by Stephen Lendman
AIPAC wants the deal scuttled. It wants much tougher terms. It wants Tehran's government replaced.
It wants a pro-Western one instead. It wants an Israeli rival removed. It exerts enormous influence in Washington. More on its agenda below.
On Monday, Iran/P5+1 nuclear talks resumed in Vienna. IAEA representatives attended. Discussion focused on ways to implement November's interim agreement.
It left much to be desired. Iran conceded plenty. In return, it got little beyond hope for more later. Most disconcerting is how Washington negotiates. Its longstanding record is disturbing.
Its agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. Its legacy reflects a trail of broken promises. Obama perhaps signaled another.
On Saturday, he rated chances for a permanent deal "50 - 50." He said: "My goal is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
He knows full well Tehran's program is peaceful. It has no military component. Its negotiators went all out in Geneva to show good faith. They've done it numerous times times before.
Washington spurned previous efforts. Is Iran being set up again? Will 34 years of anti-Iranian sentiment continue?
Will things get worse, not better? Will November's interim agreement be subverted? Will no permanent one follow?
Does Obama plan it that way? Does Congress? In July, House members passed stiffer sanctions overwhelmingly.
Senate members are preparing similar legislation. It's an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It seeks to reduce Iran's oil revenue sharply.
It targets mining, engineering, construction and other sectors deemed "strategic(ally) importan(t) to the Iranian economy."
It freezes all remaining Iranian foreign exchange reserves. It requires automatic reimposition of P5+1 concessions if Washington says Iran breached interim agreement terms.
A bipartisan group of 14 senators represents others. They include Robert Menendez (D. NJ), Mark Kirk (R. IL), Charles Schumer (D. NY), Lindsey Graham (R. SC), Ben Cardin (D. MD), Marco Rubio (R. FL), Bob Casey (D. PA), John Cornyn (R. TX), Chris Coons (D. DE), Susan Collins (R. ME), Richard Blumenthal (D. CT), Kelly Ayotte (R. NH), Bob Corker (R. TN) and John McCain (R. AZ).
In late November, they released a statement. In part, it said:
"A nuclear weapons capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security interest of the United States and its allies, and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability."
"We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible."
Reports suggest details they have in mind may be released shortly. They could come any time.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said new sanctions means the "entire (interim) deal is dead."
"We do not like to negotiate under duress. If Congress adopts (new) sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States."
"We know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification."
"I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail."
"But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."
Senior Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Commission parliament member Esmayeel Kowsari reacted sharply to Obama's comments, saying:
"Unfortunately as it was predicted, White House leaders have once again adopted hostile policies against the Islamic Republic and the country's peaceful nuclear activities despite the Geneva agreement."
"Iran should adopt a resolute stance against Obama, and we should show that Iran will adopt a new approach in case they show a lack of commitment to the agreement."
Iranian parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stressed Tehran's right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, saying:
"We don't need (Western nations') permission for enriching uranium because Iran has accepted the NPT's rules and enjoys the rights (stated) in" them.
"The framework and the structure of Iran's nuclear technology should be fully protected."
Some media reports suggest Tehran and Washington are holding secret parallel talks. Not according to Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham, saying:
"There are no secret talks underway between Iran and the US. The nuclear issue was discussed during the negotiations and within the framework of the talks with the Group 5+1."
In late November, Foreign Minister Zarif dismissed a Le Figaro report alleging US and Iranian diplomats secretly discussed Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and ways to establish trade ties if final agreed on terms are reached.
"It is a sheer lie, and we have had no negotiations with the US except on the nuclear issue," Zarif asserted.
AIPAC's influence looms large in Washington. It represents heart of darkness evil. It's going all out to subvert a final nuclear deal.
On December 5, it headlined "Talking Points: America Must Prevent a Nuclear Iran." It claims "tough sanctions" got Iran to negotiate.
Tehran's been doing it for years. For decades, it sought rapprochement with Washington and other hostile Western countries.
AIPAC wants tough leverage maintained. It said interim agreement terms raise concerns. It lets Iran continue its nuclear program.
It doesn't deal harshly enough with its centrifuges. It doesn't require it nuclear material to be removed.
It lets Tehran "maintain research and development aspects of its nuclear program, as well as 5 - 7 bombs worth of low-enriched uranium." A final deal will let Iran continue enriching uranium.
"American officials deny that they recognize any Iranian 'right' to enrich, but appear to have conceded as a practical matter than Iran will be allowed some enrichment capacity."
"Now is the time to increase the pressure through additional sanctions." Congress should act if Iran "reneges on its commitments."
"The most effective way to do this is by passing new legislation that further intensifies the sanctions."
"The United States must send a strong message to Iran that it will not tolerate its persistent violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its unwarranted uranium enrichment program and its quest toward a nuclear capability."
This type tough talk bodes ill for future talks. So does anti-Iranian right wing think tank pressure.
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is the Project for the New American Century's (PNAC) successor organization.
It's pro-war. It's anti-peace. It promotes Washington's imperial agenda. It wants pro-Western puppet governments replacing independent ones. Robert Zarate is its policy director.
On December 10, House Foreign Affairs Committee members discussed Iran's interim agreement.
Ahead of doing so, Zarate suggested questions to be asked. His aim is subverting agreed on terms. Issues raised reflect longstanding anti-Iranian sentiment.
Is Geneva legally binding, asked Zarate? "Or is it only a politically-binding agreement that is not in any way legally-binding?"
How was $7 billion in frozen asset relief arrived at? Why aren't all Iranian centrifuges being dismantled?
Why isn't enriched uranium shipped abroad? Why isn't the heavy water Arak facility being dismantled?
"(I)sn't it misleading to say that the (interim) deal completely stops Iran's nuclear program?
Isn't it false saying converting uranium into oxide neutralizes Iran's enriched uranium stockpile?
These and other questions Zarate posed reflect hostile intent. They distort Geneva's spirit, agreed on terms, and hopes for final agreement resolution.
AIPAC, FPI, likeminded elements, and hardline congressional members oppose one. They want longstanding anti-Iranian policies continued.
They want them toughened. They want to make Tehran's economy scream. They want its government toppled. Or squeezed hard enough to sacrifice independent policies for Washington's.
They want what hopefully no Iranian leaders will accept. Sovereign independence is too important to lose.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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