التصعيد في اليمن علامة انطلاق قطار التسويات

السبت 22 كانون ثاني 2022

 ناصر قنديل

في ربيع عام 2015 عندما كان الأميركي قد حسم أمره لجهة التوقيع على الاتفاق النووي، بدأت السعودية والإمارات حربهما على اليمن، بالتنسيق مع الأميركي ولم يكن خافياً وقوف “إسرائيل” في خلفية الحرب، باعتبار حسم أمر اليمن وتصفية المخزون الصاروخي الذي كان بحوزة أنصار الله آنذاك، وفرض السيطرة على مضيق باب المندب وساحل البحر الأحمر، والإمساك باليمن كجغرافيا ذات قيمة استراتيجية في الخليج هو تعويض خسائر السعودية والإمارات و”إسرائيل” جراء التوقيع الأميركي على الاتفاق النووي مع إيران دون انتزاع تنازلات منها في ملفي سلاح الصواريخ ودعم قوى المقاومة. وكان الرهان المؤسس على زواج تقديرات القوة العسكرية، والخلفية العنصرية لاستصغار قدرات اليمن وتهوين ما يختزنه شعبه من مؤهلات وإمكانات، إن الحرب ستحسم خلال أسابيع أو كحد أقصى خلال شهور، حتى أن الأميركيين الذين وعدوا بالحسم خلال مطلع الصيف مددوا فترة ما قبل توقيع الاتفاق النووي مرتين أملاً بأن يُنجز الحسم قبل التوقيع، الذي أنجز في منتصف شهر تموز.

  المتغيّرات التي رافقت الحرب جعلت من اليمنيين رقماً صعباً في معادلة أمن الخليج، بصورة لم تكن قائمة قبل انطلاق الحرب، فقد نجح اليمنيون بفرض حضورهم وتمكّنهم من إفشال أهداف الحرب، رغم خسائرهم الهائلة بالأرواح، وأغلبها خسائر في المدنيين، ورغم الدمار والخراب الذي أصاب عمرانهم وبناهم التحتية، بحيث لم ينجُ جسر ولا منشأة ولا مدينة ولا مرفق من هذه الضريبة الغالية. وبالتدريج بدأ اليمنيون يمسكون بزمام المبادرة الاستراتيجي، المرتكز على ثلاثية أمن البحر الأحمر، مدى الطائرات المسيّرات والصواريخ البالستية نحو مياه الخليج وممرات الطاقة والتجارة العالمية، وعمق كيان الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، وصولا لإقامة معادلة العمق بالعمق عبر النجاح بإيصال الصواريخ والطائرات المسيّرة الى مرافق حيوية في السعودية ولاحقاً في الإمارات رداً على كل استهداف نوعي للعمق اليمني.

عشيّة بدء السنة الثامنة من الحرب، يبدو المشهد شبيهاً لما كان عليه مع بدئها، سواء لجهة ما يجري على الساحة الدولية والإقليمية، أو ما يجري في مسارات الحرب نفسها من ضراوة، فالأميركي الذي خرج من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، يفاوض اليوم للعودة، وكل الوقائع تقول بأنه بات قاب قوسين أو أدنى من توقيع وثيقة العودة للاتفاق، وهذه المرّة بتسليم مسبق واضح بالعجز عن ضم ملف الصواريخ الإيرانية وما يسمّونه بالنفوذ الإيراني الى ملفات التفاوض، وعدم ضم ملفات الإقليم للملف النووي بمقدار ما هو انتصار لإيران، فالاتفاق نفسه سيخلق مناخاً إقليمياً عنوانه نهاية الفصل الأهم من المواجهة الأميركية الإيرانية، التي تمثل نصف مضامين حروب المنطقة، ويشكل إطفاء نيرانها إيذاناً بانطلاق زمن التسويات، على الأقل من زاوية النظر الأميركية التي لا تحتمل مزيداً من الحرائق في زمن سعيها لتفادي التورط في المزيد من الحروب في زمن له عنوان واحد هو الانسحاب من أفغانستان، ومثال التفاوض حول أوكرانيا حي يُرزق.

إذا كان الوقت المتبقي لحرب اليمن لم يعُد طويلاً، وهو الوقت الفاصل عن توقيع الاتفاق النووي أو ما بعده بشهور قليلة، فإن الوقت المتبقي لتحقيق مكتسبات سعودية وإماراتية تحفظ ماء الوجه عند وقف الحرب، يضيق أكثر، ووحده يفسر هذا التصعيد الجنونيّ، لكن الوقت لا يعمل في اتجاه واحد، فاليمنيون يعتبرون أن الوقت معهم، وأن إنجاز الاتفاق النووي يفتح أمامهم المزيد من الوقت لتحقيق الإنجازات، ولذلك فهم لا يقيمون حساباً لما يجري على ساحات التفاوض، والإصرار السعودي الإماراتي على التصعيد سينتج مزيداً من التصعيد اليمني، الذي سيفرض عليهما الكثير من الخسائر، بدلاً من المكتسبات، وربما يجعل الفترة الفاصلة عن وقف الحرب أقصر.

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Raeisi: Iran, Russia Reached ‘Fundamental Agreements’ on Expanding Ties

Jan 21 2022

President Ebrahim Raisi has said that Iran and Russia reached “fundamental agreements” on expanding all-out bilateral relations to secure mutual interests.

“Undoubtedly, the development of relations with Russia will contribute to the security and prosperity of the two nations. Certainly, such security-building cooperation will be for the sake of the region,” Raisi said after arriving in Tehran from Moscow around midnight.

He said that during his Russia trip, which began on Wednesday, the two sides discussed steps to challenge the dominance of the US dollar and continue trade in their national currencies.

“Our oil minister had good agreements with Russian energy officials, the effects of which will emerge later,” he said, adding that good agreements were also reached on removing obstacles to boosting trade relations.

However, the level of trade relations is “not acceptable”, the president stated.

Officials have said the two sides seek to increase the current record $3 billion bilateral trade.

“We decided to increase the level of trade between the two countries to $10 billion in the first stage,” President Raisi said.

“In the field of agriculture, there were also good discussions that would lead to real exchanges of agricultural products,” he said.

In the field of transportation, the two sides decided to advance the North-South corridor which will facilitate transportation and greatly reduce transportation time, the president added.

In 2002, Russia, Iran, and India signed an agreement for the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200 km multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

The INSTC is seen a game-changer that will shorten the distance and lower the cost of transportation from South Asia to Europe through Iran and Russia and potentially serve as an alternative to the Suez Canal for East-West trade.

Tehran and Moscow also reached agreements to expand their cooperation in the industry, defense, and aerospace sectors, President Raisi said.

On the first day of his two-day trip, which he described as a “turning point” in Iran-Russia relations, Raisi had a three-hour meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, during which the Iranian president said the Islamic Republic seeks to forge strategic relations with Moscow.

Later on Wednesday, he met with Iranians residing in Russia. On Thursday, Raisi addressed the State Duma and attended the prayers at the Moscow Grand Mosque at the invitation of Rawil Gaynutdin, chairman of the Russian Mufti Council.

‘US must be held accountable for General Suleimani assassination’

Speaking with Russia’s RT television in an exclusive interview, Raisi said the US must be held accountable for the assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, in Iraq two years ago.

“Qassem Suleimani belonged not only to the people of Iran, but also to the Muslim community. He came to save people’s lives. He made efforts in this direction, and all people, both Muslims and non-Muslims of course, have great respect for his work,” he said.

He said people respected Gen. Suleimani because they knew he managed to save people’s lives from Daesh and other terrorist groups.

“He was able to protect and save people’s lives. Therefore, his presence in Syria and Iraq in the region was aimed at fighting terrorism,” he said.

“Therefore, Qassem Suleimani is a hero and the Americans must give answers,” Raisi said. “They say they are flag-bearers in the fight against terrorism, but why was the hero of the fight against terrorism killed?”

He pointed out that the Americans committed such a great crime and openly confessed to their crime.

“The one who commits such a great crime and confesses to it naturally should be punished in a qualified court,” the president asserted.

“The promise to protect the oppressed and punish the oppressors is, of course, a sincere promise and it will certainly be kept.”

US refusal to abide by JCPOA

Elsewhere in the interview, President Raisi said Iran takes the Vienna negotiations on restoring the 2015 agreement “very seriously”. He made clear that the hurdle to restoring the pact remains Washington’s refusal to abide by its terms.

“What we have seen so far is a violation of obligations on the part of the Americans,” he said, referring to the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and its subsequent sanctions on Tehran in violation of the deal.

The Iranian president noted that the European parties to the treaty – France, Germany and the UK – have “also failed to fulfill their obligations” under the JCPOA through “the lack of new appropriate measures” to deal with the US violation.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated 15 times that Iran had fulfilled its obligations, that Iran was committed to its obligations,” Raisi stated. “So, we have fulfilled our obligations, but they have violated theirs. They must fulfill their obligations. We didn’t break anything.”

“If the parties are ready to remove sanctions, the ground for reaching an agreement on nuclear issues is absolutely ready,” he added.

Source: Al-Manar English Website and Iranian media

Iran, P4+1 Continue Diplomatic Efforts in Vienna to Revive JCPOA

JAN 20 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Senior representatives of Iran and the five parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement continue their diplomatic efforts in Vienna, Austria, to solve the issues hindering the revival of the deal, which has been in crisis due to the US’s unilateral exit.

According to IRNA, progress has been made in the talks and the lead negotiators of Iran and the five remaining signatories to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], have settled some of the issues.

As the eighth round of the Vienna talks continue, Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani on Wednesday held bilateral and multilateral meetings with delegates of the P4+1 group of countries.

In separate meetings, the chief negotiators from Iran and the three European signatories [E3] to the JCPOA – Britain, France and Germany – as well Russia and China discussed possible ways to secure the removal of all sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.

Bagheri Kani also met with Enrique Mora, the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief and head of the JCPOA Joint Commission, who has just visited Russia and held talks with the country’s officials on various issues, including the Vienna negotiations.

Meanwhile, experts from Iran, the P4+1 group of countries and the EU also held discussions on various issues.

Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA have been holding talks in the Austrian capital since April last year. The sides resumed diplomatic consultations on Monday after a two-day pause so that the diplomats could return to their respective capitals for consultations.

Under former US president Donald Trump, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed sanctions primarily targeting the Iranian economy.

Iran argues that a lack of initiative among the Western parties to the deal is the main factor slowing down the talks.

Tehran has criticized the West, particularly the US, for failing to present any innovative proposals to help the talks move forward.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said the country’s oil sales and revenues have reached at an “appropriate and irreversible” level despite the harsh sanctions imposed on the country’s energy sanctions.

“The Iran’s oil trading and its financial affairs, has reached appropriate and irreversible conditions,” the top Iranian security official said in a tweet.

He used the hashtag “ActiveResistance,” referring to the Iranian nation’s cause of nullifying Western pressure through promoting domestic capabilities.

“It is not possible to promise to lift a sanction that has become ineffective, in order to score a point,” he tweeted.

Two years later: nothing has changed in West Asia

January 05, 2022

By Aram Mirzaei

It has been two years since the murders of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport. A lot has happened since then, but nothing has changed in the region. Still the same US occupation of Syria, and regular Israeli airstrikes on Syria. Still the same threats of “pre-emptive” attacks on Iran, still talks of US sanctioning this and that person in Iran. Still there’s a war of terror going on against the Yemeni people.

For the second anniversary of the assassinations, many authors have praised and remembered the martyred General’s achievements in life, but it is also important to remember his achievements in death.

The cowardly killings of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis and its aftermath at the Ain-al Assad military base marked a massive signal in terms of how Washington viewed the Islamic Republic. Previous US administrations, while just as arrogant and self-worshipping as any other US administrations, wouldn’t have dared to kill these men no matter what the Zionist regime wanted. It was just too much of a risk for them to make such a stupid move. The Trump administration however, believed that the Islamic Republic wouldn’t, or didn’t have the strength to respond to such a heinous act of terror. This is also why Trump wanted to assure himself that such was the case when he posted those bizarre tweets where he threatened to destroy cultural heritage sites in Iran.
Well as everybody knows by now, when Iran responded and practically destroyed the Ain al-Assad base, he didn’t follow up on his threats.

Instead he doubled down on his “maximum pressure” campaign, in the hopes of forcing Iran back to the negotiations table to negotiate a new deal, one which includes the Islamic Republic’s missile arsenal. This takes us to where we are today. A new administration is in charge of the White House, and nobody could seriously say that they are surprised that the policy of maximum pressure towards the Islamic Republic has remained, with new audacious demands and accusations towards Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei once said “America is America, this or that person or party doesn’t matter. Any president assuming power over there will not do us any good, they’ll only find other ways to antagonize us.”

Washington and its vassals are currently trying to push Tehran in Vienna, to accept a new JCPOA deal. As Tehran has shown that it won’t negotiate anything more than the original JCPOA deal and won’t accept anything less than full sanctions removal, Washington and Tel Aviv have threatened to use “other options”. These “other options” threats are getting old, they’ve repeated these same threats over the past two decades and yet they’ve done nothing.

Washington is afraid, and everybody knows this. Our side knows this, the Russians know this, the Chinese know this, but most importantly, Washington’s allies know this. Even the average person who doesn’t follow world events too much is becoming aware of this.

In West Asia, the Resistance Axis poses a serious threat to Anglo-Zionist hegemony yet they do not dare to attack the Islamic Republic, the main pillar of the Resistance Axis. Both Washington and Tel Aviv have continuously threatened Tehran with airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear sites, yet none of them have ever followed through with their empty threats. The fact that Washington seeks to include the Iranian missile arsenal into a new JCPOA deal, together with their empty threats, shows that their side is worried and fearful of the Islamic Republic’s growing might. And frankly, why shouldn’t they be?

The Resistance Axis hasn’t been weakened by the deaths of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis as some western “think tank” analysts believed or rather had hoped for, just as the Resistance Axis wasn’t weakened by the wars in Iraq and Syria. Aside from direct military aggression, every possible conspiracy imaginable have been directed towards the Resistance front. Most people don’t know that the Islamic Revolution in Iran, contrary to what many people believe to be Shiite-inspired, actually drew inspiration from many different Islamic thinkers from different sects over the past 1400 years. Such a pan-Islamic ideology posed a great threat to the US and Israeli plans for the region. So, the Anglo-Zionist side had to do something to create sedition and division among Muslims by using Takfiri extremists to present the Islamic Revolution as a Shiite revolution and create a sectarian war mainly between Arabs and Iranians.

Despite their best attempts to destroy and weaken the Resistance front, the Zionist regime is ever more threatened by Hezbollah’s power, the US hegemony in the region is in decline, as evidenced by their shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Gulf client states are having more trouble containing the revolutionary Yemeni forces than ever. Today, the Resistance front enjoys widespread support among both Muslims and Christians in West Asia as we saw how people from all sects and movements came out to condemn and commemorate the slain Martyrs. Even the Taliban held a commemoration in General Soleimani’s honour.

Where the Arab nationalists had previously failed, the Islamic Republic succeeded in transcending not only ethnic, but also sectarian and ideological differences and grievances in the region and the Islamic world. Through a pragmatic approach, it has managed to secure its own survival and build a powerful alliance across the region that now truly threatens the Zionist regime.

Of course, the fight is far from over, the Zionists and their American tools still maintain a large presence in the region and I don’t expect them to admit defeat anytime soon either. In fact, they’re already hatching new plots against the Resistance front. One example is the continuation of the so called “normalization’ deals with Israel from the Trump administration’s era, which Biden’s administration is currently pushing hard for.

Recently, a high-ranking official at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs was quoted as saying that “Israel is working behind the scenes towards normalization of diplomatic relations with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia”. US media outlet Axios first reported that the administration of US President Joe Biden “is trying to build on the Trump-era Abraham Accords, and in this case, looking beyond the Middle East to the largest of the countries that don’t recognize Israel.”

These “normalization” deals serve several purposes. One purpose is to restore the damaged Israeli image in the world. More and more people are recognizing “Israel” for what it is- an apartheid state engaged in terrorism and oppression against not only Palestinians, but the entire region, and dare I say, the world. Another purpose is to isolate the Resistance front by formally and officially announcing these deals as “big steps towards peace”, leaving anyone who refuses to “normalize” relations with Israel being labelled as terrorists or “radical Islamists” in the eyes of the “international community”. A third purpose is for Washington and Tel Aviv to unite all its vassals against the Resistance front. When the UAE and Bahrain shamefully announced their respective deals with the Zionist regime, they also “officially” joined the “unofficial alliance” against Iran and its allies. This wasn’t news for the observer who already has some insight into West Asian geopolitics and knows about the long history of hostility between the Persian Gulf states and Iran, but in terms of symbolism, it shows that for whatever reason, be it as a sign of strength or a reaction against the strengthening of China-Russia-Iran ties, the enemy’s vassals are ready to fully reveal themselves openly now.

In their dream of besieging Iran, Washington moved away from invading and occupying neighbouring countries, seeing as how they failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after having seen how sanctions failed to break the Resistance front. Instead, Washington is trying to politically besiege the Islamic Republic in a new way. Just like before, this too shall fail. Since Washington doesn’t give a damn about the people of the Islamic world, they cannot comprehend that their treacherous vassal regimes are highly unpopular among the Muslim population.

No matter how much the Western media attempts to hide and suppress the public outrage and protests going on in countries like Bahrain and Sudan, the reality is that most of these treacherous vassal regimes in the region are completely dependent on US support for survival. Normalizing relations with the apartheid state, will only hasten their inevitable downfall because of the simple fact that if they join Israel and the US in an eventual war with the Resistance front, they will quite simply be destroyed. Seeing as how the Saudis and the other Gulf vassals cannot contain the Houthi forces in Yemen, despite massive support from the West, Takfiri terrorist forces and mercenaries on the ground and the air superiority that they enjoy, it is not a far stretch to imagine virtually all of Saudi Arabia ending up in flames if Riyadh decides to wage war on the Islamic Republic.

Washington has not achieved anything in the region through the killings of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis and nothing has changed. By committing this grave mistake, the US has made their shameful exit from the entire region an inevitable fact. They thought they could isolate and besiege the Islamic Republic, but fate has a way of being ironic. Instead of besieging Iran, the Iranians besieged them in the region.

I finish this piece with a quote from the Islamic Revolution: “From the blood of the martyrs, victory will grow”

The Mother of All Talkshows with George Galloway – Episode 132

December 29 2021

China Urges More Consensus Building in Vienna Talks

December 28, 2021

Wang Qun, Chinese Envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna.

A senior Chinese diplomat called for expanding consensus, “properly handling” differences and jointly promoting breakthroughs during the ongoing round of the Vienna talks.

“On the Iran nuclear issue and related nuclear non-proliferation issues, ‘pragmatism’ and double standards should not be adopted in pursuit of selfish interests,” said Wang Qun, the Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, according to the Chinese CGTN TV.

“Sanctions should also not be used for threatening casually and new sanctions should not be introduced against Iran during the negotiations,” Wang said, as quoted by Mehr news agency.

The Joe Biden administration imposed fresh sanctions on two Iranian government agencies and several officials on December 7 during the previous round of talks.

The eighth round of negotiations during the Christmas and New Year holidays reflected the sense of urgency on all parties to resume negotiations, Wang said.

Since early April, representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran have held seven rounds of negotiations in the Austrian capital, with the United States involved indirectly.

The parties have forged a new “common text” on nuclear issues and a “common understanding” on lifting sanctions, Wang said, adding that they agreed to keep negotiating thoroughly, with a focus on these key points during the eighth round of talks.

All these consensuses laid a solid foundation for this round of talks, he added, and all parties concerned should focus on them, especially the existing ones, and work hard to expand to new areas while “properly” handling the differences.

“We hope that all parties can take practical measures to jointly safeguard the current momentum and atmosphere of the negotiations and push for an early conclusion of a package solution,” Wang said.

China will continue to firmly support the resumption of negotiations between the United States and Iran on implementing the agreement, participate constructively in the follow-up negotiations, and work with all parties to push for results, said the Chinese envoy.

The US government under Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018 and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Source: Iranian media

Bagheri Kani Calls for Guarantees for Lifting Sanction

 December 27, 2021

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani has urged other sides in Vienna talks to guarantee lifting of sanctions and pave the way for verification of the embargo removal.

Bagheri Kani referred to progress made in the previous round of talks in Vienna, Austria, to lift anti-Iran sanctions and revive the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that the Iranian negotiating team is completely serious and ready to continue the Vienna talks.

The eighth round of talks for lifting anti-Iran sanctions kicked off on Monday evening local time, when Iranian top nuclear negotiator and the European Union’s representative in Vienna talks Enrique Mora co-chaired the Joint Commission meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In the meeting, which has been held at Palais Coburg in Vienna, delegations from Iran, the European Union and the P4+1 group (Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) took part and discussed way of continuation of talks.

All negotiating teams pointed to progress made at the seventh round of the Vienna talks, underlining the need for keeping on with intensive negotiations.

The delegations also hinted to the fact that most Iranian proposals have been mentioned in a new joint document for the eighth round of talks.

At the end of Monday’s Joint Commission meeting, the negotiating teams agreed upon carrying on negotiations at different levels and formats.

Source: Iranian Agencies

Iran Says It Won’t Enrich Uranium Over 60% If Nuclear Deal Talks Fail

JCPOA negotiations in Vienna will resume Monday

December 27, 2021

Image from InfoBrics

Global Research,

Antiwar.com 26 December 2021

By Dave DeCamp

On Saturday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said Iran wouldn’t enrich uranium over 60 percent even if the negotiations in Vienna to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, fail.

In response to an Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility back in April, Tehran began enriching some uranium at 60 percent, which is still below the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade. When asked by Sputnik if Iran would exceed 60 percent enrichment, Iran’s atomic energy chief Mohammad Eslami answered, “No.”

“All our nuclear activities are carried out according to the agreements, statutes, and regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Eslami added.

The JCPOA negotiations in Vienna are currently on pause but are expected to resume on Monday. Since the talks resumed at the end of November, the US has been accusing Iran of not taking the process seriously. The Biden administration wants Tehran to accept a draft agreement that was reached during earlier negotiations with the previous Iranian government, but Iran wants more sanctions relief.

US officials have also been warning that time is running out on the talks. Last week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Israel and said the deadline for the negotiations will come “within weeks” if an agreement isn’t reached.” He also met with Israeli officials to reassure them that the US was willing to take a harder line on Iran.

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Featured image is from InfoBrics

Exit Nord Stream 2, Enter Power of Siberia 2

THURSDAY 23 DEC 21

Military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement.

PEPE ESCOBAR 

Coming straight from President Putin, it did sound like a bolt from the sky:

“We need long-term legally binding guarantees even if we know they cannot be trusted, as the U.S. frequently withdraws from treaties that become uninteresting to them. But it’s something, not just verbal assurances.”

And that’s how Russia-U.S. relations come to the definitive crunch – after an interminable series of polite red alerts coming from Moscow.

Putin once again had to specify that Russia is looking for “indivisible, equitable security” – a principle established since Helsinki in 1975 – even though he no longer sees the U.S. as a dependable “partner”, that diplomatically nicety so debased by the Empire since the end of the USSR.

The “frequently withdrawing from treaties” passage can easily be referred to as Washington in 2002 under Bush Jr. pulling out of the ABM treaty signed between the U.S. and the USSR in 1972. Or it could be referred to as the U.S. under Trump destroying the JCPOA signed with Iran and guaranteed by the UN. Precedents abound.

Putin was once again exercising the Taoist patience so characteristic of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: explaining the obvious not only to a Russian but also a global audience. The Global South may easily understand this reference; “When international law and the UN Charter interfere, they [the U.S.] declare it all obsolete and unnecessary.”

Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko had been uncommonly assertive – leaving nothing for the imagination:

“We just make it clear that we are ready to talk about switching over from a military or a military-technical scenario to a political process that will strengthen the security of all countries in the area of the OCSE, Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia. If that doesn’t work out, we signaled to them [NATO] that we will also move over to creating counter threats, but it will then be too late to ask us why we made these decisions and why we deployed these systems.”

So in the end it comes down to Europeans facing “the prospect of turning the continent into a field of military confrontation.” That will be the inevitable consequence of a NATO “decision” actually decided in Washington.

Incidentally: any possible, future “counter threats” will be coordinated between Russia and China.

Mr. Zircon is on the line, Sir

Every sentient being from Atlanticist shores to Eurasian steppes by now knows the content of the Russian draft agreements on security guarantees presented to the Americans, as detailed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Key provisions include no further NATO expansion; no Ukraine admission; no NATO shenanigans in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia; Russia and NATO agreeing not to deploy intermediate and short-range missiles in areas from where they can hit each other’s territory; establishment of hotlines; and the NATO-Russia Council actively involved in resolving disputes.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs extensively reiterated that the Americans received “detailed explanations of the logic of the Russian approach”, so the ball is in Washington’s court.

Well, National Security advisor Jake Sullivan at first seemed to kick it, when he admitted, on the record, that Putin may not want to “invade” Ukraine.

Then there were rumblings that the Americans would get back to Moscow this week with their own “concrete security proposals”, after de facto writing the script for their NATO minions, invariably conveyed in spectacularly mediocre fashion by secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The Ukraine narrative didn’t change an inch: “severe measures” – of an economic and financial nature – remain in the pipeline if Russia engages in “further aggression” in Ukraine.

Moscow was not fooled. Ryabkow had to specify, once again, that the Russian proposals were on a bilateral basis. Translation: we talk only to those with deciding power, not to minions. The involvement of other countries, Ryabkov said, “will deprive them of their meaning.”

From the start, NATO’s response had been predictably obvious: Russia is conducting a “substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified” military buildup along its border with Ukraine and is making “false … claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations”.

That once again proved the point it’s a monumental waste of time to discuss with yapping chihuahuas of the Stoltenberg variety, for whom “NATO expansion will continue, whether Russia likes it or not.”

In fact, whether U.S. and NATO functionaries like it or not, what’s really happening in the realpolitk realm is Russia dictating new terms from a position of power. In a nutshell: you may learn the new game in town in a peaceful manner, civilized dialogue included, or you will learn the hard way via a dialogue with Mr. Iskandr, Mr. Kalibr, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon.

The inestimable Andrei Martyanov has extensively analysed for years now all the details of Russia’s overwhelming military dominance, hypersonic and otherwise, across the European space – as well as the dire consequences if the U.S. and NATO minions “decide that they want to continue to play dumb.”

Martyanov has also noted that Russia “understands the split with the West and is ready to take any consequences, including, already declining, shrinkage of trade and reduction of the supply of hydrocarbons to the EU.”

That’s where the whole ballet around the security guarantees intersects with the crucial Pipelineistan angle. To sum it all up: exit Nord Stream 2, enter Power of Siberia 2.

So let’s revisit why the looming energy catastrophe in the EU is not forcing anyone in Russia to lose his/her sleep.

Dancing in the Siberian night

One of the top takeaways of the strategic Putin-Xi video conference last week was the immediate future of Power of Siberia 2 – which will snake in across Mongolia to deliver up to 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China.

So it was hardly an accident that Putin received Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh in the Kremlin, the day after he talked to Xi, to discuss Power of Siberia 2. The key parameters of the pipeline have already been set, a feasibility study will be completed in early 2022, and the deal – minus last-minute pricing tune-ups – is practically clinched.

Power of Siberia 2 follows the 2,200 km long Power of Siberia 1, launched in 2019 from Eastern Siberia to northern China and the focus of a $400 billion deal struck between Gazprom and China’s CNPC. Power of Siberia 1’s full capacity will be reached in 2025, when it will be supplying 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Power of Siberia 2, a much bigger operation, was planned years ago, but it was hard to find consensus on the final route. Gazprom wanted Western Siberia to Xinjiang across the Altai mountains. The Chinese wanted transit via Mongolia straight into central China. The Chinese eventually prevailed. The final route across Mongolia was decided only two months ago. Construction should begin in 2024.

This is a massive geoeconomic game-changer, totally in line with the increasingly sophisticated Russia-China strategic partnership. But it’s also supremely important geopolitically (Remember Xi: China supports Russia’s “core interests”).

The gas for Power of Siberia 2 will come from the same fields currently supplying the EU market. Whatever demented concoctions the European Commission – and the new German government – may apply on stalling the operation of Nord Stream 2, Gazprom’s main focus will be China.

It doesn’t matter for Gazprom that China as a customer in the near future will not fully replace the whole EU market. What matters is the steady business flow and the absence of infantile politicking. For China what matters is an extra, guaranteed overland supply rote boosting its strategy of “escaping from Malacca”: the possibility, in case Cold War 2.0 turns hot, that the U.S. Navy would eventually block maritime shipping of energy sources via Southeast Asia to China.

Beijing of course is all over the place when it comes to buying Russian natural gas. The Chinese have a 30% stake in Novatek’s $27 billion Yamal project and a 20% stake in the $21 billion Arctic project.

So welcome to 2022 and the new, high stakes realpolitik Great Game.

U.S. elites had been terrified of playing Russia against China because they fear this would lead Germany to ally with Russia and China – leaving the Empire of Chaos out in the cold.

And that leads to the “mystery” inside the enigma of the whole Ukrainian face: use it to force the EU away from Russian natural resources.

Russia is turning the whole show upside down. As an energy superpower, instead of an internally corroded EU dictated by NATO, Russia will be mostly focused on its Asian customers.

In parallel, military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement. Lavrov confirmed the first round of Russia-U.S. talks on security guarantees will be held in early 2022.

Are these ultimatums? Not really. Seems like Ryabkov, with notable didacticism, will have to keep explaining it over and over again: “We do not speak in the language of ultimatums with anyone. We have a responsible attitude towards our own security and the security of others. The point is not that we have issued an ultimatum, not at all, but that the seriousness of our warning must not be underestimated.”

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Rania Khalek interviews Prof. Seyed Mohammad Marandi on JPCOA

TUESDAY 21 DEC 21

RANIA KHALEK 

This video describes the status of the negotiations on the JPCOA but is broader than that.  It also demonstrates how the USA negotiates.

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 1:20 What has been achieved, why hasn’t there been a restoration of the nuclear deal yet?
  • 9:02 US and Europe want to keep sanctions in place
  • 16:36 Who is being constructive vs obstructing the talks?
  • 20:25 Why should Iran even resume talks?
  • 29:10 Does Iran see a difference between Trump and Biden?
  • 32:29 Iranian liberals as extensions of the West
  • 35:53 Is war between Iran and the US inevitable?
  • 43:53 Consequences of the US Assassination of Qassem Suleimani
  • 58:57 The Gulf States reevaluate their relationship with Iran
  • 1:06:24 Iranian domestic politics under Raisi

US Exit From JCPOA ‘Disastrous’- Sullivan

Dec 18 2021

By Staff, Agencies

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan strongly criticized the previous administration of President Donald Trump over its “disastrous” withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

Sullivan made the remarks at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations on Friday as the seventh round of the talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the JCPOA wrapped up.

He said the past few days have brought “some progress” at the negotiating table, but Tehran has “raced” its nuclear program since Washington pulled out of the agreement in 2018 under Trump.

“Getting that program back into a box through a return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA has proven more difficult through the course of this year than we would have liked to see,” he added. “And we are paying the wages of the disastrous decision to leave the deal back in 2018.”

Sullivan further said that the Vienna talks are “not going well in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into” the JCPOA.

The comments echoed those of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who earlier admitted that abandoning JCPOA “isolated” the United States, not the Islamic Republic.

Blinken also said that the US maximum pressure campaign against Iran only pushed the country to “inexorably rebuild the nuclear program that the agreement had put in a box.”

Trump unilaterally left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the accord had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran decided to let go of some of the restrictions on its nuclear energy program, resorting to its legal rights under the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of a non-performance by the other side.

The US administration of President Joe Biden had voiced a willingness to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it has retained the sanctions as leverage.

Envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — began negotiations in the Austrian capital in April in a bid to resurrect the JCPOA.

The seventh round of the talks, the first under Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration, started on November 29 following a five-month pause.

On December 17, Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Baqeri Kani, announced on Twitter that “good progress” had been made, and that the negotiations would continue after a “break of a few days.”

During the discussions, Iran presented two draft texts which address, separately, the removal of US bans and Iran’s return to its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.

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E3 Ultimately Agreed To Accept Iran Viewpoints as Basis for Serious, Result-oriented Talks – Top Negotiator

Dec 18 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani said the three European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the E3, intimately agreed to accept Tehran’s viewpoint as a basis for “serious, result-oriented” talks as the latest round of discussions in Vienna comes to a close.

Baqeri Kani was briefing reporters on Friday, at the end of the seventh round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the five remaining signatories to the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], aimed at removing the US sanctions imposed on Tehran and saving the agreement.

He said the pace of reaching an agreement depends on the will of the opposite side, adding, “If the other side accepts the rational views and positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the new round of talks can be the last one and we can achieve a deal in the shortest possible time.”

The senior added that Iran and the P4+1 group of countries reached “two new documents for talks both on the issue of sanctions and on the nuclear issue,” referring to the bans that the US imposed on Iran after withdrawing from the deal and the retaliatory nuclear steps that Tehran took away from the accord.

He emphasized that a fresh round of Vienna talks would start in the near future based on these new texts which incorporate Iran’s viewpoints and positions.

Baqeri Kani, who also serves as deputy foreign minister for political affairs, noted that given the formation of a new administration in Iran, the country’s new negotiating team had brought along its own stance and views to Vienna.

At the same time, however, the new Iranian negotiating team took into account the positions, views, amendments and proposals put forwards by the former Iranian colleagues during the previous six rounds of talks in Vienna as well as the drafts that had been prepared up to that time and “incorporated them in the negotiation documents that we presented to the other side,” he added.

“Specifically, two documents were important for the negotiations. One was related to the removal of sanctions, which was the main priority on the agenda of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the chief negotiator said.

He said the removal of sanctions was not just a priority for Iran, but other parties, including some of the P4+1 members, such as China, explicitly announced in the discussions that their priority was in harmony with that of Tehran.

In the course of the days that the latest talks were underway in Vienna, senior diplomats and experts of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries held several sessions on the removal of the sanctions and exchanged a number of documents about the two sides’ views on amendments or changes which should be made in the final text Baqeri Kani said, adding, “We received the latest documents on the sanctions removal today.”

Asked whether the two sides have managed to narrow down their differences, the senior diplomat said Iran announced its stance on the sanctions removal and nuclear issues in two documents, but “the European side was initially reluctant to accept the Islamic Republic of Iran’s views as a basis for the talks.”

He said the European signatories to the JCPOA — Britain, France and Germany— exerted pressure on Iran at first to make it retreat from its positions and insisted that the negotiations should move forward within the framework of the previous six rounds of the Vienna talks.

Faced with Iran’s resistance and logical arguments, the opposite side finally agreed to accept Iran’s positions as “a basis for serious, result-oriented” negotiations, the senior official added.

He criticized the E3 for failing to present a specific constructive initiative during the talks, saying, “They previously announced that they have proposals and initiatives on some topics, including the issue of guarantees, but we received no proposal or initiative from them during this round of talks.”

Iran’s chief negotiator explained that the talks were paused on Friday because the two sides agreed on the basis of the future negotiations, noting that they would resume a fresh round with serious discussions on the texts which have been agreed upon by all the negotiating teams.

Baqeri Kani said the new round of talks would be resumed within the next few days, adding that the negotiations will start based on the JCPOA and “no other basis has been announced by anyone and will be accepted by anyone.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA resumed talks in Vienna on November 29 after a five-month pause, marking the first round of negotiations under President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration and the seventh overall.

The Islamic Republic maintains that its presence at the talks is intended to have the US sanctions removed, which would, in turn, secure a US return to the nuclear deal.

The US, which is not allowed to directly participate in the talks as a result of its 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA, claims that it is willing to undo the withdrawal and repeal its “maximum pressure” policy against Iran.

Iran argues that the onus is on Washington to return to the nuclear deal after removing its illegal sanctions and offering guarantees that it will not exit the pact again.

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فيينا نحو الاتفاق عاجلاً أو آجلاً

الجمعة 17 كانون أول 2021

 ناصر قنديل

تمر إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن بأسوأ ظروف مرت على إدارة تسلمت البيض الأبيض، ففي الوقت الذي تعاني الخزانة الأميركية من أزمة ديون تتجاوز الخطوط الحمراء، وتضخم مالي تتآكل معه القدرة الشرائية للأميركيين أمام إرتفاعات الأسعار، يسود ركود اقتصادي تزيده كورونا تفاقماً، وتتعقد المنافسة التجارية مع الصين في غير صالح الاقتصاد الأميركي، بينما المواجهة التي فتحتها إدارة بايدن مع روسيا حول أوكرانيا، في ظرف تدرك الإدارة أنها لا تستطيع الذهاب إلى الخيار العسكري، وأن العقوبات التي تلوح بها لم تعد تجد نفعاً مع الرئيس الروسي، بل أن موسكو حولت هذا التحدي إلى فرصة، وفتحت الباب لطرح مطالبها المزمنة مقابل تعهداتها تجاه أوكرانيا، لجهة طلب تعهدات حلف الناتو بعدم ضم دول شرق أوروبا إلى صفوفه، بينما يخرج إلى العلن حلف صيني- روسي سياسي عسكري اقتصادي، أول مخرجاته قرار بكسر حصرية الدولار في التعامل التجاري، وفي ظل هذه الظروف الشديدة التعقيد تخوض واشنطن مفاوضات أشد تعقيداً مع إيران حول ملفها النووي، الذي انسحبت منه أميركا وتدفع الثمن السياسي والقانوني لانسحابها أمام إيران التي نجحت بإثبات إلتزامها لسنتين، وعندما خرجت عن بعض الإلتزامات نجحت بتوظيفها لتحسين وضعها النووي أضعافاً مضاعفة، بينما لم ينفع الانسحاب أميركا بشيء.

احتاجت واشنطن لوقت كي تستوعب أنها الطرف الأضعف في المفاوضات، كما احتاج شركاؤها الأوروبيون، فقد بدأ التفاوض وفي العقل الغربي أن مجرد التلويح لإيران بفرص العودة إلى الاتفاق سيكون كافياً لتتلقف إيران الأمر بالإستعداد لوقف اجراءاتها من خارج الاتفاق، ويدخل التفاوض إلى نوعية العقوبات التي يمكن رفعها، كما توهم الأميركيون والأوروبيون أن ما تم خلال فترة الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق وما رافقه من عقوبات حقق الضغط اللازم على إيران، أي أنه أنضجها لقبول ما لم يكن مقبولاً عندها من قبل، ولذلك يمكن القول إن ما مر من وقت التفاوض كانت مهمته من وجهة نظر الوفد الإيراني إفهام الأميركيين والأوروبيين بوضوح أنهم أصحاب الحاجة الأصلية للعودة إلى الاتفاق، وأن إيران تأقلمت مع العقوبات، وأنهم لا يملكون بدائل للاتفاق بخلاف إيران التي تملك خيار المضي ببرنامجها النووي إلى لحظة الرعب النووية للغرب، وأنها بعدما تخلصت من العقوبات الأممية باتت طرفاً في حلف مع روسيا والصين يضمن لها عدم عودة هذه العقوبات، وأنها اقتصادياً تخطت الكثير من عقد العقوبات أمام المتاجرة قبل اتفاقها الاستراتيجي مع الصين فكيف بعده.

ما جرى في اليومين الأخيرين يقول إن واشنطن والعواصم الأوروبية بدأوا يلامسون الواقع بصورة أفضل من أوهام العظمة التي دخلوا التفاوض على أساسها، لكنهم لم يصلوا بعد إلى اللحظة التي تصنع الاتفاق، لكن إعتمادهم أسلوب تبادل الأوراق مع الوفد الإيراني المحترف والممسك جيداً بملفاته، سواء في ملف العقوبات بالتفاصيل أو الملف النووي بأشد التفاصيل دقة، يقول إن الإقرار بالحاجة للتعامل بجدية مع توازن القوى الموضوعي المحيط بالتفاوض بعقلية السعي لتسريع التفاوض وبلوغ النتيجة الايجابية، قد بدأ، لكن واشنطن تواجه مشكلتين خطيرتين، الأولى حالة حلفائها الاقليميين وخصوصاً السعودية و”إسرائيل”، وعجزهما عن التأقلم بسهولة مع إتفاق تقبل به إيران، وينظر إليها كرضوخ أميركي للشروط الإيرانية، والثانية كيفية تقديم الضمانات التي تطلبها إيران مقابل خطر الانسحاب الأميركي مجدداً من الاتفاق، ومصير أجهزة الطرد المركزي المتطورة التي تم تركيبها وكميات اليورانيوم التي تم تخصيبها، واصرار إيران على اعتبار الحفاظ عليها ضمانة موازية بديلة.

المفاوضات الدائرة في فيينا، بكل ما يرافقها ويحيط بها، سترسم حكماً مشهد الشرق الجديد، لكنها ستضع رؤوس الجسور لرؤية مشهد عالمي جديد، والوقت الذي تستهلكه المفاوضات ليس وقتاً ضائعاً، بل هو التعبير عن السياق اللازم لترسيم التوازنات التي ستنتج منها هذه التحولات.

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Putin and Xi plot their SWIFT escape

Russia and China’s announcement of an independent financial trading platform will free nations under US sanctions from western intrusion into their commercial activities.

December 17 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s December video summit could mark the start of some major global financial shiftsPhoto Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

Vladimir Putin got straight to the point. At the opening of his one hour and fourteen minute video conversation with Xi Jinping on 15 December, he described Russia-China relations as “an example of genuine inter-state cooperation in the 21st century.”

Their myriad levels of cooperation have been known for years now – from trade, oil and gas, finance, aerospace and the fight against Covid-19, to the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

But now the stage was set for the announcement of a serious counter-move in their carefully coordinated ballet opposing the relentless Hybrid War/Cold War 2.0 combo deployed by Empire.

As Assistant to the President for Foreign Policy Yuri Ushakov succinctly explained, Putin and Xi agreed to create an “independent financial structure for trade operations that could not be influenced by other countries.”

Diplomatic sources, off the record, confirmed the structure may be announced by a joint summit before the end of 2022.

This is a stunning game-changer in more ways than one. It had been extensively discussed in previous bilaterals and in preparations for BRICS summits – mostly centered on increasing the share of yuan and rubles in Russia-China settlements, bypassing the US dollar, and opening new stock market options for Russian and Chinese investors.

Now we’ve come to the crunch. And the catalyzing event was none other than US hawks floating the – financially nuclear – idea of expelling Russia from SWIFT, the messaging network used by 11,000+ banks in over 200 countries, as well as financial institutions, for rapid money transfers worldwide.

Cutting off Russia from SWIFT would be part of a harsh new sanctions package developed in response to an ‘invasion’ of Ukraine that will never happen – mainly because the only ones praying for it are professional NATO warmongers.

Profiting from a strategic blunder

Once again, an American strategic blunder offers the Russia-China self-described “comprehensive strategic partnership” the chance to advance their coordination.

Ushakov put it very diplomatically: it’s time to bypass a SWIFT mechanism “influenced by third countries” to form “an independent financial structure.”

That amounts to a serious game-changer for the entire Global South – as scores of nations yearn to be released from a de facto US dollar dictatorship, complete with recurring Fed quantitative easing circus packages.

Russia and China have been experimenting with their alternative payment systems for quite a while now: the Russian SPFS (System for Transfer of Financial Messages) and the Chinese CIPS (Cross Border Interbank Payment System).

It won’t be easy, as the most powerful Chinese banks are deep into SWIFT and have expressed their reservations about SPFS. Yet, they will have to inevitably integrate prior to the launch of the new mechanism, possibly in late 2022.

Once the most important Russian and Chinese banks – from Sberbank to the Bank of China – adopt the system, the path opens for other banks across Eurasia and the Global South to join in.

In the long run, SWIFT, prone to non-stop American political interference, will be increasingly marginalized, or restricted to Atlanticist latitudes.

Bypassing the US dollar, on trade and all sorts of financial settlements, is an absolutely central plank of the ever-evolving Russia-China notion of a multipolar world.

The road will be long, of course, especially when it comes to offering a solid counterpoint to the US-controlled global financial system, a maze that includes the humongous investment houses of the BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street variety, with their interlocking shareholding of virtually every major multinational company.

Yet a SWIFT escape will rapidly gain momentum, because it is inextricably linked to a series of developments that Putin-Xi touched upon in their conversation, the most important of which are:

1. The progressive interconnection of BRI and EAEU, offering expanding roles to the BRICS-run New Development Bank (NDB) as well as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

2. The increasing geopolitical and geo-economic reach of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), especially after the admission of Iran in October.

3. And crucially, the upcoming Chinese presidency of the BRICS in 2022.

China in 2022 will invest deeply in BRICS+. This expanded BRICS club will be linked to a development process that includes:

1. The consolidation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a massive East Asia trade deal uniting China, the ASEAN 10 and Japan, and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

2. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).

3. And the memoranda of understanding signed between the EAEU and MERCOSUR and between the EAEU and ASEAN.

Anchoring West Asia  

Yaroslav Lissovolik, one of the world’s leading experts on BRICS+, argues that it’s now time for BRICS+ 2.0, operating in a system that opens “the possibility for bilateral and plurilateral agreements to complement the core network of regional alliances formed by BRICS countries and their respective regional neighbors.”

So if we’re talking about a major qualitative jump in terms of economic development across the Global South, the question is inevitable. What about West Asia?

All these interconnections, plus an escape from SWIFT, will certainly profit the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), arguably the flagship BRI project, to which Beijing plans to annex Afghanistan.

CPEC will be progressively connected to the future Iran-China corridor via Afghanistan, part of the 20 year Iran-China strategic deal in which BRI projects will be prominently featured. Iran and China already trade in yuan and rials, so settlements between Iran and China in a non-SWIFT mechanism will be a given.

What happened to Iran is a classic example of SWIFT becoming hostage of imperial political manipulation. Iranian banks were expelled from SWIFT in 2012, because of pressure from the usual suspects. In 2016, access was restored as part of the JCPOA, clinched in 2015. Yet in 2018, under the Trump administration, Iran was once again cut off from SWIFT.

None of that will ever happen with Iran joining the new Russia-China mechanism.

And that leads us to the interconnection of China’s BRI expansion in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The reconstruction of Syria may be largely financed via the non-SWIFT mechanism. Same for China buying Iraqi energy. Same for the reconstruction of a Yemen possibly hosting a Chinese-owned port, part of the “string of pearls.”

Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Israel may remain in the US financial sphere of influence, or lack thereof. And even if there is no BRICS nation anchoring West Asia, and no regional integration economic agreement on the horizon, the role of the economic integrator is bound to be eventually played by China.

China will play a similar role to Brazil anchoring MERCOSUR, Russia anchoring the EAEU and South Africa anchoring the SADC/SACU.

Both BRI and the EAEU will get a tremendous boost by bypassing SWIFT. You simply can’t go multipolar if you trade using (devalued) imperial legal tender.

BRI, EAEU and those interlocking economic development agreements, combined with digital technology, will be integrating billions of people in the Global South.

Think of a possible, auspicious future spelling out cheap telecom delivering financial services and world market access, in a non-dollar environment, to all those who have been so far cut off from a truly globalized economy.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Iran’s FM: We Are All in Vienna to Reach a Good Agreement

 December 10, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian underlined the Islamic Republic’s resolve to reach a “good agreement” through the ongoing talks in Vienna, which aim to remove US sanctions, saying the Western sides to the Iran nuclear agreement have talked the talk in recent years but it is high time they walk the walk as well to secure a serious, good deal.

“We are all in Vienna to negotiate to reach a good agreement,” Amir Abdollahian wrote in a post on his Instagram page on Thursday night, hours after a new round of talks kicked off in the Austrian capital between Iran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal.

“The Western parties need to know that in the last eight years, enough words and empty promises have been uttered, but today, it is time to act,” he also noted.

Since April, Vienna has been hosting negotiations on a revival of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], which would require the US to remove its anti-Iran sanctions three years after Washington walked out of the JCPOA and slapped the bans on Iran to kill the deal.

Almost eleven months after Joe Biden was sworn in as president, the US still refuses to remove the sanctions, despite Biden’s pledge to undo the Iran policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and end his “failed maximum pressure” campaign.

Although the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and its sanctions, coupled with the three European parties’ submission to Washington’s illegal moves, prompted Iran to legally reduce its nuclear undertakings, the four countries have upped the ante in the talks, shifting the blame on Iran and voicing concerns over its nuclear measures.

Rejecting those concerns, Amir Abdollahian stressed that Iran’s nuclear program is completely peaceful, but added that there is a direct link between the removal of US sanctions and Iran’s decision to assuage the concerns.

“Although we doubt whether the Western side is ready to remove the sanctions or it only seeks to unilaterally ease its own concerns, we will certainly see quick progress in the talks if the Western side attends the negotiations with goodwill, initiatives, and constructive ideas,” the top Iranian diplomat added.

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Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

December 06, 2021

The expanded format meeting between the two delegations was followed by a face-to-face conversation over a working lunch, lasting 3 and a half hours.

Following the summit, a Joint Statement Russia – India: Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity was adopted.

(Ed: Joint Statement below)

In addition, the two countries signed a package of documents before the Russian President’s meeting with the Prime Minister of India. They include an intergovernmental agreement on technology protection due to cooperation in space research and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and on building and operating launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure; an intergovernmental agreement on the Military-Technical Cooperation Programme for 2021–2031; as well as a protocol amending the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in manufacturing Kalashnikov series small arms of February 18, 2019.

The Central Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to fight cyber-attacks. Also, relevant agencies signed a number of agreements in the sphere of education and memoranda of cooperation on intellectual property and on geological exploration and prospecting.

The documents signed included a roadmap for cooperation in science, technology and innovation; a programme of cultural exchanges for 2021–2024; a protocol on the organisation of culture festivals between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India in 2022–2023; as well as documents amending the intergovernmental agreement on merchant shipping of December 23, 1994, and concerning Russian oil supplies in 2022.

* * *

Beginning of Russian-Indian talks

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency, my dear friend, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

I would like to welcome you to the annual bilateral summit in New Delhi. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian Federation delegation.

I know that this is only your second visit abroad for almost two years. This shows your personal commitment to our relations. You are visiting India despite all the pandemic difficulties and this shows your love of India.

Despite the pandemic-related complications, the development of bilateral India-Russia relations has not slowed. We continue strengthening our specially privileged strategic partnership.

We have maintained close cooperation in countering COVID-19, be it during testing vaccine production, providing humanitarian aid or helping people return home in a difficult time.

Your Excellency, 2021 is an important year for bilateral relations for various reasons: this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between India and the Soviet Union and two decades of strategic partnership. This is why I am so pleased to meet you in this special year because you have stood behind our strategic partnership over the past 20 years.

Many fundamental changes have taken place in the world in the past few decades. Various geopolitical formations have come into being, but one thing remained immune to change – the Russia-India friendship. Our countries not only cooperate with each other but also show special care for each other’s sensitive issues. This is indeed a unique, trust-based model of interstate friendship.

Your Excellency,

2021 is important for our strategic partnership as well. The first meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers in the “2+2” format took place today and thus launched one more mechanism to strengthen practical cooperation.

We have maintained regular contact on Afghanistan and on a number of other issues as well. The interregional side of our partnership, which goes back to the Eastern Economic Forum and our summit in Vladivostok, has become a specific part of cooperation between the Russian Far East and various Indian states.

In the economy, we have adopted a long-term vision to reinforce our relationship. Our goal is to increase mutual trade to US$30 billion by 2025 and to increase mutual investment to US$50 billion. To do so, we must issue the proper assignments to our respective business communities.

The various agreements that were concluded today will help us expand cooperation as well. Our defence cooperation is being strengthened through joint development and production efforts under the Made in India programme. Cooperation in space and civilian nuclear energy is expanding as well.

I would like to congratulate Russia on obtaining observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and dialogue partner status in the Indian Ocean Rim Association. We were delighted to support Russia’s presence in these associations.

India and Russia have similar positions on many regional and global issues. We will have the opportunity to exchange views on these matters during today’s meeting.

Your Excellency,

Once again, welcome to India. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian delegation. Despite your busy schedule, you made the time to visit us, and we appreciate this. I am sure that our discussions today will be very productive for our relations.

Welcome again.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Prime Minister, my friend.

It is an honour and a privilege for me to visit friendly India once again.

We regularly hold summits at the highest level, in fact, they take place every year, with India and Russia taking turns in hosting them. Unfortunately, we had to skip last year due to the pandemic. Still, it is our turn to come to India, and I thank you for your invitation.

Russia views India as a major power, whose people have been very friendly to us. Our relations proceed from a very positive foundation. They are developing and forward-looking.

In 2020, trade between our countries decreased by more than 17 percent, but in the first nine months of 2021 it grew by over 38 percent. There is no doubt that we have every opportunity to reach the trade volumes you have mentioned.

This also applies to investment, which currently stands at US$38 billion and is more or less equally distributed between the two countries, with Russia having a slightly larger share. That said, we have been working together in very important and promising areas, including energy, high technology, and space. I am certain that the programmes you have mentioned will be carried out, including the one to train an Indian cosmonaut.

We have been promoting military-technical cooperation like with no other partner of ours. Together, we develop and manufacture high-technology military products, including in India.

There is another essential item on our agenda, which is of interest for both India and Russia. I am referring to taking care of the environment. Our minds are set on this topic, the green agenda, as well as on the economy and ways of developing it. Of course, we are realistic in our efforts, seeking to fulfil the needs of our economies and improve the standard of living for our citizens on an ongoing basis.

We remain proactively involved on the international stage. Just as you have said, our positions coincide on many issues. Of course, terrorism and efforts to fight it are a matter of grave concern, as are combatting drug trafficking and organised crime.

In this context, the developments in Afghanistan are of course a matter of serious concern for us. The foreign and defence ministers, who are present today, held their first meeting in such format, demonstrating our commitment to developing our relations in international and military affairs.

We hold joint exercises both in India and Russia. We are grateful for the attention you have given to this aspect of our cooperation and intend to keep moving in the same direction.

Once again, thank you very much for your invitation.

<…>


Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity. India-Russia Joint Statement following the visit of the President of the Russian Federation

1. At the invitation of Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin paid working visit to New Delhi on 6 December 2021 for the 21st India–Russia Annual Summit.

2. The completion of 5 decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and 2 decades of Declaration on Strategic Partnership is symbolic of the long standing and time-tested India-Russia relations characterized by mutual trust, respect for each other’s core national interests and similarity of positions on various international and regional issues.

3. The Sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. They underscored that as major powers with common responsibilities, this important relationship continues to be an anchor of global peace and stability.

4. The Sides positively assessed the multi-faceted India-Russia relations that span various areas of cooperation including political and strategic, economy, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture and humanitarian cooperation. They noted that while the traditional areas of cooperation are being further strengthened, new drivers of growth have led to diversification and expansion of bilateral cooperation.

5. The Leaders highly appreciated the sustained momentum in bilateral ties despite the negative impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. They acknowledged that the Annual Summit could not be held in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. The Sides noted with satisfaction the continued intensification of contacts at all levels including 6 telephonic conversations between the two leaders since the last Summit; visits of Foreign Minister, Raksha Mantri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel from Indian side; visit of Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of Security Council to India; holding of Foreign Office Consultations, India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue, consultations on UN issues, Arctic, policy planning etc.

6. The Leaders welcomed the holding of back-to-back meetings of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation and the first 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and Russia in New Delhi on 6 December 2021. They underscored the importance of regular annual 2+2 meetings for exchanging views on global and regional political-security developments.

7. The Leaders noted the ongoing interaction between the Parliaments of two countries and underlined the importance of regular meetings of Inter-Parliamentary Commission as a valuable component of India- Russia relations.

8. The Leaders reiterated the importance of the security dialogue at the level of NSA and NSCS on bilateral and regional issues and welcomed regular interactions between them. This has served to enhance strategic understanding and coordination between the two countries.

Cooperation in Covid pandemic

9. The Sides exchanged views on the Covid-19 pandemic situation and highly appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, especially with respect to “Sputnik-V” vaccine.

10. The Leaders expressed gratitude to each other’s countries for timely assistance during the pandemic. India’s assistance in supplying critical medicines, including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, and certain antibiotics during the first phase in Russia and Russia’s assistance in providing ventilators, oxygen concentrators and other critical equipment during India’s second phase, was a humanitarian gesture well-received by both sides.

11. The Sides expressed confidence that early mutual recognition of COVID vaccination certificates will further facilitate movement of persons between the two countries and agreed to fast track the formalities in this regard.

12.The Sides expressed appreciation for the efforts of relevant agencies involved in evacuation efforts as well as transport of life saving equipment and medicines. They noted that the Air-bubble arrangement has served the interim travel needs of citizens of both countries.Both sides agreed to consider resumption of direct passenger and cargo flights to their pre-pandemic capacity.

Economy

13. The Sides appreciated the resumption of the positive trajectory of bilateral trade, with trade registering an increase of about 38% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 despite the pandemic-related restrictions. They positively assessed the overall increase of bilateral trade in 2019–20 compared to the previous year.

14. The Sides noted that the bilateral trade does not reflect the potential of strength and depth of India-Russia strategic partnership. The leaders stressed on the need for greater efforts to achieve the trade target of USD 30 billion by 2025. In this regard, they placed strong emphasis on new drivers of growth forlong-term cooperation.

15. The Sides underscored the need for commencement of negotiations on Trade Agreement between India and The Eurasian Economic Union.

16. The leaders noted the relevance of continued engagement under the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) for bilateral economic cooperation in various priority areas. They acknowledged the holding of 12Working Group and Sub-group meetings under the IRIGC-TEC and instructed the concerned officials to expeditiously conclude meetings of pending Working Groups. The sides also welcomed the setting up of the new Working Groups and Sub Groups on Transport, Urban Development and Railways and looked forward to the early holding of their inaugural meetings.

17. The Sides welcomed the holding of the 3rd edition of the India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) on April 15, 2021 in virtual format. They noted the productive discussions under this format in the areas of transport, agriculture, digital transformation, tourism, industry and banking and small and medium enterprises. The Sides considered the need to look at the way forward for the collaboration under this mechanism.

18. The Sides appreciated the outcomes of the visit of Minister of Steel of India to Moscow to attend the Russian Energy Week in October, 2021 and welcomed the progress made in a short span in reviving collaboration in coking coal and steel sectors. A mutually beneficial MoU for reliable long-term supplies of coal to India for steel production was signed. Discussions were held on production of specialty steel under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in India, and utilization of technologies from Russian state steel institutes for steel production in India by private and public sector companies. The Indian side welcomed the interest of Russian side in learning from India’s experience of gainful utilization of coal residues. The Sides also welcomed the meeting of the 1st Working Group on Coking Coal in virtual format in October, 2020.

19. The Leaders welcomed the signing of Agreement of Intent between Indian PSUs and Russian company PhosAgro for supply of fertilizers in the period of 2021/2022 calendar years. They instructed their officials to continue discussions for agreement on long term supply and pricing arrangements.

20. Trade in pharmaceuticals continues to be one of the main items of India’s exports to Russia. Both sides noted with satisfaction the continued strength of this commodity as well as Indian companies’ participation in Russia’s localization programme under Pharma 2020 and Pharma 2030 schemes. They recognized the growing collaboration in medical devices as a new promising area of economic engagement in the context of the pandemic.

21. The Sides appreciated the rapid recovery of collaboration in diamond sector between the two countries, following the initial downturn witnessed during the pandemic.

22. The Sides welcomed the progress on discussions on elimination of trade barriers in respect of critical commodities under the aegis of the Sub-Group on Elimination of the Trade Barriers of IRIGC-TEC. Both sides agreed to consider fast-tracking elimination of barriers by way of closing critical gaps in phytosanitary and veterinary requirements of both countries in agricultural and agro-processed products.

23. The Sides recognised the need to further streamline and fast-track the process of Customs clearances of cargoes. In this regard, the Sides agreed to replace the discussions on the ‘Green Corridor Project’ with an Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and a MoU on Exchange of pre-arrival Customs data. The Sides, also, agreed to commence discussions on this Agreement and MoU at the earliest.

24. The Indian side encouraged participation of Russian companies in the 13 key sectors of Production Linked Incentive scheme of Government of India under the ‘Atmanirbhar’ and ‘Make in India’ programme. The Indian side also invited the Russian side to continue consideration of setting up manufacturing facilities in Greenfield industrial cities under Industrial Corridor Programme of Government of India.

25. The Sides recognized that the pandemic slowed down progress on certain investment decisions by companies on both sides. However, both sides noted with satisfaction that several investment ideas continue to progress, particularly those in inland waterways, railways, shipbuilding and repair, steel and coking coal, medical devices, petrochemicals, ports, banking and re-insurance services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro processing, healthcare, IT and oil & gas.

26. The Sides urged the corresponding Ministries to finalize negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty in a spirit of mutual understanding in order to protect mutual investments.They welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property between Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, India and Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Russian Federation.

27. The Sides reiterated their commitment to strengthen inter-bank and insurance cooperation. Commercial Indo Bank, Moscow, the only Indian Bank operating in Russia, has upgraded its rating significantly over the last year. Indian side expressed hope that this will allow the Bank to enter into retail segment after obtaining necessary approvals. Similarly, GIC Perestrakhovanie LLC, a 100% subsidiary of General Insurance Corporation of India, commenced its operations in September 2020 and is now offering reinsurance support to all major general insurers in the Russian Federation.

28. The Sides agreed to continue joint work on promoting mutual settlement of payments in national currencies, which will help reduce cost and time as well as risks involved in payments.

29. The Sides also expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting RuPay and MIR Cards within national payment infrustructures, as well as on interaction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and The Faster Payments System of the Bank of Russia (FPS). The Russian side invited Indian credit institutions to connect to the Financial messaging system of the Bank of Russia to facilitate faultless interbank transactions.

30. The Indian side invited Russian side’s participation in civilian shipbuilding and inland waterways as promising new areas of collaboration. The two leaders welcomed the preparation of bilateral document in the area of civilian shipbuilding, which will facilitate enhancement of interaction and specialist training, investments in ship building and repair, scientific research, development of intelligent transport and navigation systems, international transport corridors.They welcomed the signing of the Agreement of Intent between Mazagaon Dock Ltd. and Zvezda Shipyard for commercial shipping signed in September this year.

Cooperation in the Russian Far-East

31. President Putin welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to an Act Far-East Policy under which India could be a reliable partner in the development of the Russian Far-East. He supported Prime Minister Modi’s concept of Sangam as a development tool for the region. The Russian side warmly welcomed the successful visit of Prime Minister Modi to Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in 2019 and his virtual participation in the 6th EEF this year.

32. The Sides noted the greater intensity of Inter-regional dialogue on economic cooperation between the States of India and the regions of Russia including the virtual meeting between the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Governor of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in September, 2021. They appreciated holding of several B2B, G2G and B2G meetings recently between Indian companies and Russian regions. They welcomed the signing of 9 twinning agreements between the cities/states of India and the regions of Russia so far for mutual cooperation in diverse areas.

33. The Sides welcomed interest of Indian companies in cooperating in the Russian Far East. Energy, transport and logistics, maritime connectivity, diamond processing, forestry, pharmaceuticals & healthcare, tourism and humanitarian fields have been identified as areas of further cooperation in the Russian Far-East.

34. The Indian side reiterated its commitment to enhanced trade and investment in the Russian Far-East. The Sides agreed to continue discussion on operationalization of the US$ 1 billion Line of Credit announced by Prime Minister Modi in 2019 for projects for development of the Russian Far East.

Energy

35. The Leaders reaffirmed that bilateral energy cooperation is a key pillar of the bilateral ties and an energy bridge between the two countries. Both sides reiterated their joint efforts under the Roadmap for Cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019–24 to further deepen bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and welcomed the opening of Bharat Energy Center in Moscow, representing five Indian oil and gas public sector companies to enhance engagement with Russian stakeholders in energy sector.

36. The Sides noted with satisfaction, the fruitful, wide-ranging collaboration between the oil and gas companies of the two countries, including between JSC Rosneft Oil Company and Oil and Gas Public Sector Undertakings of India in implementing the Vankorneft, Sakhalin-1 and Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha projects in Russia, and Nayara Energy Limited’s oil refinery in India. They also welcomed prospective two way investment initiatives of both countries, which are currently under discussion.

37. The sides reaffirmed their commitment for increasing sourcing of Russian crude oil on long term contracts through preferential pricing, strengthening LNG imports to India, and the possible utilization of the Northern Sea Route for energy supplies. The two sides further agreed for the expansion of cooperation in gas sector and welcomed the creation of a Gas Task Force to identify mutually beneficial areas including the development of investment in gas infrastructure and distribution projects, use of natural gas in transport and emerging fuels including hydrogen.

38. Both sides, appreciating the strength of the Indian petrochemical market, agreed to expand collaboration through Russian participation by way of investment, technological and other ways of collaboration in Indian petrochemical sector. The sides welcomed the interest of Nayara Energy in production of products like polypropylene in India.

39. Both sides also agreed to consider prospects for expanding cooperation in hydro and thermal power, energy efficiency and the sector of renewable energy. They also noted the need for cooperation in hydrogen economy, low-emission development, including exchange of best practices. The Indian side emphasized the need for responsible and reasonable pricing of global energy supplies determined by market forces. Both sides noted the importantce of dialogue between consumers and producers for stabilizing energy prices.

Transport and Connectivity

40. The Indian side welcomes the growing participation of Russian companies in modernization of the railway sector in India. This includes Russian side’s interest in implementing projects using Russian technology, equipment and capital in India, particularly in signalling and telematic systems, high-speed rail projects, electrification of railways while abiding by India’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat programmes.

41. The Indian side appreciated Russia’s participation in electronic toll collection technology based on satellite navigation technologies on Indian highways, implemented by the joint Russian-Indian company Bharat Telematic Ssystems Pvt Ltd.

42. The Sides emphasized on greater and effective usage of the International North-South Transport Corridor for cargo transport at lesser cost and time to enhance connectivity in Eurasian Space. In this context, they welcomed the signing of agreement between Russian Railways (RZD) and Concor last year to jointly develop multi-modal logistics services along INSTC route. The Russian side expressed support for India’s proposal to include Chabahar port within the framework of INSTC. They stressed that connectivity initiatives should be based on the principles of transparency, broad participation, local priorities, financial sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

43. The Indian side informed that the feasibility study of the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor is in advance stage, and the study so far done indicates an array of opportunities for increased traffic upon the successful implementation of its recommendations. The Sides expressed optimism that the implementation of the recommendations of the study will provide a fillip to the bilateral trade.

Civil Nuclear Energy and Space

44. The Sides noted the significant progress achieved in the construction of the remaining nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam. Both Sides noted the importance of continued further discussion on the second site in India; the Indian side will strive to finalize formal allotment of the second site in accordance with earlier signed agreements. They welcomed continuation of technical discussions on the VVER 1200 of the Russian design, joint manufacturing of equipment and localization of components.

45. Both Sides noted successful cooperation in the setting up of the Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh and expressed their readiness to explore similar cooperation in third countries as well.

46. The Sides welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization, including in the human spaceflight programs and satellite navigation and agreed to study the prospects of the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the development of launch vehiclesand use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including planetary exploration.

47. The Sides welcomed the active work carried out within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization on joint activities in human spaceflight program and noted with satisfaction the training of 4 Indian astronaut candidates from the ”Yu.A.Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center“ FSBO.

48. To facilitate further cooperation in Space, the Sides welcomed the signing of Agreement between the Government of The Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation on technology protection due to cooperation in field of research and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and building and operation of launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure.

49. Both Sides intend to strengthen cooperation within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), including the issues of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Military and Military-Technical Cooperation

50. Russian side appreciated the participation of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with a Tri-Service contingent of the Indian armed forces in the Victory Day Parade at Red Square in Moscow to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory of the Soviet People in the great Patriotic War of 1941–1945.

51. Military and military-technical cooperation has traditionally been the pillar of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. Responding to India’s quest for self-sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems.

52. The Sides expressed satisfaction with regular military contacts and joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries which reached unprecedented heights this year with three exercises being held within a span of 60 days besides simultaneous participation of large Indian contingents in the International Army Games. The Russian side deeply appreciated participation of INS Tabar in the 325th Russian Navy Day celebrations. The Sides agreed to continue and expand regular defence dialogue, mutual training and exercises, subject matter expert exchanges and other activities under the aegis of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation.

53. Both sides noted with satisfaction the successful implementation of the 2011–2020 Long-Term Program for Military and Technical Cooperation and welcomed the signing of a new long-term plan for the period 2021–2031.

54. The Sides reiterated their commitment to upgrade the defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress towards mutual recognition of quality control and regular joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries. The two leaders agreed that for peace, stability and mutual economic development, there is a need for the two countries to work closely together in the advanced and emerging fields of defence technology and for the Armed Forces of the two countries to work together in niche domains of military capabilities.

55. Both Sides agreed to take forward ongoing engagements to encourage joint manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for maintenance of Russian origin Arms and defence equipment under Make-in-India program through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Indian Armed Forces as well as subsequent export to mutually friendly third countries.

56. The Sides recognized the requirement of an institutional arrangement for reciprocal provision of logistic support and services for the Armed Forces.

Science and Technology

57. Emphasizing the importance of joint research in science, technology and innovation, the two Sides welcome the signing of Roadmap for Science, Technology & Innovation Cooperation and , expressed satisfaction with respect to launching joint calls in priority areas as states in the Roadmap.

58. The Sides expressed satisfaction on launching of India-Russia Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program by the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and Russian Foundation for Assistance to Small Industrial Enterprises (FASIE), which provides opportunities to Start-ups and SMES of the two countries to address societal challenges through innovative technologies.

59. The Sides also agreed to facilitate collaboration between government and private sector organizations to find ways of joint development of software products, platforms and services as well as in the area of electronics manufacturing. The Sides confirmed their interest in further developing cooperation in the sphere of digital technologies, including those related to information protection, security of critical infrastructure and law enforcement.

60. Thesides noted the promotion of youth exchanges by bringing together co-innovation programs at School level with the Support of Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog and Talent & Success Fund (SIRIUS Centre, Sochi), Russia. These programs engaged students on both sides to generate hands-on technological solutions for societal problems such as Distance Literacy in remote areas; Rural Health & Well-being and Digital asset monitoring etc.

61. The Indian side congratulated the Russian side for its ongoing successful chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2021–23 and expressed its readiness to play an active role as an Observer in the Arctic Council. Both sides recalled the bilateral consultations on the Arctic held last year. The Indian side also expressed its interest in collaborating with Russia on the Northern Sea Route.

Education, Culture and Tourism

62. Recognising the traditionally strong cooperation between India and Russia in the sphere of education, the Sides appreciated efforts taken by both countries to ensure well being of students during the Covid-19 pandemic.They agreed to continue their efforts in promoting educational linkages between universities and educational institutions. The Sides also agreed for organizing exchange programs for their diplomats at the respective training institutes under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

63. The Sides appreciated the successful implementation of bilateral Cultural Exchange Program, which plays a crucial role in enhancing people to people contact and noted the signing of the India Russia Cultural Exchange Programme during the summit for continuance of the bilateral cultural cooperation. It was agreed to continue the mutually beneficial practice of reciprocally holding cultural and film festivals. Need for geographical expansion of cultural exchanges and greater involvement of the youth and folk art groups was highlighted. Both Sides agreed to continue their joint efforts in promoting Russian language in India and Hindi in Russia comprehensively, including by developing contacts between relevant educational institutions. They welcomed the signing of MoU between National Sports University, Imphal, India and the Russian International Olympic University Sochi, Russia.

64. The two sides appreciated the dynamism in tourist exchanges between Russia and India.To further deepen the cooperation in tourism, the sides expressed intent to discuss ways of cooperation both at government and private sector level with the aim to enhance tourist exchanges between the two countries.

65. Both Sides welcomed progressive simplification of visa formalities, including introduction of eVisa by both countries.India has opened group tourist visa from October 15, 2021 and normal tourist visa from November 15, 2021, which would further strengthen people-to-people contacts. They agreed to continue the work on further simplification of the visa regime in future.

Cooperation in UN and Multilateral Fora

66. Both Sides noted the high level of political dialogue and cooperation on issues at the UN and agreed to deepen it further. Both Sides stressed the importance of reinvigorating multilateralism, with the central coordinating role played by the United Nations in world affairs. The Sides underlined the primacy of respect for international law and emphasized their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States.

67. Russia welcomed India’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with an overwhelming majority for a two-year term. Russian side appreciated India’s UNSC priorities which include commitment to strenghthen and reform the multilateral system, rule of law, fair and equitable international system and are anchored in the Indian ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, i.e. the world being one family. Both sides highlighted that India’s election to the UNSC has provided additional opportunities to coordinate efforts on most pressing issues at the UN based on mutual understanding and a shared view and approach to the global world order.

68. Both Sides called for comprehensivereform of the UNSC to reflect contemporary global realities and to make it more representative, effective and efficient in dealing with issues of international peace and security. President Putin congratulated India on its successful Presidency of the UN Security Council in the month of August and reiterated Russia’s support for India’s permanent membership of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked President Putin for his participation in the UNSC high-level debate on Maritime Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 9, 2021 as part of India’s Presidency of the UNSC.

69. Both Sides reiterated their commitment to enhanced cooperation and close coordination in BRICS. President Putin congratulated India on its successful BRICS Chairmanship in 2021, including hosting of the XIII BRICS Summit on 9 September 2021 and adopting the New Delhi Declaration. The Sides alsowelcomed deliverables of BRICS cooperation in 2021, in particular the signing of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation on Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, finalization of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, adoption of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, Action Plan 2021–2024 for Agricultural Cooperation, Innovation Cooperation Action Plan 2021–2024 and establishment of the BRICS Alliance for Green Tourism. Both Sides reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025.

70. The Leaders recognised the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) as vital to addressing development challenges, including health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged the NDB to explore the possibility of financing more social infrastructure projects, including those that use digital technologies. They commended the NDB’s substantive progress in membership expansion despite challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. They reiterated that the process of expansion should be gradual and balanced in terms of geographic representation.

71. India and Russia stressed the achievements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the last two decades of its operation and noted the great potential for further interaction among the SCO Member States. Both Sides will continue to strengthen the SCO as one of the key pillars of the emerging, more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on international law, above all the UN Charter.

72. The Sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

73. The Sides support increased role of SCO in international affairs, comprehensive development of the Organization’s contacts with the UN and its specialized agencies, and other multilateral organizations and associations. In this context, they support the establishment of official ties between the SCO and Eurasian Economic Union.

74. Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation within the RIC framework to promote common approaches to pressing issues on the global and regional agenda. The Russian side expressed appreciation for India’s chairmanship of RIC. Both Sides welcomed the results of the RIC Foreign Ministers meeting on 26 November 2021.

75. The sides highlighted their cooperation within the G20 format and agreed to intensify the same on issues of global and mutual interest, keeping in view India’s Presidency of the G20 in 2023.

76. The Both Sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to intensify cooperation against terrorism including safe havens, terror financing, arms and drugs trafficking, radicalization and malicious use of ICTs to spread extremist, terrorist and other illegal content.

77. Both Sides underscored the importance of implementing the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism and extremism as well as the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, while taking into account national experiences and state specificities. Both sides reaffirmed their shared fight against international terrorism, concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those proscribed by the UN, condemned cross-border movement of terrorists and called for the perpetrators of terror attacks to be brought to justice, without any political or religious considerations. They denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial, or military support to terrorist groups to launch or plan terror attacks. Both sides reaffirmed the need to support and strengthen the FATF and the UN Office of Counter Terrorism in their shared fight against terrorism. They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to strengthening the current international drug control regime based on the three relevant United Nations conventions.

78. The Sides agreed that safeguarding of global commons including our oceans, outer space and information space should be based on the principles of transparency, accessibility and upholding international law.

79. The Sides appreciated close cooperation in the field of security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) through inter-agency cooperation under bilateral mechanisms and at multilateral platforms. They highlighted the leading role of the United Nations in the decision-making process on security in the use of ICTs. The Sides also recognized the need for further work on rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of State aimed at preventing conflicts and promoting peaceful use of ICTs. The Sides reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation against criminal use of ICTs and in this regard they welcome the establishment of an open- ended Ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes as stipulated in the UN GA resolutions 74/247 and 75/282.

80. Both sides expressed concern over the possibility of an arms race in outer space and outer space turning into an arena for military confrontation. They reaffirmed commitment to takeefforts for the prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization. They stressed the paramount importance of strict compliance with existing international legal agreements providing for the peaceful uses of outer space and promoting international peace and stability, promotion of international cooperation and mutual understanding. The Sides supported negotiation of a multilateral legally binding instrument for prevention of an arms race in outer space. In this regard they noted the relevance of draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against space objects, submitted to the Conference of Disarmament for future negotiations. The sides reaffirmed that the Conference on Disarmament, is the only forum for holding multilateral negotiations on an international agreement (or agreements) on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.

81. The sides reaffirmed support to full and effective adherence to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) by all States Parties. The Sides noted that the BTWC functions including in what concerns the UNSC should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. The Sides expressed the support tostrengthening of BTWC including by adopting a protocol to the Convention providing for, inter alia, an effective compliance verification mechanism.

82. Both sides reaffirmed support to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), andtheir determination to upholdefforts and initiatives aimed at preserving the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). They called upon the States Parties to the CWC to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPWC.

83. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, both sides emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament.

84. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening global efforts for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia expressed its strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The sides urged all members of the international community to increase the level of mutual trust in order to promote global peace and security.

85. The sides discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, the current political situation, issues related to terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking etc. They outlined the priorities which include ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, providing immediate humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.

86. The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

87. The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, LeT, etc. They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism. Both sides recalled the importance of the relevant UN Resolutions on Afghanistan, as well as the recent outcome documents of Moscow format consultations and other international and regional mechanisms. The leaders emphasized the central role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

88. The leaders welcomed close coordination between India and Russia on Afghanistan including through the creation of a permanent consultative mechanism on the issue between the Security Councils of both countries. They highly appreciated the finalisation of the Roadmap of interaction between India and Russia on Afghanistan, which symbolized convergence of views and interests of the two sides.

89. The Russian side welcomed Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan of National Security Advisors/Secretaries of Security Council on 10 November 2021 in New Delhi and welcomed the Delhi Declaration on Afghanistan that emerged from that meeting.

90. The sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. The sides also reaffirmed their commitment that there is no alternative to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN- facilitated political process in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the necessity to mobilize comprehensive humanitarian assistance to all the Syrians in need without politization and preconditions as required by UNSCR 2585(2021).

91.The sides reiterated the importance of the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA.

92. Both sides urged all the concerned parties to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to promote establishment of lasting peace and stability and stressed on the need to continue dialogue to achieve this goal.

93. The sides agreed to explore mutually acceptable and beneficial areas of cooperation in third countries especially in the Central Asia, South East Asia and Africa.

94. The Sides reiterated the need to preserve and strengthen the role of the World Trade Organization for upholding a transparent, non-discriminatory, and inclusive multilateral trading system with the fundamental principles at its core. They agreed that the post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on trust, resilience and reliability.

95. Both sides emphasized the importance of deepening regional economic cooperation to ensure sustainable socio-economic development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the expansion of cooperation within the framework of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in such key areas as transport, energy and trade.

96. The Sides reaffirmed that the emerging regional security architecture should be free, open, transparent and inclusive, based on universally recognized principles of international law and aimed at maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. They agreed to strengthen joint efforts to build an architecture of equal and indivisible regional security. The Sides agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific oceans. They underscored their recognition of the ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture of security and cooperation and reiterated the importance of closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and initiatives such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

97. The Indian side looked forward to Russia’s joining of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

98. The Sides noted with satisfaction the coinciding and similar approaches to their foreign policy priorities and reaffirmed their commitment for further strengthening of the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, both in the context of the current bilateral relations and in addressing regional and international issues. They expressed their mutual intention to strengthen and expand their bilateral relations for the benefit of the peoples of India and Russia.

99. President Vladimir Putin thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gracious hospitality extended to him and his delegation in New Delhi and invited him to visit Russia next year for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit.

New Delhi

December 6, 2021

Tehran: Step-by-Step Deal, Tentative Plans in Vienna Talks Out of Question

Dec 06, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh ruled out any step-by-step agreement or interim plans in the course of the Vienna negotiations for the revival of the nuclear deal, officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

“There is basically no talk of anything as a step-by-step deal or interim plans,” Khatibzadeh said at a press conference in Tehran on Monday, in which he commented about the course of talks in Vienna on the lifting of sanctions and saving the 2015 deal.

“We are negotiating in Vienna on the basis of the draft documents we have put forward on the lifting of the sanctions and how to stop Iran’s remedial measures,” he noted.

The spokesman reiterated that Iran has entered the Vienna negotiations with a serious resolve to strike a good deal, one that would be in the interests of both sides.

Criticizing the US and the European troika for “minimal commitment” to their undertakings, Khatibzadeh said Iran’s proposed texts have been prepared according to the drafts of the six previous rounds.

He then underscored that Iran will accept nothing less than the JCPOA and won’t commit to anything beyond it either.

Envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries held the seventh round of the talks in the Austrian capital last week to discuss ways for the removal of US sanctions and reviving the JCPOA.

Former US president Donald Trump left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.

Lead Negotiator: P4+1 Must Give “Reasonable, Rational” Response to Iran’s Proposed Drafts

Dec 04, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s lead negotiator to Vienna talks says the P4+1 group of countries has been given the chance to consult with their capitals on the Islamic Republic’s two proposed drafts, underlining that Tehran expects a “reasonable, documented and rational” response.

Ali Baqeri Kani was speaking to reporters on Friday before leaving the Austrian capital for Tehran after five days of intensive talks aimed at removing the sanctions the United States imposed on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the multilateral 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

During the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting on Friday, the sides gave a brief overview of the talks, which started between Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia – on Monday.

“It was emphasized that the proposals of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the removal of illegal and oppressive sanctions and the nuclear issue are on the table,” Baqeri Kani, who serves as Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, said. “Since the opposite side needed to consult with their capitals to provide a documented and reasonable response to these proposals, it suggested that the talks be suspended for a few days.” The senior Iranian diplomat noted that a new round of negotiations between the two sides would resume in the middle of next week.

The JCPOA was abandoned by then US President Donald Trump in May 2018. Trump then targeted Iran’s economy with what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign, but he failed to compel Iran to negotiate a “new deal.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA began the talks in the Austrian capital in April with the aim of removing Washington’s unlawful sanctions after the US voiced interest to return to the agreement.

Baqeri Kani announced Thursday that Iran has submitted two proposed drafts to the other parties concerning the removal of sanctions and Tehran’s nuclear commitments, and is about to put forward a third draft.

The website of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] said on Friday that the Europeans’ lack of initiative in the face of the Iranian team’s “groundbreaking” proposals is dragging down negotiations in Vienna.

Iran’s top security body quoted Baqeri Kani as saying, “The first document sums up the Islamic Republic’s point of view concerning the removal of sanctions, while the second is about Iran’s nuclear actions.”

“In the third document to be presented to the other parties, Iran will state its views and proposals with regard to the verification period of removing sanctions,” he added. The top Iranian negotiator also told reporters before his departure that the country’s new delegation to this round of talks was comprised of economic, financial and banking experts and officials, which “showed the Islamic Republic’s determination to enter the negotiations with the purpose of achieving an agreement.”

He noted that the new delegation presented its views to the P4+1 group of countries in written and repeatedly voiced its readiness even during the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting to continue the talks. Baqeri Kani emphasized that the P4+1’s response to Iran’s proposals would be the base for bilateral negotiations.

Baqeri Kani said the European parties were not “satisfied” with some parts of Iran’s proposed drafts, saying, however, that “these proposals have been drawn up based on common basics between the two sides.”

The Europeans had no objection to Iran’s proposals, which they said do not agree with their views, Baqeri Kani said, adding, “We raise issues which are consistent with our own views, interests and policies but the important point is that these proposals have been devised based on principles agreed by the opposite side.”

The top Iranian negotiator emphasized that no European side claims that Tehran’s proposals lack legal basis.

Earlier, an informed source familiar with the Vienna talks told Press TV on Friday that Iran’s proposed drafts are in full conformity with the JCPOA and the principles contained therein.

The unnamed source expressed regret that some European parties have turned the negotiations into a forum to dictate their own positions and demands, saying, “Regrettably, some European parties have mistaken the negotiating table for a platform to dictate their positions and demands.”

Meanwhile, senior diplomats from the three European signatories to the JCPOA have expressed disappointment and concern after reviewing Iran’s proposed changes to the text negotiated during the previous six rounds.

In a Friday statement, the E3 diplomats said, “Major changes [have been] demanded [by Iran],” adding that some were incompatible with the JCPOA. It is “unclear how these new gaps can be closed in a realistic timeframe on the basis of Iranian drafts,” they added.

In a phone call with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian described the process of negotiations in Vienna “good but slow,” asserting that the West needs to focus on removing the United States’ sanctions against Iran.

IRG Chief Commander: Military Option against Iran off the Table

Dec 3, 2021

By Staff, Agencies 

The top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRG], Major General Hossein Salami, confirmed that his country has managed to wear down the enemy and deprive it of the so-called military option against the country.

During his visit to the southwestern Ilam province on Thursday, Salami said the military option against Iran is off the table, as the country has become too powerful to fall victim to foreign aggression.

“The Leader’s vision was to wear down and undermine the enemy and this craft blocked the enemy’s approach and removed every option from the enemy’s table,” he said in a speech, referring to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

He further stressed that the enemy has instead resorted to economic warfare and sanctions against Iran.
“The Islamic, Revolutionary Iran of today is powerful and any enemy knows that this territory is not to be occupied…and now they have resorted to economic war and sanctions,” the top commander said.

His remarks came amid the seventh round of talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna, aimed at removal of cruel and draconian sanctions on Iran.

“إسرائيل” ومفاوضات فيينا: المؤسسة الأمنية تأمل اتفاقاً سريعاً للحد من الأضرار

الاربعاء 1 كانون الأول 2021

المصدر: الميادين نت

في موازاة استمرار جلسات التفاوض بين إيران والقوى الكبرى في فيينا، يواكب الباحثون والخبراء الإسرائيليون سير المفاوضات، وقدّموا قراءتهم الاستراتيجية للمعضلة النووية التي وصفها الباحث الإسرائيلي أوري غولدبرغ بالقول إن “إسرائيل تفرفر كدجاجة مذبوحة”.

المؤسّسة الأمنية الإسرائيلية: إيران تهرول نحو القنبلة

بقي موضوع استئناف المفاوضات النووية بين إيران والقوى الكُبرى في فيينا متصدراً المشهد الإسرائيلي العام، على أكثر من مستوى. وفي موازاة استمرار القلق الإسرائيلي من المفاوضات النووية، صدرت تقديرات وقراءات منقولة عن  المؤسّسة الأمنية والعسكرية الإسرائيلية، لفتت فيها إلى مُخالفتها لتوجهات المستوى السياسيّ بخصوص احتمال التوصّل إلى اتفاق مع إيران. وفي الموازاة، واصل الخبراء الإسرائيليون مهمة تقديم مقارباتهم لراهن ومآلات التهديد النووي الإيراني وتشعّباته.

المؤسّسة الأمنية الإسرائيلية: إيران تهرول نحو القنبلة

اهتمام المستوى الأمني-المهني باستئناف المفاوضات النووية بين إيران والقوى الكبرى في فيينا تجلّى في تقديرات وقراءات صادرة عن المؤسّسة الأمنية عَبر معلقين إسرائيليين. حيث أشار معلّق الشؤون العسكرية في صحيفة معاريف، طال ليف رام، إلى أن التقدير في المستويات المهنية في إسرائيل هو أن “المحادثات لن تؤدي إلى توقيع سريع على اتفاق نووي متجدد”. ونقل “ليف رام” عن المؤسسة الأمنية والعسكرية تقديرها أن “لدى إيران مصلحة في تأخير العودة إلى إطار الاتفاق، واستغلال الوقت من أجل تحسين شروطها في المفاوضات، ومواصلة تخصيب يورانيوم إلى المستويات العالية”.

وبحسب “ليف رام” فإن العودة إلى إطار اتفاق جديد ممكنة فقط إذا قامت الدول الغربية بممارسة ضغط على طهران، خاصة في الجانب الدبلوماسي والاقتصادي، من خلال تشديد العقوبات على الدولة”. ويضيف “ليف رام” أن الاعتقاد السائد في “إسرائيل” هو أن “قراراً أميركياً برفع – ولو جزئي- للعقوبات، قبل التوقيع على اتفاق جديد، سيكون خطأ كبيراً سيستغله الإيرانيون لمصلحتهم”.

بدورها، كتبت مراسلة الشؤون العسكرية في صحيفة “إسرائيل هيوم”، ليلاخ شوفال، أنهم في المؤسسة الأمنية والعسكرية “يأملون أن يُوقّع الاتفاق مع الإيرانيين بأسرع ما يمكن، كي توقف إيران على الأقل هرولتها الحالية إلى النووي”، وأيضاً كي “يتمكّن الجيش الإسرائيلي من استكمال استعداداته لشن هجومٍ في إيران”.

وتضيف شوفال أنه على الرغم من “أن للجيش الإسرائيلي قدرة أوّلية على المهاجمة في إيران، إلا أن المؤسسة الأمنية والعسكرية تحتاج إلى وقت كي تصل إلى خطة عملانية مناسبة وأكثر نضوجاً” لتدمير المشروع النووي الإيراني.

“إسرائيل” تفرفر كدجاجة مذبوحة

في موازاة استمرار جلسات التفاوض بين إيران والقوى الكبرى في فيينا، واكب الباحثون والخبراء الإسرائيليون سير المفاوضات، وقدّموا قراءتهم الاستراتيجية للمعضلة النووية التي وصفها الباحث الإسرائيلي، أوري غولدبرغ، بالقول إن “إسرائيل تفرفر كدجاجة مذبوحة” مقابل المحادثات النووية، فيما تبدو إيران “كلاعب سياسي محترف” يسعى إلى “دمج الردع بالتأثير في عدّة ساحات”.

أما بشأن الخطر الماثل أمام “إسرائيل” على فرض امتلاك إيران للقنبلة النووية، فقد قدّمه رئيس مجلس الأمن القومي الإسرائيلي السابق، اللواء احتياط غيورا آيلاند، على شكل احتمالَيْن: 

الأول، وهو الأقل ترجيحاً، ولكن الأكثر خطورة -برأيه- ويتمثّل في أن تقرّر إيران (مسلّحة نووياً) قصف “إسرائيل” بسلاح نووي، وهذا قد يؤدي إلى نهاية “إسرائيل”. 

الثاني، هو تهديد إيران لـ”إسرائيل” تلميحاً باستخدام السلاح النووي، مثلاً في حال دخول “إسرائيل” في حربٍ مع حلفاء إيران في المنطقة، وقامت “إسرائيل” بأعمال عسكرية تدفع إيران إلى التهديد بالنووي، حينها لا يمكن لـ”إسرائيل” إلا أن تأخذ هذا التهديد على محمل الجدّ.  

بدوره، أكّد قائد شعبة العمليات في الجيش الإسرائيلي سابقاً، اللواء احتياط إسرائيل زيف، أنّ عملاً عسكرياً إسرائيلياً ضدّ النووي الإيراني هو مسألة وقت فقط، وأن على “إسرائيل” في هذه المرحلة التركيز على التنسيق مع الأميركيين لضمان وقوفهم إلى جانب “إسرائيل” في حال شنّت “إسرائيل” مثل هذا الهجوم.

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Western officials in a hurry to wrap up Vienna talks with Iran: Report

December 02 2021

ByNews Desk

Iran’s negotiators say they are ready to continue intensive talks and are not beholden to “artificial deadlines or time tables”

On the third day of long-awaited Vienna nuclear talks, European representatives reportedly urged an “immediate conclusion” to this round of negotiations.

According to Iranian media reports on 1 December, this call by several of the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is due to their “insistence” to receive case-by-case directives from the US, which continues to disrupt and prolong discussions.

Despite this apparent snag, the Islamic Republic’s delegation has maintained they are ready to engage in talks for “as long as needed.”

“The Islamic Republic has come to Vienna with full seriousness and is negotiating with transparent demands and proposals,” a senior member of Iran’s negotiating team told Press TV on 1 December.

“[Iran] stands prepared to continue intensive talks as long as needed, [but] it will not be ready to sacrifice its principled demands and the Iranian nation’s rights for mere artificial deadlines or time tables,” the unnamed source went on to add.

Israeli media have quoted Biden administration officials as saying that they expect to wrap the talks up “on Thursday or Friday.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian took to Twitter to say that talks are continuing and that a good deal is “within reach if the west shows good will.”

Officials from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — arrived in the Austrian capital on 29 November to negotiate the removal of unilateral US sanctions placed on Iran.

US officials are also present in Vienna but are not taking part in the talks directly.

Regarding the possibility of an agreement during this round of negotiations, Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, told reporters on Wednesday that he sees “a real chance” for an agreement despite the difficulties and serious disagreements between Iran and the US.

“The situation is very difficult, and it is clear that there are a lot of differences between the Americans and the Iranians,” Ulyanov said. “Both in previous rounds of negotiations and in the current round.”

“Nevertheless, we think there is still a real chance to resolve all issues through diplomacy and negotiation,” he continued.

The Russian diplomat went on to explain that most of these differences stem from Iran’s ongoing work on its nuclear energy program, which was done “not out of malice, but in response to the irresponsible policy of maximum US pressure in the form of extraterritorial sanctions.”

“The Americans must first lift the sanctions, and Iran must align its nuclear program with the provisions of the IAEA Board,” Ulyanov added.

Amid all these developments, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh has accused Israel of trying to “poison” the negotiation process, tweeting that: “All parties in the room now face a test of their independence & political will to carry out the job — irrespective of the fake news designed to destroy prospects for success.”

This comes in response to several media reports saying Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the US and several European allies alleging that “Iran was taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90 percent purity, the level needed for a nuclear weapon.”

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