Israel acknowledges Iran has yet to decide to pursue a nuclear weapon
Israeli officials will reportedly present an intelligence assessment next week that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon. This comes as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey visits Israel next week. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel is “very far off” from making a decision about a military strike against Iran. (Haaretz 01/18).
Obama has followed Bush’s Iran policy says former top State official
Nicholas Burns, the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the George W. Bush administration said that the Obama administration’s policy “has been very tough with Iran,” and “has essentially followed President Bush’s policy towards Iran in President Bush’s second term.” The statement comes amidst allegations by the GOP presidential candidates that president Obama’s Iran policy has been weak (Think Progress 01/17).
Mixed signals over Iran nuclear talks
Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said that there are negotiations underway concerning the venue of date of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (Reuters 01/18). IAEA representatives will Iran’s IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran is ready to discuss “any issues” with the IAEA. (Reuters 01/17).
But a EU spokesman denied that there are new negotiations underway for talks, and anonymous diplomats called Iran’s claims “propaganda”. A British foreign office spokesman said, “There are no dates or concrete plans because Iran has yet to demonstrate clearly that it is willing to respond to Baroness Ashton’s letter and negotiate without preconditions” (Reuters 01/18).
India, Japan convey opposition to sanctions
Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that India is not seeking a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank, which penalizes financial institutions who deal with Iran’s Central Bank. “We have accepted sanctions which are made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries,” said Mathai. “We continue to buy oil from Iran” (Reuters 01/17).
UK Chancellor George Osborne and Japan’s prime minister discussed the euro zone crisis and how they can work together to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon (The Guardian 01/18). Japan’s finance minister Jun Azumi said that U.S. sanctions on Iran, if imposed immediately, could have a ‘tremendous’ impact on Japan’s economy and voiced concern over the effectiveness of sanctions (AP 01/18).
According to EU diplomats, the Danish presidency has proposed a full embargo on Iranian oil beginning July 1st, although there is no agreement yet. This would give member states almost 6 months to fulfill existing contracts (Reuters 01/17).
Russia considers a war with Iran unacceptable
On Tuesday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said “Russia would consider any use of force against the territory of Iran unacceptable.” Russia will also expand its annual military exercises around the premise of a war that begins with an US-Iran conflict. Russia also criticized sanctions against Iran and said it would oppose any new UN sanction resolutions (Christian Science Monitor 01/17). Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said that a military attack against Iran would have disastrous consequences and trigger a chain reaction (NY Times 01/18). He also said sanctions and talks of a potential attack would undermine necessary negotiations (Huffington Post 01/18).
In a Huffington Post op-ed, Maryam Zar warns against repeating the same policy mistakes with Iran that were made with Iraq:
Surprisingly however, no sooner have we encased the flag in Baghdad, that we are drumming a dull beat toward another war — this time, in a battle ground just next door: Iran.
A generation ago the U.S. placed its first round of sanctions against Iraq. Those left a population malnourished and disempowered, and angry at the U.S. Twenty years later when the U.S. invaded Iraq to supposedly liberate them, we were met with a resentful population that was distrusting of our motives. The bitter battle that ensued left a nation that was unmistakably once the cradle of civilization, in ruin. Today, Iraq is comprised largely of a hungry and uneducated populace that is willing to turn more readily to extremism than to the hard work of building a democracy.
Yet we are walking quickly toward risking the same outcome in Iran.
To read the full piece click here.
Additional Notable News:
In an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor, John Limbert and Bruce laingen list 5 reasons why a war with Iran must be avoided.
Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin warned that a war with Iran “would be a very bad option” (CNN 01/17).
Meanwhile, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Karim Elaibi will travel to Iran tomorrow in order to urge Iran to not close the strategic Strait of Hormuz (AP 01/18).
Iran’s Ministry of Education will soon publish separate school textbooks for boys and girls.
The New York Times reports that Iran has ordered extra security for its scientists in response to the assassination last week.
Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a proposal by Iran to mediate a political solution in Syria.