Signs of a Thaw

Bloomberg reports Signs of Thaw on Iran Nuclear Deal.

Jake Sullivan, United States National Security Adviser, told Fox News on Sunday “the talks in Vienna have been constructive in the sense that there is real effort underway there” and that world powers were focused on restoring the agreement on a “compliance for compliance” basis.

His comments come after Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, injected fresh hope into the process on Saturday, by saying that a “new understanding” was taking shape at the talks and that his country would start work on a full draft text for negotiators to discuss. Negotiators, which include the European Union, Russia and China, have said the talks will continue this week.

In an apparent further sign of easing tension, the Financial Times reported Sunday that senior officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran have been holding talks to repair relations. The newspaper cited three unidentified officials. The meeting in Baghdad on April 9 included discussions about recent attacks and would be followed by another round of talks next week, it said.

Israel Seeks to Derail Talks

Talks nearly bit the dust 6 days ago following an attack on an Iranian centrifuge facility. 

The BBC reported Iran vows revenge for 'Israeli' attack on Natanz nuclear site

Iranian officials said the Natanz uranium enrichment plant was the target of "nuclear terrorism" on Sunday, after initially reporting a power failure.

The Iranian foreign minister has said his country will "take revenge" for an attack on an underground nuclear site, for which it has blamed Israel.

US intelligence officials told the New York Times that a large explosion had completely destroyed the independent internal power system that supplied the centrifuges inside the underground facility. They estimated it could take at least nine months to resume enrichment there.

Israel has not commented, but public radio cited intelligence sources as saying it was a Mossad cyber operation.

Mystery Surrounds Nuclear Sabotage at Natanz

It is unclear what happened this time but speculation revolves around a cyber attack similar to those we have seen before. 

Most events called cyber-attacks are not really attacks in the physical sense - they are thefts of data. But Stuxnet - the name given to the incident that targeted Iran's nuclear programme over a decade ago - is not just one of the few exceptions but arguably also the first demonstration of what such a cyber-attack looks like.

In that case, computer codes caused real-word damage by interfering with the centrifuge controllers to spin them out of control (and even relaying false messages back to those monitoring them so they would not worry until it was too late). The result was what sounded like a slow-motion explosion as centrifuges crashed into each other. It was an incredibly sophisticated and targeted operation, run jointly by the US and Israel and developed over a period of years.

Biden's Changing Position

President Biden initially demanded that Iran halt all enrichment efforts fore talks to resume. 

Since there are talks, he appears to have backed off that demand. 

This of course has the war mongers howling, but please recall that Iran was honoring terms of the Nuclear agreement until Trump unilaterally and without cause backed out of the agreement. 

On that basis, it makes sense for Iran to hold the position that the US should end sanctions first.

Sensible Way Forward

Recall that the Obama-inspired agreement did not halt enrichment, only weapons-grade enrichment.

When Trump unilaterally backed out of the accord, Iran took steps towards weapons-grade material. 

The sensible way forward is for the US to end sanctions and Iran to simultaneously reverse it's decision to move closer to weapons-grade enrichment.

Nuclear Accord Agreement

  • Iran will give up about 14,000 of its 20,000 centrifuges
  • Iran will give up all but its most rudimentary, outdated centrifuges: its first-generation IR-1s, knockoffs of 1970s European models, are all it gets to keep. It will not be allowed to build or develop newer models.
  • Iran will give up 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it will hold on to only 300 kilograms of its 10,000-kilogram stockpile in its current form.
  • Iran will destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak, and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. It will ship out all spent nuclear fuel.
  • Inspectors will have access to all parts of Iran's nuclear supply chain, including its uranium mines and the mills where it processes uranium ore. Inspectors will also not just monitor but be required to pre-approve all sales to Iran of nuclear-related equipment. This provision also applies to something called 'dual-use' materials, which means any equipment that could be used toward a nuclear program.

Trump’s Top General Says Iran Honoring Nuke Deal

Flashback, September 26, 2017: ForeignPolicy reports Trump’s Top General Says Iran Honoring Nuke Deal

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday joined other members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet in confirming that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal that has put a temporary halt to its nuclear weapons program.

The briefings I have received indicate that Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations,” Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in answers to questions in advance of his hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, using an acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

IAEA Says Iran Abiding by Nuclear Deal

April 19, 2019: IAEA Says Iran Abiding by Nuclear Deal

“Iran is implementing its nuclear commitments,” said Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency has had access to “all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit.”

Iran Honoring the Deal?

  1. US State Department: Iran honoring the terms.
  2. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Iran honoring the terms.
  3. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Iran honoring the terms.
  4. Arms Control Association: Iran honoring the terms.
  5. All US European allies: Iran honoring the terms.
  6. Every other signee of the accord: Iran honoring the terms.

Had Trump made the same deal with Iran, most of his supporters would have cheered it. But Trump always thinks he can negotiate a better deal.

Trump's Track Record On Deals

  • China: Zero - But lots of pain from sanctions
  • The Wall: Zero - Schumer offered Trump $20 billion for a wall for some amnesty for Dreamers. That just bit the dust with nothing to show for it.
  • NAFTA Replacement: USMCA was mostly a wash but arguably a bit worse
  • Russia Pipeline to EU: Zero - Trump wanted the EU to buy US Liquid Natural Gas and put sanctions on companies building the Gazprom pipeline. The pipeline will soon be completed. The jobs for building the pipeline were Russian jobs, not EU jobs because of sanctions.

Trump's track record on deals is among the worst in history. 

It will take a concerted effort by Biden to undo the damage Trump to the accord with Iran. 

Yet, despite obvious interference from Israel, it appears progress is being made.

Meanwhile, it would behoove Iran to not strike back at Israel for the recent centrifuge attack.

What About Iran's Threat to Wipe Israel Off the Map?

It never happened. It is all a mistranslation error, likely on purpose.

Please consider the Rumor of the Century.

The Proof

Did Ahmadinejad really say Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’?

Unfortunately, the authors of that article made the whole thing an image. Here is a snip from the Washington Post which is paywalled.

In the 1980s Khomeini gave a speech in which he said in Persian “Een rezhim-i eshghalgar-i Quds bayad az sahneh-i ruzgar mahv shaved.” This means, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.” But then anonymous wire service translators rendered Khomeini as saying that Israel “must be wiped off the face of the map,” which Cole and Nourouzi say is inaccurate. 

Ahmadinejad slightly misquoted Khomeini, substituting “safheh-i ruzgar,” or “page of time" for "sahneh-i ruzgar" or “arena of time.” But in any case, the old translation was dug up and used again by the Iranian news agency, 

From the New York Times

Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

The above from Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?

Wikipedia reports similarly

Shiraz Dossa, a professor of Political Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, also described the text as a mistranslation. 

Ahmadinejad was quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini in the specific speech under discussion: what he said was that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time."

There is a huge chasm between the correct and the incorrect translations. The notion that Iran can "wipe out" U.S.-backed, nuclear-armed Israel is ludicrous.

What Happened?

Ahmadinejad did not say Iran would wipe Israel off the map. He as quoting  the Ayatollah Khomeini who did not say that either.

There is a huge chasm between the correct and the incorrect translations. 

That chasm persists on purpose as it suits the warmongers well. 

Major Irony

The major irony as one of my readers pointed out: 

The American politicians who whine about Iran threatening to wipe Israel off the map are the same ones threatening to "make the sand glow" and "carpet bomb" Iran during their election campaigns.

Watch McCain sing Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

The US has meddled in Iran for decades. In a CIA sponsored event that the US has admitted, the US and UK overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government and installed a US puppet who would support our oil interests. 

If you do not understand why Iran does not trust the US and seeks weapons to defend itself, especially after watching what the US did to Iraq, then you do not understand history.

Mish