Here is the text of the “side agreement” between IAEA and Iran:
Separate Arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5
Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:
- Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
- The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran’s authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency’s containers and seals.
- The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
- Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.
For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards
For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs
And here’s interpretation and comment from The Big Story, by George Jahn:
An AP report has revealed that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed with Iran that Iranian experts and equipment will be used to inspect Iran’s Parchin military site, located in not far from Tehran, where Iran is suspected of conducting covert nuclear weapons activity more than a decade ago.
Here are some questions and answers about the document, and what it means for the larger deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran.
WHAT HAVE IRAN AND THE IAEA AGREED?
According to a draft document viewed by AP, Iran has agreed to cooperate with the U.N. in answering longstanding allegations about possible past work to develop nuclear weapons at its Parchin plant — but only with the Iranians conducting the inspections themselves.
Iran would collect its own environmental samples on the site and carry out other work usually done by IAEA experts. The IAEA will be able to review the Iranians’ work after the fact. The deal on Parchin was between the IAEA and Iran. The Obama Administration was not a direct party to the agreement, but apparently was aware of it.
WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE DEAL SAY?
Opponents of the broader deal are seizing an opportunity to say the entire exercise of negotiating with Iran is flawed, that it relies too much on trust of the Iranian government.
WHAT DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAY?
The Obama administration and other supporters say the wider agreement is focused on the future, with ample inspections, and that the side accord between Iran and the IAEA is focused on Iran’s activities in the past and therefore is not central to the overall deal.
HOW UNUSUAL IS THE AGREEMENT ON PARCHIN?
Any IAEA inspection of a country suspected of nuclear irregularities is usually carried out by agency experts. They may take swipes of residue on equipment, sample the air or take soil samples in attempts to look for signs of clandestine work on atomic arms or other potentially dangerous unreported activity.
The document on Parchin, however, will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons.
It says “Iran will provide” the agency with environmental samples. It restricts the number of samples at the suspect site to seven and to an unspecified number “outside of the Parchin complex” at a site that still needs to be decided.
The U.N. agency will take possession of the samples for testing, as usual. Iran will also provide photos and video of locations to be inspected. But the document suggests that areas of sensitive military activity remain out of bounds.
The draft says the IAEA will “ensure the technical authenticity of the activities” carried out by the Iranians — but it does not say how. …
WHY IS THE PARCHIN AGREEMENT IMPORTANT?
Any indication that the IAEA is diverging from established inspection rules could weaken the agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog with 164 members, and feed suspicions that it is ready to overly compromise in hopes of winding up a probe that has essentially been stalemated for more than a decade.
Politically, the arrangement has been grist for American opponents of the broader separate agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Critics have complained that the wider deal is built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.
The separate agreement on past nuclear activities does not affect the broader deal signed in July. And it doesn’t appear yet that the revelation will change any votes in Congress for or against a resolution of disapproval, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto if it passes.
HOW DID THIS AGREEMENT HAPPEN?
It could be a matter of priorities.
The Obama administration’s main focus in the broader Iran deal — signed by the U.S., Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — is crimping Iran’s present nuclear activities so they cannot be used in the future toward making a bomb. Faced with more than a decade of Iranian resistance to IAEA attempts to probe the allegations of past weapons work at Parchin, there may be a willingness to settle for an agency report that is less than definitive — and methods that deviate from usual practices.
The IAEA also appears to have recognized that Iran will continue to insist the allegations are lies, based on false U.S., Israeli and other intelligence. After a decade of stalemate it wants to close the books on the issue and allow the U.N. Security Council to do so as well.
The alternative might well have been no inspection at Parchin of any kind. [As if this “inspection” is not exactly equivalent to no inspection – ed.]
WHAT DOES THE IAEA SAY?
Director General Yukiya Amano says, “The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our … standards in any way.” He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations “are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public – the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states“.
WHAT DO OTHERS SAY?
Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House: “We are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade. Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with the arrangements, which are unique to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s historical activities.”
Olli Heinonen, in charge of the Iran investigation as IAEA deputy director general from 2005 through 2010, says he can think of no similar arrangement — a country essentially allowed to carry out much of the probe of suspicions against it.
The agreement is sinister and ludicrous.
(And now we know there is a “Separate Arrangement I” that we know nothing of.)
Commander J. E. Dyer writes at Liberty Unyielding:
Kerry offered to give the Senators a classified briefing on the side agreement – even though he also stressed that the U.S. has not been given access to it.
The reaction of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] supporters to the AP report has been to emphasize that this agreement is about resolving IAEA’s questions regarding Iran’s past activities. The side agreement on Parchin isn’t about monitoring current or future activities, which are a separate issue.
The implication is that self-sampling and selfies are good enough for resolving the lingering questions about the past. Going forward, suggest Team Obama and its allies, is where we’ll see the tough, unprecedentedly rigorous verification regime for Iran’s military-related nuclear work.
The big problem with that logic – even more important than the point that verifying Iran’s past activities is crucial – is that there is nothing written down about the nature of the verification regime for military-related activities going forward. The JCPOA is silent as to methods and measures. It does not describe a rigorous verification regime. It doesn’t describe a verification regime at all.
All it says is that Iran and IAEA will develop agreements for inspecting the military-related sites IAEA requests access to. If IAEA isn’t satisfied, it can appeal to the JCPOA’s Joint Commission – on which Iran is one of the eight voting members.
So the only model we have to go by, in judging how this verification process is going to work, is the text of the side agreement on Parchin. And that text says we’re going to take Iran’s word for it. …
That approach isn’t good enough for the nuclear program of a radical regime that is still the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.
Senator Robert Menendez explains why he will not support Obama’s appalling deal with Iran.
He boasts that he has supported President Obama “98% of the time in 2013 and 2014″, but cannot and will not support his deal allowing Iran to become a nuclear power.
His analysis of what is wrong with the agreement is detailed and excellent.
He denies that the only alternative is war, and offers ideas for a better deal (some strong and some weak, in our view).
It is an important speech, well worth hearing.
Dennis Prager talks plain good sense about the US-Iran nuclear “deal” in this video, published on August 3, 2015.
He speaks of evil being not dark, but bright. Which recalls the title of the book, Brighter than a Thousand Suns, by Robert Jungk, about the scientists who invented the atom bomb in the Manhattan Project. The title is a line from a verse in the Bhagavad Gita which one of the scientists, J. Robert Oppenheimer, quoted when the bomb was tested. As a desccription of an atomic explosion it is exaggerated of course, but frightening; and we all need to be frightened of the nuclear war that Obama has now made not just possible, but all too probable.
Prager’s best point, in our opinion, is that we are already at war with Iran. We have been for a long time.
We still think the best way to deal with Iran would be to bunker-bomb its nuclear facilities. And to keep doing so every time it rebuilds them.
Are the Europeans unable to endure freedom?
Do they want to be enslaved by Islam?
As ever more Muslims pour into Europe as “refugees”, their charm, their success – or what is it about them? – attracts locals to emulate and join them.
From Gatestone, by Soeren Kern:
In Norway, the Police Security Service (PST) revealed that nearly a dozen refugees sent to Norway under the UN’s quota system turned out to have close links to the terror groups Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front. Police also discovered that some refugees had backgrounds in Syria’s secret police, and others were suspected of carrying out war crimes during the country’s ongoing civil war.
The newspaper Dagbladet also reported that Islamic extremists are scouting refugee reception centers in Norway in search of new recruits for terrorism. According to the paper, several people who received asylum in Norway later became central figures in the country’s radicalized Islamic community.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of Norwegians are converting to Islam, apparently because of a perceived need for stronger rules in Norway’s liberal society. “Converting to Islam is perhaps the most extreme form of youthful rebellion today,” Muslim convert and religion professor Anne Sofie Roald told the newspaper Aftenposten. She said she thinks conservative Islam represents clear limits and a new form of security in Norway’s “anything goes” society.
And this report is from the Norwegian site NewsinEnglish, by Nina Berglund:
“In general, many converts become ‘more Catholic than the pope’,” Roald told Aftenposten. She converted to Islam in 1982 and initially used a hijab but later stopped wearing it: “The reality can be that the ideas about limits set by religion can be more appealing than the limits themselves.” Like Elgvin, though, she thinks conservative Islam represents clear limits and a new form of security in a very free and liberal society like Norway’s, which can attract those rebelling a society where “almost anything goes”. The historic student protests of the 1960s led to social freedoms that now, perhaps, a new generation is rebelling against. That’s a paradox in a country that prides itself on its own hard-won freedom and independence [? – ed], and its egalitarian society.
One 26-year-old Norwegian woman … “Elsa” … who didn’t want to be identified, told Aftenposten she’d fallen in with a “bad” group and abused both drugs and alcohol. She began to pray and then took Arabic language lessons, which gave her “a good gut feeling” about Islam. She began to read more, and said that what appealed to her most were the rules within Islam that were much stronger than in Norwegian society in general.
“I think people need that, guidelines and rules and consequences in the form of punishment or praise,” Elsa told Aftenposten. “Something to believe in.”
Morten Ibrahim Abrahamsen, now a 23-year-old man … converted after surviving the massacre of July 22, 2011 on the island of Utøya … Abrahamsen told Aftenposten he had a religious experience while he desperately tried to hide from the lone gunman Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 69 people at the Labour Party’s youth summer camp that Abrahamsen was attending.
“I met a lot of resistance, also publicly, from people who thought I was vulnerable and had all but been forced to convert,” Abrahamsen said, after he’d declared his faith to representatives of the Islamic organization Islam Net in Oslo. It’s been a target of controversy for organizing conferences featuring radical Muslim clerics, for segregating men and women who attend and for spreading the word about Islam from information stands on the street, among other things.
“But now it’s been nearly four years (since the massacre and his conversion) and I’m thriving with my religion,” Abrahamsen told Aftenposten. “I have found the sense of calm I was looking for.” …
Representatives of Islam are keen to win new converts. Among them is … 22-year-old [health-worker] “Maria”, who declined further identification but said her conversion and subsequent decision to wear not only a hijab but also gloves and an occasional niqab that covers her face shocked colleagues. Their reaction was so negative that she found a new jobs where she now feels accepted. Her Norwegian family accepted her conversion and she says her Muslim girlfriends have become like “sisters” for her. …
Yes, freedom can be hard to bear.
Self-reliance can seem too great a burden.
And besides, it’s so nice to have someone else to blame for one’s failures, disappointments and miseries.
All you have to do, if you’re a woman, is live your life wrapped in a black tent, do nothing that your lord and master doesn’t tell you to do, endure his beatings, and bear his children that he can take away from you at any moment on a whim. “Clear limits.”
And if you’re a man, give up thinking for yourself. Get a scar on your forehead from bowing to the earth to the god of a warlord. And hate all human beings who do not do the same.
Oh – and beat your wife. Have her stoned to death if she’s raped. Deny your daughters education. Marry them in their childhood to old men. Bury them alive if they disobey you.
And raise your sons to be just like you.
As more about the US’s terms of surrender to Iran emerge, it becomes ever clearer that despite the big lie told by Obama and the Ayatollah Khamenei – the two Supreme Leaders – that Iran would never use nuclear energy for anything but peaceful purposes, it is in fact a nuclear arsenal that Iran is after.
Is anybody surprised?
In this article at the Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon names some of the people and organizations behind the intense activity in Iran to acquire nuclear warheads and missiles to deliver them.
What? The Religion of Peace make war?
And against whom? Surely not the country they call “the Great Satan”? Whoever could imagine such a thing!
The Obama administration and European Union agreed as part of the accord last week to lift sanctions over eight years on a network of Iranian scientists, military officers and companies long suspected by the U.S. and United Nations as central players in a covert nuclear weapons program.
The U.S. also agreed to remove a German engineer from its financial blacklist by late 2023 after he was targeted by sanctions for his alleged role in a global black market in nuclear weapons technology run by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The decision to roll back sanctions on these individuals and organizations is detailed in more than 100 pages of documents released last week as part of the landmark nuclear accord reached between Iran and six world powers.
The Obama administration decided to remove Gerhard Wisser from its sanctions list by 2023. The German engineer was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison [suspended] by a South African court in 2007 for his role in supplying centrifuge components to the A.Q. Khan black-market network. … The U.S. and IAEA accuse Mr. Khan and his associates of facilitating the sale of nuclear equipment to North Korea, Iran and Libya during the 1980s and 1990s. The senior U.S. official didn’t provide specifics about why Mr. Wisser was granted sanctions relief as part of the Iran deal. Mr. Wisser could not be located. He pleaded guilty in 2007 in South Africa to manufacturing components that could be illegally used in nuclear technology. …
Republicans said in recent days they were stunned the White House and European allies agreed to lift sanctions on such individuals and expressed concerns about the long-term impact on U.S. and global security. A number of leading Republicans said the issue of sanctions relief will be among those they cite in attempting to block legislative approval of the Iran deal.
Congress started a 60-day review period of the agreement this week.
“This would remove sanctions on those responsible for Iran’s nuclear weapons development at the same time restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program come off,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the delisting of Iranian scientists, companies and officers. “That’s a deadly combination.” …
Among those [people] to be removed from the U.S., U.N. and EU sanctions lists by 2023 is Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies suspect he oversaw a secret Iranian program to develop the technologies for a nuclear weapon, at least until 2003. He’s been called by American officials the “ Robert Oppenheimer” of Iran’s nuclear efforts, a reference to the American scientist who oversaw development of atomic weapons during World War II. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly attempted to interview the military officer to conclude its investigation into Tehran’s alleged weaponization work, but has repeatedly been rebuffed.
Iran denies it sought to build a bomb and has guarded access to its military sites and leadership. …
The U.S., U.N. and EU also committed in Vienna to remove Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, from their sanctions lists over the next eight years. … Mr. Abbasi-Davani was promoted to head the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran from 2011-2013.
The military body Mr. Fakhrizadeh allegedly headed, the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known as SPND, also will be removed from the U.S. sanctions list by 2023. The IAEA has said SPND may have been involved in nuclear weapons research after 2003. The agency has sought to interview officials from the organization but have also been rebuffed.
The U.S. also agreed to remove Kalaye Electric Co. from its sanctions list over the next eight years. The Iranian company was exposed by the IAEA as having secretly run a uranium-enrichment facility in the early 2000s. …
The EU and U.N. also committed to removing Malek Ashtar University from their sanctions lists. The Tehran research center was accused of supplying scientists who participated in secret weaponization work, according to former U.S. and IAEA officials. …
Denials and confusion will continue:
The Obama administration will begin briefing Congress on Wednesday, including with appearances by Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Kerry and other administration officials have in some cases added to the confusion over the status of Iranians and others on sanctions lists. According to the Vienna documents, the commander of Iran’s overseas military unit known as the Qods Force will be taken off EU and U.N. sanctions lists in the next eight years. But the secretary of state initially denied that the commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, would be removed from sanctions lists.
Of course he will be removed. He and everyone else on the list will probably be given awards soon by Obama, or the UN, or the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
From Commentary, by John Podhoretz:
This is an infamous day, and while those of us who see Iran’s nuclearization as the threshold threat for the rest of the 21st century will not be silent and will not give up the fight against it, it is appropriate to take a moment to despair that we — the United States and the West — have come to this.
Only a moment?
How go those old talks with Islamofascist Iran about stopping it getting armed with nukes?
The all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s latest comment was far from helpful. Saturday, July 11, he said publicly: “The US is the true embodiment of global arrogance,” the fight against which “could not be interrupted” even after the completion of the nuclear talks. He also boasted that the Islamic Republic had “managed to charm the world” by sticking with those negotiations.
This is from DebkaFile:
Khamenei’s remarks reflect the struggle between the pro- and anti-nuclear deal factions at the highest level of the Iranian leadership. …
On June 29, President Hassan Rouhani was planning to resign when he asked the supreme leader to receive him first. He was upset by Foreign Minister Mohamed Zavad Zarif’s recall from Vienna to Tehran for a tough briefing. Zarif had warned the president that the talks were doomed unless Iran gave some slack. The foreign minister said that the six foreign ministers were preparing to leave Vienna in protest against Iran’s intransigence.
Rouhani when he met Khamenei warned him that Iran was about to miss the main diplomatic train to its main destination: the lifting of sanctions to save the economy from certain ruin.
The supreme ruler was unconvinced: He referred the president to the conditions for a deal he had laid down on June 23 and refused to budge: Sanctions must be removed upon the signing of the final accord; international atomic agency inspectors were banned at military facilities, along with interviews with nuclear scientists; and the powers must endorse Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and build advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Rouhani hotly stressed that those conditions had become a hindrance to the deal going through and insisted that sanctions relief was imperative for hauling the economy out of crisis.
Khamenei disputed him on that point too. He retorted that the revolutionary republic had survived the eight-year Iranian-Iraqi war (1979-187) with far fewer resources and assets than it commanded at present.
For back-up, the supreme ruler asked two hardliners to join his ding-dong with the president: Defense Minister Mir Hossein Moussavi and Revolutionary Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jaafari.
Both told Rouhani in the stiffest terms that Tehran must not on any account bow to international pressure for giving up its nuclear program or the development of ballistic missiles.
In a broad hint to President Rouhani to pipe down, Khamenei reminisced about his long-gone predecessor Hassan Bani-Sadr (president in 1980-1981) who was not only forced out of office but had to flee Iran, and the former prime minister and presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who has lived under house arrest for six years since leading an opposition campaign.
The supreme leader then set out his thesis that the danger of Iran coming under attack had declined to zero, since Europe was in deep economic crisis (mainly because of Greece) and because the US president had never been less inclined to go to war than he is today.
Jaaafri added his two cents by commenting that after a succession of fiascos, Obama would go to any lengths to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as the crowning achievement of his presidency. The Revolutionary Guards chief then added obliquely: “Before long we will present the West with a fait accompli.”
He refused to elaborate on this when questioned by the president, but it was taken as a reference to some nuclear event.
Rouhani left the meeting empty-handed, but his letter of resignation stayed in his pocket.
The next day, when Zarif landed in Vienna to take his seat once more at the negotiating table, he learned about a new directive Khamenei had sent the president, ordering him to expand ballistic missile development and add another five percent to its budget – another burden on Iran’s empty coffers.
Khamenei’s office made sure this directive reached the public domain. Zarif too was armed with another impediment to a deal. Khamenei instructed him to add a fresh condition: The annulment of the sanctions imposed against Iran’s missile development and arms purchases.
Can this be true?
The Saudi multi-millionaire media tycoon, prince Talal Bin Waleed, has urged all Arab nations to give up their acrimonious stance toward the Jewish nation and instead continue to strive for a more peaceful, prosperous and homogenous Middle-East.
The controversial Saudi prince Talal has openly declared his intention to embark on a seven-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land and pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site in Islam located in the Old City of Jerusalem, reported Okaz , the Arabic Saudi Arabian daily on Thursday.
All my Muslim brothers and sisters must understand that it became a moral imperative for all inhabitants of war-torn Middle-East, namely Arabs, to desist their absurd hostility toward Jewish people.
My sovereign, King Salman has instructed me to open a direct dialogue with Israel’s intellectuals building amicable ties with our Israeli neighbors.
I was always candid regarding the utmost necessity of quelling the growing waves of anti-Semitism in our volatile region, and I shall remain lavish in my praise to Israel as the sole democratic entity in one the most tyrannical parts in the entire world.
Saying that his voyage might be the harbinger of peace and fraternity, the Saudi Prince emphasized developing the nascent military and intelligence co-operation with Tel Aviv [correction: Jerusalem – ed].
Saudi Arabia? Yes. Religious tolerance? Yes.
But the Saudis don’t really mean it, do they? Of course not, but a little thing like that won’t stop them.
The Independent reports:
Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which has its headquarters in Jeddah – convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom’s Supreme Court prepared to rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.
The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.
And the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch accused HRC president Joachim Rücker of giving “false international legitimacy” to the two-day conference on religious freedoms held in Jeddah on 3 and 4 June.
According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the participants in the conference “began with an agreement to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect” – a pledge by all member states to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.
“In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.”
Invited to make the opening statement at the conference, Mr Rücker told the summit: “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”
But Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.
“But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.”
Astonishing? Astonishing hypocrisy, yes. But what can be expected of the Saudis’ contemptible regime? It’s very existence is a mockery not only of tolerance, but also of truth, decency, honesty, humanity.
It should inspire not astonishment but outrage and fury – if anyone in the flabby West is still capable of righteous anger.
Saudi Arabia is probably the most monocultural and intolerant country in the world. (Comparable only to Communist regimes.)
Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims. Neither Saudi citizens nor guest workers have the right of freedom of religion.The official and dominant form of Islam in the kingdom – Wahhabism – arose in the central region of Najd in the eighteenth century. Proponents call the movement “Salafism”, and believe that its teachings purify the practice of Islam of innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of Muhammad and his companions.
Saudi Arabia has “religious police” (known as Haia or Mutaween), who patrol the streets enforcing dress codes, strict separation of men and women, attendance at prayer (salat) five times each day, the ban on alcohol, and other aspects of Sharia (Islamic law). (In the privacy of the home behavior can be far looser, and reports indicate that the ruling Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself, indulging in parties, drugs and sex.) [Including, to our certain knowledge, homosexual sex (often with under-15-year-old boys), which is punishable by death under sharia – TAC.]
Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Businesses are closed three or four times a day for 30 to 45 minutes during business hours while employees and customers are sent off to pray. The weekend is Friday-Saturday, not Saturday-Sunday, because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims. As of 2004 approximately half of the broadcast airtime of Saudi state television was devoted to religious issues. 90% of books published in the kingdom were on religious subjects, and most of the doctorates awarded by its universities were in Islamic studies. In the state school system, about half of the material taught is religious. In contrast, assigned readings over twelve years of primary and secondary schooling devoted to covering the history, literature, and cultures of the non-Muslim world comes to a total of about 40 pages.
Public support for the traditional political/religious structure of the kingdom is so strong that one researcher interviewing Saudis found virtually no support for reforms to secularize the state.
Because of religious restrictions, Saudi culture lacks any diversity of religious expression, buildings, annual festivals and public events. Celebration of other (non-Wahhabi) Islamic holidays, such as the Muhammad’s birthday and the Day of Ashura, (an important holiday for the 10-25% of the population that is Shīʿa Muslim), are tolerated only when celebrated locally and on a small scale. Shia also face systematic discrimination in employment, education, the justice system. Non-Muslim festivals like Christmas and Easter are not tolerated at all, although there are nearly a million Christians as well as Hindus and Buddhists among the foreign workers. No churches, temples or other non-Muslim houses of worship are permitted in the country. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion by Muslims to another religion is illegal and punishable by death. And as of 2014 the distribution of “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” (such as Bibles), was reportedly punishable by death.
Atheists are legally designated as terrorists.
Saudis or foreign residents who “call into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” may be subject to as much as 20 years in prison. And at least one religious minority, the Ahmadiyya Muslims, had all its adherents deported, and they are legally banned from entering the country.
Next the UN will consider Saudi Arabia the ideal venue for an international conference on “diversity”. And after that, why not one on women’s rights?
Iran will concede nothing. Obama will concede everything.
The most reliable and accurate reporter of what is going on at the US-Iranian talks to “prevent” Iran becoming a nuclear power is Omri Ceren. Read his reports here.
This is what went on today when an AP reporter questioned the State Department about the latest news from the scene of -
The Great Humiliation of the US at the Hands of the Mullahs of Iran
The administration is trying to move the goalpost from “the Iranians have to resolve past issues” to “the Iranians have to provide the access that could be used to resolve past issues”. And instead of trying to sell the collapse as necessary they’re trying to insist that their stance has never changed. State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke tried to convince the State Department press corps at today’s briefing that the Obama administration never promised lawmakers and journalists that the Iranians would have to resolve the PMD issue before they got sanctions relief.
What followed was a 10 minute back-and-forth …
The videos are here – http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4540775/state-dept-vs-associated-press-iran-disclosure-12 – and here – http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4540777/state-dept-vs-associated-press-iran-disclosure-22. There are 2 parts because at first the discussion sort of ended with Rathke telling the Associated Press’s Matthew Lee that the administration has never changed its position, but then later Lee brought the conversation back to the topic and literally read Kerry’s PBS interview out loud off his phone.
LEE: But does your unwillingness to even characterize the –you know, where the talks are and that they’re at a difficult phase with 2-1/2 weeks left, does that extend to not commenting on various reports that have come out this week and the last about concessions that the P5+1 appear to be making to Iran in terms of both sanctions relief and on the PMD issue?
RATHKE: Well, I think we’ve spoken a bit to this yesterday. But on the PMD issue, you know, we’re — we’ve seen the reports that — I think that you’re referring to. You know, I think our position on this hasn’t changed. We’ve always made clear to the Iranians that they will have to reach agreement with the IAEA on providing the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program. And without that agreement, you know, we will not be able to move forward with sanctions relief. That’s been our position throughout these negotiations.
LEE: Right. But that means — that suggests that the actual questions don’t have to be answered and the concerns resolved in order to get the deal, correct?
RATHKE: Well, again…
LEE: They only have to agree to — at some point, whatever that might be, but at some point — after an agreement is reached, to, to deal with this. Is that correct?
RATHKE: Well, the point is that Iran has to provide the necessary access to the IAEA for them to address these concerns.
LEE: Yeah, but does that have to happen to get to a deal? Or can that happen after a deal?
RATHKE: Without — without — without agreement on the access, we will not — needed to resolve this, we won’t be able to reach, you know…
LEE: So if Iran agrees to give access to the sites that the IAEA wants, but doesn’t actually — but hasn’t actually given the access by June 30th, that’s still OK. Is that correct?
RATHKE: Well, there I think we’re getting into details that I will leave in the negotiating room. I think what I’m trying to convey, though, is that our — our position on the possible military dimensions issue and the necessity of Iran working with the IAEA, that position remains the same and hasn’t changed.
LEE: Is it — is it correct that there is a difference between me, if I’m Iran, saying to you: “OK, you can have access in 50 years,” and me as Iran saying, “OK, come on in now and give — and ask all the questions you want, and we’ll — we’ll address your concerns.” There’s a difference between those two, correct?
RATHKE: But the distinction you’re trying to say is 50 years versus zero?
LEE: Well, when does Iran have to give the access?
RATHKE: Again, those — those are details that…
LEE: Well, they shouldn’t be. They shoudn’t, I didn’t…
RATHKE: …in the negotiating room, and I’m not going to speak to those.
LEE: Well, but they shouldn’t be up for negotiation, because the whole idea in the JPOA was that Iran would resolve these issues in order to get to — in order to get to a comprehensive deal. And now you’re saying they don’t have to resolve them at all. All they have to do is say, “OK, at some point in the future, and we don’t know when that might be, that we’ll give access.” And giving access doesn’t mean that you’re — that the IAEA or yours — your concerns have been resolved or addressed.
RATHKE: Our position on this hasn’t changed, Matt. And you can go back and look at what we said at the time. But our position remains that, you know, it’s about the access that the IAEA needs to address our concerns.
LEE: But that’s not what it was at the beginning. At the beginning of this, it was they have to resolve the PMD issue to the satisfaction of the IAEA or there isn’t going to be a deal.
RATHKE: Again, I’m saying there’s not a — there’s not a difference.
LEE: Well, that’s a big difference between that and saying that they just have to agree to at some point down the road give access, and not even resolve the concerns.
RATHKE: Again, the…
LEE: There is a difference there. I mean, am I wrong?
RATHKE: Look, the focus is on addressing — addressing these concerns and that’s one of the issues that we’re dealing with in the negotiating room.
QUESTION: So would the IAEA first have to resolve this, well, would the deal have to include that the IAEA has resolved this already before we sign it. I mean, because if you sign the deal without that being resolved, isn’t it just something left open?
RATHKE: Again, I go back to what I said initially in response to Matt’s question. That it has consistently been our position that Iran has to reach agreement with the IAEA to provide the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program. That’s been our position throughout the negotiations. And without that agreement, you know, we’ll not be able to move forward with sanctions relief. And, you know, the — the discussions in the room, I will leave in the room. But that’s been our position and that’s — and it remains.
LEE: So it has never been the U.S. position that Iran must resolve the PMD concerns to get to an agreement. That’s never been — that’s never been a condition?
RATHKE: Look, if we want to go back and — and look at what was said at the time, again, our position on this.
LEE: I wish this wasn’t, I mean.
RATHKE: It remains the same.
LEE: It doesn’t remain the same, Jeff. It’s — it’s — it’s changed. I mean, Secretary Kerry even said that it had — they had to be resolved in order for there to be a deal.
RATHKE: You’re trying to draw a distinction between the words address and resolve.
LEE: No. You’re lowering it — you’re lowering the bar even further from address to just agree to give access to, which means, I mean, if they give access…
LEE: If they give access and the IAEA — your version now says that if they give access, the IAEA goes in and finds some huge secret bomb-making thing, that’s OK. Then — they’ve given access and that’s alright.
RATHKE: I think you were listening to what I said.
LEE: I was.
RATHKE: I said that Iran has to provide the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program.
LEE: But what if the concerns aren’t addressed? What if the access that they give doesn’t address the concerns? You’ve already got the deal, they’re already getting sanctions relief. Or are you saying that if the concerns aren’t addressed at some point down the road, then they’re not going to get the sanctions relief that they would’ve gotten for that
RATHKE: I’ve laid out our position clearly, Matt. It hasn’t changed.
LEE: Alright, well, I’m very confused, because it does seem that — that — that — that the goal posts seem to be moving.
RATHKE: No. The goal posts haven’t moved.
LEE: I want to go back to Iran and this whole PMD thing. All right. In April, the secretary was on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. And she asked him: “The IAEA said for a long time that it wants Iran to disclose past PMDs. Iran is increasingly looking like it’s not prepared to do this. Is the U.S. prepared to accept that?”
Secretary Kerry: “No. They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.”
Woodruff: “Because it’s not there right now.”
Kerry: “It will be done.”
Woodruff: “So that information will be released before June 30th. It will be available?”
Secretary Kerry: “It will be part of the final agreement, it has to be.”
Now you’re saying that all they have to do is to agree to provide access at some date in the future to address that? That certainly — that’s…
RATHKE: No, that’s…
LEE: That’s a walk-back…
LEE: Or am I completely misunderstanding what the secretary said?
RATHKE: Our position remains, as Secretary Kerry outlined it, that — and, you know, as you quoted from the secretary’s…
LEE: He said there, in a response to a question, “Does Iran have to disclose its PMDs?”, in other words, do they have to address the — address the concerns or resolve the concerns, and he said, “Yes, before June 30th.” Was he wrong?
RATHKE: He said yes, that’s part of — that would have to be part of the — part of the deal.
LEE: And now you’re saying it doesn’t have to be part of the deal.
RATHKE: No, I’m not saying it’s part of the deal (sic), Matt. You’re trying to draw distinctions here where there aren’t distinctions. What Secretary Kerry in that — in that interview…
RATHKE: … is consistent with our policy…
LEE: There is no distinction between them having to open up and…
RATHKE: No, see — you’re offering your interpretation of what these words […] mean. What the secretary said in that interview, what I’ve said, and what our position’s been throughout these talks is entirely consistent.
The prevarication on the part of the State Department is so obvious and shameful that this exchange should be used as an example of “How to Slither Out of Answering a Question” in all Schools of Diplomacy from now on.