IRGC Commander Praises Khamenei For Nuking Up: Daniel 8

IRGC commander Hossein Salami speaking on December 1, 2022

IRGC commander Hossein Salami speaking on December 1, 2022

IRGC Commander Praises Khamenei For Not Needing A Nuclear Deal

8 hours ago3 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says the Supreme Leader wants to reach a point where having a nuclear deal with the West will make no difference for Iran.

Speaking to a large crowd on Thursday, General Hossein Salami also tried to present the IRGC and its paramilitary Basij as “servants of the people,” amid a popular uprising in which security forces have so far killed around 450 civilians since mid-September.

Salami repeated regime slogans about “independence” and “self-sufficiency” and said, Khamenei “has turned a few issues into a matter of pride that America cannot swallow. One of these is his strong stand on the issue of JCPOA, and it has reached a stage when the acceptance or rejection of the JCPOA has no importance for Iran.”

After 18 months of indirect negotiations by the Biden Administration to revive the 2015 nuclear accord known as the JCPOA, talks broke down in early September, when the US rejected excessive demands by Iran.

Salami also praised the 83-year-old authoritarian ruler for spreading the influence of the Islamic Republic to other countries, adding that “enemies” cannot accept “this development.”

The Islamic regime uses the term “enemies” to refer to the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and lately Western Europe, as many countries have criticized its use of deadly violence against protesters.

Many countries raise the issue of Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East, by financially and militarily building a network of militant groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.

People celebrating in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj after the Islamic Republic’s soccer team lost against the US and exit the World Cup on November 29, 2022

People celebrating in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj after the Islamic Republic’s soccer team lost against the US and exit the World Cup on November 29, 2022

The IRGC commander then went on repeating accusations made by Khamenei and other officials in the past two months against “enemies” for plotting to destroy Iran. At the same time, he claimed that Iran has become a “powerful force” and “the enemy is fleeing from the Islamic world.”

For this reason, he claimed, the United States is fomenting unrest in Iran, but the Iranian people “are standing up to America.”

In fact, thousands of Iranians across the country celebrated the defeat of Iran’s team by the US side in the World Cup on Tuesday, seeing the loss as a defeat for the regime that tries to use sports to strengthen its image.

The United States has repeatedly dismissed accusations that it has anything to do with the anti-regime protests. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that one of the “profound mistakes” that the “regime makes is in accusing the United States or any other country” of somehow being “responsible for, instigating what’s happening. That’s not at all the case. And to misunderstand their own people is at the heart of the problem that they’re facing.”

But the Biden Administration has also voiced support for Iranians to have the right to peacefully protest and officials have met with Iranian activists to underline that policy.

Blinken in a separate interview with NBC also reiterated the administration’s policy, saying “the most important thing that we can do is first to speak out very clearly ourselves in support of the people’s right to protest peacefully, to make their views known, and as I said, to take what steps we can take to go after those who are actually oppressing those rights, including through sanctions.”

Iranians mainly blame Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard and its Basij paramilitaries for deadly use of violence against protesters. Many have reached the point that they will accept nothing short of a complete regime change and the establishment of a secular, democratic political system.

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Obama Deal Fails: Daniel 8

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Negotiations ‘Fail’

Thursday, 11/24/20223 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

With nuclear talks frozen and the US and Europe levying further sanctions, Iranian commentators are looking at life under permanent US ‘maximum pressure.’

IRNA, the official news agency, November 24 portrayed Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear program since 2019 as a series of responses to United States, Israeli or European actions – beginning 2018 with the US “covenant-breaking” in leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.

Iran’s announcement Tuesday that it was enriching uranium to 60 percent at the Fordow site was yet another “reaction to the excesses of the West,” IRNA argued, just as enrichment to 60 percent at Natanz, another nuclear site, in April came in response to “sabotage actions” at the site attributed to Israel.

In fact, Iran decided to start 60-percent enrichment in early 2021 just as the new US administration had announced its readiness to return to the JCPOA and talks in Vienna were about to begin.

Tehran announced the latest move as a reply to a resolution raised by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States passed November 17 at the board of the 37-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US and ‘E3’ had “tied a technical and legal case…to events inside the country and protests turned into riots,” IRNA argued. “The troika of Europe and the United States stopped the nuclear talks under the pretext of unrest inside Iran.”

Casting further doubts on talks, IRNA argued, was the looming return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu, which it suggested would “definitely intensify…the Zionist regime’s delusional claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

‘Impasse’ in diplomacy

Separately, Fararu, a privately owned news agency, carried a discussion with Hosseini Kanani-Moghadam, head of Iran’s conservatively-inclined Green Party, and Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat who has for some time been pessimistic over the JCPOA.

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran's chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran’s chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Majlesi argued that “the West” had long given up hope of negotiating with Iran and sought to re-use tactics that had undermined the Soviet Union. “Western countries,” he said, had judged that President Ebrahim Raisi’s government, which took office in 2021, inclined against the JCPOA with ministers asking why Iran accepted nuclear restrictions while gaining nothing from the agreement.

The result was an “impasse” in diplomatic efforts to restore the JCPOA – an impression confirmed, Majlesi said, by the French president and Canadian prime minister recently meeting “supporters of subversion in our country,” a reference to exiled activists and social-media ‘influencers.’ This accelerated an “agenda against Iran” over “recent years” that had “led to significant economic pressures” aimed at “impoverishing Iran.”

Kanani-Moghadam argued that Iran retained political levers “in the event of the escalation of hostile policies,” including “complete withdrawal from the JCPOA” (presumably ending all nuclear restrictions but staying within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), or even leaving the NPT.

Bagheri-Kani in India: Focus on economy

Post-JCPOA thinking were also evident in discussions during the visit to India of Ali Bagheri-Kani, deputy Iranian foreign minister and leading nuclear negotiator. While IRNA Thursday reported Bagheri-Kani attacking “the atmosphere created by some western media regarding the developments in Iran,” its focus was business.

While Bagheri-Kani’s brief as one of five deputy ministers is politics, his interview with Asia International News Agency(ANI) also focused on economics, and how commerce might continue should US ‘maximum pressure’ last. ANI noted that bilateral trade had risen 46 percent between 2011-12 and 2019-20.

While criticizing the US for disrupting world energy security with sanctions against Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, Bagheri-Kani highlighted potential for Iran to help India over energy in return for food exports, presumably through barter or non-dollar arrangements. He also stressed that India’s project for developing Chabahar port, in Sistan-Baluchistan province, was continuing.

New Delhi has been slow to develop the port in fear of US punitive action under ‘maximum pressure.’ Once a major buyer of Iranian oil, India has grown increasingly frustrated at Washington’s approach. It abstained, along with Pakistan, at the recent vote condemning Iran at the IAEA board.

Iraq Pushes Back the Iranian Horn: Daniel 8

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)

New Iraqi Prime Minister Tells Iran’s Supreme Leader that Baghdad Will Stop Attacks Against It

November 30, 2022 10:14 PM

Iraq’s new prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, met Iran’s top leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his first important trip abroad since being named to head the government by the Iraqi parliament.

Sudani told journalists in Tehran after meeting Khamenei, that Iraq would not allow any attacks on its neighbor from inside its territory and that its security forces are being deployed along the two countries’ common border.

He said that his government is committed to enforcing the Iraqi constitution and preventing any groups or parties from damaging Iran’s security and that Iraq’s national security advisor will meet with his Iranian counterpart to coordinate operations on the ground.

Sudani added that Iraq considers dialogue and mutual comprehension to be the best policy to solve problems on the ground.


Iran Bolsters Border Security to Prevent ‘Infiltration’

Hussein Allawi, a top adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that Sudani’s top priorities in his meetings with Iran’s leaders are to have detailed and sincere talks that will not drag out for a long period of time that cover the issues of Iran cutting off the flow of water to Iraq and Iran’s recent bombardment of Iraqi territory.

The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan visited Baghdad recently to meet with Sudani and coordinate the deployment of Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along Iran’s border to prevent any infiltration or attacks on Iran and any further Iranian military response to such attacks.

Iraqi media reported that Sudani also discussed Iran’s supplying of gas and electricity to Iraq, in addition to trade issues and joint oil and gas exploration along the two country’s border.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that relations between Iraq and Iran are in total disequilibrium and that Prime Minister Sudani is a political ally of Iran who is going to Tehran to give an account of his government’s actions.

He said that Iran worked to have Sudani named prime minister even though allies of the Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won parliamentary elections. He said they allegedly threatened Sadr and his family, which lives in Iran, to desist from choosing a prime minister, so that Iran could have influence over the government in Baghdad. Sudani, he argued, is visiting Iran like a favorite son returning home.

Abou Diab stressed that Iraq has absolutely no leverage in its dealings with Iran and will have to accept whatever Iran decides, due to the totally unbalanced relations between the two countries, both economically and politically.

Iranian media reported that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber told Sudani that countries in the region must solve their security problems among themselves, rather than resorting to outside parties. Iranian officials have made similar statements in the past.

Khamenei’s “Nuclear Fatwa,” Once Again

November 29, 2022 | By A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and Ze’ev B. Begin*

Iran | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 433

In a new book titled Religion and Nuclear Weapons, A Study of Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan  (Vij Books India Pvt Ltd, 2022, 120 pp.), Dr. Shameer Modongal of Kerala University and Professor Seyed Hossein Mousavian of Princeton University lay out a detailed argument that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. Professor Mousavian has some experience in this issue, as he was spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the International Community in 2003-2005 and foreign policy advisor to the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005-2007.

The authors begin in an academic and methodical manner, with general descriptions of various political science models that explain why some states choose to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Next is a learned discussion of the role of religion in shaping states’ national security policies, and a very detailed focus on statements by Iranian clerics and a discussion of the Iranian theocracy’s policy on WMDs. The authors’ reasoning is based on the decisive role played by religious edicts (fatwas) in the decisions of the Islamic Iranian regime. Asserting that the development, acquisition and use of WMDs are forbidden in Islam, they then discuss how Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s alleged anti-nuclear weapons fatwa is legally binding upon Iran’s theocracy and would completely prevent Iranian attempts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

In a detailed rebuttal to those who doubt the existence of the fatwa, Modogal and Mousavian acknowledge that there is no such written fatwa (p. 69) but argue that “this concern is not significant considering the position of Ayatollah Khamenei and the publicity of his statements. As far as the legitimacy of a fatwa in concerned, it is not necessary to be issued in written form. It has been a practice since early times to issue oral fatwas, and it may be written down by those who heard them. The statements of Ayatollah Khamenei have also been reported by those who heard it. His statements against nuclear weapons have been published on his personal website.”

What the authors do not clarify is how one might distinguish between a political declaration in a speech by the Supreme Leader as head of state and a formal and binding religious edict that is considered a fatwa that he issues as the supreme religious authority. If Khamenei’s statements against Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons have indeed been published on his personal website, it would be strange for him, a jurisprudent, to have consistently refrained from taking one more step and publishing it on one of his two sites in which  his fatwas appear in their traditional format. That format is a specific question addressed to the jurisprudent and, in response, his ruling on it, based on religious arguments.

With this question looming above their discussion, the authors conclude that “the position and power of Ayatollah Khamenei ensure the long-lasting of this religious position of Iran [banning acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran] without being challenged by other scholars…” (p.71). However, they fail to mention that it was Khamenei himself who explained, in writing, that his position on Iranian nuclear weaponry is not based on religion. On March 15, 2012, the following question was submitted to Khamenei via Facebook by an Iranian opposition group called Cheragh-e Azadi (“The Light of Freedom”):

“Question:Your Excellency has announced a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, and considering that nuclear weapons are a requirement for deterrence and that the aim of obtaining them is to intimidate the enemies in order to prevent them from acting aggressively, and in light of what is written in Surat Al-Anfal, Verse 60 […] is it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?”

Khamenei’s response, also on Facebook, was brief: “Answer: Your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.” The exchange was concluded by a “Summary: No answer was given.”[1]

Nine years later, on February 22, 2021, Khamenei tweeted a less cautious message in English: “Iran is not after nuclear weapons. But it’s [sic] nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either. It will enrich Uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country. Iran’s enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.” It is well known, though, that there are no civilian purposes for which a country needs uranium enriched to more than 20%; 60% is the enrichment level required to fuel nuclear submarines.[2]

A year later, on March 10, 2022, addressing Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Khamenei referred to nuclear weapons as “an arm of power” and explained: “The nuclear issue is […] about scientific progress and our future technology. […] People are talking about making concessions to America or to others in order to become immune to the sanctions. This means severing this arm of our policy and [giving up] this bargaining chip […] I believe that these [compromises] are mistakes. If, over the years, the people who want to chop off some of those arms of power had been given permission to do so, our country would be facing great danger today.”[3] This position is in line with Khamenei’s ridicule, in his March 20, 2011 Persian New Year address, of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi for handing over his nuclear installations to the U.S.: “This gentleman wrapped up all his nuclear facilities, packed them on a ship, and delivered them to the West and said, ‘Take them!’ Look in what position our nation is, and in what position they [the Libyans] are now.”[4]  

The New Iranian Talk About Iran’s Need For Nuclear Weapons

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sparked a surge of blunt Iranian talk, including depictions of Iran’s future nuclear weapons as essential to Iranian national security.[5] Iranian Majlis (parliament) member Mohammad Ka’ab Amir said on February 26, 2022: “Ukraine is an example from which the supporters of the West and the East must learn. We must insist on the nuclear rights of the Iranian people […] so Iran will be strong, with nuclear and military might.” On the same day, the daily mouthpiece of the Iranian regime, Kayhan, wrote: “A close look at the dimensions of the Ukraine crisis and the world’s response to it indicates very clearly why the leader of the [Iranian] Revolution [Khamenei] has stressed the issue of building strength on every level, and has firmly opposed any concession regarding factors that guarantee the country’s [ability to defend its] security on its own, without relying on others.” Two days later, it clarified: “An important lesson of the Ukrainian war is that, in order to dispel threats, one must be strong. Disarming and handing over one’s sources of strength is the deadliest mistake…” Similarly, Passive Defense Organization head, Gen. Gholamreza Jalali said on March 6, 2022: “One of [Ukraine’s] mistakes was that although it is one of the world’s nuclear powers, it transferred all its nuclear facilities and capabilities to Europe in exchange for European security and support.”

Continuing in this series of open statements, Dr. Mahmoud-Reza Aghamiri, head of the nuclear engineering department at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, spoke candidly to an audience on April 9, 2022, saying: “Today, you have deterrence capability. What does this mean? It means you can raise your uranium enrichment level to 99% within a very short period of time. You have the power, if needed, to ‘let off control’ the nuclear fission. In other words, you can install it on a warhead and let it do whatever it wants […] It is natural to have the power, the might, and the capabilities that would make your enemy succumb to your demands in the negotiations.”

Kamal Kharrazi, former Iranian foreign minister (1997-2005) and currently a foreign policy advisor to Khamenei as well as chairman of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a July 17, 2022 interview on Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV: “It is no secret that we have become a nuclear threshold country. This is the reality. This is a fact. It is no secret that we have the required technological capabilities to produce a nuclear bomb. But we do not want that and have not decided to do so. In the past, we raised the level of uranium enrichment from 20% to 60% in a matter of days. We can simply raise this level to 90%.”[6]

The Nuclear Fatwa Legend – Where Did It Come From?

In view of these statements, one may wonder where the legend of a binding, anti-nuclear fatwa issued by Khamenei came from. The following account shows its trivial origin. On November 15, 2004, in Paris, Iran signed an agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom in which it declared that “it does not and will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons.” It also undertook to “continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities.” In return, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors decided not to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council.

To reach this agreement, Iran’s then-chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, who would later become Iranian president, sought an argument that would win the confidence of the Europeans, and decided to make use of a Friday sermon that Khamenei had delivered in Tehran on November 5, 2004, 10 days before the Paris agreement was signed. Years later, in a television interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service that aired in May 2012, Rouhani claimed that Khamenei had “talked about the fatwa” in his sermon. However, Khamenei had only said in the sermon that “nuclear weapons, their production, storage and use – each of these is problematic. We have also expressed our jurisprudential opinion. It is clear, and everyone knows [it].” In other words, in his sermon Khamenei had neither issued a fatwa nor used the religious term “haram” (“forbidden”) – he had merely called nuclear weapons “problematic.”

In this 2012 interview, Rouhani exposed his trick, stating: “That was when we were on the verge of the Paris Agreement. The European troika emphasized [the need for] strong guarantees [to not develop nuclear weapons] […] I told the three European ministers that they should know about two explicit guarantees from our side, one of which is the fatwa of the Supreme Leader [who] declared the production of nuclear weapons haram [forbidden]. This fatwa is more important to us than the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and its Additional Protocol, more important than any other law.” Asked whether he brought the matter up after previous consultations Rouhani answered: “it occurred to me right there to bring it up.”[7] Thus, on the spur of the moment, the “nuclear fatwa” was diplomatically birthed. Responding to the next question, Rouhani said that the Iranian government had even considered making the “fatwa” into a law, because the Europeans “were saying that if [the fatwa] becomes the law, it would eliminate the West’s concerns. […] This was a confidence-building measure for the West.” It is thus clear that the legend of the “nuclear fatwa” was the result of Rouhani’s 2004 cunning political move.

Finally, a surprise: Despite the learned content of his new book Religion and Nuclear Weapons, and its emphasis on the binding nature of the “nuclear fatwa,” Professor Mousavian warned in a recent article (emphasis added): “If Western powers try to corner Iran and reinstate UN-led sanctions, Tehran would likely withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Any military strike by Israel or the U.S. would likely then push Iran towards building a nuclear weapon.”[8]

* Ayelet Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Yigal Carmon is MEMRI Founder and President; Ze’ev B. Begin is a Senior Fellow at MEMRI.

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt ‘hostile activities’ in region: Analyst
China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace, according to a report released by the Pentagon on Nov 29. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt ‘hostile activities’ in region: Analyst

China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace, according to a report by the Pentagon. 

Calvin Yang

30 Nov 2022 07:20PM(Updated: 30 Nov 2022 08:36PM)

SINGAPORE: Concerned with various alliances forming in its backyard, China may take on a more offensive nuclear posture, said a defence analyst on Wednesday (Nov 30).

Beijing “has to adopt a more offensive stance with regards to the use of its nuclear weapons”, as the geostrategic environment around China continues to change dramatically, said Mr Ridzwan Rahmat, principal defence analyst at defence intelligence company Janes.

According to a report out of the United States, China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace. 

The figures released by the Pentagon on Tuesday underscore mounting concerns over China’s intentions for its expanding nuclear arsenal, with a US official stating that the Asian superpower has a rapid buildup too substantial to keep under wraps. 

China is worried about the type of alliances that are currently forming in its backyard, Mr Ridzwan told CNA’s Asia Now.

This includes the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain and the US, which facilitates cooperation on security issues in the Indo-Pacific.

It will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which China views as a hostile move and has repeatedly criticised as an act of nuclear proliferation. 

“I think the Chinese nuclear programme has evolved, from a point where it was purely a defensive weapon to a point where it’s now being postured as a weapon to preempt any hostile activities surrounding that particular region,” said Mr Ridzwan. 

When its nuclear programme started more than 50 years ago, the preoccupation in China’s strategic calculations was the reunification with Taiwan and to ensure that its territorial sovereignty was not violated, he said. 

“The nuclear weapon was viewed, at that point of time, as something that might guarantee its survival.”

However, the dynamics have since shifted, with observers calling China’s rapid military buildup as a strategic breakout from its minimum deterrence nuclear posture. 

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military said the country currently has a nuclear stockpile of more than 400 warheads.

The estimate for 2035 was based on an unchanged pace of military buildup, a US official said after the report was released. 


China had said that its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the US and Russia, and that it is ready for dialogue, but only if Washington reduces its nuclear stockpile to China’s level.

During the Communist Party Congress in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that China would boost its strategic deterrent, a term typically used to describe nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon’s report reiterated concerns about mounting pressure by Beijing on Taiwan, but Washington does not see an invasion of the island as imminent.

Mr Ridzwan believes any reunification attempts with Taiwan will “probably be carried out by conventional forces rather than nuclear forces”. 

“While the Taiwan Strait crisis itself is the catalyst for China’s nuclear programme, I don’t think it will be the tool that China will deploy in the event that it needs to reunify with Taiwan by force,” he added. 

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said earlier this week that China has what it takes to dissuade North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. 

However, Mr Ridzwan does not believe there is any interest for Beijing to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. 

He added that North Korea’s preparations for resuming the testing of nuclear weapons is going to complicate deterrence calculations for the US. 

“And from China’s point of view, any complications to the Americans will be in Beijing’s favour, given how Beijing is very concerned about the security roadblocks that have formed around its territorial areas,” he added

Obama nuclear deal talks at ‘dead end’: Daniel 8

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani [@IRIMFA_EN/Twitter]

Iran nuclear deal talks at ‘dead end’

November 29, 2022 at 4:04 pm | Published in: Asia & AmericasIranMiddle EastNewsUS

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani [@IRIMFA_EN/Twitter]November 29, 2022 at 4:04 pm

A spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanaani, said the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program have reached a “dead end”, adding that Europe has failed to fulfil its obligations as stipulated in the nuclear agreement.

“It seems that we have reached a dead end in the negotiations of the nuclear agreement,” Kanaani told reporters on Monday.

Commenting on the UN Human Rights Council decision, last Thursday, to form a high-level fact- finding investigation into the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on protesters following the death of Mahsa Amini, Kanaani said, “Iran will not cooperate with the political committee called the Fact-Finding Commission”.

“The hasty use of human rights mechanisms and the use of these mechanisms as a tool against independent states is unacceptable and condemnable, and does not contribute to the advancement of human rights,” Kanaani said.

“There is no doubt that Western governments, especially the US government and some governments allied with it, have played a role in provoking the riots inside Iran, and this information was presented to the ambassadors residing in Tehran in various frameworks, and a large number of citizens from different countries were also arrested for their role in inciting riots,” he added.

Regarding the attack on the Israeli oil tanker, Kanaani said, “Making false accusations against Iran is a goal that the Israeli Occupation and its allies seek to achieve. If Iran does something, it is brave enough to bear its responsibility.”

More than 300 Dead By the Iranian Horn

Iranian General Acknowledges Over 300 Dead in Ongoing Unrest

Associated Press | November 28, 2022 3:02 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian general on Monday acknowledged that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding nationwide protests, giving the first official word on casualties in two months.

That estimate is considerably lower than the toll reported by Human Rights Activists in Iran, a U.S.-based group that has been closely tracking the protests since they erupted after the Sept. 16 death of a young woman being held by the country’s morality police.

The activist group says 451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest and that more than 18,000 people have been detained.

The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. They quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy and pose one of the most serious challenges to the ruling clerics since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the aerospace division of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, was quoted by a website close to the Guard as saying that more than 300 people have been killed, including “martyrs,” an apparent reference to security forces. He also suggested that many of those killed were ordinary Iranians not involved in the protests.

He did not provide an exact figure or say where his estimate came from.

Authorities have heavily restricted media coverage of the protests. State-linked media have not reported an overall toll and have largely focused on attacks on security forces, which officials blame on shadowy militant and separatist groups.

Hajizadeh reiterated the official claim that the protests have been fomented by Iran’s enemies, including Western countries and Saudi Arabia, without providing evidence. The protesters say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression, and deny having any foreign agenda.

The protests have spread across the country and drawn support from artists, athletes and other public figures. The unrest has even cast a shadow over the World Cup, with some Iranians actively rooting against their own national team because they see it as being linked to the government.

The niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently called on people to pressure their governments to cut ties with Tehran over its violent suppression of the demonstrations.

In a video posted online by her France-based brother, Farideh Moradkhani urged “conscientious people of the world” to support Iranian protesters. The video was shared online this week after Moradkhani’s reported arrest on Nov. 23, according to the activist group.

Moradkhani is a long-time activist whose late father was an opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister and is the closest member of the supreme leader’s family to be arrested. The branch of the family has opposed Khamenei for decades and Moradkhani has been imprisoned on previous occasions for her activism.

“I ask the conscientious people of the world to stand by us and ask their governments not to react with empty words and slogans but with real action and stop any dealings with this regime,” she said in her video statement.

The protests, now in their third month, have continued despite a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Iran refuses to cooperate with a fact-finding mission that the U.N. Human Rights Council recently voted to establish.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not engage in any cooperation, whatsoever, with the political committee,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday.

In a separate development, Iran released a 76-year-old dual Iranian-Austrian citizen from prison for health reasons, the Austria Press Agency reported.

APA quoted the Austrian Foreign Ministry confirming that Massud Mossaheb was given indefinite medical leave. The ministry said “intensive diplomatic efforts” had led to his release, which was first reported by Austrian daily Die Presse. There was no immediate comment from Iran.

Mossaheb was arrested on suspicion of espionage in early 2019 during a visit to the capital, Tehran, and later sentenced to 10 years in prison. He must remain in Iran and report to authorities every other week, APA reported.

Iran has detained several dual nationals in recent years on charges of threatening national security. Analysts and rights groups accuse hard-liners in Iran’s security agencies of using foreign detainees as bargaining chips in negotiations or prisoner swaps with the West, which Tehran denies.

The China Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 7

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll past the Great Hall of the People during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, October 1, 2019.

China could have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035: Pentagon report

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

Published 12:00 PM EST, Tue November 29, 2022

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll past the Great Hall of the People during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, October 1, 2019.Mark Schiefelbein/APCNN — 

China’s stockpile of nuclear warheads has surpassed 400 in a fraction of the time previously estimated by the United States, a major Pentagon report revealed, with Beijing focusing on accelerating its nuclear expansion as it seeks to challenge the US as the world’s top super power.

In 2020, the US estimated that China had nuclear warheads numbering in the low-200s and expected the stockpile to double within a decade. Just two years later, China has reached that mark and could have some 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if they continue to expand their stockpile at the current pace, according to the 2022 China Military Power report released Tuesday.

“What we’ve seen really in the past couple of years is this accelerated expansion,” said a senior defense official.

The world’s most populous country is using its burgeoning military as one of its tools to create an international system that favors its world view, posing the “most consequential and systemic challenge to US national security,” according to the report, and the larger nuclear capability is a far cry from what China used to call a “lean and efficient” nuclear deterrent. Beijing’s investment in its nuclear triad – sea, land and air-based nuclear launch options – is cause for concern in Washington.

“We see, I think, a set of capabilities taking shape and new numbers in terms of what they’re looking to pursue that raise some questions about what their intent will be in the longer term,” the senior defense official said in a briefing to reporters about the latest report.

China also conducted 135 ballistic missile tests in 2021, the report said, which is more than the rest of the world combined. (The tally excludes ballistic missiles used in the war in Ukraine, the report noted.)

The official also offered new details about the Chinese test of a hypersonic missile in July 2021 that flew around the world before hitting its target, an accomplishment that drew attention to the lagging pace of US hypersonic weapons development. The official said the Chinese system flew 40,000 kilometers and demonstrated the longest flight of any Chinese land attack weapon to date.

The Chinese military, formally known as the People’s Liberation Army, is also developing space and counterspace weapons, the report said, viewing the advanced technology as a way to deter outside intervention in a regional military conflict.

China has a standing army of nearly 1 million soldiers, the largest navy in the world by number of ships, and the third largest air force in the world, according to the report.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy, released last month, identifies China as the pacing challenge for the United States, a point often reiterated by the Pentagon’s top leaders.

“China is the one country out there that geopolitically has the power potential to be a significant challenge to the United States,” said Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley at a news conference earlier this month. “Based on their population, their technology, their economy and nano and a bunch of other things, China is the greatest geopolitical challenge to the United States.”

Tensions between Beijing and Washington frequently revolve around Taiwan, a democratic, self-governing island. China sees the island as a fundamental part of its sovereign territory, including the South China Sea, and defense officials have previously said it intends to have the capability to use military force to take Taiwan by 2027.

In the latest report – officially called the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China – the US does not anticipate an imminent invasion of Taiwan. Instead, the report said, the US has seen Beijing ramp up diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure on Taiwan.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic visit to the island in August marked a new stage in China’s efforts, as Beijing used the visit to attempt to establish a new normal around Taiwan.

Since the visit, China has crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait more frequently, the defense official said, a move they would only use infrequently in the past. In addition, there is more naval activity around Taiwan and a large number of Chinese aircraft flying into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone.

“Even though we don’t see an imminent invasion, that’s sort of an elevated level of intimidating and coercive activity around Taiwan,” the official said.

Two weeks ago, President Joe Biden met Chinese President Xi Jinping in-person for the first time during his presidency at the G20 summit in Indonesia. Biden described the 3-hour meeting as “open and candid,” and he laid out the US approach to one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world as one of competition and not conflict.

Biden also focused on the need for maintaining open lines of communication between Beijing and Washington. China cut off several contacts and meetings with the US following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met his Chinese counterpart in Cambodia last week, also emphasized the need for communication, according to a readout of the meeting.

The report also looked at the relationship between Russia and China. The two countries issued a joint statement on February 4, signaling a desire for ongoing partnership and cooperation. Beijing and Moscow have “complementary interests” in terms of their national security and a shared approach to international relations. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine just weeks later has complicated the relationship in ways that may not be fully clear yet.

“Of course it’s going to be an area of keen interest for us and other observers in Europe and elsewhere,” the official said. “We’ve seen the PRC kind of continue to support Russia diplomatically and to amplify a lot of their propaganda and disinformation. And so those are areas of particular concern.”

Obama-Iran Nuclear Deal is Dead

Protest against United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in front of the United States Embassy in Tehran. Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Patrick Lawrence: Biden Sides With Trump in Killing Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal

byEDITORNovember 27, 2022

    By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost

    Among our mentally impaired president’s more prominent campaign pledges during the 2020 political campaigns was that his national security people would negotiate America’s return to the multi-sided accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. Without hesitation, I offered excellent odds that this would stand tall in Joe Biden’s forest of broken promises. It was a wager I truly did not want to win. 

    And now it seems I have. 

    Events over the past several weeks, in the U.S. and in Israel, indicate strongly that the Biden administration has decided to drop all notion of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, as the 2015 agreement is called. In effect, Biden will hold to the position Donald Trump took when he pulled the U.S. out of the pact in 2018. 

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    This brings us straight back to those dangerous years when recklessly risky covert operations in the Islamic Republic and the threat of open conflict were the norm. But what is a little more existential peril when Washington is all but directly confronting the world’s most heavily nuclearized nation by way of a wildly irresponsible regime located on Russia’s doorstep? I suppose we can look at it this way.

    I knew all along I had made a safe bet on the fate of the Iran accord. Given the way Biden has operated over his half-century career, if he says he is going to do something it is a fairly good sign he has no intention of doing it. And there seemed to me no way an American pol so deep in the Israelis’ pocket would take any step that would displease the apartheid state’s savagely anti–Iran leadership. 

    This is a man who famously proclaims “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist”—an assertion of his position he repeated during a state visit to Israel but four months ago. This is also a man who long ago learned how to manipulate Capitol Hill politics to his own advantage.

    I know it is asking a lot, but readers may cast their minds far, far back to the forgotten days of “Build Back Better,” the second coming of FDR, and all that. It seemed perfectly obvious that Biden knew he could make all the extravagant promises he thought politically expedient because he also knew few to none of them would ever make it through the houses of Congress.

    It was the same with the idea of bringing the U.S. back into the JCPOA. The lying dog-faced pony soldier who moved into the White House in January 2021 knew he could commit to reviving the accord with no chance his administration would ever do so. As soon as Biden assumed office and named his national security detail it was perfectly evident that Israel would be running their Iran policy. 

    Bibi Netanyahu was prime minister at the time, readers will recall, and he made it explicitly clear on repeated occasions during Biden’s early months in office that his Israel would never accept a restored or even renegotiated JCPOA. From then onward, the fate of the accord has been color by number. 

    The U.S. went ahead with new talks with the Islamic Republic, beginning in April 2021 and continuing well into this year. These were conducted indirectly in a Geneva hotel, with European diplomats running room to room as go-betweens. The American negotiators were led by Robert Malley, a seasoned conflict-resolution man with a pretty good record.

    Details of just what was in the new accord—what of the original limits on Iran’s nuclear development, what was added to them—were never made clear. Iran’s preoccupation during the Geneva talks was with a guarantee that sanctions relief it would receive in exchange for its concessions would not be withdrawn when one Washington administration gave way to another—Tehran having taken the Trump withdrawal as a stinging betrayal.     

    Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy director, announced last August that he had in hand what he described as a draft of a final agreement to restore the JCPOA. “What can be negotiated has been negotiated,” the Spanish bureaucrat declared. For a short while after that I began to worry I might lose my money: Maybe they would pull this off after all. 

    No chance. On August 24, a couple of weeks after the Borrell announcement, the bubble burst. Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, stated—deadpan, no detail—that the U.S. had sent a response to the draft Borrell was waving around. John Kirby then signaled that the U.S. would keep a safe distance from it. “Gaps remain,” Biden’s “strategic communications” man declared. “We’re not there yet.” 

    And then came Israeli PM Yair Lapid, who, like Netanyahu, is of the right-wing Likud party. “A bad deal,” he said of the draft. The diplomats in Geneva “must stop and say ‘Enough.’” The new outline “does not meet the standards set by Biden himself, preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”

    Note the language of a leader whose nation was party neither to the original agreement nor to the new negotiations: To his mind, what would constitute a good deal could not be limited to banning a nuclear weapons program; Israel would insist Iran must not have a nuclear program of any kind, even one limited to peaceful purposes—energy production, advanced medical procedures, and the like. Three months later, nearly to the day, we read this David Sanger piece published in Sunday’s New York Times:

    “Now, President Biden’s hope of re-entering the United States into the deal with Iran that was struck in 2015, and that Donald J. Trump abandoned, has all but died…. At the White House, national security meetings on Iran are devoted less to negotiation strategy and more to how to undermine Iran’s nuclear plans, provide communications gear to protesters and interrupt the supply chain of weapons to Russia, according to several administration officials…. ‘There is no diplomacy right now under way with respect to the Iran deal,’ John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, bluntly told Voice of America last month.”

    Sanger, who has followed the Iran question for many years and who consistently reflects the national security state’s perspective, asserts, “A new era of direct confrontation with Iran has burst into the open.” 

    In the Iran context, “direct confrontation,” should readers need reminding, is a phrase weighing roughly the same as one of those F–35 jets the U.S. sells to the Israeli Defense Forces. 

    Sanger’s piece explains what is supposed to be an abrupt turn away from the JCPOA talks by noting the Tehran government’s tough responses to recent protests in the capital and other cities, Iran’s sales of drones to Russia, and violations of Iraqi territory—yes, believe it, the U.S. gets very upset when it hears of violations of Iraqi territory. Most worrisome, it seems, is that Iran intends to enrich uranium to “near bomb grade”—not bomb grade—at a facility called Fordow that is built inside a mountain. 

    The problem with Fordow, Sanger writes, is that it is “hard to bomb.” I am reminded of a remark Netanyahu made in response to Iran’s development of missile defense systems a few years ago. These will make it hard for us to attack, Bibi complained. How dare those Iranians. 

    To be clear about these matters, the recent unrest in Iran is three things: justified, unfortunate given the official repression it prompts, and none of the Biden administration’s business if you subscribe, as I do, to the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other nations. Iran’s drone sales to Russia reflect the steady elaboration of the bilateral relationship and simply do not hold up as an excuse to shut down the Geneva diplomatic process. 

    As to Iran’s enrichment programs, we’ve been around this any-moment-they-will-build-a-bomb bit for too many years to count. Far down in Sanger’s piece, where this stuff always appears, we read, “The United States recently issued an assessment that it had no evidence of a bomb-making project underway.” I love Sanger’s comeback after writing that obligatory sentence: But maybe the intelligence is wrong, he suggests. 

    Nowhere in Sanger’s report—as nowhere in all mainstream reporting, indeed—do we read that Iran condemns nuclear weapons as a matter of religious principle and national defense doctrine. Just a small matter of no particular account. 

    My take on Iran’s nuclear intentions, for the record, remains what is has been for many years: The Islamic Republic has no ambition to build a nuclear bomb but would find it a useful deterrent—and who wouldn’t with Israel next door?—were it to develop the capacity to build one. 

    The Biden administration has all along had to give the appearance of a genuine effort in Geneva, and maybe Malley’s work was so. But it is the same, again, as with Build Back Better: We tried to give Americans what they want and need, but Congress blocked us. In the Iran case, after months of diplomatic footsie, the recent developments David Sanger cited presented a convenient out: We tried to negotiate with these people, but then… and then… and then…

    The timing of this turn in the administration’s public presentation of its Iran policy merits brief attention. Israel’s legislative elections earlier this month have opened the way for Netanyahu, still obsessed with attacking Iran, to return to power. As none other than Tom Friedman noted in “The Israel We Knew Is Gone,” the new government he appears likely to head will be an absolute freak show—“a rowdy alliance of ultra–Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti–Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israeli politics.”

    It is impossible to imagine—or I find it impossible, anyway—that the Biden administration’s decision to abandon negotiations on the Iran nuclear accord, apparently promising only a few months ago, is not primarily a reflection of this turn in Israeli politics. 

    Americans and Israelis have already trained for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ehud Barack, a former Israeli defense minister, let it be known years ago that Netanyahu planned military strikes on three occasions—2010, 2011, and 2012—but was foiled by inopportune circumstances or reluctant officers. 

    The JCPOA talks in Geneva, apart from their stated intent, represented an open channel between Washington and Tehran. I recall John Kerry, Obama’s secretary of state, declaring after the accord was signed in mid–July 2015 that it was a door through which other matters could be addressed. 

    What will come now, as the Biden administration closes this door? To watch and pray is all I can think to do. 

    Patrick Lawrence

    Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a media critic, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon siteHis Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored without explanation.

    Iranian Horn prepares for nuclear war: Revelation 16

    Iranian moderate-conservative politician Hesmatollah Falahatpisheh

    Iran’s Only Options Are Nuclear Diplomacy Or War, Says Politician

    After more than two months of relative silence in Iranian media about nuclear talks, pundits have started debates on the diplomatic impasse amid popular protests.

    What triggered the new debates was Tehran’s declaration about expanding 60-percent uranium enrichment at a second site in response to the IAEA Board of Governor’s resolution this month condemning Iran’s lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    In an article in Tehran’s leading economic daily, Donyay-e Eqtesad, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the former head of the Iranian parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Committee said that the new developments indicate that the nuclear dispute with the West has become more challenging than ever as the two sides are left to choose between diplomacy or war.

    The Europeans trio, the UK, France and Germany, condemned Iran’s “nuclear escalation” after IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi confirmed the news about 60 percent enrichment at a new site. The E-3 said they will consult with their international partners on how to deal with the issue. This comes while Russia’s nuclear negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov has supported Iran’s move as “A predictable decision on Tehran’s part regarding US and Europe’s action to escalate tensions.”

    Falahatpisheh told Donya-ye Eqtesad that “handling the nuclear challenge has become very difficult as Iran is taking steps to preserve its bargaining power in possible negotiations.” He added that the West’s policy is to continue its pressures on Iran through imposing sanctions. This will bring the debate out of the diplomatic framework. At the same time, Iran which is badly hit by the sanctions does not wish to waste any time and that is why it resorted to [more] 60-percent enrichment.”

    He said the next step for Europe would be taking Iran’s case to the UN Security Council. “If this happens, Tehran might boost enrichment to beyond the 60-percent level. So, the Europeans will activate the trigger mechanism” that brings back all the previous international sanctions against Tehran. He said in any case Iran will boost its enrichment level and this is in no one’s interest.

    As a result, argued Falahatpisheh, “there are only two options: Starting a war or returning to the negotiating table.” It appears that by expanding the 60-percent enrichment, “Iran is saying that it is also prepared for war.” He added that in case the West begins a hybrid war against Tehran, Iran will also follow a series of hybrid challenges. However, as far as Tehran is concerned, going to war is the least likely option.

    Meanwhile, Reformist daily Arman Emrooz wrote on Saturday that although the US government wishes to return to the 2015 nuclear accord (JCPOA) or a similar agreement, it knows that accepting a deal will harm its image in the international community. Although Arman Emrooz did not elaborate, it most likely meant that Washington does not want to make a deal with a country plunged in turmoil for over two months as protesters take to the streets daily, chanting slogans against its embattled dictator Ali Khamenei.

    The paper quoted Iranian analyst Mehdi Motaharnia as saying that Iran and its supporters Russia and China are in favor of the status quo. This corroborates with what Khamenei said in his speech to the Basij militia on Saturday when he absolutely ruled out any sort of dialogue with the United States.

    In one of the latest political commentaries that suggest reaching an agreement with the United States can calm down the ongoing protests in Iran, conservative political commentator Mohammad Mohajeri said: “The Iranian government should accept international laws and respect others’ rights and interact with the world community in a way that would put the country’s economy in a good shape. And this is not possible in any way other than [reviving] the JCPOA.”