WASHINGTON — Just four days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the Obama administration sought on Friday to refute the Israeli leader’s expected critique, arguing that he has failed to present a feasible alternative to American proposals for constraining Iran’s nuclear program.
In a briefing for reporters, senior administration officials contended that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extended period was preferable to a breakdown in talks that could allow the leadership in Tehran unfettered ability to produce enriched uranium and plutonium.
“The alternative to not having a deal is losing inspections,” said one senior official, who would not be quoted by name under conditions that the administration set for the briefing, “and an Iran ever closer to having the fissile material to manufacture a weapon.”
The briefing came at what appears to be a milestone in the talks.
Administration officials and their European counterparts appear to be preparing for some kind of agreement — one that could ultimately be frustrated by Congress or among hard-liners in Iran.
But the American officials speaking Friday avoided directly answering some questions about important outcomes of the agreement still being negotiated.
Asked whether the accord would guarantee that Iran would remain at least a year away from being able to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear weapon, a senior official said that the agreement was still under negotiation and that it was not yet clear how long the accord might last. He noted that some “transparency measures” that might provide insight into the inner workings of Iran’s nuclear activities might be in effect for an “extended period of time.”
Several news organizations, including The New York Times, reported this week that Iran’s capacity to produce enriched uranium would be sharply limited for at least a decade under a phased accord. But Tehran would be able to build up its capacity again in the last years of an agreement. That suggested that in those final years of a deal, Iran could move closer to where it is today — two or three months away from being able to produce a bomb’s worth of material, rather than the required year that the administration says is its bottom line for the first phase of an agreement.
The officials were also vague about whether, and how quickly, Iran would have to answer a dozen questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency about research it is suspected of carrying out on nuclear designs — what the agency calls the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program. The I.A.E.A., the United Nations’ inspection agency, said again last week that Iran stonewalled inspectors on answering most of its questions, which the Iranians insist are based on fabricated evidence.
Mr. Netanyahu, in a speech he is giving at the invitation of the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, is expected to argue that the agreement taking shape now would leave Iran with a vast infrastructure it could use to pursue the development of nuclear weapons once the agreement expired, allowing Iran to become a “nuclear threshold state.”
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that Mr. Netanyahu was wrong when he predicted that the interim agreement reached with Iran would fail and would result in the collapse of the sanctions regimen against Tehran, and administration officials suggested that his opposition to a comprehensive agreement was also wrongheaded.
But the concerns voiced by Mr. Netanyahu are also shared by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that are regional rivals of Iran. Mr. Kerry plans to meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and other Arab officials over the next week to try to reassure them about the agreement.
While the United States has taken the lead in the nuclear talks with the Iranians, the negotiating partners also include France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. European officials have suggested in recent days that an agreement is closer than the “50-50” assessment by Obama administration officials.
“We have made a substantial amount of progress,” the senior administration official acknowledged. “Ultimately, Iran has to make a very significant political decision to allow the flexibility to close this deal.”
The US president threatens to veto a bipartisan bill that authorizes Congress to review any possible nuclear deal the administration reaches with Iran.
That’s according to a statement by National Security Council Spokeswoman, Bernadette Meehan. The statement also called on US senators to avoid measures that complicate the process of the nuclear talks with Iran. Earlier, a group of US lawmakers introduced a motion that required President Barack Obama to submit the text of any agreement with Iran to Congress. The legislation allows Congress to have a say on the final terms of the nuclear deal. It also bars the Obama administration from suspending congressional sanctions on Iran for two months while Congress discusses the agreement.
A court in Vienna has handed a six-month conditional sentence to a young man who posted images of Islamic State atrocities and propaganda to his Facebook page.
The man’s name has not been made public; he has only been described as a 20-year-old Kurdish male from Vienna, Austria, Press Agency reported.
The man was among 13 people arrested by police at the end of November due to links with Mirsad O, and Islamic preacher from the Austrian capital who is accused of radicalizing youths and recruiting them to fight for the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.
Security was heightened around the courtroom during the trial; eight armed guards with balaclavas covering their faces were stationed outside.
The young man was sentenced for posting images of decapitated and impaled heads and other atrocities committed by IS jihadists in Syria and Iraq on his Facebook page.
The gruesome pictures were accompanied by approving comments from the owner of the account.
According to the man, he was born in Iraq and had “nothing to do with religion until the age of 15 or 16.”
But then the realization that he was surrounded by unworthy people, like “drug dealers, gamblers and idiots” made him turn to Islam, he said.
The young man acknowledged that posting Islamic State images online was “really stupid” of him.
“Decapitating someone is really disgusting, I’m the kind of person who can’t even stand the sight of his own blood,” he told the judge, adding that by his actions he only wanted to “provoke” his former friends.
The young man was initially handed a six-month prison sentence, but due to him having no previous criminal record, his punishment was reduced to a conditional sentence and three-year probation.
The man said the arrest has “really opened his eyes,” adding that he plans to work as a trainer at a gym after his sentence is over.
Earlier this week, Austria’s parliament passed controversial amendments to the country’s 1912 Islam law.
The bill, which is partly aimed at tackling radical Islam in the nation, bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations in the country and requires Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Koran.
Such restrictions are not applied to any other religion represented in Austria.
Half-a-million Muslims, the majority of whom are migrant workers from Turkey, make up around six percent of the country’s population.
Around 170 people have left Austria to fight for the jihadist Islamic State, which has established a caliphate ruled by Sharia law in parts of Syria and Iraq.
500 cases in a month. And that’s only who they are treating; the actual number is likely to be astronomically higher.
Back in July, UK Prime Minister David Cameron attended a summit with some 500 delegates from 50 countries — including survivors of the practice, heads of state and front line professionals in London.
However, although FGM is illegal in the UK, young girls born in Britain also live with the threat of FGM with an estimated 20,000 at risk of cutting each year.
Last year the Government’s forced marriage unit gave advice in more than 1,300 cases.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, writing for The Telegraph’s website said it is “heart breaking” that the “hidden crimes” of FGM and forced marriage still exist in society and still threaten the next generation of girls.
Yes, Theresa May is so concerned that she barred Robert Spencer and me from the UK so that such things would not be discussed in a candid manner.
Among the measures that were discussed at the summit are new laws enabling police to prosecute parents if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut. Victims will also be granted lifelong anonymity from the time an allegation of FGM is made.
At least 1,700 new cases — we see what a difference it has made.
The more Muslims immigrate to Western countries, and as the norming of sharia continues in the West, the more clitordectomies will become horrifyingly commonplace.
Dissemblers and deceivers claim that FGM is cultural phenomenon, not religious. But the fact is that it is an Islamic cultural phenomenon.
“500 new cases of female genital mutilation in one month are ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, campaigners warn,”by Lizzie Parry, MailOnline, February 27, 2015 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Five hundred women and girls living in England have been identified as victims of female genital mutilation in just one month, new figures show.
And campaigners have warned the numbers represent ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, estimating more than 130,000 women and girls in the country are affected by the issue.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), is a harmful traditional practice that involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia.
Campaigners told MailOnline today these figures will ‘increase significantly’ as more women access health care.
The statistics, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, include data from 126 eligible acute NHS trusts in England.
They reveal 2,242 active cases, where women and girls are currently being treated for FGM, while 499 new cases were identified in January.
From September last year to January this year, 2,603 new cases were reported nationally – 44 of which were in girls younger than 18.
In April last year, hospitals across England were told to start recording all cases of FGM they identified.
Mary Wandia, FGM programme manager at campaign group Equality Now, told MailOnline that FGM is ‘child abuse and an extreme human rights violation’.
‘Today’s figures are just the tip of the iceberg,’ she warned. ‘We will see these figures increasing significantly as more women access healthcare.
‘The figures also show that training of those who come in contact with girls at risk of FGM – and those affected by it – is urgently needed.
‘Health, social and education professionals don’t have clear pathways and don’t always know what to do.
‘FGM is child abuse, a human rights violation and an extreme human rights violation.
‘We have made huge progress on ensuring a joined-up approach to preventing it in the UK. It is no longer in the shadows and has is clearly on the national agenda.
WHAT IS FGM?
Female genital mutilation is the practice in which some or all of the female genitals are removed, typically with a blade or a razor and sometimes without anaesthesia.
This includes removing the clitoral and the fold of skin above it, and removing labia – the inner ‘lips’ of the vagina.
In the most severe form, the inner and outer labia are removed and the opening of the vagina is closed with a small hole so the woman can pass urine and menstrual blood.
Sometimes the vagina is then cut open for sex or childbirth.
Women sometimes bleed to death or can be left with horrifying health effects, such as infections, chronic pain, cysts, infertility and problems giving birth.
‘We just need to keep working to ensure that the law is properly implemented and that every single girl is protected.’
Ms Wandia said training for medical professionals is ‘essential’ in helping them recognise those women and girls affected – as well as those at risk.
She said: ‘Survivors of FGM urgently need physical, emotional and psychological support.’
Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May said that in the UK, 137,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM and a 60,000 are at risk.
The figures she cited, from a report from City University London in collaboration with Equality Now, estimated that 10,000 girls aged under 15 who migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM.
In July, the Government launched a £1.4 million programme to tackle FGM, with the aim of ending the practice within a generation.
This included bringing in laws to prosecute parents if they fail to prevent their daughters being cut.
It also requires collecting data about FGM in hospitals in England and training both health professionals and police officers to respond appropriately to cases of FGM.
Ms Wandia said: ‘This is not an issue that can be ignored any longer.
‘We also found that 60,000 girls born to mothers affected by FGM, lived in England and Wales in 2011.
‘African countries like Kenya and Burkina Faso have led the way on ending FGM globally.
‘We can end it within this generation but we need to continue to keep up the pressure to ensure governments are held accountable to their obligations.’
Meanwhile the children’s charity, the NSPCC, said since setting up FGM dedicated helpline in June 2013, they have received 521 calls from the public and professionals.
Of those, 214 of the cases have been referred to the police and children’s services.
John Cameron, head of child protection operations at the NSPCC, said: ‘FGM is a live public health issue and it is vital all health professionals are trained to spot the signs of FGM, and that girls who are subjected to this brutal practice get the post-traumatic support they deserve.
‘We need to ensure doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals are working effectively together with children’s services to support and protect FGM victims and their family members.’
The World Health Organisation recognise FGM as a ‘violation of the human rights of girls and women’.
‘It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women,’ the agency said.
‘The practice violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.’
It is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation.
Each year around three million women are thought to be at risk.
FGM ranges from the partial or total removal of the clitoris, to the removal of the entire clitoris and the cutting of the labia minora.
In it’s most extreme form, all external genitalia is removed and the two sides of a woman or girl’s vulva are stitched together.
FGM is generally done without anaesthetic, and can have lifelong health consequences including chronic infection, severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth and psychological trauma.
FGM has been a crime in the UK for 30 years, but there have been no convictions for the practice.
Last month the first trial took place in England.
A jury took fewer than 25 minutes to acquit Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, of carrying out the potentially lethal procedure on a new mother.
Another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, was also cleared of abetting the offence.
Anyone who is concerned or needs advice can call the NSPCC’s FGM helpline on 0800 0283550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org