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Story 1: Conservatives Cheer Cruz Candidacy — Faith, Family, Friends, Freedom ~ First — Videos
2016 Republican Presidential Nomination
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||3/13 – 3/15
||3/1 – 3/4
||2/26 – 3/2
||2/20 – 2/22
||1/25 – 1/27
• Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz • One-On-One • Hannity • 3/23/15 •
Ted Cruz announces presidential bid at Liberty University
Ted Cruz Liberty University FULL SPEECH Ted Cruz Announces He’s Running For President 2016
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Monday formally announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, promising a campaign that would be about “re-igniting the promise of America.” Ted Cruz Becomes First Major Candidate to Announce Presidential Bid for 2016. Ted Cruz Opens 2016 As the Election’s Self-Declared Conservative Champion
The Texas senator and presidential candidate kicked off his “The power of the American people as we stand up and fight for liberty knows no bounds,” Mr. Cruz said during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in which he talked at length about his family and his faith as he laid out a case for his candidacy.
imagine you compiled a list of all the things Cruz asked his young audience to “imagine” being fulfilled through his presidency: “…millions of courageous conservatives rising up to say in unison, ‘we demand our liberty.’” “…millions of people in faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.” “…millions of young people standing together saying ‘We will stand for liberty.’” “…booming economic growth” “…record number of small businesses” “…young people coming out of college with four, five, six job offers” (lulz) “…innovation thriving on the internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay.” “…America finally becoming energy self-sufficient.” “…a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.” “…health care reform that keeps government out of the way of your and your doctor.” “…a simple flat tax.” “…abolishing the IRS.” “…a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders.” “…a legal immigration that welcomes and celebrates those who come to achieve the America dream.” “…a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American.” “…a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.” “…a federal government that fights to keep the right to bear arms.” “…a federal government that protected the privacy rights of every American.” “…repealing every word of Common Core.” “…embracing school choice as the civil rights issue of the next generation.” “…a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.” “…a president who says I will honor the Constitution and under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.” “…a president who says we will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism.” “…it’s 1775.” “…it’s 1777.” “…it’s 1943.” “…it’s 1979.”
Drawing on a stump speech he has developed in recent months, Mr. Cruz struck a tone of defiance and appealed to conservatives to “imagine a president” who would repeal the Affordable Care Act, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, secure the border and forbid same-sex marriage.
His criticism of President Obama also extended to foreign policy, where he denounced the administration’s positions on Israel, Iran’s nuclear program and Islamic extremism.
Related Coverage Mr. Cruz made his case to a gathering of conservative activists at an annual gathering in February. Ted Cruz’s Path to the Presidency MARCH 23, 2015 Senator Ted Cruz brought his daughters, Catherine, 4, right, and Caroline, 6, on stage at Liberty University on Sunday during a walk-through for his speech Monday, when he will start his presidential campaign. Road to 2016: Why Ted Cruz Is Such a Long Sho tMARCH 23, 2015 Senator Ted Cruz at a rehearsal on Sunday for his formal campaign announcement at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Things You May Not Know About Ted Cruz MARCH 23, 2015 Senator Ted Cruz is the first Republican to officially enter the presidential race. Ted Cruz Hopes Early Campaign Entry Will Focus Voters’ Attention
Cruz launches 2016 presidential campaign with fiery speech Fox News Video
Senator Ted Cruz Announces Running For U.S. President in 2016 ‘Imagine’ Full Speech (VIDEO)
Sen. Cruz: Obama Counterfeiting Immigration Documents – 2/17/2015
Ted Cruz’ solution to Obama’s illegal actions on immigration
Sen. Ted Cruz Speaks on the Senate Floor in Opposition to the Gang of Eight’s Immigration Bill
Sen Ted Cruz Wants to DOUBLE Immigration
Laura Ingraham is “pretty sure” Ted Cruz is eligible to be President
Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts
Sen. Cruz Amendment to Immigration Legislation to Increase H-1B Visas
Ted Cruz announces candidacy for President in 2016
Analyzing Sen. Ted Cruz’s first speech after announcing 2016 bid
John Lennon – Imagine HD
The Beatles – Revolution (Subtitulado al Español)
Assessing possible presidential candidates | FoxNewsChannel
Analyzing Sen. Ted Cruz’s first speech after announcing 2016 bid
Chuck Todd Tees Up Jerry Brown To Slam Ted Cruz As ‘Unfit’ For Office
Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case
Transcript: Read Full Text of Sen. Ted Cruz’s Campaign Launch
Cruz served as a law clerk to J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1995 and William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States in 1996. Cruz was the first Hispanic to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.
After Cruz finished his clerkships, he took a position with Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal, which is now known as Cooper & Kirk, LLC, from 1997 to 1998. While with the firm, Cruz worked on matters relating to the National Rifle Association, and helped prepare testimony for the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. Cruz also served as private counsel for CongressmanJohn Boehner during Boehner’s lawsuit against Congressman Jim McDermott for releasing a tape recording of a Boehner telephone conversation.
Cruz joined the George W. Bush presidential campaign in 1999 as a domestic policy adviser, advising then-Governor George W. Bush on a wide range of policy and legal matters, including civil justice, criminal justice, constitutional law, immigration, and government reform.
Cruz assisted in assembling the Bush legal team, devise strategy, and draft pleadings for filing with the Supreme Court of Floridaand U.S. Supreme Court, the specific case being Bush v. Gore, during the 2000 Florida presidential recounts, leading to two successful decisions for the Bush team. Cruz recruited future Chief Justice John Roberts and noted attorney Mike Carvin to the Bush legal team.
After President Bush took office, Cruz served as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department and as the director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Texas Solicitor General
Appointed to the office of Solicitor General of Texas by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Cruz served in that position from 2003 to 2008. The office had been established in 1999 to handle appeals involving the state, but Abbott hired Cruz with the idea that Cruz would take a “leadership role in the United States in articulating a vision of strict construction.” As Solicitor General, Cruz would argue before the Supreme Court nine times, winning five cases and losing four.
Cruz has authored 70 United States Supreme Court briefs and presented 43 oral arguments, including nine before the United States Supreme Court. Cruz’s record of having argued before the Supreme Court nine times is more than any practicing lawyer in Texas or any current member of Congress. Cruz has commented on his nine cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court: “We ended up year after year arguing some of the biggest cases in the country. There was a degree of serendipity in that, but there was also a concerted effort to seek out and lead conservative fights.”
In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz drafted the amicus brief signed by attorneys general of 31 states, which said that the D.C. handgun ban should be struck down as infringing upon the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In addition to his success in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds before the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 5-4 in Van Orden v. Perry.
In 2004, Cruz was involved in the high-profile case, Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, in which Cruz wrote a U.S. Supreme Court brief on behalf of all 50 states. The Supreme Court upheld the position of Cruz’s brief.
Cruz served as lead counsel for the state and successfully defended the multiple litigation challenges to the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting plan in state and federal district courts and before the U.S. Supreme Court, which was decided 5-4 in his favor in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry.
Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt to re-open the cases of 51 Mexican nationals, all of whom were convicted of murder in the United States and were on death row. With the support of the George W. Bush Administration, the petitioners argued that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to notify the convicted nationals of their opportunity to receive legal aid from the Mexican consulate. They based their case on a decision of the International Court of Justice in the Avena case which ruled that failing to allow access to the Mexican consulate, the US had breached its obligations under the Convention. Texas won the case in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court held that ICJ decisions were not binding in domestic law and that the President had no power to enforce them.
Cruz has been named by American Lawyer magazine as one of the 50 Best Litigators under 45 in America, by The National Law Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America, and by Texas Lawyer as one of the 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century.
After leaving the Solicitor General position in 2008, he worked in a private law firm in Houston, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, often representing corporate clients, until he was sworn in a U.S. Senator from Texas in 2013. At Morgan Lewis, he led the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice.
In 2009-2010, while working for Morgan Lewis, Cruz formed and then abandoned a bid for state attorney general when the incumbent Attorney General Greg Abbott, who hired Cruz as Solicitor General, decided to run for re-election.
Cruz speaking to the Values Voters Summit in October 2011
Cruz’s election has been described by the Washington Post as “the biggest upset of 2012 . . . a true grassroots victory against very long odds.” On January 19, 2011, after U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said she would not seek reelection, Cruz announced his candidacy via a blogger conference call. In the Republican senatorial primary, Cruz ran against sitting Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Cruz was endorsed first by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and then by the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative political action committee; Erick Erickson, editor of prominent conservative blog RedState; the FreedomWorks for America super PAC; nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; Tea Party Express; Young Conservatives of Texas; and U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Pat Toomey. He was also endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, George P. Bush, and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.
Cruz won the runoff for the Republican nomination with a 14-point margin over Dewhurst. In the November 6 general election, Cruz faced Democrat Paul Sadler, an attorney and a former state representative from Henderson, in east Texas. Cruz won with 4.5 million votes (56.4%) to Sadler’s 3.2 million (40.6%). Two minor candidates garnered the remaining 3% of the vote. According to a poll by Cruz’s pollster Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, taken six weeks after the 2012 general election, Cruz received 40% of the Hispanic vote, vs. 60% for Sandler, outperforming Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with the Hispanic vote by 6 points.
After Time magazine reported on a potential violation of ethics rules by failing to publicly disclose his financial relationship with Caribbean Equity Partners Investment Holdings during the 2012 campaign, Cruz called his failure to disclose these connections an inadvertent omission.
Cruz is pro-life, with an exception only when a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. Cruz opposes same-sex marriage, stating that he instead supports marriage “between one man and one woman,” but believes that the legality of same-sex marriage should be left to each state to decide. On February 10, 2015, Cruz re-introduced the State Marriage Defense Act.
Cruz is a gun-rights supporter. On March 25, 2013, an announcement was made by Cruz and U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee threatening that they would filibuster any legislation that would entail gun control, such as the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which would require additional background checks on sales at gun shows. On April 17, 2013, Cruz voted against the Manchin-Toomey Amendment. Republicans successfully filibustered the amendment by a vote of 54–46, as 60 votes were needed for cloture.
Cruz has raised concerns that the National Security Agency has not done effective surveillance of potential terrorists while intruding needlessly into the lives of ordinary Americans.
Cruz opposes net neutrality because he argues that the Internet economy has flourished in the United States simply because it has remained largely free from government regulation. He believes regulating the Internet will stifle online innovation and create monopolies. He has expressed support for stripping theFederal Communications Commission (FCC) of its power under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to ensure net neutrality, and opposes reclassifying internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Cruz opposes the Marketplace Fairness Act, saying that it would hurt competition by creating additional costs for internet-based businesses.
He was an original co-sponsor of the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, Senate Bill 1 of the 114th Congress. And on January 29, 2015, he voted for its passage. It passed the Senate 62-36, the goal of the bill was to approve the construction of the transnational pipeline. Cruz wants Congress to approve the exportation of U.S. natural gas to World Trade Organization countries.
Cruz opposes the legalization of marijuana, but believes it should be decided at the state level.
Since being elected, Cruz has spent a great deal of time speaking about what he characterizes as the misguided economic policies of the Obama Administration. Chiding the GOP over its 2012 electoral losses, he stated that “Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent”  and has also noted that the words “growth and opportunity” ought to be tattooed on every Republican’s hand.
In February 2014, Cruz opposed an unconditional increase in the debt limit. He said that Republican politicians feared the truth and “they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back home they didn’t do it.”
On foreign policy, Cruz has said that he is “somewhere in between” Rand Paul‘s isolationism and John McCain‘s active interventionism.
In 2004, he criticized Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry for being “against defending American values, against standing up to our enemies, and, in effect, for appeasing totalitarian despots.”  Cruz helped defeat efforts to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arguing that the treaty infringed on US sovereignty.
In 2013, Cruz stated that America had no “dog in the fight” during the Syrian civil war and stated that America’s armed forces should not serve as “al-Qaeda‘s air force”. In 2014, Cruz criticized the Obama administration: “The president’s foreign policy team utterly missed the threat of ISIS, indeed, was working to arm Syrian rebels that were fighting side by side with ISIS.”, calling ISIS “the face of evil”. Cruz has called for bombing ISIS, but is doubtful that the United States “can tell the good guys from the bad guys” in a plan to arm “moderate” rebels, and the plan to defeat ISIS should not be “laden with impractical contingencies, such as resolving the Syrian civil war.”
In 2014, Cruz spoke at an event held by the watchdog group In Defense of Christians (IDC). Cruz was booed by the group after making statements considered pro-Israel that were viewed by some pundits as intentionally provocative. When the audience refused to stop booing, Cruz eventually left the stage. The resulting controversy expanded beyond Cruz and some commentators believe has resulted in the conservative movement becoming divided between those who sided with Cruz and Israel, and those who sided with Middle Eastern Christians and argued that Cruz’s comments were out-of-bounds. Republican representative Charlie Dent labeled Cruz’s actions “outrageous and incendiary”. Others who criticized Cruz included Mollie Hemingway and Ross Douthat, as well as Scott McConnell, who claimed the controversy was about more than just Cruz, suggesting it is already causing a schism within the conservative movement over issues relating to Israel and Middle Eastern Christians. Matthew Yglesias described the controversy as a “conservative war”. Cruz apologized for questioning the motives of his critics and said that all should be united in speaking out against persecution of religious minorities.
Cruz is a strong critic of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he usually refers to as “Obamacare”. He has sponsored legislation that would repeal the health care reform law and its amendments in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
After the launch of the HealthCare.gov website, Cruz stated, “Obamacare is a disaster. You have the well-publicized problems with the website. It just isn’t working.” He called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign.
In 2014 Cruz gave majority leader Harry Reid the procedural opening he needed to allow a Senate vote to confirm Vivek Murthy, who had raised concerns about the health effects of gun ownership, to be United States Surgeon General.
In the summer of 2013, Cruz started a “nationwide tour” sponsored by The Heritage Foundation to promote a congressional effort to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, arguing that a shutdown of the government would not be a disaster for America or the Republican Party (GOP).
On September 24, 2013, Cruz began a speech on the floor of the Senate regarding the Affordable Care Act relative to a continuing resolution designed to fund the government and avert a government shutdown. Cruz promised to keep speaking until he was “no longer able to stand”. Cruz yielded the floor at noon the following day for the start of the proceeding legislative session after twenty-one hours nineteen minutes. His speech was the fourth-longest in United States Senate history. Following Cruz’s speech, the Senate voted 100–0 regarding a “procedural hurdle toward passing a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown”. Cruz was joined by 18 Republican senators in his effort to prevent stripping out a clause that would have defunded the Affordable Care by voting against the cloture motion, leaving the effort 21 votes short of the required number to deny cloture.
Cruz is believed to be a major force behind the U.S. government shutdown in 2013. Cruz delivered a message on October 11, 2013 to fellow Republicans against accepting Obamacare and, describing it as a “train wreck”, claimed the American people remain “energized” around the goal of gutting the law. Cruz stated Obamacare is causing “enormous harm” to the economy. Republican strategist Mike Murphy stated: “Cruz is trying to start a wave of Salem witch trials in the G.O.P. on the shutdown and Obamacare, and that fear is impacting some people’s calculations on 2016.” Cruz said that he “didn’t threaten to shut down the government” and blamed the shutdown on President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.
The Houston Chronicle which had endorsed Cruz in the general election, regretted that he had not lived up to the standard set by the previous U.S. Senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison. After a deal was made to end the shutdown and to extend the debt-ceiling deadline, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Cruz’s actions “not a smart play” and a “tactical error”, and Cruz stated: “I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare. The test that matters. . . is are we doing anything for all the people that are getting hurt from Obamacare?”
Cruz has sponsored 25 bills of his own, including:
- S.177, a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health-care related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, introduced January 29, 2013
- S.505, a bill to prohibit the use of drones to kill citizens of the United States within the United States, introduced March 7, 2013
- S.729 and S. 730, bills to investigate and prosecute felons and fugitives who illegally purchase firearms, and to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms through straw purchases and trafficking, introduced March 15, 2013
- S.1336, a bill to permit States to require proof of citizenship for registering to vote in federal elections, introduced July 17, 2013
- S.2170, a bill to increase coal, natural gas, and crude oil exports, to approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, to expand oil drilling offshore, onshore, in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, and in Indian reservations, to give states the sole power of regulating hydraulic fracturing, to repeal theRenewable Fuel Standard, to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases, to require the EPA to assess how new regulations will affect employment, and to earmark natural resource revenue to paying off the federal government’s debt, introduced March 27, 2014
- S.2415, a bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate all limits on direct campaign contributions to candidates for public office, introduced June 3, 2014
Senate bill 2195
On April 1, 2014, Cruz introduced Senate bill 2195, a bill that would allow the President of the United States to deny visas to any ambassador to the United Nationswho has been found to have been engaged in espionage activities or a terrorist activity against the United States or its allies and may pose a threat to U.S. national security interests. The bill was written in response to Iran‘s choice of Hamid Aboutalebi as their ambassador. Aboutalebi was involved in the Iran hostage crisis, in which of a number of American diplomats from the US embassy in Tehran were held captive in 1979.
Under the headline “A bipartisan message to Iran”, Cruz thanked President Barack Obama for signing his bill S 2195 into law. The letter published in the magazinePolitico on April 18, 2014 starts with “Thanks to President Obama for joining a unanimous Congress and signing S 2195 into law”. Cruz also thanked senators from both political parties for “swiftly passing this legislation and sending it to the White House.”
Senator Cruz speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Commentators have expressed their opinion that Cruz will run for President in 2016. On March 14, 2013, Cruz gave the keynote speech at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC. He came in tied for 7th place in the 2013 CPAC straw poll on March 16, winning 4% of the votes cast. In October 2013, Cruz won the Values Voter Summit Presidential straw poll with 42% of the vote. Cruz came in first place in the two most recent Presidential straw polls conducted in 2014 with 30.33% of the vote at the Republican Leadership Conference and 43% of the vote at the Republican Party of Texas state convention.
Cruz did speaking events in the summer of 2013 across Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, early primary states, leading to speculation that he was laying the groundwork for a run for President in 2016. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobindescribes Cruz as the first potential Presidential candidate to emphasize originalism as a major national issue.
Since Cruz was born in Canada, commentators for the Austin American-Statesman and the Los Angeles Times, have speculated about Cruz’s legal status as a natural-born citizen. Because he was a U.S. citizen at birth (his mother was a U.S. citizen who lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years as required by the Nationality Act of 1940), most commentators believe Cruz is eligible to serve as President of the United States.
On April 12, 2014, Cruz spoke at the Freedom Summit, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity, and Citizens United. The event was attended by several potential presidential candidates. In his speech, Cruz mentioned that Latinos, young people and single mothers, are the people most affected by the recession, and that the Republican Party should make outreach efforts to these constituents. He also said that the words “growth and opportunity” should be tattooed on the hands of every Republican politician.
On March 23, 2015, Cruz announced on his Twitter page “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!”. He is the first announced major Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 campaign.
Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government in The Hill, on December 27, 2013, named Cruz “2013 Person of the Year.” Manning stated that “of course, Cruz made his biggest mark when he and fellow freshman Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) led a last-ditch national grassroots effort to defund ObamaCare before the law went into effect fully. Imagine how many Senate Democrats wish right now that they had heeded Cruz’s entreaties and agreed to delaying or defunding it for one year. Now, they are stuck with the law and all its consequences.”
Cruz was also named “2013 Man of the Year” by TheBlaze, FrontPage Magazine and The American Spectator,“2013 Conservative of the Year” by Townhall.com, “2013 Statesman of the Year” by the Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida and was a finalist in both “2013 Texan of the Year” by The Dallas Morning News and a “2013 Person of the Year” finalist by Time.
Cruz and his wife, Heidi Cruz (née Nelson), have two daughters. Cruz met his wife while working on the George W. Bush presidential campaign of 2000. Cruz’s wife is currently head of the Southwest Region in the Investment Management Division of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and previously worked in the White House forCondoleezza Rice and in New York as an investment banker.
When he was a child, Cruz’s mother told him that she would have to make an affirmative act to claim Canadian citizenship for him, so his family assumed that he did not hold Canadian citizenship. In August 2013, after the Dallas Morning News pointed out that Cruz had dual Canadian-American citizenship, he applied to formally renounce his Canadian citizenship and ceased being a citizen of Canada, on May 14, 2014.
- 2012 Republican primary
|Republican primary results, May 29, 2012
- 2012 Republican primary runoff
|Republican runoff results, July 31, 2012
- 2012 General Election
|General Election, November 6, 2012
||John Jay Myers
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Story 1: Become A Hardliner and Stand Against Iranian Regime and With The Iranian People — Oppose Obama’s Agreement With The Iranian Terrorist Mullahs — Islamic Republic of Iran — Stop Nuclear Proliferation in The Middle East — Raise The Economic Sanctions To Overthrow Iranian Regime — Videos
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The Day After (Attack Segment)
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Gaffney: EMP Attack on US Means 9 Out of 10 Dead Within 12 Months
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Could EMP attack Send America Back to ‘Dark Ages’? [PART 2]
Petraeus: ISIS Isn’t Our Biggest Problem in Iraq…Iran Is
What are Iran’s True Intentions: Walid Phares
As the Obama Administration continues to move forward negotiating with Iran, there has been little attention paid to the underlying motivations of the Islamic Republic of Iran. What is the Iranian end game? What are the ideological motivators of the Islamic regime in its conflict with the United States of America and Israel? Are the genocidal threats issued by Iranian leaders to”wipe Israel off the map” and achieve a “world without America” only posturing? Or are these goals the Iranian regime is committed to achieving?
EMET and the Center for Security Policy have put together a great panel of experts to address these questions and answer, what are Iran’s true intentions?
Dr. Walid Phares serves as an Advisor to the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the US House of Representatives and is a Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism, a Euro-American Caucus, since 2009. Dr Phares briefs and testify to the US Congress, the European Parliament and the United Nations Security Council on matters related to international security and Middle East conflict. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Task Force on Future Terrorism of the Department of Homeland Security and the Advisory Task force on Nuclear Terrorism. Dr Phares teaches Global Strategies at the National Defense University. He has published several books in English, Arabic and French including the latest three post-9/11 volumes: Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West; The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy and The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.
Dr. Walid Phares on Hannity on Fox News
Iranium – The Islamic Republic’s Race to Obtain Nuclear Weapons
John Bolton: Reasons to thwart Kerry’s deal on Iran (& N. Korea) nuclear weapons
Inside Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Plan
Iran Nuclear Talks’ Progress Unclear
Iran’s Fight For Nuclear Power
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New Tensions Between White House & Israel PM – Benjamin Netanyahu – The Kelly File
Bill O’Reilly: Iraq War ‘Was a Victory Until Obama Mucked It Up’
Obama vs Netanyahu “Negotiating with Mullahs”
Netanyahu’s Address – Mark Levin & Lt Col Ralph Peters Weigh In – Hannity
Ezekiel 38 : Saudi Arabia will allow Israel use of its airspace to strike Iran (Feb 28, 2015)
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Thomas Reed: A Political History of Nuclear Weapons: 1938 – 2008
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Linda Chavez – Iranian Regime, A threat to the World
Obama tells Netanyahu U.S. to “reassess” policy on Israel, Mideast diplomacy
Netanyahu: Deal Paves Iran’s “Path” To Bomb – The Kelly File
Is the far left appeasing the Iranian mullahs?
Israeli PM Netanyahu Addresses U.S. Congress | FULL SPEECH – March 3, 2015
President Obama: Benjamin Netanyahu and I Have Difference on Iran Sanctions
John Bolton: Obama giving Iran “an open path to nuclear weapons”
Making Iranian mullahs fear, the MEK, come true – Speech by General Hugh Shelton
Iran ,Islamic Republic ,Tehran , Green Revolution !
Will Israel Bomb Iran BBC This World Documentary – YouTube
outstanding Explanation: Why Israel can’t withdraw to its pre ’67 borders line – Please Share
Bolton: Middle East Nuclear Arms Race Is Already Underway
MIR: Israel vs. Iran: The Writing Is on the Wall
Barack Obama Speech on North Korea Nuclear Weapons
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Story 1: Leader Netanyahu Wins — Narcissist Obama Loses — How Sweet It Is — Videos
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White House Interfering with Israel’s Election!
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IBI WINS – BARACK LOSES – ELECTION SPECIAL
In an amazing come-from-behind moment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party was victorious in a “landslide” and thus ensuring Netanyahu remains Prime Minister. This victory goes against most of the pollsters, pundits and Obama operatives efforts to defeat Bibi.
Obama vs Netanyahu “Negotiating with Mullahs”
Ezekiel 38 : Saudi Arabia will allow Israel use of its airspace to strike Iran (Feb 28, 2015)
The Beast : Obama influences Israeli Elections to oust PM Netanyahu from Office (Mar 15, 2015)
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Jeremy Bird ’00
A new kind of politics: Jeremy Bird at TEDxUChicago 2014
Jeremy Bird is a founding partner at 270 Strategies and a longtime grassroots organizer with broad experience across domestic and international politics, labor, and policy.
He helped launch 270 Strategies after serving most recently as the National Field Director for the 2012 re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, where he had primary responsibility for building a nationwide army of staff and volunteer organizers.
Dubbed the campaign’s “Field General” by Rolling Stone magazine, Jeremy was listed among “The Obama Campaign’s Real Heroes” and has been cited as “a former Harvard divinity student who took to political organizing as though it were his higher calling.”
He is credited with helping establish a ground game and turnout machine that in 2012 “reproduced — through brute force, dedication and will — a turnout in the swing states that in some cases bested the campaign’s remarkable performance of four years ago.”
Jeremy is a graduate of Wabash College and Harvard Divinity School. He grew up in a trailer park in High Ridge, Missouri and is passionate about grassroots politics, traveling the world, and talking about sports — especially his hometown St. Louis Cardinals and his newfound love of soccer.
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GLEN BECK…… OBAMA MAY GO TO PRISON AND BE IMPEACHED KILLING OUR OWN !
Danny Ayalon: ‘Red Line’ Crossed If Obama Interfered in Israel Election
By Bill Hoffmann
If rumors that the Obama administration has helped efforts in Israel to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are real, the U.S. has crossed “a red line,” says Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Jeremy Bird, a top operative in President Obama’s 2008 and ’12 campaigns, has been mobilizing a get-out-the-vote effort for Netanyahu opponent Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, leading to speculation that the White House is linked to it.
“If this is true, this is really crossing a red line because a democracy does not interfere with other democracies’ democratic process,” Ayalon said Monday on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
Israeli elections take dramatic turn as official tally gives Likud sweeping victory
With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud holds a major edge over Zionist Union in the distribution of Knesset seats.
a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a far cry from the virtual dead heat that television exit polls had reported Tuesday evening.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud has emerged as the clear, undisputed victor in the elections.
According to the official up-to-the-minute tally, Likud wins 30 seats while Zionist Union comes in second at 24 seats.
The parties that follow are Joint Arab List (14); Yesh Atid (11); Kulanu (10); Bayit Yehudi (8); Shas (7); United Torah Judaism (6); Yisrael Beytenu (6); and Meretz (4).
Eli Yishai’s far-right Yahad party has thus far failed to make the cut, though it has hovered near the minimum threshold throughout. These results are not final since 10 percent of precincts still need to report their results.
The first exit polls were released Tuesday at 10 p.m. as voting closed in elections for the 20th Knesset, suggesting a surprisingly good showing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party versus Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union. While Likud had trailed by as many as five mandates in pre-election polls, Netanyahu’s party led the Zionist Union in one exit poll and was tied with Herzog’s party in the two others.
Channel 2’s poll had the Likud with 28 mandates, Zionist Union with 27 mandates, the Joint Arab List with 13 mandates, Yesh Atid with 11 mandates, Kulanu with 10 mandates, Bayit Yehudi with 8 mandates, Shas with 7 mandates, United Torah Judaism with 6 mandates, Meretz with 5 mandates, Yisrael Beytenu with 5 mandates and Yahad failing to pass the electoral threshold.
Netanyahu surges to victory in Israeli vote
By ARON HELLER
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel’s election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.
Netanyahu surged ahead after a last-minute lurch to the right in which he opposed Palestinian statehood and vowed continued settlement construction, setting the stage for fresh confrontations with the White House just weeks after criticizing U.S. talks with Iran in a divisive address to Congress.
With nearly all votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament’s 120 seats and was in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, a remnant of the biblical Jewish Temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray. “I’m touched by the weight of the responsibility that the people of Israel have put on my shoulders. I wish to say that I will do anything in my power to ensure the well-being and security of all the citizens of Israel,” he said.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who has governed for the past six years. Recent opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union a slight lead. Exit polls Tuesday showed the two sides deadlocked but once the actual results came pouring in early Wednesday, the Zionist Union dropped to just 24 seats.
Given the final results, it is all but assured that Israel’s largely ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin will task Netanyahu with forming a new government. Netanyahu says he hopes to do so quickly, within two to three weeks.
“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu told supporters at his election night headquarters, declaring victory even before final results were known.
Netanyahu focused his campaign primarily on security issues, while his opponents pledged to address the high cost of living and housing crisis while accusing him of being out of touch. Netanyahu will likely look to battle that image now by adding to his government Moshe Kahlon, whose upstart Kulanu party captured 10 seats with a campaign focused almost entirely on bread-and-butter economic issues. Kahlon is expected to be the next finance minister.
A union of four largely Arab-backed factions became Israel’s third largest party — with 14 seats — and gave Israel’s Arab minority significant leverage in parliament for the first time. Ten parties in all made it into parliament.
Herzog conceded defeat, saying he called Netanyahu and offered him congratulations. He signaled that he would not join forces with Netanyahu and would rather head to the opposition.
“I think that at this moment what Israel needs most of all is another voice, a voice that offers an alternative and a voice that tells it the truth,” he said outside his Tel Aviv home. “It must be clear that for the citizens of Israel, the challenges remain the same, the problems are the same. Nothing has changed.”
Netanyahu’s return to power for a fourth term likely spells trouble for Mideast peace efforts and could further escalate tensions with Washington.
Netanyahu, who already has a testy relationship with President Barack Obama, staked out a series of hard-line positions in the final days of the race that will put him on a collision course with much of the international community.
In a dramatic policy reversal, he said he now opposes the creation of a Palestinian state — a key policy goal of the White House and the international community. He also promised to expand construction in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians as their capital, where violence has increased in recent months.
The Palestinians, fed up after years of deadlock with Netanyahu, are now likely to press ahead with their attempts to bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
“Now, more than ever, the international community must act,” said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.
The world overwhelmingly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, areas captured by Israel in 1967, and opposes settlement construction.
With the race close, Netanyahu reneged on his previous stated support for a Palestinian state in an attempt to shore up his hawkish base. But peace talks last collapsed nearly a year ago, and it’s unclear whether the next government will pursue any drastic policy changes.
Netanyahu also infuriated the White House earlier this month when he delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress criticizing an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. The speech was arranged with Republican leaders and not coordinated with the White House ahead of time in a rare breach of diplomatic protocol.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama was confident strong U.S.-Israeli ties would endure far beyond the election, regardless of the victor.
Throughout the campaign, Netanyahu portrayed himself as the only politician capable of confronting Israel’s numerous security challenges.
Avi Degani, president of the Geocartography polling institute, who had predicted an outright Likud victory, said ultimately Netanyahu’s experience prevailed. “There was a situation where many people wanted to replace him but there was no one whom they wanted to replace him with,” he said.
Rivlin will now meet with all ten parties that entered parliament and hear their recommendation for who should try to form the next government. Rivlin will then task the leading candidate, almost certainly Netanyahu, with putting together a coalition that makes up a majority in parliament. Netanyahu will remain prime minister throughout the process.
Netanyahu appears to have 67 backers who would join a right-wing nationalist government, but he could still surprise and try to reach out to centrist rivals in order to present a more moderate face to the world.
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Boehner Survives, Conservatives Cope: Ongoing Saga of the 114th (Updated)
It was an unconditional, unmitigated cave. In the battle to defund President Barack Obama’s immigration action, Democrats won. Republicans lost. So why does Speaker John A. Boehner’s job look as secure now as it did a month ago? And why aren’t conservatives more outraged?
“To be honest with you,” Rep. Paul Gosar told CQ Roll Call, “not all of it is his fault.”
The conservative Arizona Republican, who didn’t back Boehner for speaker in January’s election, said much of the frustration in GOP circles outside of Washington came because Republicans promised a fight on the Department of Homeland Security once the GOP controlled the Senate.
“Well where’s [Senate Majority Leader]Mitch McConnell? Where are our senator friends?” Gosar asked. “I mean, they took a bail on this one as well.”
Asked about Boehner’s overall performance, Gosar paused, then admitted he has questions. But he noted his staff is scheduled to meet with Boehner’s team to discuss a statutory tactic for blocking the executive action on immigration. “I want to send him a lifeline,” Gosar said. “If it works, who knows? We’ll see what happens.”
Conservatives aren’t exactly pleased with how leadership has handled the first two months of the 114th Congress. The sudden capitulation on the DHS fight — after months of tough talk — angered many on the right. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said he was “horribly disappointed, almost heartbroken” that Republicans gave in. Still, even the most conservative elements of the Republican Conference are surprisingly understanding of Boehner’s difficult job.
And with the DHS funding fight out of the way, Republicans — some of whom are suddenly attuned to the concept of “governing” — see an opportunity to get stuff done: a budget, Trade Promotion Authority, even changes to Obamacare.
Republicans just need everyone to forget January and February. Please.
Asked about the leadership team’s performance thus far, Rep. Randy Weber’s first reaction was laughter.
“On the record?” he inquired. The Texas Republican said he knew there had been “some unhappiness” with a lack of regular order. But, Weber said he understood Boehner’s position.
“He’s caught, you know, in a continuum of 247 Republican members — from the most conservative to the least conservative. So that’s a hard place to be,” he said.
Asked for his perspective on leadership’s performance at this point, Virginia’s Dave Brat was slightly more candid about his disappointment. “Well,” he said, after dramatically slumping his head and taking a short pause, “that’s up to you reporters to find out and answer one question.”
That question, according to the man who deposed former Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, was whether Republicans truly fought “tooth and nail” (as Boehner had promised) to block Obama’s executive action.
“I didn’t see any fight,” Brat said. “You report on it. Go see if you found the fight. See if you can find it.”
Brat said the only fight he saw was one in which an outside GOP group with Boehner ties — Barry Jackson, the speaker’s former chief of staff, is a senior board member for American Action Network — was running $400,000 worth of ads against conservatives such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Tea Party Caucus Chairman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.
That bit of news seemed to fire up conservatives almost as much as the DHS bill.
“Again the hypocrisy,” Raúl R. Labrador told CQ Roll Call. “They complain about outside groups, but then they’re using outside groups to attack conservatives.”
The Idaho Republican claimed it was “a dangerous precedent” for moderate Republicans, “and I’m not sure they want to go down this road.”
Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon offered a similar warning: “There’s an old adage: When you play with fire, you get burned.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel distanced the speaker from the ads, noting the law forbids members from coordinating with outside groups. “But the speaker does not think these ads are helpful,” he said.
Tensions inside the conference were inevitable, given the bumpy first two months that saw leadership forced to pull bills dealing with abortion, border security and education from floor consideration.
Then came the DHS debacle. Still, Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise succeeded in averting a DHS shutdown.
Rep. Trey Gowdy defended Team Boehner.
“There’s a reason very few people raise their hands and ask to be in leadership,” said the South Carolina Republican, who heads the Special Committee on Benghazi. “It’s much easier where I sit to just second guess what other people do. So I have a tendency to blame the inmates more than the warden.”
Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer, who isn’t part of the most conservative wing of the GOP but has voted against leadership this Congress, said given it’s a diverse group, he’d give Boehner “pretty good marks.”
Even those in the conference who are clearly disappointed thus far are looking ahead.
Jordan told CQ Roll Call the HFC’s next focus would be on “doing a good budget.” Does that mean conservatives will forget the immigration action?
“No, we’re going to keep talking about it,” Jordan said. “We hope the court does the right thing. But [we’re] just disappointed in the U.S. Senate that they couldn’t — Democrats in the Senate — couldn’t go to conference.”
When CQ Roll Call pointed out it was Senate and House Republicans who ultimately gave in, Jordan refused to attack his own party. “Just remember,” he said, Senate Minority Leader “Harry Reid wouldn’t let the bill come up.”
But if blaming Reid isn’t enough for some on the right — if Republican leadership did cave — why aren’t conservatives more upset?
For one, the GOP surrender on DHS unfolded exactly the way most predicted. Even conservatives privately conceded the outcome. The only question for GOP leaders was whether a DHS shutdown would be the only thing to placate hard-liners. Boehner was unwilling to go that far, which may vex conservatives — but there’s little those Republicans, still seething from last year’s “cromnibus” fight that set up the DHS clash, can do.
Two months into a new Congress, Boehner isn’t going anywhere. And talk of efforts to steal his gavel is overblown.
Of course, there is chatter of a coup, members and aides told CQ Roll Call on background. But it’s not coming from — strictly speaking — GOP conservatives. It’s coming from members who believe the party would benefit from a shakeup. The only problem for those members is they’re counting on “troublemakers” such as members of the HFC to be the spark that ignites the proverbial powder keg — and, contrary to the belief of many Republicans, HFC members aren’t seriously discussing an effort to take down the speaker. (See related story from CQ Weekly at roll.cl/TheRightRecalibrates.)
One HFC member told CQ Roll Call that holding a vote to vacate the chair would probably work in Boehner’s favor. Instead of undermining him, it would likely affirm that Boehner, and only Boehner — the man who has held the No. 1 spot in the conference since 2007 — can muster 218 votes for speaker.
Democrats would get to participate in such a vote, and conservatives know that, absent a deal with Democrats, Boehner isn’t going anywhere. If there were somehow a deal with Democrats, whoever could theoretically topple Boehner with the help of Democrats would be even less to the right wing’s liking.
Under the current dynamic in the House, there’s hardly any positive outcome for conservatives trying to embarrass Boehner. They are more likely to incur the wrath of a speaker many moderates believe has been too forgiving of dissension — embarrassing themselves instead.
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Story 1: Part 2 Commentary On: Three Cheers For Netanyahu’s Warning To American People About Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic State and Three Thumbs Down On Obama’s Bad Deal With The Iranian Republic On Developing Nuclear Weapons And Intercontinental Missiles — “Your Enemy of Your Enemy Is Your Enemy” — Restore Severe Sanctions On Iran Immediately — Take Out The Nuclear Weapons Facilities With Israel Defense Forces – Stop Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Forever Now! — Videos
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Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Meeting of Congress
Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Joint Meeting of Congress benjamin netanyahu speech to congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress Netanyahu on Tensions Over Iran Speech to Congress FULL Benjamin Netanyahu Speech To US Congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress The quickest of takes are already coming in, but few seem to agree about whether Netanyahu’s speech was a boom or a bust for President Obama and talks with Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress
“This was a speech the American people needed to hear, plain and simple. It addressed the gravity of the threats we face and why we cannot allow a nuclear Iran, or any semblance of a path to a nuclear Iran. It demonstrated why there is such deep-seated – and bipartisan – concern about the deal that is being made. I thank my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, who took the time to hear the Prime Minister’s address on behalf of their constituents, and I hope all Americans will have the chance to see it for themselves.” – Speaker John Boehner
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DNI James Clapper on Israel, Iran and Nuclear Negotiations (Mar. 2, 2015) | Charlie Rose
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, talks to Charlie Rose about the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and whether the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services are “on the same page” regarding their assessment of Iran’s capabilities. The full interview airs March 2, 2015 on PBS.
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John Bolton: Obama giving Iran “an open path to nuclear weapons”
“The odds are right now the deal will be signed and that Iran will have an open path to nuclear weapons…there’s no guarantee that the verification mechanisms that are required are going to work. You really think we really know everything about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, like whether some of it’s being conducted in North Korea? I have no faith in our verification capabilities, number one. Number two, to the extent Iran is allowed any continuing uranium enrichment capability at all, and that’s where the administration’s concessions are moving, it has in its hands the long pole in the tent that any aspiring nuclear weapons state wants” he said. Adding that appeasing Iran is “par for the course for the Obama administration. The negotiation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program is a policy of appeasement, and the president is desperate to get this deal done so it doesn’t slip between his fingers.”
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Like Israel, U.S. Arab Allies Fear Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal
Kerry Visiting Saudi Arabia to assuage concerns
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
DUBAI—It isn’t just about Bibi.
The Israeli prime minister’s public confrontation with PresidentBarack Obama over the U.S. administration’s pursuit of a nuclear bargain with Iran may have drawn all the spotlight this week. But America’s other key allies across the Middle East—such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—are just as distraught, even if they lack the kind of lobbying platform that Benjamin Netanyahu was offered in Congress.
These nations’ ties with Washington have already frayed in recent years, dented by what many officials in the region describe as a nagging sense that America doesn’t care about this part of the world anymore.
Now, with the nuclear talks nearing a deadline, these allies—particularly in the Gulf—fret that America is about to ditch its long-standing friends to win love from their common foe, at the very moment that this foe is on the offensive across the region.
“A lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus,” said Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi and a prominent Emirati political commentator. “The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.”
Trying to assuage such concerns, Secretary of State John Kerry flew Wednesday to Saudi Arabia. There, he is slated to discuss with King Salman and foreign ministers of other Gulf nations their worries that the nuclear deal may enable Iran to dominate the region.
In remarks after Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, Mr. Obama acknowledged Iran’s “ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism”—but argued that “if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.”
Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who served as senior director for Middle East and North Africa at the White House in 2011-12, noted that the Gulf countries—while genuinely alarmed by the U.S. outreach—can’t really propose a viable alternative.
“The alternative to what the administration is doing with Iran is war,” he said. “And I don’t think the Saudis and the Emiratis and others are actually prepared for war.”
A joint effort to contain Iran and its proxies after the 1979 Islamic revolution was the key reason for the massive architecture of military, political and economic ties that the U.S. built with its regional allies in recent decades.
Even before the revolution, Iran tried to dominate the Gulf, laying claim to Shiite-majority Bahrain and seizing disputed islands claimed by the U.A.E.
Taking advantage of the Obama administration’s attempt to pivot away from the region, Tehran in recent years asserted its influence in Baghdad and solidified its control in Damascus and Beirut. Last month, pro-Iranian Houthi Shiite militias seized power in Yemen’s capital San’a and ousted that country’s U.S.-backed president.
The Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia that are engaged in proxy conflicts with Tehran in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon view this confrontation as an existential zero-sum game—and interpret any American opening to Iran, and any relaxation of the economic sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s ability to project power, as succor to the enemy.
That may be true, but this tactical overlap has already created strategic consequences in the crucial battlefields of Syria and Iraq, cementing Iran’s sway in both nations.
The White House decision to focus the U.S. military effort exclusively on Islamic State, sparing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has allowed the regime and its Iranian-backed allies to regain ground there.
This means that even the fighters of the U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, which is supposed to help defeat Islamic State one day, are no longer sure about which side Washington really supports.
“America wants to back whoever is stronger, and the strongest now are Iran and Bashar. This is clear to all people,” said Bakri Kaakeh, a senior FSA officer in Aleppo province.
In Iraq’s war against Islamic State, the U.S. has in fact become a cobelligerent with Iran, which maintains brutal Shiite militias and is directly involved in running major campaigns, such as the current assault on the Sunni city of Tikrit.“Any opportunities that the Arab countries will have to undermine the deal, they will not miss it,” said Riad Kahwaji, CEO of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. “They will all conclude that the U.S. is no longer a reliable strategic ally, and that the U.S. can sell them out any minute.”
Moeen al-Kadhimi, a senior commander in the largest Iraqi Shiite militia, Badr, which is armed by Iran and staffed with Iranian advisers, said he’s yearning for the day when Tehran and Washington will finally reconcile.
“It’s our wish as Iraqis for this to happen. We will be happy, and the entire Middle East will be stabilized,” he said.
Stability under an Iranian tutelage, of course, isn’t the most desirable outcome for other powers in the region, particularly in the Gulf. The big question is what can these allies do about it.
Not much, said Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank close to the Obama administration.
“All of the fuss shows how much they need America. Who are they going to turn to? Russia or China?” he wondered. “ No one has the security footprint, capabilities, and network of partnerships across the region.”
But that doesn’t mean the disgruntled allies won’t start looking for ways to torpedo any U.S. opening to Iran—and for alternatives, including a nuclear option of their own, if that fails. Their dismay with the administration’s Iran policy—while not displayed as publicly as Mr. Netanyahu’s—is just as strong.
The complete transcript of Netanyahu’s address to Congress
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing a joint meeting of Congress; here is a complete transcript of his remarks.
NETANYAHU: Thank you.
… Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet.
I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.
My friends, I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
[READ: Republicans loved every word of Bibi’s address]
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.
Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel.
My friends, I’ve come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.
And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here’s the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don’t stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It’s done that on at least three separate occasions — 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.” Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that’s why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.
And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal, that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plan can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.
Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.
Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.
A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country…
… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.”
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
I know that you stand with Israel.
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all.
Thank you, America. Thank you.
Comprehensive agreement on Iranian nuclear program
The prospective agreement is to be achieved based on the context of the Geneva agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The Geneva agreement was an interim deal forged on November 24, 2013, under which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program for relief from some sanctions. The interim agreement went into effect on January 20, 2014. Later the parties agreed to extend their talks. The first extension deadline was set to 24 November 2014and, when it expired, the second extension deadline was set to 1 July 2015.
List of declared nuclear facilities in Iran
- Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) — small 5MWt research reactor
- Esfahan, Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF)
- Natanz, Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) — plant for production of low enriched uranium (LEU), 16,428 installed centrifuges
- Natanz, Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) — LEU production, and research and development facility, 702 installed centrifuges
- Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) — plant for production of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235, 2,710 installed centrifuges
- Arak, Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40 Reactor) — 40MW heavy water reactor (under construction)
- Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
Negotiations under the Joint Plan of Action
First round: 18–20 February
Catherine Ashton and Javad Zarif in final news conference; The negotiation was described “Useful”.
The first round of negotiations was held at the UN’s center in Vienna from February 18 to 20, 2014. A timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement was achieved, according to Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Second round: 17–20 March
Diplomats from the six nations, as well as Ashton and Zarif, met again in Vienna on March 17, 2014. A series of further negotiations were to be held before the July deadline.
Fourth round: 13–16 May
This fourth round of Vienna negotiations ended on May 16. The Iranian and U.S. delegations headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman held a bilateral meeting. Both sides intended to begin drafting a final agreement, but made little progress. A senior U.S. official said “We are just at the beginning of the drafting process and we have a significant way to go,” while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters that “the talks were serious and constructive but no progress has been made” and “we have not reached the point to start drafting the final agreement.” The U.S. official emphasized that negotiations had been “very slow and difficult,” saying talks would resume in June and all parties want to keep the July 20 deadline and adding: “we believe we can still get it done.” Negotiators had made progress on one issue, the future of Iran’s planned Arak reactor, but remained far apart on whether Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium should shrink or expand. The U.S. delegation also raised the issues of Iran’s ballistic missile program and military dimensions of its past nuclear research. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton conducted negotiations with Zarif and Wendy Sherman joined the talks at the end the last meeting.
Fifth round: 16–20 June
The fifth round of talks ended on June 20 “with substantial differences still remaining.” The negotiating parties will meet again in Vienna on July 2. Under Secretary Sherman noted after the talks that it was “still unclear” whether Iran would act “to ensure the world that its nuclear program was strictly meant for peaceful purposes.” Foreign Minister Zarif said the United States was making unreasonable demands of Iran, saying “the United States must take the most difficult decisions.”
Under the Geneva interim agreement Iran agreed to convert some of its up to 5 percent LEU into an oxide powder that is not suitable for further enrichment. According to the monthly IAEA report released during this round the conversion of LEU has not been started yet. This means that Iran’s LEU stockpile “is almost certainly continuing to increase for the time being, simply because its production of the material has not stopped, unlike that of the 20 percent uranium gas.”
Sixth (final) round: 2–20 July
The sixth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group started in Vienna on 2 July 2014. The parties are headed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif conduct a bilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western foreign ministers arrived at Vienna to break a deadlock in the nuclear talks with Iran, but their joint efforts failed to advance the negotiations. “There has been no breakthrough today,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague on 13 July 2014 after meetings with the foreign ministers of USA, France, Germany and Iran. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “It is now time for Iran to decide whether they want co-operation with the world community or stay in isolation.” The European foreign ministers left Vienna the same day. The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the talks had “made some important headway.”  After three days of talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister Secretary of State Kerry headed back to Washington where he will consult with President Barack Obama and Congress leaders. No decision on an extension of negotiations beyond the July 20 deadline has been taken yet. In order to continue talks a decision of each member of P5+1 is required.
Wrapping-up the sixth round the Foreign Minister Zarif said that the achieved progress convinced the sides to extend their talks and the ultimate deadline would be November 25. He also expressed the hope that the new British foreign secretaryPhilip Hammond “will adopt a constructive diplomacy” towards Iran. Several sources reported that all parties were prepared to extend negotiations but extension faced opposition in the U.S. Congress. Republicans and Democrats in Congress made it clear that they view a prolongation of the talks as allowing Iran to play for time. The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ed Royce said he hoped “the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran”.
Before the expiration of the six months imposed by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) the sides agreed to extend negotiations by four months with a final deadline set for 24 November 2014. Additionally, in exchange for Iranian consent to convert some of its 20% enriched uranium into fuel for a research reactor, United States will unblock $2.8 billion in frozen Iranian funds. Negotiations will resume in September. John Kerry said that tangible progress had been made, but “very real gaps” remained. Ed Royce stated that he did not see “the extension as progress”.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has testified before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of the talks. At her testimony on July 29, 2014 she said: “We made tangible progress in key areas, including Fordow, Arak, and IAEA access. However, critical gaps still exist…” Both Republicans and Democrats have insisted that a final agreement be put to a vote.
Negotiations under the First Extension of JPA
Seventh (first extended) round: New York
Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program were resumed on 19 September 2014. They started on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts were given the opportunity to join the talks. The talks were planned to last until September 26.
Eighth round: Vienna
Negotiating teams of Iran and the P5+1 have held their eighth round of talks in Vienna on 16 October 2014. The meeting was led jointly by Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Ashton and the parties made an effort to sort out their differences. Ashton’s spokesman stated: “Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov pointed that the issues of Iran’s enrichment programme, the schedule for sanction lifting and the future of the reactor in Arak were not settled and the subjects of inspection and transparency, duration of the agreement and some others were not completely agreed yet. Ryabkov expressed his opinion that a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will require no ratification. “We are negotiating a binding document, but under a generally recognized doctrine international political liabilities are equated with legal,” he said and admitted that some resolutions of the Security Council on Iran will need to be adjusted.
Ninth round: Muscat
The round of talks took place on November 11 in the Omani capital Muscat and lasted one hour. At the meeting, Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi exchanged views with their counterparts from the P5+1. The round, chaired by former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, was scheduled to brief the P5+1 members on Kerry and Zarif’s talks. Local media reported that some representatives of the parties remained in Muscat to continue the talks.
Tenth round: Vienna
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 resumed in Vienna on 18 November 2014 with participation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, and foreign ministry officials. The talks were supposed to continue until the November 24 deadline.
P5+1 Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna, Austria, November 24, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry, after meeting British and Omani foreign ministers in London and Saudi and French foreign ministers in Paris, will arrive in Vienna for talks with Zarif and Ashton. Kerry’s meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal were considered critical. After his Paris talks with Kerry Saudi Foreign Minister was due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
At IAEA meeting held on 20 November in Vienna the agency’s Director General Yukiya Amano, referring to allegations related to Iran’s engagement in weaponization activities, said that “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures.” The same day at a press conference in Brussels The International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) presented its 100-page investigation report and claimed that Iran was hiding its nuclear military program inside a civil program. The report was endorsed by John Bolton and Robert Joseph and authored by ISJ President Alejo Vidal‐Quadras, a professor in nuclear physics and the former Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The tenth round of nuclear negotiations and the first extension of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 have ended on November 24. The two sides have failed to cut a deal at this round of talks and agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action for the second time. The new deadline for a comprehensive deal was set to July 1, 2015. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said it was not possible to meet the November deadline due to wide gaps on well-known points of contention. He stressed that while July 1 was the new deadline, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1. According to Hammond, expert level talks will resume in December and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference after the Vienna talks: “Today the Iranian nuclear program is internationally recognized and no one speaks about our enrichment right…” While answering a question about “fundamental gaps over how much enrichment capacity Iran would be allowed to retain”, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a news conference: “I’m not going to confirm whether or not there’s a gap or not a gap or where the gaps are. There obviously are gaps. We’ve said that.”
Negotiations under the Second Extension of JPA
Eleventh round: Geneva
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were resumed on 17 December 2014 in Geneva and lasted one day. No statements were issued after the closed-door talks either by the U.S. negotiating team or by EU spokesmen. Deputy foreign minister Araqchi said that it was agreed to continue the talks “next month” at a venue to be decided. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that Arak heavy-water reactor and sanctions against Iran were the two key outstanding issues in the nuclear talks.
Twelfth round: Geneva
The round, held at the level of political directors of Iran and the P5+1, took place on January 18, 2015 following the four-day bilateral talks between the United States and Iran. EU political director Helga Schmid chaired the meetings. After the talks France’s negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere told reporters: “The mood was very good, but I don’t think we made a lot of progress.” “If there is progress it is a very slow one and there are no guarantees that this progress will transform into a decisive shift, breakthrough, into a compromise,” Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov told journalists, adding that “major disagreements remain on the majority of disputed issues.” 
Thirteenth round: Geneva
Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 met on February 22 at the EU mission in Geneva. Nicolas de la Riviere said after the meeting: “It was constructive, we will know results later.”
Bilateral and trilateral talks
U.S.-Iran bilateral talks
According to a statement of the U.S. State Department bilateral nuclear consultations between the U.S. and Iranian officials “will take place in the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations”. The talks were held August 7 in Geneva and only few details about them were provided. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and included Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. The Iranian delegation included Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi.
Deputy Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the bilateral talks were useful and focused on “the existing differences” in the negotiations. Deputy Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi made it clear that Iran will not accept a weak enrichment programme, while saying “we will not accept that our uranium enrichment programme becomes something like a toy”.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, John Kerry and Catherine Ashton at a trilateral meeting in New York, September 26, 2014
The second round of the bilateral talks between representatives from the USA and Iran took place in Geneva on September 4–5. The negotiations consisted of 12 hours long political talks and 8 hours long expert talks. The third round of the bilateral talks between the two countries took place in New York on September 18, 2014.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. has turned negotiations with Iran into a series of bilateral talks between the two countries that “race to seal a deal”. Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and WMD, participating in a panel, said: “Any deal will have to be struck between Washington and Tehran and then ratified by the P5+1 and ultimately the UN Security Council.”
On October 14 Iranian negotiators headed by the deputy foreign minister held a bilateral meeting with Senior U.S. Officials William Burns and Wendy Sherman in Vienna. Among other issues the negotiators set the stage for the trilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry, Baroness Ashton, and Foreign Minister Zarif that was convened for the next day.
The US and Iranian delegations met on December 15 to 16 in Geneva in preparation for the multilateral talks, led by the US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. A member of Tehran’s team told IRNA that uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions were sticking points in the bilateral talks. 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif met with Secretary of State John Kerry on January 14 in Geneva and on January 16 in Paris. According to Al-Monitorthe negotiators have worked intensively to try draft a joint document called the Principles of Agreement. The document is supposed to be an element of the framework agreement between Iran and P5+1, which is to be completed by March.
Two rounds of bilateral negotiations between Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry occurred on February 6 and 8 on the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich. During the conference, Mohammad Zarif gave an interview in which he claimed that IAEA inspected Iran for 10 years or more and found no evidence that Iran’s program wasn’t peaceful. He also claimed that JPA did not imply step-by-step removal of sanctions and the removal of sanctions has been “a condition for an agreement”. Foreign Minister Zarif stated: “I don’t think if we don’t have an agreement, it’ll be the end of the world. I mean, we tried, we failed, fine.” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who also took part in the conference, pointed out that Iran must provide urgent clarification on key aspects of its nuclear program. Making this more specific Yukiya Amano said: “Clarification of issues with possible military dimension and implementation of the Additional Protocol and beyond is essential.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif held three bilateral meetings in Geneva on February 22 and 23. The Associated Press reported progress on a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then “ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.” After the talks Mohammad Zarif spoke about “a better understanding” between the parties and John Kerry said: “We made progress.” The columnist Charles Krauthammer commented on the leaked “sunset clause” that an agreement, containing this and other concessions to Iran, will mean “the end of nonproliferation.”
U.S.-EU-Iran trilateral talks
Iran, EU and U.S. held two trilateral meetings at the foreign minister level in New York in September 2014. The U.S. State Department has argued that there are points when it makes sense for the foreign ministers at the trilateral level to get together to talk. “In part because the majority of the sanctions are EU and U.S., the trilateral makes sense.”
On October 15 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Secretary of State John Kerry have met again, this time in Vienna. A senior U.S. Department of State official said at a briefing with reporters that the parties were focused on the November 24 deadline and had not discussed an extension of the talks. The negotiators were working on a full agreement – the understandings and the annexes to them. “This is a situation where unless you have the detail, you do not know that you have the agreement,” explained the official.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held talks on November 9–10 inMuscat seeking to bridge differences on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Officials from all delegations have abstained from briefing reporters. The talks ended without an imminent breakthrough.
After arriving in Viena on 20 November John Kerry met for more than two hours with Mohammad Zarif and Catherine Ashton. It was not reported whether they made any headway.
Uranium stockpile and enrichment
Diagram of nuclear power and weapons cycle
Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity is the biggest stumbling block in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement. The Security Council in its resolution 1929 has required Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. For many years the United States held that no enrichment program should be permitted in Iran. In signing the Geneva interim agreement the U.S. and its P5+1 partners shifted away from zero enrichment to limited enrichment objective. Additionally, they have determined that the comprehensive solution will “have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon” and once it has expired Iran’s nuclear program will not be under special restrictions.
Limited enrichment would mean limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges. Shortly before the comprehensive negotiations began, Iran was estimated to have 19,000 centrifuges installed, mostly first generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium-235. The Iranians strive to expand their enrichment capacity by a factor of ten or more while the six powers aim to cut the number of centrifuges to no more than a few thousand.
Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA, said in a radio interview that the agency does not have a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear profile since inspectors have been kept out of some sites. In particular, IAEA has not been able to assess “how much uranium has been produced in Iran over these years” and to verify the completeness of Iran’s declaration about the number of its centrifuges. Heinonen also pointed out that Iran has an “unfortunate history of misleading and not disclosing all its nuclear material.”
Western analysts argued there were two distinct paths to deal with Iran’s nuclear program: complete dismantling or allowing limited activities while preventing Iran from a nuclear “breakout capability”. The measures that would lengthen breakout timelines include “limits on the number, quality and/or output of centrifuges”. The former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Robert Joseph has argued that attempts to overcome the impasse over centrifuges by using a malleable SWU metric “as a substitute for limiting the number of centrifuges is nothing more than sleight of hand.” He has also quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East.”
In order to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, constraints should be put on its uranium enrichment. This should include the number and quality of centrifuges, research and development of more advanced centrifuges, the size of low-enriched uranium stockpile. The constraints are interrelated with each other – the more centrifuges Iran would have, the less stockpile the U.S. and P5+1 can accept, and vice versa. Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, estimated in May 2014 that Iran’s stockpile was large enough to build 6 nuclear weapons and it had to be reduced.Lengthening breakout timelines requires a substantial reduction in enrichment capacity and many experts talk about an acceptable range of about 2000-6000 first-generation centrifuges. But Iran stated that it wants to extend its capability substantially. In May 2014 Robert J. Einhorn, former Special Advisor on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the U.S. State Department, expressed confidence that if Iran will continue to insist on that huge number of centrifuges, there would be no agreement, since this robust enrichment capacity would bring the breakout time down to weeks or days.
Plutonium production and separation
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that a good deal will be one that cuts off Iran’s uranium, plutonium and covert pathways to obtain nuclear weapon. Secretary of State John Kerry has testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and expressed great concerns about the Arak nuclear reactor facility. “Now, we have strong feelings about what will happen in a final comprehensive agreement. From our point of view, Arak is unacceptable. You can’t have a heavy-water reactor,” he said. President Barack Obama, while addressing the House of Representatives and Senate, emphasized that “these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb.”
Arak Heavy Water Reactor (IR-40)
Despite these statements, some analysts have feared that Obama administration might accept dangerous concessions to achieve a deal with Iran. For example, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and Chief of Staff to Undersecretaries of State for Arms, believed that such concessions were being proposed, and, as he explained: “… most dangerous is that we are considering letting Iran keep the Arak heavy water reactor which will be a source of plutonium. Plutonium is the most desired nuclear fuel for a bomb, it has a lower critical mass, you need less of it which is important in building missile warhead.”
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview that the heavy water reactor of Arak was designed as a research reactor and not for plutonium production. It will produce about 9 kg of plutonium but not weapons-grade plutonium. Dr. Salehi explained that “if you want to use the plutonium of this reactor you need a reprocessing plant”. “We do not have a reprocessing plant, we do not intend, although it is our right, we will not forgo our right, but we do not intend to build a reprocessing plant.” Further in the interview Salehi expressed his opinion that the pressure on Iran has not been genuine, it has been just an excuse to put “political pressure” and the concern about developing nuclear weapons was “fabricated”.
According to information provided by the Federation of American Scientists, a sizable research program involving the production of heavy water might raise concerns about a plutonium-based weapon program, especially if such program was not easily justifiable on other accounts. Gregory S. Jones, a senior researcher and a defense policy analyst, warned that if the heavy-water-production plant at Arak was not dismantled, Iran would be granted a “plutonium option” for acquiring nuclear weapons in addition to the dangerous centrifuge enrichment program.
According to an editorial in the Washington Post, the most troubling part of the Geneva interim agreement has been the “long-term duration” clause. This provision means that when the duration expires, “the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party” to the NPT. Thus, once the comprehensive agreement expires, Iran will be able to install an unlimited number of centrifuges and produce plutonium without violating any international accord.” Many Western analysts have referred to the comprehensive agreement as a “final” nuclear agreement with Iran “but clearly it will only be a long-term interim agreement”.
Iran wants any agreement to last for at most 5 years while the U.S. prefers 20 years. The twenty years is viewed as a minimum amount of time to develop confidence that Iran can be treated as other non-nuclear weapon states and allow the IAEA enough time to verify that Iran is fully compliant with all its non-proliferation obligations.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in May 2014: “Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought.” This and other declarations of jihadist principles by Ayatollah Khamenei leave no doubt about Iran’s adoption of religiously-inspired combat against the U.S. and the West. These principles include aramesh (hudna) and such a truce cannot exceed 10 years.
Some analysts suggested that if a single 20-year duration for all provisions of the agreement is too constraining, it would be possible to agree on different durations for different provisions. Some provisions could have short duration, and others could be longer. A few constraints, like enhanced monitoring at specific facilities, could be permanent.
Possible covert paths to fissile material
Fordow Underground Fuel Enrichment Facility near Qom
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. “We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so,” Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said, according to a translation of an interview with him. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pronounced a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
The Iranian uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz (FEP and PFEP) and Fordow (FFEP) were constructed covertly and designed to operate in a similar manner. The facilities were declared by Iran only after they were revealed by other sources. Thus, only in September 2009, Iran notified the IAEA about constructing the Fordow facility. The 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimateon Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions stated among the key judgments : “We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.” Additionally the Estimate stated that after 2003 Iran has halted the covert enrichment for at least several years.
The Estimate also stated: “We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities — rather than its declared nuclear sites — for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon.” Despite this assessment some analysts have argued that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, as well as most public discussions, were focused on Iran’s overt nuclear facilities while there existed alternative paths to obtain fissile material. Graham Allison, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Oren Setter, a research fellow at Belfer Center, compared this approach with Maginot’sfixation on a single threat “that led to fatal neglect of alternatives”. They have pointed out at least three additional paths to obtain such material:
- Covert make
- Covert buy
- Hybrid pathway (a combination of overt and covert paths)
William Tobey, former Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, has outlined the possible ways to nuclear weapons as follows:
- Break out of the Nonproliferation Treaty, using declared facilities
- Sneak out of the Treaty, using covert facilities
- Buy a weapon from another nation or rogue faction
Some sources published recommendations for agreement provisions relating to monitoring and verification in order to prevent covert activities and to provide tools to react if needed. One of the sources warned the P5+1 that “if the monitoring elements that we recommend are not pursued now to diminish the risks of deception, it is difficult to envision that Iran would be compliant in the future, post-sanctions environment.” According to the recommendations the agreement with Iran should include:
- A requirement to cooperate with the IAEA inspectors in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions
- Transparency for centrifuges, mines and mills for uranium ore and yellowcake
- Monitoring of nuclear-related procurement
- Obligation to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol and to provide the IAEA enhanced powers beyond the Protocol
- Adhering to the modified Code 3.1
- Monitoring of nuclear research and development (R&D)
- Defining certain activities as breaches of the agreement that could provide basis for timely intervention
According to multiple resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1929), enacted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, Iran is obligated to cooperate fully with the IAEA on “all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA…” On 11 November 2013 the IAEA and Iran signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to cooperate and resolve all present and past issues in a step by step manner. As a first step, the Framework identified six practical measures to be completed within three months. The IAEA reported that Iran had implemented those six measures in time. In February and May 2014 the parties agreed to additional sets of measures related to the Framework. In September the IAEA continued to report that Iran was not implementing its Additional Protocol, which is a prerequisite for the IAEA “to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities.” Under those circumstances, the Agency reported it will not be able to provide “credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”
The implementation of interim Geneva Accord has involved transparency measures and enhanced monitoring to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. It was agreed that the IAEA will be “solely responsible for verifying and confirming all nuclear-related measures, consistent with its ongoing inspection role in Iran”. IAEA inspection has included daily access to Natanz and Fordow and managed access to centrifuge production facilities, uranium mines and mills, and the Arak heavy water reactor. To implement these and other verification steps, Iran committed to “provide increased and unprecedented transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA.”
Yukiya Amano and Mohammad Javad Zarif
Thus, there have been two ongoing diplomatic tracks — one by the P5+1 to curb Iran’s nuclear program and a second by the IAEA to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of Iran’s past nuclear activities. Although the IAEA inquiry has been formally separate from JPA negotiations, Washington said a successful IAEA investigation should be part of any final deal and that may be unlikely by the deadline of 24 November 2014.
One expert on Iran’s nuclear program, David Albright, has explained that “It’s very hard if you are an IAEA inspector or analyst to say we can give you confidence that there’s not a weapons program today if you don’t know about the past. Because you don’t know what was done. You don’t know what they accomplished.” Albright argued that this history is important since the “infrastructure that was created could pop back into existence at any point in secret and move forward on nuclear weapons.”
Iranian and IAEA officials met in Tehran on 16 and 17 August 2014 and discussed the five practical measures in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation agreed in May 2014. Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, made a one-day visit to Tehran on August 17 and held talks with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials. After the visit Iranian media criticized the IAEA while reporting that President Rouhani and the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi both tried “to make the IAEA chief Mr. Amano understand that there is an endpoint to Iran’s flexibility.” The same week Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said that Iran will not give IAEA inspectors access to Parchin military base. Yukiya Amano has noted previously that access to the Parchin base was essential for the Agency to be in position to certify Iran’s nuclear programme as peaceful. Tehran was supposed to provide the IAEA with information related to the initiation of high explosives and to neutron transport calculations until August 25, but it failed to address these issues. The two issues are associated with compressed materials that are required to produce a warhead small enough to fit on top of a missile. During its October 7–8 meetings with IAEA in Tehran, Iran failed to propose any new practical measures to resolve the disputable issues.
There are many steps toward nuclear weapons. However, an effective nuclear weapons capability has only three major elements:
- Fissile or nuclear material in sufficient quantity and quality
- Effective means for delivery, such as a ballistic missile
- Design, weaponization, miniaturization, and survivability of the warhead
Evidence presented by the IAEA has shown that Iran has pursued all three of these elements: it has been enriching uranium for more than ten years and is constructing a heavy water reactor to produce plutonium, it has a well-developed ballistic missile program, and it has tested high explosives and compressed materials that can be used for nuclear warheads.
Some analysts believe that Iran’s nuclear program should be negotiated in its entirety — it must include not only fissile material discussions but also ballistic missile development and weaponization issues.
Priorities in monitoring and prevention
Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, has explained in his recent book (2014): “The best—perhaps the only—way to prevent the emergence of a nuclear weapons capability is to inhibit the development of a uranium-enrichment process …”
Joint Plan of Action has not explicitly addressed the future status of Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, having been an interim agreement, it could not take into account all the issues that should be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement. If a comprehensive agreement with Iran “does not tackle the issue of ballistic missiles, it will fall short of and may undermine … UN Security Council Resolutions.” Moreover, shifting “monitoring and prevention aims onto warheads without addressing Iran’s ballistic missile capacity also ignores U.S. legislation that forms the foundation of the sanctions regime against Iran”.
Additionally, “monitoring warhead production is far more difficult than taking stock” of ballistic missiles and the U.S. government is far less good at detecting advanced centrifuges or covert facilities for manufacturing nuclear warheads.
Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and a holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), highlighted the view that the U.S. and other members of the P5+1, along with their attempts to limit Iran’s breakout capability and to prevent it from getting even one nuclear device, should mainly focus “on reaching a full an agreement that clearly denies Iran any ability to covertly create an effective nuclear force.”
Ballistic missile program
Iran’s ballistic missiles have been tied to its nuclear-weapons program. Security Council Resolution 1929 “decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” In May–June 2014 a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report pointing to Iran’s engagement in ballistic missile activities. The Panel reported that over the last year Iran has conducted a number of ballistic missile test launches, which were a violation of paragraph 9 of the resolution.
Shahab-3 estimated threat range
Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper testified on March 12, 2013, that Iran’s ballistic missiles were capable of delivering WMD. According to some analysts, the liquid-fueled Shahab-3 missile and the solid-fueled Sejjil missile have the ability to carry a nuclear warhead. Iran’s ballistic missile program is controlled by IRGC Air Force (AFAGIR), while Iran’s combat aircraft is under the command of the regular Iranian Air Force (IRIAF).
The United States and its allies view Iran’s ballistic missiles as a subject for the talks on a comprehensive agreement since they regard it as a part of Iran’s potential nuclear threat. Members of Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna insisted the talks won’t focus on this issue.
A few days before May 15, date when the next round of the negotiations was scheduled, Iran’s Supreme Leader AyatollahAli Khamenei told the IRNA news agency that Western expectations on limits to Iran’s missile program were “stupid and idiotic” and called on the country’s Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles.
In his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Singh argued “that Iran should be required to cease elements of its ballistic-missile and space-launch programs as part of a nuclear accord.” This question was off the table since Iran’s Supreme Leader has insisted that Iran’s missile program is off-limits in the negotiations and P5+1 officials have been ambiguous.
According to Debka.com, U.S. in its direct dialogue with Iran outside the P5+1 framework demanded to restrict Iran’s ICBM, whose 4,000 kilometers range places Europe and the United States at risk. This demand did not apply to ballistic missiles, whose range of 2,100 km covers any point in the Middle East. These medium-range missiles may also be nuclear and are capable of striking Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan stated at a press conference on August 2014 that Iran’s missile capability issue was not included in the comprehensive talks with the P5+1 countries and “will by no means be negotiated with anyone”.
In a Senate committee hearing former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has expressed believe that Iran’s missile program and its ICBM capability, as well as its support of the terrorism, should also be on the table.
Possible military dimensions
Since 2002, the IAEA has become concerned and noted in its reports that some elements of Iran’s nuclear program could be used for military purposes. More detailed information about suspected weaponization aspects of Iran’s nuclear program – the possible military dimensions (PMD) – has been provided in the IAEA reports issued in May 2008 and November 2011. The file of Iran’s PMD issues included development of detonators, high explosives initiation systems, neutron initiators, nuclear payloads for missiles and other kinds of developments, calculations and tests. The Security Council Resolution 1929 reaffirmed “that Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA.”
In November 2013 Iran and the IAEA have signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to resolve all present and past issues. In the same month the P5+1 and Iran have signed the Joint Plan of Action, which aimed to develop a long-term comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA continued to investigate PMD issues as a part of the Framework for Cooperation. The P5+1 and Iran have committed to establish a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation of the Joint Plan and “to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern” with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including PMD of the program and Iran’s activities at Parchin. Some analysts asked what happens if Iran balks and IAEA fails to resolve significant PDM issues. According to the U.S. Department of State, any compliance issues wouldn’t be discussed by the Joint Commission but would be dealt “at the expert level, and then come up to the political directors and up to foreign ministers if needed.” Thus, an unresolved issue might be declared sufficiently addressed as a result of a political decision.
Prior to the signing of an interim nuclear agreement, it was commonly understood in Washington that Iran must “come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program,” as Undersecretary Wendy Sherman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011. The Iranians have refused to acknowledge having a weaponization program. Meanwhile, analysts close to the Obama administration begin to boost so-called limited disclosure option.Nevertheless, 354 members of U.S. Congress were “deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” On October 1, they sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating that “Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.”
Some organizations have published lists of suspected nuclear-weaponization facilities in Iran. Below is a partial list of such facilities:
- Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)
- Kimia Maadan Company (KM)
- Parchin Military Complex
- Physics Research Center (PHRC)
- Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC)
In September 2014 the IAEA reported about ongoing reconstructions at Parchin military base. The Agency has anticipated that these activities will further undermine its ability to conduct effective verification if and when this location would be open for inspection. A month later, The New York Times reported that according to a statement by Yukiya Amano, the IAEA Director General, Iran had stopped answering the Agency’s questions about suspected past weaponization issues. Iran has argued that what has been described as evidence is fabricated. In his speech at Brookings Institution Yukiya Amano said that progress has been limited and two important practical measures, which should have been implemented by Iran two months ago, have still not been implemented. Mr. Amano stressed his commitment to work with Iran “to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme”. But he also warned: “this is not a never-ending process. It is very important that Iran fully implements the Framework for Cooperation – sooner rather than later.”
Supreme leader’s Fatwa against nuclear weapon
Ali Khamenei, Iranian leader issued a Fatwa (religious edict) denouncing nuclear weapon and calling it as “Haraam” (Forbidden by religion). American officials noticed the topic several times and called it as a point to start discussions. In an interview in Jordan, Kerry said he respect the idea.
Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
Ayatollah Jalal Ganje’i, a ayatollah based in Paris, has given a detailed explanation why it is “more than evident” that there is no fatwa to back up the regime’s officials when they claim that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program. Ayatollah Ganje’i has concluded his comments as follows: “President Obama and other Western leaders cannot set policy according to non-binding and easily reversible remarks by Khamenei. Doing so would put the world in great peril on the basis of a fantasy.” The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made “a clear-cut distinction between the notion of pure Islam of the Prophet Mohammad and the American-style Islam”, but ‘Paris-style’ Islam has not been declared illegal.
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said in April 2014 that a dispute between world powers and Iran over its heavy water reactor at Arak had been “virtually resolved” and the reactor will be redesigned to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it.
In May 2014, after the fourth round closing, Abbas Araqchi announced on Iranian TV that Arak reactor will remain a heavy water facility and would continue its work with 40 megawatts of power.
In June 2014, Salehi announced that Iran was redesigning the Arak reactor to produce less than 1 kg of plutonium per year, compared to 9–10 kg per year with the original design. Princeton University experts had proposed a redesign involving changing the reactor’s fuel and reducing its power level, with a similar effect on plutonium production. However, the concern remained that this redesign could be reversed.
After the sixth round of negotiations Abbas Araqchi had made clear that “any agreement about Arak or Fordo nuclear facilities is denied”.
France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on June 10, 2014 that the biggest point of disagreement in the talks is how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed. The six powers say Iran may keep some hundreds of centrifuges while the Iranians say they require hundreds of thousands of centrifuges. “…what is the purpose of having thousands of centrifuges if we’re not heading towards an atomic bomb? So the question that will be asked in the coming weeks is whether Iran is really ready to accept to give up the atomic bomb or not,” Fabius said.
Islamic Republic of Iran
The U.S. and Iran cut off diplomatic ties in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where 52 Americans were held hostage for more than a year. After Barack Obama’s inauguration, he personally authorized talks with Iran in order to reach out to this country.
The FATF has been “particularly and exceptionally concerned” about Iran’s failure to address the risk of terrorist financing. Iran was included in FATF blacklist.In 2014 Iran remained a state of proliferation concern. Despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran has continued to violate its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is “completely peaceful and has always been carrying out under supervision of the IAEA”. Some analysts argue that “Iranian actions, including the evidence of work on weaponization, the development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the placement of the program within the IRGC” indicate that Iran’s arsenal is not virtual.
According to policy documents published by the Obama administration, it believes in the efficacy of traditional Cold War deterrence as the remedy to the challenge of states acquiring nuclear weapons. Another assumption of the administration is that the Iranian regime is “rational” and hence deterrable. Dr. Shmuel Bar, former Director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, has argued in his research that the Cold War deterrence doctrine will not be applicable to nuclear Iran. The inherent instability of the Middle East and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional, and internal pressures, and the proclivity of many of the regimes toward military adventurism and brinkmanship give little hope for the future of the region once it enters the nuclear age. By its own admission, the Iranian regime favors revolution and is against the status quo in the region. Shmuel Bar has characterized the regime as follows:
- “Since its inception, it has been committed to ‘propagation of Islam’ (tablighi eslami) and ‘export of revolution’ (sudur inqilab). The former is viewed by the regime as a fundamental Islamic duty and the latter as a prime tenet of the regime’s ideology, enshrined in the constitution and the works of the Imam Khomeini. Together they form a worldview that sees Islamic Iran as a nation with a ‘manifest destiny': to lead the Muslim world and to become a predominant regional ‘superpower’ in the Gulf, the heart of the Arab world, and in Central Asia.” 
A quite different approach to Iran has been proposed by The Economist:
- “The disastrous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the failed Green revolution—which sought to topple him in 2009—and the chaotic Arab spring have for the moment discredited radical politics and boosted pragmatic centrists. The traditional religious society that the mullahs dreamt of has receded… Although this hardly amounts to democracy, it is a political marketplace and, as Mr Ahmadinejad discovered, policies that tack away from the consensus do not last. That is why last year Iran elected a president, Hassan Rohani, who wants to open up to the world and who has reined in the hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared on September 4, 2014 that the way forward for his regime is to ramp up its “eqtedar” (might). Ayatollah Jalal Ganje’i has explained that Iranian regime intended to achieve this by one of two ways: to expand regional influence through the export of terrorism, officially described as “export of revolution” or to develop nuclear weapons.
The fighters from Hezbollah and Quds forces have been publicly operating in several foreign territories. Iran and pro-Iranian proxies have been military involved inSyria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and other regional nations. Iranian state TV has been showing the pictures of the commander of Quds force in foreign territories and pointing to the Islamic Republic’s indispensable power and influence in the Middle East. Iranian leaders have been attempting to reassert their power and supremacy in the region more publicly and sending the signal to other states that “Iran is in fact the sole regional power to rely on rather than the United States and Western allies.”
Iran has developed a close and cooperative relationship with Cuba and Venezuela against the U.S. Having limited military capabilities and substantial distance from the region, Iran, in case of a conflict with the U.S., would be able to launch an asymmetrical offensive against the U.S. “through surrogate terrorist states and paramilitary organizations.” Iran and Hizbullah also maintain a considerable presence in other countries of Latin America.
On January 4, 2015 President of Iran Hassan Rouhani pointed out that the Iranians cause was not connected to a centrifuge, but to their “heart and willpower”. He added that Iran couldn’t have sustainable growth while it was isolated. So he would like some economic reforms passed by referendum. These words could be considered as willingness to work with international powers. But a few days later Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who makes final and conclusive decisions on all matters of Iranian national security, warned that “Americans are impudently saying that even if Iran backs down on the nuclear issue, all the sanctions will not be lifted at once.” Iran should therefore “take the instrument of sanctions out of enemy’s hands” and develop “economic of resistance.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, testifying in January 2015 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, said about Iranian nuclear ambitions:
- “They’re trying to develop nuclear weapons. There is no sensible explanation for the extent, the money, the talent they’ve devoted to their nuclear thing, other than that they want a nuclear weapon. It can’t be explained any other way.”
- “They give every indication, Mr. Chairman, that they don’t want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel. So it’s a very threatening situation.”
In its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010 the U.S. has stated that in Asia and the Middle East – where there were no military alliances analogous to NATO – it had mainly extended deterrence through bilateral alliances and security relationships and through its forward military presence and security guarantees. According to the Review Report: “The Administration is pursuing strategic dialogues with its allies and partners in East Asia and the Middle East to determine how best to cooperatively strengthen regional security architectures to enhance peace and security, and reassure them that U.S. extended deterrence is credible and effective.” Since 2010 the U.S. position has been less clear and it seems “to be deliberately lowering its profile – either because it might interference with negotiations by the 5+1 or because it has less support within the Obama Administration.”
Two weeks after the Geneva interim deal was achieved, President Barack Obama disclosed in an interview that while taking office, he decided to “reach out to Iran” and open up a diplomatic channel. He emphasized: “the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that.” The President also expressed strong belief that an end state can be envisioned, where Iran will not have breakout capacity. Barack Obama, however, added: “If you asked me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state that I was just describing earlier, I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50/50.”
About fourteen months after the Geneva interim agreement was signed, President Barack Obama reiterated his assessment that the chances to “get a diplomatic deal are probably less than 50/50.” Shortly afterwards, in his State of the Union presented to a joint session of the United States Congress, the President announced: “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” The accuracy of this statement has been challenged by some media sources. For example, based on experts’ assessments Glenn Kessler from the Washington Post has come to the conclusion that between 2013 and 2014 the amount of nuclear material, which could be converted by Iran to a bomb, has been increased. Olli Heinonen observed that the interim agreement “is just a step to create negotiation space; nothing more. It is not a viable longer term situation.” Jeffrey Lewis observed that Obama’s statement was an oversimplification, and that while Iran’s stockpiles of the “most dangerous” nuclear materials had declined, overall stocks had increased. Right-wing publications The Federalist and The Washington Free Beacon have said that the Iranians have exploited loopholes in the interim agreement and made significant progress on all areas of their nuclear program. Right-wing commentator Fred Fleitz stated in The National Review Online that the “number of nuclear weapons Iran could make from its enriched uranium has steadily risen throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency”.Both, the mainstream Washington Post and the conservative National Review Online, presented the Center for Security Policy’s chart that illustrates Iran’s build-up of nuclear material since 2009.
United Kingdom is interested in constructive relationship with Iran. For decades Iran has been regarded as a threat to the security of the UK and its regional partners in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. The UK believes that negotiations in Vienna are the most appropriate framework for coping with Iranian nuclear intentions. The British Government is satisfied with the convergence of UK and US policy on Iran and with a united front maintained by the P5+1 countries. It also assures that the agreement with Iran does not imply any diminution in the commitments to the alliances in the region and to the struggle against terrorism. Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons expressed opinion that the comprehensive agreement should include the issues of Parchin Military Complex.
Non-negotiating countries’ positions
Saudi Arabia fears that a deal with Iran could come at expense of Sunni Arabs. President Barack Obama paid a visit to Riyadh in March 2014 and assured King Abdullah that he is determined to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that USA will not accept a bad deal. However, an editorial in Al Riyadh newspaper claimed that the president did not know Iran as the Saudis did, and could not convince them that Iran will be peaceful.
After the meetings between Western foreign ministers and Iranian counterpart on 13 July 2014 Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Fox News warned that “a bad deal is actually worse than no deal.” He explained that allowing Iran to stockpile nuclear material or to preserve the capability of uranium enrichment in return for the presence of international inspectors would lead to a “catastrophic development”. At his meeting with Barack Obama in Washington in October 2014, Benjamin Netanyahu warned U.S. President not to accept any Iran deal that would allow Tehran to become a “threshold nuclear power.” Netanyahu’s remark highlighted the long-standing disagreement between Israel and the Obama administration on the nuclear talks with Iran.
In his speech presented to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that the negotiated deal was bad because of its two major concessions: leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” said the Prime Minister. Netanyahu also urged the leaders of the world “not to repeat the mistakes of the past” and expressed his commitment that “if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Iran needs oil at $136 a barrel to finance its spending plans. In 2013 it spent $100 billion on consumer subsidies, about 25% of GDP. “Sanctions mean it cannot borrow its way out of trouble”.
Collapse of negotiations]
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman warned that a failure of the nuclear negotiations with Iran will lead to a dangerous escalation by both Tehran and the West. “That is why I say the stakes are quite high here,” she said on October 23, 2014. “The alternatives are quite terrible.”
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has supposed that if the parties don’t reach an agreement by the June 30, 2015, the United States may turn on its ability “to use cyberweapons to attack Iranian nuclear facilities” and Iran may turn on its ability “to wage covert war through its proxies in the Middle East.”
Cutting a bad nuclear deal with Iran
A deal “that removes the most important sanctions but does not extend Iran’s breakout scenario to at least six months, that does not address the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work, that does not allow for rigorous monitoring and transparency, that places only short duration constraints that are easily reversible, and that unravels sanctions against Iran’s support for terrorism and gross human rights violations as well” is a bad deal. This definition has been given by a former senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense J. Matthew McInnis at his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 18, 2014.
A bad deal will leave everyone in the region uncertain about Iran’s intentions and potential nuclear weapons capabilities. It will lead other countries to take potentially dangerous decisions, such as acquiring nuclear weapons or making strategic accommodation with Iran. According to McInnis, “In the worst case scenario, we could eventually face a nuclear Iran, for whom classic containment and deterrence approaches are unlikely to be effective.”
Testifying before the Committee David Albright said that in order to avoid a bad nuclear deal with Iran “the P5+1 must hold strong on achieving an agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program to a reasonable civilian capability, significantly increases the timelines for breakout to nuclear weapons, and introduces enhanced verification that goes beyond the IAEA’s Additional Protocol.”
Albright also highlighted at his testimony that a “sound deal” will require Iran to address IAEA’s concerns about PMD of its nuclear program before a deal is finalized or the economic or financial sanctions are relieved. To achieve a “verifiable solution” Iran will have to significantly reduce the number of its centrifuges and uranium stocks, as well as to limit its centrifuge R&D programs.
U.S. President vs Congress
The president remains in overall control of foreign policy and defence. “Mr Obama would probably veto any bill that tightened sanctions against his wishes.”
According to Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School professor and a former Bush administration official, President Obama has the authority to “waive most if not all sanctions against Iran for the remaining two years of his term.” If he does so, the deal with Iran “will be tenuous”. The President believes that Congress will not cooperate on this issue now. “So if he wants a deal with Iran (which he clearly does), Obama must strike the deal on his own.” If President Obama suspends sanctions the entire sanctions regime will probably collapse. “The end result would be a deal that expires when Obama leaves and a sanctions regime in tatters. Iran will then have exactly what it wants — relief from sanctions, a deal that doesn’t block it from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability … and a revived economy,” has argued Jennifer Rubin, a lawyer and a columnist for The Washington Post.”
The lawyer Alan Dershowitz is of the view that if “Congress chooses to assert its constitutional power to participate in foreign policy decisions”, Obama would not have a completely free hand in making a deal with Iran. In case of a constitutional conflict between these branches of government, the Supreme Court may resolve the conflict but it is unclear how the judges would deal with it.
Next Supreme Leader Appointment
The Supreme Leader is the most powerful man in Iran. He has the ultimate say on Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear programme. Iran’s Supreme Leader is appointed by the Assembly of Experts in the event of the death, resignation, or dismissal of the leader. While the Assembly of Experts has the formal role in the appointment, in practice the decision will be influenced by powerful lobbies. The most powerful political organization is Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that has control over the military, politics, economy, and nuclear program. The IRGC and the office of the current Supreme Leader will be the key selecting players. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American scholar at Harvard University, has argued that the IRGC will attempt to choose an individual who serves its objectives: “obtaining nuclear capabilities, having a monopoly over economic and political affairs, having power in foreign policy and having the capability to intervene in other countries’ affairs without hurdles from any political figures including the Supreme Leader.”
Clifton W. Sherrill, an assistant professor of international relations at Troy University, has come to the conclusion that with “no consensus successor and with concerns that dividing power among a council may diminish the strength of the regime, the conditions are ripe for an IRGC power grab.” Explaining the role of the IRGC, Sherrill has written (2011): “Today, it has its own air force, navy, and infantry; maintains its own intelligence service; runs strategic think tanks, defense research and development programs, and its own universities; coordinates Iranian support for Islamist terrorist groups abroad; and holds primary responsibility for the regime’s nuclear weapons program.”
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Story 1: Obama’s Non-Transparent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler Refuses To Testify Before Congress or Publish Online The Proposed Draft Internet Regulations Pertaining To Net Neutrality (332 Page Final Draft) Before Voting on Thursday, February 26, 2015 — Government Bureaucrats Messing With The Internet and Freedom of Speech — Time To Abolish The FCC — It Is All About Money and Power — Videos
Three Democrats Voted For Government Regulation, Taxation and Control of Internet
FCC’s Ajit Pai: Net Neutrality is a “Solution That Won’t Work to a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”
Internet Rejoices as FCC Imposes Strict Net Neutrality Rules
Sources: Wheeler Tweaks Net Neutrality Plan After Google Push
GOP Leader Slams FCC Ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
Sen. John Thune hammered the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, which the South Dakota Republican termed a “partisan-line vote.”
“This will be the first time … where the Internet is going to be subject to the heavy-hand of regulation as opposed to the light touch that’s been utilized for so long up until this point,” Thune said. “And I hope that Feb. 26 doesn’t go down in history as the time when the Internet moved from something that was driven by free-market innovation to something that’s driven by bureaucratic decision making.”
The Truth About ‘Net Neutrality’ – FCC Rules Tomorrow. Please watch, & please circulate!
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The Truth About Net Neutrality
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FCC Chairman Details His Net Neutrality Proposal
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan would apply to ISPs and wireless carriers. It will go to a full vote later this month.
FCC Chairman Signals New Net Neutrality Rules – IGN News
President Obama’s Statement on Keeping the Internet Open and Free
President Obama Makes Strong Pro Net Neutrality Statement…But Why?
Net Neutrality Explained. Simply and Accurately!
HOUSE CHAIR DEMANDS FCC NET NEUTRALITY GAG ORDER LIFTED
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler make public the details of the proposed net neutrality regulations that will regulate the Internet under the same rules as the old AT&T monopoly.
Chaffetz also asked the FCC Chair to appear and answer questions at the House Oversight hearing Wednesday, prior to the planned Agency vote on the draft rules now scheduled for Thursday.
The 332-page final draft FCC order was only delivered to the four other FCC commissioners three weeks ago. When Wheeler delivered the document, he took the unusual step of issuing a “gag order” to prevent its release before the FCC vote.
The FCC was forced to revisit “net neutrality” rules because the agency’s egregious 2010 effort at writing “Open Internet Rules” was thrown out in January 2014 by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Verizon v. FCC. Although the appeals court agreed the FCC had the authority to regulate broadband services, they rejected the FCC’s potentially biased micro-managing of the Internet.
Chairman Wheeler tried to ramrod President Obama’s net neutrality proposal through the FCC on May 15, 2014. It was understood at the time that Wheeler was trying to maximize FCC breadth for the new rules by basing the legal authority of his proposal on parts of both Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But the day before the meeting, his fellow Democratic Commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, pushed back on the rush to regulate after being bombarded by consumers who wanted to preserve an open Internet.
In a blog post at the time, Commissioner Clyburn noted, “over 100,000 Americans have spoken” via email, calls and letters. Commissioner Rosenworcel added that she also wanted the FCC to delay consideration of the rules after the torrent of public response.
Breitbart reported on February 9 in “Republican FCC Member Warns Net Neutrality is Not Neutral” that Ajit Pai, as one of two Republican Commissioners on the FCC, tweeted, “I wish the public could see what’s inside.” Pai included a selfie of himself holding the huge document in front of a picture of Obama. The posture of the photo was clearly meant to depict the president as George Orwell’s “Big Brother.”
Pai later released a statement: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
The Breitbart article generated over 4,600 comments and set off a firestorm on the Drudge Report as the public realized that the FCC process seemed fundamentally biased due to a lack of transparency and full disclosure prior to such an important regulatory vote. The public was also incensed that the free-for-all Internet was about to be subject to up to $16 billion a year in FCC user taxes and fees.
Congressman Chaffetz also sent Wheeler a letter questioning whether the FCC had been “independent, fair and transparent” in fashioning the rules to supposedly protect Internet content. “Although arguably one of the most sweeping new rules in the commission’s history, the process was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review,” Chaffetz added.
Representative Chaffetz included in the letter that there is a precedent for the FCC Chairman to make rules public before a vote. In 2007, Chairman Kevin Martin released to the public new media ownership rules, and the entire FCC testified in a House hearing prior to the final vote.
An elected official who supported the FCC postponement in 2007, Chaffetz notes, was Senator Barack Obama. “He specifically noted while a certain proposal ‘may pass the muster of a federal court, Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy. And the commission has the responsibility to defend any new proposal in public discourse and debate.”
With political fireworks going off yesterday, Republican FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai late in the day asked Wheeler to postpone Thursday’s vote and release the draft Internet regulatory proposal for a 30 day public comment period.
Dear FCC: Rethink The Vague “General Conduct” Rule
BY CORYNNE MCSHERRY
For many months, EFF has been working with a broad coalition of advocates to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new Open Internet rules that would survive legal scrutiny and actually help protect the Open Internet. Our message has been clear from the beginning: the FCC has a role to play, but its role must be firmly bounded.
Two weeks ago, we learned that we had likely managed the first goal—the FCC is going to do the right thing and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, giving it the ability to make new, meaningful Open Internet rules. But we are deeply concerned that the FCC’s new rules will include a provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion: the so-called “general conduct rule.”
According to the FCC’s own “Fact Sheet,” the proposed rule will allow the FCC to review (and presumably punish) non-neutral practices that may “harm” consumers or edge providers. Late last week, as the window for public comment was closing, EFF filed a letter with the FCC urging it to clarify and sharply limit the scope of any “general conduct” provision:
[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A “general conduct rule,” applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice “harms” consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of “harm” (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .
Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a “general conduct rule” it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, if a recent report from Reuters is correct, the general conduct rule will be anything but clear. The FCC will evaluate “harm” based on consideration of seven factors: impact on competition; impact on innovation; impact on free expression; impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
There are several problems with this approach. First, it suggests that the FCC believes it has broad authority to pursue any number of practices—hardly the narrow, light-touch approach we need to protect the open Internet. Second, we worry that this rule will be extremely expensive in practice, because anyone wanting to bring a complaint will be hard-pressed to predict whether they will succeed. For example, how will the Commission determine “industry best standards and practices”? As a practical matter, it is likely that only companies that can afford years of litigation to answer these questions will be able to rely on the rule at all. Third, a multi-factor test gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.
We are days away from a final vote, and it appears that many of the proposed rules will make sense for the Internet. Based on what we know so far, however, the general conduct proposal may not. The FCC should rethink this one.
FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
by ANDREW JOHNSON February 25, 2015 10:19 AM
Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.”
Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue.
“So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”
The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review. The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.
President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules
President Obama today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally.
The President has been a strong and consistent advocate of net neutrality since his first presidential campaign.
President Obama’s plan would reclassify consumer broadband services under what’s known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It would serve as a “basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
The plan involves four commonsense steps that some service providers already observe:
No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player—not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling”—based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
Ultimately, the FCC is an independent agency and the decision is theirs alone. But President Obama believes his plan is the best way to safeguard the incredible resource the Internet has become for all of us — so that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company has the same chance to succeed as established corporation’s, and so that access to a high school student’s blog isn’t unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
Nearly 4 million public comments were submitted to the FCC as part of the latest comment period, with overwhelming support for the principles the President is calling for.
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2:00 – Brief Technical Introduction
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The Fallacy of Net Neutrality: Thomas Hazlett on the FCC & Consumer Protection
“I’m very confident a hundred years from now we won’t have an FCC,” says Thomas Hazlett, Reason contributor and George Mason economics professor.
Internet service providers are coming under scrutiny from both the FCC and net neutrality supporters who want to ensure unrestricted consumer access to the Web. However, Hazlett points out that the fear over ISPs limiting Web content is unfounded and government “has no idea what the optimal business model is” to effectively regulate.
Hazlett sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss net neutrality, the Internet, and and his Encounters Broadside book “The Fallacy of Net Neutrality.”
Hank vs. Hank: The Net Neutrality Debate in 3 Minutes
On Net Neutrality, Time to Regulate the Regulators
by THE EDITORS
The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to effectively convert broadband Internet providers into regulated utility companies, stifling both technological innovation and consumer choice, is the latest example of the footrace dynamic that will dominate national domestic politics from now until January 2016: The Obama administration — or one of its purportedly independent enablers in the FCC and other federal agencies — announces sweeping and unilateral regulatory change, and the Republican-controlled legislative branch hustles to outmaneuver it. Given the respective timelines involved in executive fiat and lawmaking, the administration will almost always have a head start — but that should not stop Congress from catching up as quickly as possible.
At issue here is the question of “net neutrality,” an increasingly elastic term describing how an Internet service provider (ISP) treats any given packet of data moving through its network. On one side of the ideological divide, partisans of “neutrality” insist that every packet be treated in precisely the same way as every other packet, that none be given priority. On the other side is reality, in which the bandwidth demands of sending an e-mail from a home computer are different from those of streaming live video to a wireless device. That Netflix, for example, should be permitted to pay an Internet service provider to fast-lane its videos is, for the ideological neutralists, the first step toward another one of those science-fiction corporate dystopias that the anti-capitalists keep promising us, in this case one in which every Internet service provider becomes a “walled garden” in which consumers are hostage to the self-interested caprices of their ISPs, and therefore customers of an ISP that has an arrangement with Facebook might be relegated to pokey service when trying to use Instagram — or be blocked entirely from accessing certain Facebook competitors.
Internet users will notice that that hasn’t happened, and hasn’t shown any likelihood of happening, despite the absence of FCC regulations forbidding it. Even in the settings that most resemble “walled gardens” — for example, in-flight Internet services that do allow providers to enjoy absolute monopoly, for the duration of the flight at least — the trend has been in the opposite direction: When consumers made it clear that they were annoyed by Gogo’s unwillingness to support YouTube and streaming-video services, new products (notably services provided by the airlines themselves) came into the market to meet consumers’ demand for being able to while away that ORD–JFK segment watching funny cat videos.
The FCC’s move, then, is a typical federal regulatory enterprise: a non-solution to a non-problem.
While mainly motivated by a naïve ideological enthusiasm, net-neutrality activists fear, not without some reason, that the dominant operating model for ISPs will be something like that of cable-television providers. (Indeed, many cable-television providers are ISPs.) Specifically, they fear that ISPs will come to resemble cable companies circa 2010. The irony there is that it is the Internet itself — without any enabling regulation from the FCC — that has provided the beginnings of a solution to the problem of the general awfulness of the American cable company, with gleeful “cord-cutters” replacing their cable services with AppleTV, Hulu, and the like.
Neutrality as an operating principle has largely prevailed among ISPs in the absence of a federal mandate largely because consumers like it that way. But consumers may not always like it that way: For example, those who want faster service for downloading movies at the moment are largely restricted to paying for faster service across the board rather than paying for faster service when they want faster service — imagine the FAA’s insisting that if customers want to fly first-class on one trip, they have to fly first-class all the time. The FCC’s new rules are not aimed at preserving the effective neutrality that prevails today — they are ideologically informed measures aimed at preventing innovations in the marketplace that consumers might prefer to the current model.
To accomplish this, the FCC is reclassifying broadband providers as “telecommunication services” under Title II of the Communications Act . . . of 1934. The FCC’s recourse to a law passed during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt should give us all an idea about the sort of cutting-edge thinking that is at work here.
There is much that is unnecessary in these rules. For example, the regulation against blocking access to lawful websites addresses a situation that is largely unknown. (Some providers that serve customers of businesses open to the public do block pornographic sites, which does not seem unreasonable.) Likewise, the call for greater transparency in protocols speaks to a desirable end, though one that is hardly crying out for federal intervention.
On the other hand, the ban on creating “fast lanes” for services that would benefit from them forecloses what might be a fruitful avenue of innovation. More worrisome still is the vast, open-ended powers that federal regulators have granted themselves: The FCC has — with no congressional mandate — just given itself a mandate to forbid anything that it believes to be other than “reasonable,” or anything it judges will “harm consumers or edge providers.” (“Edge providers” essentially means those who create or distribute content.) And, of course, there is cronyism: As Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune reports, Internet-based pay-television services of the sort being contemplated by Sony (and possibly by Apple) would be specifically exempt from the fast-lane rules.
As an Internet-based concern, National Review Online has a strong preference for an open, rambling, largely unregulated Internet. We believe that intense FCC oversight is as likely to undermine those freewheeling ways and “permissionless innovation” as to preserve them — look at any other industry in which the FCC stands athwart commerce. There are measures that can and should be taken to increase competition among ISPs, and, as Julian Sanchez of Cato points out, in the event of truly cumbrous and destructive collusions between ISPs and content providers, then the prudent response would be case-by-case intervention carried out by the Federal Trade Commission rather than preemptive blanket regulation by the FCC. It takes a certain kind of crackedness to believe that “free and open” and “under heavy federal regulation” are synonymous.
Congress has the authority to legally limit the FCC’s ambitions in this matter, and it should do so, even though such efforts would probably run into an Obama veto. That’s a fight worth having. It is high time to regulate the regulators and remind the bureaucrats who in this republic is in fact empowered to make law. Likewise, Jason Chaffetz’s initiation of an Oversight Committee investigation into whether the White House improperly colluded with the FCC in formulating these new rules is to be encouraged — if only for the potential amusement in learning whether improper collusion was instrumental in this crusade against improper collusion.
Far from being dysfunctional, the Internet is one of the critical aspects of life in these United States, one that is brilliantly functional and wonderfully innovative in no small part because of the laissez-faire approach that government has historically taken toward it. Why anybody would want to make it more like a utility company is a mystery — unless one appreciates that, for those suffering from a certain progressive inclination, federal regulation is thought to be desirable in and of itself, and that the freewheeling ways of the Internet are a standing rebuke to those who would regiment and regulate practically every aspect of life.
Republican lawmakers investigate White House net neutrality push
Congressional Republicans are demanding to know how much the White House influenced the Federal Communications Commission while the agency crafted net neutrality rules.
The FCC has until Monday afternoon to produce unredacted email messages, focused on net neutrality rules, between FCC staff and officials with the Obama administration, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in a letter to the FCC Friday. The Utah Republican is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Chaffetz’s committee is “investigating the potential involvement of the White House” in the creation of proposed net neutrality rules that the FCC is scheduled to vote on next Thursday, he said in the letter. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose regulations that would reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service instead of a lightly regulated information service.
An FCC spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on Chaffetz’s letter.
Several congressional Republicans have accused the White House of improperly influencing the FCC net-neutrality rule-making process, after Obama called on the agency to reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility in November. Wheeler appeared to change his position and embrace that idea after the president urged the independent agency to do so, critics have said.
But U.S. presidential administrations have repeatedly weighed in on FCC proceedings during the past 30-plus years, net neutrality advocate Public Knowledge has noted.
Chaffetz’s letter to the FCC came just two days after Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Wheeler they were expanding an investigation into agency rule-making processes.
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s probe covers a wide range of FCC process concerns beyond net neutrality, but new reports detailing White House contact with the FCC on net neutrality raise “additional concerns about whether the commission is managing its affairs with the independence and openness required by its mandate,” committee leaders said in a Wednesday letter to Wheeler.
Republican concerns about Obama administration influence over the FCC were fueled by a Feb. 4 Wall Street Journal report saying the White House last year had set up a “parallel version of the FCC” to push for regulation of broadband providers.
Chaffetz’s letter asks for specific email messages sent by Obama administration officials to the FCC in April. On Friday, Vice.com published an exchange between administration officials and FCC staff that the website obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
GOP, tech industry mostly out of step over net neutrality issue
By NOAH BIERMAN AND EVAN HALPER contact the reporters Politics and Government U.S. Congress Federal Communications Commission John Thune Ted Cruz Rand Paul
- Silicon Valley executives and activists are increasingly irritated by the feeling the GOP is not on their side
- GOP lawmakers argue that FCC net neutrality proposal amounts to a government takeover of the Web
- GOP lawmakers in Congress are unified in opposition to the administration approach on net neutrality
Thee intensifying debate over how to keep the Internet open and ripe for innovation has heightened tensions between Republican congressional leaders and tech entrepreneurs they have been trying to woo.
As tech firms and cable companies prepare for a fight that each says will shape the future of the Internet, Silicon Valley executives and activists are growing increasingly irritated by the feeling that the GOP is not on their side.
Republican leaders have struggled to explain to their nascent allies in the Bay Area why they are working so hard to undermine a plan endorsed by the Obama administration to keep a level playing field in Internet innovation, enforcing what the administration and its allies call “net neutrality.”
FCC chief seeks to treat Web as public utility in net neutrality fight
Arguments from the GOP that the plan amounts to a government takeover of the Web — “Obamacare for the Internet,” as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called it — are falling flat with many tech innovators.
“This is one of the most prominent moments in Internet freedom,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine, a nonpartisan advocacy group that brings policymakers together with tech start-ups. “I don’t think any party can afford to be on the wrong side of this conversation.”
But Republicans, she said, are on the wrong side.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote this month to adopt the net neutrality plan proposed last week by the panel’s chairman, Tom Wheeler. The plan would regulate Internet service providers, such as Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc., as public utilities and would ban them from offering high-speed lanes to companies that pay more.
Republicans have promised to push legislation to overturn any such move, but most high-tech companies support it.
The fight comes at a time when Republicans had been making gains in Silicon Valley, a constituency of well-heeled donors and coveted millennial-generation voters who have generally been loyal to Democrats.
Prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), have taken members of Congress on listening tours of tech companies. Tech money has begun flowing into GOP campaign accounts. Presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have made an aggressive case that the GOP better understands the values of privacy and freedom in the digital world.
GOP leaders had hoped to build on those gains at an event in Washington called Reboot Congress, which started Wednesday evening, where top Republican lawmakers plan to join Silicon Valley business leaders to discuss the future of the Internet.
Republicans have hoped to seize on recent Democratic policy moves that riled tech companies, including a push for strict anti-piracy rules and the Obama administration’s continued backing of National Security Agency surveillance of Internet users.
The FCC makes a breakthrough on net neutrality–but the battle isn’t over
But the hot issue in Silicon Valley now is net neutrality. And on that issue, the GOP and the tech industry are mostly out of step.
Republicans argue that intervention by a big government agency is the wrong approach to leveling the playing field for companies that depend on the Internet. That’s especially true now, as conservatives accuse Obama of a broad pattern of regulatory overreach in healthcare, the environment and immigration.
“As is often the case in Washington, those who want more power create the specter of a false threat that is not occurring in the marketplace today,” Cruz said in an interview in which he warned that new regulations could lead to new taxes and put a chill on innovation. “The power of regulation is like a camel’s nose under the tent,” he said.
In Congress, GOP lawmakers are unified in opposition to the administration approach.
That includes tech-savvy California Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who warns that the administration approach “will result in over-regulation and years of fruitless litigation.” McCarthy joined his House leadership colleagues in warning regulators that imposing net neutrality rules would “deter investment and stifle one of the brightest spots in our economy.”
Many Internet entrepreneurs disagree.
“The argument is a red herring,” said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights alongside GOP lawmakers on privacy and surveillance issues but is helping lead the attack against them on net neutrality.
“Nobody is talking about wanting the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet. That would be terrible,” McSherry said. “All they would be doing is putting in rules of the road for broadband providers.”
Republicans, she said, are essentially helping big corporations squeeze out innovation. “Politically, this is a real mistake,” she said.
It is unclear to what extent the issue will overshadow other Silicon Valley priorities. But it is certainly making the GOP a tougher sell.
“It is close to a litmus test,” said Paul Sieminski, a Republican who is the general counsel to Automattic, the company that operates Web-making tool WordPress.com.
“It’s such a fundamental issue for the Internet,” said Sieminski, who has been active in fighting for net neutrality. “I guess it is a proxy on where a candidate may stand on a lot of issues related to the Internet.”
The fight goes beyond wealthy entrepreneurs making or seeking their fortunes in start-up companies. Silicon Valley is adept at mobilizing consumers eager to protect what they see as a core value of the digital age.
The FCC received nearly 4 million comments on the net neutrality rules — most urging them to enforce stricter regulations — before Wheeler announced his proposal last week.
Groups such as Fight for the Future, whose donors include technology companies, said they have helped initiate tens of thousands of calls from their members to regulators and lawmakers using technology that bypasses switchboards.
Polls also showed overwhelming support for the concept that big carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast should not be allowed to charge more to companies that want a fast lane.
That may have propelled a shift among some Republicans, who once questioned the need for any new regulations.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is proposing a bill that would let Congress, rather than regulators, set the terms for net neutrality. In establishing the concept, however, the measure also would take away the FCC’s authority to make any new regulations in the fast-changing broadband marketplace.
Thune and others frame their disagreement with Obama and federal regulators as one over process, asserting that Congress would better protect openness on the Internet yet avoid burdensome regulations.
“I worry that online innovators will be subject to the Mother-may-I system in which startups have to hire regulatory lawyers before they hire engineers,” Thune said Wednesday night as the Reboot conference began at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.
Silicon Valley activists are unimpressed. They don’t trust the GOP-controlled Congress on this issue.
“They’re cynical attempts,” Evan Greer, campaign manager for Fight for the Future, said of the legislative proposals, “last-ditch efforts by cable lobbyists who know they’ve been beat in the court of public opinion.”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providersand governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.
There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law, particularly in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. Advocates of net neutrality such as Lawrence Lessighave raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even to block out competitors
Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services . Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web.
Examples of net neutrality violations include when the internet service provider Comcast intentionally slowed peer-to-peercommunications. In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against peer-to-peer, file transfer protocol, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom value added services, and bundling. Critics of net neutrality argue that data discrimination is desirable for reasons like guaranteeingquality of service. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, called the term net neutrality a slogan and opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.Adoption of this notion would reclassify internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications and, according to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, ensure net neutrality. The Obama administration said that it would not let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the FCC voted on its implementation.
Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. According to Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, the best way to explain network neutrality is as a principle to be used when designing a network: that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally. A more detailed proposed definition of technical and service network neutrality suggests that service network neutrality is the adherence to the paradigm that operation of a service at a certain layer is not influenced by any data other than the data interpreted at that layer, and in accordance with the protocol specification for that layer.
The idea of an open Internet is the idea that the full resources of the Internet and means to operate on it are easily accessible to all individuals and companies. This often includes ideas such as net neutrality, open standards, transparency, lack of Internet censorship, and low barriers to entry. The concept of the open Internet is sometimes expressed as an expectation of decentralized technological power, and is seen by some as closely related to open-source software.
Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the Internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party. A closed Internet refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degradesome services, or explicitly filter out content.
The concept of a dumb network made up of dumb pipes has been around since at least the early 1990s. The idea of a dumb network is that the endpoints of a network are generally where the intelligence lies, and that the network itself generally leaves the management and operation of communication to the end users. In 2013 the software company MetroTech Net, Inc. (MTN) coined the term Dumb Wave which is the modern application of the Dumb Pipe concept to the ubiquitous wireless network. If wireless carriers do not provide unique and value added services, they will be relegated to the dumb pipe category where they can’t charge a premium or retain customers.
The end-to-end principle is a principle of network design, first laid out explicitly in the 1981 conference paper End-to-end arguments in system design by Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark. The principle states that, whenever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system, or as close as possible to the resource being controlled. According to the end-to-end principle, protocol features are only justified in the lower layers of a system if they are a performance optimization, hence, TCP retransmission for reliability is still justified, but efforts to improve TCP reliability should stop after peak performance has been reached. They argued that reliable systems tend to require end-to-end processing to operate correctly, in addition to any processing in the intermediate system. They pointed out that most features in the lowest level of a communications system have costs for all higher-layer clients, even if those clients do not need the features, and are redundant if the clients have to re-implement the features on an end-to-end basis. This leads to the model of a minimal dumb network with smart terminals, a completely different model from the previous paradigm of the smart network with dumb terminals. Because the end-to-end principle is one of the central design principles of the Internet, and because the practical means for implementing data discrimination violate the end-to-end principle, the principle often enters discussions about net neutrality. The end-to-end principle is closely related, and sometimes seen as a direct precursor to the principle of net neutrality.
Traffic shaping is the control of computer network traffic in order to optimize or guarantee performance, improve latency, and/or increase usable bandwidth by delaying packets that meet certain criteria. More specifically, traffic shaping is any action on a set of packets (often called a stream or a flow) which imposes additional delay on those packets such that they conform to some predetermined constraint (a contract or traffic profile). Traffic shaping provides a means to control the volume of traffic being sent into a network in a specified period (bandwidth throttling), or the maximum rate at which the traffic is sent (rate limiting), or more complex criteria such as GCRA.
If the core of a network has more bandwidth than is permitted to enter at the edges, then good QoS can be obtained without policing. For example the telephone network employs admission control to limit user demand on the network core by refusing to create a circuit for the requested connection. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes liberal estimates of peak user demand. Over-provisioning is used in private networks such as WebEx and the Internet 2 Abilene Network, an American university network. David Isenberg believes that continued over-provisioning will always provide more capacity for less expense than QoS and deep packet inspection technologies.
Discrimination by protocol
Favoring or blocking information based on the communications protocol that the computers are using to communicate.
On 1 August 2008, the FCC formally voted 3-to-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, ruling that it had illegally inhibited users of its high-speed Internet service from using file-sharing software. FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin said that the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not prevent customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason. In an interview, Martin said, “We are preserving the open character of the Internet”. The legal complaint against Comcast related to BitTorrent, a transfer protocol that is especially apt at distributing large files such as video, music, and software on the Internet. Comcast admitted no wrongdoing in its proposed settlement of up to US$16 dollars per share in December 2009.
Discrimination by IP address
During the early decades of the Internet, creating a non-neutral Internet was technically infeasible. Originally developed to filter malware, the Internet security company NetScreen Technologies released network firewalls in 2003 with so called deep packet inspection. Deep inspection helped make real-time discrimination between different kinds of data possible, and is often used for internet censorship.
In a practice called zero-rating, companies will reimburse data use from certain addresses, favoring use of those services. Examples include Facebook Zero and Google Free Zone, and are especially common in the developing world.
Sometimes ISPs will charge some companies, but not others, for the traffic they cause on the ISP’s network. French telecoms operator Orange, complaining that traffic from YouTube and other Google sites consists of roughly 50% of total traffic on the Orange network, reached a deal with Google, in which they charge Google for the traffic incurred on the Orange network. Some also thought that Orange’s rival ISP Free throttled YouTube traffic. However, an investigation done by the French telecommunications regulatory body revealed that the network was simply congested during peak hours.
Favoring private networks
Favoring communications sent over the private networks run by individual organizations over information sent over the general Internet Protocol. Examples include Comcast’s deal with Xbox.
There is some disagreement about whether peering is a net neutrality issue.
In the first quarter of 2014, streaming website Netflix reached an arrangement with ISP Comcast to improve the quality of its service to Netflix clients. This arrangement was made in response to increasingly slow connection speeds through Comcast over the course of the 2013, where average speeds dropped by over 25% of their values a year before to an all time low. After the deal was struck in January 2014, the Netflix speed index recorded a 66% increase in connection.
Netflix agreed to a similar deal with Verizon in 2014 after Verizon DSL customers connection speed dropped to less than 1 Mbit/s early in the year. Netflix spoke out against this deal with a controversial statement delivered to all Verizon customers experiencing low connection speeds using the Netflix client. This sparked an internal debate between the two companies that led to Verizon obtaining a cease and desist order on June 5, 2014 that forced Netflix to stop displaying this message.
Legal enforcement of net neutrality principles takes a variety of forms, from provisions that outlaw anti-competitive blocking and throttling of Internet services, all the way to legal enforcement that prevents companies from subsidizing Internet use on particular sites.
Arguments for net neutrality
Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, human rights organizations such as Article 19, online companies and some technology companies.Many major Internet application companies are advocates of neutrality. Yahoo!, Vonage, eBay, Amazon, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Microsoft, along with many other companies, have also taken a stance in support of neutrality regulation. Cogent Communications, an international Internet service provider, has made an announcement in favor of certain net neutrality policies. In 2008, Google published a statement speaking out against letting broadband providers abuse their market power to affect access to competing applications or content. They further equated the situation to that of the telephony market, where telephone companies are not allowed to control who their customers call or what those customers are allowed to say. However, Google’s support of net neutrality has recently been called into question.
Individuals who support net neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Lawrence Lessig, Robert W. McChesney, Steve Wozniak, Susan P. Crawford, Ben Scott, David Reed, and U.S. President Barack Obama. On November 10, 2014, President Obama recommended the FCC reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service in order to preserve net neutrality. On November 12, 2014, AT&T stopped build-out of their fiber network until it has “solid net neutrality rules to follow”. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.
Control of data
Supporters of network neutrality want to designate cable companies as common carriers, which would require them to allow Internet service providers (ISPs) free access to cable lines, the model used for dial-up Internet. They want to ensure that cable companies cannot screen, interrupt or filter Internet content without court order. Common carrier status would give the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality rules.
SaveTheInternet.com accuses cable and telecommunications companies of wanting the role of gatekeepers, being able to control which websites load quickly, load slowly, or don’t load at all. According to SaveTheInternet.com these companies want to charge content providers who require guaranteed speedy data delivery…to create advantages for their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video services – and slowing access or blocking access to those of competitors. Vinton Cerf, a co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and current vice president of Google argues that the Internet was designed without any authorities controlling access to new content or new services. He concludes that the principles responsible for making the Internet such a success would be fundamentally undermined were broadband carriers given the ability to affect what people see and do online.
Digital rights and freedoms
Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that net neutrality ensures that the Internet remains a free and open technology, fostering democratic communication. Lessig and McChesney go on to argue that the monopolization of the Internet would stifle the diversity of independent news sources and the generation of innovative and novel web content.
User intolerance for slow-loading sites
Users with faster Internet connectivity (e.g., fiber) abandon a slow-loading video at a faster rate than users with slower Internet connectivity (e.g., cable or mobile). A “fast lane” in the Internet can irrevocably decrease the user’s tolerance to the relative slowness of the “slow lane”.
Proponents of net neutrality invoke the human psychological process of adaptation where when people get used to something better, they would not ever want to go back to something worse. In the context of the Internet, the proponents argue that a user who gets used to the “fast lane” on the Internet would find the “slow lane” intolerable in comparison, greatly disadvantaging any provider who is unable to pay for the “fast lane”. Video providers Netflix and Vimeo in their comments to FCC in favor of net neutrality use the research of S.S. Krishnan and Ramesh Sitaraman that provides the first quantitative evidence of adaptation to speed among online video users. Their research studied the patience level of millions of Internet video users who waited for a slow-loading video to start playing. Users who had a faster Internet connectivity, such as fiber-to-the-home, demonstrated less patience and abandoned their videos sooner than similar users with slower Internet connectivity. The results demonstrate how users can get used to faster Internet connectivity, leading to higher expectation of Internet speed, and lower tolerance for any delay that occurs. Author Nicholas Carr and other social commentators have written about the habituation phenomenon by stating that a faster flow of information on the Internet can make people less patient.
Competition and innovation
Net neutrality advocates argue that allowing cable companies the right to demand a toll to guarantee quality or premium delivery would create an exploitative business model based on the ISPs position as gatekeepers. Advocates warn that by charging websites for access, network owners may be able to block competitor Web sites and services, as well as refuse access to those unable to pay. According to Tim Wu, cable companies plan to reserve bandwidth for their own television services, and charge companies a toll for priority service.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that allowing for preferential treatment of Internet traffic, or tiered service, would put newer online companies at a disadvantage and slow innovation in online services. Tim Wu argues that, without network neutrality, the Internet will undergo a transformation from a market ruled by innovation to one ruled by deal-making. SaveTheInternet.com argues that net neutrality puts everyone on equal terms, which helps drive innovation. They claim it is a preservation of the way the internet has always operated, where the quality of websites and services determined whether they succeeded or failed, rather than deals with ISPs. Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that eliminating net neutrality would lead to the Internet resembling the world of cable TV, so that access to and distribution of content would be managed by a handful of massive companies. These companies would then control what is seen as well as how much it costs to see it. Speedy and secure Internet use for such industries as health care, finance, retailing, and gambling could be subject to large fees charged by these companies. They further explain that a majority of the great innovators in the history of the Internet started with little capital in their garages, inspired by great ideas. This was possible because the protections of net neutrality ensured limited control by owners of the networks, maximal competition in this space, and permitted innovators from outside access to the network. Internet content was guaranteed a free and highly competitive space by the existence of net neutrality.
Preserving Internet standards
Network neutrality advocates have sponsored legislation claiming that authorizing incumbent network providers to override transport and application layer separation on the Internet would signal the decline of fundamental Internet standards and international consensus authority. Further, the legislation asserts that bit-shaping the transport of application data will undermine the transport layer’s designed flexibility.
Alok Bhardwaj argues that any violations to network neutrality, realistically speaking, will not involve genuine investment but rather payoffs for unnecessary and dubious services. He believes that it is unlikely that new investment will be made to lay special networks for particular websites to reach end-users faster. Rather, he believes that non-net neutrality will involve leveraging quality of service to extract remuneration from websites that want to avoid being slowed down.
Some advocates say network neutrality is needed in order to maintain the end-to-end principle. According to Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney, all content must be treated the same and must move at the same speed in order for net neutrality to be true. They say that it is this simple but brilliant end-to-end aspect that has allowed the Internet to act as a powerful force for economic and social good. Under this principle, a neutral network is a dumb network, merely passing packets regardless of the applications they support. This point of view was expressed by David S. Isenberg in his paper, “The Rise of the Stupid Network”. He states that the vision of an intelligent network is being replaced by a new network philosophy and architecture in which the network is designed for always-on use, not intermittence and scarcity. Rather than intelligence being designed into the network itself, the intelligence would be pushed out to the end-user’s device; and the network would be designed simply to deliver bits without fancy network routing or smart number translation. The data would be in control, telling the network where it should be sent. End-user devices would then be allowed to behave flexibly, as bits would essentially be free and there would be no assumption that the data is of a single data rate or data type.
Contrary to this idea, the research paper titled End-to-end arguments in system design by Saltzer, Reed, and Clark argues that network intelligence doesn’t relieve end systems of the requirement to check inbound data for errors and to rate-limit the sender, nor for a wholesale removal of intelligence from the network core.
Arguments against net neutrality
Opposition includes the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Ayn Rand Institute. Opponents of net neutrality include hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries, including major telecommunications providers, such as Comcast and AT&T.
A number of these opponents created a website called Hands Off The Internet (which no longer exists) to promote their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website came from AT&T, and members included technology firms and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste.
Network neutrality regulations are opposed by Internet engineers such as professor David Farber and TCP inventor and Qualcomm Director Bob Kahn.Robert Pepper is senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and is the former FCC chief of policy development. He says: “The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer”. Bob Kahn, another computer scientist and Director at Qualcomm, has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet.
Farber has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz,Christopher Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an op-ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, essentially stating that while the Internet is in need of remodeling, congressional action aimed at protecting the best parts of the current Internet could interfere with efforts to build a replacement.
Financing infrastructure improvements
Some opponents of net neutrality argue that prioritization of bandwidth is necessary for future innovation on the Internet. Telecommunications providers such as telephone and cable companies, and some technology companies that supply networking gear, argue telecom providers should have the ability to provide preferential treatment in the form of tiered services, for example by giving online companies willing to pay the ability to transfer their data packets faster than other Internet traffic. The added revenue from such services could be used to pay for the building of increased broadband access to more consumers.
Conversely, opponents say that net neutrality regulation would make it more difficult for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other network operators to recoup their investments in broadband networks. John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Verizon, a broadband and telecommunications company, has argued that they will have no incentive to make large investments to develop advanced fibre-optic networks if they are prohibited from charging higher preferred access fees to companies that wish to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of such networks. Thorne and other ISPs have accused Google and Skype of freeloading or free riding for using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.
Counterweight to server-side non-neutrality
Those in favor of forms of non-neutral tiered Internet access argue that the Internet is already not a level playing field: large companies achieve a performance advantage over smaller competitors by replicating servers and buying high-bandwidth services. Should prices drop for lower levels of access, or access to only certain protocols, for instance, a change of this type would make Internet usage more neutral, with respect to the needs of those individuals and corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service. Network expert
Richard Bennett has written, “A richly funded Web site, which delivers data faster than its competitors to the front porches of the Internet service providers, wants it delivered the rest of the way on an equal basis. This system, which Google calls broadband neutrality, actually preserves a more fundamental inequality.”
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral, because its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time sensitive traffic over real-time communications.
Prevent overuse of bandwidth
Since the early 1990s, Internet traffic has increased steadily. The arrival of picture-rich websites and MP3s led to a sharp increase in the mid-1990s followed by a subsequent sharp increase since 2003 as video streaming and Peer-to-peer file sharing became more common. In reaction to companies including YouTube, as well as smaller companies starting to offer free video content, using substantial amounts of bandwidth, at least one Internet service provider (ISP), SBC Communications (now AT&T Inc.), has suggested that it should have the right to charge these companies for making their content available over the provider’s network.
Bret Swanson of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2007 that the popular websites of that time, including YouTube, MySpace, and blogs, were put at risk by net neutrality. He noted that, at the time, YouTube streamed as much data in three months as the world’s radio, cable and broadcast television channels did in one year, 75 petabytes. He argued that networks were not remotely prepared to handle the amount of data required to run these sites. He also argued that net neutrality would prevent broadband networks from being built, which would limit available bandwidth and thus endanger innovation.
One example of these concerns was the series of tubes analogy, which was presented by US senator Ted Stevens on the floor of the US senate in 2006.
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral as its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time-sensitive traffic over real-time communications. Generally, a network which blocks some nodes or services for the customers of the network would normally be expected to be less useful to the customers than one that did not. Therefore, for a network to remain significantly non-neutral requires either that the customers not be concerned about the particular non-neutralities or the customers not have any meaningful choice of providers, otherwise they would presumably switch to another provider with fewer restrictions.
While the network neutrality debate continues, network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves. These agreements often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications implementing peer-to-peer networking models. They also present terms of service that often include rules about the use of certain applications as part of their contracts with users.
Most consumer Internet providers implement policies like these. The MIT Mantid Port Blocking Measurement Project is a measurement effort to characterize Internet port blocking and potentially discriminatory practices. However, the effect of peering arrangements among network providers are only local to the peers that enter into the arrangements, and cannot affect traffic flow outside their scope.
Jon Peha from