8:04 AM, Oct 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Some American and Iranian diplomats have been spending so much time together lately that they're beginning to crack jokes with one another. Even though the subject matter of the talks, Iran's nuclear ambitions, is quite serious, a senior state department official shared a lighter moment with reporters who had gathered for a background briefing at the P5+1 talks in Vienna, Austria:
I just told Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi that that I was coming down to do a backgrounder, and I said, you know, “You’ll know what I’m going to say.” And his suggestion was that I simply hand you the transcript from the last one, and that would probably do the trick. (Laughter.) So we thought that was pretty funny. Obviously, you don’t think that’s so funny, but we all thought it was pretty funny.
Further into the briefing, the official expanded on the state of the relationship that has developed between the Iranian and American negotiators:
In terms of mood, in a professional way, we all know each other pretty well now. You can tell when the [Iranian] Deputy Foreign Minister jokes. He reads the transcripts of these backgrounders, and when he can joke, “Why don’t you just hand over the last one? You’re going to say the same thing,” it’s reached a level of we know each other well enough to make jokes.
The current round of talks has a November 24 deadline to reach a complete agreement. The official said there has been progress, but a lot of work remains. The talks have been extended in the past when an agreement could not be reached, but the official said to keep the pressure on, an extension has not been discussed this time around.
12:10 PM, Oct 10, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Experts continue to debate whether the explosion at an Iranian military base at Parchin earlier in the week was an act of sabotage.
3:20 PM, Oct 9, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Satellite photographs released yesterday show that the explosion Monday at an Iranian military base at Parchin, where the clerical regime is believed to be working on its nuclear weapons program, did significant damage. The images obtained by Israeli media outlet Israel Defense and “analyzed by specialist Ronen Solomon clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound.”
Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By LEE SMITH
Last week Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to the U.N. General Assembly and the White House to warn against letting Iran become a nuclear threshold state. He may be too late. With the Obama administration walking back its longstanding demand that Iran dismantle its centrifuges, the clerical regime in Tehran will soon be on the threshold of a nuclear breakout.
This fact is not lost on the White House. Recent appointments and statements underscore the administration’s new posture toward Iran—détente.
6:34 AM, Oct 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
At the White House Wednesday for bilateral talks with President Obama, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rather publicly reminded the president of how seriously Israel takes the threat of a nuclear Iran.
1:42 PM, Sep 29, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
There is likely much gnashing of teeth in the intelligence community today in the wake of Obama’s interview with 60 Minutes last night.
3:31 PM, Sep 26, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Colin Kahl has just been named Vice President Joseph Biden's national security adviser. Kahl previously served in the Obama administration at the Department of Defense, and left in December 2011 when he moved to the Center for New American Security.
1:10 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of President Obama’s speech yesterday at the U.N. General Assembly, there were reports of another chemical weapons attack near Damascus launched by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. If true, Assad is just drawing the logical conclusion from the president’s speech and the administration’s actions over the last several weeks. The policy of the Obama White House is to target Sunni extremism.
7:26 AM, Sep 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Thirty-one U.S. senators have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to express concern that the U.S. might sign a bad nuclear deal with Iran.
"As nuclear talks with Iran resume in New York this week, we have learned that the United States and its P5+1 negotiating partners may now be offering troubling nuclear concessions to Iran in the hopes of rapidly concluding negotiations for a 'deal,'" the letter reads.
1:23 PM, Sep 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, later this afternoon at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. Matt Lee of Associated Press reports on Twitter:
12:25 PM, Sep 16, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the worst global example of capricious interference by Muslim theocrats in the personal and spiritual lives of its citizens. On September 9, as reported by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), seven young Iranians went on trial. Their supposed crime? Producing a dance video of the Pharrell Williams’s pop hit “Happy” and uploading it to YouTube.
It’s not easy protecting the Christians of the Middle East. Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By LEE SMITH
Last week, Senator Ted Cruz helped unmask an organization ostensibly founded to protect a Middle East minority. When the Texas legislator, the keynote speaker, asked the gala dinner audience comprising mostly Middle Eastern Christians at the In Defense of Christians conference in Washington to stand with Israel, many hooted and booed him off the stage.