Did Someone Say, Iran Elections? The view from Washington....

12 May 2005

Iran watchers in Washington are paying attention this morning to.... the John Bolton UN ambassador nomination hearings taking place today in the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Why is obvious. Because the sense here is that whoever becomes the next US ambassador to the UN will be spending much of their term trying to gather international support to isolate Iran at the UN; it is anticipated that the IAEA board of governors may finally be coming round to what's long been Bolton's contention: that the European-led negotiations on Iran's nuclear program are collapsing, and that Tehran should be referred to the UN Security Council as being in non compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT).

This would be the trigger for an international debate about what to do to discourage Iran's nuclear aspirations. And today's Bolton hearing will determine who will be representing Washington in that debate. Who will be representing Iran in that debate?

There's surprisingly little sense in Washington that I've detected that the upcoming Iranian presidential elections matter much at all in that regard, as the sense here is that the ruling clique of hardliners in Tehran rules independent of what's perceived as almost a symbolic presidency, e.g. one that doesn't control Iran's national security decisionmaking. So we'll all stay tuned.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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