Tag: Iran Sanctions

IRAN’S NUCLEAR DRIVE AND “EXTERNAL ADVENTURISM” ENDANGER ISRAEL & THE WORLD

Bring Back Containment: Robert Joseph, Weekly Standard, Aug. 21, 2017 — The Trump administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Iran.

It’s Time to Take on the Iran-North Korea Nuke Alliance: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 1, 2017— Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first?

Amid New US Sanctions, How Much of Iran’s Nuclear Deal Relief Funds Terrorism?: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 8, 2017— As the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the nuclear deal of 2015 is funding the Islamic Republic’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East?

Iran Is Using Syria to Advance Toward the Mediterranean: Naftali Bennett, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2017 — Hezbollah announced last month that it had captured the Syrian-Lebanese border area of Juroud Arsal from ISIS forces.

 

On Topic Links

 

Top Israeli, American Experts Concerned About North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 14, 2017

The Military Options for North Korea: John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2017

Danny Glaser: Iran and Hamas are United in Their Desire to Wreak Havoc in the Region: Joseph Braude, Huffington Post, Aug. 15, 2017

The Iranian Express: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Weekly Standard, July 31, 2017

 

 

 

BRING BACK CONTAINMENT

Robert Joseph

Weekly Standard, Aug. 21, 2017

 

The Trump administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Iran. There is no doubt top national security officials view the Islamic Republic as a major threat, both in terms of regional instability and proliferation. This recognition represents the principal difference from the previous administration and a welcome step forward. One likely outcome will be a stronger U.S.-led effort to counter Iran’s expanding presence, particularly in Syria and Iraq. The formation of an Arab alliance against Islamic terrorism, announced when Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia, signaled a move toward a more effective regional stance.

 

But there is little to suggest that, beyond an attempt to roll back Tehran’s external adventurism, there will be a fundamental change in U.S. policy. Press reports indicate that the usual interagency battle lines are being drawn—between those who advocate regime change and those who would continue past policies.

 

The main indicator of the direction of Iran policy will be the president’s decision on the future of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Candidate Trump’s stance on the nuclear deal during the campaign was clear: The JCPOA was a calamity for American security interests. Trump called it the worst agreement ever negotiated and declared in the spring of 2016: “My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

 

But much seems to have changed since he took office. His secretaries of state and defense have both reportedly urged him to stick with the deal—while admitting Iran remains the chief sponsor of international terrorism and the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Most telling are the administration’s two declarations to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the agreement. That might be true only in a very narrow, technical sense. Iran may now be complying with those terms of the agreement monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but that does not mean Tehran has stopped work on nuclear weapons. Just recall that the potential military activities identified by the IAEA in November 2011 were swept under the rug and that the supreme leader has explicitly ruled out inspections of the facilities that were the suspected sites of many of those activities.

 

Iran continues aggressively to expand its offensive ballistic missile force, already the largest and most dangerous in the region. The revelations recently made public by National Council of Resistance of Iran make clear that the country’s weapons programs, both nuclear and missile, are alive and well and moving forward. Consistent with this conclusion, U.S. officials have assessed that Iran has an active intercontinental ballistic missile program, for which the only purpose is to deliver a nuclear warhead. A number of arguments for and against staying in the nuclear agreement are presumably being considered in the administration review. The two most often heard in favor of remaining are:

 

1: The agreement provides some transparency to Iran’s nuclear program and slows it at least temporarily. Better to have 5,000 centrifuges spinning than 12,000 or 19,000. Better to have quantitative and qualitative limits on low-enriched uranium and limits on heavy water and the Arak reactor than not. But the issue is how meaningful these limits are in the broader context of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at what cost. 2: Leaving will lead to widespread criticism from the other parties to the deal. John Kerry often raised the specter of the United States being isolated if Washington did not go forward with the agreement.

 

As for arguments in favor of withdrawal, five stand out: 1: The JCPOA does not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—ostensibly its intended purpose. Even defenders of the agreement acknowledge that it represents—at best—a mere pause in that pursuit and that Iran retains the capacity to sneak out or break out of the agreement and possess a nuclear weapon in a matter of months or even weeks. Iran’s new generation of advanced centrifuge designs will permit it an almost immediate breakout capacity even before the terms of the JCPOA expire. After that time, as President Obama acknowledged, the breakout period would be essentially “zero.”

 

2: The flawed verification provisions of the JCPOA mean that we cannot verify that Iran has stopped work on nuclear weapon design. If Tehran does not have a covert program today, it would be the first time in decades. 3: The premise of the deal is demonstratively false. Far from leading to a more moderate Iran, the agreement has resulted in increased funding of international terrorism and a further expansion of Iran’s external interventions. The irony is that the misguided policies of the Obama administration have only strengthened the regime in Tehran, providing it with the means to advance its proliferation programs, foment disorder in neighboring countries, and brutalize its own people—the first and foremost victims of the regime.

4: Staying in the agreement undermines the U.S. ability to contain the broader threat by providing legitimacy to an illegitimate regime and strengthening the Iranian economy and thereby the regime. This undercuts the regional coalition to roll back Iranian adventurism and military aggression. 5: The JCPOA—in the form of an executive agreement reinforced by a U.N. Security Council resolution—usurped the constitutional prerogative of the Senate, which, under Article II, Section 2, has the power and responsibility to advise and consent on all treaties. President Obama deliberately chose not to pursue a treaty because he knew the Senate would reject it.

 

President Trump will make the final decision on the nuclear agreement. If he takes the country out, it will almost certainly be against the advice of his cabinet members and the institutional national security complex in and out of government. But this would nevertheless be the right decision: It is not in the U.S. interest to remain in the JCPOA…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

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IT’S TIME TO TAKE ON THE IRAN-NORTH KOREA NUKE ALLIANCE

Benny Avni

New York Post, Aug. 1, 2017

 

Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first? Here’s a thought: both. Save for the weather, North Korea would’ve tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday, at almost the same time as Iran did. It missed the date, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1953 armistice pact that ended the Korean War, likely thanks to a rain storm. Nerveless, it tested the next day, creating a Mideast-East Asian stereo boom heard around the world.

 

American experts no longer think it’ll take North Korea years to be able to hit the continental United States. Most watchers now expect it sometime next year. So President Trump has drawn the short straw. Three predecessors failed to stop the Kim regime’s nuclear and missile advances. If he wants to stop the Norks, Trump has no choice but to act — and all of his options are bad.

 

Meanwhile, much of President Barack Obama’s Iran deal is expected to unravel during Trump’s tenure as well. What can he do? Americans and others have long observed cooperation between these two rogue regimes. You don’t need to be a trained missile expert to notice the design similarities between North Korea’s home-built Rodong and its Iranian clone, the Shahab 3. Or the Rodong B and Shahab 4. Iranian nuclear scientists were present at Pyongyang’s first nuclear test. Iran-allied Syria modeled its nuclear plant (later eliminated by Israel) on a similar North Korean one. Rather than violating the Obama deal by experimenting at home, Iran can advance its nuclear program by observing North Korea’s and contributing to its progress.

 

The mullahs have what Kim Jong-un needs most: cash. Pyongyang’s only foreign-currency-worthy export is weapons and knowing how to build and use them, which Iran craves. It’s a match made in hell. So why are countries threatened by North Korea, like Japan, so eager to do business with Iran? After all, don’t the mullahs enable the North’s quest to develop the missiles that get fired near Japan? “There’s no proof” of such cooperation, Tokyo officials said when I asked them about it on a recent trip to Japan.

 

They’re right. For decades, America shied away from revealing what the intelligence community knew about the Tehran-Pyongyang love affair because we dreamed of diplomatic breakthroughs on both fronts (and feared revealing spy methods). After the Sunday ICBM test, such timidity is no longer an option. America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Sunday that “China is aware they must act” and that Japan and South Korea must increase pressure. It’s “not only a US problem” but one that requires an international solution.

 

Yet, an international solution has eluded Haley since July 4, the last time North Korea launched a missile designed to reach the continental US. Russian diplomats have ridiculously argued there’s no proof this was an ICBM, therefore no need to increase sanctions. Such obfuscation will likely continue. Russia and China will block attempts to corner Kim and his henchmen — especially now that administration officials like CIA Director Mike Pompeo are starting to push the idea of toppling the Kim regime, which both Beijing and Moscow oppose.

 

So one action the United States can take would be to put forth a UN resolution naming and sanctioning persons and entities involved in the Iran-North Korea arms cooperation. Western diplomats tell me it likely won’t pass. Yet they’re intrigued by publicly airing, Adlai Stevenson-like, America’s intel on Iran-Nork cooperation. Iran’s missile program was, bizarrely, left out of Obama’s nuclear deal. Revealing the Tehran-Pyongyang nexus might convince allies wobbly about Tehran’s violations that the mullahs’ threat is global. It could also start the process of plugging a major cash source for the Kim regime. And then, there’s action beyond the United Nations: Obama rarely used the Proliferation Security Initiative, a treaty signed by 105 countries that allows search and seizure of ships carrying illicit arms. Expose the Iran-North Korea connection, then use PSI to disrupt it, with our allies’ help.

 

We’ve long thought of Iran and North Korea as separate problems. Time for a holistic approach that will give a jolt to the diplomatic stalemate. US flights over South Korean skies are helping. Talking publicly about adding Japan and South Korea to the global nuclear club may scare China into action. So will blacklisting companies that do business with Kim Jong-un. Regime change should be the ultimate target. But a change in diplomatic strategy is needed too, and fast. Time to expose what everyone knows, but no one ever says out loud: Kim and the mullahs are BFFs.

                                                                       

 

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AMID NEW US SANCTIONS, HOW MUCH OF IRAN’S

NUCLEAR DEAL RELIEF FUNDS TERRORISM?

                                                 Ariel Ben Solomon    

                                                          JNS, Aug. 8, 2017

 

As the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the nuclear deal of 2015 is funding the Islamic Republic’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East? President Donald Trump last week imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported fueling of the recent Temple Mount crisis and its agreement to bolster relations with the Hamas terror group.

 

While Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah continue to back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian Civil War, Russia’s military support for Assad is far more important for Iran than the limited economic benefits the Iranians have gained from sanctions relief and trade deals since the nuclear agreement, said Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya research college. “I think what has been crucial for the expansion of Iran’s role in Syria, more than anything, has been the air support [Assad] has received from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Javedanfar told JNS.org.

 

Javedanfar estimated that Iran has received less than $20 billion of the $150 billion in sanctions relief it secured in the nuclear deal, which was brokered by the former Obama administration and other world powers. Even if all of the sanctions relief had been released immediately after the nuclear deal was reached, it “wouldn’t have been enough to save Syria,” said Javedanfar.

 

While the released funds have aided the Iranian regime, Javedanfar said President Hassan Rouhani’s government is plagued by around $100 billion in debt carried over from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure. The new sanctions leveled by the Trump administration will hamper Rouhani’s ability to attract foreign investment, but hardline entities such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) militia “will be happy since less economic growth will give them more ammunition against the government,” he said. “The IRGC is responsible for these additional sanctions that were imposed after Iran fired a ballistic missile with a banner calling for Israel’s destruction,” said Javedanfar, who added, “The real intention of this launch, in practice, was to target Rouhani’s economic achievements.”

 

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told JNS.org it remains unclear how much of Iran’s sanctions relief funds have been diverted to causes such as Palestinian terrorism. But he said that “sanctions relief coupled with the campaign to ‘normalize’ Iran has enabled its fighters, money and weapons to go largely unchecked throughout the region.” The Trump administration’s new sanctions are part of “a desperately needed strategy, since for over a decade Iran’s regional ambitions and military programs took a back seat to the nuclear issue,” said Taleblu.

 

Ronen A. Cohen, an Iran expert and the chair of the Department of Middle East Studies at Israel’s Ariel University, disputes that Iran is using funds from sanctions relief and increased business ties with the West to support terrorism. “Iran will promote terror with or without the sanctions,” Cohen asserted, adding that since 2015, the country has spent less on regional terrorism as part of Rouhani’s strategy to strengthen the Iranian economy through trade. “Iran has a pragmatic strategy in the Middle East and will invest money only where it gains something in return, irrespective of sanctions,” he said.

 

Israel Hayom last week quoted a Palestinian Authority security official as claiming that Iran invested “millions of shekels” to inflame the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. According to the report, tens of thousands of Muslim protesters received prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.”

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his country’s support for the Palestinians amid the Temple Mount tensions, and more recently, Hamas said Aug. 7 that it has reached an agreement to improve relations with Iran. Taleblu said Iran’s Shi’a regime “uses the Palestinian issue to drive a wedge between the Arab world and Israel, as well as to mask its ethno-sectarian differences with its Sunni Arab neighbors and bolster its Islamist standing in the region.”

 

Iran has championed the Palestinian cause since its inception, and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “would rob Tehran of that card and render naked its regional aspirations,” said Taleblu. “Iran’s longstanding provision of money and weapons to Palestinian terror groups tells you one thing: Iran has more to gain from perpetual conflict in the Levant and eastern Mediterranean than peace,” he said.

 

IDC Herzliya’s Javedanfar said he has seen no real evidence that Iran was behind the recent tensions in Jerusalem. Rather, he said, Iran exaggerated its role in the Temple Mount crisis since “it feels isolated in the region because of its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his atrocities against Sunni Muslims.” Iran’s claims regarding the Temple Mount, Javedanfar said, show “how desperate the Iranian regime has become.”                                                        

 

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IRAN IS USING SYRIA TO ADVANCE TOWARD THE MEDITERRANEAN                      

Naftali Bennett                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2017

 

Hezbollah announced last month that it had captured the Syrian-Lebanese border area of Juroud Arsal from ISIS forces. Far from being a minor development in a violent and unstable region, this marks another Iranian success in its quest for power and dominance across the Middle East.

 

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has sought to become a dominant world power capable of imposing Islamic rule on as many people as possible. The Iranian regime finances and supports armed militias in other countries and is the world’s top exporter of terror. Hundreds if not thousands of Americans have died at the hands of Iran’s terrorist proxies. An essential part of Tehran’s grand strategy is to control a land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Under the cover of Syria’s bloody civil war, Hezbollah is helping to build such a highway. Hezbollah, trained and supported by Tehran, is classified as a terror group by the U.S., France and the Arab League, among others.

 

Its effort endangers the entire Western world. Controlling this corridor would directly connect Iran with its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, allowing it to transfer advanced weapons cheaply and quickly. The highway would let Iran build its military presence on the Mediterranean, bringing much of Europe into the range of its air force, navy and midrange missiles. Iran could even build arms factories outside its borders. Iranian apologists frame Hezbollah’s capture of the border area as a victory over ISIS, as if the U.S.-led coalition ought to be cheering. ISIS needs to be stopped, but Iran is a far greater problem in the long run. Tehran shouldn’t be mistaken for part of the solution.

 

As Syria disintegrated through civil war, Iran acted swiftly. It broke international law and forcefully expelled the Sunni population and replaced it with Shiites. This changed the local demography to support Tehran’s planned land corridor through Syria and Iraq. Iran also sent its generals to train Bashar Assad’s troops. Hezbollah has effectively morphed from a terror group into a division of the Iranian army, working for Tehran not only in Lebanon and Syria, but also in Yemen and Iraq.

 

In the game of chess that Syria has become, Western leaders are so focused on the knight attacking their pawns they cannot see the queen maneuvering to defeat them. Mistaking ISIS as the most serious threat has allowed Iran to move its pieces forward and gain better position. The nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 demonstrates Tehran’s patience, as it temporarily slows the country’s preparations to acquire nuclear weapons without stopping them over the long term.

 

I and others are concerned by the cease-fire in southern Syria brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan last month. With American and allied forces present in the north, Iran has focused its efforts on the south. The hiatus from violence in that region only gives Tehran another piece of territory in its bid to build a highway to the coast. It will take time and patience to stop Iran. The international community needs to defeat Tehran wherever its forces advance: in cyberspace, on the battlefields of Yemen and Iraq, and in advanced-weapons laboratories. This effort will be both public and covert, economic and technological. If it results in direct military confrontation, Iran’s foes must be ready to win there too.

 

Iran must be made to pay a price every day its soldiers remain on Syrian soil helping the Assad regime kill its own people. Tehran’s leaders must know that every violation of the nuclear deal will trigger harsh sanctions. They cannot direct terror attacks in Europe, Asia and America and expect the world to ignore their actions.

 

There are many possible courses of action against Iran. Yet the free world—led by the U.S.—has yet to take the first and most important step: declaring that it cannot abide an Iranian empire from the Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

 

                                   

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Top Israeli, American Experts Concerned About North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 14, 2017—Several top Israeli and American experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran say the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic.

The Military Options for North Korea: John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2017—North Korea test-launched on Friday its first ballistic missile potentially capable of hitting America's East Coast. It thereby proved the failure of 25 years of U.S. nonproliferation policy. A single-minded rogue state can pocket diplomatic concessions and withstand sustained economic sanctions to build deliverable nuclear weapons. It is past time for Washington to bury this ineffective "carrots and sticks" approach.

Danny Glaser: Iran and Hamas are United in Their Desire to Wreak Havoc in the Region: Joseph Braude, Huffington Post, Aug. 15, 2017—Iran supports terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran has long had a foreign policy and a regional policy based on trying to upend the regional order.

The Iranian Express: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Weekly Standard, July 31, 2017—On November 30, 2016, Syria watcher Tobias Schneider tweeted out pictures of an Iraqi Shia militiaman boarding an Iranian commercial airliner en route to Damascus.

 

TRUMP TAPS IRAN HAWKS, BUT WILL THE NEXT PRESIDENT KILL THE DREADED NUCLEAR DEAL?

Israel’s First Project With Trump: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2016 — Israeli officials are thrilled with the national security team that US President-elect Donald Trump is assembling. And they are right to be.

The Iran Deal Is Doomed: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Nov. 20, 2016 — Will President-elect Donald Trump crash the Iran deal on day one, as he said on the campaign trail?

The EU Cozies with Iran at Its Peril: Behnam Ben Taleblu, World Affairs, Nov. 23, 2016 — Since last summer’s nuclear deal, Iran has been pushing a full court press to be treated as a legitimate member of the international community.

Iran’s Prisoner of the Revolution: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2016 — An Iranian revolutionary court on Sunday sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison on a range of national-security charges.

 

On Topic Links

 

Iran Seals Deal With Boeing to Buy 80 Planes Worth $16.6B: Nasser Karimi and Adam Schreck, Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016

Netanyahu Tells 60 Minutes How Trump Can Undo Iran Deal: Valerie Locke, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 12, 2016

Keith Ellison’s Life as NIAC Cheerleader: Armin Rosen, Tablet, Dec 6, 2016

Popular Iranian Theme Park Encourages Young Boys to Fire Plastic Bullets at Effigies of Netanyahu: Becca Noy, Jerusalem Online, Dec. 9, 2016

 

 

ISRAEL’S FIRST PROJECT WITH TRUMP

Caroline Glick                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2016

 

Israeli officials are thrilled with the national security team that US President-elect Donald Trump is assembling. And they are right to be. The question now is how Israel should respond to the opportunity it presents us with.

 

The one issue that brings together all of the top officials Trump has named so far to his national security team is Iran. Gen. (ret.) John Kelly, whom Trump appointed Wednesday to serve as his secretary of homeland security, warned about Iran’s infiltration of the US from Mexico and about Iran’s growing presence in Central and South America when he served as commander of the US’s Southern Command.

 

Gen. (ret.) James Mattis, Trump’s pick to serve as defense secretary, and Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, whom he has tapped to serve as his national security adviser, were both fired by outgoing President Barack Obama for their opposition to his nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

 

During his video address before the Saban Forum last weekend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he looks forward to discussing Obama’s nuclear Iran nuclear deal with Trump after his inauguration next month. Given that Netanyahu views the Iranian regime’s nuclear program – which the nuclear deal guaranteed would be operational in 14 years at most – as the most serious strategic threat facing Israel, it makes sense that he wishes to discuss the issue first.

 

But Netanyahu may be better advised to first address the conventional threat Iran poses to Israel, the US and the rest of the region in the aftermath of the nuclear deal. There are two reasons to start with Iran’s conventional threat, rather than its nuclear program. First, Trump’s generals are reportedly more concerned about the strategic threat posed by Iran’s regional rise than by its nuclear program – at least in the immediate term.

 

Israel has a critical interest in aligning its priorities with those of the incoming Trump administration. The new administration presents Israel with the first chance it has had in 50 years to reshape its alliance with the US on firmer footing than it has stood on to date. The more Israel is able to develop joint strategies with the US for dealing with common threats, the firmer its alliance with the US and the stronger its regional posture will become.

 

The second reason it makes sense for Israel to begin its strategic discussions with the Trump administration by addressing Iran’s growing regional posture is because Iran’s hegemonic rise is a strategic threat to Israel. And at present, Israel lacks a strategy for dealing with it.  Our leaders today still describe Hezbollah with the same terms they used to describe it a decade ago during the Second Lebanon War. They discuss Hezbollah’s massive missile and rocket arsenal. With 150,000 projectiles pointed at Israel, in a way it makes sense that Israel does this.

 

Just this week Israel reinforced the sense that Hezbollah is more or less the same organization it was 10 years ago when – according to Syrian and Hezbollah reports – on Tuesday Israel bombed Syrian military installations outside Damascus. Following the alleged bombing, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told EU ambassadors that Israel is committed to preventing Hezbollah from transferring advanced weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from Syria to Lebanon. The underlying message is that having those weapons in Syria is not viewed as a direct threat to Israel.

 

Statements like Liberman’s also send the message that other than the prospect of weapons of mass destruction or precision missiles being stockpiled in Lebanon, Israel isn’t particularly concerned about what is happening in Lebanon. These statements are unhelpful because they obfuscate the fact that Hezbollah is not the guerrilla organization it was a decade ago. Hezbollah has changed in four basic ways since the last war. First, Hezbollah is no longer coy about the fact that it is an Iranian, rather than Lebanese, organization.

 

Since Iran’s Revolutionary Guards founded Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1983, the Iranians and Hezbollah terrorists alike have insisted that Hezbollah is an independent organization that simply enjoys warm relations with Iran. But today, with Hezbollah forming the backbone of Iran’s operations in Syria, and increasingly prominent in Afghanistan and Iraq, neither side cares if the true nature of their relationship is recognized. For instance, recently Hezbollah commander Hassan Nasrallah bragged, “We’re open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

 

What our enemies’ new openness tells us is that Israel must cease discussing Hezbollah and Iran as separate entities. Israel’s next war in Lebanon will not be with Hezbollah, or even with Lebanon. It will be with Iran. This is not a semantic distinction. It is a strategic one. Making it will have a positive impact on how both Israel and the rest of the world understand the regional strategic reality facing Israel, the US and the rest of the nations of the Middle East.

 

The second way that Hezbollah is different today is that it is no longer a guerrilla force. It is a regular army with a guerrilla arm and a regional presence. Its arsenal is as deep as Iran’s arsenal. And at present at least, it operates under the protection of the Russian Air Force and air defense systems. Hezbollah has deployed at least a thousand fighters to Iraq where they are fighting alongside Iranian forces and Shi’ite militia, which Hezbollah trains. Recent photographs of a Hezbollah column around Mosul showed that in addition to its advanced missiles, Hezbollah also fields an armored corps. Its armored platforms include M1A1 Abrams tanks and M-113 armored personnel carriers.

 

The footage from Iraq, along with footage from the military parade Hezbollah held last month in Syria, where its forces also showed off their M-113s, makes clear that Hezbollah’s US platform- based maneuver force is not an aberration. The significance of Hezbollah’s vastly expanded capabilities is clear. Nasrallah’s claims in recent years that in the next war his forces will stage a ground invasion of the Galilee and seek to seize Israeli border towns was not idle talk. Even worse, the open collaboration between Russia and Iran-Hezbollah in Syria, and their recent victories in Aleppo, mean that there is no reason for Israel to assume that Hezbollah will only attack from Lebanon. There is a growing likelihood that Hezbollah will make its move from Syrian territory.

 

The third major change from 2006 is that like Iran, Hezbollah today is much richer than it was before Obama concluded the nuclear deal with the ayatollahs last year. The deal, which canceled economic and trade sanctions on Iran, has given the mullahs a massive infusion of cash. Shortly after the sanctions were canceled, the Iranians announced that they were increasing their military budget by 90%. Since Hezbollah officially received $200 million per year before sanctions were canceled, the budget increase means that Hezbollah is now receiving some $400m. per year from Iran…                                                                

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]          

 

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THE IRAN DEAL IS DOOMED                                                                                                             

Lee Smith                                                                                                              

Weekly Standard, Nov. 20, 2016

 

Will President-elect Donald Trump crash the Iran deal on day one, as he said on the campaign trail? If so, Barack Obama's signature foreign policy initiative, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will melt into air. Obama allies and Iran deal supporters at home and abroad are already showing their anxiety.

 

The president-elect shouldn't tear up the agreement, argues the National Iranian American Council, a key voice in the administration's deal-promoting echo chamber. NIAC's Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi wrote last week that it's "in the interest of the United States to build on the Iran nuclear deal to resolve remaining tensions with Iran and help stabilize the Middle East." The Europeans are also concerned. Last week, EU foreign ministers issued a statement from Brussels. "The upholding of commitments by all sides is a necessary condition to continue rebuilding trust and allow for continued, steady and gradual improvement in relations between the European Union, its member States and Iran."

 

As we argued in these pages last week, the Iran deal is likely to collapse under its own weight if the incoming administration merely enforces its terms—something the Obama team has conspicuously failed to do. Instead, the Obama White House has bribed Iran, drummed up business for the regime, kept Congress from imposing nonnuclear sanctions, and excused Iranian violations. If the Trump White House simply stops propping up what the president-elect has called the "worst deal ever negotiated," the Iranians are likely to walk.

 

What worries the deal's supporters is that the new commander in chief will take an even more aggressive posture and undo with his own hands what he has called a "lopsided" agreement. Some argue that's undesirable, and others impossible. Senator Bob Corker, for instance, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggests that Trump should take a more tempered approach. "I don't think he will tear it up, and I don't think that's the way to start," said Corker, rumored to be in the running for secretary of state. "I think what he should do is build consensus with these other countries that [Iran is] definitely violating the agreement."

 

Indeed, Iran is violating the agreement. Last week, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, noted that Iran had again exceeded its limit of heavy water (used to produce plutonium for nuclear warheads). Certainly the new president should seek to work with the deal's signatories and other allies to build consensus on Iran. However, renegotiating the JCPOA—with a less than helpful Russia and China at the table, never mind Iran itself—involves risks. What if the world's most famous negotiator can't get a better agreement than his predecessor? It would lend weight to the Obama administration's contention that the deal it secured with Iran was the best to be had. Worse, it leaves the new president with egg on his face and someone else's deal in his pocket.

 

Trump is thus cornered, say Iran deal supporters; he has no choice but to abide by the agreement. The JCPOA is a "multilateral accord," the European Union's head of international affairs, Federica Mogherini, said last week. The JCPOA, she said, was "not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council, and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government." Actually, that's not true. There is very little to stop the Trump White House from toppling the JCPOA. The United States can reimpose its own nuclear-related sanctions, and more important it can reimpose multilateral sanctions—unilaterally. The means are outlined in Article 37 of the JCPOA and in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which explain how the snapback measures work.

 

The instrument was designed to take advantage of the United States' veto power at the U.N. Security Council, while sidelining the veto wielded by Iran's two closest allies among the deal's signatories, China and Russia. Let's say Iran is found to be not in compliance with the JCPOA (and it is not, as the IAEA found last week). Any of the signatories can notify the Security Council, at which point the Security Council has 30 days to address the issue. If the concerns are not satisfied, a resolution comes before the Security Council to continue suspending nuclear sanctions on Iran. This is where the power of the veto comes into play—the United States would use its veto power to strike down the measure, at which point all multilateral sanctions would be reimposed. At that stage, Iran almost certainly walks out of the deal.

 

Iran deal supporters are likely to argue that the Trump White House cannot avail itself of this measure, even though the unilateral trigger on the "snapback" mechan­ism was how the administration sold the deal to some of its critics. The explanation for why Trump can't use it is likely to be as bizarre and ad hoc as nearly everything that's come out of the Obama administration's Iran echo chamber. But here's the thing—the advocates of the deal, like NIAC and other Obama surrogates, were powerful only because they were plugged into the White House for the last eight years. The "echo chamber" was just a well-funded fiction-writing workshop—as long as it was directed by the president of the United States, it produced what Obama deputy Ben Rhodes calls "narrative." Once cut off from the White House, the echo chamber will simply spin fairy tales that bear no relationship to reality.

 

Untangling the Obama administration's many myths will be among the multitude of tasks facing the incoming Trump White House. It can start with the simple expedient of enforcing the Iran deal, at which point it will die a quick death.       

 

Contents 

 

THE EU COZIES WITH IRAN AT ITS PERIL                          

Behnam Ben Taleblu                                                   

World Affairs, Nov. 23, 2016

 

Since last summer’s nuclear deal, Iran has been pushing a full court press to be treated as a legitimate member of the international community. Its behavior suggests otherwise. Since the accord, Tehran has stepped up support to the Assad regime in Syria, persisted in testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and continued human rights abuses within its borders. Nevertheless, on October 25, the European Parliament passed a resolution affirming its desire to normalize political and economic ties with Iran. Effectively, Tehran would be poised to reap dividends of closer ties without changing its conduct.

 

The resolution does contain language critical of Iran for its rights abuses and brazen anti-Semitism—thus drawing the ire of Iran’s hardliners. But it is more of a fig leaf to cover the EU’s true motives: ending the sanctions firewall and the taboo of ties with Tehran. The EU’s imports from Iran dipped considerably in 2012 when it implemented an oil embargo on the Islamic Republic. Pursuant to the nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA—Europe will remove some of the most dangerous Iranian actors from its sanctions lists by 2023 or earlier. Worse, some sanctions, like those on Iran’s premier terror-financing institution Bank Saderat, have slipped well in advance of that deadline.

 

According to the EU Parliament resolution, Brussels seeks “a dialogue of the four Cs’”—namely talks that are comprehensive, cooperative, critical, and constructive. Similarly, an April 2016 EU Parliament report called for “strategic and structured dialogue” with Iran. On its face, this attempt to broaden the range of issues on the table with Tehran is commendable. In actuality, it is tantamount to falling back on an already-failed policy. In the 1990s, Europe embraced several forms of this policy to no avail. Each time, it was given a different moniker—ranging from “critical dialogue” to “comprehensive dialogue”—but its lackluster results in changing Iranian behavior at home and abroad speaks for itself.

 

In a display of wishful thinking, European proponents of this allegedly new policy insist they can build on the nuclear deal to change Iranian behavior. By flooding Tehran with cash, the JCPOA merely provides the regime with more resources with which to pursue its destabilizing regional ambitions. European defenders of normalization with Iran maintain that the accord “was a huge prize for peace and stability in a troubled region.” But this ignores the fact that Tehran is already intricately involved in a number of regional conflicts. Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and various Shiite proxies and militias are fighting in battlefields across the region at Tehran’s behest. At home, business interests connected to or controlled by the IRGC stand to gain the most from the deal. Europe would be bolstering those whom it should be weakening.

 

A similar challenge exists with respect to Iranian airlines, which are set to service new destinations in the aftermath of the nuclear deal. The US Treasury designated Mahan Air in 2011 for its support for terrorism, with specific reference to its role in the Syrian theater. Recently, reports emerged that Mahan has grown its operations in Europe—where it remains unsanctioned—as well as the Caucasus. Tehran’s penchant to illicitly procure material for its missile program has also continued unabated. According to Germany’s intelligence services, Iranian attempts to acquire “proliferation-sensitive” technologies reached “a quantitatively high level” in 2015. Normalization with Tehran would require ignoring these disturbing trends.

 

As the global business community eyes Tehran, Europe should not squander this opportunity to meaningfully alter Iran’s policies. Before rushing back to regain its place as the Islamic Republic’s largest trading partner, the EU must recognize that unless it demands changes to Iranian behavior upfront, Iran will retain the upper hand in any post-deal negotiations. European advocates of the nuclear deal insist that it would shore up security and stability in an uncertain world. Now is their chance to put their money where their mouth is.                                                

 

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IRAN’S PRISONER OF THE REVOLUTION

Editorial

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2016

 

An Iranian revolutionary court on Sunday sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison on a range of national-security charges. The 60-year-old cleric will serve a mere six years by Iranian justice standards, owing to his age and his family’s special status in Iranian revolutionary history. But his sentence is a reminder that the regime remains as brutal as ever, even as it reaps the economic benefits of its nuclear deal with the West.

 

Mr. Montazeri’s crime was to release tapes that capture his father, the Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, denouncing the regime’s repression during its first decade in power. The elder Montazeri, who died in 2009, was one of the regime’s founders with Ayatollah Khomeini. Tapped to succeed Khomeini as supreme leader, Montazeri grew increasingly disillusioned with the theocracy he had established. The final break came in 1988 when the regime executed thousands of leftists and supporters of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) opposition group. The MEK had helped Khomeini topple the Shah in 1979. But after the revolution the new supreme leader set out to consolidate power and liquidate his erstwhile allies.

 

Montazeri denounced the executions at the time, accusing senior security apparatchiks in the 1988 recording of committing the “biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us.” He added: “Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader [Khomeini] and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader.” For his dissent, Montazeri was sidelined and has spent much of the rest of his life under house arrest. Among the men he addressed in the tape was Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who is now Justice Minister in the “moderate” government that negotiated the nuclear deal.

 

Confronted with the recording this summer, Mr. Pourmohammadi said, “We take pride in executing God’s commandment with respect to the hypocrites,” using the regime’s epithet for the MEK. This episode about the nature of the Tehran regime is worth keeping in mind as Donald Trump becomes the seventh U.S. President to confront the Iranian threat.

 

Contents

           

On Topic Links

 

Iran Seals Deal With Boeing to Buy 80 Planes Worth $16.6B: Nasser Karimi and Adam Schreck, Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016 —Iran’s flag carrier finalized a major deal with U.S. plane maker Boeing Co. to buy $16.6 billion worth of passenger planes Sunday in one of the most tangible benefits yet for the Islamic Republic from last year’s landmark nuclear agreement.

Netanyahu Tells 60 Minutes How Trump Can Undo Iran Deal: Valerie Locke, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 12, 2016 —In an interview with 60 Minutes aired Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he plans to ask President-elect Donald Trump to dismantle the P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal when he enters office and revealed that he has several suggestions on how it can be done.

Keith Ellison’s Life as NIAC Cheerleader: Armin Rosen, Tablet, Dec 6, 2016—July of 2009 was not the most obvious time to argue against sanctioning Iran. In June, the regime violently suppressed a widespread protest movement that emerged in response to the alleged rigging of the country’s presidential election.

Popular Iranian Theme Park Encourages Young Boys to Fire Plastic Bullets at Effigies of Netanyahu: Becca Noy, Jerusalem Online, Dec. 9, 2016—The Iranian government held a celebratory opening ceremony for a new amusement park for children. However, this park is not a typical children’s park. At Iran’s City of Games for Revolutionary Children, young Iranians learn how to become revolutionists and fight enemy countries.

 

 

IRAN, BENEFITING FROM SANCTIONS RELIEF AND NEW BUSINESS DEALS, CONTINUES TO DEFY ISRAEL & THE WEST

Obama Just Made Iran’s Brutal Regime Stronger: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Jan. 24, 2016 — “Evident victory!” This is how Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describes the diplomatic swindle, known as the “Iran nuclear deal.”

Israel Sees Short and Long-term Repercussions in Iranian Sanctions Relief: Yaakov Lappin, IPT, Jan. 25, 2016— Away from the vociferous disputes that continue to rage around the Iranian nuclear deal, the Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have been engaged in detached analysis of the short and long-term effects, and they have come away with three central conclusions.

Cartoons as a Symbol of Defiance: Hillel Newman, Times of Israel, Feb. 1, 2016 — The director of the cartoon and caricature House in Tehran, Massoud Tabatabai, announced … that Iran will once again hold an international cartoon contest that scoffs at the Holocaust.

Italian-Iranian Hall of Mirrors: Roger Cohen, New York Times, Feb. 1, 2016— Italy’s decision to cover up the nudes at the Capitoline Museum in deference to the sensibilities of the visiting Glasgow-educated Iranian president has been widely interpreted as final proof of the capitulation of Western civilization to theocratic Islam.

 

On Topic Links

 

In-Fighting in Iran: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2016

The Iranian Penetration of Iraqi Kurdistan: Lazar Berman, JCPA, Jan. 21, 2016

‘The Iran-Iraq War,’ by Pierre Razoux: New York Times, Dec. 29, 2016

North Korea Did It Again: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Feb. 2, 2016

                  

OBAMA JUST MADE IRAN’S BRUTAL REGIME STRONGER

Amir Taheri

                                                      New York Post, Jan. 24, 2016 

 

“Evident victory!” This is how Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describes the diplomatic swindle, known as the “Iran nuclear deal.” The Koranic term (in Arabic Fatah al-Mobin) refers to one of Prophet Mohammed’s successful guerrilla raids on a Meccan caravan in the early days of Islam. Rouhani claims the “deal” represents “the greatest diplomatic victory in Islamic history.” Leaving aside the hyperbole, a fixture of the mullahs’ rhetorical arsenal, Rouhani has reason to crow.

 

If not quite moribund as some analysts claim, the Islamic Republic had been in a rough patch for years. For more than a year, the government was unable to pay some of the 5.2 million public sector employees, notably teachers, petrochemical workers and students on bursaries, triggering numerous strikes. Deprived of urgently needed investment, the Iranian oil industry was pushed to the edge with its biggest oil fields, notably Bibi Hakimeh and Maroun, producing less than half their capacity.

 

Between 2012 and 2015, Iran lost 25% of its share in the global oil market. Sanctions and lack of investment also meant that large chunks of Iranian industry, dependent on imported parts, went under. In 2015 Iran lost an average of 1,000 jobs a day.

 

Last month, the nation’s currency, the rial, fell to an all-time record low while negative economic growth was forecast for the third consecutive year. Having increased the military budget by 21%, Rouhani was forced to delay presentation of his new budget for the Iranian New Year starting March 21. Against that background that Obama rode to the rescue by pushing through a “deal” designed to ease pressure on Iran in exchange for nothing but verbal promises from Tehran. Here is some of what Obama did:

 

Dropped demands that Iran reshape its nuclear program to make sure it can never acquire a military dimension. As head of Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akbar Salehi has said: “Our nuclear project remains intact. The ‘deal’ does not prevent us from doing what we were doing.”

 

He suspended a raft of sanctions and pressured the European Union and the United Nations to do the same.    He injected a badly needed $1.7 billion into Iranian economy by releasing assets frozen under President Jimmy Carter and kept as possible compensation for Americans held hostage at different times. The cash enabled Rouhani to start paying some unpaid salaries in Iran while financing Hezbollah branches and helping the Assad regime in Syria.

 

Obama released another tranche of $30 billion, enabling Rouhani to present his new budget with a reduced deficit at 14% while increasing the military-security budget yet again, by 4.2%. Banking sanctions were set aside to let Iran import 19,000 tons of American rice to meet shortages on the eve of Iranian New Year when consumption reaches its peak. Obama’s lovefest with the mullahs helped mollify the Khomeinist regime’s image as a sponsor of international terror and a diplomatic pariah.

 

What is the rationale behind Obama’s dogged determination to help the mullahs out of the ditch they have dug? Some cite Obama’s alleged belief that the US has been an “imperialist power,” bullying weaker nations and must make amends. Others suggest a tactic to strengthen “moderates” within the Iranian regime who, if assured that the US does into seek regime change might lead the nation towards a change of behavior.

 

Whatever the reasons, what Obama has done could best described as appeasement-plus. In classical appeasement you promise an adversary not to oppose some of his moves, for example the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but you do not offer him actual financial or diplomatic support.

 

Obama has gone beyond that. In addition to saving Iran from running out of money, on the diplomatic front he has endorsed Tehran’s scenario for Syria, is campaigning to help Iran choose the next Lebanese president, and has given the mullahs an open field in Afghanistan and Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry talks of Iran as “the regional power,” to the chagrin of Washington’s Middle East allies.

 

What if the “deal” actually weakens the “moderates” that Obama wants to support, supposing they do exist? Obama’s imaginary “moderates” are not in good shape. The Council of Guardians that decides who could run for election next month has disqualified 99% of the so-called “moderate” wannabes, ensuring the emergence of a new Islamic parliament and Assembly of Experts dominated by radicals as never before. Meanwhile, the annual “End of America” festival, Feb. 1 to 10, is to be held with greater pomp.

 

With more resources at its disposal, Tehran is intensifying its “exporting the revolution” campaign. Last week it announced the creation of a new Hezbollah branch in Turkey and, for the first time, made the existence of a branch in Iraq public. Tajikistan was also publicly added to the markets where Khomeinist revolution should be exported. There are no “moderates” in Tehran, and the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed out of its nature. For the remainder of Obama’s term least, expect a more aggressive Islamic Republic. Did the mullahs deceive Obama? No, this was all his idea.

 

Contents

                                       

ISRAEL SEES SHORT AND LONG-TERM REPERCUSSIONS

IN IRANIAN SANCTIONS RELIEF                       

Yaakov Lappin

IPT, Jan. 25, 2016

 

Away from the vociferous disputes that continue to rage around the Iranian nuclear deal, the Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have been engaged in detached analysis of the short and long-term effects, and they have come away with three central conclusions. Details of their assessments, though shared with defense reporters over recent months, were publicly presented for the first last week by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot during a conference in Tel Aviv, organized by the Institute for National Security Studies.

 

The most immediate consequence of the nuclear deal will be felt in the realm of expanding Iranian regional influence, and the looming increase in the trafficking of weapons and funds to terror organizations, made possible by sanctions relief. Iran now sends Hizballah between $800 million to $1 billion every year, according to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) assessments. There is every reason to expect Hizballah's funding to significantly increase in the next two years, as Iran stands to earn many billions of dollars in oil and gas sales, and receives access to $100 billion in previously frozen assets.

 

Iran sends Hamas in the Gaza Strip tens of millions of dollars per year, instructs it on how to mass produce rockets, and tries to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Iran's budget for Hamas will grow, too. Additionally, the Iranian military industry, already considered to be an advanced stage of development by Israel, will receive much more investment, allowing Iran to design and produce more accurate missiles, rockets, drones, and other types of weaponry that it can then traffic to its regional proxies through its Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force (IRGC) networks, or point at Israel directly from Iranian missile bases.

 

IRGC-Quds Force activities in Syria, where Iran oversees and participates in battles to save its ally, the Assad regime (Iran has lost between 300 to 400 of its security forces in Syria's battles), and seeks to convert its presence on the Syrian Golan into terrorist bases against Israel, can also be expected to be expand. "The assessment is that as the economic situation in Iran improves, bigger assets will be diverted [to these things]," Eisenkot said Jan. 18.

 

Regarding the Iranian nuclear program itself, the military divides its view between the short and long-term. Since the end of 2005, Iran topped the list of strategic threats to Israel due to its military nuclear program. With Iran inching toward nuclear breakout capabilities, the IDF had to be ready to respond to any potential imminent developments. The nuclear deal changes that situation, at least for the next five years. Although Israel will make every effort to monitor and scrutinize Iran's activities, the expectation within the defense establishment is that the risk of an imminent Iranian breakout to the bomb has substantially decreased for the next few years.

 

The thinking in Israel's military establishment is that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has not forfeited his ambition to build nuclear weapons. Far from it. He has, however, taken a tactical 'pause' to achieve sanctions relief and assure the future of his regime. After the five-year mark passes, the next decade carries increased risks of Iran secretly developing nuclear weapons.

 

Alternatively, Iran can wait out the agreement's sunset clause, and reactivate its nuclear program in 10 to 15 years, after it has amassed far greater regional influence, military capabilities, wealth, and international legitimacy. This is one reason why Eisenkot has said that whoever is in his position a decade from now will face significantly more complex challenges. Iran then will be a significantly more formidable enemy than it is today.

 

In the meantime, Iran will continue its proxy war against Israel, and Hizballah armed with over 100,000 surface to surface rockets and missiles, will work with Iran to make some of those projectiles accurate, satellite-guided threats, which it can try to direct against strategic sites in Israel. Israel, for its part, is developing an advanced multi-layer rocket and missile defense system to counter this…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

CARTOONS AS A SYMBOL OF DEFIANCE

Hillel Newman                                                              

Times of Israel, Feb. 1, 2016

 

The director of the cartoon and caricature House in Tehran, Massoud Tabatabai, announced … that Iran will once again hold an international cartoon contest that scoffs at the Holocaust. This contest offers an extra special cherry in the creation of a new category primarily designed to deride the Prime Minister of Israel. It is scheduled to take place in June 2016, with the assistance and support of the municipality of Tehran. The contest carries significant cash prizes, with the promise of a special prize of $50,000, a first place prize of $12,000, second place of $8,000, and third place prize of $5,000. It would seem that due to the promised relief of sanctions — the result of the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) — Iran expects its coffers to fill. So the powers that be have found something “useful” to do with their excess cash flow.

 

This is not the first time they are holding such a contest. They held such a contest in April 2015, and according to the site managing the contest, more than 300 people from approximately 50 countries submitted entries. Illuminating the contest’s date of the first of April, the submission date then, the director of the caricature house explained, “As the first of April is the day of lies, it is appropriate to hold a caricature contest ridiculing the Holocaust, which is one of the biggest lies.” Thus, this contest is not just for fun, but purposely carries political and ideological undertones. Holocaust denial and the ridiculing of Israel’s Prime Minister are part and parcel of the political and ideological connotations.

 

Iran knows very well how cartoons can be used for political messages. Ms. Atena Farghadani, an Iranian citizen, was sentenced in May 2015 to 12 years in prison. Evidence against her included satirical cartoons she had drawn, depicting Iranian officials with disdain. She has been termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International. Recently, according to news reports, she was charged with illegitimate sexual relations and forced to undergo a “virginity and pregnancy test,” because she shook hands with her attorney. Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program was quoted stating: “It is shocking that on top of imposing a ludicrous charge on Atena Farghadani for the ‘crime’ of shaking hands with her lawyer, the Iranian authorities have forced her to undergo a virginity and pregnancy test.”

 

This case highlights the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. It sponsors cartoons against the Holocaust on the one hand, yet arrests Iranian citizens for oppositionist cartoons on the other. It also highlights how seriously the Iranian authorities take satirical cartoons: seriously enough to impose 12 years in prison. Clearly, significant differences should be noted between the two issues. Atena’s cartoons were a private initiative of an oppositionist, protesting horrendous acts by the Iranian regime. The Holocaust caricature contest is governmental, institutional, international, and in clear violation of international accords. It is also an offense to the innocent victims of the Holocaust.

 

Iran’s intolerance for oppositionist cartoons calls into question the Iranian leaders’ attempts to excuse themselves with false claims of not understanding the significance of convening this detestable contest. This issue is not, and should not be, an Israeli or Jewish issue. This act of insolence should awaken the negotiators of the P5+1 and the leaders of the tolerant world to the true character of the Iranian regime. It is just one additional act of defiance among many.

 

Over the past few months, Iran has been ballooning different types of defiant acts, testing the waters, to see the reaction of the international community. So far, things have gone well for them. The international community has locked itself into a position of extreme weakness, in fear that reacting to these acts of defiance would uproot the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) that they have toiled so long to achieve.

 

In October, Iran provocatively launched a ballistic missile test, the second that year, which was determined to violate the UN sanctions. The Iranians continue to smuggle arms and support proxy terror groups, in violation of Security Council resolutions. They continue to execute juvenile offenders, in violation of the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). They continue to detain American dual nationals on what observers denounce as trumped up espionage charges. They continue their subversive activity unabated. In the nuclear context, as Michael Singh and Simond de Galbert report in their Wall Street Journal article of December 14, 2015: “Iran has refused to take either of the two steps that could provide real assurance that it has forsaken its desire for nuclear weapons: abandoning uranium enrichment altogether and providing a full disclosure of past nuclear activities.”

 

Inaction in the face of Iranian violations and misbehavior will only lead to further insolence, defiance and audacity. It will also lead to further erosion of the integrity and credibility of the international community. It will eat at the essence of the deterrence threat, and pave the way for increased disrespect of international norms and UN sanctions. Meaningful responses to Iranian provocations are needed. Let us start by tackling the moral issue of the Holocaust cartoon contest, which is just a symbol of Iranian deep rooted disregard for our values.                                                                                                                                          

 

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ITALIAN-IRANIAN HALL OF MIRRORS                                                                       

Roger Cohen                                                                                    

New York Times, Feb. 1, 2016

 

Italy’s decision to cover up the nudes at the Capitoline Museum in deference to the sensibilities of the visiting Glasgow-educated Iranian president has been widely interpreted as final proof of the capitulation of Western civilization to theocratic Islam. It was, Hisham Melhem, a columnist for Al Arabiya English, suggested, a “brazen act of self-emasculation and obeisance.”

 

If Italy, inheritor of the glories of the Roman Empire, boxes up some of its finest works of art just in case the eye of President Hassan Rouhani should fall on the plum-like breast of a marble goddess, then nobody should be surprised if Islamic fanatics (Sunni, not Shiite, but still) choose to destroy the glorious Greco-Roman legacy at Palmyra. Or so the reasoning goes.

 

As a consequence of Boxgate, Italy has suffered ridicule. Nothing is worse than ridicule. Here it is merited. Not so much, I would argue, for Italy’s clumsy attempt at courtesy, for courtesy is important and has become an undervalued virtue. Reading the fall of the West into the concealment of a nude is going too far. Mistakes happen. No, the ridicule is merited because the decision to hide the works of art was, it seems, made by nobody. In Rome, the buck stops nowhere. The Capitoline Venus just boxed herself up one night because she was bored and took a few deities along with her.

 

The Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, did not know. The foreign minister did not know. The culture minister called the decision “incomprehensible.” They were, they insist (perhaps too much), as surprised as anyone to find all those white cubes — none, incidentally, provided by the prestigious White Cube gallery in London.

 

One account has it that a woman named Ilva Sapora who works at Palazzo Chigi, where Renzi’s office is located, made the decision after visiting the Capitoline with Iranian Embassy officials. “Nonsense,” Jas Gawronski, a former Italian member of the European Parliament, told me. The notion that a midlevel Chigi official in charge of ceremonial matters could have made the decision does seem far-fetched. Gawronski believes it is more likely to have been officials at the Farnesina, home to the Foreign Ministry.

 

One thing can be safely said: Nobody will ever know. I was a correspondent in Rome for some years in the 1980s. Periodically there would be developments in terrorist cases — the Piazza Fontana bombing of 1969 or the Brescia bombing of 1974. Trials, verdicts, appeals followed one another. Facts grew murkier, not clearer. It would take decades to arrive at convictions that did not resolve doubts. Italy has never had much time for the notion that justice delayed is justice denied.

 

Renzi has wanted to break with this Italy of murky secrets, modernize it, bring stable government and install accountability. He’s made significant changes in electoral and labor law. But he has a problem. At the same time as the Boxgate scandal was unfolding he was telling my colleague Jim Yardley in an interview, “I’m the leader of a great country.”

 

A great country doesn’t have statues that box themselves up all by themselves. Truth in Italy is elastic. A much-conquered country learned the wisdom of ambiguous expression, as for that matter did much-conquered Persia. The Italians say, “Se non è vero, è ben trovato” — roughly, if it’s not true it ought to be.

If art is the truth, we should not charge the people for the truth. If art is not the truth, is it just a lie? The very moment art is…

 

At bottom, this story is one of an Iranian-Italian hall of mirrors with a pot of gold sitting in the middle of the hall valued at about $18 billion in new trade deals. The Iranians insist nobody asked for those masterpieces of Classical humanism to be hidden: another case of nobody’s decision. Iran, too, distrusts clarity. It is a nation whose conventions include the charming ceremonial insincerity known as “taarof” and “tagieh,” which amounts to the sacrifice of truth to higher religious imperative.

 

Speaking of truth denial, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has again questioned the existence of the Holocaust. He chose to do so in a video uploaded to his website on Holocaust Remembrance Day. There is to be another “Holocaust Cartoon and Caricature Contest” in June. Needless to say this Holocaust denial is odious, the regime at its worst. It is also a sign of desperation among the hard-liners determined to block Rouhani’s opening to the world. They reckon Holocaust denial will derail any détente. The buzzword of the hard-liners is “nufuz,” or infiltration by the West. Iranians are being warned to guard against it in this month’s parliamentary elections.

 

You can hide a few statues in the Capitoline Museum, but you can’t hide the deep rifts between an Iranian society overwhelmingly in favor of opening to the West and a theocratic regime determined to ensure the nuclear deal does not lead to wider cooperation with the United States and Europe. Far from finding itself in a state of capitulation, the West exerts a very powerful cultural magnetism, evident in the rabid desperation of its opponents.

On Topic

 

In-Fighting in Iran: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2016— Iran’s élite are at loggerheads. Situation normal, one might say, except that the in-fighting is becoming more vicious by the day, exacerbated by the forthcoming elections. As Iran prepares for the vote, scheduled for February 26, the power struggle between the hardliners on the one hand, and the moderates and reformists – the pro-Rouhanis – on the other, is intensifying.

The Iranian Penetration of Iraqi Kurdistan: Lazar Berman, JCPA, Jan. 21, 2016 —Iran’s influence grows across the Middle East. Its armed proxies, and often Iranian soldiers themselves, advance Tehran’s interests in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Iran’s activities in those countries have caught the attention of states in the region and beyond, and rival Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia continue to ramp up their diplomatic and rhetorical campaigns to counter Tehran’s ambitions.

‘The Iran-Iraq War,’ by Pierre Razoux: New York Times, Dec. 29, 2016—The war between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Ruhollah Khomeini’s Iran ended 27 years ago, before most of today’s Iraqis and Iranians were alive. Many of today’s Americans were pretty young then, too — certainly too young to remember the glee with which United States policy makers watched the war, an eight-year storm of steel that killed as many as a million people and exhausted two unsavory regimes.

North Korea Did It Again: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Feb. 2, 2016—On January 6, 2016, North Korea held its fourth nuclear test, proclaiming it as Pyongyang's first hydrogen (H) bomb. Intelligence communities and scientists in South Korea and the US have raised doubts concerning North Korea's capabilities to develop and test the H-bomb. By doing so, South Korea and the US question Pyongyang's credibility and in turn, minimize the importance of the fourth nuclear test.

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

IRAN DECEIVES, OBAMA IGNORES, BUT NUCLEAR “DEAL” ISN’T LEGALLY BINDING OR SIGNED

Iran’s Nuclear Nondisclosure: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2015 — President Obama sold his nuclear deal with Iran with promises that the accord would be based on “unprecedented verification,” and this week we were reminded of how much that promise was worth.

Ignoring Iran’s Past Deceptions Dooms Nuclear Deal: Emily B. Landau, The Tower, Dec. 3, 2015— Iran’s attempt to advance a military nuclear program from the late 1980s is at the heart of its decades-long violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran Carries Out Another Missile Test in Violation of UN: Ben Ariel, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 8, 2015 — Iran has carried out a new medium range ballistic missile test in breach of two United Nations Security Council resolutions…

State Department: Iran Deal Is Not ‘Legally Binding’ and Iran Didn’t Sign It: Joel Gehrke, National Review, Nov. 24, 2015— President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,”…

Unfinished Business from the Iran Nuclear Debate: Robert Satloff, American Interest, Nov. 5, 2015 — Remember the Iran nuclear agreement?

 

On Topic Links

 

Leaving Iran’s Nuclear Past a Mystery: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Dec. 3, 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program Confirmed: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 4, 2015

Iran Tested Missile, Breaching UN Security Council Resolutions: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2015  

U.S. Set to Lift Sanctions on Iran: Laurence Norman & Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2, 2015

 

 

IRAN’S NUCLEAR NONDISCLOSURE                            

                         Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2015

 

President Obama sold his nuclear deal with Iran with promises that the accord would be based on “unprecedented verification,” and this week we were reminded of how much that promise was worth. Witness the latest report on Iran’s nuclear program from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 

The IAEA is the U.N. outfit that is supposed to monitor Iran’s compliance with the agreement, which requires Tehran to answer the agency’s questions on its past nuclear work in order to obtain sanctions relief. On Wednesday the agency produced its “final assessment”—the finality here having mostly to do with the U.N. nuclear watchdog giving up hope of ever getting straight answers.

 

Hence we learn that “Iran did not provide any clarification” regarding experiments the agency believes it conducted on testing components of nuclear components at its military facility at Parchin. “The information available to the Agency, including the results of the sampling analysis and the satellite imagery, does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building,” says the report. “The Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.”

 

This seems to be A-OK with the Obama Administration, which made clear it’s prepared to accept any amount of Iranian stonewalling in order to move ahead with sanctions relief. “We had not expected a full confession, nor did we need one,” an unnamed senior Administration official told the Journal. One wonders why they even bothered with the charade.

 

Still, the report is illuminating on several points, above all its conclusion that Tehran continued to work on nuclear weapons research until 2009. That further discredits the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which claimed Iran’s weapons program had ceased in 2003, and which effectively ended any chance that the Bush Administration would use military force against Iran’s nuclear sites.

 

It should also inspire some humility about the quality of Western intelligence regarding closed and hostile regimes such as Iran’s. A 2014 report from the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board noted that at “levels associated with small or nascent [nuclear] programs, key observables are easily masked.” Yet the Administration keeps insisting that Iran’s nondisclosures don’t matter because the U.S. has “perfect knowledge” of what the mullahs are up to, as John Kerry claimed last summer.

 

The larger point is that the nuclear deal has already become a case of Iran pretending not to cheat while the West pretends not to notice. That may succeed in bringing the agreement into force, but it offers no confidence that Iran won’t eventually build its weapon.

                               

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                                                                  IGNORING IRAN’S PAST DECEPTIONS DOOMS NUCLEAR DEAL               

                                                                      Emily B. Landau

                                                                      The Tower, Dec. 3, 2015

 

Iran’s attempt to advance a military nuclear program from the late 1980s is at the heart of its decades-long violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Its secret work on the development of a nuclear bomb encapsulates the deceptive behavior that lost Iran the trust of the international community, and justified the demands that the P5+1 powers originally made in the context of the negotiations that eventually culminated with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the “Iran deal.” As such, one would have thought that a prime interest of the international negotiators would be to fully expose Iran’s deception in order to increase their own leverage during the diplomatic talks, compelling Iran to either accept a reasonable deal that involves massive dismantlement of its nuclear program, or suffer the consequences of its non-compliance. But that was not to be.

 

The final report of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program – issued December 2 and now referred to the IAEA Board of Governors for their response by December 15 – was shallow and inconclusive. Iran had not cooperated fully with the IAEA on the 12 outstanding questions that Tehran had been stonewalling on for years. In fact, up until about a week before the mid-October deadline for Iran to provide its answers, there had been little to no cooperation on its part, with partial responses provided only in the final week or so. On the basis of this limited cooperation, the report assesses that Iran did conduct a “range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device…prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003.” According to the report, Iran did not advance beyond “feasibility and scientific studies,” and “acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.”

 

So, yes, the IAEA believes that Iran worked on military aspects, but the report – that was meant to be the final word – is a far cry from a full and final picture of Iran’s military-related activities. As Amano had already admitted a week before it was released, we should not expect a black/white report, with yes/no answers on Iran’s past behavior.

 

It is not clear whether the PMD investigation will continue or not, and if so, with what degree of emphasis. What is clear is that it is now off the agenda as far as implementation of the Iran deal is concerned. Indeed, the most important message in this regard was delivered already in late October, by an anonymous senior U.S. official in a briefing to reporters. The official noted that the Iran deal will be implemented regardless of the content of the IAEA report; in his/her words: the final assessment “is not a prerequisite for implementation day.”

 

What is most disturbing about this picture is that the Obama administration, and the P5+1 in general, apparently had no intention of including the investigation into Iran’s past military nuclear program as an integral part of the negotiations on a comprehensive and final deal with Iran, despite clear statements to the contrary.

 

In early 2015, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and chief negotiator Wendy Sherman indicated that the PMD issue would have to be cleared up in the context of a final deal. Sherman noted specifically that Iran must “come clean” about past activities for a deal to be concluded. And yet, the tricky backtracking from these unequivocal statements unfortunately does not really come as a surprise. From the time negotiations began, there was something fishy about how the P5+1 framed the PMD issue. We would hear about how important it was to clear up the PMD issue in the context of a deal, and yet the investigation was relegated to the IAEA, not under the direct auspices of the political negotiation. The PMD investigation was referred to as a parallel IAEA process with which the P5+1 would not interfere. While this made sense as far as the technical details, it was surely bizarre as far as the political implications of their findings.

 

Why were the P5+1 creating this distance from the PMD issue, when Iran’s record of deception was obviously crucial to any deal that could be deemed “comprehensive and final”? The military dimension was the clearest justification for taking far-reaching steps to ensure that Iran wouldn’t continue to do what it had been doing for decades. This was even more pronounced against the backdrop of a lack of evidence of a strategic decision by Iran to back away from its military ambitions. In this scenario, the role of the IAEA within the process was paramount. What could justify the P5+1 announcing the JCPOA in mid-July without clearing up the PMD issue?

 

Although a full understanding of how Iran cheated in the past on its NPT commitment not to work on a military capability is crucial to carving out effective verification measures regarding future Iranian compliance, the U.S. administration preferred to ignore the past and focus only on the future. Moreover, although a clear determination that Iran had done wrong in the nuclear realm – in direct contradiction to Iran’s false narrative of being a stellar member of the NPT – would have given the P5+1 badly needed leverage during the diplomatic talks, negotiators preferred to avoid a conclusion that they claimed might “humiliate” Iran. So better to let Iran continue to lie and deceive?

 

As the P5+1 move to implement the Iran deal, the IAEA report – however lukewarm – must not be ignored, because it does break Iran’s narrative of having done no wrong in the nuclear realm. Iranian officials should no longer be allowed to appear on prominent platforms throughout the world – like the Munich Security Conference early this year – and continue to spread their narrative of nuclear innocence without being firmly challenged. Iran cannot be permitted to raise ideas and initiatives in international forums about dealing with other states from a position of having been cleared of all suspicion. The international community must be firm in its rebuttal: Iran actually has done wrong in the nuclear realm by working on a military nuclear capability for decades. All measures taken against it were legal in the face of its blatant NPT violations. Iran may have succeeded in securing a good deal from its perspective, but its history must not be whitewashed or ignored.

 

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                                                             IRAN CARRIES OUT ANOTHER MISSILE TEST IN VIOLATION OF UN

Ben Ariel

                         Arutz Sheva, Dec. 8, 2015

 

Iran has carried out a new medium range ballistic missile test in breach of two United Nations Security Council resolutions, a senior United States official told Fox News on Monday. According to the source, the test was held November 21 near Chabahar, a port city in southeast Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province near the border with Pakistan.  The launch took place from a known missile test site along the Gulf of Oman, reported Fox News.

 

The missile, known as a Ghadr-110, has a range of 1,800 – 2000 km, or 1200 miles, and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The missile fired in November is an improved version of the Shahab 3, and is similar to the precision guided missile tested by Iran on October 10, which elicited strong condemnation from members of the UN Security Council.

 

Shortly after the October missile test, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Iran likely violated UN sanctions, but stressed that the test would not affect the implementation of the deal reached with world powers. The United States ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, later stated the missile launched by Iran is a "medium-range ballistic missile inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon". “The United States is deeply concerned about Iran's recent ballistic missile launch," Power said at the time.

 

Iran has rejected claims that the missile was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead and also rejected the idea that the missile test was against UN resolutions. Nevertheless, the United States, Britain, France and Germany subsequently called for the United Nations Security Council's Iran sanctions committee to take action over the missile test.

 

President Obama mentioned the Iranian missile test during a press conference on October 16 and said the United States was preparing to brief the UN sanctions committee. He added that it would not derail the nuclear deal, however. A senior administration official told Fox News on Monday the White House was "aware" of reports of the second missile test, but had "no further comment at this time."

 

Iran continuously carries out long-range ballistic missile drills as it routinely shows off its military program.

The country’s domestic long-range ballistic missiles are, in fact, nuclear capable, according to international reports, particularly the Shahab 3 and Sejjil 2.

                                                                                                           

 

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STATE DEPARTMENT:

                                           IRAN DEAL IS NOT ‘LEGALLY BINDING’ AND IRAN DIDN’T SIGN IT                                                                       

                                               Joel Gehrke                                                                                                                 

                                               National Review, Nov. 24, 2015

 

President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,” his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review.

 

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter.

 

Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms.

 

“The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose — and ramp up — our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” Frifield wrote to Pompeo.

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation’s parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime. “If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it,” Rouhani said in August. “Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?”

 

Pompeo cited that comment in his letter to Kerry, but Frifield did not explicitly address it in her reply. “This is not a mere formality,” Pompeo wrote in his September 19 letter. “Those signatures represent the commitment of the signatory and the country on whose behalf he or she is signing. A signature also serves to make clear precisely who the parties to the agreement are and the authority under which that nation entered into the agreement. In short, just as with any legal instrument, signing matters.”
 

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                                           UNFINISHED BUSINESS FROM THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEBATE

   Robert Satloff

   American Interest, Nov. 5, 2015

 

Remember the Iran nuclear agreement? Two months ago, it was the talk of the town. Then, like the national obsession with the Chandra Levy murder that faded away the moment al-Qaeda crashed airplanes into the Twin Towers, it vanished virtually overnight—no more headlines, no more op-eds, no more talk shows. The big difference is that the open questions surrounding the Iran deal remain matters of strategic importance.

Indeed, as the clock ticks toward implementation of the nuclear agreement, the task of clarifying issues of enforcement, deterrence, and U.S. regional policy is more urgent than ever. This is not least because Iran’s actions since the deal’s approval suggest Tehran views the accord not as the pathway to responsible regional behavior but as a license to expand influence, fuel instability, and make trouble for America and its local allies.

 

While next week’s visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be an opportunity to bring to a close an especially bitter chapter in U.S.-Israel relations, it might also herald—if only briefly—a return to center stage of policy debate on aspects of the Iran nuclear agreement (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA). One way to organize these issues is to take a closer look at the President’s little-examined correspondence with key legislators on the Iran deal.

 

During the course of the Iran debate, President Obama met with dozens of Senators and Representatives, often in one-on-one meetings. Few details of these or other White House meetings with concerned legislators have emerged, though stories circulate about the hardball politics that kept all but four Democrats in the Senate and 25 in the House from flouting party discipline and voting to disapprove the Iran agreement. (Technically, no actual Senate vote was taken on the deal itself; the closest was a cloture vote that failed.) Along the way, the President deemed it necessary (or at least politically expedient) to respond to at least three Democratic legislators—New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (August 20); Delaware Senator Chris Coons (September 1); and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (September 7)—with detailed written responses to questions and concerns.

 

The most noteworthy aspect of these three letters is what they do not include—namely, any specific commitments beyond the letter of the Iran deal text. While virtually every substantive critique of, or proposed improvement to, the Iran deal is addressed in these letters, each one was summarily dismissed or sidestepped through language that has the whiff of resolve without actually making any specific commitments beyond the narrow wording of the JCPOA text.

 

This, by itself, is not surprising; the goal of the correspondence was to secure legislators’ support without paying for it in the coin of policy concession. But the arguments the President chose to make—or, in some cases, not to make—and the differences among the letters offer some revealing insight into the Administration’s approach on key issues.

 

Throughout the Iran debate, numerous legislators cited the “sunset” problem: what happens when various limitations on Iran’s nuclear activities expire. They called on President Obama to bolster U.S. deterrence by declaring as U.S. policy the intent to use military force in response to clear and verifiable effort by Iran to break out toward a nuclear weapon. In his various letters, the President addressed the issue but only in descriptive terms; he specifically did not adopt the definitive declaratory language legislators sought.

 

To Nadler and Wyden, he used exactly the same formulation: “Should Iran seek to dash toward a nuclear weapon, all of the options available to the United States—including the military option—will remain available through the life of the deal and beyond.” This sentence may be analytically accurate but it falls far short of making any commitment to act even in event of an Iranian “dash” toward a bomb, begging the question “if not then, when?”

 

If the President’s minimalist formulation—no stronger after the deal than in the years before—was designed to bolster U.S. deterrence, it is difficult to see how it achieved its goal. In that sense, the formulation is of a piece with certain U.S. actions taken since the deal’s approval, such as the removal of the lone U.S. aircraft carrier from the Gulf and the deployment of fewer than fifty U.S. Special Forces troops to the anti-ISIS fight in Syria, which—in regional eyes—doesn’t begin to match up against the arrival in that country of thousands of Russian and Iranian personnel. While actions speak louder than words, the combination of words and actions speaks loudest of all…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters:

 Chag Sameach, Happy Hanukkah Holiday!

 

 

On Topic

 

Leaving Iran’s Nuclear Past a Mystery: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Dec. 3, 2015—The Iranian nuclear crisis began a decade ago when Tehran’s leaders refused to answer questions from international inspectors about evidence that a secret team of scientists, working in a complex organization that sprawled across military and university laboratories, were experimenting with the technology to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program Confirmed: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 4, 2015 —The nuclear deal with Iran requires that it tell the truth–the whole truth–about its previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran Tested Missile, Breaching UN Security Council Resolutions: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2015 Iran tested a new medium-range ballistic missile last month in a breach of two UN Security Council resolutions, two US officials said on Monday.

U.S. Set to Lift Sanctions on Iran: Laurence Norman & Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2, 2015—The Obama administration said it expects to start lifting sanctions on Iran as early as January after the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog found no credible evidence that Tehran has recently engaged in atomic-weapons activity.

 

 

 

                   

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

SINAI TERRORISTS THREATEN EGYPT, ISRAEL, & M.B.; IRAN DEAL PUTS U.S ON PATH TO WAR

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

ISIS in Sinai: An International Issue: Dr. Ofer Israeli, Israel Hayom, July 9, 2015 — As his term in office winds down, U.S. President Barack Obama is facing one of the most significant challenges of his career.

ISIS in Sinai is a Serious Threat to Israel: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, July 2, 2015— The terror offensive launched Wednesday by the Islamic State (ISIS) organization in the Sinai Peninsula was aimed at undermining President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's military-secular rule in Egypt.

Is Muslim Brotherhood Going Jihadist?: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2015 — The recent escalation of violence in Egypt and the security forces killing of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on Wednesday could facilitate the movement of some of the organization’s younger members to more radical jihadist groups.

The Iranian Nuclear Paradox: Reuel Marc Gerecht & Mark Dubowitz, Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2015 — The lines are clearly drawn in Washington on President Obama’s plan for a nuclear deal with Iran.

               

On Topic Links

 

Great Sphinx of Giza, Pyramids of Egypt Are Next ISIS Targets: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, July 8, 2014

Is Hamas Working With Wilayat Sinai?: Shlomi Eldar, Al Monitor, July 6, 2015

Iran’s Hard-Liners Sharpen Attacks on U.S. as Nuclear Talks Continue: Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, July 8, 2015

Desperately Seeking Diplomatic Defeat: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, July 7, 2015

                                               

 

                            

ISIS IN SINAI: AN INTERNATIONAL ISSUE                                                                                                                

Israel Hayom, July 9, 2015

 

As his term in office winds down, U.S. President Barack Obama is facing one of the most significant challenges of his career. The Islamic State group, which thus far has operated in conflict zones like Iraq and Syria, has for the first time initiated activity in a sovereign country with a strong army — Egypt. The comprehensive and meticulously planned terrorist attack carried out last week against the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula killed dozens of soldiers. Along with the loss of human life and the damage done to the Egyptian army's reputation, the incident could lead to overall change in a volatile Middle East: the expansion of Islamic State activities to other sovereign states in the region with the goal of causing their collapse.

 

However, a comprehensive and decisive move by the international community with the United States at the helm could reshuffle the deck and curb the terrorist organization's spread. This strategy would serve the Egyptian interest of returning calm and reinforcing sovereignty in Sinai, as well as the American interest of stopping and rooting out Islamic State in the region.

 

An exhaustive strategy should use the incidents in Egypt as a case study and operate on three fronts. The first would be declaring full backing and support for the Egyptian struggle against Islamic State and lending legitimacy to Egyptian army activity in the Sinai — statements by international leaders, led by the U.S. president, about Islamic State's illegitimacy along with declarations of support for Cairo's right to operate against the terrorist group would serve this purpose. With this backing, the Egyptian president will be able to turn to his public and to other Arab countries for support for his actions. This kind of support may also lead Egypt back to the West after its recent back-and-forth between Washington and Moscow.

 

The second would be providing logistical and military support for the Egyptian army. The U.S. must lift the restrictions it previously placed on selling and transferring advanced weapons systems to the Egyptian army under the claim of human rights violations. The situation calls for jumping that hurdle temporarily and reinforcing the military capability of the Egyptian army so that it can deal with the great challenge that Islamic State poses to the integrity of its republic. The U.S. military should also provide the Egyptian army with quality intelligence, air targeting assistance and the use of other specialized military equipment that could help in the struggle.

 

With American encouragement and backing, Israel can expand its intelligence assistance to the Egyptian military, and it will be possible to bring in more troops and equipment to Sinai, bypassing the peace agreement between the two countries. This cooperation would, of course, need to be done secretly, to prevent making the Egyptian president and his regime appear as if they are collaborating with "the Zionists and the Americans."

 

Third, the international community, led by the U.S. must look at the incident in Sinai as a case study that demonstrates the need for the provision of a comprehensive defense umbrella for stable countries in the region against Islamic State. If the Americans hesitate, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states will face a similar challenge, which could ultimately lead to their collapse. Therefore, Washington must work with the leaders of these countries to deal with the future danger their regimes will face at Islamic State's hands.

 

Failed American policy in the Middle East — from Libya, to Egypt, Syria and Iraq — has bred turmoil in the region. The United States must not repeat its past mistakes of avoiding involvement in conflict situations and allowing local forces to deal with the hegemonies in various countries. Repeated American failure will cost Egypt, Israel and the entire international community far too much.

 

This proposed strategy is in line with the current American strategy against Islamic State, which is designed to stop the group's spread and to diminish its presence until it is completely annihilated. Failure would certainly lead to the organization's proliferation. Therefore the U.S. and the international community must not allow Cairo to deal with this issue alone. If Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's regime collapses, it will come at a very high price to Egypt and to the entire region.

 

                                                                       

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ISIS IN SINAI IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO ISRAEL                                                                          

Ron Ben-Yishai  

Ynet, July 2, 2015

 

The terror offensive launched Wednesday by the Islamic State (ISIS) organization in the Sinai Peninsula was aimed at undermining President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's military-secular rule in Egypt. But from the reports arriving from Sinai, although they are initial and unclear, it seems that al-Sisi is not the only one who should be concerned – so should Israel.

 

In the short run, we have to prepare for the possibility that the attack on 15 posts and centers of the Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai, which claimed the lives of dozens of Egyptian soldiers, will develop into an offensive towards the Israeli border. In recent years, global jihad activists in Sinai have already attacked posts of the Egyptian army and of the multinational force in northern Sinai, gained control of armored vehicles, "flattened" the border fence with them and infiltrated Israeli territory. They were stopped by an armored force with the Air Force's help.

 

The report that ISIS fighters gained control of armored vehicles on Wednesday morning requires special preparations and alert. The jihadists could drive them towards the border terminals with Israel and the border fence in order to break through them with the heavy weight of the tanks and armored personnel carriers. That is why the IDF quickly shut off the crossings and alerted all the communities along the border with Egypt, especially in its northwestern part. The instruction to the residents is to stay alert, and the IDF has also reinforced the presence of armored vehicles on the ground and unmanned aircraft monitoring what is happening near the border. The IDF is likely on the alert with helicopters and fighter jets, which Israel will not hesitate to use in case of an attempt to infiltrate its territory.

 

The battles taking place between the Egyptian army and the ISIS fighters could also develop into rocket and mortar fire towards Israel, and the Central Command is preparing for that too. In the meantime, it seems that the ISIS men are busy battling the Egyptian army, which is attacking them from the air and from the ground, but the heightened state of alert on the Israeli side will likely continue for a few more days, as experience shows that ISIS will try to create provocations on the border with Israel in a bid to cause a friction between the IDF and the Egyptian army and affect the relationship between Egypt and Israel.

 

There are good relations between the two countries today and excellent coordination between the IDF and Egyptian army, but there have already been incidents on the border in which the Egyptians expresses their discontent with the fact that the IDF opened fire at global jihad activists in Sinai who attacked, or tried to attack, communities and IDF patrols on the border fence with Egypt.

 

The greater concern, however, is over the impressive fighting abilities gained by the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis organization, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014, and its official name today is "The Caliphate in the Sinai District." The strategic and complicated attacks, from a military perspective, executed by the organization in January and this Wednesday in northern Sinai show that it is no longer a gang which only knows how to carry out sporadic fire of short-range and inaccurate rockets, or to ambush a civilian bus or an IDF patrol on the Egypt-Israel border.

 

What we are now seeing is a semi-military organization using a hybrid method of action, which combines terror and planned, coordinated military fighting. Like the other ISIS branches across the Middle East, the members of the "The Caliphate in the Sinai District" are also well equipped with weapons and modern ammunition. What we should really be concerned about is the fact that they know how to locate a large number of strategic targets, collect intelligence ahead of an operation and attack them simultaneously in accurate timing.

 

ISIS in Sinai is implementing the classic principle of war with considerable success: It attacked all the 15 targets it had chosen simultaneously, in order to create a surprise. If the attack had not been launched in coordination and at the same time, the Egyptian forces would have raised their level of alertness in the areas which had not been attacked yet. The ISIS fighters succeeded in isolating the operation area through ambushes on the roads leading to the attacked targets, thereby preventing the arrival of reinforcement. The jihadists were able to enter a police station uninterrupted, take the police officers hostage, plant mines on the streets and run wild in public, in a bid to emphasize the Egyptian army's helplessness and achieve a conscious victory.

 

These abilities and methods of action characterize ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and it seems that someone who came from there went to the trouble of training the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis activists to carry out similar attacks. The evidence is the methods of actions imported from Iraq and Syria and the use of simultaneous suicide attacks through car bombs to carry out Wednesday's attack in Sinai. That is exactly how ISIS operates in Syria and Iraq: A suicide bombing creates the shock and the breaches in the fence and in the wall through which the attacking force enters.

 

In light of these points, we should consider the possibility that one day these abilities will be directed at us, whether because the Egyptian army eases its pressure on the terrorists in Sinai or because the terrorists gain self-confidence and decide that it's time to launch a front against Israel too. It could happen sooner than we think, and we should also acknowledge the fact that the border fence cannot efficiently block a trained "army" which has experience with complicated fighting operations. ISIS is already on the fences…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

                                                                       

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IS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD GOING JIHADIST?        

Ariel Ben Solomon                          

Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2015

 

The recent escalation of violence in Egypt and the security forces killing of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on Wednesday could facilitate the movement of some of the organization’s younger members to more radical jihadist groups. According to recent reports, younger Brotherhood members are taking over from the group’s elders who are either in jail, killed, or in exile and pushing the group in a more radical direction.

 

The famed Islamist organization, which formed the ideological roots for more radical jihadist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State, is being outshined by its more radical kin. In response to a raid by Egyptian security forces on Wednesday that killed nine men, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the organization called for the public to “rise in revolt to defend your homeland” in response to the killing in “cold blood.”

 

“While the youth who support the Islamist movement want to see a direct, even violent confrontation with Egypt’s army and police, the older generation believes that in order to survive, the movement needs to compromise, and keep a level head for the years to come,” wrote Maged Atef in an article in BuzzFeed this week. “Over the last six months, newly elected Brotherhood spokesperson Mohammad Montasser started issuing strongly worded statements calling for revenge and a ‘revolution that would decapitate heads,’” explained Atef.

 

Prof. Hillel Frisch of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University told The Jerusalem Post that he sees two main reasons why the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to maintain its current position, and not radicalize in the jihadist direction. First, because Erdogan’s Turkey provides very comfortable asylum and support for members of the Brotherhood and uses the group to delegitimize Egypt’s government, said Frisch. And second, “because of the Brotherhood’s desire to maintain links with the United States.” “Meanwhile, the youth can do the mischief they want in Sinai and elsewhere. The situation will get worse before it gets better, but the Egyptian state will prevail,” he argued.

 

Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs today and a contributor to this newspaper, told the Post that the Brotherhood “is very bitter and overwhelmed by what has happened to them.” After they had reached the top in a democratic way after so many years of struggle and received a majority in the parliament and won the presidency, “it all crumbled so fast because of their arrogance,” asserted Mazel. “Now they are really in trouble. The organization is banned and most of their senior members are either in prison or in exile in Britain, Turkey, Qatar and other places,” he said.

 

Many Egyptians stopped supporting the group after seeing how poorly they performed while in power, which was the real reason they were ousted. The Brotherhood, which is built on total obedience to the group’s elders, “takes about five years to prepare a new Muslim Brother and the most important thing is discipline and obedience and studying in the framework of the family the never ending guidance instructions of the movement.”

 

Now, “the young generation wants to show that they don’t give in and prefer joining the jihadists openly,” argued Mazel, adding that this could bring about “the total destruction of the movement.” “We are witnessing the decline of the most important Muslim organization in modern times, an organization that aspired to create a caliphate, but lost it in the last minute and is now overtaken by the jihadists to whom they themselves gave birth.”                   

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PARADOX                                                                     

Reuel Marc Gerecht & Mark Dubowitz

Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2015

 

The lines are clearly drawn in Washington on President Obama’s plan for a nuclear deal with Iran. As negotiations for a final agreement continue well past their June 30 deadline, most Republicans oppose the deal and Democrats will not block it.

 

Many critics claim to believe that a “good deal,” which would permanently dismantle the clerical regime’s capacity to construct nuclear weapons, is still possible if Mr. Obama would augment diplomacy with the threat of more sanctions and the use of force. Although these critics accurately highlight the framework’s serious faults, they also make a mistake: More sanctions and threats of military raids now are unlikely to thwart the mullahs’ nuclear designs. We will never know whether more crippling sanctions and force could have cracked the clerical regime. We do know that the president sought the opposite path even before American and Iranian diplomats began negotiating in Europe.

 

But hawks who believe that airstrikes are the only possible option for stopping an Iranian nuke should welcome a deal perhaps more than anyone. This is because the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is tailor-made to set Washington on a collision course with Tehran. The plan leaves the Islamic Republic as a threshold nuclear-weapons state and in the short-term insulates the mullahs’ regional behavior from serious American reproach. To imagine such a deal working is to imagine the Islamic Republic without its revolutionary faith. So Mr. Obama’s deal-making is in effect establishing the necessary conditions for military action after January 2017, when a new president takes office.

 

No American president would destroy Iranian nuclear sites without first exhausting diplomacy. The efforts by Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to compromise with Tehran—on uranium enrichment, verification and sanctions relief, among other concerns—are comprehensive, if nothing else. If the next president chose to strike after the Iranians stonewalled or repeatedly violated Mr. Obama’s agreement, however, the newcomer would be on much firmer political ground, at home and abroad, than if he tried without this failed accord.

 

Without a deal the past will probably repeat itself: Washington will incrementally increase sanctions while the Iranians incrementally advance their nuclear capabilities. Without a deal, diplomacy won’t die. Episodically it has continued since an Iranian opposition group revealed in 2002 the then-clandestine nuclear program. Via this meandering diplomatic route, Tehran has gotten the West to accept its nuclear progress.

 

Critics of the president who suggest that a much better agreement is within reach with more sanctions are making the same analytical error as Mr. Obama: They both assume that the Iranian regime will give priority to economics over religious ideology. The president wants to believe that Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hasan Rouhani can be weaned from the bomb through commerce; equally war-weary sanctions enthusiasts fervently hope that economic pain alone can force the mullahs to set aside their faith. In their minds Iran is a nation that the U.S., or even Israel, can intimidate and contain.

 

The problem is that the Islamic Republic remains, as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif proudly acknowledges in his memoirs, a revolutionary Islamic movement. Such a regime by definition would never bend to America’s economic coercion and never gut the nuclear centerpiece of its military planning for 30 years and allow Westerners full and transparent access to its nuclear secrets and personnel. This is the revolutionary Islamic state that is replicating versions of the militant Lebanese Hezbollah among the Arab Shiites, ever fearful at home of seditious Western culture and prepared to use terrorism abroad.

 

Above all, the clerical regime cannot be understood without appreciating the centrality of anti-Americanism to its religious identity. The election of a Republican administration might reinvigorate Iranian fear of American military power, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 did for a year or two. But it did not stop Iran’s nuclear march, and there is no reason to believe now that Mr. Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who oversee the nuclear program, will betray all that they hold holy.

 

But a nuclear deal is not going to prevent conflict either. The presidency of the so-called pragmatic mullah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from 1989 to 1997 was an aggressive period of Iranian terrorism. If President Rouhani, Mr. Rafsanjani’s former right-hand man, can pull off a nuclear agreement, we are likely to see a variation of the 1990s Iranian aggression. Such aggression has already begun. Revolutionary Guards are fighting in Syria and Iraq, and Iranian aid flows to the Shiite Houthis in Yemen. Wherever the Islamic Republic’s influence grows among Arab Shiites, Sunni-Shiite conflict grows worse. With greater internecine Muslim hostility, the clerical regime inevitably intensifies its anti-American propaganda and actions in an effort to compete with radical Sunnis and their competing claims to lead an anti-Western Muslim world.

 

Iranian adventurism, especially if it includes anti-American terrorism, will eventually provoke a more muscular U.S. response. The odds of Tehran respecting any nuclear deal while it pushes to increase its regional influence—unchecked by Washington—aren’t good. Mr. Obama may think he can snap back sanctions and a united Western front to counter nefarious Iranian nuclear behavior, but the odds aren’t good once European businesses start returning to the Islamic Republic. Washington has a weak track record of using extraterritorial sanctions against our richest and closest allies and trading partners. The French alone may join the Americans again to curtail Iran and European profits.

 

With a failed deal, no plausible peaceful alternatives, and Mr. Obama no longer in office, Republicans and Democrats can then debate, more seriously than before, whether military force remains an option. Odds are it will not be. When contemplating the possibility that preventive military strikes against the clerical regime won’t be a one-time affair, even a hawkish Republican president may well default to containment. But if Washington does strike, it will be because Mr. Obama showed that peaceful means don’t work against the clerics’ nuclear and regional ambitions.

 

 

 Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic                                                                                        

 

Great Sphinx of Giza, Pyramids of Egypt Are Next ISIS Targets: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, July 8, 2014—The leader of Da’esh (ISIS) is exhorting his followers in Egypt to destroy the Sphinx and the pyramids.

Is Hamas Working With Wilayat Sinai?: Shlomi Eldar, Al Monitor, July 6, 2015 —The question of whether Hamas’ military wing cooperated with Wilayat Sinai (literally Sinai Province), the organization that carried out the big terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula on July 1, is critical for Hamas.

Iran’s Hard-Liners Sharpen Attacks on U.S. as Nuclear Talks Continue: Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, July 8, 2015—The chants of “Death to America” and the burning of American flags in the streets are as familiar a part of life here as air pollution and traffic jams. With the United States and Iran on the verge of a potentially historic nuclear accord, however, there has been a distinct change in tone: the anti-Americanism is getting even more strident.

Desperately Seeking Diplomatic Defeat: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, July 7, 2015—Imagine if, on Sept. 12, 2001, I had written a column predicting that within less than 15 ‎years, the president of the United States would be offering the world's leading sponsor of ‎terrorism a path to nuclear weapons and tens of billions of dollars. You'd have thought me a ‎lunatic.

                                                                      

 

              

O.’S QUEST FOR NUCLEAR DEAL TRUMPS CONCERNS OVER IRAN’S REGIONAL AMBITIONS & TERRORIST FUNDING

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Some Questions for Jeffrey Goldberg: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, June 3, 2015— Jeffrey Goldberg is a senior American journalist who recently interviewed US President Barack Obama for the Atlantic Monthly. 

Paying Tehran’s Bills: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, June 8, 2015 — Even the Obama administration acknowledges that Iran is up to a lot of mischief in the Middle East.

Obama’s Favors for the Mullahs: Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2015 — The Obama Administration has long insisted that any nuclear deal will have no effect on U.S. determination to stop Iran’s regional ambitions or support for terrorism.

Obama Just Tossed Away His Last Card on Iran’s Nukes: John Podhoretz, New York Post, June 2, 2015 — As the June 30 deadline for the Iran nuclear deal approaches, President Obama is putting all his cards on the table — by announcing he is keeping no cards in his hand.

 

On Topic Links

 

‘Look … It’s My Name on This’: Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, May 21, 2015

Israel’s Role in the Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Project: Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, BESA, June 11, 2015

Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks to Thwart Iran: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, June 4, 2015

Iran’s Greatest Vulnerability: Michael Ledeen, Weekly Standard, May 11, 2015

Iranian Nukes, the Arab Gulf, and Obama's Seductive Summitry: Steven J. Rosen, Washington Times, June 2, 2015

 

                   

SOME QUESTIONS FOR JEFFREY GOLDBERG                                                                              

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                                                                                     

CIJR, June 3, 2015

 

Jeffrey Goldberg is a senior American journalist who recently interviewed US President Barack Obama for the Atlantic Monthly.  He has interviewed Obama in the past, and in this latest interview, Goldberg brought up the Iran nuclear deal and ISIS, and also asked Obama for his opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

 

In their discussion of the conflict, Goldberg did not challenge Obama on his use of double standards against Israel and his other observations of extreme bias. The president expresses what he calls “tough love for Israel”, while remaining silent about the major Islamo-Nazism in Palestinian society. In light of Obama’s tilted perspective, I have prepared a few questions for Goldberg should he have the occasion to conduct a future interview with Obama and should he decide to become a more objective journalist.

 

Goldberg could start, for instance, by asking Obama: “Mr. President, when I interviewed you in May 2015, you spoke about how we should be ‘repairing the world.’ Yet, if we look at the world in its current state and compare it to how matters stood were when your presidency began in 2009, it seems that the main issue at hand should be how to prevent the world from going further downhill. “Relations between the West and Russia were much better when your presidency started than they are today. The Middle East is in far greater chaos today than it was in 2009. Genocidal movements in the Muslim world have greatly expanded since 2009. What are you doing about preventing the world from becoming even more chaotic instead of fantasizing about repairing it?”

 

Goldberg could then ask, “You made a variety of statements about Israel having to live up to Jewish values, with some of those values largely invented by yourself. What makes you an authority to speak on Jewish values? Why should anyone believe that you have more than a superficial and distorted understanding of them?

 

“In the past, you have even been known to radically misrepresent Islam when you declared that ISIS is not Islamic.  The Pew Foundation investigated support for al-Qaeda in various countries while Bin Laden was alive. There was wide backing for al-Qaeda in a variety of Muslim societies in 2014. Among Palestinians it was around 25%. 

 

Al Jazeera, the international TV station of Qatar – a country which opposes ISIS — asked its Arab viewers in May 2015 whether or not they agreed with the values of ISIS. Of the more than 50,000 who replied, 81% agreed with ISIS.  Even if it were 10% that would have been shocking. A variety of Muslim theologians across the Muslim world agree that ISIS’s views are a legitimate form of Islam.  Mr. President, what makes you an authority on Islamic values to such an extent that you may belittle the conclusions of all these Muslim people regarding Islam and what it represents?

 

“You state that Israel should take risks to achieve a two-state solution. The late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took irresponsible risks when he chose to have Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. He was warned by Israeli experts that Hamas or Al Qaeda would take over the area. This is exactly what happened. Israel has been under violent attack from Gaza for years. Yet Israel is frequently criticized by the West when it defends itself against Hamas, an Islamo-Nazi movement that clearly states in its charter and elsewhere that it wants to exterminate the Jews.  Mr. Netanyahu says that ceding additional territory would ultimately lead to having it taken over by Islamic terrorists. Netanyahu says this in view of the current Middle East reality,  and there are strong indications that he is right.”

 

Goldberg could continue: “Hamas came out as the largest Palestinian party, gaining the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament during the only democratic elections that have ever been held in the Palestinian territories – those of 2006.  Hamas clearly states its aim of exterminating the Jews. Its top representatives have repeated this attitude publicly during Israel’s 2014 Protective Edge campaign.  Recent polls show that if elections were to be held at present, Palestinians would prefer Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah over the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas.  Why do you claim that Mr. Netanyahu errs in saying that any territory Israel would cede would fall in the hands of Islamic terrorists and why would you want him to take this risk?

 

Goldberg’s next question could be, “During the interview, you criticized the existence of Israeli checkpoints. You know that these checkpoints were installed in order to reduce the number of Israelis being murdered by Palestinians. Isn’t your approach an example of an increasingly frequent phenomenon, that of progressives indirectly supporting murderers, for instance by remaining silent about Palestinian Islamo-Nazism?” A further question to Obama could be, “You speak of avoiding double standards. You criticize Israel out of your so-called attitude of ‘tough love’. Yet you remain silent about the widespread Palestinian Islamo-Nazism and the many crimes of Islam, a religion from which far more criminality emerges than from any other religion. You are also silent regarding the frequent, radical, anti-Semitic hatred emerging from large parts of the Muslim world.”

 

The US State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism defines double standards as acts of anti-Semitism.  Why should your use of extreme double standards regarding Israel not be considered acts of anti-Semitism?” Another question: “You confessed your love for the Jewish people. Why, then, did you call the murder of Jews in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris ‘random attacks’ while they were so clearly anti-Semitic ones?”

 

And finally, “In your speech in the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, D.C., given a few days after our interview, all you said was that the “Palestinians aren’t the easiest of  partners.”  As their biggest party is the Islamo-Nazi Hamas, this remark was a caricature of reality. Why do you consider that your flagrant understatement regarding Hamas, while heavily criticizing Israel, is not yet another expression of extreme double standards?  If Mr. Goldberg requires further clarification on the issues raised above, I’ll be happy to provide it.                                               

 

Contents                                                                                               

   

PAYING TEHRAN’S BILLS                                              

Lee Smith

Weekly Standard, June 8, 2015

 

Even the Obama administration acknowledges that Iran is up to a lot of mischief in the Middle East. Tehran is engaged in a sectarian conflict from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq that has recently come to include Yemen as another active front. However, the White House continues to insist, against all evidence, that the clerical regime’s aggression won’t increase when it gets a huge cash infusion from sanctions relief and an immediate $30 to $50 billion bonus, when (or if) it signs the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the nuclear deal. According to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Iran will almost surely use that money to improve its domestic economy. And besides, as Obama argued last month, “most of the destabilizing activity that Iran engages in is low-tech, low-cost activity.”

 

The numbers say otherwise. Staffan de Mistura, the U.N.’s Syria envoy, recently estimated that the war to prop up its Syrian ally is costing Iran $35 billion a year. That assessment is likely too high, but certainly of all Iran’s regional projects, keeping Bashar al-Assad’s regime afloat is the costliest. And that’s because it’s an occupation, says Fouad Hamdan, campaign director of Naame Shaam, an organization that keeps tabs on Iran’s war in Syria. It’s a foreign occupation that affects Iran directly, because without control of territory in Syria, Iran loses its supply lines to Lebanon and Hezbollah, the Iranian regime’s most powerful deterrent against an Israeli strike on its nuclear program. Thus, says Hamdan, “the battle for Syria is a battle for the survival of the Iranian regime.”

 

There was a time when the White House found it convenient to argue that the Syrian conflict was costly to Iran. When the war started there, rather than arm rebels to help topple Assad, the administration told its media surrogates that it was wisest to stand by as the war would bleed Iran. They were right about its potential to be a quagmire for Tehran. Now, sanctions relief, including the signing bonus, will enable Iran to bolster its support for Assad.

 

“Imagine Syria as a kind of Iranian province or governorate,” says Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Military defeats are boxing the Assad regime into an increasingly small region, basically now an enclave in western Syria along the Damascus-Homs corridor leading up to the Alawite homeland on the Mediterranean coast. Assad’s ability to survive is becoming almost entirely an Iranian responsibility. Facing a continuing war of attrition, the regime in Damascus has lost most of its ability for overland trade, with its only secure border being Lebanon. The Iranian responsibility is only increasing, as the Assad regime’s resources, and thereby its ability to maintain its patronage networks, pay salaries, and so on, shrinks or vanishes.”

 

Fouad Hamdan argues that the Assad regime is already well past that point. “Syria is broke,” he tells me. The various Syrian state institutions that the Obama White House says it wants to preserve even if Assad does fall are now almost entirely dependent on Iran. “Iran is pumping $500 million a month to the Syrian central bank that takes care of things like salaries and many of the internally displaced as well as Damascus and the coastal areas,” says Hamdan. “Iran spends maybe another half-billion a month for things like food and fuel, weapons and armaments, as well as the various militias now fighting in Syria, from the newly recruited Afghan Shiite militias, known as the Fatimeyun division, to Hezbollah.”

 

Naame Shaam (Persian for “Letter from Syria”) estimates that Iran’s Syria expenditures are $10 to $15 billion annually, roughly $1 to $1.2 billion a month. Hamdan, a 55-year-old Lebanese-German national, explains that his organization, which is made up of four Shiites (himself, a Syrian, and two Iranians) and was founded in 2014, gets most of its information from open source materials, especially the Iranian media. “The Iranian regime will boast about its activities openly,” he tells me. “Then maybe someone comes along and tells them it’s not a good idea to make that information public, so they remove it from the Internet.”

 

What Tehran is most keen to obscure, says Hamdan, is the fact that its war in Syria is an occupation. Syrian rebel fighters acknowledge that the Syrian army still exists in places, but, according to Hamdan, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is calling the shots. This was made plain in January when a high-level convoy targeted by Israel on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights included IRGC officers and Hezbollah fighters but no Syrian officials.

 

“In the chain of command,” says Hamdan, “Qassem Suleimani is on top, and the IRGC-Quds Force commander takes his orders directly from the supreme leader. Under him is Hossein Hamedani, who oversees IRGC operations in Syria. Then there’s the Iranian ambassador, various IRGC commanders, and Hezbollah commanders. Hezbollah does most of the training and takes on the most dangerous missions. Then there are other militias, like Iraqi and Afghan fighters, at the bottom.”

 

The Syrian regime’s most significant contributions to the war effort, says Hamdan, are its air force and the so-called National Defense Forces. These Iranian-trained civilian fighters have been combined with the paramilitary gangs known as the shabiha to replicate a Syrian version of the Basij, the paramilitary group created by the founder of the Islamic Republic, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Accordingly, almost nothing happens on the ground without the Iranians knowing about it or giving the direct orders, which includes war crimes and chemical weapons attacks. If the White House once boasted that it had rid Assad of his unconventional arsenal, the reality is that Iran has also crossed Obama’s red line against the use of chemical weapons….

 

It will be very hard for Iran to end its occupation of Syria. The Syrian border with Lebanon is Iran’s supply line to Hezbollah. If Iran loses that channel, an asset it has built up over 30 years with billions of dollars is isolated. The Iranians lose their ability to project power on the Israeli border as well as their most effective deterrent to protect their nuclear facilities against Jerusalem. Were Hezbollah to be deprived of its Iranian lifeline, it would be vulnerable not just to Israel—which has made clear over the last few weeks how dearly the party of God and all of Lebanon will pay in the next round of hostilities—but also to Lebanese (and Syrian) Sunnis looking to repay the blood debt Hezbollah has earned with its war in Syria…             

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                          

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                   

OBAMA’S FAVORS FOR THE MULLAHS                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2015

 

The Obama Administration has long insisted that any nuclear deal will have no effect on U.S. determination to stop Iran’s regional ambitions or support for terrorism. As the political desire for a deal grows more urgent, however, this claim is proving to be hollow.

 

Consider Hayya Bina, or “Let’s Go,” a Lebanese civil-society initiative founded in 2005 by publisher and producer Lokman Slim. Hayya Bina works largely with Lebanon’s Shiites on a variety of health, environmental and citizenship issues, largely as a way to offer a moderate alternative to Hezbollah’s efforts to dominate that community. The group has received modest funding from the State Department and groups like the International Republican Institute. But as the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported last week, the State Department sent Hayya Bina a letter, dated April 10, which “requests that all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shiite voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely.” To underscore the point, the letter added that Hayya Bina “must eliminate funding for any of the above referenced activity.”

 

Why cut funding? The State Department said the programs weren’t meeting expectations. But it hardly went unnoticed in Lebanon that the cuts came barely a week after the U.S. and Iran struck their framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland April 2. Hezbollah is Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary and has made a practice of going after its domestic opponents, including Mr. Slim. The withdrawal of U.S. funding “is another desperate PR attempt by the Obama Administration to appease the Iranian regime in order to reach a nuclear deal,” says Ahmad El Assaad, a prominent Lebanese Shiite opponent of Hezbollah.

 

Then there is the curious case of Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan businessman who in 2004 was cited personally by President George W. Bush as the “chief financial officer and money launderer” for the nuclear-proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. According to a 2004 investigation by Malaysian authorities, in 1994 or 1995 Mr. Khan asked Mr. Tahir to ship uranium centrifuges to Iran. “BSA Tahir organized the transshipment of the two containers from DUBAI to IRAN using a merchant ship owned by a company in Iran,” according to a Malaysian report. “BSA Tahir said the payment for the two containers of centrifuge units, amounting to about USD $3 million was paid in UAE Dirham currency by the Iranian. The cash was brought in two briefcases.”

 

The Bush Administration put Mr. Tahir on the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of sanctioned persons. But the Treasury Department removed his name from that list on April 3, exactly one day after the framework agreement was announced. We asked a Treasury spokesperson why Mr. Tahir’s name was removed and if there was any connection to the Iran deal, and she said the “delisting was based on a determinaton by OFAC that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of Tahir pursuant to Executive Order 13382.” That order, signed by President Bush in 2005, is “aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.”…

 

Then there is Iran’s ballistic missile program. Ballistic missiles have long been considered an integral part of Iran’s nuclear program as the most effective way to deliver a weapon, and the Administration pushed for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missiles in 2010. When it came time to negotiate, however, the Administration gave in to Tehran’s insistence that it would accept no missile limitations, thus separating the missile and nuclear programs. But now that a deal is near, the Administration is reversing itself again, claiming that for the purposes of sanctions Iran’s missile program is “nuclear-related,” meaning the U.S. is prepared to lift the missile sanctions.

 

And there’s more. “Of the 24 Iranian banks currently under U.S. sanctions,” noted the Associated Press in a story last week, “only one—Bank Saderat, cited for terrorism links—is subject to clear non-nuclear sanctions.” In other words, once the “nuclear-related” sanctions go, so go all the rest, notwithstanding Administration promises. It may be too late to prevent President Obama from striking this deal. But as its contours become clearer, it looks increasingly like a betrayal of our friends, a whitewash of history—and a gift to a dictatorship.                                                      

 

Contents                                                                            

         

OBAMA JUST TOSSED AWAY HIS LAST CARD ON IRAN’S NUKES

John Podhoretz

New York Post, June 2, 2015

 

As the June 30 deadline for the Iran nuclear deal approaches, President Obama is putting all his cards on the table — by announcing he is keeping no cards in his hand. In an astonishing interview with Israel’s Channel 2, the president declared that “the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable, tough agreement. “A military solution will not fix it, even if the United States participates. It would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program, but it would not eliminate it.”

 

Why is this astonishing? Because Obama is publicly eliminating any American possibility that we will bomb Iran’s nuclear sites even if the deal in which he has invested so much collapses. Despite his declaration at a Washington synagogue last week that “Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon,” the president is in fact making it very clear Iran will go nuclear, and with his implicit assent. Period.

 

Note that he has decided to eliminate the possibility of a military strike even though he has already indicated his deal will allow Iran to go nuclear in 2028. That’s what he told NPR last month: “A more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.” He scoffs at the value of a military strike because he says it would only “temporarily slow down” Iran’s ambition. But that is also entirely true of the deal he’s desperately trying to sell.

 

Assuming Iran obeys every last jot and title of the agreement, which its behavior up to now assures us it would not, Obama himself envisions an Iran gone nuclear 13 years from now. If that’s not “temporary,” then what is? Look: If your choice is (a) Iran goes nuclear or (b) Iran goes nuclear, then obviously a military option is a bad one and a diplomatic solution is better.

 

But the president has spent his entire time in office assuring the American people that Iran going nuclear was not a choice at all. Indeed, David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon counted 28 separate occasions on which the president has made exactly the vow he made to the Washington, DC, synagogue-goers. Only now he’s amending it a little bit. Last month, he said Iran wouldn’t go nuclear “on my watch.” Of course, his “watch” ends in 18 months. So long, suckers! Après Obama, le déluge.

 

Unquestionably, the best possible option would be for Iran to see the error and danger of its ways and give up its nuclear program on its own. Obama is acting as though he has the carrot that will make the mullahs act as he would wish: lifting sanctions and unfreezing bank accounts to the tune of $150 billion. But what’s a carrot without a stick? We got a sense of that Monday morning, when the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran’s nuclear stockpile is growing — even though the 2013 agreement that began the talks with the United States required Iran to freeze production.

 

“Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council,” a new IAEA report announced, “Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities.”  In the words of a somewhat apologetic New York Times story, “The overall increase in Iran’s stockpile poses a major diplomatic and political challenge for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.”

 

Oh, come on. What difference does it make? Obama isn’t going to hit Iran, and he’s going to make a deal at practically any price. The Iranians are going to do . . . whatever. And come 2017, Obama’s successor is going to have a hell of a choice to make — the choice he was too cowardly, or too craven, to make himself.

 

 

Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic

 

‘Look … It’s My Name on This’: Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, May 21, 2015 —On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry.

Israel’s Role in the Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Project: Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, BESA, June 11, 2015—In this comprehensive review from someone who has been intimately involved in global diplomacy regarding the Iranian nuclear program, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser details Israel’s role in the struggle over the Iranian nuclear project.

Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks to Thwart Iran: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, June 4, 2015—Since the beginning of 2014, representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have had five secret meetings to discuss a common foe, Iran.

Iran’s Greatest Vulnerability: Michael Ledeen, Weekly Standard, May 11, 2015—Iran is on the march all over the world, from Syria and Iraq to Venezuela and Cuba (where they have a Hezbollah base).

Iranian Nukes, the Arab Gulf, and Obama's Seductive Summitry: Steven J. Rosen, Washington Times, June 2, 2015—President Obama convened the May 13-14 Camp David summit with the Sunni Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in pursuit of a grand bargain.

              

              

WEST SHOULD NOT AGREE TO A DANGEROUS DEAL THAT GIVES IRAN A CLEAR PATH TO A BOMB

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, April 12, 2015, issued the following statement: In the last few days, Iran has shown again why it can’t be trusted. Iran insists on maintaining its formidable nuclear capabilities with which it could produce nuclear bombs. Iran insists on removing all sanctions immediately. And Iran refuses to allow effective inspections of all its suspect facilities. At the same time, Iran continues its unbridled aggression in the region and its terrorism throughout the world.

 

So let me reiterate again the two main components of the alternative to this bad deal: First, instead of allowing Iran to preserve and develop its nuclear capabilities, a better deal would significantly roll back these capabilities – for example, by shutting down the illicit underground facilities that Iran concealed for years from the international community. Second, instead of lifting the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities and program at a fixed date, a better deal would link the lifting of these restrictions to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its worldwide terrorism and its threats to annihilate Israel… (IMRA, Apr. 12, 2015)

 

The Revolution Lives!: David Brooks, New York Times, Apr. 10, 2015 — Beyond all the talk of centrifuges and enrichment capacities, President Obama’s deal with Iran is really a giant gamble on the nature of the Iranian regime.

The Iran Deal: Anatomy of a Disaster: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 9, 2015— It was but a year and a half ago that Barack Obama endorsed the objective of abolition when he said that Iran’s heavily fortified Fordow nuclear facility, its plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor and its advanced centrifuges were all unnecessary for a civilian nuclear program.

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences: Henry Kissinger & George P. Shultz, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2015 — The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate.

There is No Better Deal with Iran: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Apr. 9, 2015 — The debate over the pros and cons of the Iran nuclear framework agreement negotiated between the P-5+1 and Iran at Lausanne (April 2, 2015) is simply irrelevant.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Is the Iran Framework Agreement a 'Good Deal' — Like The North Korea One Was?: Voice of Israel, Apr. 9, 2015

Can Congress Get a Better Deal With Iran?: Dore Gold, Algemeiner, Apr. 9, 2015

Obama Spins Tale that Netanyahu Offered no Alternative to Iran Deal: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Apr. 12, 2015

Obama Mocks Netanyahu’s ‘Red Line’ Cartoon with Inaccurate Sketch: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2015

 

 

                                               

THE REVOLUTION LIVES!                                                                                                         

David Brooks        

New York Times, Apr. 10, 2015

 

Beyond all the talk of centrifuges and enrichment capacities, President Obama’s deal with Iran is really a giant gamble on the nature of the Iranian regime. The core question is: Are the men who control that country more like Lenin or are they more like Gorbachev? Do they still fervently believe in their revolution and would they use their postsanctions wealth to export it and destabilize their region? Or have they lost faith in their revolution? Will they use a deal as a way to rejoin the community of nations?

 

We got a big piece of evidence on those questions on Thursday. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered his first big response to the sort-of-agreed-upon nuclear framework. What did we learn? First, we learned that Iran’s supreme leader still regards the United States as his enemy. The audience chanted “Death to America” during his speech, and Khamenei himself dismissed America’s “devilish” intentions. When a radical religious leader uses a word like “devilish,” he’s not using it the way it’s used in a chocolate-cake commercial. He means he thinks the United States is the embodiment of evil.

 

Second, we learned that the West wants a deal more than Khamenei does. “I was never optimistic about negotiating with America,” he declared. Throughout the speech, his words dripped with a lack of enthusiasm for the whole enterprise. President Obama is campaigning for a deal, while Khamenei is unmoved. That imbalance explains why Western negotiators had to give away so many of their original demands. The United States had originally insisted upon an end to Iran’s nuclear program, a suspension of its enrichment of uranium, but that was conceded to keep Iran at the table.

 

Third, we learned that the ayatollah is demanding total trust from us while offering maximum contempt in return. Khamenei communicated a smug and self-righteous sense of superiority toward the West throughout his remarks. He haughtily repeated his demand that the West permanently end all sanctions on the very day the deal is signed. He insisted that no inspectors could visit Iranian military facilities. This would make a hash of verification and enforcement.

 

Fourth, we learned that Khamenei and the U.S. see different realities. It’s been pointed out that Iranian and American officials describe the “agreed upon” framework in different ways. That’s because, Khamenei suggested, the Americans are lying. “I’m really worried as the other side is into lying and breaching promises. An example was the White House fact sheet,” he said. “This came out a few hours after the negotiations, and most of it was against the agreement and was wrong. They are always trying to deceive and break promises.”

 

Fifth, Khamenei reminded us that, even at the most delicate moment in these talks, he is still intent on putting Iran on a collision course with Sunnis and the West. He attacked the Saudi leaders as “inexperienced youngsters” and criticized efforts to push back on Iranian efforts to destabilize Yemen. Khamenei’s remarks could be bluster, tactical positioning for some domestic or international audience. But they are entirely consistent with recent Iranian behavior. His speech suggests that Iran still fundamentally sees itself in a holy war with the West, a war that can be managed prudently but that is still a fundamental clash of values and interests. His speech suggests, as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz put it in a brilliant op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, that there is no congruence of interests between us and Iran. We envision a region of stable nation-states. They see a revolutionary anti-Western order.

 

If Iran still has revolutionary intent, then no amount of treaty subtlety will enforce this deal. Iran will begin subtly subverting any agreement. It will continue to work on its advanced nuclear technology even during the agreement. It will inevitably use nuclear weaponry, or even the threat of eventual nuclear weaponry, to advance its apocalyptic interests. Every other regional power will prepare for the worst, and we’ll get a pseudo-nuclear-arms race in a region of disintegrating nation-states.

 

If President Obama is right and Iran is on the verge of change, the deal is a home run. But we have a terrible record of predicting trends in the Middle East. Republican and Democratic administrations have continually anticipated turning points in the Middle East: Republicans after interventions, Democrats after negotiations. But the dawns never come. At some point, there has to be a scintilla of evidence that Iran wants to change. Khamenei’s speech offers none. Negotiating an arms treaty with Brezhnev and Gorbachev was one thing. But with this guy? Good luck with that.    

 

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THE IRAN DEAL: ANATOMY OF A DISASTER                                                                                

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                   

Washington Post, Apr. 9, 2015

           

It was but a year and a half ago that Barack Obama endorsed the objective of abolition when he said that Iran’s heavily fortified Fordow nuclear facility, its plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor and its advanced centrifuges were all unnecessary for a civilian nuclear program. The logic was clear: Since Iran was claiming to be pursuing an exclusively civilian program, these would have to go.

 

Yet under the deal Obama is now trying to sell, not one of these is to be dismantled. Indeed, Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure is kept intact, just frozen or repurposed for the length of the deal (about a decade). Thus Fordow’s centrifuges will keep spinning. They will now be fed xenon, zinc and germanium instead of uranium. But that means they remain ready at any time to revert from the world’s most heavily (indeed comically) fortified medical isotope facility to a bomb-making factory.

 

And upon the expiration of the deal, conceded Obama Monday on NPR, Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear bomb will be “almost down to zero,” i.e., it will be able to produce nuclear weapons at will and without delay. And then there’s cheating. Not to worry, says Obama. We have guarantees of compliance: “unprecedented inspections” and “snapback” sanctions. The inspection promises are a farce. We haven’t even held the Iranians to their current obligation to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency on their previous nuclear activities. The IAEA charges Iran with stonewalling on 11 of 12 issues.

 

As veteran nuclear expert David Albright points out, that makes future verification impossible — how can you determine what’s been illegally changed or added if you have no baseline? Worse, there’s been no mention of the only verification regime with real teeth — at-will, unannounced visits to any facility, declared or undeclared. The joint European-Iranian statement spoke only of “enhanced access through agreed procedures,” which doesn’t remotely suggest anywhere/anytime inspections. And on Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader ruled out any “extraordinary supervision measures.” The IAEA hasn’t been allowed to see the Parchin weaponization facility in 10 years. And the massive Fordow complex was disclosed not by the IAEA but by Iranian dissidents.

 

Yet even if violations are found, what then? First, they have to be certified by the IAEA. Which then reports to the United Nations, where Iran has the right to challenge the charge. Which then has to be considered, argued and adjudicated. Which then presumably goes to the Security Council where China, Russia and sundry anti-Western countries will act as Iran’s lawyers. Which all would take months — after which there is no guarantee that China and Russia will ratify the finding anyway.

 

As for the “snapback” sanctions — our last remaining bit of pressure — they are equally fantastic. There’s no way sanctions will be re-imposed once they have been lifted. It took a decade to weave China, Russia and the Europeans into the current sanctions infrastructure. Once gone, it doesn’t snap back. None will pull their companies out of a thriving, post-sanctions Iran. As Kissinger and Shultz point out, we will be fought every step of the way, leaving the United States, not Iran, isolated.

 

Obama imagines that this deal will bring Iran in from the cold, tempering its territorial ambitions and ideological radicalism. But this defies logic: With sanctions lifted, its economy booming and tens of billions injected into its treasury, why would Iran curb rather than expand its relentless drive for regional dominance? An overriding objective of these negotiations, as Obama has said, is to prevent the inevitable proliferation — Egypt, Turkey, the Gulf states — that would occur if Iran went nuclear. Yet the prospective agreement is so clearly a pathway to an Iranian bomb that the Saudis are signaling that the deal itself would impel them to go nuclear.

 

You set out to prevent proliferation and you trigger it. You set out to prevent an Iranian nuclear capability and you legitimize it. You set out to constrain the world’s greatest exporter of terror threatening every one of our allies in the Middle East and you’re on the verge of making it the region’s economic and military hegemon. What is the alternative, asks the president? He’s repeatedly answered the question himself: No deal is better than a bad deal.                                 

 

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THE IRAN DEAL AND ITS CONSEQUENCES                                                                

Henry Kissinger & George P. Shultz                                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2015

           

The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.

 

Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

 

Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer…

 

Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability. Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.

 

Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.

 

Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?

 

In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the “interim agreement” period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.

 

Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions. When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?

 

The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt “snap-back.” If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran.

 

The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.

 

The follow-on negotiations must carefully address a number of key issues, including the mechanism for reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium from 10,000 to 300 kilograms, the scale of uranium enrichment after 10 years, and the IAEA’s concerns regarding previous Iranian weapons efforts. The ability to resolve these and similar issues should determine the decision over whether or when the U.S. might still walk away from the negotiations…   

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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THERE IS NO BETTER DEAL WITH IRAN                                                                               

Prof. Efraim Inbar                                              

BESA, Apr. 9, 2015

 

The debate over the pros and cons of the Iran nuclear framework agreement negotiated between the P-5+1 and Iran at Lausanne (April 2, 2015) is simply irrelevant. The search for truth in the conflicting versions and details of the deal coming out of Washington and Tehran is of no consequence. Moreover, the steps suggested by Israel and other critics to improve the efficacy of the deal (by more stringent inspections and so on) will result in little change. The deal is basically dangerous in nature, and needs to be rejected outright.

 

The deal permits Iran to preserve stockpiles of enriched uranium, to continue to enrich uranium, and to maintain illegally-built facilities at Fordow and Arak. Even in the absence of a signed full agreement, the US and its negotiating partners have already awarded legitimacy to Iran’s nuclear threshold status. In all likelihood, the United States, quite desperate to secure an agreement, will make additional concessions in order to have a signed formal deal – which will not be worth the paper on which it is written. This outcome has been a foregone conclusion since November 2013, when the US agreed to the “Joint Plan of Action” on Iran’s nuclear program. Already back then, the US decided not to insist on the goal of rolling back the Iranian nuclear program, ignoring several UN Security Council resolutions demanding no uranium enrichment. Washington also disregarded the security concerns of its allies in the Middle East (primarily Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – who better understand the regional realities).

 

Middle Easterners clearly discern an Iranian diplomatic victory in this accord, which is no surprise. Iranians are much more adept at negotiating than Americans. Iran is getting more or less what it wanted: The capability to produce enriched uranium and to research weapon design; an agreement to keep its missile program intact; and no linkages to Iranian behavior in the region. The deal is a prelude to nuclear breakout and Iranian regional hegemony. Indeed, with no attempt to roll back the Iranian nuclear program, as was done in Libya, we are progressing toward the North Korean model. Those two are the only options in dealing with nuclear programs of determined states such as Iran. Iran’s nuclear program benefited in many ways from assistance that originated in Pakistan and in North Korea (both are nuclear proliferators despite American opposition). Compare the recent statements by President Obama to the speeches of President Clinton justifying the agreement with North Korea (October 1994). Their similarities are amazing; an indication of the incredible capacity of great powers for self-delusion.

 

What counts is not the Obama’s administration expression of satisfaction with the prospective deal, but the perceptions of Middle East actors. For example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have deplored the fact that the US is bestowing international legitimacy on Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state. They probably believe the interpretations of the deal offered by Tehran more than those professed in Washington. Therefore, they will do their best to build a similar infrastructure leading inevitably to nuclear proliferation in the region – a strategic nightmare for everybody.

 

Unfortunately, no better deal is in the offing. Whatever revisions are introduced cannot change its basic nature. The accord allows Iran to have fissionable material that can be enriched to weapons grade material in a short time and Tehran can always deny access to inspectors any time it chooses. This is the essence of the North Korean precedent. Obama is right that the only alternative to this deal is an Iranian nuclear fait accompli or the bombing of the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. Obama’s penchant for engagement, his reluctance to use force, and his liberal prism on international relations (which adds rosy colors to international agreements) has led to this miserable result.

 

Netanyahu is wrong in demanding a better deal because no such deal exists. Yet denying its ratification by the US Congress could create better international circumstances for an Israeli military strike. In fact, criticism of Obama’s deal with Iran fulfills only one main function – to legitimize future military action. Indeed, Netanyahu is the only leader concerned enough about the consequences of a bad deal with the guts and the military capability to order a strike on the Iranian key nuclear installations.

 

If inspections, sanctions, sabotage and political isolation ever had a chance to stop Iran from getting the bomb, that certainly is no longer the case. It is more evident than ever that only military action can stop a determined state, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, from building a nuclear bomb. It remains to be seen whether Israel has elected the leader to live up to this historic challenge.

 

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On Topic

 

Is the Iran Framework Agreement a 'Good Deal' — Like The North Korea One Was?: Voice of Israel, Apr. 9, 2015 — In 1994, then-US President Bill Clinton assured the world that the framework agreed upon with North Korea was a good deal, claiming it would prevent that country from obtaining nuclear weapons and make South Korea safer. Any similarities to today? Why does the West seem so hesitant to use the words "victory" and "defeat?"

Can Congress Get a Better Deal With Iran?: Dore Gold, Algemeiner, Apr. 9, 2015 —Is there any precedent for the US government dropping a controversial nuclear agreement so that it can obtain a better deal? Is such a goal realistic? The answer to these questions is yes.

Obama Spins Tale that Netanyahu Offered no Alternative to Iran Deal: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Apr. 12, 2015 —President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu traded shots on the proposed deal with Iran through separate statements that continue what has become a conversation of the deaf.

Obama Mocks Netanyahu’s ‘Red Line’ Cartoon with Inaccurate Sketch: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2015 —The White House Wednesday tweeted a diagram promoting the nuclear deal with Iran that directly ridiculed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “red line” cartoon in the United Nations three years ago — but the White House version also was full of inaccuracies.

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As We Go To Press: IRAN, WORLD POWERS EXTEND TALKS TO JULY AFTER FAILING TO SEAL DEAL (Vienna) —The US and Iran will extend nuclear talks into 2015, Western diplomats said, as the sides agreed to continue negotiations after failing to reach a deal by a November 24 deadline. A well-placed Western diplomat said that elements are falling into place for an agreement to allow talks on Iran’s nuclear program to continue for more than seven months. The diplomat told The Associated Press Monday that a broad agreement should be completed by March 1, with the final details worked out by July 1. The talks would be extended until July 1, 2015…As part of the agreement to extend talks, which was still being worked out by officials as of Monday afternoon, Iran would see no additional easing of sanctions, the source said. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed Sunday to start discussion on continuing the talks past the target date.  (Times of Israel, Nov. 24, 2014)

 

How the Obama Administration Has Already Caved to Iran: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014— The deadline for the Joint Plan of Action ended it seems without a final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It’s not yet clear what happens next.

Concerning Iran: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2014— Will Israel be pushed into a corner from which military action against Iran may be the only recourse?

Congress Must Rescue Administration Held Hostage by Iran: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 24, 2014 — This morning’s announcement that the West has formally agreed to extend its nuclear talks with Iran for another seven months confirms something that we already knew about Obama administration attitudes on the issue…

Obama: Helping Terror Go Nuclear: Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Nov. 21, 2014 — Last Tuesday’s terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue killed five people: four rabbis (including three born in the USA) and a Druze police officer.

 

On Topic Links

 

After the U.S. Mid-Term Elections: The Congressional Role in U.S.-Iran Policy: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 17, 2014

Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls for Annihilation of Israel on Eve of Nuclear Talks: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Nov. 9, 2014

Iran Nuclear Talks: The Narcissism of Minor Differences Between the EU and US: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 23, 2014

Iran Blames Israel and Jews for Negotiations Breakdown: Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem Online, Nov. 20, 2014

                                      

  

HOW THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS ALREADY CAVED TO IRAN           

Lee Smith                                                                                                            

Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014

 

The deadline for the Joint Plan of Action ended it seems without a final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It’s not yet clear what happens next. “There will be some kind of extension,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Dubowitz, with parties reconvening in December to continue to negotiate. "Iran has 'hooked the fish' with Western negotiators so committed to negotiations that they will do whatever it takes to keep everyone at the table." It’s useful then to see exactly what, for better or worse, has been resolved so far, either during the course of these talks or previously. According to Omri Ceren at the Israel Project, a pro-Israel public affairs organization that focuses on the Middle East, there are several issues on the table, many of which the Obama administration has already caved on.

 

Sanctions. The White House is offering upfront sanctions relief that the administration says it can "snapback" if the Iranians fail to comply with their end of the bargain. However, as Dubowitz explained in congressional testimony last week, the idea that it will possible to re-impose sanctions once Iran is opened for business, is politically and economically unrealistic.

 

Sunset clause. The Jerusalem Post reported that the administration has offered Iran a 10-year sunset clause, meaning that after ten years, whatever so-called permanent deal is reached comes to an end, constraints go away, and Iran is a normalized nuclear power despite the fact that, for instance, the Islamic Republic is a state sponsor of terror. “If this is true it’s shocking,” says Dubowitz. “Congress has been talking about many decades, and the administration said 20 years. Iran asked for 3 to 7, 10 would be a significant climb down. And it means that within a decade most of the constraints would disappear and Iran will be well-positioned to develop a massive industrial-size program, which will be much more difficult to monitor, and an easier clandestine breakout route to a bomb."

 

Enrichment. The administration gave up on its demands that Iran enrich no uranium at all. The Joint Plan of Action acknowledged Iran’s “right” to enrich which will allow them to close their breakout time by increasing materials to enrich. “Under several presidential administrations,” says Dubowitz, “the United States denied Iran any enrichment and now we’re haggling with them over how much uranium they get to enrich.”

 

Centrifuges. The White House abandoned its demands Iran must dismantle its centrifuges. Now they must only disconnect, or unplug, them, which which will allow them to close their breakout time by making sure there is equipment on hand to do the enriching. The Obama administration also gave up on its demand that there be no research and development of advanced centrifuges, which will allow Iran to close its breakout time by speeding up enrichment with next generation centrifuges. Plutonium. The administration gave up on the demand that Iran has to convert the heavy-water reactor at Arak into a light-water reactor, but Iran now refuses to budge, and the administration will instead allow an easily reversible cosmetic quick fix.

 

Ballistic missiles. Several U.N Security Council resolutions (most recently UNSCR 1929) require Iran to cease all activity on its ballistic missile technology. However, it is now inconceivable that the administration will include ballistic missiles as part of the deal. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif literally laughed at White House negotiators when they suggested Iran should meet long-standing UNSC resolutions demanding a halt to proliferation-sensitive ballistic technology. As Reuters reported, “the U.S. delegation made clear that it wanted to discuss both Iran's ballistic missile program and possible military dimensions of its past nuclear research… Zarif merely laughed and ignored the remarks." Possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear program, and the verification regime. Reports over the weekend suggested that the White House may have given up on demanding that Iran fully disclose its past activities, including possible military dimensions of the nuclear program. Without knowing exactly what Iran has done in the past, any post-agreement verification regime would be incapable of discerning whether or not Iran was keeping its word. The administration denied these reports.

                                                                       

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CONCERNING IRAN

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2014

 

Will Israel be pushed into a corner from which military action against Iran may be the only recourse? It is Iran that should have been pushed into a corner by the international community over its nuclear program, but the direction talks have taken so far between world powers and the Islamic Republic leaves little room for optimism. At press time, the deadline set by the sides for talks – midnight of November 25 – was expected to come and go without a deal, due to Iranian opposition. The feeling in Israel was that if the mullahs ruling Tehran had agreed to the accord presented to it by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany – also known as the P5+1 – Iran would have remained a threshold nuclear state. And Israel might have been forced to act.

 

That was the clear message given to The Jerusalem Post’s Michael Wilner by a high-ranking Israeli official. It is still not clear what precisely were the details of the accord rejected by Iran. The understanding in Jerusalem is that certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would have been imposed for roughly 10 years. During that time, an inspection regime would have been put in place by the world powers. Current uranium stockpiles would have been removed or converted.  Iran’s ability to produce fissile material for a bomb would have been capped at nine months, compared to the current three months. But all this is in theory. In practice, Iran would have been allowed to keep thousands of centrifuges that would have enabled it to enrich uranium for a bomb within a short time. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it in an interview with the BBC on Monday, “There’s no right to enrich. What do you need to enrich uranium for if you’re not developing an atomic bomb?” Inspections cannot be relied on to stop enrichment without Iranian goodwill, of which there is a dearth. Iranian officials will inevitably attempt to use subterfuge and lies to cover up its nuclear weapons program, as it has in the past. And the experience with North Korea tells us that inspection regimes are unreliable. Even intelligence agencies are far from perfect. It took years to discover the nuclear facilities located in Natanz and Qom.

 

Thanks to Iranian intransigence, the signing of a bad deal has so far been averted. And clearly no deal is better than a bad one. But where do we go from here? The Iranians are apparently stalling for time in an attempt to come closer to nuclear weapons capability. In the meantime, they are also involved in perpetuating a number of conflicts throughout the Middle East. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a number of terrorist organizations operating in Gaza all receive support from the Iranians. Eventually, however, the P5+1 will have to make a decision. In the best-case scenario, they will soon reach the conclusion that Iran has no intention of willingly giving up its nuclear weapons program and will reinstate a strict sanctions regime. Combined with a credible military threat, stiff penalties might yet coerce the Iranians into giving up on their aspirations to become a nuclear power. A military attack on Iran, and the unknown negative consequences resulting from such an attack, would be avoided.

 

However, if the P5+1 permit Iran’s leaders to continue to stall for time as they develop their nuclear program or if they end up signing a bad deal that allows Iran to remain a nuclear threshold power, a peaceful resolution to the conflict will be impossible. Countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia would not stand by silently while Iran attains nuclear weapons, or the ability to deploy them within a short period of time. The ensuing nuclear arms race would risk destabilizing the Middle East. Because Iran is also developing intercontinental ballistic missiles – missiles which are used only to carry nuclear payloads, as Netanyahu pointed out Monday – it would also have the ability to strike targets thousands of kilometers away, endangering large parts of the world. Of course, Israel would be forced to act as well. Just a few weeks ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for “the elimination” of Israel. He urged Israel’s enemies to commit to “armed resistance” until the Zionist entity is destroyed. The best way to prevent Iran from dragging the region into a war is by using non-military means, combined with a credible military threat, to pressure it to give up its aspirations for nuclear weapons. Signing a bad deal or dragging out talks for too long will only lead to conflict, a nuclear arms race, and perhaps even war.      

                                                                       

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CONGRESS MUST RESCUE ADMINISTRATION HELD HOSTAGE BY IRAN    

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Nov. 24, 2014

 

This morning’s announcement that the West has formally agreed to extend its nuclear talks with Iran for another seven months confirms something that we already knew about Obama administration attitudes on the issue: it is far more afraid of disrupting any chance for détente with the Islamist regime than in sticking to its principles or its promises about halting the threat posed by Tehran’s program. But while sending the talks into a second overtime period allows Iran to keep moving ahead with its nuclear program and lets Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiators to relax a bit, this decision should wake up Congress. The failure of the administration to escape the trap that it has set for itself by letting the next stage of the talks drag on endlessly should re-energize the existing bipartisan coalition in favor of toughening sanctions on Iran to get back to work and pass a new bill.

 

It should be remembered that a year ago in the aftermath of the signing of a weak interim deal with Iran, the administration successfully fended off efforts to increase sanctions on the Islamist regime by claiming that doing so would disrupt the negotiations. President Obama and Kerry both promised that the next round of talks would have a limited time frame that would prevent Iran from continuing the same game that it has played with the West for the last decade. Tehran has been trying to run out the clock on the nuclear issue since George W. Bush’s first term in the White House. It has easily exploited two administrations’ efforts at engagement and diplomacy during this time frame and has gotten far closer to its goal of a bomb as a result. Even more importantly, with each round of negotiations it has forced Obama and America’s allies to retreat on its demands. Last year its tough stance forced Kerry to give up and ultimately agree to tacit Western acceptance of Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium. In the last year, it has also successfully gotten the U.S. to retreat on issues such as the number of centrifuges it is allowed to operate and the future of its stockpile of nuclear fuel, and kept other issues such as the need to divulge the extent of its nuclear military research, the future of its plutonium plant at Arak, its ballistic missile program, and support for international terrorism off the agenda. Proposed Western concessions have grown to the point of the absurd, such as the suggestion about disconnecting the pipes between the centrifuges. At the same time Iran has also stonewalled the International Atomic Energy Agency on demands for more inspections and transparency.

 

After last year’s interim deal was signed, the administration easily fended off congressional efforts to toughen sanctions by saying they weren’t needed to strengthen the hands of Western negotiators and openly talked of the danger of demonstrating ill will toward Tehran that would scuttle the talks. The president and his foreign-policy team also labeled skeptics about this deal and advocates of more sanctions as warmongers. But a year later it’s clear that the skeptics were right and everything the administration promised about the next round of talks was either mistaken or an outright lie. Though Kerry claimed that the interim deal had achieved its goal of halting Iran’s progress, the truth is that nothing it accomplished can be easily reversed. In exchange for dubious progress, the U.S. sacrificed its considerable economic leverage in the form of loosening sanctions. Iran now believes with good reason that it can end the sanctions without giving up its nuclear ambition. By turning the promised six months of talks to pressure Iran into a year plus seven months, the president and Kerry have broken their word to Congress and played right into the hands of the ayatollahs. It’s possible that seven more months of ineffectual pressure on Iran will yield another weak deal that will ensure it will soon become a threshold nuclear power while at the same time allowing Obama to announce a much-needed foreign-policy success and the fulfillment of his campaign pledges on the issue. But given the promises that were made about the previous two deadlines, what confidence can anyone have in America’s willingness to draw conclusions about the talks if Iran doesn’t yield?

 

Even if we are operating under the dubious assumption that any deal reached under these circumstances could be enforced or achieve its goal, the failure of the president to enforce the current deadline telegraphs to Iran that it needn’t worry about any other threats from the West. If the U.S. wouldn’t feel empowered to push Iran hard now with oil prices in decline and the current sanctions (which Obama opposed in the first place) having some impact on the regime’s economy, why would anyone in Tehran take seriously the idea that there will be consequences if they don’t make concessions or sign even another weak deal? Though Kerry talked about building trust with Iran, the only thing that can be trusted about this process is that the Islamists have played him and his boss for fools.

 

That is why Congress must step in now and immediately revive the bipartisan bill proposed by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk that would tighten the noose around Iran’s still-lucrative oil trade. Just as the current sanctions that Obama and Kerry brag about were forced upon them, the only way this administration will negotiate a viable deal with Iran is to tie its hands by passing a new sanctions bill. It should also be pointed out that the alternative to Kerry’s appeasement of Iran is not the use of force. Tougher sanctions that will return the situation to the point where it was last year before Kerry caved on the interim deal provide the only chance to stop Iran by means short of war. It may be that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will block a sanctions bill in the lame duck session just as he did last year despite the support of an overwhelming majority of members from both parties. But if he does thwart action, the new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican majorities in both houses should act quickly to pass a bill that will impose real penalties on Iran. The commitment of Obama and Kerry to détente with Iran has made them, in effect, hostages of the Islamist regime in these talks. The only way they can be rescued from their own folly is action by Congress.

                                   

                                                                       

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OBAMA: HELPING TERROR GO NUCLEAR                                                        

Noah Beck                                                                                                                          

Algemeiner, Nov. 21, 2014

 

Last Tuesday’s terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue killed five people: four rabbis (including three born in the USA) and a Druze police officer. Two Palestinians entered during morning prayers and attacked worshipers with knives, meat cleavers, and a handgun. Congress showed moral clarity when blaming the horrors on Hamas and Palestinian Authority incitement, but Obama’s statements were perfunctorily “balanced.” Obama warned of a “spiral” of violence – an obtuse refrain of those suggesting moral equivalency between terrorism and the fight against it. Obama also misleadingly claimed that “President Abbas…strongly condemned the attacks” omitting that Abbas did so only after pressure from the administration and with equivocation (Abbas suggested a link between recent terrorism and visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, as if to justify the attacks). It’s also worth noting that Palestinians celebrated the massacre (as they did after the 2013 Boston bombing and the 9/11 attacks).

 

Obama’s weak reaction is consistent with his mostly impotent response to ISIS terrorists who behead Americans and Mideast Christians, and grow their Islamist empire by the day. Frighteningly, his approach to Iranian nukes follows the same meek pattern, but the stakes are exponentially higher, because when Iran goes nuclear, so does terrorism. Iran is already the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, without nuclear weapons. Iran-supported Hamas has already tried to commit nuclear terror: last summer, Hamas launched rockets at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. How much more dangerous will Iran become when it has nukes? Even if Iran doesn’t directly commit nuclear terrorism, an Iranian nuclear umbrella will embolden the regime and the terrorist organizations it sponsors.

 

Obama has a long record of weakness towards Iran. In 2009, when Iran’s Basij paramilitary force brutalized demonstrators protesting Iran’s fraudulent presidential election, Obama kept his response irrelevantly mild for the sake of “engaging” Iran. That surely helped Iranian voters understand the risks of protesting the “free” election of 2012 (involving eight regime-picked candidates). It was indeed a very orderly rubberstamp. In 2011, when a U.S. drone went down on Iranian soil, Obama cordially requested it back. The regime recently scoffed at such impotence by showcasing its knock-off based on that drone and some U.S.-made helicopters that it purchased,  highlighting just how useless sanctions have become. President Hassan Rouhani’s election vastly improved the public face of Iran’s nuclear program, and Obama was charmed too. Obama has been unilaterally weakening the sanctions against Iran by not enforcing them. He has threatened to thwart any Congressional attempt to limit his nuclear generosity by simply lifting sanctions without Congressional approval. Yet despite these concessions and Rouhani’s smiles, human rights abuses in Iran have actually worsened.

 

Obama declared in 2012 (while running for reelection) that he doesn’t bluff when it comes to stopping Iranian nukes, and that containment was not an option, unlike military force. But the credibility of that statement collapsed after Obama shrunk away from his “red line” against Syrian chemical weapons use. In 2013, Basher Assad gassed his own people and Obama took no military action. So if Obama cowers against a disintegrating state, what are the chances that he’ll militarily prevent Iranian nukes? And Obama has dangerously undermined the only military threat to Iranian nukes that anyone still takes seriously: Israel. On the Iranian nuclear issue, Obama has isolated Israel on how close Iran is to a nuclear capability with estimates that are far laxer. And as long as Obama continues negotiating (even if Iran is clearly playing for time as the U.S. offers ever more desperate proposals) or reaches a deal allowing Iran to become a threshold nuclear weapons state, an Israeli military option to defang Iranian nukes appears less legitimate.

 

The media’s anti-Israel bias is well known (they can’t even get a simple story about vehicular terrorism against Israelis correct (compare how The Guardian writes accurate headlines when Canada suffers an Islamist car attack but not when Israel does). So if Obama accepts Iran’s nuclear program and Israel then attacks it, the media will be even harsher on Israel (even though the world will be silently relieved, if Israeli courage succeeds at neutralizing what scared everyone else). Downgrading U.S.-Israel relations seems to be part of Obama’s détente with Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei recently tweeted his plan for destroying Israel, but Obama grows even more determined to reach an accord that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program. And the Obama administration’s diplomatic abuse of America’s closest Mideast ally is unprecedented – from his humiliation of Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2010, to Secretary of State John Kerry’s betrayal of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, to calling Netanyahu a “chickenshit” a few weeks ago, without even apologizing later (note the irony of calling Netanyahu a coward anonymously). Obama seems far more concerned by Israeli construction of apartments in Jerusalem than a nuclear Iran. And he has been pressuring Israel to retreat from more disputed territory, effectively rewarding Palestinians for launching the third missile war against Israel from Gaza in five years last summer and now the third Intifidah inside Israel in 17 years. That puts Obama just behind the European appeasers who think Palestinian bellicosity merits statehood. They all naively think — at Israel’s peril — that peace is possible with raw hatred.

 

Obama indeed appears desperate to get a nuclear accord with Iran at any price. He has written letters asking for Iran’s help against ISIS after they hinted at an ISIS-for-nukes exchange, and has pursued an agreement at all costs. Obama’s top aide, Ben Rhodes, was caught saying how a nuclear accord is as important to Obama as “healthcare”; at least there’s a fitting slogan to sell the deal to Americans: “If you like your nukes, you can keep them.” Russia, the serial spoiler, suggested extending nuclear talks past the November 24th deadline. Iran will undoubtedly agree to more enrichment time (while it keeps stonewalling the IAEA’s investigations into it nukes), as it did last July. For Obama, a bad agreement or an extension looks far better than concluding that talks have failed and issuing more empty threats to stop Iran militarily. And so U.S. foreign policy will continue its freefall, as the world’s bad actors will want to see what they can extort from a leader even weaker than President Carter. While Carter permitted Iran to hold 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days, Obama may allow Iran to hold the world hostage with nuclear terrorism. It’s now dreadfully obvious: without massive public pressure, Obama will help Iran get nukes…

[To Sign A Petition to Tell Washington: NO PATH TO A BOMB OR NO DEAL, Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

After the U.S. Mid-Term Elections: The Congressional Role in U.S.-Iran Policy: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 17, 2014 —November 24 is seen as a critical date in the negotiations between Iran and UN Security Council’s permanent members (the “P5+1” the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China plus Germany) on the fates of Iran’s nuclear enterprise and the economic sanctions imposed on the recalcitrant and bellicose

Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls for Annihilation of Israel on Eve of Nuclear Talks: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Nov. 9, 2014 —On the eve of the opening of the nuclear talks in Oman on November 9, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei repeated his call to annihilate Israel and suggested a nine  – point plan on how to confront Israel and urged Muslims to arm the Palestinians in the West Bank. Khamenei also re-twitted Iran’s 11 red lines in the nuclear talks.

Iran Nuclear Talks: The Narcissism of Minor Differences Between the EU and US: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 23, 2014 —With the negotiation process to end Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program about to enter the final stretch, nuanced differences still exist among the Western powers toward Tehran.

Iran Blames Israel and Jews for Negotiations Breakdown: Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem Online, Nov. 20, 2014 —The deadline is approaching, but an agreement is still far away.

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IRAN’S “CHARM OFFENSIVE” CONCEALS TRUE OBJECTIVE: GLOBAL, NUCLEAR-WEAPONS EQUIPPED, TERROR CAMPAIGN

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Contents:

 

Fighting ISIS Shouldn’t Mean Appeasing Iran: Clifford D. May, National Post, Oct. 2, 2014 — In his address to the UN General Assembly last week, Barack Obama called the conflict in the Middle East “a fight no one is winning.” I think the evidence suggests he’s wrong. I think Iran is making significant gains.

Iran vs ISIS: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 22, 2014 Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) resumed…

Iran Orders Elite Troops: Lay Off U.S. Forces in Iraq: Eli Lake, Daily Beast, Oct. 6, 2014— Pay no attention to the Shi'ite militias threatening to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The elite Iranian forces backing those militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans.

A Year of Iranian 'Moderation': Adam Ereli, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 24, 2014 — Iran's President Hasan Rouhani is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

               

On Topic Links

 

Barbarism of Iranian Militias Based in Iraq, Syria Being Seriously Overlooked: Benjamin Weinthal,

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 29, 2014

Iran's "Political Prisoner Cleansing": Shadi Paveh, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 3, 2014

Compared to Iran, ISIS is a ‘Junior Varsity’ Team: Eytan Sosnovich, Algemeiner, Oct. 5, 2014

Iran's President Is Still the Ayatollah's Man: Matthew McInnis, Real Clear World, Sept. 25, 2014               
 

                   

                  

FIGHTING ISIS SHOULDN’T MEAN APPEASING IRAN                                                                           

Clifford D. May                                                                                                            

National Post, Oct. 2, 2014

                       

In his address to the UN General Assembly last week, Barack Obama called the conflict in the Middle East “a fight no one is winning.” I think the evidence suggests he’s wrong. I think Iran is making significant gains. That should distress us because the Islamic Republic, no less than the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), is committed to waging jihad. Iran’s 1979 revolution was led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — a Persian, Shi’a, Islamist version of Lenin. His intention: to spark a global uprising against the West.

 

Khomeini championed social justice — of a sort. “If one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth,” he said in a 1984 speech celebrating the birth of Mohammed, “the infidel’s moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him.” Among Khomeini’s disciples: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran’s current president, the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani. Last year, Rouhani observed: “Saying ‘Death to America’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action.” His most strategic action to date: pushing back Obama’s red lines on Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability. My colleague Mark Dubowitz observes that Obama has gone from “dismantle and disclose” to “disconnect, defer and deter.”

 

In other words, the U.S. president had been demanding that Iran’s rulers dismantle key elements of their nuclear program and disclose past weaponization activities. Now, he appears prepared to settle for disconnecting some centrifuges or reducing the uranium gas fed into them (both easily reversible), deferring demands that Iran’s rulers admit past weaponization until after a deal is signed, and hoping that breakout to nuclear weapons can be deterred through enhanced inspections and whatever economic leverage the West retains — probably not much since a senior official in charge of the negotiations is already promising to suspend major sanctions soon after a deal. Obama’s retreat also is reflected in his rhetoric. A few years ago, he was vowing to use “all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” Last week: “America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. This can only happen if Iran takes this historic opportunity. My message to Iran’s leaders and people is simple: do not let this opportunity pass.” Opportunity?

 

This should be big news. Among the reasons it is not: The Islamic State’s flamboyant barbarism in Syria and Iraq has been consuming the oxygen, making it easy to forget that Iran has long been, according to the U.S. State Department, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It was Iran’s rulers who instructed Hezbollah, their Lebanon-based militia, to bomb the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. It was Iran’s elite Quds Force that was implicated in the unsuccessful 2011 plot to blow up a Washington D.C. restaurant. Since 2003, Iran and its militias have, with impunity, killed as many as 1,000 American soldiers in Iraq. Right now, both the Quds Force and Hezbollah have “boots on the ground” in Syria, fighting in support of the Assad regime. They have been responsible for a high percentage of the 200,000 deaths there over the past three years.

 

Within Iran, since Rouhani became president, roughly 1,000 Iranians have been executed. Just last week, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s special investigator on human rights in Iran, released a report detailing multiple cases of torture, rape, electroshock, burnings, amputations and floggings. Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor, has spent more than two years in Iranian prisons, charged with “attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.” Arizona-born Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who went to Iran in 2011 to visit his grandmother, remains incarcerated on charges of spying for the CIA. Robert Levinson, a private investigator and former FBI agent, has been held in Iran since 2007. Iran has ranked “among the world’s top three worst jailers of the press every year since 2009,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Among those being held: Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a reporter. Arrested in July, they have yet to be charged with any crime.

 

Iran’s rulers don’t like the Islamic State — it’s a Sunni rival — but they are largely responsible for its growth. “At Iran’s behest, Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government in Iraq systematically arrested, tortured and murdered members of that country’s Sunni minority,” wrote Adam Ereli, former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain. Such policies, “paved the way for the stunning political and military conquests in Iraq by Islamic State terrorists.” It was Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq — with not even a residual force left behind — that made it possible for Tehran to start calling the shots in Baghdad. And his passive response to the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011 created the vacuum that soon was filled by foreign jihadis. At this point, dropping bombs on Islamic State fighters is a treatment — not a cure. Worse yet: The current campaign could succeed in weakening the Islamic State while strengthening the Islamic Republic. If that happens, if Khamenei achieves his ambition to become the world’s first nuclear-armed jihadi, President Obama will be responsible for a blunder of world-historical proportions — one that will shape the remainder of this century. Not much time is left to avoid that outcome. Negotiations with Iran are to conclude Nov. 24. The president would be wise to make clear that no agreement is preferable to a bad agreement. Such a decision will require courage, resolve and recognition that negotiations, like wars, do produce winners and losers, and that it matters which the United States turns out to be.

                                                                       

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IRAN VS ISIS                                                                                                      

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 22, 2014  

 

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) resumed last week. After seven months of on again, off again talks, the parties have made no substantive progress on curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program. If there was little reason for optimism in previous rounds of discussions, there is even less reason to be hopeful for a breakthrough now with Western states’ attention focused on the threat present by Islamic State. The wily President Hassan Rouhani hopes that in exchange for agreeing to join a US-led coalition against Islamic State, the P5+1 will be more lenient in allowing Iran to develop its nuclear program. Diplomats involved with the negotiations say the West remains adamant that the talks should deal exclusively with the nuclear program.

 

But as the November 24 deadline set for the talks approaches, representatives of the P5+1 might soften their stance to strike a deal. “Iran is a very influential country in the region,” Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Iranian official quoted as saying. “But it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something.” Outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs the P5+1 team negotiating, seems particularly keen on reaching an agreement before stepping down. Ashton would like to show a major accomplishment and an agreement with Tehran would be a perfect end to her stint.

 

The Obama administration also seems to be getting soft on Iran. At least that was the impression one could easily get from Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz after he returned last week from a meeting with White House officials. After noting that the Iranians have not budged on the two most important issues: centrifuges and the heavy water reactor in Arak, he encouraged Washington not to compromise. “We are deeply concerned that a deal might a bad deal, and therefore want to reemphasize President Obama’s very important principle and statement that no deal is better than a bad deal,” Steinitz said. “This principle should really be adopted and implemented, because it really is the case.” Steinitz was apparently under the impression after meeting with US officials that the Obama administration was in need of a reminder of its commitment to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Linking the fight against Islamic State with talks on the nuclear program would be misguided for a number of reasons. First, the Islamic Republic’s Shi’ite leadership will fight to defeat the Sunni Islamic State whether or not Tehran joins a US-led coalition. For the mullahs, this is an existential war against an implacable enemy that directly threatens Iranian influence in Shi’ite-majority Iraq. There is no reason to cave in to Iranian demands in exchange for support against Islamic State that the Iranians will have to supply regardless.

 

More substantively, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has pointed out, allowing Iran more leeway in developing nuclear weapons would be like allowing Syria’s Basher Assad to hold onto chemical weapons in order to fight Islamic State. The Iranians are more desperate than ever to attain nuclear weapons capability. They realize that having a nuclear bomb would be a game changer in the Sunni-Shia clash. They see nuclear weapons as an existential imperative. There is no reason to believe the mullahs will willingly stop developing nuclear arms. Only crippling sanctions combined with a credible military threat have any chance of compelling them to slow, if not stop altogether, their march toward nuclear weapons capability.

 

The risks presented by a nuclear-capable Iran are sobering. The Islamic Republic, not unlike Islamic State, is governed by irrational theological dictates that call for conquering and disseminating a radical stream of Islam through violence. Iran supports terrorism in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Armed with a nuclear umbrella, the Islamic Republic would be infinitely more dangerous. The preoccupation with Islamic State is principally the result of the recent gains made by the terrorist organization, its savagery and the fact that it took the world by surprise. The group’s ability to maintain gains and persevere, however, is less clear. In the long term, a nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous than Islamic State. It should treated as such.

                                                           

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IRAN ORDERS ELITE TROOPS: LAY OFF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ                                                                 

Eli Lake                                                                                                                                          

Daily Beast, Oct. 6, 2014

 

Pay no attention to the Shi'ite militias threatening to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The elite Iranian forces backing those militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans. That’s the conclusion of the latest U.S. intelligence assessment for Iraq. And it represents a stunning turnaround for Iran’s Quds Force, once considered America’s most dangerous foe in the region. U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that the apparent Iranian decision not to target American troops inside Iraq reflects Iran’s desire to strike a nuclear bargain with the United States and the rest of the international community before the current negotiations expire at the end of November. “They are not going after Americans,” one senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast familiar with the recent assessments. “They want the nuclear talks to succeed and an incident between our guys and their guys would not be good for those talks.”

 

The Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, are believed to have hundreds of troops in Iraq. As the primary arm of the Iranian state that supports allied terrorist organizations, their operatives worried Obama’s predecessor so much that the Treasury Department began sanctioning its members in 2007 for sabotaging the government of Iraq. The U.S. military accused the Quds Force of orchestrating cells of terrorists in Iraq. In 2012, Wired magazine dubbed Quds Force leader Qassem Suleimani the most dangerous person on the planet. In 2013, the New Yorker arrived at a similar conclusion, and claimed he has "directed Assad’s war in Syria.” More recently, the Treasury Department has accused the Quds Force of international heroin trafficking and conducting terrorism and intelligence operations against the Afghanistan government. That’s why it’s so extraordinary that the Quds Force would be perceived to be laying off U.S. forces in Iraq.

 

But in some ways, the assessment is not surprising. Both Iran and the United States share a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In late August, U.S. airpower and Iranian-backed militias broke the ISIS siege on the town of Amerli. Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, was photographed in Amerli, after the town was liberated from ISIS. The latest assessments from the U.S. intelligence community also interpret Iran’s behavior in part as linked to the ongoing negotiations between Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. A U.S. intelligence official said the Quds Force behavior was the equivalent of a confidence building measure, a diplomatic term that refers to a concession offered to improve the atmosphere of negotiations. (Iran had already offered to play a more “active role” in the regional fight against ISIS, in exchange for nuclear concessions.)

 

The latest U.S. nuclear proposal to Iran would be favorable to the Islamic Republic and allow Iran to keep many of its declared centrifuges so long as they were disconnected from one another. Iran’s declared facilities in Qom and Natanz use a centrifuge process to enrich uranium into nuclear fuel. The latest U.S. assessment also undercuts the public warnings from Iranian backed militias in Iraq that are doing much of the fighting now against ISIS. Last month, the three largest Shiite militias told President Obama not to send ground troops into Iraq. But because the Quds Force is so instrumental in funding, training and in some cases providing strategic direction to these militias, it would suggest these public warnings were merely idle boasts.

 

To date, the Pentagon acknowledges that there are more than 1,600 U.S. forces inside Iraq, but these forces do not engage in combat missions, according to the Defense Department. Instead, the U.S. presence in Iraq is to advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces, assess the state of those forces and protect U.S. facilities inside Iraq.

 

Earlier this month in New York, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said the presence of foreign forces inside Iraq “creates domestic opposition and domestic resentment.” But in response to a question about the Shi'ite militias’ warnings against the United States, he also stressed that Iran did not support “anything that would complicate the situation” in Iraq.. The recent public warnings from groups like the Mahdi Army and the Asa’ib al-Haq were reminiscent of Iraq between 2006 and 2009. That’s when Shiite militias, working closely with Iran’s Quds Force, placed the sophisticated improvised bombs on routes traveled by U.S. forces. In the later years of the conflict, American forces captured what they said were dozens of Quds Force operatives working inside Iraq.

 

Exactly how long this informal Quds Force truce lasts is anyone’s guess. But Kimberly Kagan, the president of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War and a one-time adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, cautioned that this alliance of convenience could break down quickly. “Without a doubt, Iranian backed elements have declared their intention many times in the past to attack the U.S. inside Iraq,” she said. “Whether or not those elements have immediate intentions to attack the United is irrelevant. They are declared enemies of the United States.” That said, Kagan added that she believed “The Iranians do have a short term interest in being on their best behavior during these nuclear negotiations.” Those negotiations are set to expire at the end of November.

                                                                                               

Contents
                       

                                                    

A YEAR OF IRANIAN 'MODERATION'                                                                                               

Adam Ereli                                                                                                         

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 24, 2014

 

Iran's President Hasan Rouhani is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. Last year he attended this global gathering of heads of state to great fanfare. He had just replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in office, and the world held out great hope that a reform-minded moderate leader for the Islamic Republic meant that the country's aspirations to be a nuclear power and its sponsorship of terrorism might soon be a thing of the past. In his General Assembly speech on Sept. 24, 2013, Mr. Rouhani pledged "to open a new horizon in which peace will prevail over war, tolerance over violence, progress over bloodletting, justice over discrimination, prosperity over poverty and freedom over despotism." One year on, how have these promises fared?

 

Peace over war? Hamas in Gaza rained hundreds of Iranian-supplied missiles on Israel in a seven-week campaign to terrorize civilians. In Syria, Iran's infusion of cash, weapons, military advisers and its Hezbollah-backed militias have kept Bashar Assad in power and over the past year produced tens of thousands more casualties. Tolerance over violence? At Iran's behest, Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government in Iraq systematically arrested, tortured and murdered members of that country's Sunni minority, not to mention the deadly attacks on Iranian dissidents, which killed five dozen, 52 of them execution-style. Iraq's armed forces and intelligence services were systematically purged of Sunnis. These deliberately repressive policies paved the way for the stunning political and military conquests in Iraq by Islamic State terrorists.

 

Progress over bloodletting? The one arguable bright spot in Iran's relations with the civilized world has been its willingness to negotiate over its nuclear program. Yet with a November deadline looming, there are few if any signs of progress toward an agreement. Iran has kept enriching uranium 235 to reactor grade levels, thus accomplishing nearly 70% of the enrichment necessary to reach weapons-grade levels. Iran's weaponization research and ballistic-missile development are not limited in any respect and proceed apace.

 

In violation of its obligations, Iran has blocked or severely limited access by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to key nuclear facilities. In its latest report, on Sept. 5, the IAEA wrote that it is unable "to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities." More troubling are statements by Iran's leadership. On July 7 Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that Iran needs to "significantly increase" its number of centrifuges. In April this year he told a group of Iranian scientists: "None of the country's nuclear achievements can be stopped."

 

Prosperity over poverty? Mr. Rouhani has leveraged the nuclear negotiations for significant financial gain. The easing of U.S. and European Union sanctions has provided Iran access to more than $6 billion in frozen assets and tens of millions more through oil sales. The Iranian people have seen little from the sanctions relief, while the regime in Tehran continues to bankroll its terrorist proxies and military-industrial complex.

 

Freedom over despotism? Since taking office, Mr. Rouhani's government has executed 1,000 Iranians, according to human-rights monitors inside Iran and ranks first in the world in per capita executions, which included hundreds of women, youths, ethnic minorities and dissidents. The State Department documented Iran's dismal record of respect for human rights in its 2014 report on human-rights practices. The list of Iranian excesses is sickening, "including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; politically motivated violence and repression, such as beatings and rape; harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities, with instances of deaths in custody."

 

The legal and political system is a travesty, including "arbitrary arrest and lengthy pretrial detention; continued impunity of security forces; denial of fair public trials; the lack of an independent judiciary; political prisoners and detainees; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence; severe restrictions on freedoms of speech (including via the Internet) and press; censorship and media content restrictions; severe restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, association, and religion; legal and societal discrimination and violence against women, children, ethnic and religious minorities; incitement to anti-Semitism; and trafficking in persons."

 

Delegates to the U.N. General Assembly might want to keep Mr. Rouhani's dismal record in mind when he mounts the podium on Thursday, no doubt offering fresh promises of Iran's peaceful and just intentions. It is time that the international community held his government to account and insisted that words be matched by deeds. Absent that, we must be clear-eyed and under no illusion about the regime with which we are dealing.

 

Contents                                                                       

 

On Topic

 

Barbarism of Iranian Militias Based in Iraq, Syria Being Seriously Overlooked: Benjamin Weinthal,

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 29, 2014—The US’s deadly strike on the al-Qaida-linked Khorasan group leader Mohsin al-Fadhli shone a spotlight on Iran’s nefarious activities in Syria and Iraq.

Iran's "Political Prisoner Cleansing": Shadi Paveh, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 3, 2014—Iran continues to hide behind the world's focus on ISIS to accelerate political arrests, executions, "prison cleansing" and above all, its program to achieve nuclear capability.

Compared to Iran, ISIS is a ‘Junior Varsity’ Team: Eytan Sosnovich, Algemeiner, Oct. 5, 2014 —Last month, in a primetime national address, President Obama laid out his four-pronged strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.”

Iran's President Is Still the Ayatollah's Man: Matthew McInnis, Real Clear World, Sept. 25, 2014—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today takes the podium at the U.N. General Assembly.

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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HAS THE GENEVA ACCORD ALREADY–SO TO SPEAK–BOMBED? AND IS AN ALMOST-BOMB AS BAD AS A REAL ONE? AND IS GIVING “DIPLOMACY A CHANCE” HERE EQUIVALENT TO APPEASEMENT?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 



                                           

N.B.: Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, CIJR is pleased to present the First Sabina Citron Annual International Conference:  Approaching Nuclear Showdown? Israel, Iran and the US after Geneva (Lodzer Centre Congregation, 12 Heaton Street, Toronto) for more information contact CIJR at 1-855-303-5544 –ed.

 

As the US continues diplomatic relations with fundamentalist Iran, Israel continues to see the Islamist regime and its nuclear program as its primary threat. Additionally, Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah and the worsening Syrian civil war are  likely to plunge the Jewish state into direct  conflict with Lebanon, extremist Sunni cells in Syria, Iraq and Gaza Strip,  to say nothing of the ongoing terrorist threat  to the Middle East’s only democracy.
 

The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, Canada’s leading independent pro-Israel, community/student-oriented academic think-tank, invites you to hear an outstanding array of speakers, giving their perspectives on the threat of  fundamentalist Iran’s nuclear  program to the Middle East and the world. CIJR, with the support of strong community partners such as: the Speakers’ Action Group, the Canada-Israel Friendship Association, Israel Truth Week, the Lodzer Centre Congregation and the Canadian Patriotic Society, presents: Professor David Bensoussan, University of Quebec, CIJR Academic Council and a member of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on the Security of Canada, Lawrence Solomon, author and Financial Post columnist, Sayeh Hassan, noted Iranian born pro-democracy activist, Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi; former Lieutenant Colonel Intelligence, IDF, editor Shalom Toronto & Fellow, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs.

 

Contents:

 

What's Worse Than an Iranian Bomb? An Iranian Almost-Bomb: Gary C. Gambill, National Post, Jan. 8, 2014— For all of their sharp disagreements over the particulars of foreign policy, everyone in Washington seems to agree on one thing — that the overarching objective of American policy toward Iran should be, as President Barack Obama frequently intones, to "prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon."

Iran Mocks President Obama by Honoring Mughniyeh: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Jan. 14, 2014, 2013 — President Obama has a full court press under way to stop Congress from passing new sanctions legislation that could–could, not will–impose sanctions on Iran one year from now if negotiations break down or Iran cheats.

New Iran Agreement Includes Secret Side Deal, Tehran Official Says: Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13, 2014 — Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran’s chief negotiator said Monday.

In Iran We Trust?: Gabriel Schoenfeld, Weekly Standard, Feb. 10, 2014 — President Obama is rushing to implement the six-month interim agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that went into effect last week. Together with five other world powers, he is now working to negotiate a long-term agreement aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama and Iran in Business: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2014 

The Internal Iranian Struggle in the Aftermath of the Geneva Nuclear Agreement: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affaris, Jan.-Feb, 2014 

Using Cold War Tactics to Confront Iran: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2014

A Raid on Iran?: Uri Sadot, Weekly Standard, Dec. 30, 2013

The Post-Khamenei Era: Ramin Parham & Saeed Ghasseminejad, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2014

From Shah to Supreme Leader: Laura Secor, Foreign Affairs, Jan-Feb. 2014

 

WHAT'S WORSE THAN AN IRANIAN BOMB?                                    

AN IRANIAN ALMOST-BOMB                                                       

Gary C. Gambill

National Post, Jan. 8, 2014

 

For all of their sharp disagreements over the particulars of foreign policy, everyone in Washington seems to agree on one thing — that the overarching objective of American policy toward Iran should be, as President Barack Obama frequently intones, to "prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon." They've got it wrong. The primary objective of American policy must be a sweeping degradation of Iran's nuclear industrial infrastructure, preferably by diplomatic means, even if the resolute pursuit of this goal provokes Iran into rashly attempting the construction of a bomb — indeed, especially if it does so.

 

Bear in mind that Iran hasn't been rushing to build a bomb. Rather, it has been working steadily to increase its breakout capacity — the ability to successfully produce a nuclear weapon on short notice, if it made a mad dash to do so. According to the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has accumulated 7,154 kg of under-5% low-enriched uranium (LEU) and 196 kg of near-20% medium enriched uranium (MEU), altogether enough to build six or seven bombs if enriched further to weapons grade (i.e., about 90%). With over 18,000 centrifuges installed at the Natanz and Fordow facilities, Iran's breakout time is currently four to six weeks — which is to say, that is how long it would take to produce a sufficient quantity of weapons grade uranium (WGU) for its first bomb, according to an October 24 report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), plus whatever extra time is needed to construct a serviceable explosive device. Iran's paramount goal is to inch as close as possible to the finish line without triggering a military response, then reach a permanent settlement with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) that preserves as much of its breakout capacity as possible in exchange for an end to sanctions that have hobbled its economy.

 

Achieving an internationally-legitimized nuclear threshold status has immense strategic advantages for the Islamic Republic, above and beyond the ability to rapidly weaponize at a few months' notice: Fear of provoking Tehran to cross this final threshold likely will discourage the international community from slapping on future sanctions for sponsoring terrorism, bloody proxy interventions in the region (including Syria), human rights violations, and Iran's various other rogue-state activities. And Iranian threshold status is just as bad as a bomb in instigating a regional nuclear arms race. Phase one of this strategy had largely run its course by the time Iran began secretly negotiating with Obama administration officials in 2013, and Iran's enrichment efforts had slowed considerably. Moving substantially closer to the nuclear goal line (e.g., by accumulating sufficient MEU to build a bomb without having to enrich LEU all the way up to weapons grade) would have resulted in even more damaging sanctions and risked provoking a war. The Iranians now are ready to stop pushing the envelope because they already are in the position they want.

 

The Joint Plan of Action (JPA) — the name of the November, 2013 accord that would temporarily freeze Iran's nuclear program — effectively rewards Iran for doing something that was already in its interests. Slightly reducing enriched uranium stockpiles and accepting modestly expanded inspections to verify its "voluntary measures" (as Iranian obligations are described in the text) enable Tehran to park its nuclear progress, eliminate the perceived threat of an imminent breakout, and thereby immunize itself from the threat of Israeli attack while negotiation of a final status agreement drags on, all while enjoying limited sanctions relief and an upfront P5+1 promise to allow a "mutually defined enrichment program."

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's frequent admonitions that, absent the JPA, Iran would "rush towards a nuclear weapon" are absurd. Iran won't seriously consider a breakout unless or until its leaders are prepared to absorb Israeli, and possibly American, air strikes and live with a far more debilitating sanctions regime — or until one or both of these threats fade away. Thankfully, we're not there yet. But if a firm and unyielding international commitment to reduce Iran's breakout capacity happens to increase the possibility of a breakout attempt in the short-term, so be it. We should all be so lucky if Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is foolhardy enough to launch a breakout prematurely and unite the world against his regime. Even if he manages to squeeze a weapon's worth of fissile material out of what's left of Iran's smoldering enrichment facilities, I like the international community's chances of ensuring that it is destroyed or relinquished once the ayatollahs have shown their true colors.

 

But five years from now, if the JPA forms the basis of a permanent accord, all bets are off. The nightmare scenario isn't that the Iranians rush to weaponize; it is that they are allowed to perch on or near the precipice of doing so until a day when the sanctions are lifted and Western desire for Iranian co-operation in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories is at a premium. So enough talk about preventing Iran from building a bomb, a phrase that too easily conjures to mind hypothetical scenarios in which Tehran accepts an enrichment freeze and omniscient inspections regime, while keeping most of its present nuclear infrastructure intact. Averting the construction of a nuke, at the expense of doing little to roll back the threat of a nuclear Iran, virtually guarantees that the mullahs will eventually cross the finish line in force.                                                                                         

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IRAN MOCKS PRESIDENT OBAMA                                         

BY HONORING MUGHNIYEH                                                        

Elliott Abrams                                                             

Council on Foreign Relations, Jan. 14, 2014

 

President Obama has a full court press under way to stop Congress from passing new sanctions legislation that could–could, not will–impose sanctions on Iran one year from now if negotiations break down or Iran cheats. The idea seems to be that passage of the bill would signal mistrust of Iran, or would break the spell of sincerity being cast at the negotiating table. But what is Iran doing while the president woos legislators? Laughing at us all. Yesterday, Iran’s foreign minister–one of the reputed moderates in the Rouhani camp–was in Beirut and laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh.

 

Mughniyeh was the Hezbollah terrorist who had killed more Americans than any other man until the attack on 9/11. Mughniyeh was involved in bombing the Marine barracks in Beirut, the bombings of US embassies, the torture and killing of CIA station chief William Buckley in Beirut, the hijacking of TWA 847 and the murder of Navy diver Robert Stethem–among other acts of terror. He was also indicted in Argentina for the bombing of the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. So what does the urbane Zarif do when in Beirut? He lays a wreath at Mughniyeh’s grave; Reuters has published the photo.

 

It is obvious that while we are supposed to freeze any Congressional action lest we upset the sensitive Iranians, they plan to mock the President and indeed the United States. We are to walk on eggshells; they honor a terrorist who murdered hundreds of Americans. (And more: last week Iran shipped weapons to rebels in Bahrain.)  The administration’s reaction to all this is to insist with greater and greater heat that Congress must not act, and to cast aspersions on those members who back the legislation.

 

This dishonors those whose lives were taken by Mughniyeh, but it does more: it suggests to Iran that the administration is now hostage to the nuclear negotiations. For the Obama administration, the talks MUST succeed and nothing will be permitted to get us off that track. This is dangerous, freeing Iran not only to honor a terrorist who murdered Americans and to give  greater backing to terrorism today, but ultimately to cheat on the nuclear deal as well–under the logical assumption that the Obama administration will not see evidence it does not want to see and that would turn its diplomatic achievement into dust.

 

But the administration may be sowing the seeds that will kill its own deal down the road, if and when Iranian cheating is discovered. A weak American posture, a suggestion that no Iranian actions will be taken seriously and that the administration is totally committed to keeping this deal under all circumstances, is a formula for trouble down the road. It is exactly contrary to the message that we should be sending Iran today.

                                                                           

         Contents
 

 

New Iran Agreement Includes Secret Side Deal, Tehran Official Says

Paul Richter

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13, 2014

 

Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran’s chief negotiator said Monday. Abbas Araqchi disclosed the existence of the document in a Persian-language interview with the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency. The new agreement, announced over the weekend, sets out a timetable for how Iran and the six nations, led by the United States, will implement a deal reached in November that is aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

 

When officials from Iran and the world powers announced that they had completed the implementing agreement, they didn’t release the text of the deal, nor did they acknowledge the existence of an informal addendum. In the interview, Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English word “nonpaper,” a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly. The nonpaper deals with such important details as the operation of a joint commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months, he said. Araqchi described the joint commission as an influential body that will have authority to decide disputes. U.S. officials have described it as a discussion forum rather than a venue for arbitrating major disputes.

 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the text of the implementing agreement would be released to lawmakers. He said the six parties were weighing how much of the text they could release publicly. Asked late Monday about the existence of the informal nonpaper, White House officials referred the question to the State Department. A State Department comment wasn’t immediately available. [Updated 8:45 p.m. Jan. 13: A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, denied later Monday that there was any secret agreement. "Any documentation associated with implementation tracks completely with what we've described," she said. "These are technical plans submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency," the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency. "We will make information available to Congress and the public as it becomes available," Harf said.]

 

Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Iran and the other six countries may have written the nonpaper to record understandings that they didn’t want to release publicly. The governments may plan to release “just a short text, with broad principles and broad strokes,” Takeyh said.

The Nov. 24 deal between Iran and the six powers – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — aims to freeze Iran’s nuclear progress for six months. During that period, the two sides will try to negotiate a longer-term deal aimed at ensuring that Tehran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. The agreement has come under fire in Iran and the United States from critics who contend it is harmful to their side. In his interview, Araqchi touched on the sensitive issue of how much latitude Iran will have to continue its nuclear research and development. U.S. officials said Sunday that Iran would be allowed to continue existing research and development projects and with pencil-and-paper design work, but not to advance research with new projects. Araqchi, however, implied that the program would have wide latitude.

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded,” he said. “All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

 

The research and development issue has been an important one for many U.S. lawmakers, who fear that Iran will try to forge ahead with its nuclear program while the negotiations are underway. At an administration briefing for senators Monday, members of both parties raised concerns about the centrifuge research issue, aides said. President Obama on Monday again hailed the implementing agreement and appealed to Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran, for fear of driving the country from the bargaining table. "My preference is for peace and diplomacy, and this is one of the reasons why I've sent the message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new sanctions; now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work,” Obama said. "What we want to do is give diplomacy a chance and give peace a chance."

 

                                                                                                                Contents
                                  

IN IRAN WE TRUST?                                                                            Gabriel Schoenfeld                                                      

 Weekly Standard, Feb. 10, 2014

 

President Obama is rushing to implement the six-month interim agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that went into effect last week. Together with five other world powers, he is now working to negotiate a long-term agreement aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. He regards his opening to Iran as a signature achievement of his presidency and has proudly declared that diplomacy opened a path to “a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.” If we assume that negotiations do not collapse and some sort of long-term accord is struck, there will still be thorny questions. A preeminent one concerns Iranian compliance. How much confidence can we have that the ayatollahs will not press ahead with their nuclear program in clandestine facilities, as they have done in the past? And if they do press ahead, how much confidence can we have that our intelligence agencies will catch them?

 

Obama’s faith that “we can verify” Iranian compliance glides over the fact that the U.S. track record in unmasking covert nuclear programs is checkered at best. This is not because our intelligence agencies are incompetent—although sometimes they are—but because the task is exceptionally hard. Just last week, a three-year study by a Pentagon subunit, the Defense Science Board, concluded that U.S. intelligence agencies “are not yet organized or fully equipped” to detect when foreign powers are constructing nuclear weapons or adding to existing arsenals. What is more, their ability to find “small nuclear enterprises designed to produce, store, and deploy only a small number of weapons” is “either inadequate, or more often, [does] not exist.”

 

Past intelligence lapses in the nuclear realm go back to the dawn of the atomic age and include a failure to foresee the first Soviet A-bomb test in 1949, the first Soviet H-bomb test in 1953, and the first Indian nuclear test in 1974. After the first Gulf war, the U.S. intelligence community was astonished to learn that Iraq was only months away from putting the final screw in a nuclear device. In the run-up to the second Gulf war, the CIA blundered in the opposite direction, declaring with high confidence—“a slam dunk” in CIA director George Tenet’s notorious phrase—that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons. He was not. More recently, North Korea constructed a uranium enrichment facility that, despite intense scrutiny by American intelligence, went unnoticed until the North itself chose to reveal it.

 

The case of Syria is especially pertinent to our efforts to monitor Iran. By the late 1990s, U.S. intelligence detected glimmerings that Syria might be embarking on some sort of nuclear project. But the agency had trouble making sense of the evidence it was gathering. It perceived that North Korea was helping Syria with a joint venture involving North Korean nuclear experts, but as a senior U.S. intelligence official explained in a briefing, we “had no details on the nature or location of the cooperative projects.” By 2003, U.S. intelligence had concluded that the activity involved work at sites “probably within Syria,” but they “didn’t know exactly where.” The fog of intelligence had set in: “We had this body of evidence, kind of almost like a cloud of, boy, there is something going on here but we can’t get a whole lot of precision about it.”

 

By 2005, the United States had made more progress in determining what was transpiring. Satellite photos revealed a “large unidentified building under construction” set in a canyon in eastern Syria near the Euphrates River at a juncture called al Kibar. But American intelligence analysts could not say much more. All they had was images of a structure that was “externally complete,” but it was “hard to figure out, looking at that building, what its purpose is.” One problem was that “it certainly didn’t have any observable, externally observable characteristics that would say, oh, yeah, you got yourself a nuclear reactor here—things like a massive electrical-supply system, massive ventilation, and most importantly a cooling system.” Another problem was that though the structure closely resembled North Korea’s plutonium reactor at Yongbyon, America’s highly skilled photo-interpreters could not connect the dots between the two facilities. The oversight was not their fault; the Syrians had erected curtain walls and a false roof to disguise the building’s shape and conceal typical features of a reactor. The multibillion-dollar, ultra-high-tech tools of U.S. intelligence were foiled by one of the most low-cost and ancient techniques of warfare: camouflage.

 

Only in 2007, just as the reactor was ready to be loaded with uranium fuel, did U.S. intelligence conclude that Syria had built a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor. It reached this judgment not by dint of its own collections efforts but thanks to incontrovertible evidence provided by Israel: photographs of the building’s interior. Under our eyes but without our seeing, the Syrians had come breathtakingly close to possessing an operational generator of the nuclear bomb ingredient plutonium. “This was a significant failure on the part of U.S. intelligence agencies,” writes former defense secretary Robert Gates in his new memoir. Gates notes that “Syria for years had been a high-priority intelligence target for the United States” and that “early detection of a large nuclear reactor under construction in a place like Syria is supposedly the kind of intelligence collection that the United States does superbly well.” The failure clearly shook Gates and led him to ask President Bush: “How can we have any confidence at all in the estimates of the scope of the North Korean, Iranian, or other possible programs?”

 

That was the right question to ask in 2007 and it remains the right question to ask about Iran today. It is especially significant that the CIA was undaunted by its own lapse. After Israel presented the United States with photographs of the interior of the building at al Kibar, the CIA told President Bush that while it now had high confidence that the structure was a nuclear reactor, it still had low confidence that Syria was engaged in a project to develop nuclear weapons. The reason for the low confidence estimate: It had scoured Syria and not been able to locate or identify any other components of a Syrian nuclear program. This was not a conclusion without consequences. In the wake of the WMD intelligence fiasco that precipitated the second Gulf war, President Bush was reluctant to strike the Syrian reactor without a rock-solid CIA judgment behind him. Israel was not so reluctant. It destroyed the reactor in an air raid on September 6, 2007.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]                                                                                         

                                                                                                

On Topic

 

Obama and Iran in Business: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2014 — The early bird really does catch the worm and, mindful of that, European firms are rushing with headlong alacrity to do deals with Iran

The Internal Iranian Struggle in the Aftermath of the Geneva Nuclear Agreement: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affaris, Jan.-Feb, 2014  —The interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, and subsequent assessments both in the West and in Iran about “winners and losers,” have become a focus of fierce domestic controversy in Iran between the conservatives and Revolutionary Guard on one side, and President Hassan Rouhani, the nuclear negotiating team, and those considered the reformist camp on the other

Using Cold War Tactics to Confront Iran: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2014—As Americans seek to find an alternative to the stark and unappetizing choice between acceptance of Iran's rabid leadership having nuclear weapons or pre-emptively bombing its nuclear facilities, one analyst offers a credible third path.

A Raid on Iran?: Uri Sadot, Weekly Standard, Dec. 30, 2013—As world powers debate what a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran should look like, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to maintain that Israel is not bound by the interim agreement that the P5+1 and Iran struck in Geneva on November 24.

The Post-Khamenei Era: Ramin Parham & Saeed Ghasseminejad, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2014—A new Iran is emerging. New elites will arise. The battle has begun. Will the West be part of the problem or the solution?

From Shah to Supreme Leader: Laura Secor, Foreign Affairs, Jan-Feb. 2014—There is something irresistible about the story of Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

 

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