The first set of formal talks in fifteen months have commenced in Istanbul today with exoectations for an immdiate resolution set low. Envoys from the P5+1 countries do not expect meaningful talks to start straight away but do expect Iran to show they are willing to take their proposals seriously. Their proposals are said to be greater access for IAEA inspectors and a reduction in Iran’s uranium enrichment process, the BBC has reported that Iranian officials are less than happy at some of the requests and will again outline their position that Iran has the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes and that their enrichment process is still well below what is needed to produce nuclear weapons.
We will have more information on this issue as the talks progress.
Fighters and ‘bunker buster’ bombs were promised to Israel in return for delaying attacks until 2013
Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv featured a story today claiming that during talks between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama at the White House on Monday the US president offered to gift Israel advanced bunker busters and long range fighter jets designed to fly thousands of kilometers in return for delaying any attacks on Iran until 2013, after the 2012 US presidential elections.
The information was said to be given to the paper by diplomatic officials who were present at the meeting and who heard the conversation between Netanyahu and Obama, the article also stated that this did not mean that the US was giving Israel the green light to attack only that they would not oppose any 2013 attacks. Many will not see this ‘package deal’ in the same light though and may interpret it as a sign that the US is ready to support attacks on Iran once the presidential race is out of the way.
The bombs in question could be the US BLU-109′s or it’s successor the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), also dubbed ‘Big BLU’, which the US took delivery of in september last year. The bunker busters work by smashing through the walls of the bunkers and have a delay so they explode only once they are inside the bunker to do the most damage. Here’s a CNN video on the hilariously named Massive Ordinance Penetrator:
The ISNA news agency is reporting that Iran is willing to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit it’s military base at Parchin, the news comes as Reuters reported that the P5+1 have agreed to reopen negotiations with Iran over sanction placed on the country.
An IAEA report from 2011 stated that Iran had built a large chamber at Parchin suitable for conducting explosives test which could be seen as ‘strong indicators’ of research into nuclear weapons. Iran’s refusal to allow another visit to Parchin were among the key reasons of talks breaking down in February and Iran’s reversal on this matter will be seen as progress into dealing with the nuclear issues surround Iran.
Although a date has not been set for the visit we at Say NO to war with Iran hope that talks will progress quickly to allow these diplomatic measures to succeed. Below is a map showing the location of Parchin.
Netanyahu tells Obama no decision has been made either way on whether or not to bomb Iranian nuclear sites
In a meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama the Israeli Premier told the US President that Israel had made no plans on whether or not to attack Iran and it’s nuclear sites but stated that Israel retained the right to use military power.
Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanuyahu
Washington fears that Israel could rush into an attack on Iran and Obama fears that a war during the build up to the US presidential election in the autumn could damage his chances of being re-elected. Netanyahu however has continued to insist that Israel has the right to self defense and that a nuclear armed Iran could spell the end for the Jewish state, Netanyahu later address the highly influential and hugely pro-israel AIPAC said:
None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.
This to me doesn’t sound like the words of a man prepared to give peace a chance for much longer.
EU foreign policy chief announces resumption of negotiations.
In response to a letter written by Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, the P5+1 have agreed to resume talks with Iran over their nuclear program. The talks come at a time when there are fears over an attack on the country by Israel.
More information to follow as it becomes available.
Obama urges Republicans and Israel to set aside the war drums
In and address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday evening, US President Barrak Obama urged the crowd to reconsider the use of force in Iran and reiterated his stance that he would only consider using military force once it had become apparent that sanctions and diplomacy had failed to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. On the surface this would appear to be great news but Obama also stated that excessive public discussion regarding Iran would undermine the security of both America and Israel, this hints of more clandestine motives meaning that the US might be openly talking of more peaceful measures while at the same time covertly maneuvering towards an attack on Iran. Only time will tell.
Obama also stated that Israeli officials and US presidential candidates who were calling for war could be pushing up the price of oil and helping Iran financially. Another point he made was that some statements from the Israeli government could be drawing unnecessary flack towards Israel, this is certainly true as some quarters have long seen Israel as being a warmongering nation so the smallest hints of war rhetoric can be interpreted as a lust for attack.
Iran’s interior minister says election turnout is a ‘slap to the face’ for the West.
Despite the reformist Green Movement telling their supporters to stay away from the polling stations, turnout for the Iranian Parliamentary elections was 64%. Iran’s interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, told state TV:
the great Iranian nation slapped the enemies in the face
The Americans, the Zionists, and the enemies of the system made some claims. People slapped them by this action
Since all the candidates for the election were pre-approved by the Guardian Council the election was a choice between only two conservative groups, the supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Leaders of the Green Movement have been under house arrest and banned from taking part.
Hillary Clinton threatens Pakistan with sanctions over Iran pipeline.
A Wall Street Journal blog article has stated that Hillary Clinton has threatened Pakistan with severe economic sanctions if it pushes ahead with plans to complete a gas pipeline to Iran to meet it’s energy shortfall. The US has been putting increasing pressure on a number of countries to cut their oil and gas supplies from Iran but this latest threat will be seen as some as a type of indirect sanction on Iran. Pakistan currently have severe energy shortages and have said that they need to deal with Iran to meet their energy needs but might not be able to withstand US sanctions as their economy is currently very fragile.
Iran holds it’s parliamentary elections today to decide it’s 290 members of the Majilis. Since Green Movement leaders are still under house arrest the election is essentially between supporters of President Ahmadinejad and supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given the issues currently surrounding Iran the elections could have a significant impact on what unfolds in the months ahead, although it is unlikely that the new Parliament will change Iran’s stance on it’s nuclear program. Hopefully for this election there will be no allegations of fraud and the people will get the Parliament they want.
It could have come straight out of a Monty Python sketch but the following video claims to show footage of thousands of Iranian women training to become Ninja in advance of a possible coming war. This is possibly one of the most bizarre propaganda stunts I’ve ever seen.