IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM STILL A THREAT, FUTURE LOOKS GRIM FOR IRANIAN REGIME Posted on May 15, 2017May 15, 2017 by Yunna Shapira Printer Friendly Obama’s Hidden Iran Deal Giveaway: Josh Meyer, Politico, Apr. 24, 2017— By dropping charges against major arms targets, the Obama administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces against Iran. Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected: Claire M. Lopez, Center for Security Policy, Apr. 24, 2017 — The Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, born in secrecy and kept hidden for years, has never skipped a beat and today continues on course in underground and military facilities to which inspectors have no access. Trump’s Most Important ‘First 100 Days’ Achievement: Turning the Tables on Iran: Dovid Efune, Algemeiner, May. 3, 2017— With all the debate over President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, there’s one achievement that has been mostly overlooked: the United States appears to have regained the upper hand in its dealings with Iran. Iran's Presidential Election Will Render A Weaker Regime: Heshmat Alavi, Forbes, May. 7, 2017 — With factional crises escalating and Washington adopting a firm approach vis-à-vis Iran, the horizon looks gloomy to say the least for the mullahs’ regime. No election outcome has the potential of relieving Tehran from these brewing crises. On Topic Links Germany: Iran Plotting Terror on Jewish and Israeli Targets: IPT News, Apr. 24, 2017 Iran Tests Advanced High-Speed Cruise Missile: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, May 9, 2017 Iran and Canada Renewing Ties: Dalit Halevi, Israel National News, May. 12, 2017 Hezbollah Nearly Bankrupt, But Nasrallah Awash In Cash: Times of Israel, May 2, 2017 OBAMA’S HIDDEN IRAN DEAL GIVEAWAY Josh Meyer Politico, Apr. 24, 2017 When President Barack Obama announced the “one-time gesture” of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses” last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans. “Iran had a significantly higher number of individuals, of course, at the beginning of this negotiation that they would have liked to have seen released,” one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House, adding that “we were able to winnow that down to these seven individuals, six of whom are Iranian-Americans.” But Obama, the senior official and other administration representatives weren’t telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal, according to a POLITICO investigation. In his Sunday morning address to the American people, Obama portrayed the seven men he freed as “civilians.” The senior official described them as businessmen convicted of or awaiting trial for mere “sanctions-related offenses, violations of the trade embargo.” In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran. And in a series of unpublicized court filings, the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men, all of them fugitives. The administration didn’t disclose their names or what they were accused of doing, noting only in an unattributed, 152-word statement about the swap that the U.S. “also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.” Three of the fugitives allegedly sought to lease Boeing aircraft for an Iranian airline that authorities say had supported Hezbollah, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization. A fourth, Behrouz Dolatzadeh, was charged with conspiring to buy thousands of U.S.-made assault rifles and illegally import them into Iran. A fifth, Amin Ravan, was charged with smuggling U.S. military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore for use in Iran. U.S. authorities also believe he was part of a procurement network providing Iran with high-tech components for an especially deadly type of IED used by Shiite militias to kill hundreds of American troops in Iraq. The biggest fish, though, was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who had been charged with being part of a conspiracy that from 2005 to 2012 procured thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Iran via China. That included hundreds of U.S.-made sensors for the uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran whose progress had prompted the nuclear deal talks in the first place. When federal prosecutors and agents learned the true extent of the releases, many were shocked and angry. Some had spent years, if not decades, working to penetrate the global proliferation networks that allowed Iranian arms traders both to obtain crucial materials for Tehran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs and, in some cases, to provide dangerous materials to other countries. “They didn’t just dismiss a bunch of innocent business guys,” said one former federal law enforcement supervisor centrally involved in the hunt for Iranian arms traffickers and nuclear smugglers. “And then they didn’t give a full story of it.” In its determination to win support for the nuclear deal and prisoner swap from Tehran — and from Congress and the American people — the Obama administration did a lot more than just downplay the threats posed by the men it let off the hook, according to POLITICO’s findings. Through action in some cases and inaction in others, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran’s proliferation networks. … [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents IRAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM: ON COURSE, UNDERGROUND, UNINSPECTED Claire M. Lopez Center for Security Policy, Apr. 24, 2017 The Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, born in secrecy and kept hidden for years, has never skipped a beat and today continues on course in underground and military facilities to which inspectors have no access. On 21 April 2017, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the oldest, largest, and best organized democratic Iranian opposition group presented startling new evidence that the jihadist regime in Tehran is violating the terms of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement reached in July 2015 among the P-5 +1 (Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and Iran. As will be recalled, it was the NCRI that first blew the lid off Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2002, at a time when it had been in progress for at least fourteen years (since 1988), unbeknownst to most of the world, including the IAEA. Virtually all of the Iranian nuclear sites now known publicly were only retroactively ‘declared’ by the mullahs’ regime after exposure: the Natanz enrichment site, Isfahan conversion site, Fordow enrichment and Research and Development (R&D) site, Lavizan-Shian, and more. Regularly corroborated additional revelations since 2002 by the NCRI have built a record of credibility that should prompt a closer official look at these new reports by the U.S. State and Defense Departments, National Security Council (NSC), and White House. Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office, provided a devastating expose of the ongoing activities of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), the Tehran-based element of the Iranian Ministry of Defense that has primary responsibility for the regime’s nuclear weapons development. The SPND, established in February 2011, was officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in August 2014 for engaging in nuclear weapons R&D. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (aka Dr. Hassan Mohseni), the founder and director of the SPND and a veteran IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) brigadier general, was designated individually under UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1747 in 2007 and by the U.S. in July 2008 for his involvement in Iran’s proscribed WMD activities. Despite these designations, and the IAEA’s failure to resolve the many critical indicators of “Possible Military Dimensions” related to Iran’s nuclear program as specified in the November 2011 IAEA Board of Governors report, the July 2015 JCPOA inexplicably lifted sanctions against the SPND. It is hardly surprising, then, to learn that the SPND not only continues critical weaponization research involving nuclear warheads, triggers, and explosives, but has expanded that work at each of seven subordinate locations. One of these, revealed by the NCRI in 2009 but never declared to the IAEA, is the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (Markaz-e Tahghighat va Tose’e Fanavari-e Enfejar va Zarbeh or METFAZ), which works on triggers and high-impact, non-conventional explosives. The current METFAZ director is a Ministry of Defense engineer named Mohammad Ferdowsi, whose expertise is in high explosives. Ferdowsi also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the High-Explosive Society of Malek Ashtar University (affiliated with the Defense Ministry). After conclusion of the July 2015 JCPOA, much of METFAZ’s personnel and work was moved to the Parchin military facility for better cover and security. Parchin Chemical Industries, an element of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO), was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2008 for importing “a chemical precursor for solid propellant oxidizer, possibly to be used for ballistic missiles.” Parchin is the location where the IAEA long suspected Iran was conducting test explosions for nuclear detonators. In October 2014, Iran finally admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, but implausibly claimed they were not for weapons development. Equally incredibly, the IAEA concluded a secret side deal with Iran that allowed it to collect its own samples at Parchin—in which the IAEA in fact did find evidence of enriched uranium. But despite that and more evidence, the JCPOA was concluded and sanctions against Parchin Chemical Industries were lifted. Within Parchin are twelve separate military and missile complexes. According to the NCRI’s new information, METFAZ has established a new location within one of these that is near the center of Parchin and referred to simply as the “Research Academy” in SPND internal communications. Located on the sprawling Parchin complex some 30 miles southeast of Tehran, the new METFAZ center is called the Chemical Plan of Zeinoddin and is located in a section called Plan 6. It’s completely fenced in and protected by heavy security under control of the IRGC’s Intelligence Service. What goes on there is concealed from the IAEA, and likely with good reason. Lambasting the Iranian regime for its ongoing regional aggression and support to terrorist organizations, as Secretary of State Tillerson did on 20 April 2017, is certainly a step in the right direction. Noting that after ten years, Iran can break out and build all the bombs it wants is also a useful observation. But neither of those comes close to fulfilling the Trump campaign pledge to “rip up” the JCPOA – or hold Iran accountable for its violations of the JCPOA. Secretary Tillerson’s 18 April letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, certifying that Iran was in compliance with the 2015 deal, simply cannot be squared with the NCRI’s latest revelations, which it has shared with both the U.S. government and the IAEA. Indeed, the independent Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) issued a March 3, 2017 report in which it explicitly states about the IAEA’s 24 February 2017 Quarterly report, “Nowhere in the report does the IAEA state that Iran is fully compliant with the JCPOA, and it should not make that judgement.” The real problem with the JCPOA—and why it needs to be ripped to shreds—is not what’s in it: it’s what’s been left out or exempted in any number of secret side deals that the U.S. and IAEA concluded with the Iranians. Among critical issues either explicitly permitted or simply not covered in the JCPOA are the following: Iran keeps its entire nuclear infrastructure intact Iran keeps all its centrifuges and is allowed to work on newer models Iran can deny IAEA inspectors access to any site it seeks to keep off-limits Iran can continue its ballistic missile nuclear weapons delivery system research, development, and testing Iran’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile collaboration with North Korea is not mentioned in the JCPOA Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism is off-limits for the JCPOA The Trump administration must make good on its campaign promises with regard to Iran, its nuclear weapons program, and the JCPOA. The U.S. with its international partners and the IAEA must demand that Iran fully implement all UN Security Council Resolutions (including the one prohibiting Iran from any nuclear enrichment activities); accept the Additional Protocol; and allow unhindered access for IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities. Beginning to fill relevant USG positions with officers untainted by association with the failed JCPOA or Iran Lobby affiliates like NIAC (National Iranian American Council) is an imperative and urgent first step. Announcing U.S. intent to end all activities associated with the JCPOA, hold Iran to account for its human rights abuses, involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and continuing support for terrorism would be natural subsequent policy positions. We look forward to the results of the JCPOA policy review that Secretary Tillerson has announced. Contents TRUMP’S MOST IMPORTANT ‘FIRST 100 DAYS’ ACHIEVEMENT: TURNING THE TABLES ON IRAN Dovid Efune Algemeiner, May 3, 2017 With all the debate over President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, there’s one achievement that has been mostly overlooked: the United States appears to have regained the upper hand in its dealings with Iran. That important development has been incubating for a while. In a pre-election interview with The Algemeiner, Trump’s confidante and now new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, explained that a Trump administration would “reengage with the world powers in a way that seeks to reintroduce leverage on Iran.” After the July 2015 nuclear deal was negotiated by then-President Barack Obama, the Iranians spoke of it in dismissive terms for months. They vowed to walk away from the agreement on a number of occasions, if the US imposed any new sanctions on Iran, or if world powers failed to advance the Islamic Republic’s “national interests.” But soon after Trump was elected, Iran’s leaders suddenly became protective of the agreement. The Iranians started claiming they could force the new president to abide by its terms, and threatened to “surprise him” in the event he decided not to uphold it. In interviews with The Algemeiner, several experts confirmed that the ruling mullahs were running scared. “There’s clearly a great deal of trepidation in Tehran,” one said. Another made note of “a more muted tone in relation to the US” from regime-affiliated clerics. So here’s how Trump did it. Under Obama, the Iranians quickly learned to what degree the administration was politically invested in getting the deal done, and expertly worked to take advantage. They were able to successfully force a string of concessions, including cash payments, free passes on a whole host of non-nuclear related bad behaviors, and, as we discovered last week, the absolution of Iranian terror operatives. Trump’s first order of business was to call their bluff, to highlight that it was the Iranians, not the Americans, who stood to gain the most from the deal. He did this by disparaging the deal at every opportunity, portraying it as a burden, an unwanted holdover from the old order. Even when the US issued a report this month verifying Iranian compliance with the deal, Trump personally intervened to ensure that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly noted that the agreement was also now under full review, highlighting the administration’s low opinion of it. Trump’s second order of business was to make it clear that Iran was no longer off the hook for its non-nuclear-related hostile behavior. Within days of entering the Oval Office, the president responded to an Iranian ballistic missile test with a host of new sanctions, targeting 25 individuals or entities. Iran was also placed “on notice.” At the UN, the US pushed the issue of Iranian belligerence to the fore, with Ambassador Nikki Haley singling the country out as the “chief culprit” in the conflicts ravaging the Middle East and calling on the Security Council to turn its attention to curbing Iranian expansionism. Finally, Trump reintroduced the specter of a military intervention, both as an option for halting Iranian nuclear development and in response to the targeting of US assets in the region. In late March, the US aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush sent helicopter gunships to hover over Iranian attack vessels after they rushed US ships, an indication that Trump’s campaign pledge that boats engaged in such improper “gestures” would be “shot out of the water” might just be under consideration. When the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in early April after reports that the regime of embattled President Bashar Assad had launched a chemical weapons attack against civilians, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said he hoped the “message of resolve” would “resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran” as well. A White House official later confirmed that sending a message to Iran was indeed an intended outcome of the strike. The reemergence of the military option is significant, considering that the only time Iran has actually halted its nuclear program was in 2003, when the Iraq invasion brought the full might of the US military to the Islamic Republic’s doorstep, and the threat of intervention was perceived to be real. The net outcome of the steps taken in the early days of the Trump administration is that the ayatollahs in Tehran are walking on eggshells. They can no longer take US positions for granted as they did under Obama. To the Iranian regime, Trump has projected an unpredictable America, where nothing is off-limits in the quest to halt their nuclear ambitions. In a sense, Trump has pulled the Persian rug out from under their feet. Yes, the Iranian nuclear saga is far from over, but this is a truly welcome development. And it only took 100 days. Contents IRAN'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WILL RENDER A WEAKER REGIME Heshmat Alavi Forbes, May. 5, 2017 The so-called presidential “election” that is scheduled for May 19th in Iran is in far contrast to what is witnessed in today’s democratic countries. Polls in Iran under the mullahs’ regime are neither free nor fair, and the upcoming presidential election will weaken the regime in its entirety to an unprecedented scale. What Tehran considers a constitution prevents any possible election based on internationally recognized standards. Candidates must prove their utter loyalty to the mullahs’ regime and the Supreme Leader. As a result, the word “opposition” has no meaning in Iranian politics. As a result any assertion of “moderates” facing off against “hardliners” in Iran is completely misleading. This is a regime of various factions, not different political parties. The Supreme Leader has the final word in all state affairs, including national security and foreign relations. All three executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the government are under the heavy influence of the Supreme Leader. The president in Iran is a post completely reliant to the Supreme Leader, knowing he can be sacked at any moment and without prior notice. True authority in Iran is controlled by the Supreme Leader’s office and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). “We are all merely facilitators of this regime,” once said Mohammad Khatami, the so-called “moderate” president who served from 1997 to 2005. This regime’s core policies hover around domestic crackdown, exporting terrorism and fundamentalist abroad, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the form of a nuclear arsenal and ballistic missiles. And all candidates, including the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and a leading pro-Khamenei camp loyalist Ebrahim Raisi, are in line with all the regime’s strategic objectives. Otherwise, their candidacy would not enjoy Khamenei’s necessary approval. Raisi has been a figure involved in Iran’s judiciary from the early days of this regime. He is mostly known for his notorious role in the “Death Commission” ordered by regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini himself to preside over the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members and supporters of the opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Rouhani, while claiming to be a moderate, bears a significant security profile serving the regime’s higher interests. He was key in imposing strictly conservative clothing regulations on Iranian women following the 1979 revolution; acted as Rafsanjani’s … [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents On Topic Links Germany: Iran Plotting Terror on Jewish and Israeli Targets: IPT News, Apr. 24, 2017— Iran is responsible for a significant amount of espionage activity in Germany over the past decade, and is responsible for planning terrorist attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets, Iran Tests Advanced High-Speed Cruise Missile: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, May 9, 2017— Senior U.S. officials have been quoted by Fox News and NBC as saying that Iran has tested another advanced missile this week. The high-speed torpedo, a cruise missile, was launched from a Yono-class miniature submarine. It was a model that is used solely by Iran and North Korea, leading to speculation that the two nations are once again collaborating on missile and nuclear technology. It’s not clear whether the test was successful or not. Iran and Canada Renewing Ties: Dalit Halevi, Israel National News, May. 12, 2017— Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif confirmed this week that he held a telephone conversation with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and that a Canadian diplomatic delegation is currently in Tehran to discuss the possibility of Iranian nationals residing in Canada voting in the upcoming presidential election. Hezbollah Nearly Bankrupt, But Nasrallah Awash In Cash: Times of Israel, May 2, 2017— According to an April 28 report in the German daily Die Welt, Hezbollah’s increasing financial difficulties have led the group to increasingly rely on a number of illicit schemes to earn money, including money laundering, drug trafficking and counterfeiting, as well as through its substantial property holdings. In addition, Nasrallah himself is said to be worth some $250 million, according to Die Welt.