear weapon states – the US and the Russian Federation who hold 93% of the weapons between them – deteriorate with no dialogue across the divide.

Huge sums of money are being spent on modernisation of the weapons and extremist groups practising barbaric terrorism may acquire them adding to the existential threat that the weapons pose, said Dhanapala, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

John Hallam, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project, told IPS he has, over the years, suggested a number of possibilities for entry into force of the CTBT, including a ‘group of friends’ (governments) declaring that, for them, the CTBT has already entered into force.

Once such group of governments could constitute a comfortable General Assembly (GA) majority in a resolution cementing this in some sense, he added. Possibly at a later stage, he said, one could put up a GA resolution simply declaring that it is now in force. Period.

“I understand fully that such approaches are likely to encounter resistance from non-ratifiers. However the pressure would then be on them to ratify. And a majority should not be bound by the tiny minority of holdouts however influential,” said Hallam.

“And it is an idea I have been gently suggesting in a number of quarters for a number of years,” he pointed out.

The CTBT, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly back in 1996, has still not come into force for one primary reason: eight key countries have either refused to sign or have held back their ratifications.

The three who have not signed – India, North Korea and Pakistan – and the five who have not ratified — the United States, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel – remain non-committal 20 years following the adoption of the treaty.

Currently, there is a voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by many nuclear-armed States. “But moratoria are no substitute for a CTBT in force. The four nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK are proof of this, Ban said.

In September 2013, a group of about 20 “eminent persons” was tasked with an unenviable job: convince eight recalcitrant countries to join the CTBT.

Under the provisions of the CTBT, the treaty cannot enter into force without the participation of the last of the eight key countries.

Addressing the UN’s Committee on Disarmament and International Security last October, Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, said it was necessary to reignite the spirit of the 1990s and go beyond the “business-as-usual” approach of recent years.

“It was necessary to further disarmament, because they would lead the process and see it through. Operationalizing the CTBT would greatly increase the capacity of the international community to address proliferation and advance prospects for those weapons’ eventual elimination”.

In the current millennium, he pointed out, there had only been one county (DPRK) that had violated the moratorium on nuclear testing. “Action was still needed to secure the future of the Treaty as a firm legal barrier against nuclear testing and the nuclear arms race,” he said.

He said nuclear weapons and nuclear testing had a dangerous and destabilizing impact on global security, as well as a negative impact on the environment. More than $1 billion had so far been invested in the most sophisticated and far-reaching verification regime ever conceived.

Significant national security decisions were made in good faith, with the expectation that the Treaty would become legally binding, in line with international law. Countries should finish the job done by experts, he added.

“The challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation required bold ideas and global solutions, as well as the active engagement of stakeholders from all corners of the world. Equally important was building capacity among the next generation of experts, who would carry the endeavours forward,” Zerbo declared.

Hallam told IPS whatever multilateral initiative is adopted, something has got to be done that does an end run around entry-into-force conditions in the text of the treaty, that are, almost impossible ever to satisfy. They have to be in some way short-circuited.

He said that other alternatives must be sought, and that” we should be creative in doing so.”

“I think the CTBTO is already doing a splendid job (and specifically that Lassina Zerbo is doing a great job in promoting it), and this fact already stands it in good stead.”

It would be important to ensure that raw data from the CTBTO sensor network is readily and quickly available to the research community – not just the nonproliferation community but others who might be interested such as geophysicists and climate researchers, not to mention tsunami warning centres, he added.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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North Korea Momentarily Escapes Sanctions After Fourth Nuclear Testhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2016 19:35:52 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143635 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 19 2016 (IPS)

When the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea — immediately following its first nuclear test back in 2006 — Pyongyang described the punitive measure as “an act of war.”

A visibly angry North Korean ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, walked out of the chamber dismissing the resolution as a “gangster-like” act by the 15 members in the Council.

The outspoken John Bolton, then US ambassador to the United Nations, described North Korea’s defiance as “the contemporary equivalent of (Soviet leader) Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe” on his desk at the General Assembly hall to demand his right of reply during the height of the Cold War in October 1960.

But there was no such political drama in the chamber – at least not yet – following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test early January.

So far, North Korea has conducted four tests — in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016 – and every one of them in defiance of the international community.

“This was a destabilizing act that violates Security Council resolutions and imperils collective security,” declared UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said North Korea is the only country in the world that has tested a nuclear weapon in the 21st century – not once, but four times.

“It is also the only country in the world that routinely threatens other UN member states with nuclear attacks”.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters: “We will be working with others on a resolution on further sanctions.”

Still, despite threats of new sanctions and punitive measures against North Korea, the UN Security Council (UNSC) remains deadlocked – primarily due to China’s opposition to sanctions— nearly two weeks after the test.

The only action of the Security Council was to unanimously condemn the test as “a clear violation of (past) resolutions.. and of the non-proliferation regime.”

At the United Nations, sanctions are known to bite – but resolutions? No.

Some of the past sanctions on North Korea include mostly commercial and weapons shipments and blacklisting of specific companies and individuals.

The US and the Western world, which are notorious for their double standards, are willing to go after Iran with a vengeance – even though the Iranians said they were developing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons—but ignore and accept Israel as a virtual nuclear power in the Middle East.

There has always been less virulent opposition to North Korea (also known as the Democratic Republic of North Korea or DPRK) because its nuclear weapons are not a threat to Israel.

North Korea has pointed out that the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, were perhaps facilitated by one fact: none of these countries had nuclear weapons.

“And that is why we will never give up ours,” a North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying.

Alice Slater. an Advisor with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and who serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War, told IPS “it’s hypocritical to continue to sanction North Korea, when we’ve sabotaged so many of the peace negotiations with them over the years.

“We keep insisting on our right for our nuclear deterrent, and improving it and offering its protection in our alliance to countries like Japan, Australia, and South Korea as well as to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) states.”

“I think North Korea is using its “deterrent” to get our attention for resuming negotiations for a resolution to the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with only an armistice and 30,000 US troops still stationed there, as well as to end the crippling sanctions that has impoverished their nation,” she said.

“I don’t think the UN resolutions make sense. What about the UN resolution to prevent an arms race in space, put forth by Russia and China which the US blocks, and the need to reinstate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) so that the US and Russia can really negotiate for nuclear disarmament that will bring everyone else along, including North Korea?,” Slater asked.

John Hallam, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project, told IPS: “I guess if I were UNSG or any one of the delegates at the UNSC, I’d be somewhat cynical over the likely effectiveness of any resolution.

“What will be the mechanisms of enforcement, other than those used so far without success?”, he asked.

“However I simply can’t imagine the UNSC not trying in some way to sanction the DPRK, nor would I suggest that they refrain from sanctioning it. “

“What I would hope however is that the UNSC look at those of its own membership who have massive programmes aimed at refurbishing their own nuclear deterrent forces – forces that have tens of thousands of times the kick of those of the DPRK and whose existence does indeed imperil humans as a species, as the Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna conferences made quite clear.”

He said much depends on how toughly worded are UNSC resolutions, and on what its enforcement mechanisms are.”

“However my instinctive gut feeling is that nothing but nothing will deter the DPRK from further tests. “

“I think the probability of yet more tests and of missile tests also is very high, and neither action by the UNSC nor actions taken by the individual members of it will make the slightest difference”, said Hallam.

In an oped piece in Counterpunch, Slater wrote: “This latest terrifying and dreadful underground nuclear test by North Korea should be a warning to the United States and the other nuclear weapons states, that the longer we continue to modernize and cling to our nuclear arsenals and promote a nuclear deterrence policy which promise catastrophic threats of nuclear retaliation if attacked, the more additional countries will be seeking to get their own “deterrent”, just as North Korea has done creating ever greater threats of accidental or deliberate nuclear disaster.”

She pointed out that “It is telling that at the same time we made the deal with Iran to rein in their “peaceful” nuclear power program and secure their enriched uranium in Russia, we promised “peaceful” nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey so they too will have their bomb in the basement.”

“It cannot have escaped the notice of North Korea that after Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programme was ended after the first Gulf War, and Muammar Ghadafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons programme, one wound up dead in a hole in the ground and the other in a sewer pipe.”

The only way to control the further spread of nuclear weapons and future catastrophic nuclear disaster, is for the US and the other nuclear nations — Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan — to give up their nuclear weapons and negotiate a treaty for the total abolition of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international monitoring and control.

“Unfortunately, this won’t happen until the two nuclear behemoths at the table, the US and Russia, who now have 15,000 of the 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet agree to do this,” declared Slater.

Hallam said: “I am quite sure the DPRK views a real nuclear capability as its survival ticket, and to some extent they are correct.”

Of course the irony is that nuclear weapons will do absolutely nothing to protect them against their own people if they decide to revolt. But as of now there are no signs of that, he said.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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TAIWAN: Polls Harken End of Nuclear Powerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:51:11 +0000 Dennis Engbarth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143575 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/feed/ 0 U.N. Plans New Working Groups Aimed at Nuclear Disarmamenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 23:56:07 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142828 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28 2015 (IPS)

Against the backdrop of a potential military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers – the United States and Russia – the United Nations is taking a significant step towards a hitherto impossible goal: nuclear disarmament.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The 193-member General Assembly, through its Committee on Disarmament and International Security (also known as the First Committee), is expected to establish an open-ended working group — or possibly two such groups — to deliberate or negotiate on effective measures for nuclear disarmament.

One of the draft resolutions, currently in circulation, calls for the Working Group to convene in Geneva in 2016, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and under its rules of procedure.

The Working Group is expected to submit a report, reflecting the negotiations and its recommendations, to the General Assembly at its 71st session in September next year.

This draft resolution, sponsored by Mexico, has several co-sponsors, including Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Malta, Nigeria, the Philippines and South Africa.

A second draft resolution, sponsored by Iran, calls on a second Working Group to transmit its report to the U.N.’s high level international conference on nuclear disarmament to be held no later than 2018, and to the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission.

John Burroughs, Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told IPS: “The relevant resolutions are still under negotiation.”

This development, he said, builds on the momentum created by the 2013 open-ended working group to develop proposals for multilateral negotiations; the 2013 and 2014 conferences on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna; and the draft final document of the May 2015 NPT Review Conference.

“Regardless of the short-term output of a new working group, its operation would definitely be positive because it would keep the momentum going and create an opening for further steps.”

The United States, he pointed out, has shifted its position from its opposition to the 2013 working group, saying that it would support a new working group, though it insists on a consensus procedure and says that a working group should explore all effective measures (e.g. verification) for nuclear disarmament, not negotiate legal measures.

Which other members of the Permanent Five — including Britain, France, China and Russia — will come out, remains to be seen, he added.

“But the U.S. shift is a sign that the environment is changing for the better,” said Burroughs, who is also Director of the U.N. Office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.

Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, one of the strongest advocates of nuclear disarmament, told IPS that all resolutions forwarded from the Committee on Disarmament and International Security are overwhelmingly adopted each year by the General Assembly, which is not bound by consensus.

This year, she pointed out, the General Assembly is expected to establish an open ended working group (open to all 193 member states) to take forward proposals to implement nuclear disarmament.

She said a statement made Oct. 21 by a coalition of over 135 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 19 countries has an unequivocal message: “We call on (member) states to stop fiddling while Rome burns.”

In a statement endorsed by the 135 organizations, Cabasso told the First Committee the nuclear-armed countries are edging ever closer to direct military confrontation in conflict zones around the world, from Ukraine to Syria and the broader Middle East to the Western Pacific.

“The danger of nuclear war is growing again on a scale measured in months or years,” she said.

And those who rule in the nuclear-armed states appear comfortable approaching disarmament on a time scale measured in generations — and show no interest in taking up the task again anytime soon.

The coalition that endorsed the statement includes Global Action to Prevent War, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Soka Gakkai International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Project Ploughshares, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Israeli Disarmament Movement, Swedish Peace Council, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, CODE PINK, Western States Legal Foundation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, among others.

Aaron Tovish, International Director, 2020 Vision Campaign, and Mayors for Peace, told IPS: “Given the ongoing abuse of the consensus rule in the Conference on Disarmament, already back in 2006, Mayors for Peace began promoting the creation of a working group that would operate under U.N. General Assembly rules of Procedure.”

He said the 2013 Open-Ended Working Group on ‘Taking Forward Multilateral Negotiations on Nuclear Disarmament’ was a successful, albeit too short, exercise.

“It is most timely to revive the Working Group with a stronger mandate.”

“I see nothing wrong with having working groups being held in both Geneva and New York next year. Each venue has strengths and weaknesses, so those prepared to work for nuclear disarmament in good faith, should be willing to contribute to both venues” he added.

Tovish also said: “We are just at the beginning of getting full-fledged negotiations (on establishing a Nuclear Weapons-Free World) underway, so it is too early to be prejudging which way forward will be most productive. It is conceivable that a good division of labour could be agreed upon for two (or more) forums.”

In her statement, prepared by Andrew Lichterman on behalf of the coalition, Cabasso said: “No amount of tinkering with the disarmament machinery can turn it into a vehicle for disarmament progress when those in the driver’s seat have no intention of moving forward.”

She said the new round of conflicts and confrontations, and the resumption of arms racing, are driven by those who have the power to shape policy in the nuclear-armed states.

“Primary responsibility for the continued scourge of industrialized warfare world-wide lies with the military-industrial complexes and national security state elites at the apex of the global war system, and those in the United States above all.”

Cabasso said nuclear-armed states account for three quarters of global arms exports; the United States and Russia together for over half.

They provide the kinds of weapons that turn local, low-intensity conflicts into industrial-scale wars that fragment societies, destroy vital infrastructure, and destabilize entire regions.

She said these human catastrophes are used to justify competing armed interventions that raise the stakes even higher, with nuclear-armed militaries operating in close quarters in proxy confrontations that easily could spiral out of control.

A small fraction of humanity benefits in the short run from these high stakes competitions; all of us bear the risk, she declared.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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Opinion: The Nuclear Deal’s Impact on Iranian Domestic and Foreign Policyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/opinion-the-nuclear-deals-impact-on-iranian-domestic-and-foreign-policy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=opinion-the-nuclear-deals-impact-on-iranian-domestic-and-foreign-policy http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/opinion-the-nuclear-deals-impact-on-iranian-domestic-and-foreign-policy/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:08:02 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142735

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the final of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Oct 19 2015 (IPS)

As in most countries, in Iran too there are hardliners and moderates. All polls show that a large majority of Iranians support the nuclear deal (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany), while a small but powerful group of hardliners opposes it. The Iranian parliament has finally approved the deal, but after a great deal of controversy and with some reservations.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Despite the fact that in the 2013 presidential election, in which 72 per cent of eligible voters participated, more than half of the electorate voted for Hassan Rouhani, a centrist and moderate cleric, hardliners have a tight grip over practically all other branches of power in Iran.

Hardliners control the judiciary, and have a majority in the current Majles or Iranian Parliament. They control the Assembly of Experts that has the power to elect the Supreme Leader’s successor, the Guardian Council that acts as a second chamber, the National Broadcasting Organization that has a virtual monopoly of all radio and television broadcasting, and many other organizations.

However, with President Rouhani’s election, the dominance of hardliners over the executive branch came to an end, and elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts are due on 26 February 2016, and they could alter the internal balance of power. The nuclear agreement has begun to swing public support back to the reformists.

After the initial revolutionary upheaval that isolated Iran from most of the world, and after 36 years of estrangement from the West, this landmark agreement has ushered in a new era of relations between Iran and the West. While most analysts in the West are primarily concerned about its effect on Iran’s foreign relations, for most Iranians its significance lies in what it can do to improve the economic and political situation at home.

The fact of the matter is that Iran has made many concessions, but its nuclear program has received the seal of approval from the Security Council and the West. Even above and beyond the nuclear issue, the JCPOA has opened the prospect of the reintegration of Iran into the global economy and of it playing a much more prominent role in world affairs.

This is precisely what the hardliners fear, because they are worried that Iran’s revolutionary values would be undermined and that Western values would weaken Islamic sentiments. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards chief warned of “nuclear sedition,” aimed at derailing the Islamic Republic from its revolutionary path.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also warned against “infiltration” attempts by the West and has banned further negotiations with Washington.

The main question is whether Iran still wishes to remain in the past and retain its revolutionary zeal, or whether she feels confident enough to look forward and embrace change. It is quite clear that the majority of Iranians have shown that they are in favor of change and coexistence with the rest of the world, while also retaining their distinct religious and cultural values.

Most Iranians are strongly opposed to regime change in the way that has happened in a number of neighboring countries. They are in favor of evolution and reform, rather than revolution and violence. Nevertheless, they have a number of legitimate demands that cannot be suppressed by force.

President Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to expand political and social freedoms for all Iranians, including freedom of expression. Although some restrictions have been eased, the pace of change has been far too slow. Iran still has one of the largest numbers of executions per capita in the world, and one of the highest numbers of political prisoners. Iranian women still do not enjoy equality with men.

It is true that the government does not have much control over the judiciary or security organizations, but it cannot use this excuse to shirk its responsibilities towards the Iranian people. It must understand that the maintenance of the status quo is not an option. If change is not to be imposed through violence or from outside, the government with the support of the majority of the population must bring about meaningful change.

The JCPOA has opened new horizons for Iran. In the foreign policy field, it has lifted the shadow of war and has made Tehran the diplomatic and economic capital of the Middle East. Now, it is time for Iranian leaders to begin a new chapter of relations with the world. As Ambassador John Limbert, a former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and a former US hostage during the Iranian hostage crisis, has said: “Both sides, after 34 years, have made a very startling discovery, that diplomacy ­ long-neglected tools of listening, of seeking small areas of agreement, of careful choice of words ­ can actually accomplish more than shouting insults, making threats and the wonderful self-satisfaction of always being right.”

The same principle also applies to the domestic situation. Iranian leaders will be surprised to see how much small areas of agreement and small but steady steps towards greater freedoms and democracy can accomplish in putting an end to the alienation between the people and the government, and allow Iran to find its rightful place in the world, and avoid the chaos rampant in many neighboring countries. It is time to use this great opportunity to move forward both at home and abroad, confident in the common sense and patriotism of Iranian people.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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U.S. 100th Member State to Join Nuke Terrorism Treatyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/u-s-100th-member-state-to-join-nuke-terrorism-treaty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=u-s-100th-member-state-to-join-nuke-terrorism-treaty http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/u-s-100th-member-state-to-join-nuke-terrorism-treaty/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:14:29 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142559 The ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism by the U.S. “is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” says Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

The ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism by the U.S. “is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” says Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2015 (IPS)

A 1997 movie titled “The Peacemaker” –partly shot outside the United Nations – dramatised the story of a Yugoslav terrorist who acquires a backpack-sized nuclear weapon, gone missing after a train wreck in rural Russia, and brings it to New York to detonate it outside U.N. headquarters.

Was it another Hollywood fantasy? Or a disaster waiting to happen?

Conscious of the remote possibility of a terrorist group arming itself with stolen nuclear weapons, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly back in April 2005 and entered into force in July 2007.

Currently, there are 99 states parties who have ratified the treaty, including the nuclear powers China, France, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, the United States became the 100th state party when it handed over the instruments of ratification to the U.N. Treaty Section.

“This is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, told IPS.

He said it is useful to recall that it was Russia that initiated this Convention in 2005 and to date there are 115 signatories and 99 states parties.

“Nuclear terrorism has been widely feared especially after 9/11 and it is well know that non-state actors like Al Qaeda and now ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant) are engaged in a quest for nuclear materials to make a nuclear weapon, however rudimentary,” said Dhanapala, who has been President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, since 2007.

“And yet we must not delude ourselves into over estimating the significance of this action when more urgent treaties like the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) await ratification by the United States and seven other states in order to ensure its entry into force rendering permanent the norm against nuclear weapon testing – an important brake on the development of nuclear weapons,” he added.

As long as 15,850 nuclear warheads are held by nine countries – 93 percent with the United States and Russia – their use in a war, caused by deliberate political intent or by accident and by nation states or non state actors – remain a frightening reality with appalling humanitarian consequences and irreversible ecological and genetic effects, said Dhanapala, who also serves as a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and a governing board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

The Nuclear Terrorism Convention is described as part of global efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

It details offences relating to unlawful and intentional possession and use of radioactive material or radioactive devices, and use or damage of nuclear facilities.

The convention is also designed to promote cooperation among countries through the sharing of information and the provision of assistance for investigations and extraditions.

Dr. M.V. Ramana, a physicist and lecturer at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, told IPS: “I would like to take the conversation in a different direction and ask what is nuclear terrorism?”

He said Webster’s dictionary defines terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

Nuclear weapons can cause massive death and destruction; any population faced with this possibility would be terrorized, he argued.

“Think of the people in any number of countries in the Middle East who are told by the U.S. President or some senior official that ‘all options are on the table’, implying, of course, the use of nuclear weapons.”

Under any fair and just definition of terrorism, anyone who uses a nuclear weapon to threaten another population would be a terrorist. This includes those who use nuclear weapons “just for deterrence,” he declared.

Remember that the ability to credibly project terror is ultimately at the heart of the strategy of deterrence and the safety that it is supposed to derive from deterrence is, as Winston Churchill proclaimed, “the sturdy child of terror.”

“I think the challenge for those seeking peace is to shift the discourse away from “nuclear terrorism by non-state actors” and turn the attention onto nuclear weapon states, which base their policies on the threat of nuclear death and destruction, and the urgency of disarming them,” said Dr Ramana who is author of several publications, including “The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.”

Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security said last week that when it comes to nuclear terrorism, “we are safer now than we were five years ago, but more remains to be done.”

The United States, she said, will continue to work with international partners to ensure that dangerous nuclear materials are accounted for and secured worldwide.

“Unending vigilance is required if we are to ensure that terrorist groups who may seek to acquire these materials are never able to do so.”

She said the United States is the largest national contributor to the IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency) Nuclear Security Fund, providing more than 70 million dollars since 2010.

These funds support cost-free experts, mission and technical visits to Member States, the development of nuclear security guidance and best practices, and the Incident and Trafficking Database.

She said the State Department’s Counter Nuclear Smuggling Program (CNSP) is also working with key international partners to strengthen capacity to investigate nuclear smuggling networks, secure materials in illegal circulation, and prosecute the criminals who are involved.

Countries such as Georgia and Moldova are to be commended for their recent arrests of criminals attempting to traffic highly enriched uranium (HEU); significant progress has been made in this area. Unfortunately, continued seizures of weapon-usable nuclear materials indicate that these materials are still available on the black market, she pointed out.

According to the United Nations, some of the key provisions of the Convention include: the criminalization of planning, threatening, or carrying out acts of nuclear terrorism; the requirement for States to criminalize these offenses through national legislation and to establish penalties in line with the gravity of such crimes; conditions under which States may establish jurisdiction for offenses; and guidelines for extradition and other measures of punishment.

Additionally, there is the requirement for States to make every effort to adopt appropriate measures to ensure the protection of radioactive material; and the distinction that the Convention does not cover the activities of armed forces during an armed conflict or military exercise and cannot be interpreted as addressing the “legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by States.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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Iran’s nuclear deal and the regional countrieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/irans-nuclear-deal-and-the-regional-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=irans-nuclear-deal-and-the-regional-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/irans-nuclear-deal-and-the-regional-countries/#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:50:55 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142526

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the ninth of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 29 2015 (IPS)

Although some regional countries initially opposed the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany), once the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by the two sides in July 2015, practically all regional countries welcomed it. After the initial agreement in Lausanne, U.S. President Barack Obama invited all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders to a Camp David summit in May and all of them expressed support for the deal.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

After the nuclear agreement was announced, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait both congratulated Iran and the Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi hailed the deal as a historic event which constituted the first step to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. He called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to get rid of her nuclear weapons. As the head of the Arab League he speaks officially for all the Arab countries.

After the meeting between Obama and the Saudi King Salman at the White House on September 4th, the two sides issued a joint statement. In the statement King Salman expressed his support for the JCPOA “which once fully implemented will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and thereby enhance security in the region.”

For his part, Obama has indicated that the region needs a new approach toward regional security. He said the Sunni Arab states shouldn’t blame Iran for all their problems, and he called on them to engage Iran in a “practical conversation” to reduce sectarian divisions and address shared threats from terrorism.

At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has talked about the possibilities for cooperation with Iran’s neighbors on common challenges in a spirit of “mutual respect, good neighborliness, and Islamic brotherhood.”

Turkey, which has worked closely with Iran over many years to resolve the nuclear issue (in May 2010, Turkey and Brazil tried to broker a deal between Iran and the West), is also fully supportive of this agreement. This leaves Israel as the only regional country that still opposes the deal.

With the very sensitive nuclear issue taken off the table, it is much easier now to deal with a number of critical regional issues. If the U.S. focuses exclusively on the agreement and does not test opportunities for collaboration with Iran on other issues, it may miss a historic opportunity to reshape relations with the Islamic Republic, as well as to usher in a new political and security order in the Middle East as a whole.

Iran of course poses a number of challenges to U.S. interests in the region, and in many arenas American and Iranian interests seem to be fundamentally at odds. Chief among these disagreements are Iran’s policies towards Israel, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Dubbed the “axis of resistance,” the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hamas-Hezbollah grouping was supposed to highlight Iran’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. Iran is accused of supporting the Shi’a militias in Iraq to the detriment of the Sunni minority. Iran supports and arms the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and is also accused of supporting the Houthis in Yemen.

However, as the result of changed circumstances in the region none of these problems is insurmountable. As far as Hamas is concerned, after the civil war in Syria and the expulsion of Palestinians from that country, Hamas turned initially towards Turkey and towards the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Since the coup in Egypt, Hamas has turned more towards Qatar and has even mended relations with Saudi Arabia. Therefore, hardly any links exist at the moment between Hamas and Iran.

Hezbollah forces are fighting in Syria to support Assad’s government against ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups. This is a cause that the West shares. With the flood of refugees towards Europe, many European leaders have realized that no matter how much they loathe Assad, he is preferable to the terrorists that pose a deadly threat to the region and even to the West.

In a joint press conference in London, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that although Assad had to go, nevertheless, it might be necessary to talk to him as part of a deal over a transitional period. Neither Iran nor Russia has said that Assad should rule Syria forever, but they argue that first the terrorists should be defeated, and then Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people in a supervised election.

As far as Yemen is concerned, U.S. officials have admitted that Iran does not play any direct role in that conflict. In an interview with The New York Times in July, Obama said that Tehran had even tried to dissuade the Houthis from capturing Sana’a back in 2014. According to a report released on September 19 by Yemen’s Civil Coalition, over 6,000 Yemenis have so far lost their lives, and a total of 14,000 people have been injured, most of them civilians. The latest deadly stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, killing at least 717 and injuring over 800 with a few hundred people still missing, has added to Saudi woes. The combination of these tragedies, as well as growing domestic discontent, might persuade the Saudi rulers to turn towards diplomacy and regional cooperation.

Turkey has recently softened her position towards Assad, and by placing its airports at the disposal of U.S. aircraft fighting ISIS, Turkey has shown that it takes the terrorist threat seriously. Recently, there have been some moves by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to form a security belt, including Russia, Iran, Egypt and Syria against ISIS. The response from the U.S. to Putin’s proposal has not been hostile. In the wake of their meetings in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. and Russian presidents might reach an agreement over how to jointly tackle the menace of terrorism.

During his recent visit to New York to take part in the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that ties with the U.S. had improved, but there was still a “long road to travel” before they could normalize their relations. Nevertheless, what we are seeing on the ground looks quite different. If the new rapprochement between Iran and the West is not to fizzle out, there is a need to broaden the scope of cooperation over regional issues.

Recent developments have shown that there is an increasing possibility for new geopolitical alignments throughout the region. The growing menace of terrorism, Iran and the U.S.’s tacit cooperation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s growing problems in Yemen, Turkey’s shift to greater cooperation with the U.S, and now Russia’s greater involvement in the fight against ISIS show that all these countries have some shared interests in fighting terrorism, and establishing security and stability in the region through cooperation.

The status quo in the Middle East cannot survive much longer. The winds of change are blowing throughout the entire region, and there is a possibility of new beginnings. This opportunity should not be missed.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Israel’s Opposition to the Nuclear Treaty with Iranhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/israels-opposition-to-the-nuclear-treaty-with-iran/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=israels-opposition-to-the-nuclear-treaty-with-iran http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/israels-opposition-to-the-nuclear-treaty-with-iran/#comments Sat, 26 Sep 2015 21:12:45 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142503

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the eighth of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 26 2015 (IPS)

Relations between Iran and Israel go back almost to the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel as a sovereign state, following Turkey, and the two countries had very close diplomatic and even military cooperation for many decades.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

After the 1953 coup, which restored the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to power, relations improved further, and Israel and the CIA played a significant role in establishing the dreaded SAVAK, Iran’s intelligence organization, and training its personnel. Also, after the Six-Day War in 1967, Iran supplied Israel with a significant portion of its oil needs.

However, after the 1979 revolution, Iran severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel. The Islamic government does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a state, but despite hostile revolutionary rhetoric against Israel, relations between the two countries have not always been too acrimonious. Indeed, during the Iran-Iraq war, in order to prevent Saddam Hussein’s victory, Israel joined the mission to Iran under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and even provided Iran with some weapons in what later on came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Iranian funding of groups like Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which Israel regards as terrorist organizations, and Israeli support for terrorist groups such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, the Jundullah, a militant terrorist organization based in Baluchestan that has carried out a number of deadly attacks against Iran, as well as Israeli covert operations in Iran, including assassinations and explosions, have intensified animosity between the two countries and have led to a number of tit-for-tat attacks on each other’s citizens.

The turning point from cold peace toward hostility occurred in the early 1990s, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of Iraq in Desert Storm. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel was regarded as a U.S. bulwark against pro-Soviet Arab governments.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel could no longer continue to play that role. The removal of Saddam Hussein also removed a formidable enemy. Therefore, Israel directed all its attacks against a new enemy, namely Iran.

So, it is not a mere coincidence that Israel’s intense opposition to Iran’s nuclear program coincided with the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the removal of the threat from Iraq. Although Iran’s nuclear program had developed under the late Shah with active Israeli, South African and U.S. participation, after the revolution, when Iran tried to revive her program, Israel became its most vociferous opponent. Under the Iranian reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami there were some moves for a rapprochement with the West, including the recognition of Israel, but the George W. Bush Administration rebuffed those offers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been continuously warning that Iran is on the verge of manufacturing a nuclear weapon and posing an “existential threat” to Israel. As early as 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years. In 1993, he claimed that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.This has been his constant refrain ever since the early 1990s and right up to the present time.

The interesting point is that the current and some former heads of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad have contradicted Netanyahu’s claims. They maintain that there has been no indication that Iran is moving towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons or poses an existential threat to Israel.

It is important to remember that Netanyahu has not only tried to incite war against Iran, he even made the same false claims prior to the Iraq war in 2003.

Therefore, the propaganda against the Iraqi and Iranian alleged nuclear weapons have had less to do with the existence of such weapons and more to do with the perception that those two countries were hostile to Israel and had to be attacked in order to bring about a regime change.

It should be stressed that Netanyahu’s views in no way represent the views of the majority of American Jews who are on the whole liberal and peace loving. Indeed, poll after poll has shown that the support for the nuclear deal with Iran is stronger among American Jews than among the population at large.

Netanyahu’s attempts to kill the deal with Iran have been futile and counterproductive. His intrusion into American domestic politics, and his cynical use of the U.S. Congress to undercut a major foreign policy achievement, have been acts of gross discourtesy to the president and to the American people, and a violation of diplomatic protocol.

The real reason for Israeli opposition to Iran’s nuclear program has been the fear of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the U.S. administration as far as the Middle East is concerned. Iran’s alleged nuclear bomb also been used as an excuse to divert attention from Israel’s own nuclear arsenal and illegal expansion into occupied Palestinian territories.

Instead of continuing with this campaign of vilification and inciting a military attack on Iran, it would be wiser for Israel to try to reach a settlement with the Palestinians and pave the way for peaceful coexistence with regional countries, including Iran. The emergence of terrorist organizations that pose a serious threat to the entire world should bring Iran and Israel closer to fight that dangerous menace. The two countries should tone down their ugly rhetoric and violent activities against each other, and realize that dialogue and compromise always produce better results than war and bloodshed.

Meanwhile, it is time to focus on Israel’s nuclear weapons and establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Iran’s commitments under the Nuclear Treaty are just short of total surrenderhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/irans-commitments-under-the-nuclear-treaty-are-just-short-of-total-surrender/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=irans-commitments-under-the-nuclear-treaty-are-just-short-of-total-surrender http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/irans-commitments-under-the-nuclear-treaty-are-just-short-of-total-surrender/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 14:12:24 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142495 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 25 2015 (IPS)

Speaking about the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached between Iran, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States­ plus Germany) and the European Union, Joseph Cirincione, a leading nuclear expert and president of Ploughshares Fund, said:

“We have just achieved what may be the biggest diplomatic triumph in a generation. We have reached an agreement that not only stops Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, but it prevents a new war in the Middle East. It has profound implications for the security of America, for the security of Israel, for the security of the world. It sets a new gold standard for nuclear agreements. Every state that wants even a token enrichment capability now will have to agree to the same intrusive verification measures Iran has just agreed to…”

Contrary to the extensive propaganda about it being good for Iran and bad for the United States, the deal – also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – has achieved something that no one thought was possible. Speaking at the American University shortly after the agreement was signed, President Barack Obama said:

“After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”

After 13 years of intensive talks and a fast-developing nuclear enrichment program, Iran has agreed to the most intrusive, restrictive and comprehensive set of demands to which any member state of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has ever been subjected. In reality, as some Iranian commentators have argued, Iran has relinquished most of her rights as an NPT member, short of total surrender.

In order to understand the magnitude of what Iran has given up and what she is required to do in return for the lifting of the sanctions, one has to look at some of the main provisions of the JCPOA. All the following actions must be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as complete before the implementation day, which comes 90 days after the unanimous approval on 20 July of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA, assuming that Iran provides the IAEA with the required information.

The Security Council requested that the IAEA undertake verification and monitoring of Iran’s compliance, and it reaffirmed that Iran should cooperate fully with the agency to resolve all outstanding issues. Upon receipt of a positive report from the IAEA, the Council would terminate the sanctions set out in resolutions adopted between 2006 and 2015.

Iran must disassemble, remove and store under IAEA seal more than 13,000 excess centrifuges, including excess advanced centrifuge machines.

Out of more than 15,651.4 kg of uranium enriched to 3.6[DSJ1] , and 337.2 kg to 20 percent, Iran must reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to no more than 300 kg.

Iran had built its Fordow uranium enrichment facility deep in the mountains in order to have a more secure site for enrichment in case Israel or America bombed its main facility at Natanz. However, according to the agreement, Iran must convert the Fordow site to a research & development facility with no fissile material.

Iran had built a heavy water plant in Arak to have a different route to nuclear fuel, but she must remove and disable the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Although Iran had not officially signed the Additional Protocol, an expanded set of requirements for information and access adopted in 1997 to assist the IAEA in its verification work, she must allow and make the necessary arrangements for additional IAEA access and monitoring in keeping with its requirements.

Key restrictions that will last significantly more than a decade include:

Iran may retain no more than 5,060 of the 19,000 centrifuges that Iran had installed.

She is not allowed to install more advanced centrifuges than she has already developed, and is allowed to carry out only limited research & development on advanced centrifuges for the next 15 years.

She is allowed only limited development of advanced centrifuges so that enrichment capacity remains the same.

Testing of centrifuges with uranium may carried out only at Natanz.

IAEA access to the site must be provided within 24 hours.

No new heavy-water reactors, no reprocessing or R & D allowed.

Iran makes a commitment not to process spent fuel.

There will be continuous surveillance of centrifuge production areas.

There will even be continuous surveillance of uranium mines and mills. Thus, the IAEA will have access to all Iranian activities from the mining of uranium to the construction of mills and centrifuges.

Even after all those initial restrictions, the NPT will remain in force banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons. This restriction has no time limit and will remain in force for as long as Iran remains a member of the NPT. Leaving the NPT would of course constitute a grave violation of the rules, and strong action would be taken against Iran.

In order to sabotage the talks, some critics of the nuclear deal, supported by fabricated documents, had raised the issue of Iran’s alleged military experimentations (the so-called previous military dimension, or PMD). Nevertheless, Iran must provide the IAEA with all the information necessary to complete its PMD investigation by October 15.

Another excuse that the opponents of the deal have used to undermine it was the issue of “the breakout period.” There is no provision in the NPT for any such limitation. The member states will be able to have any amount of enrichment to any level of purity, so long as they do not manufacture a nuclear weapon. However, an exception is made in the case of Iran regarding how long it would take her to have enough enriched uranium sufficient for a single bomb.

This is despite the fact that Iran does not possess any reprocessing facilities and that even if she enriches uranium to the more than 90 percent purity needed for a bomb, she still has to weaponise[DSJ2] it, test it and find the necessary means of delivery, none of which Iran possesses at the moment and which would be easily detected by the IAEA. Nevertheless, the agreement has required that Iran should have a breakout period of at least one year.

In addition to all the nuclear-related restrictions, the Security Council still prohibits Iran from importing or exporting weapons for five years and missile parts for eight years. In other words, the fuss was not only about Iran’s nuclear program, but her military capabilities as well.

As the result of this agreement, the P5+1 have re-written the rules and have gone completely beyond the requirements of the NPT and even the Additional Protocol. Nevertheless, all Republican and some Democratic senators in the U.S. still oppose it and are trying to legislate amendments that would undermine its implementation, despite the fact that this international agreement has been endorsed by more than 100 U.S. former ambassadors, 60 former top national leaders, 75 nuclear non-proliferation experts and another 29 top U.S. nuclear scientists, as well as by all the other five leading countries of the world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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