Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Real info about Iran--4 excerpts

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Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 9:22 PM
Subject: Important real info about Iran--4 excerpts

 From: Just Foreign Policy  <>

U.S. still believes Iran not on verge of nuclear weapon

Tabassum Zakaria, Mark Hosenball and Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Thu, Aug 9, 2012

Washington/Jerusalem - The United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Their comments came after Israeli media reports claimed U.S. President Barack Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate saying Iran had made significant and surprising progress toward military nuclear capability.

Later, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that the new U.S. report, which he acknowledged might be something other than a National Intelligence Estimate, "transforms the Iranian situation into an even more urgent one."

But a White House National Security Council spokesman disputed the Israeli reports, saying the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.

"We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government," the spokesman said. "We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon."

U.S. officials would not directly comment on whether there was a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which is a compilation of views of the various U.S. intelligence agencies.

The last formal NIE on Iran in 2007, partially made public by the administration of President George W. Bush, became highly controversial because it said Tehran had halted nuclear weaponization work in 2003, although other aspects of the overall program continued. A later update to that report retained that central assessment, sources have previously said.

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said in congressional testimony in January: "We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."


What Americans outside the Beltway think about war with Iran

Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, Tuesday, August 7, 2012 -  <

I'm just back from a brief trip to Maine, to give a lecture at the Mid- Coast Forum on Foreign Relations. As I have in a couple of other venues, I spoke on the similarities and differences between the earlier campaign for war with Iraq and the current debate over war with Iran. The main similarity, of course, is that the same groups and individuals who pushed hardest for war with Iraq are also in the vanguard of the groups pusshing for war with Iran today. But there are also some critical differences, most notably the fact that the Obama administration isn't staffed by die-hard neoconservatives and Obama isn't as gullible as Bush and Cheney turned out to be. For those of us who believe that war with Iran is neither necessary nor wise, this is good news.

My hosts were exceptionally welcoming, and the attendees asked a lot of smart questions, so I had an excellent time. A fair number of the people I met have backgrounds in international affairs (in business, academia, government, intelligence, etc.), and all are obviously engaged by the subject. I didn't hand out a questionnaire so I don't know what everyone in attendance thought, but I was struck by two themes in both the Q & A at my talk and in my private conversations with various members.

First, I detected no support for any sort of war with Iran. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Not by us, not by Israel, and not by anybody else. It's possible that some people in the audience would use force as a last resort, but no one in the audience or in private spoke in favor of that option or even asked a question that leaned in that direction. (One retired government official said he believed there would eventually be a war, but he made it clear that he thought that it was a terrible idea). Instead, they were mostly interested in what could be done to prevent a war, and several questions centered on what could be done to improve U.S.-Iranian relations over the longer term. That view, by the way, is more-or-less consistent with recent surveys showing relatively little support for the "military option." This result is especially telling given that Americans also seem to hold quite alarmist views about Iran's nuclear intentions, and given that the war party has been working overtime to hype the threat for years.

Second, I was also struck by the intelligent skepticism that several attendees expressed regarding America's global role. This was a sophisticated group, and most of the people with whom I spoke would be considered "internationalist" in orientation. Yet several also spoke against what they perceived as excessive U.S. interventionism, and one openly complained about the U.S. serving as the "world's policeman." Statements such as these reinforce my sense that a lot of well-informed Americans recognize that trying to run most of the world isn't in America's interest or the world's interest, and that a smarter and more selective approach to global engagement would be easy to sell.
As I said, these impressions aren't based on a scientific survey, and the views expressed above are my own. But the whole trip made me wish that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could spend less time with their advisors and less time cuddling up to fat cat donors with bellicose agendas, and more time talking about foreign policy with well-informed regular citizens. I'll bet they'd discover that what passes for unquestioned truth inside-the-Beltway is much less widely accepted in a lot of other places.


Hush Now, Mitt: A Nuclear Iran Is Not the World's Greatest Threat
Three-quarters of national security experts polled disagreed with the candidate.
Sara Sorcher, The Atlantic, Aug 7 2012

 < nuclear-iran-is-not-the-worlds-greatest-threat/260837/

Three-quarters of National Journal's National Security Insiders disagreed with a recent statement by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said a nuclear Iran represents the greatest threat to the world.

If Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Romney told Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, it would pose the most serious threat to the world, to the United States and to Israel's existence.

Not so, said 73 percent of NJ's pool of national-security experts, even as they acknowledged that a nuclear Iran could have a destabilizing effect on the Middle East and erode international nonproliferation efforts. "It would be an unmitigated negative for U.S. interests," one Insider said. "But it is not the greatest security threat facing the U.S. or the world at large."

If Iran -- or any other country with money -- truly wants to go nuclear, another Insider said, there is not a whole lot the world can do to stop it. "Making such comments reduces your maneuver room when Iran actually gets close to going hot, makes you look impotent when they do, and blinds us to other challenges (e.g., a rising or failing China, Pakistan imploding, etc)," one Insider said.

Individual nukes rank behind several other threats, including cyberthreats, another Insider said. "Coupled with its aggressive ideology, Iran armed with nuclear weapons would pose a greatly heightened danger to others. But so would other potential scenarios: the collapse of authority in Pakistan that undermined the security of its nuclear weapons, Pakistani aggression against India that risked escalate to nuclear war (feared in their 2001-2002 crisis), or unstable disintegration of authority in North Korea or spasmodic acts by its leaders in a crisis," another Insider said. Others said that climate change, or the "invasive species known as Man," rank as bigger threats.

Sanctions on Iran: 'ordinary people are the target'
Iranian civilians bear the brunt of western-imposed sanctions in terms of medicine and food shortages, and money problems

Saeed Kamali Dehghan,, Friday 10 August 2012

For Fatemeh, the pill she takes twice a day in her home in Iran means the difference between life and death. Earlier this summer when she contacted her friend Mohammad in the US to say she was running out of the medicine due to a shortage, the obvious thing for her fellow Iranian to do was to order it from the chemist next door and have it shipped directly to Iran. To the dismay of Fatemeh and Mohammad, the order was rejected because of US sanctions on trade with Iran.

This week, Standard Chartered bank was accused by US regulators of scheming with Iran to hide transactions, an accusation it denies. While the sanctions focus may currently be on big institutions, in the eyes of ordinary Iranians, it is they who bear the brunt.

"My friend suffers from Brugada syndrome [a heart condition] and has abnormal electrocardiogram and is at risk of sudden death," said Mohammad, who lives in Moorhead, Minnesota. "There is one drug that is very effective in regulating the electrocardiogram, and hence preventing cardiac arrest. It is called quinidine sulfate and is manufactured in the US."

Mohammad ultimately circumvented the problem by having the medicine ordered to his home address and sent to Iran through friends. "By the time she got the pills, her own supply was finishing within four days, what if we couldn't send them in time? Who would be responsible if anything had happened to her?" he asked.

With the latest embargo placed on the importing of Iranian oil, sanctions are now tighter than ever. Western officials argue that sanctions are aimed at punishing the Iranian regime in the hope of forcing it to comply with international rules over its disputed nuclear programme, but many Iranians see things differently.

"Sanctions are affecting the entire country, but it is the people that bear the brunt and have the least ability to protect themselves from this pressure," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and the author of the book A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran. "What is most concerning is that it is now increasingly clear that the people are the target," he said.
As sanctions have started to take their toll, prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared – in some cases showing three- and four-fold increases. The latest controversy surrounds long queues for discounted poultry, an essential ingredient of Persian food, which has seen its price double since last year, causing what has been dubbed a "chicken crisis" and prompting demonstrations.

Iran's Haemophilia Society recently blamed the sanctions for risking thousands of children's lives due to a lack of proper drugs, the opposition website Rahesabz reported.
The west says sanctions are the only option left, other than war. But Parsi said: "That is patently false. It is the pro-war elements that are propagating the idea that the choice is between war and sanctions. The type of patient and persistent diplomacy that has resolved issues like this in the past is yet to be fully explored."

Measures imposed on Iran's central bank, cutting it off from the world, have caused grave problems for ordinary Iranians as well as opposition activists because it is the only official channel for them to transfer money abroad.

"Those who carry on despite hardships inside the country are also feeling more and more isolated. Activists, like regular Iranians, cannot use banks to transfer funds for conference participation, hotel reservations and to attend training workshops abroad," said Sussan Tahmasebi, a prominent Iranian women's rights activist who worked on a recent report called Killing Them Softly: The Stark Impact of Sanctions on the Lives of Ordinary Iranians.

"As a result of these [western] policies, ordinary Iranians are finding themselves caught up in the sanctions mess," she said. "In effect, the banking sanctions are forcing Iranians to rely on a cash-based economy, making them dependent on black marketeers for the transfer of funds to cover legitimate expenses, such as educational and health costs."

Activists say that, unlike ordinary people, the regime can find a way out of banking difficulties with help from its proxies.

Sanctions are also affecting Iranians outside the country. One Iranian who is a resident of the US said her bank account was closed recently because of a "new policy forbidding the banks to work with countries that expose them to money laundering". Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said: "I am living in this country [US], working and paying tax like others. I believe this is a kind of discrimination."

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