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Peter Jenkins : A strange way to build trust with Iran

Editor’s note: Mr. Jenkins is absolutely right on all counts. So why is Mrs. Rice parroting that prepared propaganda nonsense that is put in front of her? That is the real question, and not why the position of the US Administration regarding Iran is so clearly tilted the wrong way.

Divining the Obama administration’s foreign policy intentions can be intellectually challenging.


by Peter Jenkins

Former UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna)


At the beginning of February the US Vice President appeared to be offering Iran an opportunity to enter into bilateral talks on the nuclear dispute.

Three weeks ago the US was encouraging its European allies to review their opening position for the upcoming Almaty talks and be open to demanding a bit less of Iran while offering a little more.

Two weeks ago the Secretary of State was hailing the outcome of the Almaty meeting as useful and expressing hope that serious engagement could lead to a comprehensive agreement.

Yet last week in New York, addressing a UN Security Council committee, Ambassador Susan Rice, a member of President Obama’s cabinet, was speaking of Iran as though nothing had changed since the end of January.


There are many clever people working for the Obama administration. So I suppose we must assume that this apparent incoherence is in fact part of a highly sophisticated stratagem, which will deliver what most — though not all — of us want: peace in our time.
Any, though, who are less inclined to think more of US officials than former British diplomats do, should be forgiven for feeling perplexed — perhaps even a little worried — by Ambassador Rice’s remarks.

Let me try to illustrate that by reviewing a few of her points from the position of a Non-Aligned (NAM) member of the UN. Of course, a former British diplomat cannot hope to imagine the thoughts of NAM counterparts with pin-point accuracy. But I have rubbed shoulders with NAM diplomats for a sufficient number of years, and listened to enough of their intergovernmental interventions, to have a rough idea of what impression Ambassador Rice will have made.

“The Iranian nuclear issue remains one of the gravest threats to international security” she intoned. Really? I, as a NAM diplomat, am not sure Iran has ever violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and am certain Iran has not violated that treaty’s most important provisions. Surely North Korea, which has just conducted its third nuclear test, is a greater threat? And what about Israel, which possesses hundreds of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, as well as sophisticated long-range delivery systems? What about India and Pakistan, which came close to nuclear blows in 2002? What about Israel’s refusal to withdraw from territories it has occupied for over 45 years, a standing affront to Arab self-respect? What about the potential consequences of Western-sponsored civil war in Syria, civil unrest in Iraq, and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan?

“We meet at a time of growing risks.” Is that so? Surely the latest International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report suggests that Iran is being careful to deny Israel’s Prime Minister a pretext to draw the US into a war of aggression?

“[Iran is] obstruct[ing] the IAEA’s investigation into the program’s possible military dimension by refusing to grant access to the Parchin site.” Well, yes. But surely the question of access to Parchin is legally more open to dispute than this implies? And hasn’t the US intelligence community concluded that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program ten years ago? Don’t the IAEA’s suspicions relate to experiments that may have taken place more than ten years ago and that would have involved only a few grams of nuclear material? Why all the fuss?

“More alarming still…Iran is now….installing hundreds of second-generation centrifuges”. Why is this so alarming? Surely Iran has declared this installation to the IAEA, will submit the machines’ operations to frequent IAEA inspection and intends to use them to produce low-enriched uranium for which Iran will account? Developing centrifuge technology under IAEA safeguards is not a treaty violation.

“These actions are unnecessary and thus provocative.” Since when have states been entitled to dictate what is necessary to one another? Some states certainly don’t see these actions as provocative.

“[Iran’s missile launches] allow Iran to develop a technology that [could] constitute an intolerable threat to peace and security.” Iran has no treaty obligation to refrain from developing missile technology. Many other states have done so. And, didn’t I (NAM diplomat) read recently on the US Congressional Research Service that Iran is unlikely to have an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2015?

“Working together, we can continue to clarify for Iran the consequences of its actions and show Iran the benefits of choosing cooperation over provocation.” My, that sounds patronising, even a little threatening! Will it encourage Iranians to believe that the latest US offer of engagement is sincere?

So what, US readers may feel. The US can say what it likes; it’s a Great Power. Yes, but a power that has the misfortune to be great in an age when greatness confers responsibility for nurturing a law-based international system.

It doesn’t do much good to that system for US ambassadors to sound unreasonable, alarmist, bereft of a sense of proportion and perhaps a little inclined to double standards. Good leaders lead from the middle, not one of the extremities.

And could it be the case that the US is a Great Power that needs a diplomatic solution to an intractable dispute? Neither the Pentagon nor the US public wants another war at this stage. Sanctions have been hurting innocent Iranians but benefitting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and conservative elite, who feel confident of their ability to contain popular discontent.

When one is running out of options, negotiating theorists suggest that building trust in one’s good faith is a better tactic than dishing out hyperbole and half-truths.

Photo Credit: US Embassy New Delhi/Flickr

Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna). Since 2006 he has represented the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, advised the Director of IIASA and set up a partnership, ADRgAmbassadors, with former diplomatic colleagues, to offer the corporate sector dispute resolution and solutions to cross-border problems. He was an associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy from 2010 to 2012. He writes and speaks on nuclear and trade policy issues.


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Posted by on March 16, 2013, With 0 Reads, Filed under Afghanistan War (2002-?), Africa Wars, Libyan Civil War (2011-?), War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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8 Responses to "Peter Jenkins : A strange way to build trust with Iran"

  1. Debbie Menon  March 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm


    As I have said, Obama is not going after Iran. He is playing games with congress, owned by Israel, that we have seen the past four years. Why do you think they spend millions to try to get rid of him? Why is mainstream Zionists media attacking him ? Is he not playing the game ? Is it because he is not going after Iran which is their main aim?

    I agree that President Obama is NOT perfect. And yeah, his policies are NOT something everyone would agree with. And yes, we are happy to examine the policies and report on them.

  2. rexw  March 17, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Like Dave, I really wonder about the visit to Israel but we will never know the real story until something really disastrous happens. And it will.
    Sadly he is mixing it perhaps the most evil man in the world right now, Cheney having been retired for some time and still not indicted for the crimes of the century, any century, that is.

    Time for a bit more theatre.

    The situation is such that one feels the weight of Obama’s thinking and like Debbie, I have a serious element of sympathy for his position. Yes, the use of the manipulated and totally ignorant team of Blair and Clinton is the culmination of Jewish deception and Israel has used and will continue to use such naive fools. But then again, maybe for the life they have left, they are just feathering their nests. Can’t blame them. It is par for the course in UK, US and in politics all around the world. Just look at Agent Cameron, the blatant warmonger Hague and on. Even Chuck Hagel, pandering to the military industrialists in the purchase of new defensive measures based on a ‘threat’ from a tiny little country like North Korea that has a rocket capability. Easy to see through that one. Should take the US debt up to $17 Trillion in no time at all.

    “Getting interesting”, Debbie? It is a worse scenario that the world has ever seen, in my opinion.

    I would personally guess now, after all that has happened and is in train at the moment, that either Obama or the US through Obama is under some sort or major blackmail threat, all to do with nuclear warheads. What else could make the best equipped military force, the most ferocious and warlike country, with 900+ bases and an insatiable appetite for military hegemony, bow and scrape to an arrogant upstart?

    How about….

    *a series of nuclear weapons already insitu in places like New York. Easy to have done this over time

    *a foreclosure or similar on the bankrupt US by the 9 Jewish banks that make up the Federal Reserve. How the hell was that ever allowed to come to pass?

    *a threat to Obama himself. Remember Kennedy? Still unresolved. Want to re-consider 9/11, which like the Kennedy assassination was just another unresolved crime, or perhaps, even something far worse?

    Obama appears to be a decent man as much as any can tell in the foggy politics of America, somewhat rhetorical but hopefully not a stooge. Why would he knuckle under or even visit a country like Israel, a disgraceful and evil pariah state with a dirty, disrespected reputation?

    Please do not say, “the Peace Process”. We have had enough of that charade!
    66 years of inhumanity, US vetos in support of Israel and a weak UN.

    Israel really is the center for all the world’s ills, so what should we do about them.

    • DaveE  March 17, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Well put…… can’t argue……. Obama is still an enigma to me. Seems like a decent guy, but then again, his actions tell a different tale…… I just don’t know.

      My pet theory goes something like this:

      Israel called Obama and BEGGED him to come. “Can we PLEASE have a sit-down (to use the old Mafia term) face-to-face and TALK about things? C’mon, old boy, we have so much to discuss……”

      Meanwhile, the Jewish press loudly plays up (right or wrong) that Obama is coming to Israel to discuss war-plans against Iran.

      Obama is out of the country, in ISRAEL the Great Satan no less, discussing war plans. What better pretext for a false-flag nuclear attack by Israel against on some (or several) US cities?

      That’s my guess…….. but I have never prayed harder to be proven WRONG………

  3. DaveE  March 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I just can’t see Obama traveling all the way to Israel to read Netanyahu the Riot Act. It would be like an errant schoolboy being summoned to the Principle’s Office (Headmaster for you Brits) and telling the Principle to eff off. Ain’t gonna happen.

    More likely Obama’s gonna talk about how they can start a war with Iran without exposing themselves. Or, more likely still, Israel is going to pull another false-flag attack on the US, like 9/11 only much worse and Obama being out of the country in Israel will serve to a.) give pretext to the Muslim world for an “attack” to be blamed on them b.) save Obama’s filthy rear from being dealt the justice he so richly deserves.

    Things are gonna get interesting, no matter what.

    • Debbie Menon  March 17, 2013 at 4:27 am


      US sits bogged down in failed yesterdays, mudholes. Unfortunately, that hole they are excavating is right smack into the center of the Zionist cesspool. For two decades the Chomskys, Blums, anti-imperialists,so-called progressives Rob Kall et al through their complicity enabled the Lobby, AIPAC and their numerous PACs grow and gain in strength and influence.

      Obama is squeezed between two choices each with consequences to his country. Netanyahu and the Neocons (Ziocons) have political weapons (Arabs & Muslims don’t) and does use them regularly all the time, such as recent Jewish votes and threats of election result, plus the Republican and dual citizens loyalist flushed with Jewish lobby money. All of them are very persuasive methods politicians hold higher than morality or the good of the USA. A pretty disgusting view of what US have become. Nobody was talking about this the past two decades (with the exception of Mearsh & Walt), none of the anti-Imperialists did, go figure why? Chomsky and a number of those Jews whom we discuss who are on the right side of the fence, but for all the wrong reasons,….. good, Jewish folk, anti-Zionist, which makes them look good, but Israeli Firsters who have different bottom lines and long term agendas.

      The exposure has reached fever pitch since Obama came to office. Picking Hagel in his second term to head the Pentagon was a smart move with the ensuing anti-Israel statements to provoke a reaction; in one masterstroke he exposed the Israeli stooges all of them in both parties and the power of the Lobby. Obama must hate his job. One man cannot do anything like Chas Freeman said. Obama could have opted for the easier way out and the good life, he didn’t. He snubbed the Israeli PM not once but twice, denying him (them) the photo-op they so like to splash in the Media. Hillary is being groomed by jewish money for the future. They have made good use of ambitious, weak politicians like Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton. She is assured of success by her zionist friends. Obama has managed to delay an attack on Iran thus far, and I am confident there will be no attack on Iran on his watch, unless a false flag is carried out by CIA & Mossad — two peas in a pod.

      Yes! Things are gonna get interesting, no matter what.

      • DaveE  March 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

        I guess it boils down to the same question I’ve been asking for the last four years…… What does Obama WANT? I still have no idea what his intentions are. He MUST have some, though. I don’t buy that he’s just a hapless mosquito carried along by the wind. You don’t get to be POTUS by being completely passive.

        Or maybe he’s playing the zionists like a kazoo…… and keeping himself breathing……. two conflicting goals and not easy to do. I hope this is the case.

        I think this week my be a BIG one!

        • Debbie Menon  March 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

          DaveE, I urge you to cut Obama some slack, he is just one man with a family to protect and a country that’s conquered. The Buck stops in Tel Aviv with the newly elected ideological party that can easily gobble up a hundred little US Presidents before breakfast.

          CICERO (Marcus Tullius Cicero). First century B.C. Roman statesman, writer.

          “Softly! Softly! I want none but the judges to hear me. The Jews have already gotten me into a fine mess, as they have many other gentleman. I have no desire to furnish further grist for their mills.” (Oration in Defense of Flaccus)

          Cicero was serving as defense counsel at the trial of Flaccus, a Roman official who interfered with Jewish gold shipments to their international headquarters (then, as now) in Jerusalem. Cicero himself certainly was not a nobody, and for one of this stature to have to “speak softly” shows that he was in the presence of a dangerously powerful sphere of influence.
          and on another occasion Cicero wrote:

          “The Jews belong to a dark and repulsive force. One knows how numerous this clique is, how they stick together and what power they exercise through their unions. They are a nation of rascals and deceivers.”

          SENECA (Lucius Annaeus Seneca). First century Roman philosopher.

          “The customs of that most criminal nation have gained such strength that they have now been received in all lands. The conquered have given laws to the conquerors.”

          ‘Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.’

          With apologies to all decent jews. I mean that sincerely.

          • DaveE  March 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm

            Those are great quotes, Debbie. Thank you. As for Obama, we’ll see quite soon what he really intends, whether we want to or not.

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