The P5+1’s First Step Agreement With Iran on its Nuclear Program

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Opening Remarks Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, DC
December 10, 2013



SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Mr. Chairman, thank you very, very much. Ranking Member Engel, Members of the Committee, thanks very much for welcoming me back, and I am happy to be back here. There’s no more important issue in American foreign policy than the question of the one we’re focused on here today.

And obviously, from the Chairman’s introduction, you know that I come here with an enormous amount of respect for your prerogatives on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as we did in the Senate. And it’s entirely appropriate that we’re here to satisfy your questions, hopefully allay your concerns and fears, because I believe the agreement that we have ought to do that and I think the path that we’re on should do that. And as I describe it to you, I hope you’ll leave here today with a sense of confidence that we know what we’re doing, our eyes are open, we have no illusions. It’s a tough road. I don’t come here with any guarantees whatsoever. And I think none of what we’ve done in this agreement begs that notion. In other words, everything is either verifiable or clear, and there are a set of requirements ahead of us which will even grow more so in the course of a comprehensive agreement. And we can talk about that – I’m sure we will – in the course of the day.

Let me just begin by saying that President Obama and I have both been very clear, as every member of this committee has been, that Iran must not acquire a nuclear weapon. And it is the President’s centerpiece of his foreign policy: Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon. This imperative is at the top of our national security agenda, and I know it’s at the top of yours as well. So I really do welcome the opportunity to have a discussion not only about what the first-step agreement does, but also to clarify – I hope significantly – what it doesn’t do, because there’s a certain, as there is in any of these kinds of things, a certain mythology that sometimes grows up around them. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Political Cartoons Reflect US-Iran Gap

The new diplomatic initiative between Iran and the world’s six major powers has inspired cynical political cartoonists on all sides. But the sharpest cartoons have run in the Iranian and American press. They reflect longstanding suspicions between the two nations, which have not had relations for 34 years, about whether the talks in Geneva will produce a deal resolving the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program— and ensuring that Iran can have nuclear energy without a capability to produce a bomb. The following are a selection of cartoons reflecting the skepticism about each other’s true intentions.

From the Iranian Press


            “From now on, heavy work, like talks with America and the European Union, is forbidden. You can only do light work…“
            Zarif attended the first round of talks in a wheelchair due to intense back pain. He attributed the muscle spasms to stress from hardliner criticism of his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in September in New York. Zarif lay on a bed during his flight to Iran.

             In Tehran, the failure of the second round of talks were widely blamed on France’s last minute stipulations.

From the American Press




Hanif Z. Kashani, a consultant for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Middle East Program, contributed to this roundup.

Source: USIP

Rouhani: Challenges Ahead

Haleh Esfandiari

            The decisive election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new president has been greeted around the world as a sign that Iranians are tired of hardline policies at home and abroad and are ready to embrace change. But the outcome also raises the question of how the new president might go about it, given Iran’s powerful clerical leadership and long history of quashing reform efforts.
      Rouhani will inherit from his predecessor a host of difficult, even insurmountable problems. In the past eight years, such limited freedoms as existed have been severely eroded. The economy is in shambles due to Western-imposed sanctions and outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reckless spending and misguided policies. With few real friends, Iran is internationally isolated, and its relations with the US and the Europeans are under strain over Iran’s nuclear program, its support for Assad in Syria, and its inflammatory rhetoric on Israel. Negotiations between Iran and the so-called 5+1 (five members of the UN Security Council and Germany) about Tehran’s nuclear program have been deadlocked.
While he is considered a moderate, Rouhani comes to office as an insider. For sixteen years he was head of Iran’s National Security Council (NSC) and for two years Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Even today, he sits on the NSC as the personal representative of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. He served five terms in the Majlis, or parliament. He sits on two major state councils, one of which, the Assembly of Experts, will elect Khamenei’s successor whenever he passes away. In holding high office, Rouhani was more a team player than a maverick and continues to support many existing Iranian policies. On Syria, since his election he has offered only the formulaic non-answer that the Syrian people should decide their own future through elections.
            Critics have noted that Rouhani spoke in support of the harsh crackdown on student protesters at Tehran University in 1999—he later explained he was in the government at the time and could have not done otherwise. He also was silent when security forces brutally crushed protests following the contested 2009 presidential elections, and his explanation for that silence remains unconvincing: he was not then in the government, he said, the nature of the protests had changed, and the protesters were obligated to act within the laws. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Rouhani: First Presser on US, Reforms, Nukes


      On June 17, president-elect Hassan Rouhani called for new ways “to build trust” with the international community on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Rouhani, in his first press conference, said both the United States and Iran need to find a way to heal „a very old wound.” He spoke expansively on domestic issues and foreign policy, promising to follow the “path of moderation and justice, not extremism.” The following are excerpts with a link to the broadcast with English subtitles.

The United States and Foreign Policy 
            “Relations between Iran and the United States are a complicated and difficult issue. It’s nothing easy. This is a very old wound that is there, and we need to think about how to heal this injury. We don’t want to see more tension. Wisdom tells us both countries need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things… [Talks] should be based on mutual respect and interests, and should be [held] on equal footing… Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Election: US Reacts to Results

In two separate statements, the United States called on the Iranian government to heed its people’s will after the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani in the first round of presidential elections. The Obama administration also “remains ready to engage with the Iranian government directly” to reach a diplomatic solution in the long standoff over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

Statement by the White House Press Secretary
            We have seen the announcement by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that Hojjatoleslam Doctor Hassan Rouhani has been declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election.  We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard.  Yesterday’s election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly.  However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.
            It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians.  The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry
            We have seen the announcement by Iran’s Interior Ministry that Hassan Rouhani has been declared the winner of the country’s 11th presidential election.
            We admire the courage of the Iranian people who went to the polls and made their voices heard in a rigidly controlled environment that sought to limit freedom of expression and assembly. We remain concerned about the lack of transparency in the electoral process, and the attempts to censor members of the media, the internet, and text messages. Despite these challenges, however, the Iranian people have clearly expressed their desire for a new and better future.
            President-elect Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians. In the months ahead, he has the opportunity to keep his promises to the Iranian people.
            We, along with our international partners, remain ready to engage directly with the Iranian government. We hope they will honor their international obligations to the rest of the world in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.


U.S. Policy Toward Iran

Wendy Sherman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Corker, distinguished Members of the Committee: Thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the Administration’s approach to the multiple challenges posed by Iran – by its nuclear ambitions, its support for international terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region, and its human rights abuses at home. I want to use this opportunity to speak clearly about these challenges; to lay out the multi-vectored strategy we are pursuing to counter them; and to be clear about the consequential choices ahead for America and our allies, but especially for Iran, its rulers, and its people.The Nuclear Challenge

Iran’s nuclear activity – in violation of its international obligations and in defiance of the international community – is one of the greatest global concerns we face. A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the region, to the world, and to the future of the global nuclear proliferation regime. It would risk an arms race in a region already rife with violence and conflict. A nuclear weapon would embolden a regime that already spreads instability through its proxies and threatens chokepoints in the global economy. It would put the world’s most dangerous weapons into the hands of leaders who speak openly about wiping one of our closest allies, the state of Israel, off the map. In confronting this challenge, our policy has been clear: we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Our preference is to resolve this through diplomacy. However, as President Obama has stated unequivocally, we will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there should be no doubt that the United States will use all elements of American power to achieve that objective.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has asked why it is that the international community does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The answer is simple: Iran has consistently concealed its nuclear activities and continues to do so, denying required access and information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has responsibilities to the international community, and it is that blatant disregard for those responsibilities that has made Iran the subject of four UN Security Council resolutions imposing mandatory sanctions. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Pistazienboykott im Iran

Pistazienboykott im Iran | euronews, welt.

Zu Nouruz (‏نوروز), dem iranischen Neujahrsfest, fehlten in diesem Jahr in vielen iranischen Familien Pistazien. Die Steinfrucht des zweihäusigen Pistazienbaumes (Pistacia vera) ist eigentlich Bestandteil der Neujahrstradition, doch viele Iraner folgten einem Aufruf, wegen der gestiegenen Preise auf Pistazien zu verzichten.

Der Facebook-Kampagne schloss sich sogar die Regierung an, allerdings, um gegen die internationalen Sanktionen zu protestieren und verlorene Popularität wett zu machen. Das Staatsfernsehen, das normalerweise die Auffassungen des herrschenden Klerus der Islamischen Republik wiedergibt, berichtete in seinem Wirtschaftsmagazin Payesh (Qualitätskontrolle)wohlwollend über den Boykott.

“Zum ersten Mal seit dreißig Jahren haben wir keine Pistazien oder Nüsse auf unserem Festtisch. Wir machen bei dem Boykott mit aus Protest gegen steigende Nusspreise”, berichtet Hamid Pourmand aus Teheran.

Der genaue Grund für die Verfünffachung des Pistazienpreises (in Rial) innerhalb nur eines Jahres ist unklar. Die internationalen Sanktionen treiben die Inflation im Iran an. Das Land ist aber nach den USA der zweitgrößte Pistazienanbauer der Welt. Iranische Bauern reservieren offenbar ihre Ernte für den Export – wegen des dramatisch gestiegenen Dollars gegenüber dem iranischen Rial – und treiben damit die Preise im Iran in die Höhe.

Weiterführende Links:

Pistazienboykott-Kampagne auf Facebook (farsi)

Verbrauchermagazin Payesh (farsi)

Quelle: euronews


ARD: Iran und die Sanktionen des Westens

Bastelt der Iran heimlich an der Atombombe? Diese Frage nimmt an Brisanz zu. Zwar gibt der Iran an, lediglich ein ziviles Atomforschungsprogramm zu betreiben. Unterdessen wird es eng für den Iran: Denn die wirtschaftlichen Sanktionen des Westens sind dort immer mehr zu spüren.


Iranian students complain of discrimination overseas

Sanctions blamed as bank accounts frozen, student loans denied and university applications rejected

Iran youth

Sanctions are getting in the way of young Iranians‘ opportunities to study abroad. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP

As US and EU sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear programme continue to escalate, an increasing number of Iranians studying abroad are finding themselves in the firing line. Bank accounts have been frozen, student loans denied and university applications rejected.

Until recently, Yasamin studied electrical engineering in Leeds. She was accepted into a PhD programme, but with the sharp drop in the value of the rial her family could no longer afford to support her, she said. Yasamin’s hopes of pursuing her doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, were also dashed when she was unable to demonstrate that she had $26,000 (£16,700) in the bank. Her savings amount to half of that in today’s currency. So instead of completing her education, she is biding her time in Tehran, hoping for a job offer in Europe. Like others interviewed for this article, she asked to be identified only by her first name.

Reza, 22, who is studying medicine in Hungary, faces similar problems. „When I came here, the toman was 1,000 to a dollar, now it’s 4,000,“ he said. (One toman is 10 rials.) Because of sanctions it is virtually impossible to carry out international bank transfers from Iran, leaving many students in Europe to go back home to fetch the money they need for university. At least once a year Reza carries $20,000 (£12,650) in cash from Iran to Europe, of which $15,000 goes to pay his tuition. This far exceeds the $5,000 legal limit one is allowed to take out of Iran. „I go there and hide the money in my underwear,“ Reza said. „Really!“ Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Democrats Propose Posting U.S. Diplomat in Iran

On February 15, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced legislation that would reestablish a new diplomatic envoy to Iran. The high level envoy would be responsible for pursuing direct, sustained, bilateral and multilateral negotiations with Tehran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) said the United States must revise its no contact policy and “use all diplomatic tools available.” The following is a press release from her office.

            Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act,” which would create a high level Special Envoy to Iran. The act pushes diplomacy as a vital route to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and directs the President to appoint a Special Envoy to pursue direct, sustained, bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the Government of Iran in order to prevent war, and support human rights.
            “The darkening clouds surrounding Iran’s nuclear program are troubling. We must use all diplomatic tools available, including engaging in direct bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.  To do that, we must lift the ‘no contact policy and begin negotiations,” Congresswoman Lee said.
            The bill calls for eliminating the State Department’s ‘no contact’ policy that prevents State Department officers and employees from making any direct contact with Iranian counterparts. The bill outlines measures to pursue opportunities to build mutual trust and to foster sustained negotiations in good faith with Iran.
            Original cosponsors include Representatives Earl Blumenauer, John Conyers, John Dingell, Keith Ellison, Rush Holt, Hank Johnson, James McGovern, Jim Moran, Betty McCollum, and Bobby Rush.
Source: USIP


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