Archive for May 11, 2018

Trump Asked What Would Happen If Iran Tried To Make A Nuke — His Answer Is Radioactive

May 11, 2018

Benny Johnson Reporter At Large 1:09 PM 05/09/2018 Daily Caller

Source: Trump Asked What Would Happen If Iran Tried To Make A Nuke — His Answer Is Radioactive

{I’m sure Trump means a conventional response. Going radioactive is a choice the Iranians must make. – LS}

President Trump recently made the historic decision to pull America out of the controversial Iran Deal enacted by his predecessor.

The agreement was a keystone accomplishment of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Trump has been deeply critical of the deal, promising multiple times on the campaign trail to negotiate a better deal or get the U.S. out of the current one.

Trump called the deal  “a horrible deal that should never, ever have been made,” yesterday in a speech from the White House before signing a presidential memorandum to officially exit the U.S. from the agreement and reinstate blistering sanctions on the Iranian regime.

At a cabinet meeting Wednesday, a reporter asked Trump, “What will you do if Iran starts up their nuclear program again?”

President Trump paused for a moment and said ominously, “Iran will find out.”

When pressed again by the reporter, Trump said, “I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program. I would advise them very strongly.”

“If they do,” he continued, “there will be very severe consequence. Okay? Thank you very much.”

US Moves To Strangle Iranian Efforts To Secure Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Fund Its Troubling Military Activities

May 11, 2018

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during a military parade to commemorate the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in Tehran September 22, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter 3:01 PM 05/10/2018 Daily Caller

Source: US Moves To Strangle Iranian Efforts To Secure Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Fund Its Troubling Military Activities

{It’s no wonder why the Iranian people are going broke. – LS}

The U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed new sanctions on Iran Thursday, just two days after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran deal.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklisted nine Iranian entities — six individuals and three firms — involved in an illegal currency-exchange network in the United Arab Emirates. Network exchangers and couriers converted and transferred hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), specifically the Quds Force (IRGC-QF), a recognized supporter of international terrorism, to “fund its malign activities and regional proxy groups,” the department said in a statement. Iran’s Central Bank is said to have been “complicit in the IRGC-QF’s scheme and actively supported this network’s currency conversion and enabled its access to funds that it held in its foreign bank accounts.”

One of the sanctioned entities Jahan Aras Kish, a front company for the IRGC-QF, retrieved oil revenues from the Central Bank of Iran and transferred the money to couriers who exchanged it for U.S. dollars by way of two other now-sanctioned companies, Rashed Exchange and Khedmati & Co. Using forged documents, network operatives were able to operate under the radar in the UAE, distributing funds to Iran’s most radical military units and regional proxies. The sanctioned persons identified by Treasury worked for either the firms or the IRGC-QF directly.

The latest move by Treasury, which was taken in cooperation with the UAE, follows the president’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. will no longer be party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“As I said following the President’s announcement on Tuesday, we are intent on cutting off IRGC revenue streams wherever their source and whatever their destination,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. “Today we are targeting Iranian individuals and front companies engaged in a large-scale currency exchange network that has procured and transferred millions to the IRGC-QF.”

“Countries around the world must be vigilant against Iran’s efforts to exploit their financial institutions to exchange currency and fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” the secretary added.

The IRGC-QF has been blacklisted since October 25, 2007, and the broader IRGC has been designated since October 13, 2017. Later this year, the U.S. will, as a result of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, re-impose sanctions on the Government of Iran.


White House Examining Plan to Help Iranian People Oppose Regime

May 11, 2018

White paper pushes bid to help Iranians topple already weak hardline regime

BY: Adam Kredo May 10, 2018 3:35 pm The Free Beacon

Source: White House Examining Plan to Help Iranian People Oppose Regime

{The question is, how long will it take for the people of Iran to reach ‘critical mass’? – LS}

The Trump administration is examining a new plan to help Iranians fighting the hardline regime in Iran following America’s exit from the landmark nuclear deal and reimposition of harsh economic sanctions that could topple a regime already beset by protests and a crashing economy, according to a copy of the plan obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The three-page white paper being circulated among National Security Council officials in the White House offers a strategy by which the Trump administration can actively work to assist an already aggravated Iranian public topple the hardline ruling regime through a democratization strategy that focuses on driving a deeper wedge between the Iranian people and the ruling regime.

The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009.

The regime change plan seeks to fundamentally shift U.S. policy towards Iran and has found a receptive audience in the Trump administration, which has been moving in this direction since Bolton—a longtime and vocal supporter of regime change—entered the White House.

It deemphasizes U.S military intervention, instead focusing on a series of moves to embolden an Iranian population that has increasingly grown angry at the ruling regime for its heavy investments in military adventurism across the region.

“The ordinary people of Iran are suffering under economic stagnation, while the regime ships its wealth abroad to fight its expansionist wars and to pad the bank accounts of the Mullahs and the IRGC command,” SSG writes in the paper. “This has provoked noteworthy protests across the country in recent months.”

Jim Hanson, SSG’s president, told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration has no appetite for U.S. military intervention in Iran, but is very focused on efforts to rid Iran of its hardline ruling regime.

“The Trump administration has no desire to roll tanks in an effort to directly topple the Iranian regime,” Hanson said. “But they would be much happier dealing with a post-Mullah government. That is the most likely path to a nuclear weapons-free and less dangerous Iran.”

An NSC official declined to comment directly on the report, but confirmed the administration is consistently working to “change the Iranian regime’s behavior.”

“Our stated policy is to change the Iranian regime’s behavior of continuous destabilizing regional acts and support of terrorism,” the official said, adding that the White House reviews multiple plans and proposals from organizations. “The National Security Council is in receipt of reams of policy papers and reports, some are read with interest, others are not. Receipt of a policy paper in no way means that we are going to adopt the position of that paper.”

One source close to the White House who has previewed the plan told the Free Beacon that the nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, solidified the Iranian regime’s grip on power and intentionally prevented the United States from fomenting regime change

“The JCPOA purposefully destroyed the carefully created global consensus against the Islamic Republic,” said the source, who would only speak on background about the sensitive issue. “Prior to that, everyone understood the dangers of playing footsie with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It’s now Trump, Bolton, and [Mike] Pompeo’s job to put this consensus back in place.”

Bolton is said to be acutely aware of the danger the Iranian regime poses to the region, the source said.

“John is someone who understands the danger of Iran viscerally, and knows that you’re never going to fundamentally change its behavior—and the threats against Israel and the Saudis especially—until that revolutionary regime is gone,” the source said, adding that “nothing’s off the table right now if Israel is attacked.”

A second source close to the White House and familiar with the thinking on this issue told the Free Beacon the administration recognizes the chief impediment to the region is Iran’s tyrannical regime.

“The problem is not the Iran nuclear deal it’s the Iranian regime,” said the source, who would only speak on background. “Team Bolton has spent years creating Plans B, C, and D for dealing with that problem. President Trump hired him knowing all of that. The administration will now start aggressively moving to deal with the root cause of chaos and violence in the region in a clear-eyed way.”

Regional sources who have spoken to SSG “tell us that Iranian social media is more outraged about internal oppression, such as the recent restrictions on Telegram, than about supporting or opposing the nuclear program. Iranian regime oppression of its ethnic and religious minorities has created the conditions for an effective campaign designed to splinter the Iranian state into component parts,” the group states.

“More than one third of Iran’s population is minority groups, many of whom already seek independence,” the paper explains. “U.S. support for these independence movements, both overt and covert, could force the regime to focus attention on them and limit its ability to conduct other malign activities.”

American policy towards Iran has failed to explicitly support Iranian opponents of the regime who are thirsty for a change.

“U.S. policy toward Iran currently does not publicly articulate two components vital to success: That a new birth of liberty based in self-determination for the Iranian people should be official policy; and that military action should be anticipated if other measures fail,” the paper states.

In addition to preventing Iran from ever building a nuclear weapon, the Trump administration must articulate a credible military threat should Iran choose to launch full-scale attacks on Israel and U.S. forces.

“A credible hard power option exists,” according to the plan. “That option does not consist of large invasion forces or long, costly occupations.”

Without a regime change, the United States will continue face threats from Iranian forces stationed throughout the region, including in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

“The probability the current Iranian theocracy will stop its nuclear program willingly or even under significant pressure is low,” the plan states. “Absent a change in government within Iran, America will face a choice between accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or acting to destroy as much of this capability as possible.”

U.S. officials must make efforts to publicly differentiate between Iran’s ruling regime and its people, a point that was also emphasized by Trump in his statement about exiting the deal earlier this week.

“Any public discussion of these options, and any messaging about the Iranian regime in general, should make a bright line distinction between the theocratic regime along with its organs of oppression and the general populace,” according to the plan. “We must constantly reinforce our support for removing the iron sandal from the necks of the people to allow them the freedom they deserve.”

Lieberman calls on Assad to get rid of Iranian forces in Syria

May 11, 2018

Source: Lieberman calls on Assad to get rid of Iranian forces in Syria

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to “get rid” of Iranian forces in his country, warning their continued presence would only cause trouble.

Speaking while touring the Israeli side of the Golan Heights in the wake of Iranian rocket fire on northern Israel, to which the IAF retaliated with attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, Lieberman said Israel is not looking for friction.

“We did not come to the Iranian border, they came here,” he said.

Lieberman tours Golan Heights (Photo: Ido Erez)

Lieberman tours Golan Heights (Photo: Ido Erez)
Iran has advisers and experts and has backed tens of thousands of militiamen who are fighting alongside Assad forces in the civil war. Israel has warned it will not tolerate its archenemy Iran establishing a military presence on its doorstep.”I will take this opportunity to send a message to Assad: Get rid of the Iranians, get rid of Qasem Soleimani, and the Quds Force, they are not helping you, they only cause damage, and their presence will only cause problems and damages,” Lieberman said.

Soleimani is the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds expeditionary force which is fighting in both Iraq and Syria.

“Get rid of the Iranians and maybe it will be possible to have a different kind of life,” Lieberman added.

Lieberman tours Golan Heights (Photo: Gil Nechushtan)

Lieberman tours Golan Heights (Photo: Gil Nechushtan)

Israel attacked dozens of Iranian targets in Syria in overnight strikes in response to an Iranian rocket barrage. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date. The cross-border exchange gave way to a war of words.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call that he did not want “new tensions” in the Middle East.

Rouhani did not mention Israel’s strikes in Syria, or those against the Golan Heights.

Iranian President Rouhani (Photo: Reuters)

Iranian President Rouhani (Photo: Reuters)

Nevertheless, Lieberman noted that “The Iranian president’s message is an important one. I hope it’s a real one too.”

The defense minister, meanwhile, said that he didn’t think exchange of blows between Israel and Iran was over. “We remain vigilant and using discretion. We’re constantly on alert and monitoring events,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called late Thursday for an immediate halt to “all hostile acts” to avoid “a new conflagration” in the Middle East.

Guterres’ comments came as a calm night followed intense attacks on parts of Syria by Israel. Israel has called on the UN Security Council and secretary-general to condemn Iran’s attack on its positions in the Golan Heights.

The Security Council, deeply divided over Syria, is highly unlikely to issue a statement and as of Friday morning no council member had asked for a meeting.

After instructing Israeli residents in the Golan Heights to open their bomb shelters on Tuesday in light of Iranian intentions to carry out an attack against Israel, the IDF said Friday shelters can now be closed.

Readying bomb shelters in the Golan on Tuesday (Photo: Avihu Shapira)

Readying bomb shelters in the Golan on Tuesday (Photo: Avihu Shapira)

Israel and Iran have long fought each other through proxies, and with the new exchange each seemed to be sending a warning that a direct clash between them could swiftly escalate.

The scope of the attacks — which Israel called its largest in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War — raised the specter of a full-fledged war between Iran and Israel in Syria, a conflict that could potentially drag the militant Hezbollah and Lebanon into the mix with devastating effects, although both sides appeared to signal they wanted the confrontation to remain contained, at least for now.

The rising tension in Syria came just as the United States decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and impose new sanctions, adding to the pressure on Tehran.

In Tehran, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said the Western pressure will backfire, threatening that Israel will pay the price.

“The holy system of Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the hard-line cleric said during Friday sermons. The worshipers chanted: “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami  (Photo: EPA)

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (Photo: EPA)

In a first official reaction to the confrontation on Wednesday night, Tehran said Damascus has the legitimate right to respond to what it said were repeated violations of the country’s sovereignty “under fabricated and baseless excuses.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Braham Ghasemi added that the international silence in the face of such “aggressive moves” is in effect a “green light” to more such attacks.

Ghasemi went on to note that the direct attacks on Syria come as the government of Assad is regaining control of territories from rebel fighters, accusing Israel and the United States of supporting the opposition which he called “terrorists.”

Yoav Zitun and Ahiya Raved contributed to this story.

After Netanyahu visit, Russia backs off delivering S-300 missiles to Syria 

May 11, 2018

Source: After Netanyahu visit, Russia backs off delivering S-300 missiles to Syria – Israel Hayom

A man of his word

May 11, 2018

Source: A man of his word – Israel Hayom

( His personal behavior { Stormy et al } is truly sickening.  At the same time he may well be the best policy President of my 64 years.  Can you imagine where we’d be if Clinton had won? – JW )

Hamas: Riots on Day of US Embassy Opening in Jerusalem Will Be ‘Decisive’

May 11, 2018

Yahya Sinwar, the Gaza-based leader of Hamas, says the riots planned for next week will be “like a tiger running in all directions.”

By: The Tower

Tigers are almost extinct. ( added by JK )

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar (AP/Khalil Hamra)

In an apparent threat to Israel, the leader of Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist organization, said that next week’s riots at the border fence with Israel would be “decisive,” Israeli media reported.

The Hamas-led riots, which had originally been described as non-violent, involve rioters attempting to tear down the border fence with Israel, throwing rocks at soldiers, and sending kites over the fence with burning fuel in attempts to start fires inside Israel. Last week, rioters entered the Kerem Shalom crossing and set storage facilities on fire, including pipelines that bring gas into Gaza. This is the seventh consecutive week that riots are being held.

Yahya Sinwar, the Gaza-based leader of Hamas, said that the riot next week planned for May 14, the day the United States Embassy is slated to open in Jerusalem, will be “decisive.” Israel imposed the blockade when Hamas expelled Fatah, the main Palestinian political party, from Gaza in 2007 and took control of the enclave. Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction, has accumulated an arsenal of rockets, and built terror tunnels with the aim of attacking Israel.

“We can’t stop these protests. We are supporting, even leading, them,” Sinwar said. The riots will be “like a tiger running in all directions,” he said.

Hamas has claimed that the goal of the riots is to gain the “right” to return to all of Israel, meaning the destruction of Israel. Israel has charged that the goal is to cover for violent activities, including efforts to breach the border fence.

Sinwar made the comments in a speech to activists, who have been leading the riots. According to media reports, Hamas has been indicating that it could encourage the rioters to storm the fence.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that 48 rioters have died since the first protest too place on March 30. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which uses publicly available information to identify casualties, 80% of the rioters who have been killed were a member of, or otherwise affiliated with terrorist organizations.

In a conference call hosted by The Israel Project, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Israel Ziv, former head of IDF’s Gaza Division, assessed that the rioters would use grenades, improvised explosives, “anything that can fly over the fence and burn.”

He added, “we don’t expect anything terribly new.” However, if Hamas attempts to use the riot to “maneuver a terror unit, commando units or things of that kind …, to penetrate to Israel, to go to some of the settlements, the IDF is ready for those options as well,” Ziv asserted.