Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress in a speech today that the U.S. should abandon a proposed deal with Iran because it could help the country possess nuclear weapons in the near future. The U.S. is part of a coalition of nations negotiating an agreement with Iran for the country to temporarily stop pursuing nuclear technology. The U.S. and several other nations are offering relief from economic sanctions if Iran complies. In his speech, Netanyahu said, "We've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal, a very bad deal." He claimed that the agreement “will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons, lots of them." Specifically, he warned, "Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal because all the restrictions would basically expire in about a decade.”
His speech was extremely controversial in Washington, because it was done at the invitation of Republican lawmakers, not the Democratic White House. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi refused to clap during several standing ovations and issued a blistering statement following the speech, calling it an "insult to the intelligence of the United States." Netanyahu thanked the U.S. for their support, and added, “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political.” Throughout the speech, he underscored why he believed Iran remains an enemy of the U.S. and Israel, in hopes of preventing the proposed deal from moving forward. President Obama refused to meet Netanyahu out of concern that it would interfere with a coming meeting with officials from Iran. White House aids said that Obama did not plan on watching today’s speech on television ... Discuss
According to multiple reports, several Iranian young people arrested for appearing in a YouTube video dancing to Pharrell’s hit single “Happy” have been freed. The move comes after the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy," apparently in response to the arrests. Fox News reports that though the three dancers have been released, the video's director is still incarcerated. Authorities in the country—where co-ed dancing is illegal and women are prohibited from appearing without hijabs according to the Islamic law—tracked down the six dancers from the video soon after it started garnering thousands of views on YouTube. After news of the arrest began to spread online, human rights activists around the world tweeted their support for the filmmakers under the hashtag #FreeHappyIranians. Even Pharrell expressed his support for his fans, tweeting, “It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness" ... Discuss
"#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy." 29/6/2013
On Friday, the government of Iran agreed to a deal, saying that they would limit their nuclear program and give international inspectors more access to production sites within the country. In exchange, the United States and other western countries agreed to lift nearly $7 billion in financial sanctions. The agreement is part of an effort to prevent Iran from acquiring stockpiles of nuclear weapons. After signing the six-month deal, however, there did seem to be some confusion concerning some important details—over the weekend Iran President Hassan Rouhani said that the agreement preserved the country’s "right" to enrich uranium, a claim Secretary of State John Kerry disputed.
Despite the confusion, the deal has been met with both praise and criticism from other leaders. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and State Department official Thomas Pickering called it “The beginning of the end of the Iranian nuclear weapons program." But, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal with Tehran will be remember as “a historic mistake” and that the Iranian government can not be trusted. In Iran, non-elected local leaders and mullahs regularly call for the destruction of Israel … Discuss
Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Iranian officials today in Geneva to discuss a possible deal that would freeze the country’s nuclear program. In exchange for the “first stage” of an agreement to suspend the nuclear production for six months, the U.S. would lift economic sanctions against Iran. The possible deal is not without its critics though; according to a New York Time’s report, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the agreement would be a “grievous historic error,” because the country would still be able to enrich uranium and restart their nuclear program down the road. Even though U.S. officials are optimistic about the common ground that could be found in the agreement with Iran, they also confirmed that Iranian officials do not have any intention of breaking ties with their allies like Hezbollah or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ... Discuss
Evangelist Billy Graham has posted an open letter to recently-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on his ministry’s website, asking him to free Christian pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Abedini being sent to prison for unspecified charges of endangering Iran’s national security. Abedini’s case has been the subject of international scrutiny, with more than 650,000 people (including Secretary of State John Kerry) signing a petition requesting his release. In his letter, Graham said, “Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions."
President Hassan Rouhani recently made headlines after he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, saying that he hopes that the United States and Iran would be able to “work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart.” So far, Rouhani’s tone has been starkly different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At his first U.N. speech this week, Rouhani offered to negotiate with U.S. officials over the country’s controversial nuclear program, and in an interview with CNN, he further diverted from the rhetoric of Ahmadinejad, who famously called the holocaust a myth. Rouhani told CNN that "the crime the Nazis created toward the Jews is reprehensible and condemnable." So far, Rouhani’s administration is yet to issue a response to Graham’s letter … Discuss
Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote a scathing op-ed in the New York Times about how America is not “exceptional”, the new president of Iran has penned a piece for another major American newspaper. In an editorial for The Washington Post, Hassan Rouhani took a very different tone, saying that under his leadership, he hopes that Iran and the United States could “work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart.”
The newly elected leader claimed that his country’s nuclear program—a contentious issue between Iran and American allies—is only for energy. Though many world leaders remain skeptical about the claim, Rouhani said, "We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so." Rouhani wrote that, “Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think—and talk—about how to make things better." White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the President believes there could be “an opportunity for diplomacy,” but there are no plans for a face-to-face meeting … Discuss