Tales from the Trail

Missiles before talks — what’s the message from Iran?

September 28, 2009

Everyone has their own way of broaching subjects they don’t like.

Iran has decided the best prelude to upcoming talks with Western powers that are inevitably going to end up in a finger-pointing session over Tehran’s nuclear program, is to test fire a bunch of missiles.

Iran’s nuclear plant and the definition of covert

September 25, 2009

Western powers are blasting Iran today for building another nuclear plant.

NUCLEAR-IRAN/OBAMA-STATEMENTPresident Barack Obama, flanked by the leaders of France and Britain, said to reporters in Pittsburgh for the G20 meeting that “Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.”

from Global News Journal:

A world without nuclear weapons: Obama’s pipe dream?

September 24, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants a world without nuclear weapons. But will that ever happen?
    
Obama showed he's serious this week. He chaired a historic summit meeting of the U.N. Security Council which unanimously passed a U.S.-drafted resolution that envisages "a world without nuclear weapons".
    
It was the first time a U.S. president chaired a meeting of the Security Council since it was established in 1946.
 
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, an advocacy group, identified serious weaknesses in the resolution, including the absence of mandatory disarmament steps for the world's five official nuclear powers -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
    
Some diplomats from countries without nuclear weapons said the lack of mandatory disarmament moves is not just a weakness, but a loophole the five big powers -- which have permanent seats and vetoes on the Security Council -- deliberately inserted into the resolution so that they wouldn't have to scrap their beloved nuclear arsenals.
 
An official from one of the five big powers appeared to confirm this in an "off-record" email to Reuters explaining the language in the resolution: "I would underline that creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons is not the same as calling for a world free of nuclear weapons." He added that "the spirit of the resolution is much more about non-proliferation than disarmament."
    
A diplomat and disarmament expert from a European country with no nuclear weapons said this was typical of the "cynicism" of some permanent Security Council members. He added that the U.S. delegation had made very clear that the use of the word "disarmament" meant total nuclear disarmament -- perhaps not today, but someday. 
    
China's President Hu Jintao said China was not planning to get rid of its nuclear arsenal anytime soon. So did French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
    
The resolution didn't name Iran and North Korea. However, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Sarkozy filled in the blanks and called for tougher sanctions against Iran for defying U.N. demands to halt sensitive nuclear work.
 
The resolution didn't mention Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea, the four others known or assumed to have nuclear weapons. But it did politely ask "other states" to sign the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and get rid of their atom bombs.
 
Libya's Muammar Gaddafi was the only leader of a council member state that stayed away from the meeting. Several council diplomats expressed relief at his absence, saying they had been afraid the long-winded Gaddafi would have exceeded the five-minute limit for statements.

The First Draft: Missile defense, Iran and value voters

September 18, 2009

President Barack Obama’s decision to abandon a big, fixed-installation missile defense shield in Eastern Europe is drawing some angry reaction abroad.

Do-over on missile defense — reading between the lines

September 17, 2009

President Barack Obama’s new missile defense plan is an exercise in reading between the lines.

Is Chavez helping Iran build the bomb?

September 14, 2009

IRAN/

Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez’s case.

Morgenthau warned last week at Washington’s Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela’s financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.  He urged more scrutiny of the “emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela” in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.

Elections in Iran, Illinois? Obama very busy not picking sides

June 19, 2009

If you ever wondered what Illinois and Iran might have in common, here’s one answer: President Obama is most definitely not picking sides in their elections.
 
So insists the White House.
 
OBAMA/“Our response … on this has been, from the very beginning, consistent,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing Thursday when asked about the post-election turmoil in Iran.
 
“The American people and this government are not going to pick the next leader of Iran,” he said. “That’s something that the Iranians have to do.”
 
That doesn’t mean they won’t tsk-tsk loudly from the sidelines as the opportunity permits.
 
The administration has voiced concern about how the election was conducted, but shied away from suggesting any fraud was involved in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defeat of challenger Mirhossein Mousavi.
 
They say they don’t favor either candidate, but insist the challenger’s supporters have a right to continue their protests a week after the vote.
 
“We have to ensure that we express our views, as I’ve said, about ensuring that people can demonstrate, have their causes and concerns heard,” the White House spokesman said.
 
Obama’s also steering clear of the U.S. Senate race in Illinois, Gibbs said, even though he met last Friday with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
 
Chicago papers say the Obama administration is pushing her to run for the president’s former U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but the White House begs to differ.
 
“Let me be explicit,” Gibbs said. “The president is not going to pick a candidate in the Illinois Senate race.”
 
And the meeting at the White House with Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarret? Why, Madigan and Obama are just old friends and Obama has “enormous respect for what she accomplished,” Gibbs said.
 
And oh, by the way …
 
“I think she’d be a terrific candidate. But we’re not going to get involved in picking that candidate in Illinois.”
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

The First Draft: Reviews flood in after Obama’s Cairo speech

June 4, 2009

OBAMA-EGYPT/He’s been preparing for this moment since long before he came to the White House, so President Barack Obama might wonder how his Cairo speech to the Muslim world went over. He wouldn’t have to wait long — within minutes after he ended his address, the reviews started flooding in.

The First Draft: jobs jobs jobs

March 6, 2009

Guess what? There’s more bad news about the economy today.

Numbers out today show the unemployment rate has risen to its highest rate in 25 years as companies buckled under the strain of a recession that is showing no signs of ending. ECONOMY-JOBFAIR/

from Global News Journal:

Iran warns Obama’s government: “Quit talking like Bush”

February 26, 2009

Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee didn’t attend the latest U.N. Security Council meeting on Iraq. But the moment the 3-hour session was over the Iranian delegation was circulating a strongly worded letter from Khazaee that had a very clear message for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama: Stop talking like Bush.