(The better informed everybody becomes the greater the chance that war can be prevented and propaganda can not distort reality. With a couple of clicks you can do your part by simply forwarding this to others.)
Secret Negotiations in Vienna?
By Prof. Muhammad Sahimi
At the same time, Melli-Mazhabi, the website of the Nationalist-Religious Coalition, also reports secret negotiations between Rouhani and the IAEA in Vienna took place. The website claims that Iran and the West have reached an agreement that (i) Iran will keep only 1,000 centrifuges for research and propaganda; (ii) the Fordow enrichment facility near Qom will be closed; (iii) Iran will exercise more careful control over the activities of the Badr Brigade in Iraq; (iv) Iran will accept the gradual replacement of the regime of Bashar al-Asad in Syria; (v) President Obama will promise no military attacks on Iran; and (vi) sanctions will be gradually lifted.
The Obama / Netanyahu Rift
By GARY LEUPP
There are some indications of a widening split between top officials over the way to engage Iran within the framework of the 5+1 talks. On the one hand, there are those, echoed by Obama himself, who argue that a deal over the Iranian nuclear program is possible. On the other are those who argue that the talks are doomed to fail, and even desperately hope for their collapse.
David Ignatius has intimated in a Washington Post Column that a deal has already been negotiated behind the scenes.
If a deal is struck, it would delight the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (In 2007 the Times of London reported that “Some of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defense and intelligence sources.”) Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned while in office, “If you think the Iraq War was hard, an attack on Iran in my opinion would be a catastrophe.” His successor Leon Panetta has voiced a similar opinion.
A deal would satisfy the intelligence community, which has repeatedly reported with “high confidence” that Iran has not had a military nuclear research program since 2003.
It would please Obama’s original electoral base, the antiwar community that appreciated his opposition to the Iraq War, but has become largely disillusioned with him due (among other reasons) to the endless, hopeless war in Afghanistan which he has made wholly his.
It would enrage the Likudists in Israel, who would view it as a betrayal. Perhaps Israel would then act alone (as it did in bombing Iraq’s French-built reactor in 1981), risking a crisis in the relationship with the U.S. A deal leaving the Iranian regime intact would disgust Republican leaders who would accuse Obama of weakness, and Romney would repeat his charge that Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus.”
A deal would infuriate many if not most of the Israel Lobby who would talk about the “appeasement” of today’s “Hitler,” etc.
The question is, does Obama have the will and the power to agree to a deal? Or is it politically impossible to do so? Perhaps the next few months will show the extent and limits of the power of the Lobby.
By Paul Pillar
Something similar has occurred with the idea that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” The origin of this notion was a speech Ahmadinejad gave at a “World Without Zionism” conference in 2005.
As the Israeli minister of intelligence and atomic energy, Dan Meridor, recently acknowledged, Ahmadinejad did not say anything about map-wiping.
He instead said something—in which the exact translation from Persian to English is uncertain—about how “the regime that is occupying Jerusalem must be eliminated from the pages of history.” In the same speech Ahmadinejad went on to explain that even though the end of Israeli rule over Jerusalem may seem hard to imagine, the end of the shah's rule in Iran and the collapse of the Soviet Union show that changes that big are possible.
Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American writer who once served as interpreter for a speech by Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, suggests that Ahmadinejad has never tried to correct the mistake about his 2005 speech because he sees political advantage in being an outspoken adversary of Israel and would not want to be seen as backing away from a bellicose statement about the Jewish state.
Even if Ahmadinejad ever said such things, to infer Iranian intentions or future actions from such rhetoric would be a serious mistake. One, because Ahmadinejad is not the principal decision-maker on how Iran uses armed force. Two, because rhetorical bombast is quite different from policy.
Any exaggerated portrayal of a foreign problem is an impediment to well-reasoned construction of policy for dealing with the problem. The appeal of the map-wiping or Earth-face-wiping imagery seems to make such exaggeration all the more likely to catch on and harder to correct. We ought to wipe such terms out of our vocabulary except in the extremely rare instances in which intentions of outright extermination really are involved.
More Secrets on Growing State Surveillance: Exclusive Part 2 with NSA Whistleblower, Targeted Hacker
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask, William Binney, the impact of having devoted your entire working life to an agency—that is, to protecting the national security of the United States—to have that very agency then attempt to turn you into a criminal and to view you as a criminal, the emotional toll on you and your family of what’s happened the last few years?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I guess, first of all, it was a very depressing thing to have happen, that they would turn their—the capabilities that I built for them to do foreign—detection of foreign threats, to have that turned on the people of the United States. That was an extremely depressing thing for me to see happen internally in NSA, that was chartered for foreign intelligence, not domestic intelligence.
(This is part of a four part special that Democracy Now is running. Watch the videos, or listen to the audio, or read the transcripts. One of the best news sites around that is not dependent on corporate support or advertising.)
Iranian Americans report being targeted by FBI for Iran information
By Jacob Martin
In recent weeks, Iranian Americans have increasingly been sought out by the FBI to participate in voluntary interviews that may be related to heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
It is unclear what methodology the FBI is using in selecting Iranian Americans to target for interviews. However, targeted individuals have reported that the FBI has been fairly aggressive and vague about the reasoning behind the interviews, causing panic and concern among ordinary Iranian Americans.
The FBI utilized similar methods in 2003 in an operation known as Operation Darkening Clouds, a pre-war intelligence-gathering effort focused on Iraqis in the U.S. More recently, the FBI aggressively sought out interviews with Libyans living in the U.S. shortly prior to the NATO-led intervention to obtain information about Colonel Qaddafi as well as to identify possible retaliatory threats against U.S. citizens.
For starters, as a U.S. citizen you DO NOT have to give consent and allow yourself to be interviewed. If you’ve decided otherwise, it is imperative that you bring legal counsel to protect your rights. NIAC has provided several links below to ensure that our members have the resources necessary to make informed decisions in response to any future encounters:
(Pulling up ones roots to live in the Land of The Free ….and then waking up one morning and finding out it was all an illusion.)
New Pentagon spy agency to focus on Iran, China
Obama announces crackdown on Iran and Syria's cyber oppressors
"Technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to oppress them," Obama said on Monday at a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
The administration announced new sanctions, including a visa ban and financial restrictions, against a range of Syrian and Iranian agencies and individuals.
The Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the Syriatel phone company and Ali Mamluk, the director of Syria's general intelligence services, are all subject to the new sanctions. In Iran, the sanctions target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Datak Telecom.
Half Iran tanker fleet storing oil at sea
Iran has been forced to deploy more than half its fleet of supertankers to store oil at anchorage in the Gulf as buyers of its crude cut back because of sanctions, two Iran-based shipping sources said.
If it cannot find new buyers for its crude Iran's only option other than floating storage would be to curtail oilfield production.
Iran unplugs oil terminal from Internet
BY NASSER KARIMI
Iran has disconnected its oil ministry and its main crude export terminal from the Internet to avoid being attacked by computer malware, a semiofficial news agency reported on Monday.
Mehr said an export terminal in Kharg Island and other oil facilities came under attack from malware and hackers but continued their work as usual.
Some 80 percent of Iran's daily 2.2 million barrels of crude export goes through the Kharg facility, located off its southern coast.
Iran says that it is involved in a long-running technological war with the United States and Israel. In recent years, Tehran has repeatedly announced it has defused malware in its industrial sector including the highly specialized Stuxnet in 2010, which it said had targeted the country's nuclear facilities.
This round of cyberattack began Sunday, Mehr quoted Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, deputy oil minister in charge of civil defense, as saying. He said the ministry and some provincial officers were taken offline, and a special headquarters was set up to confront the attacks.
Please Join Us for a Fundraiser Gala
Say "No" to a War with Iran
With Special Guest:
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
Saturday, May 5
5 - 8 p.m.
Wilkerson has criticized many aspects of the Iraq War, including his own preparation of Powell's presentation to the UN where his goal was to “prove" the urgency to engage a war with Iraq. When asked about his decision to speak out, Wilkerson said: "Combine the detainee abuse issue with the ineptitude of post-invasion planning for Iraq, wrap both in this blanket of secretive decision-making...and you get the overall reason for my speaking out."
Iranian labour leaders cite widespread layoffs
Iranian workers are in crisis, and the manufacturing sector is experiencing dire problems, Iran's House of Workers has announced.
Days Wearing Thin
"Everybody is depressed, it's just the general state of people," said Tehran native Mina
Mina merely shrugged when asked about the government's recent slew of attempted economic fixes -- cash handouts, higher interest for long-term savings accounts, targeted investments. "It's too late," she said flatly.
Businesses that stock more expensive, foreign goods are especially feeling the brunt. They are finding it nearly impossible to pay suppliers abroad because of the new banking sanctions. Meanwhile at home, many Iranians are deciding they can do without imported items as their prices swell.
Roundup | Cost of Household Goods Soars; Rights Advocates Ordered to Jail
After announcing two weeks ago that the official inflation rate in the final month of the past Iranian year (ending March 19) was 21.5 percent, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which had stopped reporting commodity prices last spring, released a report on the prices of 33 essential household goods. Average prices for the surveyed items have risen from 18 to 146 percent in the past year.
Vegetables headed the list, with a price index increase of 146 percent during the past 12 months. Dairy products were next, with an increase of 59 percent. The price of beef at retail jumped 50 percent on average since spring 2011, while chicken prices rose 39 percent over the same period. The cost of rice and wheat products climbed by 28 and 45 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, 80, the second foreign minister of Iran following the 1979 Revolution and leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI), has been informed that he must go to Evin Prison within the next 30 days to begin serving his eight-year jail sentence for "activities against national security and publishing falsehoods."
Yazdi, who has advocated the elimination of the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist) by which the Supreme Leader exercises ultimate authority over the state, was convicted in December. Offering no defense at his trial, Yazdi declared the court was unqualified to hear his case and that the closed hearing was unconstitutional -- under the Iranian Constitution, all political cases must be tried by jury in open court.
(Imprisoning an 80 year old man for 8 years because he expresses his opinion, which is protected under the Iranian constitution…..)
( Who does such a thing? And why? The only bright spot in this is that through such actions the regime is cutting the branch it sits on.)
Photo Above is of Roudkhan Castle in Iran's Gilan Province
For more photos:
The castle is located on a mountain 25 km southwest of Fuman city, which is part of Gurabpas mountains, situated at the central district of Fuman. The castle has an area of 2.6 hectares and is located on the heights overlooking Roudkhan village. Its wall is 1,500 m long and the castle has 65 towers.
The castle was rehabilitated under the Seljuk rule and was a base for Ishmaelite fighters. There is a plaque on its entrance which reads, “This castle has been built for Sultan Hesamoddin Amir Dabbaj ibn Amir Alaeddin Eshaq between 918 and 921 AH.”
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