US Imposes Sanctions on Iran

Senate passes bill to impose new sanctions on Iran

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, delivering a speech during a meeting in Tehran, Sept. 9, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP Images)

(JTA) — The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran.

The measure adding sanctions on Iran due to its ballistic missile program, support for terrorism and human rights breaches passed Thursday in a 98-2 vote. It complies with the Iran nuclear agreement reached in 2015, which put restrictions on the country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced the bill, which now must pass in the House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump before being enacted. Only Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against it.

A day earlier, the Senate voted to adopt an amendment to the bill that would expand sanctions against Russia, CBS News reported.

The American Jewish Committee praised the bill’s passage.

“In the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal, AJC has continued to raise concerns about Iran’s threatening behavior with our own and other governments,” Jason Isaacson, the group’s associate executive director for policy, said in a statement.

“Iran’s ballistic missile program, the regime’s support for international terrorism, and its blatant and egregious human rights violations should not be ignored. This bill demonstrates to the Iranian regime that they will not be tolerated.”

Christians United for Israel also lauded the measure, calling it a “good first step.”

“While the Iran nuclear agreement was sold to the American people with the promise that Tehran would moderate its behavior, the Islamic Republic continues to work to consolidate power and export bloodshed,” CUFI said in a statement. “Iran’s support for terror, ballistic missile program and human rights record demand U.S. action.”

The West Is Ready To Drink The Kool-Aid (Revelation 15:2)

Iran nuclear talks ‘in decisive phase,’ says German FM

Iran-Nuclear-Talks
By AFP January 16, 2015, 4:34 am 2

BERLIN, Germany — Germany’s foreign minister said Thursday no more deadlines must be missed in the Iran nuclear negotiations which had entered “a decisive phase.”

“We must now use the newly opened time window, we must leave nothing undone to reach the solution that has eluded us in recent years,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said before the talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

In a brief joint press appearance with Zarif, Steinmeier said “we probably share the understanding that this is now the decisive phase of the negotiations”.

Iran and major world powers have given themselves until late June to reach a comprehensive agreement that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, a goal it denies having, in return for an easing of punishing economic sanctions.

Sunday will see talks in Geneva between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group — the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — seeking to break a stalemate that has seen two earlier deadlines pass without an accord.

Steinmeier said that “we have extended this transition agreement twice but we also agreed at the last meeting that we share the common understanding that one cannot indefinitely continue the extensions.”

“Iran’s path to nuclear weapons must end unambiguously, verifiably and permanently, and in return sanctions must be lifted credibly and step-by-step,” Steinmeier said.

He added that this would restore trust between all sides as they faced a host of crises and conflicts such as the threat posed by the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

“We have lost 11 years, and the conditions have not become better. And that’s why we need to seize the opportunity to achieve justice, peace and security, and I’m certain that with the participation of Germany… we can reach this goal,” Zarif said.

Later Thursday, Zarif met European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini who insisted that the “negotiations have to be brought to a conclusion in line with the agreed time.”

Mogherini also discussed a “wide range” of topics including the crisis in Syria and Iraq.

Mogherini “encouraged Iran to use its considerable influence to help create a more inclusive and stable Iraq, which is in both the EU’s and Iran’s interests,” a statement said.

Zarif met US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Wednesday and is due to meet French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris on Friday.

Read more: http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-nuclear-talks-in-decisive-phase-says-german-fm/#ixzz3P1iPupV8

Back Into The Lion’s Den (Isaiah 30:6)

Iran, US to resume bilateral nuclear talks

Talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme set to resume in Geneva on January 15, as a third deadline for a deal approaches

US Secretary of State John Kerry has pushed Iran nuclear talks forward as part of the P5+1 group (AFP)

American and Iranian negotiators will resume bilateral talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme next week in Geneva as a third deadline for a deal looms, a US official said on Thursday.

Acting Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, who has led the US delegation for more than two years, will head the team of senior officials and advisors to the next round of bilateral negotiations on January 15-17 in the Swiss city, the State Department said.

The two sides will also be joined by the EU’s political director Helga Schmid who will chair the next round of talks between the group known as the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva on January 18.

In a sign that there are still tough talks ahead, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced his distrust of Washington on Wednesday as he weighed the prospects of a complex nuclear deal.

Under an interim deal between world powers and Tehran in force since January 2014, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment, which can produce material for an atomic bomb.

In return, Iran, which denies seeking to develop an atomic weapon insisting its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only, received limited relief from crippling sanctions.

But two deadlines for a comprehensive accord with the P5+1 group of nations – the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany – have since been missed.

The teams have now set a July 1 ultimatum, although they hope to reach a framework accord sometime in March, leaving the most complex technical details to be finalised afterwards.

Amid pressure from the US Congress to impose more sanctions, Washington has also insisted that in the initial stages of a deal it would only suspend, not entirely lift, the measures.

“The United States arrogantly says that if Iran makes concessions in the nuclear case, they will not at one stroke lift sanctions. With this reality, how can we trust such an enemy?” Khamenei said in a speech in Tehran.

“We are not against negotiations… Let them talk all they want, but they must negotiate based on reality, not on imaginary points.”

Khamenei will have the last word on Iran’s conditions for any final agreement.

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iran-us-resume-bilateral-nuclear-talks-311102636#sthash.yWu5PIFk.dpuf

Irony Of Ironies: US Trying To Send Iranian Uranium To Russia

Iran denies ‘tentative uranium agreement’ with US

Published time: January 03, 2015 04:32
Edited time: January 03, 2015 12:02
5463360-Kerry-Iran-Counterpart-Leave-Nuke-Talks-as-Clock

Washington and Tehran came a step closer to agreeing on shipping part of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile to Russia, AP reported on Friday, citing diplomatic sources. However, Iran denied that any such agreement took place.

According to two diplomatic sources who spoke to the Associated Press, the December round of nuclear talks produced a “catalogue of areas of potential accord”, while outlining differing approaches to remaining stick points.

One of the breakthroughs, sources say, comes as Iran allegedly “tentatively agreed” to transport a large portion of its uranium stockpile to Russia for conversion into reactor fuel.

However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has denied reports that it has agreed with the US on the list of nuclear materials to be delivered to Russia. On Friday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said “no agreement on any nuclear topic” had taken place.

Such news is spread out of political motives and its goal is to tarnish the climate of the talks and make it more complicated to reach a settlement,” Afkham said, reported the state’s IRNA news agency,

The P5+1 group, namely United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany, is scheduled to meet the Iranian delegation in Geneva on January 15.

Diplomats say that during the next round, the sides will focus on the amount of uranium that is to remain in Iran.

An issues that still requires a compromise is the size of Iran’s future enrichment output, as Tehran is ready honor its commitment to reduce it by 20 percent, according to the diplomats, while the US demands it cut by 50 percent. Iran’s Fordo underground enrichment site and Arak nuclear reactor will also be discussed.

The talks, which have so far lasted for more than a year, focus on Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and capabilities and the sanctions imposed on Tehran. Iran insists that it needs enrichment capabilities to develop reactor fuel, and for other peaceful purposes. But the West believes it has been using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for developing a nuclear weapons program.

The P5+1 talks will carry on till the end of June as parties failed to reach a deal by the deadline of November 24. The delegations hope to reach a rough agreement by March. But expert opinion is divided whether or not an agreement might be reached before June’s deadline.

“There are pressures on Iran because of oil prices,” investigative journalist Dave Lindorff told RT, as Iran is “feeling the heat” from the drop in crude price. “The Obama administration is also feeling pressure of getting some results from all this negotiating.”

Meanwhile a researcher on US-Iran relations, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, told RT that unless Washington pledges to reverse their sanctions – a comprehensive agreement will most likely not be reached. The talks with Tehran will only get “more complicated,” as Republican leadership, she says, tends to side with Israel and will be reluctant to drop any sanctions in a Republican dominated Senate.

“Mr. Obama does not have the power to lift the sanctions, and Iran will not forgo any of its rights without lifting the sanctions,” Sepahpour-Ulrich says. “It is very unlikely that they would reach a comprehensive deal.”

“Iran has made many compromises,” she reminded. “But three days ago even more sanction were enforced… So we see a lot of contradiction coming out of the United States. I think the sticking point in all this is going to be sanctions, is going to be Congress, is going to be Israel’s steps.”

Time To Make A Deal With Two Devils (Iran AND Russia)

Iran, 6 Powers Move Closer to Nuke Talks Deal

Russia Iran

Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear arms by committing it to ship to Russia much of the material needed for such weapons, diplomats say.

In another sign of progress, the two diplomats told The Associated Press that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalog outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes.

The diplomats said differences still dominate ahead of the next round of Iran-six power talks on Jan. 15 in Geneva. But they suggested that even agreement to create a to-do list would have been difficult previously because of wide gaps between the sides.

Iran denies it wants nuclear arms, but it is negotiating with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on cuts to its atomic program in hope of ending crippling sanctions. The talks have been extended twice due to stubborn disagreements.

The main conflict is over uranium enrichment, which can create both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear arms. In seeking to reduce Iran’s bomb-making ability, the U.S. has proposed that Tehran export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium ? something the Islamic Republic has long said it would not do.

The diplomats said both sides in the talks are still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran. It now has enough for several bombs, and Washington wants substantial cuts below that level.

But the diplomats said the newly created catalog lists shipping out much of the material as tentatively agreed upon. The diplomats, who are familiar with the talks, spoke to the AP recently and demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the closed negotiations.

Issues that still need agreement, they said, include the size of Iran’s future enrichment output. The U.S. insists that it be cut in half, leaving Tehran with about 4,500 present day centrifuges used to enrich uranium, or less if it replaces them with advanced models. Tehran is ready for a reduction of only around 20 percent, or approximately 8,000 of the machines, according to the diplomats.

Two other unresolved issues are Iran’s Fordo underground enrichment site and the nearly built Arak nuclear reactor. The U.S. and its five allies in the talks want to repurpose Fordo to a non-enrichment function because it is believed impervious to a military attack from the air. The six also seek to re-engineer Arak from a model that produces enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year to a less proliferation-prone model.

Negotiators hope to reach a rough deal by March and a final agreement by June 30.

Iranian Horn Controls Nuclear Negotiations

Iran Warns West to Lower Expectations on Nuclear Compromise

Iran-nuclear-deal

December 24, 2014 1:16 PM
Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned Western powers to curb their demands on limiting his country’s nuclear activities in order to guarantee a landmark settlement, which he said was “within reach.”

Iranian newspapers said on Wednesday that Zarif had written separate letters to his Western counterparts explaining Tehran’s position ahead of the next round of talks in January.

“I am confident that a comprehensive agreement is within reach,” he wrote, according to the Mehr news agency. “But we will firmly resist any humiliating illegitimate demands.”

Zarif said Iran’s goal was “a long-term comprehensive agreement guaranteeing its right to an exclusively peaceful nuclear program in return for full removal of all sanctions.”

Six world powers known as the “P5+1” – the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain – reached a preliminary agreement with Iran last year for it to suspend its most sensitive nuclear activity.

Western countries in return eased some economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic over its past defiance in the 12-year nuclear dispute.

Iran says its program is peaceful, but the West fears it may lead to developing nuclear weapons. Iran and the P5+1 failed for the second time last month to meet a deadline for ending the stand-off, and they extended the preliminary accord until June 30.

The International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] said last week Iran had continued to meet commitments under an interim nuclear agreement with six world powers, despite failure to make “any further advances” on activities at two enrichment facilities and an unfinished heavy water reactor.

France and Britain, however, said around the same time that Iran had not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in the nuclear talks.

Western officials say Iran has not compromised on major sticking points, including the size and scope of its future uranium enrichment program and the speed of ending sanctions.

Under the interim deal’s extension, Iran would continue to convert higher-grade uranium oxide into reactor fuel, there by making it harder and more time-consuming to turn it into the fissile core of a bomb. Tehran denies any such aim.

More from the topic News / Middle East

A Bad Deal About To Be Made

Iran’s nukes: Too desperate for a deal

November 13, 2014 | 7:32pm

The levels of diplomatic activity, fear and even desperation regarding Iran’s steadily advancing nuclear-weapons program are rising rapidly in the White House.

The same is true for Israel and America’s Arab allies in the region, but for very different reasons.

Israel and friendly Arab states worry that the religious fanatics and militarists ruling Tehran will achieve their long-sought goal of possessing deliverable nuclear weapons.

President Obama worries that his endless concessions to and compromises with these same fanatics and militarists will fail to produce a piece of paper he can call a diplomatic success.

With the Nov. 9-10 talks in Oman apparently producing no breakthroughs, it’s looking likely that the looming Nov. 24 negotiating “deadline” will simply be extended — though Iran may even force Obama to offer further sanctions relief before it will consent to another extension.

Tehran has Obama exactly where it wants him.

The past year’s intense “P5 + 1” negotiations (culminating a dozen years of such diplomacy) have seen the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany make one concession after another.

This is not speculation: The White House has cheerfully leaked details of these concessions to friendly reporters to encourage news stories about how close a deal is.

Sadly, this practice is more evidence that it is the “deal” itself, rather than its substance, that constitutes Obama’s Holy Grail.

Reports that Obama has written to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, linking cooperation against the terrorist Islamic State (or “ISIS”) with an agreement over Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, only further confirms this point.

Obama’s serial entreaties to Khamenei are both naïve and dangerous.

Obama’s weakness is also evident to other US enemies.

North Korea recently released its last three American prisoners, with no publicly known quid pro quo. Since Pyongyang never does anything for free, we can deduce the likelihood of secret diplomatic overtures there as well.

And from Pyongyang’s perspective, why not? If Iran can extract concessions and gain legitimacy from Obama without conceding much if anything, why should Kim Jong-un not demand the same?

US competitors like China and Russia can read the calendar. They see Obama’s tenure coming to a close in 2017, and surely doubt that his successor will be as weak or inattentive.

Nations out to enhance their interests at America’s expense will obviously try to exploit Obama’s last years in office. The just-announced agreement for Russia to build six or more nuclear reactors in Iran, over 10 years in the making, illustrates how this phenomenon will unfold.

As for Iran’s continuing proliferation threat, last week’s International Atomic Energy Agency report is deeply troubling. It shows Iran continuing to obstruct IAEA efforts to investigate its nuclear-weaponization activities and stonewalling many other long-pending questions.

The IAEA is a serious organization, professional and dedicated at its operational levels. Though politicized under Director-General Mohammed el-Baradei, who re-wrote staff-level reports on Iran’s activities and generally provided Tehran political cover, it has returned to balance under el-Baradei’s successor, Yukiya Amano of Japan.

Tehran’s persistent refusal to cooperate is important for two reasons.

First, the IAEA is not an intelligence agency. In many critical areas, it acts on information it receives from others (including the United States and Israel), trying to validate that information by other means.

By preventing IAEA from establishing an accurate “baseline” against which to measure future Iranian nuclear activity, Tehran undercuts the essential prerequisites for later verification.

(If inspectors don’t know what the starting point is, they can’t measure subsequent cheating.)

Second, we must worry whether any deal with Iran is truly verifiable. If Iran isn’t improving its conduct before a deal is signed, why expect its performance to improve once it succeeds in legitimizing its program and eliminating sanctions?

Only those unfamiliar with recent history could be confident that US, Israeli and other intelligence services actually know the full measure of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Hubris when it comes to atomic bombs is a dangerous mistake.

Iran’s continued duplicity underlines how little faith we can place in any commitments the regime makes. At this point, we can only hope that Tehran saves us from ourselves by overreaching, as it has so often before.

Sadly, with Obama so eager to declare victory, there may be no practical limit to what Iran can achieve.

John Bolton is a former US ambassador to the United Nations.

Iran’s Uranium Stockpile Grows

Iran’s uranium stockpile grows before deadline for nuclear deal

 Iran-nuclear-negotiations

Video cameras are set up for a news conference prior to a meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna October 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger/Files

(Reuters) – Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas has grown by 8 percent to nearly 8.4 tonnes in about two months, U.N. atomic inspectors say, an amount world powers probably will want to see cut under any nuclear deal with Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a confidential report on Iran to IAEA member states on Friday, less than three weeks before a Nov. 24 deadline for Iran and six world powers to resolve their stand-off over Tehran’s atomic activities.

Iran’s holding of refined uranium gas is one of the factors that could determine how much time it would need for any attempt to assemble nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no such goal but the West wants verifiable action by the Islamic Republic to make sure it cannot produce an atomic bomb any time soon.

Iran and the six states will meet in Vienna from Nov. 18 to try to seal a long-term agreement to end a dispute that over the last decade has often raised fears of a new Middle East war.

The IAEA report said Iran’s stock of uranium gas refined to a fissile concentration of up to 5 percent stood at 8,390 kg, a rise of 625 kg since its previous report in September.

Iran says it produces enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants. But if processed to a high degree, 90 percent, the material could also provide the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, which the West fears may be its ultimate aim.

Iran halted its most sensitive enrichment work – of 20 percent refined uranium – under an interim deal with the powers last November. But it is still making the lower-grade uranium.

Western experts say Iran would now be able to amass enough high-enriched fissile material for one bomb in a few months, if it opted for such a weapon of mass destruction. The United States wants this “breakout time” extended to at least a year.

One way to help achieve that, Western officials and experts say, is for Iran to ship out a large part of its stockpile to Russia where it would be turned into nuclear fuel rods, making it much more difficult to process into bomb material.

Diplomats said there was as yet no agreement on this issue and that the main sticking point in the talks – Iran’s overall enrichment capacity – remained unresolved.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle,” one Western diplomat said. “The Iranians agree on the principle, but it’s a point that doesn’t resolve everything.”

Iran agreed under last year’s temporary accord with the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and China to limit its reserve of low-enriched uranium gas by converting new production into a less proliferation-sensitive oxide form, which it started doing a few months ago.

The stockpile is now above the defined level but Iran still has time to reduce it before the temporary deal expires this month, when it is supposed to be replaced by a long-term one.

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank, said he believed the powers would want to see the holding sharply reduced in any permanent settlement.

“If the stockpile is eliminated, then it may be possible to allow Iran a larger number of centrifuges,” he said, referring to the machines that produce enriched uranium.

(Additional reporting by John Irish; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Iran Wants Economic Sanctions Lifted

Iran wants sanctions lifted as part of nuclear deal

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Pakistan Today

Iran wants all Western sanctions to be lifted as part of a deal on its contested nuclear programme by a November deadline, a top official said on Wednesday.

The announcement came amid intensifying efforts to conclude a definitive pact.

The six powers in the talks with Iran include Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1, have set November 24 as the deadline.

The Chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions was “unacceptable.”

“If we want a definitive accord on November 24, there must be an immediate lifting of sanctions,” he told a news conference in Paris.

A Western diplomat close to the negotiations with Iran on Monday said a firm deal by the deadline was highly unlikely, saying Tehran would have to make “significant gestures.”

The aim is to close avenues towards Tehran ever developing an atomic bomb, by cutting back its enrichment programme, shutting down suspect facilities and imposing tough international inspections.

DEAD Line To Nuclear Negotiations

Deadline Approaches On Iran’s Nuclear Program

Here & Now

UN-GENERAL ASSEMBLY-IRAN-ROUHANI

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani answers a question during press conference in New York on September 26, 2014. Rouhani said that talks with international powers on Tehran’s nuclear program must move forward more quickly, saying limited progress had been made in recent days. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A November deadline is approaching on a nuclear agreement with Iran. For the West, the agreement is aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

So far, the negotiations have failed to broker a deal, and there may be a move to extend the deadline. The talks come as a U.S.-led coalition fights the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Does that complicate the nuclear talks? The Islamic State is also Iran’s enemy.

Security expert Jim Walsh discusses the nuclear talks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.