April 1, 2009
The Guardian (UK)

Iran's Offer of Help to Rebuild Afghanistan Heralds New Age of Diplomacy With the US

by Julian Borger

Senior western officials yesterday heralded a new spring in relations with Iran, after the Islamic regime made an historic offer to help US-led efforts in Afghanistan.

For the first time since Barack Obama came to office, US and Iranian officials met at an international conference in The Hague, with diplomats saying a possible turning point may have been reached between the US and the country it labelled part of the axis of evil seven years ago.

Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, had an informal meeting with the Iranian delegate, Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, later described the exchange as "unplanned but cordial", adding that they had agreed to "stay in touch".

Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, said Iranian offers of help could mark a new "spring in the relationship" between the west and Iran.

He was responding to Akhundzadeh's public pledge at the conference of Iranian co-operation in counter-narcotics and development efforts in Afghanistan. . . .


Enver Masud, "Iran Has an 'Inalienable Right' to Nuclear Energy," The Wisdom Fund, January 16, 2006

[President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.--"Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran," ABC News, May 22, 2007]

Robert Fisk, LinkTV

["The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel's intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats,"--"Israeli warplanes 'bombed Sudan convoy'," Reuters, March 31, 2009]

[The Obama administration began putting its hopes of building a new relationship with Iran into action Tuesday, signaling an ambitious push to create an atmosphere of trust after three decades of animosity.--Glenn Kessler, "At Summit on Afghanistan, U.S. Extends a Hand to Iran," Washington Post, April 1, 2009]

[The primary imperative for the United States and President Barack Obama is to put an end to Iran's nuclear race, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said before his swearing-in Tuesday, adding that if the US failed to do so Israel might be forced to resort to a military strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear installations.--"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: We may be forced to attack Iran," Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2009]

[ . . . there have been longstanding plans for a pipeline from Turkmenistan in Central Asia to India, which would go - TAPI, it's called: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India.

India needs energy, and the natural source is Iran. And, in fact, they're discussing an Iran-to-India pipeline. But if you could get natural gas flowing from Central Asia to India, avoiding Iran, that would support the US policy,--"Noam Chomsky on US Expansion of Afghan Occupation, the Uses of NATO,", April 3, 2009]

[Iran has said before that it would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad. However, it has also frequently insisted on its right to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle, including enriching uranium, for peaceful purposes.--Raushan Nurshayeva, "Iran supports U.S.-backed nuclear fuel bank idea," Reuters, April 6, 2009]

[Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, said that the Iran threat was a myth.--"Iran poses no threat to US: Russia," Nation, April 8, 2009]

[Iran specialist Patrick Clawson, Ross's colleague at WINEP, described any US-Iran dialogue that might emerge as mere theater. "What we've got to do the world that we're doing a heck of a lot to try and engage the Iranians," he said. "Our principal target with these offers [to Iran] is not Iran. Our principal target with these offers is, in fact, American public opinion [and] world public opinion." Once that's done, he implied, the United States would have to take out its big stick.--Robert Dreyfuss, "Dennis Ross's Iran Plan,", April 7, 2009]

[ . . . since the Islamic revolution swept the CIA-installed Shah of Iran from power, Iran's nuclear programs and its "inalienable right" - guaranteed by the NPT - to nuclear technology had been subject to an extensive US-led campaign of obstruction and intervention.

. . . on March 23, 2005, Iran made a confidential offer, suggested by an advisory panel of European and U.S. scientists and experts, voluntarily restricting certain of its inalienable rights. The offer included:

- Foregoing reprocessing of spent fuel and recovery of plutonium;
- A low ceiling on the level of enrichment;
- A limitation on the capacity of the enrichment program to that needed to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran's power reactors;
- Immediate conversion of all enriched Uranium to fuel rods to preclude even the technical possibility of further enrichment;
Furthermore, Iran offered to allow continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at uranium conversion and enrichment facilities to provide unprecedented transparency, above and beyond even that required under the Additional Protocol, signed, but yet to be ratified by the Iranian Parliament.

. . . Not only would Bush-Cheney-Rice not let the E3/EU accept the offer; they wouldn't even let the E3/EU acknowledge receipt of it.--Gordon Prather, "Return to What Negotiations?,", April 11, 2009]

Ali Akbar Dareini, "Iran says it controls entire nuclear fuel cycle,", April 11, 2009

"Peres makes rare hint at possible strike on Iran," Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2009

Sheera Frenkel, "Israel stands ready to bomb Iran's nuclear sites," Times, April 18, 2009

[Morningstar spoke of Iran as a potential gas supplier for Nabucco. "Obviously, right now, gas from Iran creates some difficulties for the United States as well as for other countries involved," he admitted. . . .

Interestingly, even as Morningstar spoke in Sofia, the US delegate at the conference in Ashgabat, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Krol, made yet another proposal involving Iran in his speech. He said the US remained open to the prospect of gas from Central Asia being exported to Europe via Iran, which borders Turkmenistan to the south. Krol's audience included Iranian delegates.--M K Bhadrakumar, "US promotes Iran in energy market," Asia Times, April 28, 2009]

["I think there is a real fear there will be a process of talking past each other," Mr. Crooke said. "The Iranians will say, 'we want to talk about justice and respect.' The U.S. will say, 'are you willing to give up enrichment or not?'"

To get past that impasse with Iran, and with Islamist groups generally, the West will need to change its diplomatic language of threats and rewards, Mr. Crooke said, and show more respect for their adversaries' point of view.--Robert F. Worth, "Ex-Spy Sits Down With Islamists and the West," New York Times, May 2, 2009]

Gary Leupp, "The Bomb Iran Faction,", May 12, 2009

[He predicted that the next wave of proliferation would involve "virtual nuclear weapons states", who can produce plutonium or highly enriched uranium and possess the knowhow to make warheads, but who stop just short of assembling a weapon. They would therefore remain technically compliant with the NPT while being within a couple of months of deploying and using a nuclear weapon.

"This is the phenomenon we see now and what people worry about in Iran. And this phenomenon goes much beyond Iran. Pretty soon . . . you will have nine weapons states and probably another 10 or 20 virtual weapons states."--Julian Borger, "Mohamed ElBaradei warns of new nuclear age," Guardian, May 14, 2009]

James Hider, "Leon Panetta's mission to stop Israel bombing Iranian nuclear plant," Times, May 15, 2009

[The U.S.-Russian team also judged that it would be more than five years before Iran is capable of building both a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of carrying it over long distances. And if Iran attempted such an attack, the experts say, it would ensure its own destruction.--Joby Warrick and R. Jeffrey Smith, "U.S.-Russian Team Deems Missile Shield in Europe Ineffective," Washington Post, May 19, 2009]

[Israel is in the midst of a massive diplomatic, political and intelligence campaign, both public and covert, that could lead - if those officials behind it have their way - towards a military strike on Iran.--Richard Silverstein, "Aipac's hidden persuaders," Guardian, May 15, 2009]

"US keeps nuclear "don't ask, don't tell" - Israel aide," Reuters, May 21, 2009

"Presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan meet," CNN, May 24, 2009

Fareed Zakaria, "They May Not Want The Bomb," Newsweek, June 1, 2009

[Asked how a nuclear-armed Iran would affect their lives, 80 percent of respondents said they expected no change. Eleven percent said they would consider emigrating and 9 percent said they would consider relocating inside Israel.--"Poll: Most Israelis could live with a nuclear Iran," Reuters, June 14, 2009]

Paul Craig Roberts, "Are the Iranian Election Protests Another US Orchestrated 'Color Revolution'?,", June 20, 2009

Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter, "Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran," Sunday Times, July 5, 2009

Jason Ditz, "Biden: Israel 'Entitled' to Attack Iran,", July 5, 2009

[Nabucco's viability critically depends on gas supplies from Turkmenistan and Iran. . . . Turkmenistan clearly intends to cut back its dependence on Russia for marketing its gas . . . From Moscow's perspective, it is equally worrisome that Turkey and Iran have identified with Nabucco.--M K Bhadrakumar, "Pipeline deal is sweet music for Iran,", July 15, 2009]

[The two-day military exercises are being closely watched by the region's other littoral states - Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan - as well as neighboring states in the Caucasus and Central Asia, some of which are aligned with the West and are wary of a new level of Russia-Iran military ties.--Kaveh L Afrasiabi, "Russia and Iran join hands,", July 30, 2009]

[Iran is unlikely to be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a nuclear weapon until at least 2013, according to a United States government intelligence estimate made public last Thursday.--Daniel Luban, "New nuke report debunks Iran hawks,", August 11, 2009]

["Given the fact that Article 42 [of Iran's Safeguards Agreement] is broadly phrased and that the old version of Code 3.1 had been accepted as complying with the requirements of this Article for some 22 years prior to the Board's decision in 1992 to modify it as indicated above, it is difficult to conclude that providing information in accordance with the earlier formulation in itself constitutes non-compliance with, or a breach of, the [NPT-related] Safeguards Agreement as such."--Gordon Prather, "IAEA Legal Expert Stifles Neocrazies,", August 22, 2009]

[Key to bringing Israel on board is a promise by the US to adopt a much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme. The US, along with Britain and France, is planning to push the United Nations security council to expand sanctions to include Iran's oil and gas industry, a move that could cripple its economy.--Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, "Barack Obama on brink of deal for Middle East peace talks," Guardian, August 25, 2009]

[Western officials are leaking stories to the Associated Press and Reuters aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.

The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear programme, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003.--Gareth Porter, "Planted News Stories Show New Bid by West to Say Iran Seeks Nuclear Weapons,", August 26, 2009]

Paul Craig Roberts, "Why Not Crippling Sanctions for Israel and the US?," Reuters, August 31, 2009

"Iran nuclear 'threat' hyped: IAEA's ElBaradei," Reuters, September 2, 2009

Gareth Porter, "IAEA Conceals Evidence Iran Documents Were Forged,", September 15, 2009

[Iran is wary of American troop presence in Afghanistan. India is worried that the Americans will leave Afghanistan. . . .

If the US has not put pressure on India regarding the trans Iran-Afghanistan trade corridor, it is because it needs all the help it can get to tackle the crisis in Afghanistan.--Sudha Ramachandran, "The elephant in India and Iran's room,", November 21, 2009]

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