“<Iran> is not collapsing, but it is on the verge of collapse. The loss of income from oil there is approaching $45-50 billion by the year’s end.”
~Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
I was recently at a TV appearance by a negotiations expert on Saudi Arabian TV. He told me that he is involved in two back-channel negotiations on the issue.
Iranian nuclear experts are also offering compromise proposals reported by IPS journalist Gareth Porter but not yet any major media outlets:
“Iran has again offered to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, which the United States has identified as its highest priority in the nuclear talks, in return for easing sanctions against Iran, according to Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who has conducted Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA in Tehran and Vienna, revealed in an interview with IPS that Iran had made the offer at the meeting between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Sept. 19.”
Here are a few things that we need to consider relative to Iran getting access to nuclear weapons …
#1 – The Iranian Ayatollah has already said publicly that nuclear weapons are a “grave sin, senseless, destructive and dangerous” HERE. Maybe he’s lying but he’s the Iranian version of the pope; the moral leader. He’s giving his country a way out.
#2 – The Iran government is not After 9/11 – Iran actually rounded up 300 Arabs who were thought to be potential terrorist threats and helped negotiate a deal with Afghan warlords to overthrow the Taliban (source). Iran helped us – then we called them the “Axis of Evil”.
#3 – Iran is a pragmatic government that is more concerned with survival than ideology. That is not to suggest that I agree with their views; I don’t. But to simply write them off as some Al-Qaeda extremist government just isn’t credible. This is largely agreed upon within the intelligence community minus the neocons who really want Iran’s oil. Examples of this opinion are HERE and HERE. Iran distrusts America because we overthrew their democratically elected government in 1953, we used Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in a proxy war in the early 80′s and we’ve continually demagogued Iran even after they helped us after 9/11. Iran has good relations with Brazil, Turkey, Germany, France, China, Russia, and India to name a few.
#4 – They don’t trust us and we shouldn’t just take their words at face value either. Listening to President Ahmadinejad answering questions takes a great deal of patience because he never answers any question. He only answers questions with questions and he’s too cute by half. His rhetoric is filled with vitriol and he represents the far right wing of the ideologues in Iranian culture. He is to the Iranian government what Benjamin Netanyahu is to the Israeli government or Dick Cheney to the American government. They’re all ready for war. I think the world would be a better place if the three of these men never existed in the first place. They’re all just different sides of the same coins. But Ahmadinejad isn’t going to be President next year; he can’t run for re-election.
#5 – The Iranians worry that striking a deal with America would only lead to a future destabilizing of their government ala Libya or Syria if some future neo-con government were to take over. Conservative war beaters really want to annex Iran as the 51st state; they are oil rich and as with all businesses – it’s all about location, location, location. It’s all about the Caspian Sea and the pipeline that oil companies want to build directly to the Ocean. We’ve written about that HERE. If Obama wins – Iranians will have more confidence that they have four years to transition away from any potential American hostilities from right wing ideologues.
#6 – The Obama administration dual track program is working. They have brought Russia and China into the fold along with other countries like India and Germany and the rest of Europe to completely destabilize the economy in Iran putting pressure on the Iranians. We have engaged in a covert war which I have written about thoroughly HERE. All of those pressures continue until the Iranians decide they want to engage in an honest deal.
#7 – The reason Bibi Netanyahu so desperately wants to be talking about a potential war with Iran right now with his right hand … is so that you don’t notice that his left hand is pushing forward with illegal settlements in Palestine and stealing more land pushing Palestinians further and further. His plan is just a political magic trick; he doesn’t want to be called out so publicly for being the world’s largest kosher asshole. Juan Cole explains more HERE.
CNN reports on the huge inflation due to American sanctions HERE:
It has been in a distressed state since U.S. and European sanctions began to take hold earlier this year.
This comes amid a larger debate playing out in the United States and globally about whether the sanctions that target Iran’s petroleum sector and its economy, will effectively change the calculus of the Iranian government and open the door to full-scale negotiations over its nuclear program, or whether a military strike against Iran’s nuclear complex is the more suitable course.
“The sanctions are intended to maximize the pressure on the regime so that it will understand that the international community is not going to tolerate Iran with a nuclear weapon,” Nuland said. “They have to make a choice.”
The Boston Herald writes about restless Iranians who are getting very angry about the economy HERE:
For weeks, a manifesto complaining about Iran’s stumbling economy circulated in secret among factories and workshops. Organizers asked for signatures and the pages began to fill up.
In the end, some 10,000 names were attached to the petition addressed to Iran’s labor minister in one of the most wide-reaching public outcries over the state of the country’s economy, which has received a double pounding from tightening Western sanctions and alleged mismanagement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.
The rare protest document — described to The Associated Press this week by labor activists and others — suggests growing anxiety among Iran’s vast and potentially powerful working class as the ruling system struggles with the latest sanctions, which have targeted critical oil exports and blackballed Iran from international banking networks.
The Wall Street Journal says Iranian ships are having a hard time avoiding these sanctions HERE:
Officials from landlocked Mongolia said they would cancel the flag registrations of five Iranian cargo ships, providing a window into the cat-and-mouse game played by international authorities that are trying to curb Tehran weapons programs and by Iranian companies trying to work around them.
The move on Thursday came days after officials in another inland nation, Moldova, told The Wall Street Journal it had deregistered 12 Iranian vessels in July and no longer has any Iranian vessels on its registry, to come into compliance with international sanction restrictions.
Even the Israeli Finance Minister acknowledges that the sanctions are bankrupting Iran HERE:
However, Israeli officials appear increasingly ready to acknowledge the effect of recent American and European sanctions designed to restrict Iran’s lifeline oil exports.
“The sanctions on Iran in the past year jumped a level,” Steinitz told Israel Radio, noting that as finance minister, he follows Iran’s economy.
“It is not collapsing, but it is on the verge of collapse. The loss of income from oil there is approaching $45-50 billion by the year’s end,” Steinitz said.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry document leaked last week said sanctions had caused more damage to Iran’s economy than at first thought and ordinary Iranians were suffering under soaring inflation, although this did not appear to be changing policy.
On Saturday, the Iranian currency slumped to an historic low of about 28,400 rials to the dollar, a fall of about 57% since June 2011, meaning a sharp rise in the price of imports.
“The Iranians are in great economic difficulties as a result of the sanctions,” Steinitz said.
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