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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - December 4, 2012

Historians Against the War is posting Frank Brodhead's "Iran War Weekly,' as a helpful resource for our members and friends. Frank earned a PhD in history at Princeton University and has co-authored several books on US foreign policy. He is a scholar and political activist who has worked with peace and social justice movements for many years. In 2010-2011 he produced the "Afghanistan War Weekly," which was widely used by antiwar groups across the country.
Iran War Weekly
December 4, 2012
Hello All – With negotiations over Iran's nuclear program scheduled to resume in 10 days, the role of "Iran" in US Middle East policy is now sandwiched between the politico-military meltdown in Israel and an out-of-control war in Syria.  To those who remember how the US war against Iraq was orchestrated in 2002-2003, claims this week that Syria may be preparing to use its chemical weapons are especially alarming.  I have linked some good/useful readings about Syria below; for keeping up-to-date, I recommend the websites Syria Comment, War in Context, and Aljazeera ("Inside Syria").
Relieving the tension somewhat was the publication and immediate expose of a clumsy forgery or hoax claiming to show Iranian nuclear weapons research.  The critical response was so overwhelming that the perpetrator of the hoax, the Associated Press, was forced to backtrack and apologize within 48 hours.  Still, it is in the nature of such hoaxes that ordinary consumers of the news will never see the refutations by critics and the sheepish withdrawal of claims by the hoaxers (published deep inside the New York Times); and so the damage done by this high school-level piece of pseudoscience will live on in the world of Fox and associates.  An extensive refutation of the AP story by Gareth Porter is linked below, as are other articles that go into the background of the source of the hoax, the AP conduit (a recidivist), and the media context that makes such hoaxes possible.
In other good/useful reading linked below, I especially recommend the short video "We're Already at War with Iran"; Robert Wright's interesting essay that examines whether (or not) Hamas is controlled by Iran; an interesting interview with former NSC staffer Gary Sick on paths forward for US policy toward Iran; and an assessment of the new round of sanctions against Iran that were just passed by the Senate over the objections of the White House.
The fabulous organization Historians Against War has been a strong supporter of the Iran War Weekly.  They are sponsoring a conference on "The New Faces of War" on April 5-8 in Baltimore.  Their Call for Proposals (deadline December 15) and other info can be found at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013.  In a note they write, "The current/incipient/ongoing war against Iran is a topic not well covered in the proposals received so far, and papers on this topic (with historical background included) are especially solicited."  Check it out.
Once again, I appreciate the help that many of you have given in distributing the Iran War Weekly and/or linking it on websites.  Previous "issues" of the IWW can be read at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383.  If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com.
Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead
Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
(Video) We're already at War with Iran, though Ayatollahs have not decided to Weaponize Nukes
By Matthew Machowski, Informed Comment [November 29, 2012]
---- There is no good evidence that Iran has a "structured" nuclear weapons program as opposed to a civilian nuclear enrichment program; the regime has not made a decision to build a nuclear warhead; and it may have decided (not clear) that it wants 'nuclear latency' or the ability quickly to weaponize if it feels threatened. Machowski urges us to view the conflict with Iran as already a war in progress.
U.S. gives Iran until March to cooperate with IAEA
By Reuters [November 29, 2012]
---- The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to start cooperating in substance with a UN nuclear agency investigation, warning Tehran the issue may otherwise be referred to the UN Security Council. The comments by U.S. diplomat Robert Wood to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency signaled Washington's growing frustration at a lack of progress in the IAEA's inquiry into possible military dimensions to Tehran's nuclear program.In his statement, Wood requested IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to say in his next quarterly report on Iran, likely due in late February, whether Tehran has taken "any substantive steps" to address the agency's concerns.
Also useful – Jason Ditz, "Iran FM: Direct Talks With US 'Possible' With Khamenei's Approval,"  Antiwar.com [December 3, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/12/03/iran-fm-direct-talks-with-us-possible-with-khameneis-approval/; and "Iran says nuclear fuel removed from plant … shutdown part of normal procedure," [December 2, 2012] http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/iran-says-nuclear-fuel-removed-from-plant-because-of-debris-shutdown-part-of-normal-procedure/2012/12/02/97866cfc-3c62-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html
Fake AP Graph Exposes Israeli Fraud and IAEA Credulity
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [November 30, 2012]
---- That Associated Press story displaying a graph alleged to be part of an Iranian computer simulation of a nuclear explosion — likely leaked by Israel with the intention of reinforcing the media narrative of covert Iranian work on nuclear weapons – raises serious questions about the International Atomic Energy Association's (IAEA) claim that it has credible evidence of such modeling work by Iran. The graph of the relationship between energy and power shown in the AP story has now been revealed to contain absurdly large errors indicating its fraudulence. Those revelations indicate, in turn, that the IAEA based its publication of detailed allegations of nuclear weapons-related Iranian computer modeling on evidence that should have been rejected as having no credibility.
AP, George Jahn, and the Fake Diagram for Iran's Bomb
By Muhammad Sahimi, Antiwar.com [November 29, 2012]
---- The War Party and Israel just do not give up on trying to provoke a war with Iran. Now that Benjamin Netanyahu is done killing the Palestinians in Gaza, including dozens of children, Mossad has apparently fed the public with yet another piece of fake "evidence," supposedly obtained through hacking of Iran's computers, through its usual conduit for such nonsense, George Jahn of the Associated Press. The latest "evidence" is a diagram that supposedly exhibits power and energy released in a simulation of nuclear explosion. Before I debunk this piece of nonsense, a bit of background information on Jahn may be useful. http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2012/11/29/ap-george-jahn-and-the-fake-diagram-for-irans-bomb/
Also interesting/useful – Glenn Greenwald, "AP believes it found evidence of Iran's work on nuclear weapons," The Guardian [UK] [November 28, 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/28/ap-iran-nuclear-bomb; Glenn Greenwald, "AP's dangerous Iran hoax demands an accounting and explanation," The Guardian [UK] [November 29, 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/29/ap-iran-nuclear-program-graph-explanation; Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, "DIY graphic design," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [November 28, 2012] http://www.thebulletin.org/node/9451; and Nima Shirazi, "The AP's George Jahn serves up Israeli propaganda on Iran yet again," Mondoweiss [November 28, 2012]. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/the-aps-george-jahn-serves-up-israeli-propangada-on-iran-yet-again.html
Q&A with Gary Sick on Iran-US Relations
["This is the English language transcript of the November 28 interview the host of VOA Persian's Ofogh Siamak Dehghanpour did with Gary Sick, who served on the US National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan."]
---- GS: I think as with most long running problems the outlines of the solutions are pretty well known. It is not a mystery what would need to be done by either side. The question is really one of political will. Is Iran willing in fact to have private negotiations with the United States, creating an agenda that would then be used for public negotiations? Would the United States officially accept the reality that Iran is enriching and will probably continue to enrich? Again, it's not so much that these are difficult things to imagine, it's that they carry very heavy political consequences. http://arashkarami.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/transcript-of-ofogh-interview-with-gary-sick-on-iran-us-relations-and-negotiations/
Is Hamas Really a 'Surrogate' of Iran?
By Robert Wright, The Atlantic [November 27, 2012]
---- It's certainly true that Hamas had, and still has, lots of Iranian-supplied missiles, the product of a close relationship that goes back years. But this past year has seen developments that changed the relationship. First, Hamas ended its relationship with the Syrian regime and moved its leadership out of Syria--a move that not only strained relations with Syrian ally Iran but may have deeply altered them. In March, a Hamas official said Hamas would not serve as Iran's retaliatory surrogate in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran and would not get involved in an Israel-Iran war. Second, the sudden slack in Hamas's relationship with Iran seems to have been taken up by Qatar, which is now bankrolling Hamas, and, in a different way, by Egypt, which is closer to Hamas under President Morsi than it was under Hosni Mubarek. This shift in Hamas's source of support--from Iran and Syria toward Qatar and Egypt--could prove constructive in the long run, since both Qatar and Egypt are members of the global establishment and seem to want to stay that way. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/is-hamas-really-a-surrogate-of-iran/265658/
(Video) Inside the mind of Iran's Khamenei
By Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor [December 4, 2012]
---- Why Iran's iron ayatollah distrusts the US and what that means for nuclear talks and the possibility of war with the West. http://m.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/1204/Inside-the-mind-of-Iran-s-Khamenei-video
Fragmentary Notes from the United Nations
By Vijay Prashad, Counterpunch [December 3, 2012]
---- As the UN vote took place, the NAM members released a statement for a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone. Iran is the current chair of the NAM, and despite pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program, the government has endorsed the Nuclear Free Zone. In 2010, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review promised to hold a conference for a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone in 2012. This conference has now been indefinitely postponed. NAM expressed its "regret that Israel by not declaring its intention to participate in the Conference continues to undermine its convening." Israel is currently the only country in the region that has not joined the NPT and it has refused to renounce possession of nuclear weapons. The NAM and the regional powers are going to use this particular political line to undermine Israel's claim of the high ground on security matters. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/03/fragmentary-notes-from-the-united-nations/
Also useful - Amie Ferris-Rotman, "Iran pushes out Afghans as regional power-play heats up," Reuters [December 2, 2012] http://news.yahoo.com/iran-pushes-afghans-regional-power-play-heats-105448691.html; Ali Dareini, "Iran's president promotes controversial confidant," Associated Press [December 2012] http://news.yahoo.com/irans-president-promotes-controversial-confidant-212418925.html; and Thomas Erdbrink, "Head of Tehran's Cybercrimes Unit Is Fired Over Death of Blogger," New York Times [December 1, 2012]  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/world/middleeast/after-death-of-sattar-beheshti-iranian-blogger-head-of-tehrans-cybercrimes-unit-is-fired.html?ref=world
UN Calls on Israel to Open Nuclear Program to Inspections
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [December 3, 2012]
---- The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Israel to open its nuclear program for inspection "without further delay." Israel's advanced nuclear arsenal has long been understood to exist, although it hasn't been officially admitted by the Israeli government. Many have argued Israel's possession of nuclear weapons is what drives the accelerated Iranian program and causes other regional instability. The resolution was approved on Monday by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions and calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty immediately and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/12/03/un-calls-on-israel-to-open-nuclear-program-to-inspections/
Iran's Claim of Drone Capture Is Denied by U.S.
By Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times [December 4, 2012]
---- Iran said its Revolutionary Guards Corps naval forces captured an American drone that it said entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Tuesday. The claim was quickly denied by the United States. Iranian state media said the aircraft was a ScanEagle built by Boeing, which according to the company's Web site is an unmanned drone that can be launched and operated from ships. A spokesman for the United States Navy in Bahrain denied the Iranian claim, saying that no American drones were missing. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/world/middleeast/iran-says-it-seized-another-american-drone.html?hp
Israel to use drones in Azerbaijan for possible Iran strike: report
From Xinhua [December 3, 2012]
---- Israel plans to use unmanned drones it deployed in Azerbaijan to preemptively strike Iranian missile sites in the event of a war, the London-based Sunday Times reported. The report comes amid mounting speculations that Israel may launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities next year, in which case the latter would retaliate by firing Shahab-3 and other long-range missiles at the Jewish state, while Lebanese militia Hezbollah and Gaza militants would follow suit. Ahead of a possible strike, Heron drones armed with Hellfire missiles would take out the missiles before they leave the ground, the paper said. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-12/03/c_124034970.htm
US Senate Passes New Sanctions on Iran
By Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com [December 1, 2012]
---- The U.S. Senate approved a new round of economic sanctions against Iran Friday, ignoring warnings by the White House that the additional measures could prove counter-productive to the goal of persuading Iran to curb its nuclear programme. The 94-0 vote, which was immediately praised by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), marked a rebuff to President Barack Obama who has argued that piling on too many sanctions risks undermining the international coalition that has backed U.S. efforts to pressure Iran. The new sanctions, which came in the form of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would impose sanctions against foreign companies or individuals engaged in trade with Iran in several sectors, including energy, ports, shipping, and shipbuilding, that allegedly support Tehran's nuclear or arms programmes. http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2012/12/01/us-senate-passes-new-sanctions-on-iran/
White House opposed new Iran sanctions
By Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy [
U.S. Weighs Bolder Effort to Intervene in Syria's Conflict
By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, New York Times [November 28, 2012]
---- The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions. While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/world/us-is-weighing-stronger-action-in-syrian-conflict.html?ref=world
U.S. Moves Toward Recognizing Syria's Opposition
By Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, New York Times [November 29, 2012]
---- The United States is moving toward recognizing the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people as soon as it fully develops its political structure, American officials said Thursday. A decision to recognize the group could be announced at a so-called Friends of Syria meeting that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to attend in Morocco on Dec. 12. It is the most immediate decision facing the Obama administration as it considers how to end the government of Bashar al-Assad and stop the violence that has consumed Syria. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/world/middleeast/us-moves-toward-recognizing-syria-opposition.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
Also useful – Anne Barnard and Ellen Barry, "Assad Facing Setbacks as Syrian Capital Is Besieged," New York Times [December 4, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/world/middleeast/assad-syria-conflict-updates.html?ref=world&_r=0; and Michael R. Gordon, et al., "Flow of Arms to Syria Through Iraq Persists, to U.S. Dismay," New York Times [December 1, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/world/middleeast/us-is-stumbling-in-effort-to-cut-syria-arms-flow.html?hp
Syria's Chemical Weapons
Syria Moves Its Chemical Weapons, and U.S. and Allies Cautiously Take Note
By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, New York Times [December 2, 2012]
---- The Syrian military's movement of chemical weapons in recent days has prompted the United States and several allies to repeat their warning to President Bashar al-Assad that he would be "held accountable" if his forces used the weapons against the rebels fighting his government. … Over the weekend, the activity in Syria prompted a series of emergency communications among the Western allies, who have long been developing contingency plans in case they decided to intervene in an effort to neutralize the chemical weapons, a task that the Pentagon estimates would require upward of 75,000 troops. But there were no signs that preparations for any such effort were about to begin. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/world/middleeast/syria-moves-its-chemical-weapons-and-gets-another-warning.html
U.S. Sees Syria Prepping Chemical Weapons for Possible Attack
By Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, Wired [December 3, 2012]
---- Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas, an American official with knowledge of the situation tells Danger Room. International observers are now more worried than they've even been that the Damascus government could use its nerve agent stockpile to slaughter its own people. The U.S. doesn't know why the Syrian military made the move, which began in the middle of last week and is taking place in central Syria. Nor are they sure why the Assad government is transferring some weapons to different locations within the country, as the New York Times reported on Monday. All that's certain is that the arms have now been prepped to be used, should Assad order it. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/


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