Our World continues to be ever so complex. As we have gone to press for today's edition of "Notations on our World", we have been assessing the war in Ukraine. John Kerry is now in Kiev and the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany are due in Kiev and Moscow. United States is also assessing arming Ukraine--and the Russians are on the record noting that they would consider it a threat.
Beyond Ukraine, there is Iran. The Prime Minister of Israel is due in Washington to speak for more sanctions. It was quite an eye opener as this was reported by Haaretz:
Enough said as Consuls in U.S. warn: #Israel friends fear #Netanyahu speech to Congress will harm ties http://t.co/J6c4nkhX2K
— Mike Pouraryan (@mikepouraryan) February 5, 2015
The Prime Minister of Israel has rejected all criticism of this. We also had reached out selected Members of Congress and recently received this "cookie cutter" responose from Senator Feinstein's Office:
Dear Mr. Pouraryan:
Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. policy towards Iran. I appreciate hearing from you on this important topic, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. I support our existing sanctions against Iran, but oppose adding more sanctions at this time in order to give diplomacy a chance; let me explain why.
I remain deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear program, and I strongly believe that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. As a result, I have supported significant sanctions against Iran in recent years in an effort to compel its government to come to the negotiating table in earnest.
It is abundantly clear that economic sanctions have placed Iran's economy under severe pressure. Iran's crude oil exports have declined from 2.5 million barrels per day to about 1 million; its economy shrank by 5.8 percent in 2013; inflation, unemployment and underemployment have all increased dramatically; and Iran's government is now running a budget deficit as high as $36 billion per year.
Faced with the economic pressure imposed by our sanctions coupled with international isolation, last year Iran elected a new President, Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned in support of improving the economy, establishing better relations with the world, and increasing nuclear transparency. Recognizing that Iran's economy cannot improve while our sanctions limit Iran's oil exports and choke its international trade, President Rouhani has finally brought Iran to the negotiating table.
On November 24, 2013, Iran and the P5+1 countries (the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K., France, and Germany) concluded an interim nuclear agreement—known as the Joint Plan of Action—that freezes Iran's nuclear program in place in exchange for limited, reversible sanctions relief. The interim agreement came into force on January 20, 2014, and has been extended until November 24, 2014. This time will allow negotiations to continue toward a binding, comprehensive nuclear agreement that ensures Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.
While no option should be removed from the table, I strongly support diplomatic efforts to resolve concerns about Iran's nuclear program. I believe this Joint Plan of Action represents the best opportunity to peacefully curtail Iran's nuclear program that I have seen in a decade. There has been a recent effort to immediately impose additional sanctions against Iran and to require unrealistic concessions from Iran. I concur with the judgment of the Intelligence Community that such sanctions would undermine the prospect of a diplomatic solution. That is why I oppose Iran sanction legislation at this time.
Please be assured that I am very closely monitoring Iranian compliance with the interim nuclear deal and ongoing negotiations. I have carefully noted your views, and I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to discuss and debate U.S. policy towards Iran with my Senate colleagues and the Obama Administration.
Once again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will continue to keep me informed about issues of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at www.feinstein.senate.gov. Best regards.
United States Senator
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available at my website,feinstein.senate.gov. And please visit my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to communicate with me.
In our view, some of the We here @ Outsiders remain hopeful despite all the continued challenges at hand.