“I think in assessing this deal, it is vital to keep in mind that the nuclear advances that Iran could have made over the six-month period of the deal, in the absence of a cap on its nuclear program — and in the absence of the transparency measures — monitoring measures that give us a much larger window into the program that we now have because of the deal.”
–Interview with Kingston Reif, director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation, on the interim Iran nuclear arms agreement’s ways to cap, convert or dilute its 20 percent-enriched uranium stockpile.
Interim International Nuclear Arms Accord with Iran a Welcome First Step to Reduce Threat of War
Interview with Kingston Reif, director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation, conducted by Scott Harris
In what’s being described as a major breakthrough in the long process of working toward an international accord with Iran over its nuclear program, negotiations in Geneva have produced an interim agreement that could lay the groundwork to achieve a comprehensive agreement. It’s been more than 34 years since the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in the aftermath of the revolutionary government’s November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the holding of 52 American hostages.
Iran and the P5+1 nations, which includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the U.S., Britain, Russia France and China, plus Germany, signed a six-month agreement that obligates Iran to halt most of its nuclear research activities, providing time for further talks that negotiators hope will lead to a final agreement. Iran in return will benefit from a partial lifting of some international economic sanctions that have severely damaged the Islamic Republic’s economy.
While President Obama has applauded the interim agreement with Iran as an historic achievement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has charged that the accord is a historic mistake, asserting that Israel is not bound by the deal, while maintaining the right to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear research facilities. Many congressional Republicans and some Democrats unhappy with the deal are pursuing additional sanctions against Iran that have the potential to derail the agreement. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Kingston Reif, director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Here Reif explains why he believes the interim international agreement made with Iran is a positive first step toward preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons, thereby reducing the threat of war.
Find more information about The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation by visiting armscontrolcenter.org.
- Interview with Kingston Reif, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Nov. 25, 2013 (25:24)
- “Making a Nuclear Deal with Iran,” by Kingston Reif, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov. 20, 2013
- “How Barack Obama Finally Earned That Peace Prize,” The Nation, Nov. 26, 2013
- “Obama Defends Interim Iran Nuclear Deal,” BBC, Nov. 24, 2013
- “Media Split on Iran Nuclear Deal,” The Nation, Nov. 24, 2013
- “Western Powers Sign Historic Interim Nuclear Deal With Iran,” Mother Jones, Nov. 23, 2013
- “Historic U.S.-Iran Deal Is First Step Toward Peace,” Bill Moyers, Nov. 24, 2013
- “U.S. Officials Hint at Reservations on Final Nuclear Deal,” Antiwar.com, Nov. 25, 2013
- Nukes of Hazard Blog at nukesofhazardblog.com
If New U.S.-Afghan Accord is Ratified, America’s Longest War Will Go Longer
Interview with David Swanson, journalist, activist and author, conducted by Scott Harris
President Obama announced in May 2012 that his administration and NATO allies will end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But recent negotiations on a Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai have focused on maintaining a residual force of some 8,000 U.S. troops in the country to train Afghan forces, perform counterterrorism operations and support the Afghan government in their continuing fight against the Taliban insurgency until 2024 and possibly beyond.
But talks on the security agreement that could keep thousands of American soldiers in Afghanistan another decade, extending further America’s longest war in its history, has run into several obstacles. While an assembly of Afghan elders, known as the Loya Jirga, endorsed the security pact, President Karzai has said he may not sign the agreement until after national elections in April. In addition, Karzai has specified several additional conditions for his signature, including a pledge from the U.S. to immediately end all military raids on Afghan civilian homes, demonstrating a commitment to peace talks with the Taliban, non-interference in Afghan elections and a return of all remaining Afghan prisoners held at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, back to Afghanistan.
Obama administration officials expressed frustration with Karzai’s delay in signing the security agreement and warned that without ratification of the pact soon, the U.S. would have no choice but to leave Afghanistan with no residual U.S. or NATO troops left behind. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with journalist, activist and author David Swanson, who takes a critical look at the proposed Bilateral Security Agreement that could keep thousands of U.S.soldiers in Afghanistan for another decade and beyond.
David Swanson is author of eight books including, “War No More: The Case for Abolition.” Find links to Swanson’s recent articles on Afghanistan and other topics by visiting DavidSwanson.org.
- Interview with David Swanson, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Nov. 25, 2013 (24:41)
- War is a Lie at WarIsALie.org
- Ban Weaponized Drones at BanWeaponizedDrones.org
- “10 More Years in Afghanistan,” David Swanson, Nov. 26, 2013
National Day of Mourning Event Commemorates Thanksgiving from Native American Perspective
Interview with Moonanum James, co-leader of the United American Indians of New England, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Thanksgiving Day marks the 44th annual Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock, Mass., organized by the United American Indians of New England. The event was initiated in 1970 when Wampanoag leader Frank James was asked to give a speech at a Boston celebration of the friendship between the Pilgrims and the native people they met, who helped them survive.
James submitted his proposed speech, based on the writings of a Pilgrim settler, which described the mistreatment of the natives by the English, but was told the speech could not be delivered. In response, he put the call out for native people to gather in Plymouth, to mourn instead of celebrate, and to voice their demands for self-determination, an end to racism – and since 1977 – freedom for imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Moonanum James, the son of event founder Frank James, who now serves as coleader of the United American Indians of New England. Here, James describes the Thanksgiving day Mourning event, some of their current demands, and explains why his group embraces the participation of non-natives in their Thanksgiving Day protest.
MOONANUM JAMES: Well, at noon we gather on Cole’s Hill, and we have a speakout where only native people are allowed to speak, and the reason we go to Cole’s Hill is there’s a statue of Massasoit on it, and Massasoit was the supreme sachem of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims arrived, and I’m a Wampanoag myself. And the speak-out might take an hour, hour and a half just depending on the number of people who want to speak. And then we have a march; we go down by Plymouth Rock, and I say a few words about how ridiculous the mythology behind Plymouth Rock. And then we go down to Post Office Square, which is where King Philip, or Metacom’s head – and Metacom was the youngest son of Massasoit – who would become chief. And when he was killed, the English cut off his head and both his hands, and sent one to Boston and one to England, but they displayed his head on a pike for over 20 years in Post Office Square. And after we have a little gathering there, a little bit of a rally, we go in and we have a social and over the last few years we’ve been feeding 3, 4, 500 people. We don’t keep a count – just anyone who needs a meal, they come and we’ll feed ’em.
BETWEEN THE LINES: I understand the violence isn’t all in the distant past, right?
MOONANUM JAMES: In 1997, 25 of us were arrested basically for marching on our own land. Twenty-five people were pepper-sprayed, thrown to the ground, handcuffed and taken to jail. And after a long negotiation process – the ACLU got involved, it’s quite complicated – we were able to reach an agreement with Plymouth. They dropped all the charges; we have two beautiful historical markers in town; one in Cole’s Hill tells people why we’re there, why we’ve been there since 1970, and we also have one in Post Office Square that addresses King Philip’s head being displayed on a pike. So some of the goals we’ve been able to get; getting all those charges dropped; we got some funds to start an education project; no individual got any money. And every year (Leonard Peltier) sends a statement to us, and we do demand freedom for him. Another one of our demands is that the Bureau of Indian Affairs pay up. They owe billions of dollars in royalties for oil drilling leases, land use leases, all over the country. We also demand that the sports teams stop using racist logos.
BETWEEN THE LINES: I know the day also includes solidarity with native activist Leonard Pelter, who was convicted in 1977 of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in a trial that’s considered by many to be completely corrupt.
MOONANUM JAMES: Well, it’s been a number of years. Every year we call for clemency, for him getting out of jail, because even the government in open court has said they don’t know who’s responsible for shooting those FBI officers, and yet he’s still sitting in prison. It’s just a sad thing. And every year he sends a statement to us, and we do demand freedom for him. Another one of our demands is that the Bureau of Indian Affairs pay up. They owe billions of dollars in royalties for oil drilling leases, land use leases, all over the country, and this money seems to be nowhere; they can’t find it. We also demand that the sports teams stop using racist logos and things of that nature. I don’t like the term Washington Redskins. I don’t think anyone would like the term Jersey Jews, if you know what I’m getting at.
BETWEEN THE LINES: So you all are involved in a lot of native American struggles…
MOONANUM JAMES: Oh, yeah, we’re involved in such things as getting food for the reservations, heat for the reservations, good medical care. I mean, after all, we have the highest suicide rate, the highest alcoholism rate of just about any group in this country. You know, some people have to make the choice between heating or eating. So we demand things along those lines, because we have people who come from a lot of these reservations and speak, talking about the conditions they face every day, and believe me, it’s not going to a casino and getting a nice warm meal. Sometimes it’s just trying to get a meal.
BETWEEN THE LINES: So what do you serve at the dinner? Is it what most Americans consider traditional Thanksgiving fare, or native foods, or what?
MOONANUM JAMES: We serve a variety of things, because we have vegans that come, we have vegetarians that come. We have, of course, turkey and ham and chowders and soups and breads and pies and pastries, coffee, tea – you name it. The only thing we don’t serve is alcohol.
BETWEEN THE LINES: I’ve heard the criticism that United American Indians of New England is actually mostly non-native.
MOONANUM JAMES: I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess as to who’s native, who’s not native, because the people that come support us, whether they’re green, white, pink. The issue is to stand in solidarity. It’s really difficult and that criticism has been raised many, many times, but I don’t want to turn it into a native people-only kind of thing; I prefer to look out and see people from the four directions, which means more to me than whether it’s a native day, or whatever, because years and years ago, we did have mostly native people show up up there, and we decided that it should be expanded, that we should look out beyond just native people and invite everybody who’d like to participate and march with us. The only stipulation we still hold – and this is the way the elders set it up in 1970 – is, we don’t need the so-called experts telling us anything. We’re more than capable of speaking for ourselves.
For more information on the Day of Mourning event, visit the United American Indians of New England at uaine.org.
- “Wampanoag people,” Wikipedia
- “Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians,” by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro, United American Indians of New England
- National Day of Mourning Plymouth, MA 2013 on Facebook
- NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING 2012 Video/Audio Speech You Tube video
- Thanksgiving or Day of Mourning? Consortium News, Nov. 22, 2012
- National Day of Mourning 2012, Native Resistance Network
This week’s summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon
- Documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have set off a diplomatic scandal in the Asia Pacific, between Australia and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. (“Indonesia warns spy claims hurt Australian ties,” Bloomberg, Nov. 18, 2013; “Indonesia halts Australia cooperation amid spying row,” BBC, Nov. 20, 2013)
- Fourteen years after he was rescued off the Florida coast by fishermen, Elian Gonzalez, now 19 years old and living in Cuba has spoken out about the ordeal that exploded into an international custody battle. Gonzalez who has lived with his father in Cuba since being returned to the island in April 2000, has emerged as a strong ally of the Castro government. (“Elian Gonzalez: my time in US ‘changed me for life,” Miami Herald, Nov. 19, 2013; “Kerry harps on Cuban democracy, climate change in OAS speech,” Miami Herald, Nov. 18, 2013; “New climate of pragmatism prevails in US-Cuban relations,” Reuters, Nov. 17, 2013)
- American youths from ages 12 to 18 years old can legally engage in farm labor, including driving farm machinery. In 2011, the U.S. Dept. of Labor updated its list of hazardous farm jobs that should be off limits to children under 16. These included working near manure pits, grain silos and driving large farm vehicles on certain roads. But, according to the Nation magazine, the proposed rules were killed due to pressure from agribusiness lobbyists. (“Regulations are killed and kids die,” The Nation, Nov. 12, 2013)