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Iran Forecast, Nov 19: Tehran and France Trade Tough Words Ahead of Geneva Talks

Iran Forecast, Nov 19: Tehran and France Trade Tough Words Ahead of Geneva Talks
November 19
13:37 2013

PHOTO: Iranian Drone “Fotros”

ALSO IN TUESDAY FORECAST

Report: National Iranian Gas Company Declares Bankruptcy
Revolutionary Guards Reject Claims of Jaish ul-Adl Involvement in Killing of Attorney General
Kerry Postpones Friday Trip to Israel Because of Nuclear Talks

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Days before the renewal of the Geneva nuclear talks, Iran and France have continued to trade tough statements.

French President Francois Hollande, in an address to the Israeli Knesset, said Paris would not allow Iran to secure a nuclear weapon and would not release pressure unless it was assured that Tehran could not do so:

We have nothing against Iran, or its people, but we cannot allow Iran to get nuclear arms as it is a threat to Israel and the region.

We will maintain the sanctions as long as we are not certain that Iran has definitively renounced its military program.

Hollande, whose delegation blocked an interim deal at Geneva 10 days ago, has set four conditions for any agreement including a halt to construction of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor; suspension of Iran’s production of 20% enriched uranium, with arrangements to control the existing stock; and tightened inspections.

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that “excessive demands” could undermine the talks this week, Iran’s military put out a message of strength on Monday with the unveiling of its largest domestically-built drone.

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Fotros has an operational radius of up to 2,000 kilometers (1240 miles), an operational altitude of 25,000 feet, and flight endurance of up to 30 hours, said the defense chief.

Dehghan said the drone can be used for reconnaissance and surveillance, and has the potential to carry out combat operations once it is armed with air-to-surface missiles or other types of rockets.


Report: National Iranian Gas Company Declares Bankruptcy

Mehr News Agency, citing Chief Executive Officer Hamidreza Araghi, report that the National Iranian Gas Company has declared bankruptcy with more than 100 trillion Rials ($4 billion) in debt.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told Mehr that the financial woes are “due to erroneous decisions made by the previous administration in implementing the restructuring of government subsidies”, causing problems in the production and distribution of energy.

Revolutionary Guards Reject Claims of Jaish ul-Adl Involvement in Killing of Attorney General

Following the arrest of an “assassination team” accused of killing Zabol Attorney General Mousa Nouri Ghalehnou, the Revolutionary Guards have rejected claims that the incident was linked to separatist Sunni insurgent groups.

The operation was carried out by IRGC Ground Forces attached to the southeastern Quds Operational Base.

Jaish ul-Adl, the insurgent group based in Sistan-Baluchistan responsible for a recent attack which killed fourteen Iranian border guards in Saravan, claimed that it was also responsible for the death of Ghalehnou.

However, Head of IRGC Public Relations Ramazan Sharif dismissed such assertions, stating, “Despite the claims by some terrorist groups [Jaish al-Adl], this assassination has no relations to groups opposed to the regime. In contacts that we have had with IRGC Ground Force Commander Brig. Gen. [Mohammad] Pakpour, he affirmed that this assassination was related to the matter of smuggling and revenge.”

Ghalehnou and his driver were killed on 6 November. After initial responses by various officials blamed “al-Qaeda affiliated Salafi groups” or “America and Israel,” the Deputy Governor of Sistan-Baluchistan dismissed suggestions that the assassination might be linked to the Saravan attack carried out by Jaish ul-Adl.

Ghalenjou’s death also coincided with the killing of Deputy Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade Safdar Rahmatabadi.

Since then Iranian officials have been at pains to reject any involvement by anti-regime insurgents in either case, framing the attacks as stemming from “personal motivations” that “do not raise security issues.”

Law Enforcement Forces Deputy Commander Ahmad Reza Radan has stressed “it has become clear that this event has no type of political or security aspect” and “is not the work of Jaish al-Adl.”

Kerry Postpones Friday Trip to Israel Because of Nuclear Talks

Is this a signal that the US does not want a public confrontation with Israel as it moves towards a possible nuclear deal with Iran?

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday has postponed a trip to West Jerusalem scheduled for Friday.

“As the secretary stated, they’ve discussed the best timing for the visit,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, declaring that Kerry plans to travel to Israel in the next “several weeks”.

She added, “Obviously there’s a lot going on right now.”

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About Author

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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6 Comments

  1. Catmari
    Catmari November 19, 08:38

    An Iran nuclear deal doesn’t have to be perfect — just better than the alternatives
    Kenneth Pollack, Washington Post

    “The current sanctions against Iran work only because they rest on an international consensus that Iran has been the recalcitrant party in the nuclear impasse. Russia, China, India, Brazil and other key nations have supported and abided by the sanctions because they have seen Iran as the country refusing to negotiate.

    If Washington — rather than Tehran — rejects the deal under consideration, the United States will suddenly become the problem, and that could prove disastrous. It would embolden Tehran to hold out, rather than give in. Instead of increasing the pressure on Iran, over time, we would probably see an erosion of the sanctions.

    Here it is worth remembering Iraq. Once international opinion turned against the Iraq sanctions in the mid-1990s, they unraveled quickly. By 2000, Saddam Hussein was smuggling billions of dollars in oil, goods and cash while countries such as France, Russia, China, Egypt and Turkey ignored U.N. Security Council resolutions — resolutions that France, Russia and China had voted for. What we found then, and as we would probably find now with Iran, is that once international opinion turns against sanctions, trying to enforce them means fighting with your allies and trade partners, rather than the targeted country. That makes sanctions virtually impossible to sustain.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/an-iran-nuclear-deal-doesnt-have-to-be-perfect–just-better-than-the-alternatives/2013/11/15/2b8d1292-4c85-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AMideast%20Brief&utm_campaign=Mideast%20Brief%2011-18-2013

    Reply to this comment
  2. Pak
    Pak November 19, 10:01

    Iran Has a Right to Enrich—And America Already Recognized It
    By Muhammad Sahimi
    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/iran-has-right-enrich%E2%80%94-america-already-recognized-it-9425

    Reply to this comment
  3. Pak
    Pak November 19, 10:15

    Obama and Netanyahu Go to War
    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/obama-netanyahu-go-war-9420

    “President Obama finds himself in a weakened state. His health care law is sapping his political strength and generating intense anxiety among his Democratic troops in Congress. His performance rating is at an all-time low. His trust with the American people is deteriorating badly, as reflected in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. His political capital is ebbing.

    And into this dire political situation comes a new challenge that will test the president’s resolve and mettle in a big way. If he wants to save his high-stakes effort to foster a negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, he must take on, directly, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel lobby in the United States. If he doesn’t, Congress will kill his effort; the opportunity to find a peaceful solution will be lost; and chances for war with Iran will rise ominously. Indeed, administration officials have warned that the current congressional push for new sanctions on Iran, in the midst of his delicate efforts, would constitute “a march to war.”

    But that is precisely what Netanyahu seems to want—to upend the talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) because he considers this modest first-step agreement in the works as “bad and dangerous.” Speaking to the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America in Jerusalem recently, Netanyahu urged U.S. Jews to “stand up and be counted” against Obama’s effort.”

    Reply to this comment
  4. Hamed
    Hamed November 19, 11:25

    The West is making one of its most tragic mistakes. If France insists on what caused the last negotiations to fail, the west in general will lose their best friend in the troubled region of Middle East. We all know that only Iranians in that regions have “Civil Society” and are not West’s enemy.
    From now the game differs….Iranians will see U.S,France and any other western countries as those who cause their pain; as those who cause the failure of negotiations ; and as those who are puppets of some small Arab countries and Israel.
    ……
    Any War or even a single death of a child due to the sanctions in Iran, will be seen as West enmity with Iranians and not only the IRI.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Pak
    Pak November 19, 13:36

    Iran State Gas Company Faces Collapse, Hit by Sanctions
    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303755504579206103448476892

    “Iran’s national gas company said it is facing collapse, the latest sign of deepening economic distress from international sanctions as Tehran seeks urgent relief in talks with world powers.

    The chief executive officer of state-owned National Iranian Gas Company, Hamid Reza Araghi, said over the weekend that the company has declared bankruptcy, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. The report said the company had a debt of 100 trillion rials, or about $4 billion.

    The company tried to backtrack on the comments Monday. Majid Boujarzadeh, a spokesman reached by phone, denied it was bankrupt. But media reports also quoted Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, as saying the gas company “is destroyed.””

    Reply to this comment

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