WBEZ | Iran http://www.wbez.org/tags/iran Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Worldview: January 22, 2016 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-22/worldview-january-22-2016-114583 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Iran-Pakistan.jpg" title="Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243300801&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Pakistan mediates diplomatic crisis in Middle East</span><br />Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained ever since Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric earlier this month. That move led to protests in Iran and Saudi Arabia recalling its Ambassador from Tehran. Now, Pakistan has made a move to help mediate a reconciliation between the two countries. Earlier this week &nbsp;Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, went to Riyadh in an attempt to ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We&rsquo;ll take a look at why Pakistan has decided to take on the role of mediator with Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and Jamestown Foundation.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guest:</strong> Alex Vatanka is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and Jamestown Foundation.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Zulu%20Dawn%201.jpg" title="The original movie poster for the 1979 film, Zulu Dawn (Courtesy of Samarkand)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243300797&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Zulu Dawn and the 137th anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana</span><br />On January 22nd, 1879, Zulu tribesmen slaughtered British forces at the Battle of Isandlwana, in present-day South Africa. <em>Zulu Dawn</em>, a 1979 film that dramatizes the events, stars Peter O&rsquo;Toole and Burt Lancaster. Comedian Aaron Freeman says he used to have an annual viewing party to mark the Battle of Isandlwana because it&rsquo;s one time when the colonized beat the colonizers. For the 137th anniversary of the Battle, WBEZ film contributor and director of Facets Multimedia, Milos Stehlik, joins Freeman to discuss <em>Zulu Dawn</em> with the film&rsquo;s co-producer, Nate Kohn, currently professor of entertainment &amp; media studies at the University of Georgia.</p><p dir="ltr">Guest: Milos Stehlik, is the director of Facets Multimedia.<br />Guest: &nbsp;Aaron Freeman is a comedian.<br />Guest: &nbsp;Nate Kohn is a filmmaker and co-producer of <em>Zulu Dawn</em></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Weekend%20Passport-rick-schoogirls-iran.jpg" title="Rick Steves with schoolgirls in Iran. (Courtesy of Rick Steves)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243300794&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Weekend Passport: Rick Steves on how, why and where to travel</span><br />Each week global citizen Nari Safavi helps listeners plan their global weekend. This week he&rsquo;ll get a little help from travel guru Rick Steves, who helps listeners plan more than just an international weekend. Steves is in Chicago for the 2016 Chicago Travel and Adventure Show.</p><p>Guest: Nari Safavi is &nbsp;co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange.<br />Guest: Rick Steves is a travel writer and &nbsp;host of <em>Rick Steves&rsquo; Europe</em>.</p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 17:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-22/worldview-january-22-2016-114583 Iran accuses Saudis of attacking its Yemen embassy http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-08/iran-accuses-saudis-attacking-its-yemen-embassy-114420 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/010816%20IRAN-SAUDIS%20CMS_0.jpg" title="Iranian worshippers attend rally to protest execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric, after Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 8, 2016. Thousands of worshippers carried pictures of al-Nimr chanting ‘death to Al Saud’ referencing the kingdom's royal family. The poster reads: ’We all sacrifice for you Islam’. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/241011972&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 24px;">Iran accuses Saudis of targeting its Yemen embassy in airstrike</span></strong></p><p>The diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran took another downward turn when Iran accused Saudi Arabia of deliberately targeting its Yemen embassy in an airstrike. Recent hostilities began between the countries after Saudi Arabia executed noted Shi&rsquo;a cleric, Nimr al-Nimr. In response, Iranian protesters charged and damaged the Saudi embassy in Tehran. We&rsquo;ll get more on the brewing situation with Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan. His blog is Informed Comment and he&rsquo;s author most recently of the book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.</p><p><strong>GUESTS:</strong> <a href="http://www.juancole.com/">Juan Cole</a> is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate professor of history at the University of Michigan and author of the book, <em>The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East</em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/241012414&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><strong>Weekend Passport: Peruvian opera, &ldquo;Bel Canto&rdquo;</strong></span></p><p>Each week, global citizen, Nari Safavi, helps listeners plan their international weekend. This week he&rsquo;ll tell us about an opera inspired by the Peruvian hostage crisis of 1996. Bel Canto is currently running at Lyric Opera in Chicago.</p><p><strong>GUESTS:</strong></p><p>Nari Safavi is co-founder of <a href="http://www.pasfarda.org/">Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange</a></p><p><a href="http://www.jimmylopez.com/">Jimmy Lopez</a> is the composer of the opera, &#39;Bel Canto&#39;</p><p><a href="https://www.lyricopera.org/concertstickets/calendar/2015-2016/productions/lyricopera/bel-canto">&#39;Bel Canto&#39;</a> is playing at the Lyric Opera of Chicago through Sunday, Jnauary 17, 2016</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/241012735&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><strong>Milos Stehlik reviews films, &lsquo;The Revenant&rsquo; and &lsquo;Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>WBEZ Film contributor, Milos Stehlik, joins us to talk about films showing this weekend, including &ldquo;The Revenant,&rdquo; starring Leonardo DiCaprio and a new film about Peggy Guggenheim, the art collector known for her modern art collection, called &ldquo;Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict&rdquo;.</p><p><em>Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict is playing at Music Box Theatre</em></p><p><strong>GUESTS:</strong> Milos Stehlik is WBEZ&rsquo;s film contributor and director of <a href="http://www.facets.org">Facets Multimedia</a>.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 09:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-08/iran-accuses-saudis-attacking-its-yemen-embassy-114420 Saudi Arabia-Iran crisis deepens http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-05/saudi-arabia-iran-crisis-deepens-114383 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sadri%20Big%20small.jpg" title="In this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016 file photo, Iranian and Turkish demonstrators hold pictures of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as they protest outside the Saudi Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which began with the kingdom’s execution of al-Nimr and later saw attacks on Saudi diplomatic posts in the Islamic Republic, have seen countries around the world respond. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240544135&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Fallout between Saudi Arabia and Iran deepens</strong></span></p><p>The fallout from the diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran continues to spread across the Middle East. Kuwait is the latest country to take sides. The country recalled its Ambassador from Tehran. The crisis began after Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric over the weekend, leading to protests in Iran and fires at the Saudi embassy in Iran.&nbsp; Saudi Arabia then severed diplomatic ties with Iran. There are concerns the ongoing crisis will lead to more sectarian violence in the region.&nbsp; We&rsquo;ll examine the root causes of the row with Ahmad Sadri, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong> <a href="https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/faculty/sadri/">Ahmad Sadri</a> is a<a href="http://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/faculty/sadri/"> professor of sociology and anthropology</a> at Lake Forest College<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240544819&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Could militant attacks jeopardize India&rsquo;s relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan?</strong></span></p><p>Pakistan&rsquo;s government says it&rsquo;s using info provided by India to investigate Saturday attacks by militants on an Indian air force base near their shared border. The assault killed seven Indian security personnel. The incident comes as the rival nations move towards &ldquo;reconciliation talks&rdquo;. Islamabad wants the talks to go forward, but New Delhi is waiting on the investigation and Pakistan&rsquo;s response. India suspects the attack was planned by the Pakistani militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. Also on Saturday, attackers died in a gunfight at an airfield in the town of Pathankot - also on the India/Pakistan border. And on Monday, Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, briefed Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on an attack on the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sumit Ganguly is professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations and director of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University-Bloomington. He&rsquo;ll share his thoughts on the skirmishes and what they could mean for India&rsquo;s relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan.</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong> <a href="http://polisci.indiana.edu/faculty/profiles/sganguly.shtml">Sumit Ganguly</a>, professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations and director of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University-Bloomington<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240545646&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Can Ukraine and Russia reach Compromise?</strong></span></p><p>Ukraine says it plans to ask the United Nations (UN) for a peacekeeping mission in the Donbass region in the country&rsquo;s East &ndash; the setting for ongoing fighting between government forces and Russian-backed rebels.&nbsp; Russia recently banned the import of some Ukrainian foods. In response, Ukraine issued its own ban on Russian goods. We&rsquo;ll ask Anders Aslund, if there is any room for compromise. He&rsquo;s senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of the book, <em>Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It</em>.</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong> <a href="http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/experts/list/anders-aslund">Anders Aslund</a> is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He&rsquo;s the author of <em>Ukraine. What Went Wrong and How to Fix It.</em><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240546402&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Prisoner of the Week: Chicagoan, Alie Kabba, denied bail in Sierra Leone</strong></span></p><p>Ali Kabba, former executive director of the Chicago-based United Africa Organization, is currently imprisoned in Sierra Leone. Kabba is seeking to run for President in the country. Arrested on charges of bigamy in early December, Kabba has been an outspoken critic of the current government. His campaign declares the charges false. Yesterday, after a court appearance, he was denied bail. We&rsquo;ll talk about the charges against Kabba with Kobe William, Chicagoland regional campaign manager for Alie Kabba.</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong> Kobe (Koe bee) William is the Chicagoland regional campaign manager for Ali Kabba. Kabba is running for president of Sierra Leone.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 13:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-05/saudi-arabia-iran-crisis-deepens-114383 Who Was the Shiite Sheikh Executed by Saudi Arabia? http://www.wbez.org/news/who-was-shiite-sheikh-executed-saudi-arabia-114370 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nimr-al-nimr-596f61b34113a22e2ef9fb546ca855ad30090afd.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res461918222" previewtitle="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/nimr-al-nimr_custom-7c26ccfff68e0b708164aebbb23f5ecfe3863bc1-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad. (Ali Abbas/EPA /Landov)" /></div><div><div><p>Saudi Arabia&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/02/461754062/saudi-arabia-executes-47-including-prominent-cleric">execution of leading Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr</a>&nbsp;on Saturday<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/02/461754062/saudi-arabia-executes-47-including-prominent-cleric">&nbsp;</a>sparked a violent protest at the Saudi Embassy in Iran&#39;s capital, Tehran. Saudi Arabia then quickly severed ties with its longtime regional rival.</p></div></div></div><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461890063/bahrain-joins-saudi-arabia-cutting-diplomatic-ties-with-iran">As the broader Middle East reacts</a>&nbsp;to the dramatic deterioration in relations between the two countries, which have long been strained, here&#39;s a look at who Nimr was.</p><p>The cleric was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, calling for more rights for the country&#39;s marginalized Shiite community.</p><p>Saudi Arabian Shias say they&#39;re treated like &quot;second-class citizens because they don&#39;t conform to the strict Sunni interpretation of Islam that defines the nation,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/05/09/405415756/saudi-shiites-fear-a-backlash-from-neighbor-yemen">as NPR&#39;s Leila Fadel reported</a>&nbsp;from a mostly Shiite province in Saudi Arabia last year. &quot;They can&#39;t hold high-ranking government or military positions, and they can&#39;t teach religion in public schools,&quot; Leila said.</p><p>&quot;From the day I was born and to this day, I&#39;ve never felt safe or secure in this country,&quot; Nimr said in a speech in 2011. &quot;We are not loyal to other countries or authorities, nor are we loyal to this country. What is this country? The regime that oppresses me? The regime that steals my money, sheds my blood, and violates my honor?&quot;</p><p>Leila says the Saudi government has portrayed Nimr as a violent radical loyal to Iran. Here&#39;s more from Leila:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;He spent some 15 years in exile, returning in the mid-90s.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;After that, he was in and out of prison for calling for free elections and at one point he suggested that the Shia majority eastern province, Qatif, secede from Saudi Arabia if demands weren&#39;t met.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Nimr played a major role in demonstrations by Saudi&#39;s Shias in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. At a protest in July 2012, he was arrested after being shot in the leg by police.</p><p>&quot;The cleric represents a more radical strain among Saudi Shiites, who feel the community&#39;s established leaders have failed to make headway with ending what they see as systematic discrimination,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-arrest-idUSBRE8670GH20120708">Reuters reported following Nimr&#39;s arrest</a>.</p><p><a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08RIYADH1283_a.html">According to a purported cable released by WikiLeaks</a>, a State Department official met with Nimr in 2008 in his hometown of Awamiyya, where Nimr said he was &quot;against the idea that Saudi Shi&#39;a should expect Iranian support based on some idea of sectarian unity that supersedes national politics.&quot; Here&#39;s more from the cable:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Al-Nimr is currently gaining popularity locally, particularly with young people, as his words appeal to those disaffected by the general economic malaise experienced by Saudi Arabia&#39;s lower classes and a perceived lack of sufficient [Saudi Arabian Government] reform in relations with the Shi&#39;a community. Meanwhile, at a national and international level, with everyone from Salafi sheikhs to regional intelligence agencies, al-Nimr&#39;s words have gained him increased notoriety due to fears that his words will spark unrest and perhaps point to an Iranian hand in Saudi Arabia.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Years later, &quot;he would differ with Iran on the subject of Syria ... [and] he denounced the oppression of the Syrian regime, even though it&#39;s backed by Tehran,&quot; Leila reported.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/18/357108117/saudi-clerics-death-sentence-focuses-shia-anger-on-ruling-family">Nimr was sentenced to death</a>&nbsp;in a closed trial on charges such as being disloyal to the ruling family, using violence and seeking foreign meddling. The case was widely criticized by rights groups.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/03/461862259/saudi-arabia-iran-face-off-as-sectarian-tensions-escalate-after-executions">As NPR&#39;s Deborah Amos reported</a>, Nimr&#39;s execution &quot;came as a surprise to many in Saudi, but the Saudi leadership was well aware of likely turbulent reactions.&quot; This is how one Gulf analyst described what motivated Saudi here:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;&#39;Carrying out the death sentence on Nimr sends a strong message to Saudi Arabia&#39;s aggrieved Shiite minority that Iran has no say in internal Saudi decisions and domestic dissent has limits.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&#39;There is also a calculation,&#39; says the analyst, &#39;the Saudis want to consolidate their alliances in the region &mdash; that would lead to a stark choice between the two sides.&#39; &quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461912757/who-was-the-shiite-sheikh-executed-by-saudi-arabia?ft=nprml&amp;f=461912757" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 15:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/who-was-shiite-sheikh-executed-saudi-arabia-114370 Saudi Arabia and Iran: Here's How Their Feud Could Escalate http://www.wbez.org/news/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate-114369 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_536552069669_custom-0f70519f7df98ab8092e0ad1b2229807d46d6938-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res461932953" previewtitle="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/ap_536552069669_custom-0f70519f7df98ab8092e0ad1b2229807d46d6938-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 620px;" title="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>In a Middle East already aflame,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/03/461862259/saudi-arabia-iran-face-off-as-sectarian-tensions-escalate-after-executions" target="_blank">a fresh feud</a>&nbsp;between Saudi Arabia and Iran threatens to complicate most every major issue from the Iranian nuclear deal to the Syrian civil war to global oil markets.</p></div></div></div><p>These are all U.S. priorities and the Obama administration finds itself staring at another Middle Eastern conundrum.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/iran-saudi-arabia-us-syria-217318" target="_blank">White House spokesman Josh Earnest</a>&nbsp;on Monday called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to exercise restraint and offered mild criticism of both.</p><p>His language pointed to the difficult position facing the administration. If the U.S. sides openly with its long-time ally Saudi Arabia, it will antagonize Iran, where President Obama has sought to move past decades of relentless hostility.</p><p>Yet if the White House opts for a balanced approach, Saudi Arabia could take it as an insult, feeling its close relationship with Washington is being sacrificed as part of U.S. outreach to Iran.</p><p>Saudi Arabia sees itself as the standard bearer of Sunni Islam and Iran regards itself as the defender of Shiite Muslims everywhere.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35221569" target="_blank">Their sectarian competition</a>&nbsp;has been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2007/02/12/7332087/the-origins-of-the-shiite-sunni-split" target="_blank">a fundamental fault line in the Middle East</a>&nbsp;for decades.</p><p>In broad strokes, the rivalry ramped up dramatically after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2007/02/14/7392405/export-of-irans-revolution-spawns-violence" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s 1979 Islamic Revolution</a>&nbsp;and its efforts to export its brand of radical Islam among Shiites, a minority in the Muslim world that often feels oppressed by the far larger Sunni population. As Iran has sought greater influence, Sunnis have pushed back.</p><p>The rivalry has only intensified during the Middle East uprisings of the past several years, with the Saudis and Iranians waging proxy battles on multiple fronts.</p><p>The latest friction comes at a key moment for both states. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013 with a pledge to open up his country to the outside world, revive the economy and pursue at least limited social reforms.</p><p>Saudi Arabia&#39;s King Salman ascended the throne just last year and has shown signs of acting in a more decisive manner than his predecessors. His boldest move has been a bombing campaign in Yemen, where the Saudis and Iran are on opposite sides of that country&#39;s war.</p><p>Here are several other places where the Saudi-Iranian friction is likely to play out:</p><div id="res461930231"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p><strong>Syria&#39;s Cease-Fire Talks:&nbsp;</strong>This may be the most immediate casualty, with the already slim chances for a truce in Syria now facing even longer odds, according to Ali Ansari, a history professor specializing in Iran at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The discussions set for Jan. 25 in Geneva are now likely to be &quot;delayed, if not shelved,&quot; he said in an interview on Monday.</p><p>Just last month, the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers both took part in<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/05/world/middleeast/bahrain-sudan-united-arab-emirates-join-diplomatic-feud-against-iran.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">&nbsp;high-level talks in New York</a>&nbsp;on the Syrian war, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed it as an important step.</p><p>But Iran and Saudi are on opposite sides in the Syrian war, one of their main battlegrounds, and will be less inclined to compromise in the current atmosphere. For Persian Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad is their most important Arab ally and they have propped him up since the uprising against him began nearly five years ago. Assad is an Alawite, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.</p><p>The Saudis, in turn, believe their fellow Sunnis, who make up the majority in Syria, should run the country. The Saudis are part of the U.S.-led coalition and have supported opposition factions in Syria throughout the war.</p><p><strong>The Oil Market:&nbsp;</strong>Saudi Arabia is the world&#39;s largest oil exporter and could cut production to push up prices that have fallen below $40 a barrel, down from more than $100 in the summer of 2014.</p><p>But Saudi has made clear it&#39;s willing to endure the pain of lower oil prices. Why? According to analysts, at least part of the Saudi calculation is that it doesn&#39;t want to help Iran, which is anticipating the lifting of international sanctions that will allow it resume as a major player in the oil market.</p><p>The Saudis are betting that their large cash reserves will allow them to hold out longer and retain their current share of the market compared to Iran and other countries that have much weaker economies.</p><p>If this analysis proves accurate, then oil production is likely to remain high and world prices low. But there&#39;s always the risk that one of the Middle East&#39;s many conflicts could disrupt the flow of oil, cutting supplies and pushing up prices. That hasn&#39;t happened, but the Saudis and the Iranians both export through the crowded waterways of the Gulf.</p><div id="res461933799" previewtitle="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (seen on the signs). He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (seen on the signs). He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/gettyimages-503342552_custom-032fd55d65f2baab578193933fd6157b6e8d80be-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 391px; width: 620px;" title="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, as seen on the signs. He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p><strong>Iran Nuclear Deal:</strong>&nbsp;The early signs on the deal between Iran and six world powers have been mostly positive. Iran has been scaling back its nuclear program at a pace that exceeds what many expected. The country could meet the targets as soon as this month, which would trigger &quot;implementation day,&quot; meaning many sanctions would be lifted and Iran would start to get some $100 billion in oil revenues that has been withheld.</p></div></div></div><p>However, Iran has also staged ballistic missile tests, arguing this is not part of the nuclear deal.</p><p>This has prompted critics of the nuclear pact to renew their objections. And Saudi Arabia, along with Israel&#39;s government and conservatives in the U.S., have been the leading opponents of the deal. They may not be in a position to derail it. But even if the agreement stays on track, it may not build confidence if other disputes in the region keep tensions running high.</p><p>Many Iranians have high hopes that end of sanctions will improve their quality of life. But if that doesn&#39;t happen, the deal could then be blamed for ongoing problems.</p><p><strong>Domestic Politics:&nbsp;</strong>The Saudi and Iranian actions can also be viewed through the lens of their own domestic politics. Saudi Arabia&#39;s execution of 47 people on Saturday was, in many Saudi eyes, part of a crackdown of domestic extremists who could potentially threaten the monarchy.</p><p>In Iran, hardliners are preparing for parliamentary elections next month against moderates allied with President Hassan Rouhani. The hardliners seized on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/02/461753992/saudi-arabias-killing-of-leading-shiite-cleric-and-46-others-sparks-outcry" target="_blank">Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461912757/who-was-the-shiite-sheikh-executed-by-saudi-arabia" target="_blank">Nimr al-Nimr</a>, as a way to whip up support among their supporters at home.</p><p>&quot;The biggest losers in the last 24 hours are Rouhani and the moderate wing in Iran,&quot; says Salman Shaikh, the former head of the Brookings Center in Doha, Qatar, who now runs a private consultancy.</p><p>Hardliners are hoping to make big gains in the elections and block Rouhani and other moderates from promoting reforms, he added.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/01/04/461896683/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate?ft=nprml&amp;f=461896683" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 15:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate-114369 Diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Iran http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-04/diplomatic-row-between-saudi-arabia-and-iran-114365 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Saudi%20Arabia%202.jpg" title="An Iranian woman holds up a poster showing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric who was executed last week by Saudi Arabia, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Allies of Saudi Arabia followed the Kingdom's lead and began scaling back diplomatic ties to Iran after the ransacking of Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic, violence sparked by the Saudi execution of al-Nimr. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240397350&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Saudi Arabia executions</strong></span></p><p>According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia carried out its largest mass execution in the country since 1980, when it put 47 men to death on January 2<sup>nd</sup>, 2016. Among those executed was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric whose death has sparked a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East. We&rsquo;ll take a look at what&rsquo;s behind the rise in executions in Saudi Arabia with Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch&#39;s Middle East and North Africa Division.</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.hrw.org/about/people/sarah-leah-whitson">Sarah Leah Whitson</a> is executive director of Human Rights Watch&#39;s Middle East and North Africa Division<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240398881&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Saudi Arabia - Iran diplomatic row</strong></span></p><p>Violent protests in Shi&rsquo;a-dominated Iran over the execution in Saudi Arabia of a Shiite cleric have led to recriminations by the Saudi Kingdom. The Saudis officially severed ties with Iran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave the country. Despite having a majority Shi&rsquo;a population, the Sunni-ruled country of Bahrain also announced it would cut diplomatic ties with Iran. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it would &ldquo;reduce&rdquo; its diplomatic presence in Iran as well. We&rsquo;ll talk about the growing diplomatic row in the Middle East with Joe Kechichian, senior writer for the Dubai-based Gulf News. He&rsquo;s author of numerous books on the Gulf region, including his most recent release, <em>Iffat al Thunayan: An Arabian Queen.</em></p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/joseph-kechichian">Joseph Kechichian</a> is a senior writer for the Dubai-based Gulf News<em><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240399202&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></em></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>What&#39;s ahead for the UN in 2016?</strong></span></p><p>In 2016, the United Nations (UN) is expected to undergo some big changes. It will elect a new Secretary-General and try to implement the Climate Change agreement from Paris, among other things. In a recent article in <em>The Nation</em>, Barbara Crossette writes about some challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the international body. She joins us to talk about what kinds of changes she believes are needed to &ldquo;rejuvenate&rdquo; the 70 year-old UN, highlighted in her article, &ldquo;In 2016, the UN Will Be Transformed. Will That Be Enough to Bring it Back to Life?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>GUEST:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenation.com/authors/barbara-crossette/">Barbara Crossette</a> is UN correspondent for <em>The Nation</em></p></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 09:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-04/diplomatic-row-between-saudi-arabia-and-iran-114365 Obama, Netanyahu meet for first time in over a year http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-09/obama-netanyahu-meet-first-time-over-year-113712 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1109_obama-netanyahu-624x428.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95749"><img alt="U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, November 9, 2015. Netanyahu meets Obama in a bid to set aside their frosty personal ties, turn the page on the Iran nuclear deal and talk defense in the first encounter by the two leaders since October 2014. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1109_obama-netanyahu-624x428.jpg" style="height: 425px; width: 620px;" title="U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., November 9, 2015. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)" /><p>Despite a strained relationship, President Barack Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House today for their first meeting in over a year.</p></div><p>Netanyahu has infuriated the White House by urging Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal, and Obama angered the prime minister by signing the deal. NPR&rsquo;s White House correspondent&nbsp;Scott Horsley&nbsp;joins&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em> Jeremy Hobson to recap the two leaders&rsquo; meeting.</p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-09/obama-netanyahu-meet-first-time-over-year-113712 How do you find plutonium? Go to nuclear inspector school http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-nuclear-inspector-school-113395 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/There&#039;s no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="primaryaudio"><div id="res449862134"><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-17_custom-302d74745f23b874eab60f2cdd5a308f0ee773b2-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 620px;" title="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium." /></div></div></div><div id="storytext"><div id="res449222294" previewtitle="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium."><div><div><p>No names. No pictures. No direct conversation.</p></div></div></div><p>And don&#39;t touch the plutonium.</p><p>Those were the ground rules before NPR was allowed a rare opportunity to see nuclear inspectors learning their craft. The inspectors came from the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iaea.org/">International Atomic Energy Agency</a>, the world&#39;s nuclear watchdog.</p><p>This week, the agency will be looking on as Iran begins to scale back its nuclear program. Under the terms of a multinational agreement, Iran is to dramatically cut its uranium stockpile, mothball much of its nuclear equipment and restrict the rest to peaceful use. In exchange, the U.S. and other nations are to lift economic sanctions.</p><p>The IAEA&#39;s role in the deal is somewhere between that of a football referee and a tax accountant. Its inspectors will crisscross the country, visiting labs, reactors and even uranium mines. They will meticulously catalog equipment and material, to make sure it&#39;s all accounted for. If something seems off, they are the ones who will cry foul.</p><p><strong>School Of Nukes</strong></p><p>The inspectors NPR met were visiting&nbsp;<a href="https://www.lanl.gov/">Los Alamos National Laboratory</a>, which is (ironically enough) a nuclear weapons lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico.</p><p>&quot;We used to wear buttons that said, &#39;It&#39;s The Plutonium, Stupid,&#39; &quot; says Nancy Jo Nicholas, who oversees global security at Los Alamos. &quot;That&#39;s why people come here.&quot;</p><p>Plutonium and uranium are used in ordinary nuclear power reactors all around the world. But when they are properly purified and enriched, they can also be used to make nuclear weapons.</p><p>Inspectors must learn everything about plutonium &mdash; the civilian kind, which is used in some power reactors, and also the kind used in nukes. And Los Alamos has plenty of both.</p><p>Behind barbed wire and security checkpoints, the eight inspectors are working in an anonymous-looking building known as &quot;Technical Area 66.&quot; They&#39;re an unassuming bunch, dressed in ordinary street cloths. Their accents suggest they come from all over the world.</p><p><a href="http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Santi2">Peter Santi</a>, who is heading the training for Los Alamos, takes me across the classroom to pick up some pure plutonium oxide. It&#39;s sealed in a metal container about the size of a paint can, with makeshift handle made of tape to make it easier to carry. (Dropping the plutonium &quot;makes a loud noise and it scares everybody,&quot; Santi jokes.)</p><p>We put the can of plutonium into another container about the size of an oil drum. It&#39;s designed to catch radioactive particles flying out as the plutonium decays.</p><div id="res449221433" previewtitle="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-5_custom-1a985a24018a89dcea55581b28760551b57b57ac-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material. (Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;Nuclear material, when it decays, produces very unique signatures,&quot; Santi explains. The radiation acts as a fingerprint for the substance, and it&#39;s virtually impossible to mimic.</p></div></div></div><p>Inspectors use the radioactive fingerprint in two ways. First, they check it to verify the kind of material they are dealing with. And then they measure it to figure out how much material is there. Santi can nail down the amount of plutonium in this can to within a gram &mdash; a fraction of a percent of the total 606-gram mass.</p><p>In Iran, inspectors will work primarily with uranium, but they will bring the same dogged precision to their measurements. In addition to measuring nuclear materials, they will take environmental samples, install cameras and conduct visual inspections, among other things.</p><p><strong>Guarding The Globe</strong></p><p>The IAEA actually does this work elsewhere, too. &quot;We are inspecting all different types of facilities all over the world,&quot; says David Lacey, a training officer with the IAEA and a former inspector. The agency visits civilian reactors, fuel plants and plutonium handling facilities everywhere, from Brazil, to Japan to the US. Inspectors go in, make measurements, and then compare them to the official inventory, to make sure everything is accounted for. It&#39;s a challenging job even in the best of times.</p><p>&quot;An inspector has to be a little bit of everything,&quot; Lacy says. &quot;They need to be an accountant, a little bit of scientist, a little bit of diplomat.&quot;</p><p>The Iran deal carries its own complications. For one, Iran has not always been forthright with the IAEA, says&nbsp;<a href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/2107/olli_heinonen.html">Olli Heinonen</a>, a former nuclear inspector now at Harvard University. Since the early 2000s, Iran has failed to disclose multiple facilities associated with its program.</p><p>And then there are the thorny global politics around the agreement. In the U.S. &quot;there are people in who don&#39;t trust the IAEA,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/JLewis/node/23027">Jeffrey Lewis</a>, an expert in non-proliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In Iran, &quot;They think the IAEA is biased against them,&quot; Lewis says.</p><p>Both sides may try to pressure the agency, or even individual inspectors.</p><p>Despite the challenges, both Lewis and Heinonen agree the IAEA is a capable overseer of the deal.</p><div id="res449221644" previewtitle="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-13_custom-0ee22df076af723342683815aa0bd8f3d1cdf175-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 389px; width: 620px;" title="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors. (Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;They have a good track record,&quot; says Lewis, who notes that the agency has caught deception in Iran in the past, as well illicit activity in places like North Korea and South Africa.</p></div></div></div><p>The IAEA has also missed some things in Iran in the past, Heinonen says. But the agency inspectors have shown a light on many hidden aspects of that nation&#39;s nuclear program, including&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/gov2011-65.pdf">possible work on nuclear weapons</a>.</p><p>Heinonen says the greatest risk is that Iran has hidden entire facilities. But in the modern era, he believes, it would be hard to get the equipment, expertise and nuclear material together without anyone noticing.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s very difficult to build a nuclear program in isolation,&quot; he says.</p><p><strong>Final Exam</strong></p><p>There&#39;s no way to know whether the inspectors being trained on the day I visit will be sent to Iran. But what is clear is that the IAEA wants to be sure all of its inspectors are ready for anything.</p><p>For their final exam, the inspectors have been given a nuclear inventory from a fictional facility. Their task is to verify 12 unmarked items, and to see how much plutonium is inside each one. But in this exercise, just as can happen in the real world, not all is what it seems.</p><p>&quot;Several of the items, we&#39;ve lost the declaration for,&quot; says Santi, &quot;so they&#39;re completely unknown to the inspectors.&quot;</p><p>And have the instructors done anything else in the exercise to try to trip up the members of the class?</p><p>&quot;Yes,&quot; Santi says.</p><p>He won&#39;t say what tricks he&#39;s using to try and fool inspectors. But whatever it is, they will have to figure it out. And the IAEA&#39;s trainer David Lacey is confident they will.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ll be fine,&quot; Lacey says. &quot;They&#39;ve had good teaching over the last two weeks. I can see now, looking around, that they&#39;re perfectly capable.&quot;</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/19/449031762/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-to-nuclear-inspector-school?ft=nprml&amp;f=449031762" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-nuclear-inspector-school-113395 Iran starts to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure as part of agreement with West http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-10-20/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A%20worker%20works%20at%20the%20fuel%20manufacturing%20plant%20at%20the%20Isfahan%20Uranium%20Conversion%20Facility%20273%20miles%20south%20of%20Tehran%20April%209%2C%202009..jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A worker works at the fuel manufacturing plant at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility 273 miles south of Tehran April 9, 2009. (Caren Firouz/Reuters)" /></div><p>Sunday marked 90 days since the United Nations Security Council endorsed the historic agreement between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Germany,&nbsp;Russia and China.</p><p>It was &ldquo;Adoption Day&rdquo; &mdash; the day when Iran was scheduled to dramatically scale back its nuclear program. Iran now has to dismantle around 15,000 centrifuges, surrender or dilute much of its enriched nuclear fuel stocks and turn one of its nuclear plants into a research center.</p><p>President Barack&nbsp;Obama acknowledged the day in a memo to the secretaries of state, treasury, commerce and energy.</p><p>&ldquo;Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&ldquo;I hereby direct you to take all necessary steps to give effect to the US commitments with respect to the sanctions described in [the Iran deal].&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/563/gary_samore.html" target="_blank">Gary Samore</a>,&nbsp;executive director for research at Harvard University&rsquo;s Belfer Center, says the length of the process&nbsp;depends on what Iran wants to do in the future.&nbsp;Samore says the deal allows Iran to retain all of its existing centrifuges but they have to be removed, dismantled and stored under inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency&rsquo;s supervision.</p><p>&ldquo;If Iran wants to preserve the ability to reinstall the centrifuges if the agreement breaks down at some point in the future, they&rsquo;ll need to be very careful about how they remove them and disassemble them,&rdquo; he says. If it wants to race towards easing of sanctions, &ldquo;they can do a quick and dirty job and that will save them a lot of time.&rdquo;</p><p>The US and other Western powers have promised Iran sanctions relief once the dismantling has been completed.</p><p>But just like Iran has the ability to reinstall the centrifuges if the deal fails, the US and other Western powers have the capability to re-impose the sanctions.</p><p>Besides the centrifuges, Iran has to deal with its enriched uranium.</p><p>&ldquo;One option is to dilute it so that it&rsquo;s returned to natural uranium, or they can ship the bulk of it out, most likely to Russia,&rdquo; says Samore.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not yet clear which path Iran will take, but Samore thinks it will be a fairly straightforward&nbsp;process and it should not take long.</p><p>Because most of Iran&rsquo;s centrifuges have never been used, they aren&#39;t contaminated with low-enriched uranium. That means no significant safety or environmental concerns.</p><p>Samore sees this as a moment of success for setting back Iran&rsquo;s nuclear program, although he cautions that the West needs to continue monitoring the situation very closely.</p><p>&ldquo;The big question will be whether the agreement can survive in the long term,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-19/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west" target="_blank"><em>via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-10-20/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west Iran's President: 'Driving out the terrorists' is key to Syria's future http://www.wbez.org/news/irans-president-driving-out-terrorists-key-syrias-future-113079 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rouhani.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prepares to speak with NPR's Steve Inskeep on Saturday in New York. Rouhani reaffirmed Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal and said his country would be willing to discuss Syria's future with the United States — after ISIS is defeated. (Bryan Thomas/NPR )" /></div><p>Here&#39;s the basic difference between the United States, Russia and Iran: The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar Assad to go. Russia and Iran, Assad&#39;s allies, want him to stay.</p><p>Over the weekend, Iran&#39;s president, Hassan Rouhani, met with NPR in New York, where he will be attending the United Nations General Assembly. Through an interpreter, Rouhani argued that, where Syria is concerned, the most important issue for everyone is destroying ISIS.</p><p>&quot;Perhaps political reform is needed. However, is that today&#39;s priority? We believe that it&#39;s driving out the terrorists,&quot; he tells NPR.</p><p>&quot;The issue of stability and security in the region is of utmost importance for us,&quot; he emphasizes.&nbsp;Americans may not like Syria&#39;s government, he says, but Iran needs to prop it up to avoid a dangerous leadership vacuum. If Assad goes now, Rouhani says, extremists will step in.</p><p>So Iran is collaborating with Syria, Russia and Iraq against ISIS. An intelligence-sharing agreement among the four countries was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/world/middleeast/iraq-agrees-to-share-intelligence-on-isis-with-russia-syria-and-iran.html?_r=0">announced</a>&nbsp;by Iraq on Sunday.</p><p>&quot;We say between worse and bad, we must choose bad. Or in other words, we choose the lesser of two evils,&quot; he says.</p><p>Where Syria is concerned, &quot;It&#39;s not that we are indifferent,&quot; Rouhani says. &quot;We do care about the situation in Syria, we do worry about the people of Syria, we do worry and our hearts bleed for so many people that are killed on a daily basis, who are driven from their homes. And you do know that archaeological and cultural remains in Syria have been destroyed on an almost daily basis by the terrorists. So all of this worries us.&quot;</p><p>Rouhani contends that world powers need a &quot;formula&quot; for who or what might replace Assad. He says he is prepared to open the discussion with the U.S., Russia and other concerned powers as to what that formula might be.</p><p>&quot;That is not a problem for us from right now, to start holding discussions and dialogues so as to determine and reach the conclusion of the next plan of action after the terrorists are driven out of that territory,&quot; he says. &quot;But we must all act in unison and have a formula that is required to drive out the terrorists &mdash; immediately after which the following, the subsequent steps will come.&quot;</p><p>This is news: Iran is ready to talk with the United States about Syria&#39;s future. But notice the qualifiers: Iran is ready to talk about what may happen with Assad, only after the defeat of ISIS.</p><div id="res443996364" previewtitle="Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives for his interview in New York with NPR's Steve Inskeep."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives for his interview in New York with NPR's Steve Inskeep." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/27/2015_09.26_bt_rouhani_010edit_custom-c21fec2563755d48f46a0c7b423adab8fd455679-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives for his interview in New York with NPR's Steve Inskeep. (Bryan Thomas/NPR)" /></div><div><p><strong>A &#39;Middle-Of-The-Road Path&#39;</strong></p></div></div><p>Rouhani is one of Iran&#39;s ultimate insiders &mdash; a gray-bearded, white-turbaned Shiite cleric in his mid-60s. When he met with NPR on Saturday night, he relaxed in his chair, and when asked tricky questions &mdash; such as where he is on Iran&#39;s political spectrum &mdash; he would smile as he began to answer.</p><p>Rouhani served for years in senior positions under Iran&#39;s conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Yet he campaigned in 2013 promising change, and is now associated with opening up his nation.</p><p>&quot;I would always choose a middle-of-the-road path ... because my opinion has [been] and is that we can use both reformists and those who are conservatives,&quot; he says.</p><p>He&#39;s the man whose election two years ago paved the way for Iran&#39;s historic nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers. Now, Washington and others want more cooperation. But Khamenei, the supreme leader, wants to hold off cooperating with the U.S. on Syria until he sees how the nuclear deal works out.</p><p>Rouhani says his country has a &quot;religious duty&quot; to follow its nuclear agreement.</p><p>&quot;My country, my nation, if it accepts an agreement, if it signs an agreement, if it gives its commitment to live up to the terms of an agreement, it will certainly do so,&quot; he says. &quot;We have never broken our commitment. This is our cultural framework, this is our comportment, this is our religious duty.&quot;</p><p>The question now is whether the president can nudge his whole country to go along with him.</p><p>Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program. The U.S. and other nations agreed to lift economic sanctions. They also plan to return billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets. Many in the U.S. and Israel fear Iran will use that wealth to finance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah abroad.</p><p>Rouhani insists that he wants to spend those billions at home.</p><p>&quot;You do know that we have a very young population,&quot; he says. &quot;Sixty-five percent of the population in Iran is under 35 years of age. And many of them today are students. ... And every year, many of these students will graduate, so they will need to enter the job market.&quot;</p><p>Spinning off statistics from memory, he says Iran needs billions in investment to keep up with its growing population. &quot;That is our priority, job creation is our priority, and to decrease unemployment,&quot; he says. &quot;Otherwise, we&#39;re endangering our own national security.&quot;</p><p><strong>A Delicate Balancing Act</strong></p><p>Iranian society has opened up a little in the past two years. Reformist groups are sometimes allowed to win elections and agitate for change &mdash; yet conservative clerics and military figures still hold ultimate power. Rouhani&#39;s task is to bridge them all.</p><p>At one point in his meeting with NPR, he sounded remarkably like an advocate for free speech, saying, &quot;Those who have their own opinions or differing opinions as far as social issues or cultural issues are concerned, we need to hear everyone&#39;s voices.&quot;</p><p>But sometimes the dissenting voices can include those disagreeing with him when it comes to the nuclear deal. The other day, Rouhani addressed leaders of Iran&#39;s powerful military force, the Revolutionary Guard. Under Iran&#39;s complicated system, the force does not report to the president. Its commander has said that the nuclear deal is unacceptable.</p><p>&quot;Of course, some in Iran were against this agreement, and their analysis and their reasoning and justification was that the implementation of this agreement can have an unwanted negative impact on the defensive capabilities of the nation,&quot; Rouhani says. &quot;But my position was that we did not accept any limitations that would impact, negatively impact, the defensive capabilities of our nation.&quot;</p><p>Reassuring Iran&#39;s powerful military, even as the country enters a new era ushered in by the nuclear deal, is all part of Rouhani&#39;s delicate balancing act.</p><p>He says his goal is to sustain modest improvements in his country. Many Americans would applaud those efforts. But Rouhani is also committed to preserving an Islamic Republic that many Americans oppose.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/27/443992544/irans-president-driving-out-the-terrorists-is-key-to-syrias-future?ft=nprml&amp;f=443992544" target="_blank"><em>via NPR&#39;s Parallels</em></a></p></p> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/irans-president-driving-out-terrorists-key-syrias-future-113079