Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Catherine Ashton (75)


Iran Feature: Top Iran Newspaper Protects the Oscars from Michelle Obama's Shoulders

Fars, the Iranian newspaper linked to the Revolutionary Guards, is not just interested in military matters. It also likes to keep an eye on fashion and the movies. And when the First Lady of the United States has a new dress as she awards Best Picture at the Academy Awards, that is an opportunity not to be missed.

Only one problem: Michelle Obama's shoulders.

Time for the Fars Photoshop Department to spring into action:

Click to read more ...


Iran Live Coverage: Detaining the Journalists

Campaign poster for 15 journalists imprisoned in late January

2044 GMT:Communications Watch. Four Grand Ayatollahs --- Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, Hossein Nouri Hamedani, Jafar Sohbhani, and Seyyed Sajjad Alavi Gorgani--- have issued fatwas banning Iran's first 3G service Rightel, in part because of its video-call function.

"The decadence and corruption associated with [Rightel’s] use outweighs its benefits,” decreed Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi. “It will cause new deviances in our society, which is unfortunately already plagued with deviances.”

Ayatollah Alavi Gorghani said that the video-call service would “jeopardize the public chastity” and “inflicts numerous damages” on Iran’s religion and political system.

Rightel, which sponsored Iran’s recent International Fajr Film Festival,,# allows customers to use both video-call and multi-media messaging functions. The company offers pay-and-go, contact, and data-card packages.

Petitions to ban Rightel have sprung up, and 17 MPs have asked President Ahmadinejad and the Ministry of Intelligence to act.

Click to read more ...


Iran Analysis: The US Makes a Non-Offer on the Nuclear Talks

Appearing alongside the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers in the nuclear talks with Iran, new US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Washington said he looked forward to Ashton's "critical effort" in high-level discussions with the Iranians on 26 February in Kazakhstan.

"We hope that the talks in Almaty in a few days can show some further progress, perhaps open some additional opportunities," Kerry said.

However, the Secretary of State's rhetoric was put in context by the revelation from "Western officials" of the offer to be made to Iran. In exchange for Tehran's steps to close its enrichment plant at Fordoo, which produces 20% uranium, the US and its allies will lift sanctions.

Well, not all sanctions. Not the sanctions levied in 2010, following the American rejection of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey offer in the Tehran Declaration. Not the sanctions levied in 2011 or 2012, including last July's European cut-off of oil imports from Iran and insurance for Iranian oil tankers anywhere in the world. Not the restrictions on Iran's financial and banking sectors, including international transactions via the SWIFT system and payments in Euros or dollars.

No, the only sanctions that may be removed --- in exchange for the "stop, ship, and shut" demand of the US and Europe over 20% uranium, --- are those imposed by Washington ten days ago.

Specifically, the US will lift the ban on transfer of gold and precious metals to Iran. The significance of that measure is that it chokes off alternative forms of payment for Iran's oil and gas, such as Turkey's transfer of gold to Tehran --- which increased 11,000% in 2012 --- for natural gas.

This is only a modified version of Washington's position since last June's stalemate in Moscow at the last high-level talks. First, Iran makes the major concessions on its nuclear programme, giving up 20% uranium enrichment, then there will be negotiations.

This is not the "reciprocity" proclaimed by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last autumn. It certainly is not the reciprocity that will be demanded by the Iran.

At best, then, the talks in Kazahstan in ten days are "holding" discussions to stave off military action while Iran endures another six months of economic pressure.

Then the discussions will resume in September, after Iran's Presidential elections. And Washington can then say it is making a genuine offer of "reciprocity": if Tehran will shut the Fordoo plant, the US will lift the sanctions imposed on 6 February 2013.


Iran Analysis: The Real Explanation for the Delay in New Nuclear Talks

Last week, a couple of curious stories emerged about the proposed resumption of nuclear talks, suspended since a high-level meeting in June in Moscow, between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France, and China). 

Julian Borger of The Guardian declared, "Nuclear Talks with Iran Delayed" because of "internal wrangling" in Tehran. Laura Rozen echoed, "Iran Seen Stalling on Date for Nuclear Talks".

There had to be an explanation --- beyond the blame of Tehran for "internal wrangling" and the declarations of Western officials --- for the clash between Iran's public position welcoming new discussions and the line fed to Borger and Rozen.

Click to read more ...


Iran Special: 5 Steps for a Breakthrough in the Nuclear Talks


Some key Iranian officials have not been that far removed from the "Stop" and "Ship" demands of Washington. President Ahmadinejad, for example, has repeatedly suggested that Iran suspend its enrichment of 20% uranium in exchange for a guaranteed supply from outside powers.

The US and the European 3, however, have maintained the insistence on the closure of the recently-opened Fordoo enrichment plant, located in a mountainside in central Iran. Their argument appears to be that Iran could accept a deal now but, at any point, could re-start 20% enrichment with the installed centrifuges at Fordoo.

That argument has always seemed curious to me. Resuming the enrichment process is not a simple process like turning on a tap. More importantly, an agreement can include provisions for inspection and oversight of Fordoo's development. So why not let the plant operate for enrichment of up to 5%?

If the resumption of talks is announced, watch for any indication from Washington, London, Paris, or Berlin --- possibly done discreetly --- that "Shut" is no longer a requirement.

Click to read more ...


Iran Live Coverage: Nuclear Talks to Resume?

See also Iran Feature: How a Political Prisoner Found Art for Her Activism
Friday's Iran Live Coverage: The Supreme Leader Tries to Bolster His Popularity

2025 GMT: Smog Watch. An official with the Environmental Protection Agency says 150 industrial units in Tehran Province have been shut because of the high levels of air pollution.

1855 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detained senior reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was taken to hospital earlier today because of a heart condition (see 1535 GMT), has now returned to prison.

1605 GMT: Smog Watch. An image of air pollution in Tehran --- the smog has forced the closure of schools and Government buildings today and tomorrow:

Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent of The Washington Post, writes:

Click to read more ...


Israel-Palestine Special: Why More Settlements Are Vital to West Jerusalem's Long-Term Strategy

On Monday, Israeli authorities authorised plans to expand the Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian territory, with 1500 housing units. Reports followed that a total of an additional 6500 apartments across the 1967 Green Line will be approved this week.

The latest steps have received some international attention, with the US State Department criticising Israel's "pattern of provocation".

But here is the important question: does anyone recognise Israel's long-term agenda behind the "pattern"? These settlements are not just being established as a short-term extension of Israel --- they will be maintained as a "natural" and "inalienable" development, given the Palestinian "failure" to meet West Jerusalem's essential need for "security". These apartments are not being built to derail a would-be negotiation process; they are part of the attempt at Israel's perpetual superiority over the Palestinians.

Click to read more ...


Iran Analysis: Why There is Much Posing --- But No Progress --- On Nuclear Talks

Nuclear negotiators Catherine Ashton & Saeed JaliliWhat is not being made explicit is that the US does not expect reciprocity from Iran. It expects those unilateral concessions.

That offers a stark prospect for Tehran. The Islamic Republic has proclaimed loudly that it wants the renewed talks with the 5+1, accepts the January date, then it does so with the signal that it is willing to make those concessions.

Which is why I'm betting that next week, next month, and beyond January, we will be in a Groundhog's Day of this chatter --- and then the declared March "window" will close for the Iranian Presidential elections.

And then?

Click to read more ...


The Latest from Iran (16 November): Taking Advantage of Gaza

15 June 2009: Protesters in Tehran, "No to Gaza, No Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran"

See also Iran Analysis: The Resurrection of Ahmadinejad's Right-Hand Man?
The Latest from Iran (15 November): Tehran's Open Call for Nuclear Talks

1641 GMT: Julian Borger of The Guardian offers the first soundbite from the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear programme:

Click to read more ...


The Latest from Iran (3 November): Will the Political Fighting Stop? (Probably Not.)

Sadegh Larijani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Larijani2135 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Earlier we noted the escalation of a statement by Mohammad-Hassan Asfari, a member of Parliament's National Security Committee, about a possible nuclear deal into a claim that Iran has unilaterally suspended enrichment of 20% uranium (see 1806 GMT).

Now an "informed source" has told Fars that the Islamic Republic is continuing the enrichment with "no changes".

2111 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Pedram Nasrollahi, a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations, has been sentenced to 19 months in prison by an Appeals Court.

Click to read more ...

Page 1 2 3 4 5 ... 8 Older Posts »