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East Jerusalem, not the NPT

East Jerusalem, not the NPT, is the biggest reason for the cancellation of Netanayahu’s trip to the nuclear summit.


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Posted on : Apr 09 2010
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Posted under Middle East |

For Human Rights in Iran, Sanctions Are Needed.

Why sanctions are now needed more than ever to force Iran back to the negotiation table, to discuss not only the nuclear program , but also human rights.

Article in Persian, discussing Israel’s diplomatic encirclement of Iran policy.


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Posted on : Apr 01 2010
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Tehran’s nuclear glue

The recent declaration by Tehran that its going to enrich uranium to 20%, has more to do with domestic reasons. We should expect more similar statements from Iran, even though they may not even be true. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/08/tehrans-nuclear-programme

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Posted on : Feb 09 2010
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Posted under Iran - Nuclear Program |

Ahmadinejad’s Radioactive Election Campaign

By: Meir Javedanfar


On the occasion of Iran’s celebration of Nuclear Day on April 9, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, had big news for the people of Iran; they announced major breakthroughs for Iran’s nuclear program. The Nuclear Day declaration was accompanied by much pomp and ceremony.

The first piece of news involved the production of nuclear fuel. The Iranian president stated: “Iran’s nuclear authorities have announced that the various cycles of nuclear fuel management are in our grasp in a comprehensive and domestically produced way.” The central point of his declaration was an assertion regarding Iran’s capability to produce uranium pellets. Once the low-enriched uranium is taken out of the centrifuges, they are placed into these pellets, which are then placed in bundles. They are then placed inside a heavily insulated pressurized chamber in the reactor, as part of the process to create heat to turn the turbines in order to produce energy.

According to Aghazadeh, “Seven thousand centrifuges had been installed in an underground nuclear facility in Natanz.” Ahmadinejad declared that Iran had tested two new types of centrifuges with “a capacity a few times higher than the existing centrifuges” currently in use.

The international community, especially Israel and France, were openly concerned by Ahmadinejad’s statement, which they interpreted as a sign of defiance.  The most interesting reaction came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said, “We don’t know what to believe about the Iranian program.” Clinton’s statement was a diplomatic way of saying, “We don’t believe the bombastic nuclear claims made by the Iranian president.” She would be absolutely right. The statements made in such a grandiose manner by Ahmadinejad and Aghazadeh may have been new to the people of Iran. But to the outside world, they were old recycled news. The goal was to slap some cosmetic sheen on President Ahmadinejad’s election campaign.

Iran’s capability to produce uranium pellets is nothing new to the international community, which was made aware of this development back in February by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Iranian press, probably on the orders of the president and the supreme leader, did not print it at the time, so that it could be used to boost Ahmadinejad’s stature on Nuclear Day.

Furthermore, Ahmadinejad’s claim that Iran had tested two types of new centrifuges was a fact declared by the IAEA as long ago as September 2008; there was certainly nothing new about this announcement.

Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to strengthen Iran’s position before negotiations with the U.S. and to make Ahmadinejad look good, other Iranian lawmakers decided to jump on the bandwagon by making even more bombastic Nuclear Day statements.

A notable example was a declaration made by Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of Iran’s parliamentary commission of national security and foreign policy, who stated that “the nuclear fuel cycle has been practically completed.”

To the Iranian public and to the international community, it may sound like Iran now has the capability to start running nuclear power stations. However, what Bourojerdi does not purposely mention is that while Iran may have the knowledge, it by no means has the capacity to do so. In order to make nuclear fuel for a power station, 30,000 to 40,000 centrifuges are needed to work in cascades in order to make sufficient low-enriched uranium. According to its own estimates, Iran only has 7000 centrifuges installed. This is by no means sufficient.

What Iran’s leaders also don’t say is how many of these are spinning and enriching uranium.

The IAEA does. According to its September 2008 report, Iran had 6,000 centrifuges, but “only 3,964 centrifuges were actively enriching uranium.” The rest were either empty or undergoing vacuum or dry run tests. So not only is the number of centrifuges disputable, so is Iran’s ability to make the required low-enriched uranium to power up nuclear stations.

This doesn’t mean that there is no grounds for worry. What should concern the international community is that although the current number of centrifuges are not sufficient to produce fuel for power stations, they are sufficient to enable Iran to make a bomb.

This will not be easy. The centrifuges in Natanz are under the supervision of the IAEA and under the 24-hour surveillance of its cameras. Nevertheless, the knowledge Iran has acquired in the enrichment of uranium can be used in secret facilities.

The nuclear program is the main leverage Tehran has in negotiations with the U.S. It is extremely unlikely that Iran will turn the clock back on its nuclear program. Although issues such as Iranian influence in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Gaza may be up for grabs, nukes are not expected to be part of any compromises offered by Tehran.

President Ahmadinejad has essentially ruined the Iranian economy, a fact which has greatly damaged his popularity. He continues to try to use the nuclear program as a tool to improve his position. The statements about Iran’s nuclear achievements increase proportionally with allegations of corruption and mismanagement against him. Ahmadinejad literally has nothing else positive to show about his four year term as president.

President Obama should use these statements, and any intransigence shown by Tehran in negotiations, as justification to impose tougher sanctions. For real results, sanctions will focus on the wealth of Iran’s leadership. By naming and shaming companies owned by Iran’s leadership and Revolutionary Guards in places such as Dubai, he would strike hard at the supreme leader and his cronies who make millions from illicit deals. Although they don’t care about the suffering of the people of Iran, Iranian politicians do care about their own pocketbooks. These businesses and their profits are important to them, and they are far more likely to compromise over the nuclear program in a shorter space of time.

Striking at corrupt politicians in Iran and their business interests abroad would put America firmly on the side of the Iranian people. There is nothing that disgusts them more than government corruption, against which they are defenseless. Punishing their crooked politicians would mean much more to the hearts and minds of the people of Iran than any new year’s message.

This article originally appeared in PJM Media.

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Israel Needs A Redefined Iran Strategy


By Meir Javedanfar

When Iran completed a successful test run of its nuclear power station in the city of Bushehr on February 25, it raised the level of concern in some Western countries, particularly in Israel. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even went as far as issuing a threat, which many believe was directed at Iran: “We are a strong country, a very strong country, and we have at our disposal [military] capacities, the intensity of which are difficult to imagine,” Olmert told public radio.

Technically, Bushehr is not a real danger to Israel. In fact, it is no danger at all. Bushehr is a nuclear power plant just like any other. None of the nuclear fuel it will use will come from Iran. It will all be supplied by Russia. Furthermore, all the spent fuel, some of which can be used for weapons purposes, will be taken away by Russia. The Russian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will count every drop of nuclear fuel entering and leaving Iran. Therefore Iran cannot use any of the equipment at Bushehr for its military nuclear program.

By raising such a hue and cry over Bushehr, the Israeli government is distracting the world’s attention from the real danger: the Iranian uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. That is where the danger lies and that is where the U.S. and Israel need to focus their attention. By crying “foul” every time Iran embarks on any nuclear activity, no matter how harmless (such as the case in Bushehr), both Israel and the U.S. could damage their credibility. They could also wear out the patience of the international community. After America’s inability to find WMDs in Iraq, Israel will have to be very careful how it portrays the Iranian threat. Overdoing it could damage its legitimate claims, and could turn it in to the boy who cried wolf too many times.

If Israel wants to legitimately direct its anger, it should be towards Moscow. It is the Russian government that has been hampering international efforts to impose tough sanctions against the Iranian government and its illegal enrichment activities in Natanz. For years, Moscow used its contract with the Iranians for Bushehr as leverage, in order to pressure Iran to not antagonize the West. Moscow used every excuse, and in some cases outright lies, to drag its feet over the completion of Bushehr. The Russians even went as far as citing lack of funds from Iran as an excuse. In reality, everyone knows that the Iranians had paid. However, Tehran couldn’t do much. It was dependent on Russia for this power plant, and all it could do was sit and watch the scheduled date for the completion of the plant slip by 10 years.

However, now that Russia has agreed to complete the contract, Moscow and the West have lost an important leveraging mechanism over Tehran. It will now be even more difficult to pressure Iran to halt its enrichment activities at Natanz. The only danger Bushehr poses is a political one. And this will boost Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s position greatly. As presidential elections near, he could say that under his presidency, Natanz expanded and the West could not do much about it. This will come at a great time for the Iranian president. With the economy’s performance worsening every year, advances in the nuclear program will be a useful distraction.

One important question to ask is: why did Russia go ahead and complete Bushehr? Why now? These days, the Russian economy is suffering greatly, due to the falling price of oil. Furthermore, its once powerful weapons industry is facing ruin. According to a recent Reuters report, “One third of Russia’s weapons makers are on the verge of bankruptcy.” Iran is a very important market, and the Russians know that Iran could soon be negotiating with the U.S. Should Iran and the West mend fences and improve their relations, the Iranians could take revenge over Russia’s feet dragging in Bushehr by signing massive economic deals with the West. This could be a major blow to Russia’s economy and is probably why Russia decided to improve its relations with Tehran now rather than after the negotiations between Iran and the U.S., as it could be too late by then.

In the bid to garner international support for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, the loss of Russian support could have a negative impact. However, this is the new reality that President Obama has to deal with. This is not the first warning shot by Moscow. The recent closure of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan was seen as a Moscow-backed effort against Washington which will impact U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. It won’t be the last either. More than ever, the EU and the U.S. will have to apply their credibility and economic power to withstand the competition from Moscow.

This article originally appeared in PJM Media.

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Mubarak Releases Ayman Nour

The recent decision by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to release Ayman Nur has several implications.

By releasing Ayman Nour, Mubarak is sending Washington the following message: “We know that your pressure on our government will ease now that you need our help. You have stopped making demands of us, and we will give you something you want. Now, what will you do for us?”

The Foreign Policy article entitled “Mubarak flexes his muscles”, explains more:

To read, click here

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Posted on : Feb 24 2009
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Posted under egypt |

Obama To Meet President Ghalibaf?

By: Meir Javedanfar


The period leading to the Iranian presidential elections is always exciting, and this time it will be no different.

According to a recent article in the Tehran based Baztab online, members of a parallel intelligence agency inside Iran have been arrested after being caught spying on Tehran Mayor and presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. The arrested group was collecting information about Ghalibaf’s meetings and electioneering gatherings.

In an interesting twist to the story, the head of the counter intelligence agency that caught the group was later removed because he supplied the information to the press.

The report does not mention who were the people spying on Ghalibaf. However one can assume that the person who has the most to lose from Ghalibaf’s participation in the elections is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He may feel safe about Ayatollah Khatami’s participation, because he could assume that Ayatollah Khamenei, who is not usually in favor of reformists, may not allow him to win.

However Ghalibaf who is from within the conservative movement may pose a bigger danger. Unlike Ahmadinejad, he was a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, and fought in the war for the entire eight years. This is in contrast to Ahmadinejad’s one and half years on the front lines. Also, Ghalibaf is the brother of a Shaheed (martyr), whereas Ahmadinejad did not lose any close family in the war. These factors reinforce Ghalibaf’s revolutionary credentials and give him an edge over the president. 

Furthermore, Ghalibaf is seen as more moderating force in terms of economic and foreign policy. He has openly spoken out against excessive spending and populist policies of the current government, while calling for a more moderate foreign policy and investment from abroad. This is music to the ears of many conservative supporters, and those who want to support Khatami, but believe that despite his good intentions, Khamenei will never let him win.

There are two other factors which boost Ghalibaf’s chances.

One is Ali Larijani’s decision not to participate. His participation may have led to cannibalization of votes between the two.

The other is election of Barack Obama. His calls for unconditional dialogue have been heard in Tehran. So have recommendations for him not to meet with Ahmadinejad.

It is very possible that the Supreme Leader may decide that Ahmadinejad’s catastrophic economic performance and his foreign policy stance may have cost Iran too much. That his removal may be worth the price for the sake of internal stability, and the chance to reap the benefits of dialogue with the US.

Between all the candidates, Ghalibaf would be the best face saving choice. His election as a conservative candidate would allow Khamenei to choose a middle course which would satisfy conservatives at home and those wanting to approach a more moderate Iran.

Deadlocked diplomacy in Gaza?

Meir Javedanfar participates in a live debate on France 24.

Part 1


Part 2


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Posted on : Jan 09 2009
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Posted under Israel-Palestinian conflict |