More celebrity UN Goodwill Ambassador news – Angelina Jolie addresses UNSC on Syria

It is completely incongruous for UN Goodwill Ambassadors to address the UN Security Council on matters of substance relating to some of the worst and most intractable conflicts in the world.

This ridiculous scheme was thought up by some of the former heads of the UN Department for Public Information, because they argued this is the only way to get media+ world attention — and enthusiastically embraced approved by some former UN Secretaries General [as well as by the current UNSG] and UN heads of agencies…who prioritize fund-raising over political [and therefore controversial] work.

Angelina Jolie arrives to address the UNSC on Syria war
Angelina Jolie arrives to address the UNSC on its failure to end Syria war

In a continuation of this recent incongruous tradition, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has just been given the floor to address the UNSC on Syria, and used the word “We” when speaking of the UN failures there…

AFP reported that “Actress Angelina Jolie on Friday criticized the UN Security Council’s failure to end the war in Syria, as she appealed for urgent help for the growing ranks of Syrian refugees…’The purpose of the UN is to prevent and end conflict, to bring countries together, to find diplomatic solutions and to save lives’, said Jolie, dressed in a white blazer. ‘We failed to do this in Syria’…The crisis is made worse by division and indecision within the international community preventing the Security Council from fulfilling its responsibilities…If we cannot end the conflict, we have an inescapable moral duty to help refugees and provide legal avenues to safety”, Jolie said. The actress spoke of a “sea of excluded humanity”, and added: “The crisis in Syria illustrates that our inability to find diplomatic solutions causes mass displacement, traps millions of people in exile, statelessness and displacement”…
This APF report was published by Lebanon’s The Daily Star, here.

“We” = meaning, the UN Security Council + Angelina Jolie?

It takes Angelina Jolie to remind the 15 members of the UN Security Council what is the purpose of the UN?

Continue reading “More celebrity UN Goodwill Ambassador news – Angelina Jolie addresses UNSC on Syria”

UN-mandated inspectors back in Syria after Assad government declaration of chemical weapons materials + UN Security Council resolution

A UN Security Council-mandated team of Chemical Weapons [CW] inspectors has been back on the ground in Syria for a second time, investigating several more reported CW attacks [including three that reported occurred after the large August 21 attack in Ghouta].

The BBC has produced a graphic to show the sites of the second investigations.  The BBC also reported here, that the UN CW team, “led by Ake Sellstrom, arrived in Syria for its second visit on 25 September and hopes to finish its work by Monday 30 September”.
The UN CW team completed a six-day mission on 1 October, the UN reported here. They are reportedly aiming at producing a “comprehensive” report by the end of October.

[n.b. – This is not a complete or exhaustive indication of reported CW attacks — there were more; see our earlier Chronology, in previous posts below]:

Sites of reported CW attacks being investigated by UN-mandated inspectors
Sites of reported CW attacks being investigated by UN-mandated inspectors

 

This graphic was Tweeted by Fred Abrahams @fredabrahams – “Map of 7 alleged chemical weapons attacks in #Syria being investigated now by UN team, from BBC.  pic.twitter.com/b9Qk78I8tA” — via @DanKaszeta

Three attacks near Aleppo in North:

19 March Khan al-Assal [this is the first CW attack in Syria + the Syrian Government formally requested a UN investigation]
13 April Sheikh Maqsoud
29 April Saraqeb

Three attacks near Damascus in south of this graphic [after the 21 August attack on Ghouta — attacks on all three days were mentioned by Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari in a “stake-out” outside the UN Security Council, filmed by UN TV and posted on Youtube here; he blamed these attacks on “terrorists” = rebels]:

22 August Bahhariya
24 August Jobar
25 August Ashrafieh Sahnaya

Trying to figure how UNSG BAN selected the 6 additional sites [I do not see 7 — unless, as the BBC report seems to say, the UN team will be taking a second look at, or doing a follow-up on, the large August 21 CW attacks in Ghouta]:

1st, Khan al-Assal on 19 March 2013, was requested months ago by Syria.  The UNSG promised to investigate before August 21 [in fact, that’s why the  UN CW team was in Syria when the 21 August attack took place].

After the August 21 CW attacks on Ghouta, Syria’s Ambassador Bashar al-Assad demanded UN inspection of 3 post-August 21 attacks near Damascus [rebel accidents handling CW/precursors in tunnels etc] on 22, 24 and 25 August This can be see on Youtube here — though Ambassador Jaafari seemed to give a different order of dates and places from those shown in the graphic above, supposedly based on UN information.

Syria’s Amb al-Jaafari also complained [in May] about the April 29th attack in Saraqeb; it was also cited by a defector as well as in French + UK declassified reports released at the end of August.

The April 13th attack in Sheikh Maksood/Maqsoud was cited in French + UK reports published after the Aug 21 attacks, + cited by a US NatSec Adviser [in a high-confidence assessment] and it appears to be the only one on the list that was not requested by the Syrian Government…

One article, posted here, mentions another attack on 19 March, in Otaibah near Damascus [close to the Damascus International Airport] which is NOT, as the article points out, on the UN CW team’s list…

On 27 September, the UN Security Council in New York unanimously adopted resolution 2118 — which endorses a decision taken the same day by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, containing special procedures for the expeditious and verifiable destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons — and the UNSC resolution’s text is contained in the UN Press Release posted here

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the UNSC resolution also contains “requirements for all countries, especially Syria’s neighbours, which must report on moves by non-State actors to secure chemical weapons”…

The resolution followed a Syrian decision to surrender its CW and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention — and a subsequent Syrian declaration of its Chemical Weapons stockpiles and precursors and equipment.”

UPDATE: On 3 October, the disarmament inspectors reported from Damascus that they felt they had made initial progress:
“The joint OPCW-UN team mandated to assist Syria with the elimination of its chemical weapons programme has made encouraging initial progress, following the first working day of meetings with the Syrian authorities. Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered. The team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment within the next week, but this depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts yesterday. These groups are working on three areas which are key to the mission’s success: verification of the information handed over by the Syrian Government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014″.   This OPCW press release is posted on the UN News website here.

Continue reading “UN-mandated inspectors back in Syria after Assad government declaration of chemical weapons materials + UN Security Council resolution”

UN Security Council eases/removes financial sanctions imposed on Iraq because of its invasion of Kuwait

“Iraq has fulfilled all of its obligations”, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hosein Zeybari told the UN Security Council in New York just after it voted to remove financial and other sanctions imposed, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, following Iraq’s August 1990 of Kuwait.

[Iraq’s remaining obligations were placed, by the decision, under Chapter VI of the Charter…]

The UN said that the SC had unanimously adopted “resolution 2107 (2013), removing Iraq from its obligations under Chapter VII of the UN Charter concerning the return of Kuwaiti and third-State nationals or their remains and their property seized by Iraq’s former regime during its 1990 invasion of Kuwait”.

Middle East Monitor wrote here that “According to the UNSC resolution, Iraq has regained the international status it had before 1990”.

“Iraq is a rich country”, the Iraqi FM, and added that Iraq today is “a responsible and fully sovereign country”…

[Kuwait did not speak.]

Al-Arabiya reported here that “Iraq still needs to return missing property, national treasures and archives, as well as reparations for the invasion, in order to be embargo-free.  Iraq still owes around $11 billion to Kuwait. In total, Iraq was ordered by the U.N. to pay the Gulf country just over $52 billion. The debt is expected to be fully paid off by 2015…The resolution adopted Thursday calls on the Iraqi government to continue searching for more than 600 missing Kuwaitis and looted property but no longer allows for the measures to be enforced militarily”.

Israel's strategy is collapsing, media say, as support grows for today's UNGA vote upgrading Palestine status to state

Israel’s score-keeping media is reporting that Israel’s strategy is collapsing, with announcements of growing international support, hours ahead of the expected vote later today in the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution that will upgrade the status of Palestine to [non-member observer] state.

Reuters’ Noah Browning Tweeted [@sheikhnb] today” “My take: world map of #Palestine #UNbid votes. Yes in green, No red, Abstain grey. Most undecided will likely abstain pic.twitter.com/va7UPqTO” … The graphic he prepared is posted here.

In Ramallah, a long-disappointed population is warily beginning to celebrate.

Child joins PLO celebrations organized in Ramallah ahead of UN vote on upgrading Palestine status to state - photo by Jihan Abdallah

One of the many thousands of children released early from school today to celebrate upcoming UNGA vote to upgrade Palestine status to State – photo taken in Ramallah’s Yasser Arafat square by Jihan Abdalla [Tweeted by @JihanAbdalla and posted here.

PLO Executive Member Hanan Ashrawi, who discussed the move with journalists in Ramallah yesterday, has written an op-ed entitled, “Supporting Palestine at the UN today is a vote for peace in the Middle East”, which is published today in The Guardian, here. In it, she said that this is, indeed, a unilateral story, but not one that resembles the unilateral scenario that Israel has been warning against, no.

Instead, Ashrawi wrote: “It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores…one side wants to negotiate a permanent solution and the other wants permanent negotiations”.

Continue reading “Israel's strategy is collapsing, media say, as support grows for today's UNGA vote upgrading Palestine status to state”

Day 2 of IDF Operation Pillar of Clouds – Today is Palestinian Independence Day

Today, 15 November, is Palestinian Independence Day. The employees of the Palestinian Authority [PA] in the ministries in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank are off work for what will be a 3-day holiday. In a rare sign of solidarity, the otherwise disgruntled Palestinian East Jerusalem merchants will also close their shops to mark the date that Yasser Arafat declared the independent Palestinian state, at a meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council in Algiers.

In Gaza, people are reeling under [another] full-scale Israeli attack — this one, like the previous ones, designed to “bring about an improvement in the security reality and allow a normal life for the residents of the State of Israel” [Israeli Security Cabinet communique Wednesday evening 14 November].

The Security Cabinet also stated that “Alongside the military effort, Israel will, to the best of its ability, work to avoid harming civilians while honoring the humanitarian needs of the population, in keeping with the rules of international law”.

Israel’s new-found appreciation of international law dates to the fallout from its interception of the Freedom Flotilla on the high seas in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of May 2010. A handful of Israeli special forces boarding the 600-passenger Mavi Marmara in the dark were outnumbered and surrounded, and killed 9 Turkish men, including one Turkish-American high school student.

Without dwelling on the academic distinction between “international law” and “international humanitarian law [which pertains in situations of occupation, for example] it has to be said that there is wide room for various argued-understandings of the construct.

By the time the Security Cabinet convened, there were already casualties — some of those specifically targetted, like the Hamas military chief Ahmad Jaabari, and then the absolutely and completely innocent victims, like this 11-month-old baby boy, Omar Jihad al-Mashhrawi, his body held by his grief-stricken father, Jihad:

Jihad Al-Mashhrawi holding his baby son Omar, killed in Israeli strike on Gaza - 14 November 2012

Photo by Anne Paq of Activestills, posted on the Flickr photostream here.

One of the accusations against Jaabari was that he was responsible for the operation that captured IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit just outside the Gaza perimter near the Israeli crossing of Kerem Shalom in June 2006. Shalit was held somewhere in Gaza until his release in October 2011 — after Egyptian-brokered negotiations carried out with Jaabari.

Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, said on Wednesday evening after the “precision” strike that hit Jaabari’s car in Central Gaza, that Gilad was “still absorbing” the news.

The New York Times reported here that:

    “Military officials in Israel, which took credit for killing Mr. Jabari, said their forces had carried out additional
    airstrikes in Gaza targeting what they described as ‘a significant number of long-range rocket sites’ owned by Hamas that
    had stored rockets capable of reaching 25 miles into Israel. The statement said the airstrikes had dealt a ‘significant
    blow to the terror organization’s underground rocket-launching capabilities’. The Israel Defense Forces said Mr. Jabari had been targeted because he ‘served in the upper echelon of the Hamas command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the state of Israel in the past number of years’. A video released by the Israel Defense Forces and posted on YouTube showed an aerial view of the attack on what it identified as Mr. Jabari’s car on a Gaza street as it was targeted and instantly blown up in a pinpoint bombing. The Israel Defense Forces later posted a Twitter message showing a mug shot of Mr. Jabari overwritten by the word ‘eliminated’.”

Continue reading “Day 2 of IDF Operation Pillar of Clouds – Today is Palestinian Independence Day”

Kofi Annan to propose a 250-observer force with helicopters for Syria

Former UNSG Kofi Annan, who is now the joint envoy of the UN and the Arab League with a mandate to end the violence in Syria, is readying a recommendation that will be delivered to the UN Security Council in New York later today to establish a 250-observer force that will also have its own helicopter support.

The Syrian Government was involved in Annan’s planning discussions, and apparently agrees with this proposal. It has already been presented to the Arab League, before it goes to the UNSC today.

Reuters is reporting that “A six-day-old truce has held in some parts of Syria since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it last week. But in strong opposition areas such as Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deraa the army continues to attack and battle rebels, using heavy weapons in violation of the pledge by Damascus to pull back. After negotiations led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan acting as envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, Assad’s government has agreed to allow a small U.N. force to monitor the ceasefire. But the planned 250-strong mission is a fraction of the size of U.N. peacekeeping forces sent to other conflicts, raising doubt among Assad’s opponents about whether it can be effective or will serve as a figleaf substitute for more robust action”. This is reported here .

Meanwhile, Syrians are still singing and dancing in the streets in a display of popular mobilization that appears to be extraordinarily energizing. A video shot this week in Douma has been posted here:

    UPDATE: Later, the number went up from 250 to 300 observers, Reuters reported on Thursday 19 April: “In a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday, [UNSG] Ban said Syria had not fully complied with Annan’s six-point peace plan but still outlined plans to deploy up to 300 observers for three months to supervise a fragile truce between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him. Ban said the observers would be deployed incrementally over a period of weeks, in approximately ten locations throughout Syria. He said an earlier UN proposal for 250 observers was insufficient. Ban also said that the freedom of access of the advance monitoring team was imperfect. It was allowed to visit Deraa but not the battle-scarred town of Homs”.

Continue reading “Kofi Annan to propose a 250-observer force with helicopters for Syria”

UN Security Council passes unanimous resolution to send 30 unarmed military observers as advance team of monitors to Syria

The UN Security Council met with relative efficiency on Saturday afternoon at UNHQ/NY and voted unanimously [15-0] to send an advance team of some 30 unarmed military observers to Syria, as an advance team of monitors to observe compliance with a six-point plan by “Joint Envoy” Kofi Annan to stop the violence that has killed nearly 10,000 Syrians over the last year [as the current President of the UNSC, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice noted], and made at least 45,000 flee their country.

Some 5 or 6 of the observers were to arrive within hours — Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that one Russian would be coming from the Golan Heights [Syrian-claimed territory occupied by Israel since June 1967].

Another 20 military observers were supposed to be in Damascus within 24 hours.

Kofi Annan, former UNSG who now represents both the current UNSG BAN Ki-Moon and the Arab League, is due to present a more detailed plan by 18 April for a more substantial UN “supervising” mission in Syria.

Russia and China, who vetoed a previous proposed UNSC resolution on Syria, said that they could go along with this one because it respected Syrian government sovereignty…

Russia’s representative, Vitaly Churkin, complained at length however about hearing other representatives on the Security Council misrepresent the terms of the resolution — the

Syria’s representative Jaafari said that the resolution was not balanced, but added that his government would live with it because of the need to reestablish order in the country. Jaafari bitterly blamed outsiders — he named Saudi Arabia as one — for interfering, due to a long-standing rivalry between “Pan-Arabism and Political Islam”. And Jaafari blamed money coming from “Salafist and Wahhabi” sources for the acts of terror that he said have been committed by gangs operating throughout the country…

Israeli military officials signal they are fully briefed on upcoming talks with Iran about its nuclear program

In advance of important talks with Iran about its nuclear program on 13 [or 14?] April [apparently in Istanbul, after all] Israeli Maj-Gen (res) Amos Gilad said in a briefing in Jerusalem this week that Iran, today, has ability to put together a nuclear weapon [but probably won’t].

Iran does “have the know-how to assemble a nuclear warhead, if they want to do it … it depends on their decision”, he said.

Gilad spoke on Tuesday 2 April to diplomats, military attaches, ranking UNTSO “blue beret” military observers, and journalists at a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs [JCPA].

He suggested in his talk that he is enjoying some sort of retirement [at least, from direct responsibility for intelligence, he implied] — but he is still described as the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs.

“I agree there’s no existential threat to Israel [now], but if Iran develops nuclear weapons, that could change. It [the threat to Israel from Iran] becomes serious”, Gilad said.

About Iran’s leadership, Gilad said, “We need to be humble. They are not stupid… Consider your enemy as more intelligent than you. If Israel tells them something, they will ignore it — unless they come to the same conclusion themselves. And [Iran knows] there is a consensus now”.

He said, “the moment they feel immune, they will [might] cross the Rubicon”. But, he noted, even if they do the opposite, and pull back from the brink, “they will keep the capability”.

Gilad spoke on Tuesday.

By Friday [allowing time for translations, reaction, and reportage], there appeared to be confirmation of this from Iran itself.

The Associated Press published a headline-making story, datelined Tehran, picked up by media from around the world, reporting that prominent Iranian parliamentarian Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam “said Iran can easily produce the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs but it is not Tehran’s policy to go that route”. According to AP, Moghadam told icana.ir that “There is a possibility for Iran to easily achieve more than 90 (percent) enrichment”. One place this report was published was here.

But, the Iranian politician said more than that. He said that Iran can also actually produce a nuclear weapon — and that takes more than just highly-enriched uranium: “‘Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce (a) nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path’, Moghadam told the parliament’s news website, icana.ir, late Friday”.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius [@IgnatiusPost on Twitter] reported that Obama sent message to Iran via Turkey last week [but “delicate issue” of enrichment not clear]. Ignatius’ WPost story [see below] is posted here.

Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] said Iran has 5,5 tons of Lightly Enriched Uranium and is “dealing with” 20% enrichment [warheads need higher, over 90% enrichment].

Iran’s stock of Lightly Enriched Uranium at 3-4% is the degree used to run civilian nuclear power plants, as Iran says it’s preparing to do.

It seems that this Iranian claim now being accepted … or, at least, it is not considered as alarming as it previously was, in recent years.

But 20% enrichment of uranium [Iran has experimented with at least two different technologies to arrive at this level] is another matter. Iran has explained that its 20% enriched uranium is for medical usage [in a research reactor that will produce medical isotopes to treat cancer, etc.]

Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] furrowed his brow and shook his head, when he spoke about Iran’s uranium enrichment program…

Apparently, 20% enrichment is too much — perhaps because once there’s capability to enrich uranium to 20% level, it becomes possible to do more or less the same to arrive at military grade +90%.

Continue reading “Israeli military officials signal they are fully briefed on upcoming talks with Iran about its nuclear program”

UNSG BAN in Jerusalem with Netanyahu, in Ramallah with Abbas

UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon met Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today, then Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

After both meetings, there was a press conference.

In Jerusalem with Netanyahu, BAN said “Settlements do not help the peace process… I told the prime minister that he should refrain from future construction”. [Just future construction? The goalposts keep getting moved…]

Netanyahu reportedly told BAN that the settlement issue must be discussed during negotiations, “it can’t be a precondition”… [So, the Palestinians need to negotiate about settlements? Somehow, this sounds different than just saying settlements are one of the final status issues in negotiations…]

According to the New York Times, “Mr. Netanyahu thanked Mr. Ban for his ‘good intentions’, but he said the settlement question should be dealt with as part of a final agreement. ‘It cannot be a precondition to enter into that agreement’, he said”. This is published here.

This NYTimes story added: “An Israeli official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue said Israel was ‘ready for mutual confidence-building measures in the framework of a peace process that is moving forward’ — in other words, as long as the measures came with guarantees that the Palestinians would stick with the talks. He would not specify what steps they might include. Another Israeli official said that in a closed meeting with Mr. Peres, Mr. Ban suggested that Israel, as the stronger party, should release Palestinian prisoners as one way of improving the atmosphere”…

In Ramallah with Abbas, BAN said “A viable Palestinian state is long overdue. I continue to believe a two-state solution is long overdue … The international community has been clear: all settlements are contrary to international law … [In the “exploratory” talks recently in Amman] the Palestinians have been forthcoming in producing proposals on territory + security, and I very much hope Israel will present their proposals. This is what I told Israeli leaders today”.

BAN also said, in answer to a question from the press, that “I fully share the Palestinians’ complaint that they have been under occupation for such a long time, suffering all these hardships without prospects of knowing when this will be over … We have wasted almost 20 years since Oslo … [But] negotiations is the best way to get results”.

Travelling with BAN was the former UN Special Envoy here, Terje Roed Larsen [who is still working on the Lebanon dossier]…

The long-serving Ambassador of the Observer Mission of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, was also present.

BAN added, in response to another question, that “On 23rd September I received the Palestinian application for UN membership, and I immediately conveyed it to the UN Security Council. I made it immediately clear that I fully support the aspiration of the Palestinian people to become a UN member within the framework of two states … it’s still in the hands of the UN Security Council”.

Abbas told BAN: “Mr. Secretary-General, I hope to be able to host you soon in an independent state”…

But, Abbas said, in response to a question from the press, that “We toured the whole world to get 9 votes in the UN Security Council, though I knew at the end that we faced the veto … Unfortunately, we did not achieve our goal of getting 9 votes … At some point we will review all our steps in the near future”.

He also said there was “a need to stop the campaign of arrests” and to free detained parliamentarians”…

Abbas, in his remarks, did not insult the Quartet … instead, he offered a light but rather indistinct compliment.

The Chief Palestinian negotiator Sa’eb Erekat was seated in the front row, during the press conference [next to Terje Roed Larsen], and PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi was there as well.

“In the end”, Abbas said, I wish to assert that what we want is a two-state solution within the 1967 borders, and the need to end the Israeli presence on all our territory, including the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem”.

[Last week, at the end of the 5th “exploratory meeting” in Amman in which Israeli + Palestinian negotiators sat together for the first time a long time, an Israeli envoy made sweepingly broad indications of Israel’s territorial interests — and said Israel wanted to keep a security presence along the Jordan River…]

Tomorrow, BAN is going to Gaza in the morning, and will address the Herzliya Conference at 8 PM, before flying back to New York after midnight.

[Earlier on this trip away from New York, the UNSG was in Ethiopia; Davos, Switzerland, and Amman…]

IAEA passes "mild" resolution after its toughest report yet on Iran, UNGA denounces assassination plot

The IAEA has passed what appears to be a mild resolution in response to its toughest report yet about Iran’s nuclear program.

The IAEA report suggested that there was no way to understand parts of Iran’s nuclear research other than to believe there was an aim to study how a nuclear weapon might be developed.

The IAEA 35-member Board of Governors adopted the resolution — which expressed “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions” — on Friday 18 November.

The resolution also expressed the Board’s “continuing support for a diplomatic solution”. It called on Iran to implement an additional IAEA inspection protocol which is purely voluntary for other countries — Iran has been ordered to do so by a series of resolutions in the UN Security Council.

And the IAEA Board resolution also called on Iran “to engage seriously and without preconditions in talks aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, while respecting the legitimate right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with the NPT”.

According to a report in the New York Times, “the global powers meeting in Vienna criticized Tehran on Friday over suspicions that it is building a nuclear weapon. The rebuke, however, fell far short of threatening further pressure or actions to curb Iran’s contentious uranium enrichment program”. This was attributed in part to objections from Russia and China. The NYTimes article can be read in full here.

The NYTimes report added that the Iranian representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, “accused the nuclear agency of endangering the lives of Iranian scientists by releasing their names in an annex to last week’s report about the suspicions of nuclear weapons work. ‘The release of the names of the Iranian nuclear scientists by the agency has made them targets for assassination by terrorist groups as well as the Israeli regime and the U.S. intelligence services’, he said in a letter to the body’s director general, Yukiya Amano. Parts of the letter were published by Iran’s state-financed Press TV satellite broadcaster, which noted that several Iranian nuclear scientists had been killed in episodes attributed by Iran to Israeli, British and American intelligence services. Mr. Soltanieh contended that disclosing the names of Iranian experts represented a violation of the agency’s rules and said Tehran reserved the right to seek damages from the agency for any harm to its personnel or property as a result of the report — a possible reference to Tehran’s frequently voiced fears of an Israeli military strike on its nuclear facilities”….

In a separate, but possibly related, matter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is due to meet Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Canada on the sidelines of a larger meeting.

Apparently, Ambassador Soltanieh said that as a result of today’s vote, Iran had decided not to attend an upcoming IAEA meeting on establishing a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East.

The publication of the IAEA report [which was leaked to the press within minutes of its distribution to the Board of Governors] has also been criticized by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, whose remarks are reported in an interview published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, here. The Bulletin describes Mousavian as “a lecturer and research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is the highest-ranking member of Iran’s political elite living in the United States”. Here is an excerpt of the Q+A:

    Q [Ali Vaez]:…Back in 2008, Iran addressed most of these allegations in a 117-page response to the IAEA. Wouldn’t publication of this response be a more constructive move than taking umbrage at the IAEA?

    Mousavian: The IAEA has, unfortunately, broken the rules of the game. Iran does not want to commit the same mistake. The issues between the agency and member states should remain confidential. Iran respects the rules and does not disclose its communications with the agency. Yet, the content of the IAEA reports on Iran are leaked to the media ahead of their distribution among the agency’s member states. This is highly unprofessional and against the statute of the agency. Such behavior is highly damaging to the credibility of the IAEA, as an impartial international body. It also clearly demonstrates that the information is dictated to the agency from somewhere else in order to make the case for ratcheting up pressure on Iran. The publication of these allegations was a significant step backward.

    Continue reading “IAEA passes "mild" resolution after its toughest report yet on Iran, UNGA denounces assassination plot”