The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia

The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point

July 20 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

By Pepe Escobar

The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

Standing up to the global sheriff

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

Moscow’s moment

So we see Russian diplomacy carefully weaving its geopolitical tapestry from West Asia to Central Asia – with everybody and his neighbor eager to talk and to listen to Moscow. As it stands, the Russia-Turkey entente cordiale tends to lean towards conflict management, and is strong on trade relations. Iran-Russia is a completely different ball game: much more of a strategic partnership.

So it’s hardly a coincidence that the National Oil Company of Iran (NIOC), timed to the Tehran summit, announced the signing of a $40 billion strategic cooperation agreement with Russia’s Gazprom. That’s the largest foreign investment in the history of Iran’s energy industry – badly needed since the early 2000s. Seven deals worth $4 billion apply to the development of oil fields; others focus on the construction of new export gas pipelines and LNG projects.

Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov deliciously leaked that Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their private meeting, “discussed conceptual issues.” Translation: he means grand strategy, as in the evolving, complex process of Eurasia integration, in which the three key nodes are Russia, Iran and China, now intensifying their interconnection. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership largely mirrors the key points of the China-Iran strategic partnership.

Iran says ‘no’ to NATO

Khamenei, on NATO, did tell it like it is: “If the road is open for NATO, then the organization sees no borders. If it had not been stopped in Ukraine, then after a while the alliance would have started a war under the pretext of Crimea.”

There were no leaks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) impasse between the US and Iran – but it’s clear, based on the recent negotiations in Vienna, that Moscow will not interfere with Tehran’s nuclear decisions. Not only are Tehran-Moscow-Beijing fully aware of who’s preventing the JCPOA from getting back on track, they also see how this counter-productive stalling process prevents the collective west from badly needed access to Iranian oil.

Then there’s the weapons front. Iran is one of the world’s leaders in drone production: Pelican, Arash, Homa, Chamrosh, Jubin, Ababil, Bavar, recon drones, attack drones, even kamikaze drones, cheap and effective, mostly deployed from naval platforms in West Asia.

Tehran’s official position is not to supply weapons to nations at war – which would in principle invalidate dodgy US “intel” on their supply to Russia in Ukraine. Yet that could always happen under the radar, considering that Tehran is very much interested in buying Russian aerial defense systems and state of the art fighter jets. After the end of the UN Security Council-enforced embargo, Russia can sell whatever conventional weapons to Iran it sees fit.

Russian military analysts are fascinated by the conclusions Iranians reached when it was established they would stand no chance against a NATO armada; essentially they bet on pro-level guerrilla war (a lesson learned from Afghanistan). In Syria, Iraq and Yemen they deployed trainers to guide villagers in their fight against Salafi-jihadis; produced tens of thousands of large-caliber sniper rifles, ATGMs, and thermals; and of course perfected their drone assembly lines (with excellent cameras to surveil US positions).

Not to mention that simultaneously the Iranians were building quite capable long-range missiles. No wonder Russian military analysts estimate there’s much to learn tactically from the Iranians – and not only on the drone front.

The Putin-Sultan ballet

Now to the Putin-Erdogan get together – always an attention-grabbing geopolitical ballet, especially considering the Sultan has not yet decided to hop on the Eurasia integration high-speed train.

Putin diplomatically “expressed gratitude” for the discussions on food and grain issues, while reiterating that “not all issues on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports are resolved, but progress is made.”

Putin was referring to Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who earlier this week assured that setting up an operations center in Istanbul, establishing joint controls at the port exit and arrival points, and carefully monitoring the navigational safety on the transfer routes are issues that may be solved in the next few days.

Apparently Putin-Erdogan also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh (no details).

What a few leaks certainly did not reveal is that on Syria, for all practical purposes, the situation is blocked. That favors Russia – whose main priority as it stands is Donbass. Wily Erdogan knows it – and that’s why he may have tried to extract some “concessions” on “the Kurdish question” and Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever Putin, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev may really think about Erdogan, they certainly evaluate how priceless is to cultivate such an erratic partner capable of driving the collective west totally bonkers.

Istanbul this summer has been turned into a sort of Third Rome, at least for expelled-from-Europe Russian tourists: they are everywhere. Yet the most crucial geoeconomic development these past few months is that the western-provoked collapse of trade/supply lines along the borders between Russia and the EU – from the Baltic to the Black Sea – finally highlighted the wisdom and economic sense of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC): a major Russia-Iran-India geopolitical and geoeconomic integration success.

When Moscow talks to Kiev, it talks via Istanbul. NATO, as the Global South well knows, does not do diplomacy. So any possibility of dialogue between Russians and a few educated westerners takes place in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the UAE. West Asia as well as the Caucasus, incidentally, did not subscribe to the western sanctions hysteria against Russia.

Say farewell to the ‘teleprompter guy’

Now compare all of the above with the recent visit to the region by the so-called “leader of the free world,” who merrily alternates between shaking hands with invisible people to reading – literally – whatever is scrolling on a teleprompter. We’re talking of US President Joe Biden, of course.

Fact: Biden threatened Iran with military strikes and as a mere supplicant, begged the Saudis to pump more oil to offset the “turbulence” in the global energy markets caused by the collective west’s sanction hysteria. Context: the glaring absence of any vision or anything even resembling a draft of foreign policy plan for West Asia.

So oil prices duly jumped upward after Biden’s trip: Brent crude rose more than four percent to $105 a barrel, bringing prices back to above $100 after a lull of several months.

The heart of the matter is that if OPEC or OPEC+ (which includes Russia) ever decide to increase their oil supplies, they will do it based on their internal deliberations, and not under exceptionalist pressure.

As for the imperial threat of military strikes on Iran, it qualifies as pure dementia. The whole Persian Gulf – not to mention the whole of West Asia – knows that were US/Israel to attack Iran, fierce retaliation would simply evaporate with the region’s energy production, with apocalyptic consequences including the collapse of trillions of dollars in derivatives.

Biden then had the gall to say, “We have made progress in strengthening our relations with the Gulf states. We will not leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill in the Middle East”.

Well, in real life it is the “indispensable nation” that has self-morphed into a vacuum. Only bought-and-paid for Arab vassals – most of them monarchs – believe in the building of an “Arab NATO” (copyright Jordan’s King Abdullah) to take on Iran. Russia and China are already all over the place in West Asia and beyond.

De-Dollarization, not just Eurasian integration

It’s not only the new logistical corridor from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Astrakhan and then, via the Caspian, to Enzeli in Iran and on to Mumbai that is shaking things up. It’s about increasing bilateral trade that bypasses the US dollar. It’s about BRICS+, which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dying to be part of. It’s about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which formally accepts Iran as a full member this coming September (and soon Belarus as well). It’s about BRICS+, the SCO, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) interconnected in their path towards a Greater Eurasia Partnership.

West Asia may still harbor a small collection of imperial vassals with zero sovereignty who depend on the west’s financial and military ‘assistance,’ but that’s the past. The future is now – with Top Three BRICS (Russia, India, China) slowly but surely coordinating their overlapping strategies across West Asia, with Iran involved in all of them.

And then there’s the Big Global Picture: whatever the circumvolutions and silly schemes of the US-concocted “oil price cap” variety, the fact is that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – the top powerful energy-producing nations – are absolutely in sync: on Russia, on the collective west, and on the needs of a real multipolar world.

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

Iran Demands ‘Strong’ Economic Guarantees in JCPOA Revival Talks – FM

July 15, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said it is a “necessity” for Iran to gain economic benefits from the 2015 agreement and thus wants “strong” guarantees in talks on a potential revival of the deal, which the US abandoned unilaterally three years after its conclusion.

“We seek strong economic guarantees. If a Western company signs a contract with its Iranian counterpart, it must rest assured that its project will be implemented and it will receive compensation in case new sanctions are imposed,” Amir Abdollahian, who is on a visit to Rome, said in a Wednesday interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

The top Iranian diplomat added that the issue of guarantees is one of the biggest obstacles in the talks aimed at restoring the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

Elsewhere in his remarks, Amir Abdollahian was asked about reports on Washington’s refusal to remove the Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] from its blacklist.

He said during last month’s indirect talks between Iran and the US — mediated by the European Union — in the Qatari capital of Doha, Tehran proposed putting off the issues related to Washington’s so-called list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations [FTOs].

“But we must be certain that the Iranian companies enjoy the economic benefits and their own share of the agreement. Making economic benefits in the JCPOA is a necessity. We do not ask for anything that goes beyond the nuclear agreement,” Amir Abdollahian said.

He also noted that Tehran and Washington are in contact through the EU on possible ways to remove anti-Iran sanctions, saying both sides should have flexibility and initiatives.

Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha, late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

The talks in Doha followed seven rounds of negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA since April last year.

They were put on hold as Washington insists on its refusal to undo its past wrongs through measures such as removing the IRG from its foreign terrorist organization list.

Iran maintains that the IRG’s designation in 2019 was part of former President Donald Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran, and, therefore, it has to be reversed unconditionally.

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مشروع بايدن: «ناتو إسرائيليّ» بأموال العرب بلا قنبلة إيرانيّة!

 الثلاثاء 28 حزيران 2022

الأحلاف، السياسية منها والعسكرية، كانت بين أبرز مرتكزات الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم (أ ف ب)
 محمد صادق الحسيني

كلّ شيء يتحرك بسرعة وفجأة من أجل تنفيذ تعليمات السيد الأميركي المختنق في الشرنقة الأوكرانية!

تتزاحم الزيارات والمصالحات بين عواصم المتخاصمين، وتعود طاولة المفاوضات النووية الى الانتعاش بشكل سريع، وتنقل بحركة أوروبية انقلابية من فيينا لتصبح على مقربة من عرش ابن سلمان المهدّد بالباليستي اليمني ويُستدعى «الحاجب «

العراقي ليقوم بدور التهدئة بين الرياض وطهران.

وتتحرك «المقاصة» المالية القطرية لتحلل ما هو محرّم على بايدن داخلياً في الوقت الراهن بخصوص إطلاق سراح الأموال الإيرانية المجمّدة.

وقد يتوّج ذلك في مسقط لتحضر بريطانيا كشريك فاعل!

إنها حركة «دمج» قرار الدولة الأميركية العميقة المهزومة عالمياً والمنسحبة من منطقتنا بحالة الضعف والهزال الصهيوني وعجزه عن حماية أمنه بنفسه لينبلج عملياً الإعلان عن «مشروع بايدن الإسرائيلي الجديد» من إحدى مدن الملح في منتصف تموز المقبل.

ودائماً على قاعدة «الضرورات تبيح المحظورات» سيبرّر الأميركي كلّ هذا للرأي العام لديه، مع تقديم ضمانات لأيتام ترامب من تل أبيب الى الرياض بأن لا قنبلة نووية ايرانية في الأفق.

ولما كان منسحباً من المنطقة كما فعل مع أفغانستان لذلك سيقول لهم جميعاً :

 تفضلوا قلعوا شوككم بأيديكم وأطلقوا نظام الدفاع الجوي المشترك، وشركاتنا المتعددة الجنسية ستؤمّن لكم كلّ ما تريدون لينتعش مجمع الصناعات الحربية الأميركي بأموال العرب…

واما عن آلية حصول ذلك، فقد أفاد مصدر دبلوماسي متابع للتحركات الجارية، بما يلي:

أولا ـ انّ الهدف الأساسي للرئيس الأميركي، من زيارته المقبلة للشرق الأوسط، هو إعادة ترتيب المنطقة من جديد، اقتصادياً وسياسياً وعسكرياً، وهو الأمر الذي يستدعي جعل إيران جزءاً لا يتجزأ من هذه الترتيبات الجديدة .

ثُانيا ـ يرى بايدن أنّ العودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران هي الخطوة الأساسية لإنجاح مشروعه.

وعليه فإنّ هدف الرئيس الأميركي من وراء سعيه لدمج إيران، في مشروع إعادة صياغة الشرق الاوسط، يتمثل في ما يلي:

أ ـ تهدئة خواطر الدول الخليجية وطمأنتها على أمنها في المستقبل .

ب ـ ضبط إيقاع إيران في الشرق الأوسط مستقبلاً، من خلال تقديم إغراءات اقتصادية وتجارية لها، في إطار مشروع الدمج المُشار إليه أعلاه.

ثالثا ـ يرى بايدن انّ أمام إيران خيارين هما:

أ ـ أن تكون جزءاً من هذه الترتيبات المستقبلية.

ب ـ أو تواجه التحدي العسكري من الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها.

رابعا ـ يعتبر الرئيس الأميركي انّ معيار نجاح زيارته للشرق الأوسط هو نجاحه في العودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، والاتفاق معها على الترتيبات المستقبلية، لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط، من خلال تفاهمات ثنائية، بينها وبين واشنطن، خارج الاتفاق النووي.

خامسا ـ اما بخصوص الترتيبات العسكرية، التي يريد بايدن العمل على الشروع بتنفيذها، بين الدول العربية و»إسرائيل»، فإنّ مواقف الأطراف المعنية بهذا المشروع، هي مواقف متباعدة وليس من السهل حشدها لقبول التنفيذ.

سادسا ـ إذ انّ دولة الإمارات العربية مثلاً الدولة الأكثر اندفاعاً للمشاركة «الإسرائيلية» في التحالف العسكريّ المقترح من الولايات المتحدة لمواجهة إيران.

 بينما ترفض كلٌّ من مصر والكويت وعُمان الدخول في تحالف معادٍ لإيران وذلك لأنها لا ترى انّ إيران تشكل ايّ تهديد لأمن هذه الدول او لمصالحها العربية والاقليمية .

سابعا ـ وفي إطار موقفها، من إنشاء تحالف عسكري ضدّ إيران في الشرق الأوسط، فإنّ الإمارات و»إسرائيل» تنويان البدء بإقامة قواعد الإنذار «الإسرائيلي» المبكر في الإمارات بعد انتهاء زيارة بايدن مباشرة.

علماً انّ الجهات «الإسرائيلية» المعنية قد انتهت من نقل المعدات والتجهيزات العسكرية اللازمة لذلك الى الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

كما انّ الخبراء العسكريين «الإسرائيليين» والفنيين والمهندسين، التابعين لشركات الصناعات الجوية «الإسرائيلية»، موجودون أيضاً في الإمارات ويقومون بتنفيذ الترتيبات التحضيرية لإقامة تلك القواعد.

ويمكرون ويمكر الله، والله خير الماكرين.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

Iran After Strong, Sustainable Deal in JCPOA Talks: Shamkhani

June, 26, 2022

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani reaffirmed Tehran’s push for a strong, sustainable and reliable agreement in the talks for saving the 2015 nuclear deal and lifting the anti-Iranian sanctions.

In a meeting with the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, held in Tehran on Saturday, Shamkhani slammed Europe’s inaction and the US’s lack of commitment to its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Iran’s remedial measures in the nuclear sector are merely a legal and rational reaction to US unilateralism and Europe’s inaction and will continue as long as the West’s illegal practices persist,” he stated.

Shamkhani noted that the illegal withdrawal of the US from the HCPOA has caused the Iranian nation to lose trust in the West and Washington.

“We have fulfilled all our commitments under the JCPOA and have never left the negotiating table and we are still looking for a strong, lasting and reliable agreement,” the top security official said.

Shamkhani emphasized that the removal of illegal sanctions and full and lasting realization of the economic benefits of the JCPOA are Iran’s main objectives in engaging in the talks with the P4+1 group of countries.

“Iran does not favor an agreement that fails to meet the two above-mentioned principles in providing a reliable guarantee from the US and Europe,” he said.

He emphasized that the participants in the Vienna talks failed to reach a final agreement on the JCPOA revival because of the US’ contradictory behavior and its sticking to threats and sanctions.

“The language of force cannot be used in addressing a country that has overcome the most difficult conditions of sanctions with vigorous resistance and the sympathy and support of its people,” the SNSC secretary said, Press TV reported.

The senior EU diplomat, for his part, said the possible JCPOA revival under the current global circumstances can be regarded as a very important security achievement in the international system.

Borrell criticized Trump for pulling the United States out of the multilateral agreement and said all the parties to the JCPOA must look ahead to the future to reach a good final deal.

Pointing to his talks with US officials before traveling to Tehran, he added that the administration of Joe Biden is keen to reach an agreement on the JCPOA revival.

Negotiations have been held in the Austrian capital of Vienna since April last year to restore the JCPOA, which was ditched by former US president Donald Trump in May 2018.

In quitting the agreement, Trump unleashed what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign to bring Iran to its knees. Tehran maintains that the policy has failed dismally. The Biden administration agrees, yet it has not taken any tangible steps to deliver on its promise of repealing the policy.

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Envoy: IAEA Report Fails to Reflect Iran’s Vast COOP with UN Nuke Agency

May 31, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based International Organizations says a latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium is one-sided and fails to reflect Iran’s extensive cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Mohammad Reza Ghaebi made the comment on Monday after the IAEA claimed that it estimated Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in the 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers.

The limit in the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], was set at 300 kg [660 pounds] of a specific compound, the equivalent of 202.8 kg of uranium.

The report by Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the UN nuclear agency, also claimed that Iran was continuing its enrichment of uranium to levels higher than the 3.67 percent limit in the landmark accord.

“The IAEA Director-General’s report does not reflect Iran’s extensive cooperation with the IAEA,” Ghaebi said. “The report concludes exactly what the Director-General presented to the European Parliament before the third round of technical talks, even before the end of the steps set out in the joint statement.”

Iran’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based International Organizations said the report, by putting aside the detailed, reasoned and technical arguments put forward by the Iranian side and unfairly calling them invalid, continues to rely on the agency’s predetermined assumptions and presents its one-sided conclusion accordingly.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers this approach unconstructive and destructive to the close relations and ongoing cooperation between Iran and the IAEA,” Ghaebi noted. “And believes that the IAEA should realize the ruinous consequences of publishing such one-sided reports, which could provide the necessary excuse for opponents of Iran-IAEA relations as well as the sworn critics of the revival of the JCPOA.”

In a separate report also issued on Monday, the IAEA claimed it still had questions which were “not clarified” regarding previous undeclared nuclear material at three Iranian sites.

The report said Iran has offered the explanation of an “act of sabotage by a third party to contaminate” the sites, but added no proof had been provided to corroborate this.

Pointing to the IAEA’s second report, Ghaebi said the entire peaceful nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic have been carried out within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], and in accordance with the legal compensatory measures in the law adopted by the Iranian Parliament following the suspension of Iran’s nuclear obligations due to non-fulfillment of obligations by other parties.

“Therefore, the Agency will not gain access to the memory information of its deployed cameras and other information in this regard until an agreement is reached for the revival of the JCPOA,” Ghaebi underlined.

The senior diplomat said the Islamic Republic has repeatedly warned the IAEA’s officials of the need to refrain from disclosing detailed information on the country’s nuclear activities based on the importance of the principle of confidentiality with regard to the IAEA regulations, but the issue has not received serious attention from the Agency.

The Monday reports come as talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers remain deadlocked after stalling in March.

Russia’s lead negotiator to the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov reacted to the leakage of the UN agency’s reports to the mass media, and said the move would lead to a lot of speculations before and during the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors next week.

“As always, the IAEA Director General’s reports on Iran were immediately leaked to mass media today. We can expect a lot of speculations in the days to come and heated debates in the IAEA Board of Governors next week,” Ulyanov wrote in a tweet.

Several rounds of negotiations between Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – have been held in the Austrian capital since April 2021 to bring Washington back into the deal. The talks, however, exclude American diplomats due to their country’s withdrawal.

Talks have been on hold since March as the US insists on its refusal to undo its past wrongs, including removing Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards [IRG] from its foreign terrorist organization list.

Iran maintains that IRG’s designation in 2019 was part of former president Donald Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran, and therefore, it has to be reversed unconditionally.

The Joe Biden administration disagrees, even though it has admitted on countless occasions that Trump’s maximum pressure policy has been a disastrous failure. It has retained the IRG’s designation and the economic sanctions as leverage in the talks.

BREAKING: Iran seizes two Greek-flagged oil tankers in the Persian Gulf

 May 27 2022

The US navy says they are ‘looking into the incident,’ which came in retaliation for the theft of an Iranian oil cargo by Greece and the US

ByNews Desk

Naval forces from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized two ships sailing under the Greek flag in the Persian Gulf on 27 May, in retaliation of the coordinated theft of its oil by Greece and the US.

Local sources have confirmed the ships’ names are the Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior, with just the former being operated by a Greek crew. They were seized near the Iranian ports of Bandar Lengeh and Asalouyeh.

The Prudent Warrior vessel loaded its cargo at Basrah, Iraq, and was on its way to the US. The Delta Poseidon also loaded its cargo at the same port, however its destination remains unknown.

According to AP, the US navy’s 5th Fleet said it was “looking into” the seizures, which came on the heels of Tehran threatening to take “punitive action” against Athens.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss chargé d’affaires in order to lodge a complaint over Washington’s illegal seizure of its oil, which was confiscated from a Russian-operated Iranian tanker impounded by Greece the day before.

“The Swiss chargé d’affaires was summoned to convey Iran’s concern and strong protest over the continued violation of international laws and maritime conventions concerning free navigation and trade by the US administration,” Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s department for US Affairs said in a statement.

Switzerland’s envoy is the official representative of the US in Tehran.

The Foreign Ministry also called for the immediate release of the tanker and the confiscated oil, as the Swiss chargé d’affaires assured officials that Iran’s message has been conveyed to US officials.

On 25 May, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Greek embassy chargé d’affaires in Tehran, explicitly condemning the seizure of the tanker and laying the responsibility on the Greek government, who it accused, alongside the US, of engaging in “maritime piracy.”

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Authority said that the vessel had to stop in Greek waters due to bad weather conditions and technical problems. However, the ship did not receive assistance and was instead seized by the Greek government.

A day later, the US seized the tanker’s oil cargo, and is reportedly shipping it to a US port aboard another vessel.

The illegitimate seizure was confirmed by a separate western source familiar with the matter, who added “that the cargo was transferred onto the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, which is operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.”

Iran openly condemned the Greek decision, referring to it as an “unacceptable” surrender to US pressure.

This is not the first time the US illegally seizes Iranian oil in international waters. In August of 2020, the US seized four Iranian tankers headed for Venezuela in the Straits of Hormuz. According to reports, the Iranian oil was then sold for over $40 million.

The oil seizure comes as the sanctions-removal talks in Vienna have been stalled due to Washington’s unwillingness to meet Tehran’s conditions, such as the removal of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off the terrorist list.

“Now, we have reached a point [during the negotiations in Vienna] that if the American side makes a realistic decision, an agreement would be within reach… Zionists tell many lies about Iran’s nuclear issue, but Americans exactly know what they must do if they want to return to the JCPOA,” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 26 May.

Macron re-election win no win for Iran, JCPOA or Muslims

April 27, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri (@RaminMazaheri2 on Twitter) is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘ Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

The re-election of Emmanuel Macron is being celebrated by Brussels, high finance and his “bourgeois bloc” of core French supporters, but Macron’s record shows that Muslims and Muslim nations anticipate little reason to celebrate.

After Macron’s victory the Iranian foreign ministry called for face-to-face talks to resume on the JCPOA pact on Iran’s nuclear energy program “as soon as possible”. The talks were paused on March 11 due to the unrest in Ukraine, but Iranians would be mistaken to imagine that a second term of Macron will lead to less Western-dominated policies from him.

Just to show how far Macron is willing to go in order to defend the interests of Brussels and Washington, simply look at his position on Russia: He is completely on board with years of sanctions on Moscow no matter how badly they bankrupt the average French individual, household or business. His stance is designed to benefit supranational interests, not French ones.

In a race which was a dead heat two weeks ago Macron’s stance seemed like electoral suicide. Marine Le Pen took the opposite tack – she insisted that Russia sanctions not encompass energy imports nor negatively impact the average French voter.

It was even revealed just several days before the second round vote that Brussels was waiting for the French election to finish in order to announce a total ban on Russian energy imports. Mere days before the runoff France’s Foreign Minister was forced to admit that Macron was indeed in favor of such a ban. There was no hiding it: if French voters were voting with their pocketbooks Macron was going to cost them, and for years.

Macron was truly willing to lose his re-election in order to put Western globalist interests in front of France’s well-being.

However, in between the first and second rounds of voting any criticism of Macron’s policies or record in office was pathetically shouted down as “support for fascism”. Macron won a 58-42 victory, though the total masks the same problem as his 66-34 win in 2017: the obvious lack of a clear mandate for his proposals.

So if Macron is not going to stand up for France as regards to Russia, why would he do so for Iran?

His record on the JCPOA is already clear: five years of stalling, refusal to go against Washington and the clear failure to uphold France’s side of the deal.

Now that he’s re-elected the man who inspired the phrase “liberal strongman” will feel bolder, stronger and more willing to violently forge a tighter-knit Europe, not less willing. Untethered from re-election concerns the rabid Europhile Macron now has even less incentive to look out for the average person’s well-being. So no matter how much ending the sanction war on Iran would benefit France it must be understood that this is simply not a major factor in Macron’s political calculations.

Iran is forced to rely a lot on the French president to influence the West. Macron’s role has been to play the “good cop” to the “bad cop” of Washington and London, who are unable to conceal their anger for Iranian Islamic revolutionaries. Berlin silently holds its purse while Brussels insists that their pragmatic politicians are always just on the cusp of finding a solution to all things – of course they never have. The other JCPOA signatories – China and Russia – are not the problem to finding diplomatic solutions, of course.

Like with Donald Trump, nobody is really sure what Marine Le Pen would actually do if she ever took office, but at least there was hope that there could, maybe, possibly, perhaps be a voice in Paris for sovereign rights and mutually-beneficial cooperation. But the idea that Macron is going to turn into Charles De Gaulle and stand up to Washington and London is worse than wishful thinking. It’s definitely not based on his record, ideology or stated desires.

So don’t be surprised if Macron starts his second term with strong demands on Tehran.

The question is: how long will Iran put up with even more waiting for the West to fulfil their side of the JCPOA? Macron probably doesn’t realise that patience across all of Iran wore out at the end of February. If Macron thinks he can engage in his usual ineffectual diplomacy for another year before he has to get serious, he’d be quite wrong – Iran’s patience with the JCPOA is at an end.

Unlike with the US in 2020 there was no change in power so there’s no justifiable reason for any delays. Macron better get to Vienna immediately or his record thus far on the JCOPA will become etched in stone: failure.

Macron has been the most pro-Zionist French president in recent memory. He passed a bill which falsely and shamefully equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, something which epitomises the lack of intellectual rigour and duplicity in Macronian politics. The former Rothschild banker has been routinely described as out of his depth in international affairs, and he has always relied on more experienced advisors. He shuttles diplomatically because that’s the longtime role of Paris in Western international affairs – Macron, who married his high school drama teacher, is playing his assigned role.

Domestically, Macron has done things which Marine Le Pen would simply have never gotten away with. A stunning (but rarely reported) fact is that Macron’s government ministers openly criticised Le Pen for being “soft on Islam”. That was from the right-wing of Macron’s government – the less reactionary members of his cabinet regularly railed against the alleged perils of “Islamo-leftism”. Macron is against any leftism, of course.

Macron immediately took Francois Hollande’s multiyear state of emergency and legalised it, with Muslims the clear targets.

How did that affect Islamophobia in France? I can’t tell you, because in 2020 Macron forced the French Collective Against Islamophobia, an essential NGO for the nation, into exile in Belgium.

His so-called “anti-separatist law” of 2021 tried to ban the hijab for minors, and yet Macron hypocritically scored international points by opposing Le Pen’s proposed (and unenforceable) ban on the hijab in public spaces. I argue (and not at all to defend a Marine Le Pen who has gotten even worse than in 2017) that Le Pen had to go to these absurd lengths simply to appear as the more anti-Islam candidate opposite the extremely Islamophobic Emmanuel Macron.

But this is the first week of Macron’s second term – if we can’t be optimistic now, when can we be?

ايران قد ترفع نسبة التخصيب إلى 90%!

الخميس 7 نيسان 2022

 ناصر قنديل

خلال شهرين ماضيين وصلت مفاوضات فيينا حول الاتفاق النووي مع إيران الى نقطة شبه نهائيّة ما قبل التوقيع، وبدا أن الأمور في دائرة تحديد موعد لإقفال هذا الملف، والمعادلة التي تجعل الاتفاق حتمياً تركزت على نقطتين، الأولى أن كل الرهانات على وسائل أخرى غير الاتفاق لمنع تقدّم إيران نووياً نحو عتبة حرجة تتمثل بامتلاك ما يكفي من اليورانيوم المخصب على درجة عالية لإنتاج قنبلة نووية، وصلت الى طريق مسدود. فهذه الطرق رغم فاعليتها في إزعاج إيران بقيت دون القدرة على إعاقة إيران فعلياً عن التقدم الثابت نحو هذه العتبة الحرجة، وفقاً للوثائق الأميركية والإسرائيلية، والثانية أن الزمن يعمل لصالح إيران التي تتقدّم بثبات نحو هذه العتبة، ولا بدّ من دفع ثمن يستطيع إقناعها بالتوقف والعودة إلى التزاماتها بموجب الاتفاق، وهي التزامات تتكفل وفقاً لإجماع الأميركيين على جعل إيران بعيدة مدة سنة على الأقل عن هذه العتبة، من تاريخ خروجها من هذه الالتزامات.

ضبط الأميركيون مواقف حلفائهم، وخصوصاً السعودي والإسرائيلي، لجهة التسليم باستحالة فرض ملفات تفاوضية على إيران، تدمج بالملف النووي، كملف سلاحها الصاروخي أو ملف تحالفاتها في المنطقة مع قوى المقاومة، ويدرك حلفاء واشنطن أن غضبهم لن يقدّم ولن يؤخر، لأنهم لم يستطيعوا تقديم بدائل لواشنطن عن العودة للاتفاق، وقد منحتهم الفرص الكثيرة لإثبات العكس، من حرب اليمن الى اطلاق اليد للعبث الأمني في الداخل الإيراني، إلى الضغط في لبنان، ومعركة بين حربين في سورية، واللعب بالتوازنات السياسية في العراق، فتحققت نتائج تكتيكية على حساب محور المقاومة في بعض الملفات، وأصيبت خطط أخرى بالفشل، لكن الناتج الإجمالي بقي على قاعدة أن محور المقاومة إلى صعود وخصومه إلى تراجع، وأن إيران تثبت صمودها، وتتقدّم في ملفها النووي.

– مع بداية حرب أوكرانيا وتحوّلها حرباً روسية أميركية، ظهر التداخل بينها وبين مفاوضات فيينا من زاويتين، روسية وأميركية. الزاوية الروسية ظهرت بشرط موسكو للمضي قدماً بمسار فيينا بتلقيها ضمانات أميركية خطية حول عدم شمول تعاملاتها مع إيران بالعقوبات التي فرضت عليها إثر حرب أوكرانيا، ونجح التفاهم الروسي الإيراني بتفكيك هذه العقبة ومنع الأميركيين من استغلالها لتعطيل المسار. أما الزاوية الأميركية فقد كانت مزدوجة ومتعاكسة، فمن جهة دفعت الحاجة لمواجهة أزمة النفط والغاز الناجمة عن العقوبات على روسيا بالأوساط الأميركية المعنية بمعالجة هذه الأزمة الى الضغط لتسريع التفاهم مع إيران بصفتها منتجاً مهماً يمكن لعودته الى السوق ان تخفف من وطأة الأزمة، ومن جهة مقابلة أظهر التيار المتشدد في الإدارة والكونغرس مخاوفه من أن يكون المشهد الدولي والإقليمي ذاهباً لمواجهة تصطف فيها إيران وروسيا والصين في جبهة واحدة بوجه الغرب بقيادة أميركا، ما يطرح السؤال عن جدوى تزويد إيران بمقدرات مالية سرعان ما سيتم الزج بها في هذه المواجهة، كما تقول تجربة الحرب على سورية، عندما وظفت إيران عائدات الاتفاق النووي عام 2015 للمضي قدماً في الحسم في معركة حلب بالتعاون مع روسيا، التي جاءت الى سورية بالتوافق مع إيران، على أولوية هذه المعركة على مستقبل الاتفاق مع واشنطن.

خلال أسابيع معارك أوكرانيا تراجع العامل النفطي الضاغط، ليس لعدم أهميته، بل لأن أهميته الشديدة أتاحت لإيران العودة الى الأسواق كما كانت قبل الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق النووي والعودة للعقوبات، بمعدل يقارب عتبة الـ 4 ملايين برميل يومياً، ولم تعد العودة للاتفاق النووي شرطاً ضرورياً لانضمام إيران إلى أسواق النفط والغاز، وخلال هذه الأسابيع أعدت مسودة للاتفاق في فيينا، وبقي بند أساسي واحد عالق عنوانه رفع العقوبات عن الحرس الثوري، والضغط السياسي والإعلامي في الداخل الأميركي يرتفع للتشدد في هذا البند الذي بات خطاً أحمر لإيران، بحيث عادت الأصوات المشككة بإمكانية السير نحو العودة للاتفاق.

في إيران هناك أصوات فاعلة ومقررة تقول إن زمن التريث انتهى، وإن مهلة كافية للتفاوض قد منحت، وإن إيران التي تقاتل ضمن جبهة تفكيك الهيمنة الأميركية معنية بالانخراط في هذه الجبهة بقوة، وإن إيران لم تعد تحتاج الاتفاق للعودة إلى أسواق النفط والغاز، ولذلك يجب العودة إلى رفع نسب التخصيب إلى 90%، وإن على واشنطن أن تأكل أصابعها ندماً على الفرصة الضائعة!

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Amir-Abdollahian to Al Mayadeen: We will not accept any Israeli influence in the Gulf

March 25 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Al Mayadeen Network CEO Ghassan Ben Jeddou interviews Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in the wake of Yemen’s seven years of war, Vienna talks, Lebanon’s economic crisis, and the path of the Gulf-Iranian relations.

Al Mayadeen Network CEO Ghassan Ben Jeddou interviews Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (Al Mayadeen)

In an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen’s CEO Ghassan Ben Jeddou, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian assured that Iran’s foreign policy is stable in terms of its political independence from both the West and the East.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration pursues smart diplomacy, openness, and effective cooperation with all countries, adding that “our foreign policy has steady tenets, but there may be differences in approaches between one government and another”.

“The Arab countries are an important part of the Islamic world, and we extend the hand of cooperation to various neighboring countries, most notably the Gulf countries,” he added.

Iranian-Saudi rapprochement: Ready for the 5th round of talks

On the Iranian-Saudi issue, Amir-Abdollahian told Al Mayadeen that relations with Saudi Arabia are not good, but Iran is not responsible for that, and has expressed its readiness for the fifth round of dialogue.

“Some contradictory and inappropriate behavior on the part of Saudi Arabia affects relations, including the execution of 81 Saudis,” he noted.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Saudi Arabia was the one to initiate cutting ties with Iran, confirming that Iran’s relations with most Arab countries are brotherly and good, including relations with Kuwait and the UAE.

“The Saudis do not want good relations with us, while we do not forget the martyrdom of 460 Iranian pilgrims in the Mina incident,” he said.

The top Iranian diplomat made it clear that despite Iran’s criticism of Saudi policies, it didn’t sever its relations with the kingdom.

The affairs of Yemen belong to the Yemeni people

Regarding the aggression on Yemen, Amir-Abdollahian confirmed to Al Mayadeen that Iran told the Saudis that the affairs of Yemen belong to the Yemeni people, affirming that linking everything that is happening in Yemen to Iran is erroneous.

“The Yemenis’ defense of their sovereignty is a matter of their own, but we welcome the cessation of the war and the lifting of the sanctions, and we won’t neglect to work towards this direction,” he added.

Vienna talks: The ball is in the US’ call

On the developments in Vienna Talks, Amir-Abdollahian said that all parties in the region will win if an agreement is reached in Vienna, adding that “we are approaching the point of consensus in the nuclear talks, but what is important for us is how sanctions will be lifted as well as guarantees.”

“In recent weeks, there have been the many US attempts to negotiate directly with us on the pending issues,” he stressed.

Amir-Abdollahian made it clear that if the Biden administration is serious, it must show goodwill before considering direct negotiations.

He went on to assure that Iran has informed the Western side that the US should prove goodwill by lifting one of the sanctions imposed on Iran.

Elsewhere in his remarks, he mentioned that he has traveled to Moscow and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to obtain clarifications regarding the Russian demands, emphasizing that Moscow informed Tehran that it will support the nuclear agreement the moment it is reached.

“The ball is now in the Americans’ court with regard to the nuclear agreement,” he said.

The top Iranian figure added that the US was thirsty for a regional agreement in 2015 after the nuclear agreement was signed, stressing that all parties in the region will win if an agreement is reached in Vienna.

Egypt’s potential influential role

On the Iranian-Egyptians relations, Amir-Abdollahian said that Egypt has a position in the Arab world that allows it to have an influential regional role.

He divulged that Iran was not very happy with what happened in Egypt following the “Arab Spring”, however, he assured that the Iranian policy is set on strengthening relations with Egypt on solid and balanced foundations.

“We do not forget Egypt’s stance towards the Syrian issue, but there are common points with Egypt upon which we could build,” he added.

Regarding the Sharm el-Sheikh tripartite meeting, Amir-Abdollahian told Al Mayadeen that Iran considers any meeting with any Israeli official a betrayal of Al-Quds and Palestine.

“The meeting of Sharm El-Sheikh taking place immediately after President Al-Assad’s visit to the UAE was not a good sign,” he said.

He added that the Arab countries’ recognition of their wrong policies towards Syria is important.

“Zionist entity is in a very weak position”

The top Iranian diplomat stressed that Iran will never forget its red lines regarding the Palestinian cause in the framework of its good ties with the UAE.

“We will not accept any Israeli influence in the Gulf, and the peoples will reject normalization,” he added.

He went on to say that the Zionist entity is in a very weak position now and suffers from many issues.

Amir-Abdollahian told Al Mayadeen that the battle of Seif Al-Quds is a major turning point that has proven the weakness and fragility of the Israeli society.

Iran is ready to provide all aspects of assistance to Lebanon

Commenting on the economic crisis in Lebanon, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s willingness to provide all aspects of assistance to Lebanon and its people to overcome the ongoing difficult crisis.

“We presented proposals to Lebanese officials to establish two power plants in the south and north, and to supply Lebanon with Iranian gas,” he added.

He went on to say that “we informed our friends in Lebanon that the US will not help them and will not allow others to help them”.

Regarding his meeting with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the top Iranian diplomat divulged that he informed Sayyed Nasrallah of the latest developments in the Vienna Talks and the matter of lifting sanctions.

لماذا لا تخشى روسيا العقوبات؟


الثلاثاء 22 آذار 2022

اكتسب الروس خبرتهم مع العقوبات من مقاربة وقراءة التجربة الأميركية والغربية مع إيران، حيث أطول برنامج عقوبات زمنياً، وأكثر برامج العقوبات قسوة وشمولاً للقطاعات الاقتصادية والمالية والشخصيات العامة.

أول ما تقوله التجربة الإيرانية هو أن المفعول النفسي للعقوبات أكبر من مفاعيلها الواقعية، ومتى تمّ الاستعداد للتأقلم مع العقوبات فقدت نصف تأثيرها، ومتى تم تحويلها من تحدٍّ الى فرصة لبناء اكتفاء ذاتي في مجالات والتوجه لأسواق بديلة في قطاعات أخرى، وقيادة برامج إعلامية ووطنية لنقل الناس من عادات فرضتها قواعد النمط الاستهلاكي الغربي الى عادات استهلاكية مختلفة، يمكن حصر أضرار النصف الثاني وربما تحويلها من مصدر للخسائر الى أرباح. وهذا معنى الصمود السياسي والشعبي الإيراني عند الثوابت السياسية والوطنية رغم العقوبات، والصمود الاقتصادي والاجتماعي في ظلها.

من دروس الخبرة الإيرانية بالمقارنة مع الواقع الروسي، فإن ما لم تفعله العقوبات بالاقتصاد الإيراني الأضعف بكثير من الاقتصاد الروسي، لن تستطيع فعله بروسيا، فلدى روسيا ميزتان إضافيتان إستراتيجيتان على الأقل، الأولى ملف الغاز والنفط مع أوروبا، بحيث يؤدي شموله بالعقوبات الى انفجار في سوق الطاقة العالمي والأوروبي خصوصاً، وبالمقابل يؤدي بقاؤه خارج العقوبات كما هو حاصل الآن، وهو ما لم يحصل مثله مع إيران، الى إضعاف الكثير من تأثيرات العقوبات وتعطيل الكثير من مفاعيلها، والثانية وجود احتياطات مالية ضخمة لروسيا في البنوك الصينية وبالعملات الصينية، مع اتفاق مسبق بدأ يظهر الى العلن برفض الصين تطبيق العقوبات الأميركية على روسيا، وهذا لم يحدث مع إيران. وها هي النتيجة أن روسيا تملك ما يكفي من المال لسنتين قادمتين لتغطية كل إنفاق الدولة، حتى لو لم يدخل خزينتها قرش واحد، فكيف ومواردها من بيع النفط والغاز تزداد كميات وأسعاراً وعائدات؟

الخبرة الأهم في ملف العقوبات وفقاً للتجربة الإيرانية، ان واشنطن بعدما يئست من تطويع إيران، وبسبب الخشية من امتلاك إيران للسلاح النووي لجأت الى التفاوض لرفع العقوبات، ومنها ما بدا توقع التراجع الأميركي عنه صعباً كتصنيف الحرس الثوري على لوائح الإرهاب الأميركية، وهذا يعني ببساطة أن نجاح روسيا بتحقيق أهداف عمليتها العسكرية سيعيد وضع العقوبات على الطاولة للتفاوض، ربما ضمن صيغة تشبه الخمسة زائداً واحداً، مقابل تفادي المواجهة النووية، وليس مجرد امتلاك سلاح نووي.

لذلك تدير موسكو اذناً صماء لحديث العقوبات وتضع نصب أعينها الفوز بنتائج العملية العسكرية، لأن الباقي سيكون مجرد تفاصيل.

FM Lavrov presser after talks with FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (Iran)

March 16, 2022

https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1804343/

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held talks with my colleague, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The talks were held in a traditionally friendly atmosphere and were frank, concrete and useful.

We discussed the further development of our broad and multifaceted bilateral cooperation in accordance with the agreements reached by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi during his visit to Moscow on January 19-20, 2022. We are continuing to work on a new, big interstate treaty at Iran’s initiative. We expressed mutual interest in signing this basic document as soon as possible. It will reflect the current state and development prospects of the entire range of Russian-Iranian relations. We reaffirmed the principles of our interaction on the international stage.

We highlighted our trade and economic cooperation and noted the steady growth in our mutual trade despite the illegal sanctions and the pandemic. In 2021, it increased by nearly 82 percent, to more than $4 billion. We agreed to continue working to build up our business ties and enhance their quality, including at the interregional level. We confirmed that no illegal sanctions would hinder our consistent progress.

We had a constructive discussion on current international matters. We have a common stand on the promotion by our Western partners, led by the United States, of the “rules-based order,” which they want to take the place of international law. This rules-based order is the epitome of injustice and double standards, alongside the afore-mentioned illegal unilateral sanctions, which are targeting ordinary people.

We spoke up firmly in favour of making international life more democratic, based on all countries’ strict compliance with the UN Charter and its principles, and on the strengthening of the UN’s central role in international affairs. We decided to continue strengthening our effective cooperation within the framework of the UN, where our positions are traditionally very similar or coincide.

We expressed support for the decision taken at the 21st SCO summit in Dushanbe in September 2021 to launch the procedure to grant the status of full member to Iran. Tehran plays a major role in Eurasia and has been working closely with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for a long time. This interaction will now be given a new, comprehensive quality.

We facilitate a negotiating process that was launched in November 2021 to conclude a full-scale free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union. We are convinced that the liberalisation of customs tariffs will positively influence the development of Russian-Iranian trade and economic ties.

We held a detailed discussion on the current situation with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Iranian nuclear programme. We support the soonest possible resumption of the full implementation of the agreement, which was formalised by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, based on a balance of interests initially stipulated by it. We are expecting the United States to return to the nuclear deal’s legal framework and to cancel the illegal US-imposed sanctions that have a painful effect on Iran, its people and a number of other countries.

We exchanged opinions on the military-political and humanitarian situation in Syria. We expressed our mutual striving to closely coordinate our actions to further attain a lasting peace and improve the humanitarian situation in this country. We agreed to continue to work together for these purposes within the framework of the Astana format, which has proven effective and which includes our Turkish colleagues.yem

We coordinated our positions on other important regional matters, including the situations in the Caspian region, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan and Yemen.

We touched on the situation in Ukraine and around it. We thanked our Iranian colleagues for their objective and well-thought-out position and for understanding Russia’s security concerns, which were caused by the destabilising actions of the United States and its NATO allies. Once again, we noted that our actions are to protect the people of Donbass from the military threat posed by the Kiev regime and to facilitate the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine in full compliance with the values contained in the UN Charter and within the framework of documents, approved at the top-level.

I believe our talks were very productive. We have agreed to maintain contact on all issues under discussion.

Mr Minister has kindly invited me to pay a reciprocal visit to Tehran. We have accepted the invitation, and will coordinate the dates soon.

I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate our Iranian friends and, in their person, all those celebrating the springtime Nowruz holiday in the approach to this bright event.

Question (translated from Farsi): They say Russia has demanded written guarantees from the United States at the talks in Vienna, so that any sanctions against Moscow would not affect its relations with Tehran. Can this prevent agreements from being reached? Or will the American side’s illogical demands lead to this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have received written guarantees. They are actually included in the text of the agreement on the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme. All projects and areas of activity envisaged by the JCPOA have been protected, including the direct involvement of our companies and specialists, including cooperation on the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, which is a flagship cooperation project, and in the context of all existing plans associated with it. The Americans try to accuse us of slowing the agreement process almost every day. This is a lie. Certain capitals have yet to approve the agreement, but Moscow is not one of them.

Question (translated from Farsi, addressed to Hossein Amir-Abdollahian): Yesterday you spoke on the phone with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba. He wanted to give you a message for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. How would you comment on this?

Sergey Lavrov (adds after Hossein Amir-Abdollahian): During our meeting, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke to me about the phone call he had with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister. He conveyed to me Dmitry Kuleba’s wish that we need to “stop the war” as soon as possible. This is exactly what we are doing – we are stopping the war that the Kiev regime has been waging against the population of Donbass for the past eight years or more. This war must stop. Especially now, when once again we can see the true face of the radical nationalists in Kiev. Yesterday, they used Tochka-U systems to fire cluster munitions at the centre of Donetsk killing 20 and injuring even more civilians. All these facts are being hushed up in the West, which continues to whip up hysteria by spreading patent fake news.

We have handed over some materials to our Iranian friends (we are distributing them to all our counterparts). They contain concrete facts to show what the current Ukrainian government is like, what approaches Ukrainian officials (starting with the president) express, and how they treat their obligations under the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions, the OSCE and the Minsk agreements. They signed the Package of Measures and then ignored it with the connivance (or even encouragement) of our Western colleagues.

The negotiations are ongoing on Ukraine’s neutral military status with security guarantees for all participants in this process; Ukraine’s demilitarisation to prevent any threat to the Russian Federation from its territory ever; and the termination of that country’s nazification policy supported by a number of Ukrainian legal acts, including the abolition of all discriminatory restrictions imposed on the Russian language, education, culture and media in Ukraine.

Question: Russia has repeatedly said that there is no alternative to the JCPOA. There are some reports that the United States may suggest a new agreement without Russia’s participation. Does Moscow have any counter proposals?

Sergey Lavrov: This is yet another attempt to lay the blame at the wrong door. We have never made any excessive demands. All our rights in cooperation with Iran on JCPOA projects are reliably protected. If the Americans have not yet made a final decision on resuming the JCPOA, they probably want to shift the blame for this on somebody else. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that at this point, the obstacles are being created by the US’s excessive demands.

Question: The nuclear deal could unfreeze Iran’s oil exports. Would this affect Russian oil exports? Is there any mechanism to smooth over such consequences in relations between Moscow and Tehran?

Sergey Lavrov: The nuclear deal is bound to unblock Iran’s oil exports. We enthusiastically supported this important part of the agreement.

As for the impact of Iranian oil on the world market, this will affect all exporting and importing countries. There are mechanisms to prevent volatile surprises. First, there is OPEC+, of which Iran is a member. When new amounts of hydrocarbons appear in the world market, it drafts an agreement on an optimal distribution quota. I am sure that constructive work lies ahead as soon as all issues linked with Iran’s oil on the world market are settled.

Question: Having cited considerable evidence, Russia raised the issue of bio-laboratories in Ukraine. Is the international community interested in this issue? Is it ready to talk about this? Will Moscow return to this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not describe the reaction of the international community as “interest.” The reaction is sooner a negative surprise and wariness. The revealed facts point to the enormous scale of the US’s unlawful activities on spreading its military bio-laboratories all over the world. There are hundreds of them, including almost 30 in Ukraine. Many of them have been established in other former Soviet states right along the perimeter of the borders of Russia, China and other countries.

We will demand that this issue be reviewed in the context of the commitments assumed by all participants in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. We will do all we can to force the Americans to stop blocking our proposal from 20 years ago on the need to create a special mechanism for verifying any alarming reports on the appearance of substances that may be used to develop biological weapons. They are against this mechanism because it would make any bioactivity transparent. They do not want transparency because they find it more expedient to do everything under their own control, as they have been doing up until now.

I am convinced that the international community has realised (and will realise again) that such activities are unacceptable and fraught with lethal threats to civilians on a massive scale.

Iranians Are Fighting Like Lions While Bennett, Lapid & Gantz Surrender Like Rabbits

MARCH 08, 2022

By Staff, “Israel” Hayom

The “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and War Minister Benny Gantz have been described by the entity’s former prime minister as leading a weak government which is “simply not ready to confront even our allies”, according to “Israel” Hayom.

The entity’s opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday lambasted the government for what he called its “silence” vis-à-vis the emerging nuclear deal with Iran, saying their actions are “engendering ‘Israel’s’ future.”

Speaking during a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu asserted that “the Bennett-Gantz-Lapid government shows only weakness, weakness, and more weakness. They have capitulated to the US administration when agreeing to a policy of zero surprises – meaning that ‘Israel’ will not act against the Iranian nuclear program without first coordinating it with the Americans, who will undoubtedly oppose such action and may even jeopardize things by leaking them.”

Bennett, Lapid, and Gantz “are doing nothing against the dangerous deal currently being formed in Vienna. This should be the government’s priority right now – vehemently opposing this dangerous deal.

“Russian envoy to the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov said this week that ‘the Iranians got more than they asked for – they are fighting like lions over every word and every comma.’ And over here? No one is fighting. The Iranians are fighting like lions while Bennett, Lapid and Gantz are surrendering like rabbits,” Netanyahu exclaimed.

Criticizing the government further, he said that the entity’s “silence at this time – except for some meaningless pro forma statements – knocks the wind out the sails of our friends in the US who oppose this deal. If they don’t see or hear ‘Israel’ oppose it – why should they? Why should they try to repeal it later on?

“It was our persistent objection that helped the US exit the previous agreement. The government’s silence undermines the legitimization for any future ‘Israeli’ action against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” he said.

Taking aim at Bennett over his efforts to mediate in the Ukraine-Russia crisis, the former prime minister stressed that the Iran deal is “what the government must be dealing with now. They [Bennett, Lapid and Gantz] are simply not ready to confront even our allies.”

A Russian wrench in Vienna halts US dash for the finish line

In an eleventh-hour shot across Vienna’s bow, the Russians challenged the US ‘weaponization of the dollar’ with the ‘weaponization of the atom.’

March 07 2022

By MK Bhadrakumar

On 5 March, Moscow demanded written guarantees of sanctions waivers from US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that would preserve Russia’s ambitious economic, scientific-technological and military collaboration projects in the pipeline with Iran.

The clock is ticking on Vienna sanctions-removal talks, but the Ukraine crisis has injected some new, valid, sanctions-related snafus into negotiations.Photo Credit: The Cradle

While privately, Iranian delegation members in Vienna were undoubtedly miffed at this eleventh-hour wrench in the works, Tehran’s official position was stoic.

“Russia is a responsible member of nuclear negotiations, and it has always proven that, not like America,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeman Saeed Khatibzadeh informed reporters on Monday.

“It is natural for us to discuss its [Russia’s] demands,” he continued, and bolstered Moscow’s position by adding: “What really matters is that the nuclear cooperation relations between Iran and various countries should not be subject to sanctions.”

March 5 also happens to be the anniversary of the date the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970.

The fate of the NPT may now hinge on the US response. For, if the Biden administration rides the high horse, that will almost certainly be a deal-breaker for the current negotiations in Vienna to broker the US’ return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On the other hand, a golden opportunity is now at hand for Iran too to hang tough on its remaining demands — that is, removing the US designation of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization; a firm guarantee that a future US government will not (again) renege on the nuclear deal; and, conclusively closing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) case on Tehran’s nuclear program. Russia is firmly supportive of Iran’s demands.

The chances of Biden obliging Moscow with sanctions waivers are nil, as that would lethally damage US prestige and make a complete mockery of its ‘weaponization of the dollar’ (which is what sanctions are about). Without using sanctions as a weapon, the US is increasingly unable to force its will on other countries.

The “sanctions from hell” recently imposed on Russia demonstrate a new cutting edge, and include the freezing of Russia’s central bank reserves. It is a cynical move to the extreme which may come with significant unforeseen repercussions. For one, the US looks to be sending a powerful message to China as well, which holds something like 2-3 trillion dollars as US Treasury bonds.

China draws its own lines

The call from Blinken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on March 5 — the same day Russia transmitted its demand for sanction waivers — suggests that China is no doubt closely observing developments. Wang told Blinken point-blank that Beijing has “grave concern over recent words and deeds of the US side,” especially with regard to Taiwan, and expects “concrete actions” by the Americans to shore up the relationship.

China has consistently opposed US sanctions. On the issue of Ukraine, Wang Yi cautioned Washington from taking further actions that “add fuel to the fire” (alluding to reported plans to dispatch foreign mercenaries to join the fighting), and importantly, “to engage in equal dialogue with Russia, face up to the frictions and problems accumulated over the years, pay attention to the negative impact of NATO’s continuous eastward expansion on Russia’s security, and seek to build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism in accordance with the ‘indivisibility of security’ principle.”

Suffice to say, if China is not caving in, the strong likelihood is that the negotiations in Vienna may soon lose momentum. The latest Russian demand can even prove a deal-maker. The action-reaction syndrome used to be a staple of the superpower nuclear competition. But Russians seem to have now found an ingenious new dimension to it: counter US dollar weaponization by extending the countermeasure to the nuclear non-proliferation issue.

“Weaponizing the atom”

By doing so, Russia has elevated the American sanctions regime far beyond the crude money terms of seizing central bank dollar reserves — which is plain highway robbery — to an altogether new sublime level of “weaponization of atom.”

Iran has suffered immensely from the US’ weaponization of the dollar. Ever since its 1979 revolution, Iran has been under western sanctions aimed at stifling its growth and development — many of them cruel and humiliating. These hit a nadir, when at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US even blocked Iran’s pathway to procure vaccines for its citizens.

So many such horrific episodes can be dredged up from Iran’s four-decade-long painful history as a victim of America’s “weaponization of dollar,” whereby, an immensely resource-rich country was forced to live far below its real potential, and one of the world’s greatest and oldest civilizations suffered humiliations at the hands of an uppity country with some 246 years of history.

It must then be tormenting for Washington that Iran is one of the countries that has immense potential to resort to “weaponization of atom” to counter America’s “weaponization of dollar.”

Whether it will do or not is a moot point. Certainly, Iran’s stated preference is to live without nuclear weapons. That is why it has come fully prepared to close the deal at the negotiations in Vienna. Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian even told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday that he’s “ready to fly to Vienna” to sign the nuclear deal on Monday.

But the point is, if Iran wishes, it has the capability to meet the US on equal terms even without a nuclear deal in Vienna. In fact, if Biden refuses to provide Russia with a written guarantee to suspend the “sanctions from hell,” that deal may not go through in Vienna, since Russia, as an original signatory to the JCPOA, must sign off on it. Of course, the Americans are insisting that they will continue to work with Russia at Vienna within the matrix of their shared interest to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons.

Indeed, as it is, the remaining three demands by Iran also pose a big challenge to Biden. Lifting the ban on the IRGC is a bitter pill for the Washington elite to swallow; again, Biden is in no position to guarantee that a deal signed in Vienna will have any shelf life beyond his presidency.

Herein lies the catch. Until such time as an agreement is reached in Vienna, Iran’s centrifuges will be producing enriched uranium, which would mean that the so-called “breakout time” keeps shrinking and for all purposes, at some point, Iran will have transformed itself as a virtual nuclear weapon state whether it wants or not — and the very purpose of the deal that the US is frantically seeking at Vienna will be defeated.

For Iran too, this is a moment of truth. Things have come to such a pass in international politics that many countries, which willingly signed the NPT, probably regret their decision now. India, Pakistan and North Korea already broke the NPT shackle. The point is, in the final analysis, a nuclear weapon is the means to preserve a country’s strategic autonomy to pursue independent policies.

It provides a firewall against foreign interference in the internal affairs; it reduces the scope for Washington’s coup machine to overthrow the established government; it compels the US to abandon the highly immoral, cynical bullying via “weaponization of the dollar;” and, above all, it enhances plurality in the world order by strengthening a country’s freedom to choose its own unique path of development.

“Atoms for Peace” was the title of a famous speech delivered by US President Dwight Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City in 1953. In retrospect, it turned out to be a propaganda component of the US’ Cold War strategy of containing the former Soviet Union.

Eisenhower was launching a media campaign that would last for years aimed at “emotion management,” balancing fears of continuing nuclear armament with promises of peaceful use of uranium in future nuclear reactors.

Ironically, that catchy phrase acquires today an altogether new meaning: Atoms may offer the best means to an equitable world order.

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

How the Ukraine crisis impacts middle east politics

4 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Robert Inlakesh 

The Ukraine crisis complicated the situation in the middle east [West Asia] for many parties allied with the US, as “Israel” and the UAE find it more difficult to balance their relations between their Patreon and Russia.

The problem for “Israel” is, that if they pick a fight with Russia at any point, this could be extremely detrimental to them

The ongoing war in Ukraine, which is being framed as a marker for the beginning of the ‘New Cold War’ between East and West, is already taking its toll on Middle East politics and for the likes of “Israel” and the United Arab Emirates, this spells potential disaster.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24, when Russian forces officially announced their ‘special military operation in the Donbas’, Middle East powers have all had their relationships put to the test. “Israel” is perhaps the most reported on, as it is directly part of the Western camp, and its hesitancy to aggravate Russia has been telling, but beyond this, there has also been a big question mark around which side the Arab regimes will take too.

In the case of “Israel”, after releasing careful statements during the early days of the war, about Ukraine’s sovereignty and pledging to support its people, without mentioning Moscow at all, they then went a step further in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Currently, Tel Aviv maintains a close relationship with both Moscow and Washington, but it has made it clear at this point that when push comes to shove it is the United States’ interests they will defend over the interests of Russia.

So far this has not meant a fully-fledged feud between the two sides, but for sure the Israeli arming of the Ukrainians and their backing of NATO’s argument has not aided relations. It is likely Moscow is still trying to use the Israelis as a go-between for diplomatic efforts, but the problem for “Israel” is, that if they pick a fight with Russia at any point, this could be extremely detrimental to them. A hostile Russia, combined with a hostile Iran, both in Syria, could mean major trouble.

For the United Arab Emirates, which aspires to become a regional powerhouse and attempts to balance its relationship with pretty much every key international player, it has too, run into a major problem. Its relationship with Washington, although tight, is now being put to the test and the fact that it abstained at the UNGA vote is a message that Abu Dhabi seeks a clear middle-ground position between the US and Russia. But just as its normalization deal with the Israeli regime has now put it in the middle of a tug-of-war between Tel Aviv and Tehran, the Ukraine crisis has placed it in a similar position between Washington and Moscow. The UAE wants it all, US weapons, but a close relationship with China and Russia, Israeli economic cooperation but also trade with Iran. This could spell disaster if it decides to cross the line, of one of the many sides, at any point.

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally, the current crisis – due to US sanctions on Russia – has sent the prices of oil to a high not witnessed since 2012. Riyadh has been expected, as has the UAE, to pump more crude oil in order to lower the oil prices and balance the market, but so far that has not happened. Instead, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is allegedly demanding the US Biden administration recognise him as the de-facto ruler of the Saudi regime and offer more direct support for Riyadh’s devastating war on Yemen, according to Reuters reports.

Although the US and its British allies in London have been directly supporting the Saudis offensive war in Yemen, Riyadh evidently does not like Joe Biden’s public appearance as being an anti-Saudi president. The KSA voted against Russia in the General Assembly, the US also launched airstrikes on Yemen when Russian forces began their offensive in Ukraine, but now seems to be the moment of truth when it comes to US politics. We will now see just how convincing Washington’s statesmen are, although many people are asking why this issue wasn’t resolved before as the US had been warning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine for weeks.

The issue of US relations with the Gulf countries is really key here, as from the get-go the United States has been attempting to bring them on the side, specifically Qatar. The US clearly needs an alternative supply source for oil and gas to Europe, if it is going to maintain its crushing sanctions on Moscow. But the problem still remains, an issue that Doha has itself pointed out, there is no one nation that can be the alternative here. 

Then we have Iran and the ongoing talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), or the nuclear deal, which seems to have been moved in a more positive direction. The United States has significantly changed its tone from that of last year, it’s purged many of the more hawkishly anti-Iran voices from its negotiating team and the Ukraine crisis may prove to push the US into an agreement on this front.

The difference between President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, is that they represent two different camps in the United States; Biden, the liberal imperialists, and Trump, the neoconservatives. The neoconservatives seem to be hawkishly focused on attacking China and Iran, whilst caring less about Russia and their focus on NATO is also not as intense as the liberal imperialists. Whereas the liberal imperialist camp are much more inclined towards strengthening their ties with the EU and NATO, making Russia a real target, whilst their line on China and Iran is still hawkish, they approach these issues differently.

We are now seeing the liberal imperialist agenda in full swing. If the Biden administration wants to relieve some of the burden he has placed on the shoulders of his European allies, reviving the JCPOA may serve as a good gesture towards them. The European powers want to do business with Iran, but under the Trump administration, none of them dared to step out of line on this front. The potential Iran nuclear deal revival would be a good thing for both the Europeans and the Iranians. 

All the points mentioned above barely scratch the surface of the entire picture; not going into the testing of Algeria’s and Turkey’s relationships with Russia, both of which are being heavily tested over both nations being presented with the possibility to provide part of the answer to the severing of oil and gas supplies from Russia to Europe. Yet, one thing is clear from what has been noted above, the absolute mess that the two camps – one aligned with the Democrats and the other the Republicans – have caused on the world stage. This is a real test of Washington’s diplomatic and strategic talent, one which it seems to be failing at so far.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

In Ukraine crisis, will Iran emerge a winner and Israel a loser?

West Asian developments play second fiddle to the Great Power battle over Ukraine. But regional states must pick a side because events in Kiev will trickle

February 15 2022

Even in West Asia there will be winners and losers over the stand-off in Ukraine.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

If we look at the developments of the Ukrainian crisis through a West Asian lens, and measure up the potential profit and loss scenarios for regional players, it is likely that Iran may be the biggest winner, and Israel the biggest loser.

Let’s start with Iran. This worsening crisis between the Russian-Chinese axis on the one hand, and the American-European alliance on the other, could not come at a better time for Tehran.

The Ukraine stand-off, which has captured the world’s attention, has significantly reduced Iran’s ranking on the list of US priorities by several degrees, and in turn, eased western pressures in the Vienna nuclear negotiations, which is barely a blip these days on the evening news.

Moreover, the blanket western disinformation campaign against a yet-unseen ‘Russia invasion’ really bolsters Moscow’s – and even Beijing’s – desire to strengthen strategic relations with Iran and other US-sanctioned states to fortify a rival axis that can challenge American aggression everywhere.

Let’s then consider Israel – Iran’s arch-enemy – and most Arab states in West Asia, who although clearly pro-US, have strived for decades to maintain a healthy ‘public’ neutrality in great power conflicts. In the event of an actual Russia-NATO clash, directly or through proxies, this fragile balance will now be tested rigorously, for it seems no state can remain neutral in times like these.

Names and numbers will be taken, alliances will be questioned, and silence will be punished. This is a certainty where Washington is concerned – as witnessed when Jordan was punished for staying neutral in the first Iraq war, and France in the second.

***

Let’s look at how this works in reality. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government made a request for military assistance from Israel, as revealed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after his Sunday meeting with Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Amina Gavrova. Lapid promised to study the request, and herein lies Tel Aviv’s biggest test:

If the Israelis agree to send weapons to Kiev, the Russians will be angered. If Israel remains silent and ignores the response, it will lead to a frigid resentment from the western camp, and NATO specifically.

In the past, Tel Aviv has managed to easily walk the tightrope between the great powers by invoking the Holocaust, concentrations camps, Russia’s role in defeating the Nazi army in WWII, preservation of Jewish interests in Ukraine (50,000 Jews) and Russia (230,000) – but those arguments have little relevance in the coming conflict.

Tel Aviv will want to prevent any war in order to avoid making the hazardous choice between the Russians and Americans – where neutrality is forbidden. It tried to offer up a mediation summit in Jerusalem to resolve the crisis, but was ignored by Moscow or Washington, who could care less about West Asia at this moment.

Iran, meanwhile, stands satisfied in the shadows, neither aggravating nor weighing in on Ukrainian matters. Tehran resolved its position early on by standing in the Russian-Chinese trench, while Israel, to its utter mortification, really has only one choice.

Tel Aviv will have to stand in the US-European trench eventually, which will lead to the loss of its privileged relations with Russia, the consequences of which it will ultimately bear in Syria, Iran, and the entire West Asian region.

Some argue that the crisis in Ukraine could benefit Israel which may use the pretext of an impending war to lure Ukrainian Jews there for their ‘safety.’

But there are already one million Russian immigrants in occupied Palestine, half of them either non-Jews or non-practicing, and a large proportion of these lean toward Moscow, and President Putin in particular. In the event of a large influx of Ukrainian Jews, sponsored by Israel, the Russians already there for several decades could transform into a “fifth column” for Russia, their motherland.

In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to adopt the intermediary role – that Israel is now seeking – to extract himself from a similar dilemma. He tried to cloak his bias towards Ukraine by presenting himself as a mediator in this crisis, but was also ignored.

Erdogan is already too neck-deep in his Ukraine faux pas for Putin to forgive. In recent months, Turkey and Ukraine have been discussing the joint production of ships, turbine engines and military aircraft. The Turkish president has sent around 500 Turkish Bayraktar drones worth $69 million to Ukraine, condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea, and dropped into Kiev for a photo op at the height of the crisis.

***

There were two messages addressed to Israel in the past seven days, both intended to impart serious warnings:

The first missive was the firing of a Syrian missile into Israel, which landed in the northern city of Um al-Fahm in retaliation for an Israeli missile strike on southern Damascus. This Syrian response could only have been sent with advance coordination with Moscow, and possibly even at its behest.

The second missive came from Iran, in a statement by the nation’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary-General Ali Shamkhani, who said: “The nuclear negotiations have reached a critical stage, and it depends on an Iranian political decision to accept or reject the conditions.”

The first message is that a firmer Syrian response to the Israeli raids may be imminent, and it may depend on Israel’s position on the Ukraine crisis. The second message confirms that Tehran is sticking to its guns on all its international positions, including the Vienna negotiations that Israel has tried hard to sabotage, and that Iran is immovable regardless of whether an agreement is reached or not. Maintaining its nuclear edge and ambiguity suits Iran just fine.

The global spotlight moving to Ukraine has only strengthened the Resistance Axis in West Asia and provided it with a greater variety of hard and soft cards to play – cards that the Russians will appreciate, but Israel may come to regret.

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

Millions of Iranians celebrate anniversary of Islamic Revolution

February 10, 2022

Iranians celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution with massive rallies

On the 43rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi confirms that his country is continuing its balanced relations with the countries of the region.

Iranians celebrate the anniversary of Islamic Revolution.

Millions commemorate the victory of the Islamic Revolution

Today, Iranians commemorated the 43rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, taking into account health recommendations to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Marches by cars and motorbikes took place in most provincial centers, including the Iranian capital, Tehran.


📽 تزامنا مع ذكرى انتصار الثورة الإسلامية، مسيرة السيارات في مدينة گرگان شمال ايران.

🌹 ذكرى انتصار #الثورة_الإسلامية pic.twitter.com/evYToUOlPw— Ali (@Ali10551855) February 11, 2022

The Iranian paratroopers witnessed air shows, balloons, and colored papers were thrown from the Azadi Tower, in addition to helicopters dropping flowers on the marching parade. 

أجواء ساحة #ازادي (شارع التحریر) في ذكرى انتصار الثورة الإسلامية في العاصمة #طهران pic.twitter.com/pX4xADPQQy— hassan roustami (@hassanrastagar) February 11, 2022

About 200 foreign correspondents and photographers and more than 6000 Iranian correspondents and photographers covered the celebration ceremonies across the country, according to the IRNA news agency.

The Iranian people across the country chanted “God is great” last night, and the country’s sky was decorated with fireworks to commemorate the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Islamic Revolution echoes ‘freedom, morality, rationality and justice’ 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaking during a ceremony marking the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran February 10, 2022.(Reuters)

“We pin hope on our people. We never pin hope on either New York or Vienna,” said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

On the 43rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Raisi said that “In our foreign policy, we seek balanced relations with the world and attach special importance to neighboring countries.”

The president emphasized that February 11th is a message of hope for the Iranian people and all the oppressed of the world, and it is “a day of God,” noting that “what the Islamic Revolution is echoing is ‘freedom, morality, rationality and justice’ and these slogans are still alive.” 

He added that the victory of the revolution “that the victory of the Islamic Revolution was a bombshell of light”.

The Iranian president expressed his hope to achieve economic as well as political independence, stressing that his country will take colossal and giant steps in the field of economic independence.

Raisi stressed that the country’s development depends on national unity, and “we are working to overcome the social obstacles that the Iranian people are suffering from.”

Raisi considered that “the Islamic Revolution has its roots in people’s support because grassroots are those who formed it and they continue nurturing its path”, adding that the Islamic Revolution cannot accept corruption and oppression and that the revolution has witnessed several phases and overcome different conspiracies by the enemies.

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An Israeli attack on Iran: True threat or hollow rhetoric?

The Israelis have neither the capabilities nor the resources to strike multiple Iranian nuclear sites, but the threats to do so keep mounting

February 07 2022

By Mohammad Salami

In the past few months, Israeli officials have conspicuously ratcheted up their threats to attack Iran’s nuclear energy sites, and have even launched provocative Israeli air force training exercises intended to simulate strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In response to Israel’s escalatory language and behavior, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in late December, held its annual military drills dubbed ‘Great Prophet 17.’

Major General Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the IRGC, said the military exercises intended to send a “very clear message” and a “serious, real warning” to Tel Aviv.

“We will cut off their hands if they make a wrong move,” he said, in a strongly-worded warning. “The difference between actual operations and military exercises is just a change in the angles of launching missiles.”

IRGC warnings aside, there are plenty of reasons to suggest that Israel’s threats are little more than empty rhetoric for foreign and domestic consumption. In short, Tel Aviv may not in fact have either the resources to attack Iran or the capacity to absorb Tehran’s guaranteed retaliatory measures.

The many constraints on Israel

Israel’s primary constraint in launching these attacks is due to the multiplicity and dispersion of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Unlike the Israeli air force’s operational destruction of Iraq’s nuclear sites in 1981 (Operation Opera) and its 2007 strike on an alleged nuclear facility in Syria (Operation Outside the Box), where it was only tasked with striking a single point – Baghdad and Deir Ezzor, respectively – it will face a vastly different landscape in Iran.

Iran has four types of nuclear facilities, including research reactors, uranium mines, military, and nuclear sites. In total, there are more than 10 known nuclear facilities that are scattered from north to south of the country.

For example, there is a ground distance of about 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) from the Gachin uranium mine in the city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran to the Bonab research reactor in the country’s northwest. Attacking such a large number of nuclear facilities from a great distance would require extreme coordination and sophisticated operations to ensure that all facilities are hit at the same time.

In addition, Iran has invested heavily in developing its counter-air defense in recent decades, which currently covers more than 3,600 points and is able to localize its surface-to-air missiles.

The noteworthy point here is that Iran claims self-sufficiency in the construction of its missiles, whereby it can produce and proliferate its missiles without interruption, despite international sanctions. The Bavar-373 missile – a homegrown version of Russia’s S-300 system – is one of these.

Reportedly, the Bavar-373 can simultaneously engage up to six targets with twelve missiles at a distance of up to 155 miles (250 kms). Multiple missiles are likely to be fired at an individual target to increase the probability of a kill.

With this powerful and unified defense arsenal, the possibility of Iran hunting down and destroying Israeli warplanes is high.

A further constraint for Israel is that some of Iran’s nuclear facilities are underground. Nuclear sites, such as the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, where uranium is enriched to above 20 percent, are built at a depth of 80 meters (260 feet) inside a mountain. Israel does not have the special bombers that can destroy facilities deep underground.

While the US does possess the massive bunker-busting ordnances needed to strike such facilities – the 13,600-kilogram (30,000-pound) GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) – Washington has so far refused to provide them to Tel Aviv.

Selling the incredibly heavy MOPs to Israel would be pointless, at any rate, as the Israeli Air Force has neither the aircraft capable of delivering them nor the airfield infrastructure needed to support those planes.

Furthermore, the sale of some types of MOPs has been banned under the New START treaty, also known as the ‘Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms,’ between the US and Russia.

Confronting Iran and its allies

Unlike Israeli airstrikes on Syria and Iraq, which went unanswered, Tel Aviv is well aware that Iran’s response would be severe and decisive. Iran’s indigenous military capabilities far outpace its neighbors, and over the past four decades, it has developed iron-clad relationships with allies in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Yemen, who have voiced willingness to defend an Iran under attack by a mutual adversary.

In April 2021, a Syrian missile was able to pass through Israel’s Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System, exploding near the country’s secretive Dimona nuclear reactor. This event could be repeated by allies such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and pro-Iranian groups in Syria and Iraq in the case of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

To strike Iran, Israelis will have to cross the airspace of the ‘unfriendly’ countries of Syria and Iraq. Even the Arab states of the Arabian Peninsula are unlikely to permit Israeli warplanes using their territory to attack Iran due to fear of retaliatory Iranian attacks.

The memory of the well-targeted Yemeni missile strikes on the Aramco oil facility in September 2019 – incorrectly attributed to Iran rather than Yemen – drummed home to Gulf states that cause for Iranian retaliatory strikes should be avoided at all costs.

Russia may also oppose the attack as, in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran, the activities of Iranian proxies inside Syria could trigger a renewed crisis in the country’s military-political balance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has spent millions of dollars stabilizing the situation in Syria, does not wish to see Syria upended again. And given Russia’s clout in the UN Security Council, Israel would be reluctant to confront Moscow.

Facing the international community

The US and Europe are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, which the previous US administration abandoned. US President Joe Biden is keen on quickly reaching a “good nuclear deal” with Iran, in part, to peel Tehran away from its strategic allies in Moscow and Beijing – Washington’s two main global adversaries.

If Israel attacks Iran, Tehran may withdraw from the negotiations, and in retaliation, is likely to raise its 60 percent enrichment level to above 90 percent (suitable for building a nuclear bomb). Biden needs a peaceful West Asia so that he can exit the region’s various quagmires with ease and “pivot to the East” to restrain China and surround Russia, his two most urgent strategic priorities.

According to Foreign Policy, US opposition to attacks on Iran’s nuclear plants has been longstanding, as emphasized in the autobiography of Israel’s former defense minister Ehud Barak, My Country, My Life.

“I want to tell both of you now, as president, we are totally against any action by you to mount an attack on the [Iranian] nuclear plants,” then-US President George W. Bush told Barak and then-premier Ehud Olmert in 2008. “I repeat in order to avoid any misunderstanding, we expect you not to do it. And we’re not going to do it, either, as long as I am president. I wanted it to be clear.”

The Biden administration’s current approach is to return Iran’s nuclear program to the 2015 nuclear deal without war or the use of force.

In an October 2021 article, Dennis Ross, former US President Barack Obama’s special assistant and senior director for the central region at the National Security Council wrote:

“Although they reject the Iranian justification of actions that move Iran toward a nuclear weapon, Biden administration officials told the Israelis, as I learned recently in Israel, that there was ‘good pressure on Iran and bad pressure’ – citing the example of sabotage at Natanz and Karaj as bad pressure because the Iranians seized on it to enrich to near weapons-grade.”

Dennis Ross comments show that, at that stage, the Americans were not seeking to attack or even sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities, and were intent on preventing the Israelis from attacking Iran.

It is becoming clear that Israeli threats on Iran’s nuclear capabilities are mainly for domestic consumption – and possibly also to keep Israel relevant amidst the fast-moving geopolitical shifts unfolding in West Asia.

Israel’s current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is currently facing relentless criticism from former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rivals, as well as internal shortages in the country following the pandemic crisis. Attacking a foreign country – or Gaza – is an Israeli staple in diverting public opinion from domestic problems.

Talk of Israeli airstrikes on Iran constitute little more than hollow rhetoric, despite repeated verbal threats from Israeli officials. At this moment, Israel has neither the power nor the means to attack Iran, nor can it act unilaterally against US policy.

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

Biden Administration Restores Sanctions Waiver to Iran, Russia Slams Maximum Pressure Policy

 February 5, 2022

US President Joe Biden’s administration has restored a sanctions waiver that will allow countries to cooperate with Iran on civil nuclear projects, as the Vienna talks are underway on the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On Friday, a high-ranking US State Department official reported that the US administration made a decision to restore the sanctions waiver, which was rescinded by the administration of former president Donald Trump in May 2020.

The waiver allows Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites.

It was needed to allow for technical discussions that were key to the negotiations about returning to the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the State Department official said.

“The technical discussions facilitated by the waiver are necessary in the final weeks of JCPOA talks,” said the official, adding that even if a final deal is not reached, the waiver is important to holding discussions on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons – of interest to the entire world.

The official stressed that the waiver “is not a concession to Iran,” nor is it “a signal that we are about to reach an understanding on a mutual return to full implementation of the” Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

This is while some believe that the move by the Biden administration is in fact in line with the White House’s “blame game” and cannot have economic positive effects on Iran’s economy, especially that the number of sanctions imposed by Washington against the Islamic Republic passes 1,000.

In reaction to the US move, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to International organizations, said that the US maximum pressure policy remains the major factor in the advancement of the Iranian nuclear program.

In a tweet, Ilyanov slammed some interpretations by the Islamic opponents.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

لقاء أمني أميركي ــ ايراني يمهّد لاختراق: الاتفاق النووي خلال أسابيع؟

الخميس 3 شباط 2022

ابراهيم الأمين 

هل نحن على عتبة اتفاق جدّي بين إيران والولايات المتحدة وأوروبا بشأن الملف النووي؟

يصعب على كثيرين تقصّي معطيات مباشرة حول ما يجري في فيينا وعواصم أخرى. لكن التفاؤل الحذر الذي عبّر عنه الجانب الإيراني قبل أسابيع، عكس اختراقاً ما. وهو ما عزّزه الموقف الإسرائيلي «الرسمي» بأن الاتفاق إن تم لن يكون أمراً مفاجئاً، بل قال إسرائيليون إنه قد يكون جيداً التوصل الى اتفاق في حال عدم وجود بديل واضح كضربة لإيران تقودها أميركا.

عملياً، يتصرّف الجميع على أننا أمام أسابيع حاسمة. في الغرب يتحدثون عن جولات خاصة الشهر الجاري، وفي إيران لا يستبعدون اتفاقاً قبل عيد النوروز في آذار المقبل. لكن الجديد الذي أكدته مصادر وثيقة الصلة بالملف، يتعلق بموافقة أميركية أولية على إطار اتفاق أعدّته روسيا بالاتفاق مع إيران، وسط إشارات إلى تبدّل واضح في الموقف الأوروبي الذي كان شديد السلبية سابقاً ليتحوّل الى داعم لاتفاق أشمل.

لا يمكن الجزم بنوع المحادثات التي جرت قبل توقف المحادثات فجأة، وعودة الوفود الى بلادها للتشاور قبل نحو أسبوعين. لكن ما حصل هو أن اجتماعات عقدت بصورة غير علنية سهّلت التوصل الى تفاهم يسرّع المباحثات بين الأطراف المعنية. وعلمت «الأخبار» أن اجتماعاً أمنياً رفيع المستوى عقد بين الجانبين الأميركي والإيراني مهّد لعدد من الخطوات. وبينما يتستّر الجميع على طبيعة الاجتماع ومكانه، إلا أن المصادر تشير الى أنه عقد في ألمانيا خلال زيارة سرية لرئيس المخابرات المركزية الأميركية وليام بيرنز الى برلين، علماً بأن صحيفة «وول ستريت جورنال» نشرت الخبر، وقالت إن الزيارة سبقت بأسبوع زيارة وزير الخارجية أنتوني بلينكن للمنطقة، وإنها مرتبطة بالحدث الروسي ــــ الأوكراني فقط.

إطار الاتفاق
وفيما ران الصمت على الدوائر المعنية حول نتائج التواصل الأمني الأميركي ــــ الإيراني، كان لافتاً أن تغييراً كبيراً ونوعياً طرأ على تركيبة الوفد الأميركي إلى مفاوضات فيينا، وأُعلن بعد زيارة بيرنز استقالة عضوَين من الوفد هما: نائب المبعوث الأميركي الخاص بشأن إيران، ريتشارد نيفيو، وكبيرة المستشارين في مكتب الرقابة على التسلح في الخارجية الأميركية، أريان تاباتاباي. وورد أن الاستقالتين مرتبطتان بخلافات داخل الفريق على آلية التعامل مع الجانب الإيراني، مع الإشارة الى أن الاثنين شكّلا جبهة مواجهة مع المبعوث الأميركي الخاص بإيران روبرت مالي، والذي يتهمه صقور الإدارة بأنه يدعم اتفاقاً لمصلحة طهران. لكن الأهم هو أن ما بين الحدثين، تبيّن أنه طرأ تطور في الموقف الأميركي من المفاوضات، وقالت مصادر من طهران لـ«الأخبار» إن الوفد الإيراني فوجئ بتجاوب أميركي سهّل الاتفاق على ثلثَي نقاط البحث، وإن ما بقي عالقاً يعدّ في إطار النقاط غير القابلة لنسف الاتفاق، وهو ما دفع بالوفد الإيراني الى العودة سريعاً الى إيران للتشاور والحصول على غطاء للمضيّ قدماً في المباحثات النهائية.

وفي هذا السياق، تقول مصادر تتابع المحادثات عن كثب إن الجلسات الأخيرة بين الوفود شهدت نقاشاً لطرحٍ إيراني ــــ روسي حول رفع العقوبات والعودة الى بنود الاتفاق النووي. وتؤكّد المصادر أن الولايات المتحدة أبدت موافقتها على أغلب بنود الخطة الإيرانية ــــ الروسية، وأن احتمال عقد اتفاقٍ جديد بين إيران والمجموعة الدولية خلال الأسابيع المقبلة أصبح مرجّحاً. وتضيف المصادر إن المباحثات التي جرت في فيينا خلال الثلث الأخير من كانون الثاني تمحورت حول طرحٍ صمّمته إيران وروسيا وقدّمته للمجموعة الدولية، وإنّ الولايات المتحدة وافقت على أغلب بنوده، بشكلٍ فاجأ المفاوضين الإيرانيين.

التوافق الحالي بين إيران والدول المفاوضة يترجم الى رفعٍ شبه كامل للعقوبات الأميركية على بيع النفط الإيراني، وتلك التي فرضها الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب خلال ولايته، إضافة الى استعادة طهران لكلّ أرصدتها المجمّدة حول العالم (لم تفصّل المصادر مستوى العقوبات الأخرى التي وافق الأميركيون على تعليقها). في المقابل، ستوقف إيران، بموجب العرض الجديد، تخصيب اليورانيوم الى مستوى 20 و60%. وفيما يظلّ اليورانيوم المخصّب الى درجة 20% في إيران تحت رقابة الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذريّة، سيتمّ شحن اليورانيوم العالي التخصيب بنسبة 60% الى روسيا. أما في ما يتعلّق بآلات تخصيب اليورانيوم، فينصّ العرض الإيراني ــــ الروسي على وقف العمل بالمعدّات التي يمنعها الاتفاق النووي الأصلي عام 2015، ولكن مع بقائها في التخزين داخل إيران تحت رقابة الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذريّة.

هواجس وطلبات إيران
من الجانب الإيراني، تقول المعلومات إن نائب وزير الخارجية، علي باقر كاني، عاد الى طهران لعرض المستجدات، وللحصول على تفويض أكثر وضوحاً ليس من الرئيس إبراهيم رئيسي فقط، بل من المرشد السيد علي الخامنئي الذي يصرّ دوماً على اتفاق واضح وبعيد المدى مع كامل الضمانات التي تثبت رفع العقوبات وتمنع العودة إليها استنسابياً.
بالنظر الى الموقف الأميركي الجديد وموافقة القيادة الإيرانية على خريطة الطريق التي تمّ التوصّل إليها، تزداد حظوظ عقد صيغةٍ جديدة من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، يكون لروسيا فيها دورٌ تنفيذي مهمّ فيها. في الوقت نفسه، تقول المصادر إن هناك احتمالات قائمة لعرقلة الاتفاق، من بينها المعارضة المحتملة لمستشار الأمن القومي في البيت الأبيض جايك سوليفان و«صقور» الإدارة الأميركية الذين يعارضون إبداء الليونة تجاه طهران.
في موازاة هذا البحث، قال متابعون إن المشكلة ليست محصورة في بنود أوراق التفاوض الحالية، بل في ما خصّ مرحلة ما بعد الاتفاق. إذ إن إيران ليست متحمّسة لعودة سريعة الى اتفاق عام 2015 من دون الحصول مسبقاً على ضمانات أكيدة حيال الأمور الآتية:

ــــ رفع كل العقوبات الأميركية والأوروبية والأممية التي اندرجت تحت خانة مواجهة البرنامج النووي، مقابل التزام إيران وقف التخصيب، لكن مع حقّها في الحصول على تعهّد يضمن استعادة ما قد يتمّ تخزينه في موسكو في حال تراجع أي طرف غربي عن الاتفاق.
ــــ رفع العقوبات التي تحول دون قيام إيران بتصدير ما تشاء من نفطها وغازها الى أي دولة في العالم، وتحرير كل العمليات المالية الخاصة بهذه الصفقات من دون أيّ عراقيل.

طهران: نتعاون في أي مفاوضات بما لا يتجاوز مصالح القوى الاقليمية الحليفة


ــــ تحرير قطاع التجارة العالمية لإيران بما يسمح لها بالتعاون مع أي شركة في العالم لتطوير برامج التنمية داخلها على الصعد كافة، من البنى التحتية الى المرافق الحيوية الى الصناعات المدنية على أنواعها. وأن لا يبقى هناك أيّ عائق يلزم أيّ شركة في العالم بالحصول مسبقاً على إعفاء أميركي للقيام بعمل تجاري مع إيران.
ــــ أن تلتزم أميركا منع إسرائيل من القيام بأيّ عمل ضد الاتفاق أو ضدّ إيران، لأن طهران حاسمة بأن أي عمل إسرائيلي إنما هو عمل أميركي في حقيقة الأمر، وأن لا قدرة لإسرائيل على القيام بأيّ خطوة من دون غطاء من واشنطن.
ــــ أن تلتزم السلطات الأميركية كافة بالاتفاق، وأن لا يقتصر الأمر على توقيعه بقرار صادر عن البيت الأبيض، ما يعني أن على الإدارة الأميركية البحث مع الكونغرس الأميركي في صيغة تثبت أيّ اتفاق، وتمنع الحكومة من أيّ خطوات استنسابية.

أوروبا وقطر
من جهة أخرى، علمت «الأخبار» أن اتصالات جانبية تجرى بين إيران وعدد من العواصم الأوروبية المعنية، لتوسيع نطاق الشراكة في مرحلة ما بعد الاتفاق. ويبدو أن إيران سمعت كلاماً أوروبياً واضحاً عن استعداد للمضيّ في اتفاقات طويلة الأمد شرط إنجاز الاتفاق مع الأميركيين أولاً، وهو أمر لا ترفضه إيران، لكنها ترى في الاشتراط الأوروبي بأن تكون الاتفاقات معها لاحقة للاتفاق الأساسي، نقطة ضعف في الموقف الأوروبي.

كذلك، شدد الجانب الإيراني أمام الجهات الأوروبية المعنية بملفات حساسة في المنطقة، على أن كل الملفات المتعلقة بما يجري في الشرق الأوسط لن تكون بنداً على أي طاولة مفاوضات، لا الآن ولا في أي مرحلة لاحقة. وأن طهران مستعدة للتعاون والمساعدة بما لا يتجاوز مصالح وحسابات القوى الإقليمية الحليفة لها من العراق الى اليمن الى سوريا الى لبنان وفلسطين.

ويبدو أن هذه النقطة مدرجة في جدول أعمال عواصم عدة، وسط سعي خاص من بعض الدول للقيام بدور يتجاوز استضافة الاجتماعات الى دور الوسيط الفعال، وهو ما تشير إليه مصادر مطّلعة، بالقول إن قطر تعرض بأن تكون وسيطاً لتفاوض مباشر بين أميركا وإيران لمعالجة ملف العلاقات الثنائية والقضايا العالقة بين الطرفين. وتستند الدوحة الى العلاقات الاستثنائية التي تربطها بالإدارة الأميركية من جهة، ومحافظتها على علاقات قوية مع إيران طوال الفترة الماضية. ويبدو أن القطريين يحاولون الاستفادة من تجربة الوساطة التي قاموا بها بين الأميركيين وحركة طالبان، وأثمرت اتفاقاً على انسحاب القوات الأميركية من أفغانستان قبل بضعة أشهر.

Hardline US officials removed from Vienna negotiating team: Report

Western media reports allege that divisions have formed within the US team in Vienna over “how firmly to enforce existing sanctions” against Iran

Former State Department Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Richard Nephew testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2019, during a hearing on “confronting threats from China.” (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

January 25 2022

By News Desk

According to a report published on The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on 24 January, differences have emerged in the US negotiating team present in Vienna “over how tough to be with [Iran] and when to walk away” from the ongoing sanctions-removal talks.

Citing people familiar with the negotiations, the WSJ claims that Washington’s team in the Austrian capital has become divided over “how firmly to enforce existing sanctions and whether to cut off negotiations.” This division reportedly led to Richard Nephew, the deputy special envoy for Iran, leaving the team.

Nephew is identified as one of the ‘architects’ of the economic sanctions the White House has imposed on Iran since their unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018.

He has reportedly not been present in Vienna since early December, having advocated “a tougher posture in the current negotiations.”

Besides Nephew, the WSJ reports that two other members of the US team led by State Department veteran Robert Malley have taken a step back from the talks.

The two unnamed officials reportedly also advocated for a “harder” negotiating stance against Iran.

The report goes on to highlight that these strains have been growing since last summer, with many of them being settled “at the highest levels of the Biden administration.”

Some of these tensions allegedly stemmed from Tehran implementing nuclear counter-measures since 2019, following the US and European breach of their obligations under the JCPOA.

Differences also flared over how “aggressively” to enforce sanctions, especially in regards to China importing Iranian oil.

These revelations came on the same day as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced Tehran’s willingness to possibly hold direct negotiations with the US.

The JCPOA, which provided Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for limiting their nuclear energy program, fell apart in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed crushing sanctions on Tehran.

Over the past several months, Iran and the P4+1 group of countries (Russia, China, France, and the UK plus Germany) have been taking part in negotiations to remove US sanctions and restore the nuclear deal.

Due to its withdrawal, the US is currently not allowed to directly join the negotiations.

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