The Daily Talking Points

News and views related to U.S.-Iran relations for Nov. 16 – Nov. 18

Reuters: According to unnamed sources the U.S. is set to sanction Iran’s petrochemical industry. One source added that the U.S. was “reluctant to try to cut off the Iranian central bank entirely for fear this could drive oil prices dramatically higher, potentially impairing the U.S. recovery.”

IPS News: Investigative historian Gareth Porter reveals information that seriously disputes the IAEA claim that Vyacheslav Danilenko was involved in building an alleged containment chamber for Iranian nuclear bomb tests. Porter also disputes the veracity of claims made by David Albright and his co-authors in their recent account of Danilenko’s alleged work in Iran which was seen as verifying the information in the IAEA report.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Iranian government insider Seyed Hossein Mousavian who served on Iran’s nuclear negotiating team before being arrested during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s term says pressuring Iran over its nuclear program without engaging in real diplomacy may lead to a serious clash. He says there are still ways to resolve concerns:

In one, the UN Security Council and Germany would work toward an outcome that allowed Iran to enrich uranium, but ensured none could be diverted for military use. On the other track, the United States and Iran would directly discuss a comprehensive package to address the “long list of grievances” that have separated the countries and frustrated attempts to resolve the nuclear issue.

The Daily Beast: Eli Lake writes that Israel has been developing electronic warfare methods to go along with an attack on Iran such as ways to block off “Iran’s electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officer.” He notes that when the Israeli press is talking about an attack on Iran, an attack is “unlikely to be imminent” and that if Israel was going to attack, it likely wouldn’t consult with the U.S. first:

One American close to the current prime minister said, “When Netanyahu came into office, the understanding was they will not make the same mistake that Olmert made and ask for something the president might say no to. Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

The Weekly Standard: Lee Smith criticizes the Obama administration for its “failure” to deter Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions and claims the Israelis will stop just short of a “full-scale bombing campaign” to get the “international community” and the U.S. to wage war on Iran for them:

There are options short of a full-scale bombing campaign that Jerusalem might take: an aerial strike on one facility, or even a ground operation designed by a defense minister obsessed with commando raids?—?anything that might make the international community, and especially the United States, take the Iranian threat seriously. Israel may not be able to destroy the Iranian nuclear program in its entirety by itself, but it might settle for less than that in the hopes of inspiring others to finish the job.

U.S. Department of State: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded a non-binding U.N. General Assembly resolution drafted by Saudi Arabia that “deplores” the alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to U.S. while calling on Iran to investigate the allegations. The resolution was passed by a vote of 106-9, with 40 abstentions. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said it shows that “Iran is increasingly isolated.” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said that he would support the resolution if all references to the Islamic Republic were stripped out and “categorically rejected the involvement of any Iranian officials or agencies in the alleged plot.”

New Yorker: Seymour Hersh who has been reporting on “Iran and the bomb” for the past decade cites the experts that I’ve cited here on Lobe Log since the release of the latest IAEA report on Iran and shares the experts’ conclusion that the information presented is not new:

The new report, therefore, leaves us where we’ve been since 2002, when George Bush declared Iran to be a member of the Axis of Evil—with lots of belligerent talk but no definitive evidence of a nuclear-weapons program.
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Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is an Iranian-born journalist based in Washington, DC.