P5+1 backtracks on red lines in Iran nuclear negotiations

In another indication that talks have yet to produce significant Iranian concessions, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki asserted Monday that the March 24th deadline to reach a political framework with Iran over its nuclear program was merely a “goal” and not a deadline. In November of last year, State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke explicitly called March 24th a deadline. P5+1 red lines have been disappearing one by one as Iranian intransigence meets western desires for a diplomatic solution in a worrying trend. A Washington Post editorial piece last week stated that “a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.”

Although President Obama has stated that the international community must ensure that "Iran doesn't have the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon,” now, the P5+1 are hoping to extend Iran’s breakout time to a year. In an exchange with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), asked, “[I]sn’t it true that even the deal that you are striving towards is not to eliminate any Iranian breakout capacity, but to constrain the time in which you’ll get the notice of such breakout capacity?  Is that a fair statement, yes or no?”  Blinken replied, “Yes it is.” Many analysts have argued that one year is not enough time to discover an attempt to break out and coordinate a response.

At the start of the negotiations, the P5+1 demanded that Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor be transformed into a light water reactor, to eliminate a plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon.  A senior administration official stated, “We believe that Arak should not be a heavy water reactor as it is.” However, according to Ambassador Dennis Ross, in the last negotiations with Iran, the P5+1 dropped that demand. Additionally, in 2012, the U.S. and Europe insisted that Iran’s underground enrichment facility at Fordow be shut down, but they have since retreated from that demand, suggesting that it remain a “research facility.”

The Washington Post editorial board continued, “Where it once aimed to eliminate Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the administration now appears ready to accept an infrastructure of thousands of Iranian centrifuges.” At the start of negotiations, the United States sought to leave Iran with “no more than 1,500 centrifuges left operating…” Throughout the negotiation period, from November 2013 until the present day, the number of centrifuges the negotiating partners are prepared to accept has gradually increased to up to 6,500.

 

An American embassy official told the AFP that the U.S. has provided the Lebanese military, which cooperates with Hezbollah, with $25 million in aid. Providing armed assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is longstanding American policy: according to the official, “In 2014 alone, the United States provided over $100 million to [the LAF], adding to the $1 billion in assistance provided…since 2006.” In an attempt to halt the tide of Sunni jihadists who have entered into Lebanon, the U.S. has provided four tranches of arms to the LAF in the last six months.The LAF clashed with Sunni jihadists, including members of ISIS and al-Nusra Front, last August in Arsal, near the Syrian border. After negotiations, the Sunni jihadists took dozens of Lebanese soldiers and policemen into captivity: four have since been executed.The LAF has been accused of collaborating with Hezbollah in sectarian violence that has wracked Lebanon. Tony Badran, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has argued that Hezbollah uses the LAF as a cover for its own attempts to exert its influence in Lebanon. Analyst Hicham Bou Nassif has written that there is an “entanglement between the military and Hezbollah” that is causing significant Sunni disenchantment with the LAF. Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said in 2010 that “Israel tends to view the distinction between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah as increasingly cloudy. The Lebanese Army shares all its intelligence with Hezbollah. There are highranking officers in the Lebanese Army who are closely associated with Hizbullah.” He expressed his concern that any weapons transferred from the U.S. to the LAF could wind up in the hands of Hezbollah. Analyst Lee Smith of The Weekly Standard has called the LAF “heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah.” Last September, The New York Times reported that the U.S.’s intelligence sharing with the LAF filtered down to Hezbollah. Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy reported in July 2013 that a Hezbollah commander had acknowledged that the CIA had warned Hezbollah via Lebanese security and intelligence officials of a planned attack by al-Qaeda-linked groups against the terrorist organization. Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, has killed more American citizens than any other terrorist group except al Qaeda.

 

‘Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa’s energy solution,’ says US official. East Africa now has a utility-scale solar field connecting thousands of Rwandans to the electricity grid for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Kaptain Sunshine – a.k.a. solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz, the American-Israeli CEO and cofounder of Gigawatt Global. Powered in large part by research and development achieved in the American-owned Dutch company’s Jerusalem facility, the multi-nationally financed $23.7 million project launched on February 5 in Rwanda’s Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, a unique refuge for orphans of the Rwandan civil war modeled after Israel’s Yemin Orde Youth Village originally built for child Holocaust survivors. The eight-year-old village is leasing the land for the 8.5 megawatt solar field — constructed in the shape of the African continent — to Gigawatt Global, which has pledged to provide scientific and vocational training on solar power to the village’s high school students. Less than 15 percent of Rwanda’s population of 12 million people has access to electricity, much of it provided by polluting and expensive diesel fuel. The country is therefore in dire need of additional power generation capacity, explains Gigawatt Global cofounder and managing director Chaim Motzen. Gigawatt Global is active in efforts to bring solar energy to other emerging markets as well, including Haiti, Burundi and the Galapagos Islands. “We absolutely believe this is replicable in other countries,” says Motzen. “Energy drives economic development, and the effect of lifting people out of poverty, especially with green energy, is hopefully going to be one of the greatest success stories of the next five years.” (via Israel21c)

 


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