Was his instruction do everything you possible can at every junction to embarrass the United States? Check David Cameron giving him the stink eye.
HT: Daily Mail
Was his instruction do everything you possible can at every junction to embarrass the United States? Check David Cameron giving him the stink eye.
HT: Daily Mail
Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.
At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall… license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”
In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.
Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.
What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.
Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.
For example, the review act – sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Foreign Relations Committee, and signed into law by President Obama in May – stated that “any measure of statutory sanctions relief” afforded to Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal may only be “taken consistent with existing statutory requirements for such action.” The continued presence of Iran on the State Department’s terror list means that “existing statutory requirements” that were set forth in ITRA, in 2012, have not been met for Iran to receive the sanctions relief spelled out in the JCPOA.
As the Iran deal is an “executive agreement” and not a treaty – and has moreover received no vote of ratification from the Congress, explicit or symbolic – legal analysts inside and outside of the Obama administration have concluded that the JCPOA is vulnerable to challenge in the courts, where federal case law had held that U.S. statutes trump executive agreements in force of law.
Administration sources told Fox News it is the intention of Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran’s foreign minister and five other world powers, that the re-opening of the “foreign sub” loophole by the JCPOA is to be construed as broadly as possible by lawyers for the State Department, the Treasury Department and other agencies involved in the deal’s implementation.
But the apparent conflict between the re-opening of the loophole and existing U.S. law leaves the Obama administration with only two options going forward. The first option is to violate ITRA, and allow foreign subsidiaries to be treated differently than U.S. parent firms. The second option is to treat both categories the same, as ITRA mandated – but still violate the section of ITRA that required Iran’s removal from the State Department terror list as a pre-condition of any such licensing.
It would also renege on the many promises of senior U.S. officials to keep the broad array of American sanctions on Iran in place. Chris Backemeyer, who served as Iran director for the National Security Council from 2012 to 2014 and is now the State Department’s deputy coordinator for sanctions policy, told POLITICO last month “there will be no real sanctions relief of our primary embargo… We are still going to have sanctions on Iran that prevent most Americans from… engaging in most commercial activities.”
Likewise, in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last month, Adam Szubin, the acting under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, described Iran as “the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism” and said existing U.S. sanctions on the regime “will continue to be enforced… U.S. investment in Iran will be prohibited across the board.”
Nominated to succeed his predecessor at Treasury, Szubin appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for a confirmation hearing the day after his speech to the Washington Institute. At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) asked the nominee where the Obama administration finds the “legal underpinnings” for using the JCPOA to re-open the “foreign sub” loophole.
Szubin said the foreign subsidiaries licensed to do business with Iran will have to meet “some very difficult conditions,” and he specifically cited ITRA, saying the 2012 law “contains the licensing authority that Treasury would anticipate using… to allow for certain categories of activity for those foreign subsidiaries.”
Elsewhere, in documents obtained by Fox News, Szubin has maintained that a different passage of ITRA, Section 601, contains explicit reference to an earlier law – the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA, on the books since 1977 – and states that the president “may exercise all authorities” embedded in IEEPA, which includes licensing authority for the president.
However, Section 601 is also explicit on the point that the president must use his authorities from IEEPA to “carry out” the terms and provisions of ITRA itself, including Section 218 – which mandated that, before this form of sanctions relief can be granted, Iran must be removed from the State Department’s terror list. Nothing in the Congressional Record indicates that, during debate and passage of ITRA, members of Congress intended for the chief executive to use Section 601 to overturn, rather than “carry out,” the key provisions of his own law.
One administration lawyer contacted by Fox News said the re-opening of the loophole reflects circular logic with no valid legal foundation. “It would be Alice-in-Wonderland bootstrapping to say that [Section] 601 gives the president the authority to restore the foreign subsidiary loophole – the exact opposite of what the statute ordered,” said the attorney, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations over implementation of the Iran deal.
At the State Department on Thursday, spokesman John Kirby told reporters Secretary Kerry is “confident” that the administration “has the authority to follow through on” the commitment to re-open the foreign subsidiary loophole.
“Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president has broad authorities, which have been delegated to the secretary of the Treasury, to license activities under our various sanctions regimes, and the Iran sanctions program is no different,” Kirby said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the G.O.P. presidential candidate who is a Harvard-trained lawyer and ardent critic of the Iran deal, said the re-opening of the loophole fits a pattern of the Obama administration enforcing federal laws selectively.
“It’s a problem that the president doesn’t have the ability wave a magic wand and make go away,” Cruz told Fox News in an interview. “Any U.S. company that follows through on this, that allows their foreign-owned subsidiaries to do business with Iran, will very likely face substantial civil liability, litigation and potentially even criminal prosecution. The obligation to follow federal law doesn’t go away simply because we have a lawless president who refuses to acknowledge or follow federal law.”
A spokesman for the Senate Banking Committee could not offer any time frame as to when the committee will vote on Szubin’s nomination.
The Obama administration tried to persuade Argentina to “provide the Islamic State of Iran with nuclear fuel” back in 2010.
President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner made these accusations during her speech this week to the General Assembly.
Nuclear fuel is a key component in nuclear weapons.
The United States mainstream media ignored this story for some odd reason?
UPDATE – Here is President Kirchner’s speech to the UN General Assembly.
(relevant accusation starts around the 19:45 minute mark)
When the Argentinians asked the administration to put it in writing – all communications ceased and the administration went silent.
The White House knew it would be unpopular with the American public.
President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, a leftist, made the claim Monday at the United Nations.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claimed Monday afternoon at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City that in 2010, the Obama administration tried to convince the Argentinians “to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel,” reported Mediaite.
Kirchner said that two years into Obama’s first term, his administration sent Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Argentina to persuade the nation to provide Iran with nuclear fuel, which is a key component of nuclear weapons.
Kirchner’s full remarks are as follows, per the Argentine president’s official website:
“In 2010 we were visited in Argentina by Gary Samore, at that time the White House’s top advisor in nuclear issues. He came to see us in Argentina with a mission, with an objective: under the control of IAEA, the international organization in the field of weapons control and nuclear regulation, Argentina had supplied in the year 1987, during the first democratic government, the nuclear fuel for the reactor known as “Teheran”. Gary Samore had explained to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Héctor Timerman, that negotiations were underway for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease with its uranium enrichment activities or to do it to a lesser extent but Iran claimed that it needed to enrich this Teheran nuclear reactor and this was hindering negotiations. They came to ask us, Argentines, to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel. Rohani was not in office yet. It was Ahmadinejad’s administration and negotiations had already started.”…
Kirchner went on to say at the U.N. that when Samore was asked to provide the request in writing, all communications immediately ceased and Samore disappeared…
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.
Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold.
First, spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the U.S.
Second, the North Koreans have assembled a massive cyberhacking army under an elite military spy program known as Bureau 121, which is increasingly aggressive in targeting systems for hacking, especially vulnerable private systems. The North Koreans, for instance, have been blamed by the U.S. for the hack of Sony movie studios.
Allowing sensitive U.S. intelligence about North Korea to seep into a more insecure private email server has upset the intelligence community because it threatens to expose its methods and assets for gathering intelligence on the secretive communist nation.
“While everyone talks about the U.S. being aware of the high threat of hacking and foreign spying, there was a certain nonchalance at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in protecting sensitive data that alarms the intel community,” one source familiar with the email review told The Times. “We’re supposed to be making it harder, not easier, for our enemies to intercept us.”
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner told The Times on Tuesday evening he couldn’t discuss the email because of ongoing probes by the FBI and the inspector general community. “There are reviews and investigations under way on these matters generally so it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,” he said.
The email in question was initially flagged by the inspector general of the intelligence community in July as potentially containing information derived from highly classified satellite and mapping system of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. That email was later confirmed to contain classified information by Freedom of Information Act officials within the intelligence community.
The revelation, still under review by the FBI and intelligence analysts, has created the most heartburn to date about a lax email system inside the State Department that allowed official business and – in at least 188 emails reviewed so far – classified secrets to flow to Mrs. Clinton via an unsecured private email server hosted at her home in Chappaqua, New York.
The email does not appear to have been copied directly from the classified email system and crossed what is known as the “air gap” to nonclassified computers, the sources said.
Rather, the intelligence community believes a State Department employee received the information through classified channels and then summarized it when that employee got to a nonclassified State Department computer. The email chain went through Mrs. Clinton’s most senior aides and eventually to Mrs. Clinton’s personal email, the sources said.
The compromised information did not include maps or images, but rather information that could have been derived only from spy satellite intelligence.
It was not marked as classified, but whoever viewed the original source reports would have readily seen the markings and it should have been recognized clearly by a trained employee who received the information subsequently as sensitive, nonpublic information. Intelligence community professionals are trained to carry forward these markings and, if needed, request that the information be sanitized before being transmitted via non-secure means.
The discovery could affect the FBI investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email, putting the originator of the email chain into legal jeopardy and allowing agents to pressure the employee to cooperate as they try to determine how classified information flowed so freely into Mrs. Clinton’s account and what senior officials knew about the lax system that allowed such transmissions.
As the investigation has advanced, the intelligence community has debunked many of Mrs. Clinton’s and the State Department’s original claims about the private email system.
For instance, the department initially claimed that it had no idea Mrs. Clinton was conducting government business on an insecure private email account.
But the intelligence community uncovered evidence early on that her private email account was used to coordinate sensitive overseas calls through the department’s operations center, which arranges communication on weekends and after hours on weekdays.
The coordination of secure communications on an insecure break with protocol would give foreign intelligence agencies an opportunity to learn about a call early, then target and intercept the call, U.S. officials told The Times.
The concern is in full display in emails that Mrs. Clinton originated and that the department has already released under the Freedom of Information Act.
“As soon as I’m off call now. Tell ops to set it up now,” Mrs. Clinton wrote from her personal email account on Oct. 3, 2009, to top State Department aide Huma Abedin on Oct. 3, 2009, seeking the department’s operations center to set up a high-level Saturday morning call with two assistant secretaries of state and a foreign ambassador.
The email thread even indicated where Mrs. Clinton wanted to receive the call, at her home, giving a potential intercept target.
Similarly, the very next day, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin coordinated another call over insecure email with her ambassador to Afghanistan, former Army Gen. Karl Eikenberry. The two clearly understood the potential sensitive nature of the Sunday morning call even as they discussed its coordination on an unprotected email system.
“OK. Does Eikenberry need to be secure?” Mrs. Clinton asked, referring to the need for a secure phone line to receive the call. State officials said Mrs. Clinton had a secure phone line installed at her home to facilitate such calls, which is common for Cabinet-level officials.
Mr. Toner, the State Department spokesman, told the daily press briefing on Tuesday he did not know who approved Mrs. Clinton having a private email server to conduct official business but that it was obvious from the emails now released that many people knew inside State, including some in high places.
“People understood that she had a private server,” he told reporters. “…You’ve seen from the emails. You have an understanding of people who were communicating with her, at what level they were communicating at.”
Tony Blair knew about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account before the American people did – and his off-the-grid e-mail exchanges with Clinton are another sledgehammer to the already crumbling edifice of excuses offered in defense of her homebrew server.
Among the thousands of Clinton e-mails released by the State Department last night were direct exchanges with foreign dignitaries such as former prime minister (and then special envoy for the Middle East Quartet) Blair and internal exchanges between State Department officials about those conversations. The conversations cover a wide range of world hot spots, including the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran, Sudan, and Haiti. Many of them – nearly 200 in total to date – have now been classified by the State Department as “foreign government information” and redacted or withheld from release. The very nature of the communications in those e-mails established that they contained classified information from their inception. Mrs. Clinton’s defense that she did not know of the existence of such information on her server at the time is laughable.
In September 2010, Barack Obama undertook an ambitious effort to settle the ancient dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people. Direct talks took place in Washington, D.C., in early September, and follow-up discussions were planned for later in the month. But talks broke down when a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to tie renewal of the moratorium to Palestinian recognition of Israel.
With some urgency, Hillary Clinton asked Tony Blair to cancel a speech scheduled in Aspen, Colo., to “go to Israel as part of our full court press on keeping the Middle East negotiations going.” Blair obliged, and Clinton e-mailed the organizers of the Aspen conference to explain the cancelation. She then e-mailed Blair that his schedule was now clear: “Tony – Message Delivered… I’m copying Jake Sullivan because I’ve asked him to arrange a call w you once you land so you can be fully briefed before seeing BN [Netanyahu]. We are on a fast moving train changing every hour but determined to reach our destination.”
Later that day, Blair responded: “Hi Hillary. Just spent 3 hours with BB [Netanyahu]. Ready to speak when convenient but should do it on a secure line.” There is no indication whether that secure conversation took place, but the message certainly indicates that Blair at least understood the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Blair e-mailed Clinton again the next day, copying Sullivan, Clinton’s aide, apparently on a private e-mail account of his own. The entirety of that e-mail has been redacted from public disclosure as part of the FOIA release. Why? Because it has now been acknowledged as classified information and formally marked “Confidential” by State Department reviewers. The markings that accompany the redactions (which took place just this week as part of the release) explain that the redacted portion is classified under parts 1.4(B) and 1.4(D) of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526. Thus, it falls within the categories of information classified as “foreign government information” – 1.4(B) – and information relating to “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources” – 1.4(D).
Those markings are relevant because they blow up the Clinton campaign’s insistence that Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues did not know that the information at issue was classified at the time. Clinton is, of course, correct that the e-mails were not formally marked classified at the time they were exchanged, but that is only the result of a failure by Mrs. Clinton and her staff to mark them and handle them through the proper channels used for such foreign communications. The information contained in the e-mails was plainly classified at the time they were sent and received – by order of the president.
Executive Order 13526, issued by President Obama at the beginning of his term, addresses the classification and handling of national-security information. It provides that “foreign government information” – which includes “information provided to the United States Government by a foreign government or governments, an international organization of governments, or any element thereof, with the expectation that the information, the source of the information, or both, are to be held in confidence” – must be treated as classified. The president made a determination in the Executive Order that disclosure of these confidential foreign communications “is presumed to cause damage to the national security.”
Since a reasonable expectation of harm to the national security is the threshold for whether to classify information, the president’s determination necessarily establishes the classification of any foreign communications provided to the U.S. with the expectation of confidence. The Executive Order leaves no doubt on this point, when it directs that an agency “shall safeguard foreign government information under standards that provide a degree of protection at least equivalent to that required by the government or international organization of governments that furnished the information.”
The State Department now acknowledges that the Blair communications – just like scores of other Clinton e-mails involving sensitive diplomatic communications in Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – are classified “Confidential” as foreign-government communications. Their determination simply confirms that the information was classified all along and that Clinton and her inner circle should have treated the e-mails containing it with the care required by our national-security laws and regulations. Instead, they were regularly passed between insecure private e-mail addresses, handed off wholesale to the private Internet company that maintained her server, and shared with who knows how many lawyers and staff as part of her own private review process.
Putting aside the legal technicalities, Clinton’s plea of ignorance defies common sense. The very nature of our diplomatic relations requires that we closely guard information learned from foreign dignitaries. And the State Department’s secure e-mail system contains reams of such classified communications. We protect that information in order to protect our international relationships and sources. The secretary of state regularly deals in those communications, as evidenced by the growing number of e-mails now classified. Yet here we see the sitting secretary of state communicating with a foreign envoy about sensitive diplomatic communications regarding the world’s most nettlesome national-security issues. She did so on the least secure platform imaginable – a private server concealed from government oversight – and took no steps to limit the information’s subsequent distribution. Faced with such irrefutable proof of her own recklessness, the former secretary of state now claims ignorance. Her plea rings hollow.
An estimated 200 retired generals and admirals put pen to paper and sent a letter to Congress to advise them to reject the nuclear deal pressed by President Obama, saying the world will become a more dangerous place if it’s approved.
“The agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies,” the letter stated.
It was addressed to House Majority Leader John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The writers say the “agreement as constructed does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” an apparent reference to the terminology President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry used to tout the benefits of the deal.
“To the contrary,” it continues, “it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding the deal.”
The generals and admirals say the agreement will let Iran enrich uranium, develop centrifuges and keep up work on its heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak.
And also of concern, they write: “The agreement is unverifiable. Under the terms of the [agreement] and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be responsible for inspectiOns under such severe limitations as to prEvent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating.”
The letter references the widely reported 24-day delay that was given Iran to keep out inspectors, under the terms of the forged deal. And it also mentions the facet of the agreement that “requires inspectors to inform Iran in writing as to the basis for its concerns about an undeclared site,” and says such allowances are inappropriate and dangerous.
“While failing to assure prevention of Iran’s nuclear weapons development capabilities, the agreement provides by some estimated $150 billion… or more to Iran in the form of sanctions relief,” the letter states.
And their conclusions?
“As military officers, we find it unconscionable that such a windfall could be given to a regime that even the Obama administration has acknowledged will use a portion of such funds to continue to support terrorism in Israel, throughout the Middle East and globally,” they wrote, summarizing the agreement is a danger to the world.
“Accordingly, we urge the Congress to reject this defective accord,” the letter wraps.
Among the signers: Admiral David Architzel, U.S. Navy, retired; Admiral Stanley Arthur, U.S. Navy, retired; General Alfred Hansen, U.S. Air Force, retired; Admiral James Hoggs, U.S. Navy, retired; and General Ronald Yates, U.S. Air Force, retired.
Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.
There was no surprise there.
Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.
After more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Dem senator, didn’t bother playing coy like her colleagues. She came out for the deal a while back even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.
As did Senator Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator and whose position on the deal should have come as no surprise.
The Iran Lobby had even tried, and failed, to turn Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Iran Lobby cash had made the White House count on him as the Republican who would flip, but Flake came out against the deal. The Iran Lobby invested a good deal of time and money into Schumer, but that effort also failed.
Still these donations were only the tip of the Iran Lobby iceberg.
Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an IAPAC trustee and had helped set up the organization.
Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years. A spoilsport Senate didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Dem fundraising circuit.
Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Franken Recount Fund scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes, as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC.
In the House, the Democratic recipients of IAPAC money came out for the deal. Mike Honda, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Iran Lobby backed the nuke sellout. As did Andre Carson, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards and Jackie Speier. The Iran Lobby was certainly getting its money’s worth.
But the Iran Lobby’s biggest wins weren’t Markey or Shaheen. The real victory had come long before when two of their biggest politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry, had moved into prime positions in the administration. Not only IAPAC, but key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both men.
That list includes Housang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council, who had spoken of a campaign to “conquer Obama’s heart and mind” and had described himself as “the Iranian lobby in the United States.” It includes the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) board members who had fundraised for Biden. And it includes the aforementioned Hassan Nemazee.
A member of Iran’s opposition had accused Biden’s campaigns of being “financed by Islamic charities of the Iranian regime based in California and by the Silicon Iran network.” Biden’s affinity for the terrorist regime in Tehran was so extreme that after 9/11 he had suggested, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran”.
Appeasement inflation has since raised that $200 million to at least $50 billion. But there are still no strings worth mentioning attached to the big check.
Questions about donations from the Iran Lobby had haunted Kerry’s campaign. Back then Kerry had been accused of supporting an agreement favorable to Iran. The parameters of that controversial proposal however were less generous than the one that Obama and Kerry are trying to sell now.
The hypothetical debates over the influence of the Iran Lobby have come to a very real conclusion.
Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby. Akbar Ghahary, the former co-founder of IAPAC, had donated and raised some $50,000 for Obama.
It’s an unprecedented track record that has received very little notice. While the so-called “Israel Lobby” is constantly scrutinized, the fact that key foreign policy positions under Obama are controlled by political figures with troubling ties to an enemy of this country has gone mostly unreported by the mainstream media.
This culture of silence allowed the Iran Lobby to get away with taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times before the Netanyahu speech asking, “Will Congress side with our President or a Foreign Leader?”
Iran’s stooges had taken a break from lobbying for ballistic missiles to play American patriots.
Obama and his allies, Iranian and domestic, have accused opponents of his dirty Iran deal of making “common cause” with that same terror regime and of treason. The ugly truth is that he and his political accomplices were the traitors all along.
Democrats in favor of a deal that will let a terrorist regime go nuclear have taken money from lobbies for that regime. They have broken their oath by taking bribes from a regime whose leaders chant, “Death to America”. Their pretense of examining the deal is nothing more than a hollow charade.
This deal has come down from Iran Lobby influenced politicians like Kerry and is being waved through by members of Congress who have taken money from the Iran Lobby. That is treason plain and simple.
Despite what we are told about its “moderate” leaders, Iran considers itself to be in a state of war with us. Iran and its agents have repeatedly carried out attacks against American soldiers, abducted and tortured to death American officials and have even engaged in attacks on American naval vessels.
Aiding an enemy state in developing nuclear weapons is the worst form of treason imaginable. Helping put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is the gravest of crimes.
The Democrats who have approved this deal are turning their party into a party of atom bomb spies.
Those politicians who have taken money from the Iran Lobby and are signing off on a deal that will let Iran go nuclear have engaged in the worst form of treason and committed the gravest of crimes. They must know that they will be held accountable. That when Iran detonates its first bomb, their names will be on it.
Heckuva deal, Johnny
Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
The revelation is sure to roil American and Israeli critics of the main Iran deal signed by the U.S., Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the deal is built on trust of the Iranians, a claim the U.S. has denied.
Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani attends a meeting of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders in Tehran on September 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, File)
The U.S. must call both Russia and Iran to account for “already violating” the nuclear agreement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Thursday. He was responding to a reported trip to Moscow by Iran’s Qods force commander, who is subject to U.N. travel sanctions.
“[Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani] is the chief commander for Iranian foreign forces outside of Iran who carry out their assassinations and carry out their attacks,” Royce told CNN.
“And the fact that he would violate the sanctions prior to it being lifted upon him, by jumping the gun – this gives us the opportunity to call the Russians to account, and the Iranians to account, for already violating this agreement,” he said. “And we should do so.”
As a P5+1 partner, Russia – a U.N. Security Council permanent member – is supposed to help enforce the nuclear agreement which the six powers negotiated with Tehran.
Following reports that Soleimani traveled to Moscow last month and met with President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Iran deal critics are asking: If Russia gets away with hosting him, what does that say about its likely response to any future Iranian cheating on the nuclear agreement?
Although the Obama administration agreed as part of the nuclear deal that U.N. sanctions against Soleimani and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force will be lifted, it says that will only happen in “phase two” of the agreement’s implementation – in about eight years’ time.
Any travel abroad by him ahead of that point would be in violation of the U.N. travel ban, under which all member states are required to deny him entry.
In a letter to President Obama, Royce has requested “a determination of whether the travel of Soleimani took place, its purpose, and whether it was in violation of United Nations sanctions.”
“Since the Iran agreement was signed, senior administration officials have testified that there would be no relaxing of sanctions against Iran for terrorist activity,” he wrote. “The reported free travel of Qassem Soleimani and the continuing arming of Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East is a direct challenge to that commitment.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing Thursday that Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “raised concerns about the travel to Moscow by IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani.”
Later in the briefing, however, Kirby revised his wording, saying he could not independently confirm that the visit had indeed taken place, but that Kerry “has seen the reports of the travel and expressed his concerns [to Lavrov] about those reports.”
Fox News first reported on the alleged visit last week, citing unnamed Western intelligence sources.
Then Reuters reported that an “Iranian official, who declined to be identified,” confirmed that the trip had taken place, saying Soleimani had discussed “regional and bilateral issues and the delivery to Iran of S-300 surface-to-air missiles and other weapons.”
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, however, quoted a Kremlin spokesman as denying the claim (although the report’s wording left open the possibility that the denial was specifically in relation to a Soleimani-Putin meeting, rather than about whether the visit took place at all.)
Soleimani’s name appears on a list of Iranian individuals and entities in line for sanctions relief, annexed to the nuclear agreement.
Hours after the deal was announced in Vienna on July 14, a senior administration official, briefing reporters on background, was asked about Soleimani’s inclusion.
“IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani will not be delisted at the United Nations at phase one; he will be delisted at the U.N. at phase two when the underlying designation authority terminates,” the official said.
That would only occur “after eight years into the deal, so sanctions are not being lifted early on Qassem Soleimani,” the official said.
Since then, Kerry has stressed that U.S. sanctions – as opposed to U.N. ones – against Soleimani will “never” be lifted.
Soleimani is accused of directing Shi’ite militias that carried out deadly attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq during the war there. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman nominee Gen. Joseph Dunford, he was responsible for the deaths of at least 500 U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq.
The lowest moment from what was probably the lowest speech of his presidency – so far. David Harsanyi, watching this, asks a good question:
Imagine what would have happened if Bush had said that Democrats were caucusing with Saddam Hussein?
12:50 PM – 5 Aug 2015
The GOP opposes the nuclear deal because they think it’s too favorable to Iran and not favorable enough to America. The hardliners in Iran’s parliament oppose the deal for the opposite reason. Insofar as they both want the deal to fail, I suppose that’s “common cause.” But then, as Harsanyi says, it must also be true that Barack Obama made “common cause” with Saddam Hussein since both of them thought the Iraq war was a bad idea. Obama thought it was a bad idea for U.S. and Iraqi security whereas Saddam thought it was a bad idea for his own personal security, but the reasoning is immaterial apparently. All that matters to “common cause” is how the parties to an issue align. Or at least, 12 years after the invasion of Iraq, that’s all that matters now. I wonder what Democrats like Steve Israel, who came out against the Iran deal yesterday, thought when they found out today that they’re on the same side as the worst fanatics in Iran’s government.
Actually, Obama’s insult may be worse than it at first appears. The major theme of this speech, as it always, always is – and always disingenuously – when Obama talks about diplomacy with Iran is that the only alternative is war. Reportedly he went so far today in a private meeting with Jewish leaders as to claim that Iranian rockets will rain down on Tel Aviv if the GOP-led Congress blocks the deal, because that will lead to war with Iran and war will lead to Iranian reprisals against Israel. Never mind that Iranian-made rockets already rain down on Israel every few years thanks to Hezbollah and that the sanctions relief Iran is getting from this deal will help pay for more of them. Never mind too that Israel’s own prime minister seems to think reprisals are a risk worth taking in the name of stopping an Iranian atomic bomb. The point, at least to Obama, is that only a warmonger would oppose this terrible deal, which all but endorses an Iranian bomb 10 years from now. Equating the Republicans in Congress with Iran’s hardliners was his way of suggesting, I think, that both of those groups actually seek war with each other in the name of advancing their own political interests. There’s no such thing as good-faith opposition to an Obama policy, at least outside the Democratic caucus. If GOP hawks hate his nuclear deal, it can only be because they’ve got Gulf War III on the brain and refuse to let some master stroke of diplomacy deter them.
In fact, that’s basically an Iranian talking point coming out of the president’s mouth, that some elements of the U.S. government are stone-cold fanatics who’ll accept nothing short of war with Iran. You hear a lot of Iranian talking points coming from the White House lately, curiously enough: Ed wrote this morning about John Kerry warning his former colleagues in Congress not to “screw” the country’s lunatic supreme leader by torpedoing a deal he kinda sorta supports. Here’s another choice bit from the same interview when Kerry was asked why we would agree to advanced enrichment 10 years from now by a country that’s sworn it’ll destroy Israel:
Though he says he is in tune with this set of Israeli fears, he does not endorse a view widely shared by Israelis – and by many Americans – that Iran’s leaders, who have often said that they seek the destruction of Israel, mean what they say. “I think they have a fundamental ideological confrontation with Israel at this particular moment. Whether or not that translates into active steps to, quote, ‘Wipe it,’ you know…” Here I interjected: “Wipe it off the map.” Kerry continued: “I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t seen anything that says to me – they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”
That’s some fine PR for the mullahs: They haven’t tried to destroy Israel yet, and as far as what the future holds, who knows? And yet it’s the GOP, according to this guy’s boss, that’s making common cause with Iranian lunatics, not the White House. Over to you, Michael Weiss:
Please posit these two news stories, conveniently placed side by side.
2:03 PM – 5 Aug 2015
Two clips for you here, one about “common cause” and the other of Obama acknowledging that, sure, some of the money Iran gets after sanctions are lifted will go towards funding terror. This too he defends as if his deal was the only possible outcome of the negotiations: Sanctions relief was always going to be part of a nuclear agreement, he notes, so if you oppose that, you oppose diplomacy altogether. That would be a fair point if the agreement had produced something more meaningful for the U.S., like a permanent end to Iranian nuclearization. If the program had been “dismantled” rather than simply slowed down for 10 years, even Netanyahu could have gone along with it; the benefit would have been worth the cost of some extra cash in Iran’s terror treasury. Instead they got the money and we got nothing more than a 10-year respite from having to decide what to do about a fanatic Shiite regime with nuclear “breakout” capacity. And you know what the weirdest part of all of this is? For all their demagoguery and desperation in pushing this deal, Obama and Kerry don’t need to sell it at all. There’s nothing the GOP can do to stop it. The purchase has already been made in Congress. Obama and Kerry are getting nasty here not because they think it’s essential to getting Democrats to buy in but because, I think, they simply resent having their diplomatic master work criticized so sharply. It’s personal.
Today President Obama gave a speech at American University, urging acceptance of his nuclear deal with Iran. It was the usual exercise in deception and demagoguery, and he skated up to the edge of accusing opponents of the deal – a majority of Americans, apparently – of treason.
After some initial reminiscence about the Cold War, Obama leaped right into misrepresenting the agreement’s terms:
After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The “prohibition” consists of a pious declaration by Iran which it can repudiate at any time. The agreement contains no provisions that will permanently impede Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons. The provisions that (if adhered to) would materially impede Iran’s nuclear weapons program expire in no more than 15 years.
Next, the president offered up a revisionist history of the war in Iraq–a topic of dubious relevance at best:
[M]any of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.
Whereas others who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case in favor of the Iran deal–Joe Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, for example. So what? Next comes a breathtaking series of lies:
I said that America didn’t just have to end that war – we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy; a mindset that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus; a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported.
No American administration has ever preferred war to diplomacy. The war in Iraq was anything but unilateral, as more than 20 countries participated in the U.S.-led coalition. And the intelligence on Iraq’s WMDs was not exaggerated, as we know from the now-public October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. (Nor, as we now know, was that intelligence entirely wrong.)
Obama recites Iraq’s recent history, but leaves out a key point:
Today, Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al Qaeda in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL. And ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.
Obama neglects to mention his own role: in 2011 he prematurely withdrew all American troops from Iraq, crowing that Iraq was then “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” a fact that Vice-President Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements.” Iraq was sovereign and stable but not, as military leaders warned, entirely self-reliant. It was Obama’s needless withdrawal of the last American troops that allowed Iraq to spiral toward chaos and permitted ISIS – the Islamic State in Syria – to move into Iraq. But Obama has never once in his life taken responsibility for anything.
Who is to blame for Iran’s nuclear program? Why, President Bush, of course!
When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges – the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb – that were spinning to enrich uranium. But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges…
IAEA reports indicate that Iran’s Natanz facility had around 5,500 centrifuges when Obama took office, and over 15,000 by May 2015. With the Fordow facility, Iran now has around 19,000 centrifuges operating. But it’s all Bush’s fault!
As always, Obama misrepresented the terms of the agreement. These are issues we have written about many times, so I won’t address those misrepresentations in detail. But here are a couple:
If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own.
Sheer fantasy. Much of the sanctions relief that Iran most craves can never be taken back–most notably, the $100 billion to $150 billion in frozen funds that will soon flow to Tehran. Further, all commercial deals that are entered into during the period of sanctions relief are excepted from future sanctions.
Even with those huge loopholes, the “snap back” is a fiction. Even U.S. sanctions will not “snap back” automatically; they will have to be reimposed by Congress and implemented over a period of time. We will have no control over whether the E.U. reimposes sanctions. The supposed “snap back” mechanism is limited to U.N. sanctions, and, as I wrote here, it is doubtful whether paragraph 37 of the agreement, the purported snap back provision, would actually cause U.N. sanctions to be reimposed based on the vote of one member of the Security Council.
It is true that if Iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money – revenue frozen overseas by other countries.
This is a very recent and highly dubious talking point. Until the last week or two, as I wrote here, every source I am aware of has long estimated Iran’s frozen assets at $100 billon to $150 billion. In fact, the Treasury Department, which John Kerry cited as the source for the administration’s new number, pegged the frozen assets at “approximately $100 billion” in sworn testimony before a Congressional committee in January of this year. And that is just a down payment on the economic benefit that Iran’s mullahs will receive from the end of sanctions.
No doubt the worst portion of Obama’s speech is the one that has gotten the most attention. Note how Obama walks right up to the line of accusing Republicans in Congress of treason:
Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.)
No, but it is what Iran’s rulers believe. Iran’s Supreme Leader frequently leads mobs in chants of “Death to America.” Does Obama think he is kidding?
In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)
If Obama had said that the Republican caucus is making common cause with Iran’s hardliners, it would have been an unambiguous accusation of treason. By phrasing it the other way around–the hardliners are making common cause with Republicans–Obama gives himself a slight margin of deniability. But either way, it is a disgusting slander.
It is also delusional. Iran’s hardliners are the regime in power. The mullahs are not aligning themselves with Republicans; on the contrary, they are trumpeting the fact that they got everything they wanted in their negotiations with John Kerry and Barack Obama. But Obama can’t, and won’t, confront that reality. He will just go on slandering his political opponents and lying to the American people.
Barack Obama is a terrible president, but he is a worse man.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said he was unaware of reports that claim Iran is sanitizing a suspected nuclear site on Wednesday.
Bloomberg reported that Congress has received evidence from the intelligence community that Iran is sanitizing a suspected nuclear military site at Parchin.
Toner was asked if the State Department has seen the report.
“The U.S. intelligence community has informed of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin in broad daylight days after agreeing to the nuclear deal with world powers,” the reporter said. “The new evidence, which is classified, satellite imagery picked up by U.S. government assets in mid and late July showed that Iran had moved bulldozers and other heavy machinery.”
“I’ve not seen those reports until you just spoke to them,” Toner said. “But, you know, we’ve been very clear that the joint agreement that we plan that you can’t hide nuclear activity. There are traces that remain.”
Toner clarified, saying that he could not elaborate.
“But I can’t speak to that specific instance you’re talking about,” Toner said.
Skeptics of the nuclear agreement have concerns about confidential side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency that detail the inspection procedures into Iran’s suspected nuclear sites like Parchin.
U.S. SENATE HEARING ON THE OBAMA REGIME’S IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
These deals are literally secret and they are certainly on the side from the main agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations. So what else is the White House lying to us about?
From The Hill:
White House: Iran-IAEA pacts are not ‘side deals’
By Jordan Fabian | July 23, 2015
Agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are not secret “side deals” to the main nuclear pact between Tehran and six world powers, the White House said Thursday. “This does not represent some sort of side deal,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
They are separate deals from the agreement between the P5+1 nations and they are secret. So they are secret side deals. Why try to lie about it? And if the White House is willing to lie to us about this, what else are they about?]
Republicans have seized on the existence of what they call “side deals” between Iran and the IAEA to build support against the deal in Congress…
It’s not just Republicans. Several Democrats have also expressed concerns about these secret side deals. Including Democrat Senator Ben Cardin (Md.), who, along with Senator Corker, sent a letter to Kerry demanding the text of these two side deals.
Earnest dismissed those concerns, saying lawmakers have all the information necessary to judge the deal, which limits Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“I know there has been a suggestion by some Republicans [sic] that there are some agreements that were cut off to the side,” Earnest said. “The fact is, this is a critical part of the agreement.”…
So Earnest admits these deals are a critical part of the Iran agreement. Even though they were not negotiated by the US. And, in fact, the US will not eve be allowed to see the deals between the IAEA and Iran.
Earnest acknowledged that information regarding the Iran-IAEA pacts was not provided to lawmakers Wednesday during classified briefings for House and Senate members held by Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
And never mind that on Wednesday Susan Rice has specifically promised that Congress would be given that information at that classified briefing. From The Hill: “Rice said the documents between Iran and the IAEA are not public, but the administration has been informed on their contents and will share details with members of Congress in a classified briefing on Capitol Hill.”
But Earnest pledged that lawmakers will receive classified briefings on the bilateral pacts. “Our negotiators will, in a classified setting, have a conversation with those members of Congress about what exactly the IAEA is seeking,” he said.
The question is not whether Iran can be trusted to uphold the nuclear deal now being negotiated in Vienna (it can’t), but whether the Obama administration and its P5+1 partners can be trusted to punish Iran when it violates the agreement?
Experience shows that unless Iran violates the deal egregiously, the temptation will be to ignore it. For instance, Iran got away with selling more oil than it should have under the interim agreement. More ominously, Tehran repeatedly pushed the envelope on technical aspects of the agreement – such as caps on its uranium stockpile – and got away with it. The Obama administration and other Western powers have so much invested in their diplomatic efforts that they’ll deny such violations ever occurred.
More evidence of Iranian violations has now surfaced. Two reports regarding Iran’s attempts to illicitly and clandestinely procure technology for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs have recently been published. They show that Iran’s procurement continues apace, if not faster than before the Joint Plan of Action was signed in November 2013. But fear of potentially embarrassing negotiators and derailing negotiations has made some states reluctant to report Tehran’s illegal efforts. If these countries have hesitated to expose Iran during the negotiations, it is more likely they will refrain from reporting after a deal is struck.
The first report was released last month by the U.N. panel of experts in charge of reporting compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Iran. The panel noted that U.N. member states had not reported significant violations of U.N. sanctions and speculated as to why: either Iran was complying, or countries did not wish to interfere with negotiations.
The second report, released last week by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, is less ambiguous. The agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, confirmed to us that Iran continues to seek illicit technology for its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.
Iran has had a long history of trying to obtain nuclear technology from German companies, particularly by seeking ways to transport merchandise in circumvention of international sanctions. Since November 2013, Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program. It appears that Iran’s readiness to negotiate does not reflect any substantive policy change. Rather, it is a diplomatic tactic retreat forced by economic distress, not a strategic rethinking of its priorities.
Iran’s cheating should give Western negotiators additional resolve to impose ironclad guarantees in the agreement. They should compel Iran to reveal its past activities, including its post-JPOA procurement efforts, and impose tough, intrusive, “anytime, anywhere” inspections before sanctions are suspended, let alone lifted.
Instead, the lack of reporting to the U.N. despite evidence of cheating suggests a lack of resolve on the part of Western nations, and their willingness to downplay all but the most egregious violations. This does not bode well for the future. If Western powers are reluctant to penalize Iran for trying to evade sanctions because they’re afraid of spoiling the negotiations, what will happen in the future when Western powers have even more invested in preserving an agreement?
The White House and the State Department are pushing back with unusual vigor against a New York Times article Monday that reports that “Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The revelation, based on the most recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Institute for Science and International Security, contradicts President Barack Obama’s repeated claims to have “frozen” Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. The new information also suggests that Iran is, or will be, in violation of the interim nuclear deal.
Instead of expressing concern about Iran’s behavior, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes have tried to discredit, discount and deny the Times story.
Harf unleashed a series of angry tweets on Wednesday attacking the article and its author, while Rhodes tweeted his assurance that Iran has “consistently” lived up to its end of the bargain. Both are insisting that any apparent non-compliance by Iran is either inadvertent or mistaken, and that the Iranian regime will meet its obligations to reduce its nuclear stockpile drastically by June 30.
Richard Nephew reaffirms Iran has not violated JPOA and has consistently met its obligation to cap stockpile on time
4:58 PM – 3 Jun 2015
Why Iran’s growing uranium stockpile won’t derail a nuclear deal
Recent media reports have raised questions about whether Iran is adhering to its commitments under an interim nuclear agreement, even as Tehran and six world powers enter the final weeks of negotia..
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(The report to which Rhodes refers actually admits that the Iranian non-compliance “is an issue,” but argues, unconvincingly, that the excess material is “not a bomb’s worth,” and that “there should be some understanding for the complexity of the task on the part of the Iranians,” through Iran committed to that task knowing how difficult it might be.)
The trouble for the Obama administration is that no one believes it anymore, least of all the State Department press gallery, which chafed at Harf’s evasions on Wednesday.
There are several reasons for the administrations fading credibility. One is that the interim deal turned out to be far more lenient than even senior national security officials had been led to believe (it does not cover ballistic missiles, for example).
But the most important reason that no one believes the Obama administration is that the president has taken the military option off the table, most recently in an interview on Israeli television in which he said that there is no military solution to the problem.
Obama has demonstrated that he will do anything to preserve the façade of a nuclear deal–even though the Iranians continue to insist that they will not allow spot inspections of known nuclear facilities, much less military sites, to ensure compliance, and even though Iran continues its war against American allies and calls for “death to America” itself.
Iran would behave quite differently if it really worried about complying with the interim deal, and assuring the world that it had only peaceful intentions.
The simplest explanation for Iran’s failure to freeze its enrichment of uranium, or to convert the excess enrichment material in time, is that Iran knows it has a unique chance to build a bigger stockpile, and that Obama will not walk away.
Obama’s PR flacks cannot admit what Iran is doing, because then they would admit Obama has lied to the world. They protect Iran because in protecting Iran, they protect Obama.
Effectively, they are now tools of the Iranian regime.
Saudi Arabia will join the nuclear club by buying “off the shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, U.S. officials told a London newspaper.
The Saudis – who financed much of Pakistan’s nuke program – are fearful of international efforts to keep its enemy Iran from acquiring a bomb, the Sunday Times of London reports. The Saudis think the deal, backed by President Obama, will actually accelerate Iran’s nuke push.
Saudi Arabia has talked for years about acquiring a bomb from the Pakistanis. “The House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward,” a former U.S. defense official said.
The Czech Republic blocked an attempted purchase by Iran this year of a large shipment of sensitive technology useable for nuclear enrichment after false documentation raised suspicions, U.N. experts and Western sources said.
The incident could add to Western concerns about whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal being negotiated with world powers under which it would curb sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
The negotiators are trying to reach a deal by the end of June after hammering out a preliminary agreement on April 2, with Iran committing to reduce the number of centrifuges it operates and agreeing to other long-term nuclear limitations.
Some details of the attempted purchase were described in the latest annual report of an expert panel for the United Nations Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, which has been seen by Reuters.
The panel said that in January Iran attempted to buy compressors – which have nuclear and non-nuclear applications – made by the U.S.-owned company Howden CKD Compressors.
A Czech state official and a Western diplomat familiar with the case confirmed to Reuters that Iran had attempted to buy the shipment from Howden CKD in the Czech Republic, and that Czech authorities had acted to block the deal.
It was not clear if any intermediaries were involved in the attempt to acquire the machinery.
There was no suggestion that Howden CKD itself was involved in any wrongdoing. Officials at Prague-based Howden declined to comment on the attempted purchase.
The U.N. panel, which monitors compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime, said there had been a “false end user” stated for the order.
“The procurer and transport company involved in the deal had provided false documentation in order to hide the origins, movement and destination of the consignment with the intention of bypassing export controls and sanctions,” it added.
The report offered no further details about the attempted transaction. Iran’s U.N. mission did not respond to a query about the report.
CONTRACT WORTH $61 million
The Czech state official said the party seeking the compressors had claimed the machinery was needed for a compressor station, such as the kind used to transport natural gas from one relay station to another.
The official declined to say exactly how the transaction was stopped, provide specifications of the compressors or confirm the intended purchaser. However, he made clear it was the Czech authorities who halted the deal
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the total value of the contract would have been about 1.5 billion Czech koruna ($61 million).
This was a huge amount for the company concerned, the previously named CKD Kompresory, a leading supplier of multi-stage centrifugal compressors to the oil and gas, petrochemical and other industries.
The firm was acquired by Colfax Corp. of the United States in 2013 for $69.4 million. A spokesman for Colfax declined to comment.
The United States and its Western allies say Iran continues to try to skirt international sanctions on its atomic and missile programs even while negotiating the nuclear deal.
The U.N. panel of experts also noted in its report that Britain informed it of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to blacklisted firms.
While compressors have non-nuclear applications in the oil and gas industry, they also have nuclear uses, including in centrifuge cascades. Centrifuges purify uranium gas fed into them for use as fuel in nuclear reactors or weapons, if purified to levels of around 90 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235.
“Such compressors can be used to extract enriched uranium directly from the cascades,” Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a nuclear expert currently at Harvard University, told Reuters.
“In particular, they are useful when working with higher enrichment such as 20 percent enriched uranium,” he said, adding that precise specifications of the compressors in question would be necessary to make a definitive assessment.
Iran has frozen production of 20 percent enriched uranium, a move that Western officials cite as one of the most important curbs on Iranian nuclear activities under an interim agreement in 2013.
Tehran rejects allegations by Western powers and their allies that it is seeking the capability to produce atomic weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA and the United States have said repeatedly that Tehran has adhered to the terms of the 2013 interim deal.
Iran announced that China has agreed to assist in the building of five new nuclear plants across the country, according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).
Iran plans to enlist the Chinese in the construction of five new nuclear plants similar in size and scope to the plant currently operating near Bushehr.
Iran’s insistence on building more nuclear power plants has become a key concern for critics of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, as these nuclear structures could potentially be used to assist its nuclear weapons program.
The Obama administration has said in the past that the construction of light water reactors such as the one in Bushehr does not violate existing United Nations restrictions or the interim accord struck with the country in 2013.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the AEOI, announced on Tuesday that Iran is pursuing at least five new nuclear power plants to produce nuclear fuel at an “industrial scale.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran plans to produce at least 190,000 SWUs (Separative Work Units) of nuclear fuel at the industrial scale, while we also think about 1,000,000 SWUs, which will be needed to fuel 5 power plants like Bushehr,” Kamalvandi was quoted as saying during an address Tuesday in Tehran at an event described by the state-controlled Fars News Agency as an “Analysis of Lausanne Statement.”
Russia has already helped to start construction of at least two plants in southern Iran, while the Chinese will assist with the rest, Kamalvandi revealed.
“This is the reason why we have inked an agreement with the Russians to construct two nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity while the Chinese will also enter this arena soon,” he was quoted as saying.
Touching on the contents of a recently agreed to framework nuclear deal with the United States, Kamalvandi said Tehran will retain the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility – a former military site – and operate more than 1,000 centrifuges there.
Nuclear research and development work also will continue and return to full capacity after around 10 years, he said.
In addition to the light water reactors, Iran plans to build “small nuclear power plants” around the Persian Gulf area for the reported purpose of desalinating water, Fars reported.
“The AEOI plans to build small power plants in the Southern parts of the country for desalination purposes. Construction of such power plants are on the agenda and will be materialized in the next few years,” Fars quoted Kamalvandi as saying.
When asked about Iranian efforts to build new nuclear reactors, the State Department has said that this type of work is still permissible under existing agreements.
“In general, the construction of light water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate the [interim agreement,” a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon in January.
“We have been clear in saying that the purpose of the negotiations with Iran is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively for civilian, peaceful purposes,” the official said at the time. “The talks that we have been engaged in for months involve a specific set of issues relative to closing off all possible pathways to Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. That remains our focus.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, said that years of diplomacy with Iran have nearly unraveled a sanctions regime that brought the Iranian economy to its knees.
“Obama’s partisans like to bash Republicans as anti-diplomacy and they vilify men like [former U.N. Ambassador] John Bolton,” Rubin said. “But it was John Bolton who crafted unanimous and near unanimous U.N. Security Council Resolutions to bring Iran to its knees, while it is the likes of Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry who have unraveled multilateral pressure and opened the floodgates both to Iranian enrichment and to adversaries like China and Russia to jump in with deals that make Iranian cheating even easier.”
“For all their rhetoric and fawning press, Obama and Kerry have confirmed themselves as the real JV team in the region,” Rubin said.
The Pentagon has declassified a document that was once labeled “top-secret,” which goes into sophisticated detail about Israel’s nuclear weapons program. The document was released quietly just prior to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to a joint session of Congress.
Israel has never officially confirmed or denied the existence of a nuclear weapon’s program within its borders.
The Pentagon declassified sections covering Israel’s nuclear program, but “kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document,” Israel National News reported.
The 386-page top-secret memo, titled, “Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations,” goes into great detail about how Israel turned into a nuclear power in the 1970s and 80s.
“As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,” the report assesses.
The report was written by the Institute for Defense Analysis in 1987, which was federally funded and contracted by the Pentagon.
Israel is “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,” the report states.
The report commends that the Israelis found “ingeniously clever” solutions to solve its problems in advancing the nuclear program, largely due to the “ingenious Israeli inventions” at a “key research and development laboratory in Israel.”
The Pentagon declassified the document after Grant Smith, an activist who heads a radical anti-Israel group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request, according to reports.
Smith’s Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy organizes an anti-Israel conference each year in Washington, D.C. Last year, the conference featured speakers from anti-Semitic and pro-Islamist publications. During the Q & A session, a speaker openly called for education about the supposed “Zionist-Nazi collaboration” during the Holocaust, while another endorsed the possibility that “Israel had a hand in 9/11.”
Major networks declined to run an ad on their Sunday morning news shows from a bipartisan group of former senators warning of the seriousness of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
The ad comes from a new group called the American Security Initiative (ASI), which is led by former Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R, Ga.), Evan Bayh (D, Ind.), and Norm Coleman (R., Minn.).
Featured in the ad is a terrorist driving a van containing a nuclear bomb that detonates in the United States. It ends by urging for passage of the Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which would require any Iranian nuclear deal reached by the administration to be approved by Congress.
The group spent $500,000 to get the ad on the airwaves, specifically targeting markets in Washington, D.C., Lexington, Ky., and Springfield, Ill. The ads in Kentucky and Illinois call out Sens. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).
Though the ASI ad is on cable in each of the targeted markets, ABC, CBS, and NBC all declined to run the ad during their Sunday morning news programming.
Fox News aired the ad multiple times during Fox News Sunday.
ABC informed ASI that because the “subject matter” of the ad is “currently pervasive” in the news, the ad could not be aired during This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Susan Sewell, ABC’s vice president of media relations, said that ABC is unable to comment further on the matter due to company policy.
CBS said the ad was declined for Face the Nation on a national level because it “didn’t meet their standards,” but declined to comment further on the situation. Local affiliates of CBS were free to make their own decision on whether or not to air the ad, but none chose to run it.
Attempts to buy ad time during NBC’s Meet the Press were also unsuccessful, though no reason was given for the decision. Multiple requests for comment to NBC have gone unanswered.
The ad has been on the air since last week on multiple cable channels including CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Comcast, which owns NBC, is also running the ad in local markets.
Christopher Maloney, a spokesman for ASI, said that the American people should be concerned that the networks refused to run an ad addressing an issue that can “directly impact our national security.”
“Millions of network news viewers across the country are actively seeking information about our government’s ongoing negotiations with Iran,” Maloney said. “I think many Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, would be concerned to learn that ABC, CBS, and NBC decided not to run an ad discussing what can be done to influence the debate surrounding these negotiations, and how they carry the potential to directly impact our national security.”
In an op-ed on February 9, I suggested that Israel’s opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, should stand alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress on March 3, to underline “their common conviction that the regime in Tehran cannot be appeased and must be faced down.”
On Monday evening, as details of the looming US-led deal with Iran emerged from Geneva, Israel’s most respected Middle East affairs analyst, Channel 2 commentator Ehud Ya’ari, made precisely the same suggestion. So problematic are the reported terms of the deal, Ya’ari indicated, that Israel’s two leading contenders in the March 17 elections, Netanyahu and Herzog, need to put aside their differences and make plain to US legislators that the need to thwart such an accord crosses party lines in Israel and stands as a consensual imperative.
After anonymous sources in Jerusalem leaked to Israeli reporters in recent weeks the ostensible terms of the deal being hammered out, various spokespeople for the Obama administration contended that the Netanyahu government was misrepresenting the specifics for narrow political ends. They sneered that Israel didn’t actually know what the terms were. And they made the acknowledgement – the astounding acknowledgement for a United States whose key regional ally is directly and relentlessly threatened with destruction by Iran – that the Obama administration is consequently no longer sharing with Jerusalem all sensitive details of the Iran talks.
And yet among the terms of the deal being reported by the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday are precisely those that were asserted in recent weeks by the Israeli sources, precisely those that were scoffed at by the Administration. Centrally, Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for an end to intrusive inspections in some 10-15 years. If anything, indeed, some of the terms reported by the AP are even more worrying than those that were leaked in Jerusalem: “The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement,” the AP said, “gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program and slowly easing economic sanctions.” There is also no indication of restrictions on Iran’s missile development – its potential delivery systems.
In his TV commentary on Monday night, Ya’ari highlighted that the deal could further embolden Iran as it expands its influence throughout this region, and he noted that the isolation of Iran even by Israel’s key allies was already cracking, with the firmly pro-Israel foreign minister of Australia, Julie Bishop, announcing an imminent visit to Tehran – the first Australian foreign minister to make such a trip in a decade.
Ya’ari also noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency has made clear that it lacks the tools to effectively monitor the kind of nuclear program that Iran will be allowed to maintain under the emerging deal – incapable, that is, of ensuring that Iran does not fool the West as it has done in the past.
The devil of such deals is generally in the detail. But the devil, here, is in the principle as well — the principle that the P5+1 is about to legitimize Iran as a nuclear threshold state. From there, it will be capable of rapidly breaking out to the bomb, well aware that the international community lacks the will to stop it.
The Obama administration would evidently like to believe that 10-15 years from now, the ayatollahs will be gone, Iran will have a different leadership, and the threat of what Netanyahu has repeatedly called “the most dangerous regime in the world attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world” will have passed.
But if the deal now taking shape is indeed finalized, the chances of the regime being ousted from within, or effectively confronted from without, will drastically recede. This deal, indeed, will help cement the ayatollahs in power, with dire consequences for Israel, relatively moderate Arab states, and the free world.
It goes without saying that this weekend’s developments in Geneva have only bolstered Netanyahu’s determination to sound the alarm before Congress next Tuesday. It’s also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query his motives and seek to discredit his concerns.
I headlined my February 9 op-ed “Who to believe on Iran: Obama or Netanyahu?” I think we know now.
Russian strategic nuclear bombers conducted at least 16 incursions into northwestern U.S. air defense identification zones over the past 10 days, an unusually sharp increase in aerial penetrations, according to U.S. defense officials.
The numerous flight encounters by Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers prompted the scrambling of U.S. jet fighters on several occasions, and come amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.
Also, during one bomber incursion near Alaska, a Russian intelligence-gathering jet was detected along with the bombers.
“Over the past week, NORAD has visually identified Russian aircraft operating in and around the U.S. air defense identification zones,” said Maj. Beth Smith, spokeswoman for U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Smith called the Russian flights “a spike in activity” but sought to play down the threat, stating the flights were assessed as routine training missions and exercises.
The bomber flights took place mainly along the Alaskan air defense identification zone that covers the Aleutian Islands and the continental part of the state, and one incursion involved entry into Canada’s air defense zone, Smith said.
The Russian strategic aircraft included a mix of Tu-95 Bear H heavy bombers and Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, she said, adding that one IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft was detected during the flight incursions over the past week to 10 days.
The bomber flights are the latest case of nuclear saber rattling by the Russians.
However, other defense officials said the large number of aerial incursions is very unusual and harkens back to the Cold War, when Soviet bombers frequently sought to trigger air defenses along the periphery of U.S. territory as preparation for a nuclear conflict.
Moscow, under strongman President Vladimir Putin, is engaged in a major buildup of its strategic nuclear forces. The modernization includes new missiles of several ranges, new strategic missile submarines, and new long-range bombers.
As for its long-range aviation flights near U.S. coasts, Russia has been sharply increasing the activities, especially in the Pacific Northwest near Alaska, Canada, and the West Coast.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported that two Bear bombers flew within 50 miles of the California coast on June 9 – the closest the Russians have flown their nuclear-capable bombers since the days of the Cold War. A U.S. F-15 intercepted the bombers.
A defense official disagreed with the spokeswoman on the increased bomber forays. Russian strategic nuclear forces appear to be “trying to test our air defense reactions, or our command and control systems,” said an official familiar with reports of the incursions.
“These are not just training missions,” the official added.
Northern Command and NORAD in the past frequently sought to dismiss the Russian bomber incursions as non-threatening as part of the Obama administration’s conciliatory “reset” policy of seeking closer ties with Moscow.
The Pentagon and other commands, however, have toughened rhetoric toward Russia and its activities after the Russian military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in June.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have soured. The State Department last month accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty by developing a new cruise missile.
Moscow dismissed the charges as untrue.
Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, expressed concerns about the increase in Russian strategic nuclear activities during a speech in Washington June 18.
Haney said Russian nuclear activities coincided with recent tensions over Ukraine and included the test launch of six air-launched cruise missiles in a show of force.
A Russian Defense Ministry statement on the cruise missile test launches said a Tu-95 bomber “is capable of destroying the critical stationary assets of an enemy with cruise missiles, in daytime and nighttime, in any weather and in any part of the globe.”
Moscow also conducted several large-scale nuclear war games in May, Haney said.
“Additionally, we have seen significant Russian strategic aircraft deployments in the vicinity of places like Japan, Korea, and even our West Coast,” Haney said at a defense industry breakfast.
“Russia continues to modernize its strategic capabilities across all legs of its triad, and open source [reporting] has recently cited the sea trials of its latest [missile submarine], testing of its newest air-launched cruise missile and modernization of its intercontinental ballistic force to include its mobile capability in that area,” he said.
Russia’s recent Cold War-level aerial encounters over the Pacific near Alaska followed an earlier U.S.-Russian aerial duel in Europe.
U.S. officials confirmed that an RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic intelligence gathering aircraft was forced into violating Swedish airspace by a Russian fighter jet July 18. The U.S. jet was seeking to evade the Russian interceptor jet at the time.
That encounter took place a day after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine.