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Netanyahu on collision course with White House over Iran deal

By Missing Peace

Obama Netanyahu
On Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu continued to slam the anticipated deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

“The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu took aim at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, saying that their intention to complete a framework agreement by the end of March forces Israel to take action.

“From this (commitment) stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement.

“We will continue to take action and to lead the international effort against Iran’s arming itself with nuclear weapons. We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement that will place a heavy cloud over the future of the State of Israel and its security,” Netanyahu said.

Khamenei’s speech

While Netanyahu was speaking, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, delivered a speech at an Air Force base near Tehran. During the speech, he laid out conditions about what he think is acceptable for Iran as negotiations with the P5+1 countries continue.

The speech was reported in opposite ways by Iranian and Western media. Press TV in Iran, for example, published an article under the title used by the office of Khamenei: “Supreme leader rejects any deal that contradicts national interests.”

The New York Times, however, reported about the same speech under the headline “Iran presses for progress in nuclear talks.” Reuters ran the story under a similar, optimistic headline: “Iran’s Khamenei says could accept fair nuclear compromise.”

Let’s take a look at what Khamenei really said after the audience chanted: “Allah Hu Akbar, Khamenei is the Leader; Death to the enemies of the leadership; Death to America; Death to England; Death to hypocrites; Death to Israel.” (Both Reuters and NYT omitted this chanting in their reporting.)

Khamenei on the process that should lead to a political agreement:

“I do not favor remarks that we should agree on some principles and later on details. I dislike it when they say that there should be a deal on general principles at one stage and then we can talk about details. Given our experience with the other side, they will use this as a tool for repeatedly making excuses regarding details. If they want a deal, they should cover both generalities and details in a single session, instead of leaving details for later and separating generalities that are vague and leave room for different interpretations. This is not logical.”

The P5+1 stance on the process is that there’s a March deadline for a political agreement and a June deadline for a technical agreement. So Khamenei, in fact, rejected the proposal for the process.

As for the substance of the agreement, here is what the Supreme Leader said about the proposal to lift sanctions gradually:

“These are all meant for taking away the weapon of sanctions from the hands of the enemy. It is good if they can do this. However, the sanctions must be taken away from the hands of the enemy. The sanctions must be lifted. This kind of a deal [is favored]. Otherwise, if they achieve no success in this regard, the Iranian nation, statesmen, the honorable government and others have numerous ways and they must certainly take this path in order to nullify the weapon of sanctions.”

The idea behind the Western proposal on the lifting of sanctions is that phased sanctions relief will be traded for Iran meeting confidence in building benchmarks. So Khamenei rejected this key aspect of a deal as well.

During the same speech, Khamenei repeatedly referred to the U.S.A. as the enemy and said that the current U.S. administration is hostile to him and Iran. He said that what the West is doing today is trying to bring Iran to its knees, and that they are humiliating the Iranian nation. He also told the audience that the Obama administration is making strategic mistakes and miscalculations in the Middle East. He furthermore claimed that the United States was defeated in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Ukraine.

Iran, on the other hand, has “advanced with force and will force the enemy to kneel down,” said Khamenei.

A full translation of Khamenei’s speech can be read below.

White House

The White House and the State Department did not react to this specific part of Khamenei’s speech and seem to be backsliding again in response to Khamenei’s intransigence.

When pushed on the March deadline, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that it is not a deadline but a goal.  When she was asked if there was a possibility that the talks about a framework could be extended beyond the March 31 deadline, Psaki responded:

“I think we’ll have to discuss that and determine at that point in time. We’re not there yet.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday, PM Netanyahu made clear that he will not give in to pressure to cancel his address to Congress on March 3. An Israeli government official said that the Prime Minister is determined to make the case against a deal with Iran.

Earlier, White House official Valerie Jarret had promised that Netanyahu will “pay” for insisting on speaking to the US Congress two weeks before the Israeli elections.

President Obama warned Netanyahu on Monday not to sour the talks with Iran with his Congress speech.

The President warned the Prime Minister not to let the relationship between the United States and Israel be “clouded with what could be perceived as partisan politics.”

Survival Israel

But Netanyahu was not deterred and will go ahead with his trip to Washington next month.

“While there are those who are focusing on protocol or politics, a bad deal with Iran is forming in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence. According to reports, the agreement will allow them to produce dozens of nuclear bombs. As prime minister, it is my duty to do everything to prevent this dangerous agreement and that’s why I’m determined to go to Washington and present Israel’s position before the members of Congress and the American people,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli PM made clear that he was going to Washington because he fears for the survival of Israel.  “I am going to the United States not because I want a confrontation with the president, but to speak up for the very survival of my country,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli leaders have feared this moment when it would become clear that all the pleas to Washington would be muted and discounted, and a deal would be presented. They knew that would cause them to break with the White House in public.

The Israeli government has repeatedly warned that any deal that would allow Iran to become a threshold state will change Israel’s strategic position dramatically and cause nuclear proliferation across the Middle East.

Just this week, Egypt announced that Russia will build a nuclear plant in Egypt. Saudi Arabia is threatened by Iran too and thinks the Iranians will almost certainly try to obtain nuclear weapons if such a deal is signed. It is expected that Pakistan will sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Another consequence of an Iranian acquiring of a nuclear weapon will be that Israel becomes exposed to nuclear blackmail in a future confrontation with one of Iran’s proxies (Hezbollah, for example).

 Omri Ceren contributed to this report

Iranian Leader: No Deal Better Than One Which ‘Contradicts National Interests’

IML2015020861988483 Tehran Khamenei.ir in Persian 08 Feb 15

[Speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i on 8 February 2015 in a meeting with a group of Air Force personnel and commanders in Tehran.]

[Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i] In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. I would like to welcome all my dear brothers and officials who have a very sensitive job in a very important sector of the Armed Force, the Air Force and Air Defense of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I would also like to congratulate all of you, the personnel of the Air Force and Air Defense of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and your families on the national Air Force Day. I would also like to thank the choir for their good performance.

[The anniversary of] 19 Bahman [8 February 1979, the day when the Army made it clear that it would back Ayatollah Khomeyni] that is annually marked is more than just a sweet remembrance. Yes, it was a very important and sweet memory. And we need to cherish this kind of memories. However, it is more than just a memorable moment. The 19 Bahaman event is a meaningful and everlasting feeling. An event, when the young and brave members of the Royal Army’s Air Force pledged allegiance to the Imam [founder of Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeyni].

I was present at the ceremony. Some of them had their ID cards with them and were showing their cards. There is a hidden meaning here. We need to always remember this feeling, it was a revolutionary duty. So, what was it? It meant that the [1979] Revolution was a right and attractive thing that managed to attract unbiased, healthy, vigilant, and bright minds across the country.

It even attracted the Royal Army’s Air Force, a force which was the favorite of the ruling system. It was even a favorite of America as well.

The Islamic Republic’s Air Force was a favorite at that time. Both Americans and their elements in the country, who unfortunately were holding some leading positions in the country and held power in their hands, treated the Air Force as a favorite. The attractive reality of the Revolution excited the Air Force and they made this great job [pledging allegiance].

On a bright day, they came in front of [the regime’s] officers and in a situation where many threats were issued, pledged their allegiance to Imam in the streets of Iran. They were singing [revolutionary] songs, showing their ID cards. This is a core point of that event.

The amazing attraction of the Revolution was hidden inside the Revolution, which attracted many hearts. We need to recognize and remember the attraction.

Something similar happened in the whole world, too. In the country, the Revolution had an impact on all levels of society. For example, people in the cities and villages were taking onto the streets, chanting slogans in favor of the Imam and the Revolution and against the tyrant and the dictatorial regime. People rose in Iran and similar events also gradually unfolded in the rest of the world. This implies all parts of the world – Asia, Africa, and even Latin America. People in various countries were excited that a nation was brave enough to stand against America and reject the bullying of America. Many of them were tuning in their radios to listen to Iranian radios. I have seen many people in Arab counties speaking Persian because they listened to Iranian radios.

This is an attraction. The attractiveness of the Revolution found its place in the hearts of many people, intellectuals, youths and scholars across the world, who had not been subjected to the intensive pressure of the enemies’ propaganda. This was spread everywhere in the world. The nations, which were under the bullying of America and Western powers, got excited when they saw a nation standing up against bullying. They got interested and became fans [of the revolution]. This could be seen all over the world, in Africa, Asia, and in remote regions of Latin America. It became popular everywhere.

We were informed about this popularity. Many people visited some regions and they saw the power of the Revolution and Imam there.

What happened with the other side? There was some power on the other side, including the government of the United States of America, and this massive movement was against them. They were upset that such a massive and growing movement was very popular among the nations under their influence. So, they tried to react, and their reaction was harsh.

The first solution that came to their minds was to suppress the hub; to put down the hub which caused all these excitements and to eliminate the issue automatically in other places. Therefore, they exerted all the pressure that they could. The US animosity towards the Islamic Republic began on the first day. Youths should know this. They did whatever they could. In other words, there has effectively been nothing that a government such as [that of] the USA could do against a government and a nation, be it in terms of military, economic, security or cultural ties. They have done whatever they could up to this day. They have been hostile towards the Revolution. They have been hostile towards the people, who accepted this revolution. It is wrong for some people to say that the hostility of the USA and the arrogant regime is against individuals, that they used to be hostile towards Imam [Khomeini], and they are hostile towards Ali Khamene’i today. It does not go that way. They are hostile towards the principle of this concept, the movement, trend towards resistance, independence and dignity and the nation that accepted these [concepts] and is acting based on them. The animosity is directed against these things. This animosity existed before, it exists today and it continues. They are angered by the nation that insisted on its words over the years and tolerated problems. Some US politicians made a mistake and said it in their words. Over the past few years, they spilt the beans and stated that they are enemies of the Iranian nation and they oppose the Iranian nation.

What the USA and its allies are doing today is aimed at bringing the Iranian nation to its knees and humiliating the Iranian nation. However, they are making a mistake and they are wrong in their analyses. It is a fact that Americans are wrong and they are making strategic mistakes in analysing developments in this region, and specifically in analysing the developments in our dear country. It is such mistakes that keep harming them. They are miscalculating. A few days ago, a US official said that Iranians are trapped; that as far as the nuclear issue is concerned, the Iranians are empty-handed when they come to the negotiating table. Well, that is a miscalculation. Iranians are not trapped. God willing, you will see on 11 February what the Iranian nation will do and witness their turnout. Then it will become clear whether the Iranian nation is empty-handed or not.

The Iranian nation is not empty-handed and it has proved it in action and it will continue to do the so. So do the [Iranian] officials. God willing, the country’s officials will show by their initiatives and bravery that the Iranian nation is not empty-handed. They imagine that they have cornered Iran. They say Iranians have reached a deadlock. No sirs, you are wrong. You are the ones who are in trouble.

The whole situation in our region is indicative of the fact that the USA has failed in its objectives inside and outside the region. The USA was defeated in Syria; the USA was defeated in Iraq; the USA was defeated in Lebanon; the USA was defeated in the Palestinian issue; the USA was defeated in the issue of Gaza; the USA has failed to gain control over the issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it is despised among those nations. It is also the case outside this region. The USA was defeated in Ukraine. You are the ones who were defeated. There has been defeat after defeat over the years. The Islamic Republic has advanced. Today, the Islamic Republic is in no way comparable with the Islamic Republic 35 years ago, as it has accumulated experience, taken action, and made numerous advancements, winning significant influence in the region and the influence of the principles of the Revolution in the depths of the hearts of youths in this country. Is all this insignificant? These events are real. This is reality. They are miscalculating different issues. God willing, the Islamic Republic [will advance] with the will of the people and youths in all areas.

You are in the Air Force. Other youths, as the dear commander just said, have been making similar achievements at a remarkable level in different areas in all organizations of the country. This is while [the country] is under sanctions; while the enemy has imposed sanctions. We are advancing in sciences; we are advancing in technologies; we are advancing in different social issues; and we are advancing in different international issues. Different experiences are subsequently creating valuable resources for the Islamic Republic. We are moving forwards and we are advancing despite the [existence of] the enemy; let the enemy go blind [out of jealousy – Persian idiom]. It is they who has failed. They wanted to root us out. They did not want to tolerate the Islamic Republic. Today, they are forced to tolerate the Islamic Republic and, as far as different issues are concerned, they resort to any political, security, economic, cultural and other kinds of plots to cause any harm that they can, but this is fruitless.

The Islamic Republic is advancing with strength. Now they have taken the nuclear issue as an example and are try to show that the Islamic Republic has become desperate in the nuclear issue. It is not the case. Let me say this here: First, I will agree with a deal if one is made, but I will not approve a bad deal. The Americans repeatedly say that not reaching a deal is better than a bad deal. We agree with this. No deal is better than any deal, which contradicts national interests, a deal which humiliates the great Iranian nation.

Second, everybody should know that our officials, our negotiating delegation and our administration are doing their best to take the weapon of sanctions away from the enemy’s hand. They are trying to take the weapon of sanctions away from the hands of this oppressive enemy. If they succeed, it will be better, but if they fail, everybody, both our enemies and our friends across the world, should know that there are numerous solutions inside the country that makes the sanctions blunt. It will make the enemy’s weapon blunt. We should not think that the weapon of sanctions is definitely a deadly weapon. No. If we are determined and carefully pay attention to what we have, and thanks God, such a mentality exists, we can make the weapon of sanctions blunt, if we cannot take it away from the enemy’s hand.

Third, regarding this issue, the respectable president alluded to a good point recently in a speech, saying that a negotiation is when the two sides try to reach a common point. Well, this means that one side should not expect to achieve everything that is in its interest. The Americans are like this. The Americans and a few European countries, who are following America like a child and are indeed making a mistake, are greedy. These European countries that follow America are making a strategic mistake. What they say is that everything must happen just the way they want. Well, this is wrong. This is not a way to negotiate.

The Iranian side has done things which could take us closer to an agreement. It has done a lot of things. It has suspended the expansion and development of enrichment devices. Well, we thought it was better to stop it for some time. We stopped the production of 20-per cent [enriched] uranium. Advancing science and technologies to the 20-per cent [enrichment] was great work. Experts in technologies know that getting from 5 per cent to 20 per cent is more important than reaching a percentage higher than 20 and our youths and committed experts did this. The talks required this [enrichment of uranium] to be suspended.

We have suspended the Arak facility, which is one of the greatest and most important achievements of technology and is a work of art. We have stopped the Fordo facility, which is one of the greatest innovations of our resources and represents [the work of] our domestic experts in providing safety and security of Arak and centrifuge devices. They have done so many great things. Therefore, the Iranian side has acted logically, but the other side is bullying and is greedy and is demanding bribes. Therefore, our statesmen will do the right thing if they stand against such things and no one should blame them. They must resist and they are resisting. This means that since the beginning [of the talks], the Islamic Republic of Iran has advanced in various issues with logic.

During the imposed [Iran-Iraq] war, we considered logic as a guiding principle of our work. We acted according to logic when accepting the resolution. We have always acted according to logic and reason in various issues, be it after the war or now. The Islamic Republic has never shown illogical approach. It is advancing according to logic in this [nuclear] issue as well. However, the other side does not understand logic. The other side is moving forwards based on the lack of reason and force. They themselves say that they have been able to force Iran to stop developing nuclear facilities and to stop and suspend this and that. They are right: The Islamic Republic has done these according to the logic of negotiations. They themselves confess. However, they are greedy. The Iranian nation will not submit to greed and tyranny.

[Audience chanting: Allah Akbar, Khamene’i is the Leader; Death to the enemies of the leadership; Death to America; Death to England; Death to hypocrites; Death to Israel]

We agree with the progress in the work our statesmen have done and they are truly making efforts, sparing no time and doing hard work. We will agree if it leads to a good deal, too. I will agree and am sure that the Iranian nation will agree and will not be against a deal, which preserves its glory, honour and interests. However, these features must be considered without a doubt. The glory and honour of the Iranian nation and the development of the Iranian nation, which is an important issue, must be preserved. The Iranian nation is not used to listening to the tyranny of the enemies and surrendering to bribery and oppression no matter who the other side may be, even if it is America.

There was a time when America and the former Soviet [Union] united against the Islamic Republic. They were tyrants and the Islamic Republic did not surrender to their tyranny. The Islamic Republic won and succeeded. Today, the same thing will happen. Today, the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic will not surrender to tyranny.

I do not favor remarks that we should agree on some principles and later on details. I dislike it when they say that there should be a deal on general principles at one stage and then we can talk about details. Given our experience with the other side, they will use this as a tool for repeatedly making excuses regarding details. If they want a deal, they should cover both generalities and details in a single session, instead of leaving details for later and separating generalities which are vague and leave room for different interpretations. This is not logical.

And everything to be signed between our statesmen and the other side must be clear and transparent and no room should be left for different interpretations. It should not allow the other side which moves forward by means of excuses, to make things harder and refer to excuses for various issues. No, these are all meant for taking away the weapon of sanctions from the hands of the enemy. It is good if they can do this. However, the sanctions must literally be taken away from the hands of the enemy. The sanctions must be lifted. This kind of a deal [is favored]. Otherwise, if they achieve no success in this regard, the Iranian nation, statesmen, the honourable government and others have numerous ways and they must certainly take this path in order to nullify the weapon of sanctions.

God willing, on 22 Bahman [11 February 2015, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution], the Iranian nation will show that anyone who tries to humiliate the Iranian nation will face a retaliatory blow from the Iranian nation.

[Audience chanting: Allah Akbar, Khamene’i is the Leader; death to the enemies of the leadership; death to America; death to England; death to hypocrites; death to Israel.]

The whole Iranian nation and everyone who cares unanimously believe that national glory is very important for a country. If there is glory, there is security. If there is security, there is development. Otherwise, if a nation is humiliated, everything it has will be subjected to wishes of others, even its security and wealth and everything else. National glory must be preserved. The statesmen know this, and on 22 Bahman, the Iranian nation, God willing, will force the enemy to kneel down due to their turnout and due to their showing their power and determination.

God, bless the Iranian nation.

[Audience chanting: Amen]

God, bless each of us.

[Audience chanting: Amen]

God, bless all the dear martyrs of the imposed war and the martyrs before and after the war, and all the martyrs of the Armed Force.

[Audience chanting: Amen]

Bless our beloved Imam [Khomeyni], who was the leader of the blessed movement and was a great man.

[Audience chanting: Amen].

[Khamene’i’s closing remarks in Arabic]

[Description of Source: Tehran Khamenei.ir in Persian — Official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i; URL: http://www.Khamenei.ir]

First published at Western Journalism.com