Monday, April 27, 2015

Today's links

1--Three myths about the Iran sanctions

Myth No. 3: The United States can continue to control the world financial system.
The effectiveness of these provisions, however, relies in part on the structure of the international financial system; imposing tougher sanctions for a better bargain rests on the premise that this structure will remain intact. The truth, however, is that major shifts in international banking severely undermine the prospect of maintaining a robust sanctions regime. For example, some of the hardest-hitting rounds of sanctions came in 2012, when the Belgium-based company of  SWIFT—the world’s largest financial messaging system—cut off Iran as part of EU sanctions. This move froze Iranian’s access to international markets, devastating its trade and commerce.

...China, for example, is on schedule to launch an alternative to SWIFT, possibly by the end of 2015. Known as the China International Payment System, it is designed to process cross-border renminbi transactions, in a welcome alternative to the patchwork system of processing Chinese currency payments—making the renminbi a more global currency. The system will provide a legitimate alternative to SWIFT.
Russia recently launched its own alternative to SWIFT for domestic payments, as part of a larger move to get away from Western dominance of the international financial system—specifically citing fears of exclusion from SWIFT stemming from Western sanctions over the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

2--White House officials say Israel spied on Iran talks to sink nuclear deal
3--Putin accuses US of directly supporting Chechen militants
4--Europe, neighbors eager to import Iran gas: NIGC

South Pars, divided into 29 development phases, contains 40 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of natural gas.  It covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters.
The gas field is estimated to contain about eight percent of the world’s reserves, and approximately 18 billion barrels of condensate

On April 16, European Union’s Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said Europe keeps the possibility of importing gas from Iran open as it seeks to diversify sources of energy
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU energy ministers in the Latvian capital city of Riga, Canete said Iran was a new possibility for imports of gas by Europe if Tehran's nuclear negotiations led to a final agreement.

5--Araqchi: Iran sanctions must be terminated immediately, press tv

Araqchi: No. We believe that the solutions we came to in Lausanne and before that was crystal clear that all economic and financial sanctions should be terminated in the implementation day of JCPOA.
That understanding has already concluded. Now we have to draft how exactly that would happen. We do not believe in a phased process on economic and financial sanctions. All of them should be removed or terminated immediately when the JCPOA is started to be implemented.

6--Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context, CFR
7--Framework for P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's Nuclear Program, cfr
8--Western Oil Executives Circle Iran, WSJ

9--Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.---Ally’s snooping upset White House because information was used to lobby Congress to try to sink a deal, WSJ

Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.
The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.

10--Why is the media misleading the public about the critical details of the negotiations? Araqchi even copied parts from the "fact sheets" from the negotiations (and released them on Twitter) which back up his claims. There's no doubt that he's telling the truth. Check out this quote from Araqchi in the Guardian
“The Americans put what they wanted in the fact sheet … I even protested this issue with [US secretary of state John] Kerry himself,” he said in a television interview cited by the Fars news agency." (Guardian)

Here's more on sanctions issue from investigative journalist Gareth Porter:
"The fact that no official text was released has meant that press coverage of the content of the agreement has relied primarily on the much more detailed summary of the agreement by the U.S. State Department and on remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry. The U.S. interpretation of the agreement, however, is ambiguous on some aspects of the sanctions removal issue, raising serious questions about what was precisely agreed on."
Doubts Remain on Iran Sanction Relief, Gareth Porter, Consortium News
The only reason the details remain ambiguous is because the State Department wants them to be ambiguous. The Guardian summed it up like this: 
All UN security council resolutions related to Iran’s nuclear programme will be lifted immediately if a final deal is agreed, Tehran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Saturday, stressing the benefits to Iran of this week’s negotiations."
Is that ambiguous?

12--"Who Spies for Israel in Washington’s Nuclear Negotiations?"
 james petras
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (3/25/15) headlined: ‘Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks with the US”. The article goes on to detail the way in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the confidential information to sabotage the talks, including ‘playing them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy’.
The WSJ report of this incident tries to play down the serious implications of Israel’s espionage by claiming that Israeli spying of US diplomatic negotiations is ‘normal even among allies’; that ‘both sides do it’; that the US ‘tolerates’ Israeli spying; that the ‘Israelis have not directly spied on the US’ but use sympathetic US agents . . . and several other excuses for Israel’s behavior
After having revealed Tel Aviv’s espionage - the WSJ dismisses the sabotage. Worse still, it makes no attempt to investigate who, among the highly-placed US government officials with direct access to the negotiations, has been spying for Israel. This essay attempts to address this question by identifying the most likely suspects...
The negotiations between the major powers (P5+1), composed of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany, led by the US, with Iran have proceeded for over two years. Israel is not part of the negotiating process-formally but indirectly its presence is substantial. For Washington the stakes are very high: securing a nuclear agreement with Iran in which Teheran submits to constant and pervasive ‘inspections’, and dismantles a substantial part of its nuclear program, certainly weakens Iran’s regional prestige and increases US influence in the region. ...
Israel’s Interest in Sabotaging the 5 + 1 Nuclear Negotiations
Israel knows that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program (as does Washington). The US government uses this as a pretext to secure political concessions from Iran, to degrade its regional influence, and to secure their support in policing the Middle East. In contrast, Israel seeks to destroy Iran’s capacity to support the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.
Netanyahu and his Zionist supporters, in and out of the US government, seek to induce the US to increase economic sanctions in order to strangle the Iranian economy, to foment internal unrest and to set US-Iranian relations on a path toward a military confrontation....

Israeli Espionage Network in Washington: The Prime Suspects...

Only Wendy Sherman fits all the criteria. Sherman, as head of the US negotiating group, has access to all the details of daily discussions, proposals and concessions by the US and Iranian negotiators. Moreover, Sherman is in a position to translate Netanyahu’s demands on Iran into key agenda items and proposals. Sherman is a lifelong zealous Zionist and according to one sympathetic writer, is ‘widely considered one of Israel’s most supportive high level friends’. Sherman’s reputation on the negotiating team has been that of a ‘hard negotiator’. Sherman was one of the key authors of the ‘Joint Plan of Action, which was designed to extract the maximum concessions from Iran while making the fewest changes in US policy.

In a speech on October 23, 2014, designed to reassure Israel-Firsters in Washington, Sherman boasted: ‘In return for limited sanctions relief, Iran has halted the expansion of its overall enrichment capacity, put a cap on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride, stopped the production of uranium enriched to 20%, agreed not to make further advances at the Arak heavy water reactor, opened the door to unprecedented daily access for international inspectors to the facilities at Natanz and Fordow’. Sherman has secured US colonial oversight over the entire Iranian uranium program – which the CIA and the entire US intelligence consortium have repeatedly declared is not a ‘weapons program’!...

If the ideological affinities and hatred of Iran point to Wendy Sherman as the Israel’s ‘mole’ in the State Department, her strategic position as head of the negotiating committee immediately provides her with the secret details that Israel needs to sabotage Obama’s approach to Iran and to organize opposition in the US. The WSJ’s article underscores Sherman’s role as an agent of Tel Aviv: ‘Mr. Netanyahu and his top advisers received confidential update on the Geneva talks from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and other US officials who knew at the time that Israeli intelligence was working to fill the gap.’ Washington eventually curtailed the ‘briefings.’ But there is no evidence that Sherman ceased her activities on Netanyahu’s behalf. It’s likely she continues to provide timely intelligence to her Israeli counterparts....

Israel pursues a complex division of labor: Netanyahu sets the rejectionist hardline. US Zionists transmit that policy into Congressional opposition. Top officials in the State Department provide intelligence for the hard ‘outsider’ campaign and work within the negotiating framework to subvert the proceedings. As the chief negotiator, Sherman plays multiple roles on behalf of Israel, only one of which involves the immediate transfer of highly sensitive intelligence. Sherman has ensured that most of Netanyahu’s demands are incorporated into the US negotiating agenda in a win-win format. If Iran rejects them, the US will effectively break-off negotiations, blame Iran and impose even harsher sanctions; if Iran accepts the demands, its peaceful nuclear program will be destroyed and it will be even more vulnerable to an Israeli and/or US military attack with all its military installations infiltrated and monitored by the US controlled International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA)....

The failure of the Obama regime to go after its own State Department officials acting as agents for Israel; its refusal to confront long-term aggressive espionage designed to undermine its relations in the Middle East; its tolerance of Israel’s direct interference via its ‘fraternal organizations’ of the US legislative process; and its refusal to identify, arrest, prosecute and sentence high-level spies within the Cabinet have severely compromised the sovereignty of the United States.

13--Remembering 'Nam, nick turse

For most Vietnamese -- in the South as well as the North -- the end was not a time of fear and flight, but joy and relief. Finally, the much-reviled, American-backed government in Saigon had been overthrown and the country reunited. After three decades of turmoil and war, peace had come at last. The South was not united in accepting the Communist victory as an unambiguous “liberation,” but there did remain broad and bitter revulsion over the wreckage the Americans had brought to their land.

Indeed, throughout the South and particularly in the countryside, most people viewed the Americans not as saviors but as destroyers. And with good reason. The U.S. military dropped four million tons of bombs on South Vietnam, the very land it claimed to be saving, making it by far the most bombed country in history. Much of that bombing was indiscriminate. Though policymakers blathered on about the necessity of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese, the ruthlessness of their war-making drove many southerners into the arms of the Viet Cong, the local revolutionaries. It wasn’t Communist hordes from the North that such Vietnamese feared, but the Americans and their South Vietnamese military allies....

Our vivid collective memories are of Vietnamese refugees fleeing their homeland at war’s end. Gone is any broad awareness of how the U.S. burned down, plowed under, or bombed into oblivion thousands of Vietnamese villages, and herded survivors into refugee camps. The destroyed villages were then declared “free fire zones” where Americans claimed the right to kill anything that moved.

In 1967, Jim Soular was a flight chief on a gigantic Chinook helicopter. One of his main missions was the forced relocation of Vietnamese peasants. Here’s the sort of memory that you won’t find in Miss Saigon, Last Days in Vietnam, or much of anything else that purports to let us know about the war that ended in 1975. This is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see much of this week in any 40th anniversary media musings.
“On one mission where we were depopulating a village we packed about sixty people into my Chinook. They’d never been near this kind of machine and were really scared but they had people forcing them in with M-16s. Even at that time I felt within myself that the forced dislocation of these people was a real tragedy. I never flew refugees back in. It was always out. Quite often they would find their own way back into those free-fire zones. We didn’t understand that their ancestors were buried there, that it was very important to their culture and religion to be with their ancestors. They had no say in what was happening. I could see the terror in their faces. They were defecating and urinating and completely freaked out. It was horrible. Everything I’d been raised to believe in was contrary to what I saw in Vietnam. We might have learned so much from them instead of learning nothing and doing so much damage.”

14--Virtually all of the shooting violations were on Kiev's side. What went on is when Kiev broke the ceasefire by firing on the Republics, they would reply, and then Kiev would file a report with the monitors that they had been attacked," Dean underscored.

15--"Europe is slowly attempting to regain the confidence of Russia and engage the country in a promising political game of both obligations and benefits. Germany could be considered the architect of this European strategy. Its business lobby has pushed its political elites to reconsider the obsolete approach of Russia's economic isolation despite the US pressure," George N. Tzogopoulos emphasized
The expert pointed out that in January 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel raised the issue of a joint trade area with Russia, reviving an idea of the free trade zone "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" – a concept first voiced by Vladimir Putin in 2010. 
16--Putin says US helped North Caucasus separatists against Russia in the 2000s , guardian
  • Russian president cites intercepted calls as he makes assertion in documentary
  • Bush said he would ‘kick the ass’ of intelligence officers involved, Putin says

  • The bottom line of earnings season adds up to this: companies are running into big trouble with their top lines.
    While companies generally tend to beat both earnings and revenue expectations, this year more have missed their first-quarter top-line estimates than beaten.
    Out of the first 201 S&P 500 Index companies to report first-quarter earnings, only 47 percent have beaten revenue estimates, according to FactSet. If this number holds, it will be the first time that more companies have missed than beaten earnings expectations since the first quarter of 2013.
    Now, analysts on the whole expect to see S&P 500 revenue fall 3.5 percent year-over-year, whereas they had expected just a 2.6 percent drop when the first quarter ended.

    18--warren mosler: interview...No growth economy

    19--EU turns to Iran alternative for Russia


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