McFaul On Disinformation

Started, they have, the disinformation wars.

Michael McFaul, the US Ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, warns us that the disinformation will be flowing thick and fast during the impeachment trial. He points out three tactics:

  1. Deny facts
  2. Deflect attention, also known as “whataboutism”
  3. Disseminate lies

The net of all this is to make us feel that nothing matters, that there is no such thing as truth. Watch for Republicans to do this and for it to be amplified by bots and trolls (my collective term for automated and other troublemakers) on social media, the unthinking media, and your friends and relatives.

Don’t let the argument degenerate to “Well, that’s your opinion.” There are facts, and we need to keep pounding them.

Also, read the whole thing.

Follow The Money!

Following the money is difficult and tedious. Each story is detailed, and the stories appear at different times, later overshadowed by the next Trump scandal. In this post, I collect instances of Russian-associated money going into Republican coffers.

There aren’t enough instances to connect into a pattern beyond that theme, although some names occur in more than one example. I hope reporters will see this as a fertile path forward. Foreign money is prohibited in US political campaigns, but there are ways to get around that.

There are probably more – add them in the comments, preferably with a link, if you have them. Read More

What Is This “Re-Establish Deterrence” They Keep Talking About?

I have a short piece up at Inkstick Media. It’s short enough that I won’t quote it here, except to say that I have found the claims that the Trump administration killed Qassem Soleimani to “re-establish deterrence” annoying in multiple dimensions.

Besides, Inkstick is a new enterprise, trying to make this stuff more understandable, and I support that goal. If you like what I write here, you’ll probably like Inkstick. Go ahead, give them some clicks!

Iran’s Action On The Nuclear Agreement

A lot of claims are flying around about Iran’s actions with regard to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Some things are not yet clear. Here’s the official statement and interpretation by Mehr News:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, in the fifth step in reducing its commitments, discards the last key component of its operational limitations in the JCPOA, which is the “limit on the number of centrifuges.”

As such, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program no longer faces any operational restrictions, including enrichment capacity, percentage of enrichment, amount of enriched material, and research and development.

From here on, Iran’s nuclear program will be developed solely based on its technical needs.

Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA will continue as before.

If the sanctions are lifted and Iran benefits from its interests enshrined in the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic is ready to return to its commitments.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) is obliged to take the necessary steps and arrangements in coordination with the President.”

US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and reimposed “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism.

In response to the US unilateral move, as well as the European signatories’ failure to safeguard Iran’s economic interests in the face of US sanctions, Tehran rowed back on its nuclear commitments step-by-step in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

As a first step, Iran increased its enriched uranium stockpile to beyond the 300 kilograms set by the JCPOA.

In the second step, Tehran began enriching uranium to purity rates beyond the JCPOA limit of 3.76 percent.

In the third phase, after the Europeans failed to meet a 60-day deadline to meet Iran’s demands and fulfill their commitments under the deal, Iran started up advanced centrifuges to boost the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium and activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.

In November, Iran began injecting gas into centrifuges at the Fordow plant as part of its fourth step away from the JCPOA under the supervision of the IAEA.

Iran will continue to cooperate with IAEA inspections. This is important, because it keep us informed of what is happening in Iran’s nuclear complex. Iran remains within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which is their commitment not to build nuclear weapons.

Worth requoting from above:

If the sanctions are lifted and Iran benefits from its interests enshrined in the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic is ready to return to its commitments.

This has been Iran’s position all along. They have acted in a measured and predictable way. In fact, they have done less than they might have; a number of experts expected today’s announcement to be that they were enriching uranium up to 20% U-235, which would have been worse than that they are removing limits on numbers of centrifuges.

There are fine points that are still not clear, like what will happen to the Arak reactor and to the international cooperation they have been participating in to convert their nuclear installations to peaceful use.

Here are a couple of threads from people involved in the negotiations and implementation of the JCPOA.

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice