Sabotaging Rapprochement with Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Multiple previous rounds of nuclear talks failed. Washington orchestrated failure. Israel exerted enormous behind the scenes pressure. So did AIPAC.
On November 20, negotiators on both sides meet again. Will this time be different? It remains to be seen what happens.
Prospects aren't promising. Iran's been offered little in return for major concessions. More on the resumed talks below.
US/Israeli anti-Iranian sentiment is longstanding. Both countries want Iran's government toppled. France is a willing co-conspirator. So are Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Nuclear talks are a convenient distraction. Iran's program is entirely legitimate. It's peaceful. It has no military component. Western negotiators know it. So does Israel.
It doesn't matter. They claim otherwise. Doing so furthers their agenda. It reflects longstanding hostility. It continues unabated.
Sanctions define them. Imposing, maintaining and tightening them reflect longterm economic and political war on Iran.
Its 1979 revolution ended a generation of repressive Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi rule. Washington installed him. He was a convenient pro-Western stooge.
On November 14, 1979, Jimmy Carter reacted. His Executive Order 12170 blocked Iranian government property.
Carter lied saying "the situation in Iran constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to (America's) national security, foreign policy and economy."
He "declare(d) a national emergency to deal with that threat."
He "blocked all property and interests in property of the Government of Iran, its instrumentalities and controlled entities and the Central Bank of Iran which are or become subject to the jurisdiction of the United States or which are in or come within the possession or control of persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."
He seized billion in Iranian government bank deposits, securities, gold, and other properties. They included .6 billion held by overseas branches of US banks.
In early April 1980, Carter severed diplomatic relations with Iran. A full trade embargo followed.
In January 1981, it was lifted under provisions of the Algiers Accords. Most Iranian assets were unblocked. Iranian Assets Control Regulations remained in effect.
They target Iran's economy and people ruthlessly. On October 29, 1987, Reagan's Executive Order 12613 prohibited imports from Iran.
He lied claiming "Iran is actively supporting terrorism as an instrument of state policy."
"...Iran has conducted aggressive and unlawful military action against US-flag vessels and merchant vessels of other non-belligerent nations engaged in lawful and peaceful commerce in international waters of the Persian Gulf and territorial waters of non-belligerent nations of that region."
On March 17, 1995, Clinton's Executive Order 12957 prohibited US involvement with Iranian oil development. His May 9, 1995 EO 12959 substantially tightened sanctions further.
His August 19, 1997 EO 13059 prohibited virtually all trade and investments with Iran.
In 1996, the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) became law. In 2006, it was renamed the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).
It prohibited US and foreign oil development investments. Violators face stiff penalties. They include denial of Export-Import Bank of the United States help, rejection of export licenses, and a ban on all or some violating company imports.
In 2008, banks and other US depository institutions were prohibited from processing transfers between Iranian and non-Iranian banks.
In 2010, America's Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) became law. It extended sanctions imposed by the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act. It punishes companies doing business with Tehran's oil sector. It went further.
Section 103 prohibits importing certain Iranian foodstuffs and carpets. Other provisions ban Iranian product and service imports directly or through third countries
Exporting goods, technology, or services are prohibited, including from offshore locations. Some humanitarian related exceptions were made. They were too few to matter.
Overall, US individuals and companies located anywhere are prohibited from engaging in dealings of any kind.
They include purchases, sales, transportation, swaps, financing, or brokering transactions related to goods or services of Iranian private or government origin.
Other sanctions target financial institutions, insurers, and shippers involved in helping Iran sell oil. Previous loopholes were closed. An illegal embargo was tightened.
On July 1, 2012, an EU oil import embargo took effect. It covers crude oil, petroleum and petrochemical products, oil related businesses, natural gas, equipment and technology, selling Tehran's refined products, new investments, and dealing with its central bank.
On October 9, 2012, Obama's EO 13628 headlined "Executive Order from the President regarding Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 and Additional Sanctions with respect to Iran."
Section 218 covers non-US companies incorporated and operating outside America. They include ones owned or controlled by US corporations.
Foreign US subsidiaries henceforth are administered by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Draconian sanctions were further tightened. US companies can be sanctioned for foreign subsidiary violations. Henceforth, they're required to assure compliance.
Section 219 requires "issuers" disclose information in either annual or quarterly SEC filings pertaining to prohibited Iranian transactions. If discovered, one or more US government agencies must investigate.
US financial institutions are prohibited from making Iranian loans or providing credits. Foreign exchange transactions, subject to US jurisdiction, are barred.
Transfers of credit or payments between or through financial institutions, subject to US jurisdiction, are prohibited.
Property and interests in property in America are blocked. They may not be "transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in." Foreign branches are included.
Americans are prohibited from "investing in or purchasing significant amounts of equity or debt instruments of a sanctioned person."
Prohibitions were enacted against companies involved in mining uranium with Iran; selling, leasing or providing oil tanker services; or offering insurance to the National Iranian Tanker Company.
On July 1, 2013, new sanctions were imposed. They affect Iran's currency, the rial. They prohibit foreign financial institutions from conducting "significant" transactions using it. At issue is making it "useless" abroad.
Iran's shipping and shipbuilding sectors are affected. Selling, supplying, or transferring "significant" goods or services by non-US companies is prohibited.
Trade in precious metals, graphite, aluminum, steel, metallurgical coal and software for integrating industrial processes is restricted.
Iran's auto sector is affected. It includes light and heavy vehicles, passenger cars, trucks, buses, minibuses, pick-up trucks and motorcycles.
Anti-Iranian congressional sentiment is longstanding. Israel wants sanctions stiffened. Its lobby exerts enormous pressure.
On July 31, House members passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013. They did so overwhelmingly (400 - 20). It tightens sanctions further.
It imposes a near oil embargo. It limits Obama's ability to lift sanctions if a deal is struck.
It prohibits companies or individuals from doing business in America if it conducts or facilitates significant financial transactions through Iran's central bank.
It includes other draconian provisions. A similar Senate bill may follow. Israel and AIPAC demand it.
The UN Charter's Chapter VII deals with "action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression." Under Article 41:
"The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures."
"These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."
Article 42 goes further stating:
"Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."
"Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations."
Article 43 permits force to maintain peace and security.
Iran isn't at war. It threatens no one. It seeks rapprochement. It prioritizes peace. Sanctions imposed are for political reasons. They have no legitimacy.
They harm ordinary Iranians most. They're imposed for that reason. Doing so violates international law.
Ron Paul calls Iranian sanctions an act of war. The New England Journal of Medicine calls them "a war against public health."
Imposing them violates World Trade Organization (WTO) provisions. WTO members may curb trade with other nations for security reasons. None whatever exist. Iran is nonbelligerent.
Blockades are acts of war. Punishing sanctions impose a limited one. In July 2012, Francis Boyle urged Iran to sue America, Britain and France. Do so at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if crisis conditions escalate, he said.
"The restraining order would be to prevent a military attack on Iran, to prevent any type of blockade of Iran to prevent the imposition of further economic sanctions by these three states against Iran, and also their pursuit of more sanctions against Iran at the United Nations Security Council," he stressed.
In his book titled "The Grand Chessboard," former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said "it is not in America's interest to perpetuate American-Iranian hostility."
Both countries share numerous regional strategic and economic interests, he added. "Any eventual reconciliation should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran."
Both sides should pursue it, Brzezinski said. Iran wants it. President Hassan Rohani seeks rapprochement. America and Israel remain hardline. So does France.
Flynt and Hillary Leverett said the US president "should reorient American policy toward Iran as fundamentally as President Nixon reoriented American policy toward the People's Republic of China in the early 1970s."
"(D)ecades of US policy toward Iran emphasizing diplomatic isolation, escalating economic pressure, and thinly veiled support for regime change have damaged the interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East," they added.
It's "clearly time for a fundamental change of course in the US approach to the Islamic Republic."
Washington/Israeli/French policy remains hardline. On November 20, nuclear talks resume in Geneva.
French President Francois Hollande colludes with Israel. He deplores rapprochement. He expressed four demands. They may be tougher than reported.
He wants strict daily international supervision of all Iranian nuclear facilities. He wants uranium enrichment to 20% halted.
He wants Iran's enriched stockpile reduced. He wants construction of its Arak heavy water reactor terminated. He may have other unannounced demands.
They're over-the-top. Perhaps they're intended to sabotage upcoming talks.
Last minute French amendments prevented a reported November 9 agreement. Israel exerted enormous behind the scenes pressure.
Washington went along. Russia wasn't informed. Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov said he opposed the changes.
Senior Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Hassan Asafari said if Congress imposes new sanctions, Tehran will cease negotiating.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions permit uranium enrichment. President Rohani calls doing so "our redline."
He seeks rapprochement. So do other senior Iranian officials. They won't surrender their sovereign rights to get it.
Israel demands it. So does Washington. France is a willing partner. Future prospects look grim.
Regardless of what emerges from this week's talks, don't expect longstanding anti-Iranian hostility to end.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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