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Iraqi forces recapture contentious Kirkuk in overnight offensive

October 16, 2017

Iraqi forces recapture contentious Kirkuk in overnight offensive, Long War Journal, October 16, 2017

The clashes in Kirkuk have exposed rifts between Iraqi Kurdistan’s rival political parties: the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PUK reportedly permitted Baghdad to advance into Kirkuk, despite KDP dissent. The PUK and the Talabani family receive support from Iran, raising suspicion about a potential backroom deal to hand over the city to Iranian-aligned forces and undermine the KDP. Prominent Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javed Zarif and Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, have visited Iraqi Kurdistan recently to pay respects to Jalal Talabani, former president of Iraq and Talabani family patriarch. The PUK’s rival, the KDP, received the lionshare of credit for ushering in the Kurdish referendum.

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Iraqi troops from the US-trained Counter-Terrorism Service, backed by Iranian-supported Popular Mobilization Forces, seized control of the city of Kirkuk from the Kurdish Regional Government today in a rapid offensive launched within the last 24 hours. The Iraqi government quickly capitalized on its victory against the Islamic State in the adjacent city of Hawija and turned its energy on the secessionist Kurds in Kirkuk. The quick strike exposed deep fault lines existing within the anti-Islamic State coalition and Kurdish politics.

The United States has trained and equipped both Kurdish and Iraqi forces as part of the ongoing anti-Islamic State operation. The military operation followed heightened tensions resulting from the Sept. 25 Kurdish independence referendum. It also followed President Trump’s announcement of a new Iran strategy on Friday.

Kirkuk, an economically significant city in northern Iraq with more than one million residents, has been a political and sectarian hotspot since the US ousted Saddam Hussein from power in 2003. Kurdish forces have controlled Kirkuk since the summer of 2014, when the Iraqi military fled northern Iraq following the Islamic State’s invasion. Kirkuk, which is outside of the established borders of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, is a major oil producing region in Iraq.

Kirkuk has also been a major sectarian faultline in Iraq, with Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, and Sunni Arabs jockeying for influence in the government.

The Government of Iraq’s War Media Cell, the outlet which has been reporting on the anti-Islamic State fight, has been releasing updates on the Kirkuk offensive. At around noon local time, the War Media Cell reported that Iraqi forces controlled the Kirkuk Airport, also known as K-1. In its most recent post, the War Media Cell reported that Iraqi forces control a number of key points in Kirkuk, including the industrial neighborhood and North Oil Company, as well as a power plant, a refinery, and a police station.

Before Iraqi troops entered Kirkuk, Kurdish Peshmerga forces clashed with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) south of the city. The Kurdistan Regional Government claimed Peshmerga forces “destroyed at least five US Humvees used by [the] PMF” as it advanced south and southwest of the city.

The Iraqi government has relied on the PMF, a grouping of militias most of which are backed by Iran, for support in its fight against the Islamic State. Iranian-linked militias have played a key role in liberating cities such as Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit, Baiji, and most recently Hawija, from Islamic State rule. The Iraqi government has institutionalized the PMF as an official military arm. Its top leaders are known Iranian proxies, as are some of its largest and most capable militias.

The United States has been reticent to criticize or mitigate the rise of the Iranian-backed PMF within Iraqi security infrastructure due to the prioritization of the anti-Islamic State fight. In some cases, the US even appears to be praising them. In the most recent Operation Inherent Resolve press briefing, Maj. Gen. Robert White, the ground commander of coalition forces involved in Iraq, described the PMF as “the fourth cohort of the ISF that are sanctioned by the government of Iraq. And so they have been an integral part of the successes that the Iraqi Security Forces have had to date.”

The US has continued to emphasize the precedence of the anti-Islamic State fight. CENTCOM dismissed the engagement in Kirkuk as a “misunderstanding.” Maj. Gen. White encouraged dialogue and a refocus on “the defeat of our common enemy, ISIS, in Iraq.” The Islamic State’s territorial control has waned over the past year, but the self-declared caliphate retrains strategic locations in the Euphrates River Valley.

The clashes in Kirkuk have exposed rifts between Iraqi Kurdistan’s rival political parties: the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PUK reportedly permitted Baghdad to advance into Kirkuk, despite KDP dissent. The PUK and the Talabani family receive support from Iran, raising suspicion about a potential backroom deal to hand over the city to Iranian-aligned forces and undermine the KDP. Prominent Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javed Zarif and Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, have visited Iraqi Kurdistan recently to pay respects to Jalal Talabani, former president of Iraq and Talabani family patriarch. The PUK’s rival, the KDP, received the lionshare of credit for ushering in the Kurdish referendum.

Iranian-supported militias have praised the Peshmerga surrender, specifically crediting the PUK. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a prominent Shiite militia complicit in the killing of American soldiers, released a statement praising the PUK for taking the “responsible position” and for not succumbing to the “personal and familial interests of the separatists.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

German Intelligence: Hizballah Fighters Posing As Refugees

October 16, 2017

German Intelligence: Hizballah Fighters Posing As Refugees, Investigative Project on Terrorism, October 16, 2017

While the European Union, including Germany, designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist entity, Germany allows Hizballah’s political wing to operate freely. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization entirely. Even senior Hizballah officials have noted the futility in distinguishing between its political and military wings, acknowledging that Hizballah is a hierarchical organization with a clear chain of command. The organization’s terrorist and military wings answer to its senior leadership and political echelons, including Iran – its primary sponsor.

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Hizballah terrorists are exploiting Germany’s refugee policy and entered the country as part of the recent wave of Middle East migrants, according to the Jerusalem Post’s review of a German intelligence report released this month.

“Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shi’ite militias entering Germany as legal refugees,” the report says, and “roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a direct connection to Hezbollah.”

A growing number of Hizballah operatives are settling in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the report says. The region hosts the Imam-Mahdi Center – a traditional hub for Hizballah operatives. The report also cites a growing and open Hamas presence in North Rhine-Westphalia, despite Germany’s terrorist designation of the Palestinian organization, where Hamas supporters exploit Germany to “collect funds” and “recruit new members to spread their propaganda.”

There are roughly 950 Hizballah members throughout Germany, according to a 2014 Berlin intelligence report summarized by the Jerusalem Post. Though the number of Hizballah supporters is believed to be far higher in Germany than listed in the report.

Radical Islamists are “the greatest danger to Germany…Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

Hizballah operatives serve as senior employees of a German government-funded theater project aimed to assist refugees in the country, a 2016 Berliner Zeitung daily report said.

Germany’s interior ministry previously accused Iran of conducting significant espionage activity in the country during the past decade, including plotting attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets.

For example, German prosecutors allege that Haidar Syed-Naqfi was ordered to identify Jewish and Israeli institutions in Germany and other Western European countries for potential terrorist attacks. He allegedly monitored the headquarters of a Jewish newspaper in Berlin and identified several Israel supporters. German authorities believe his preparations were “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.”

Between July 2015 and July 2016, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) al-Quds Force paid Syed-Naqi more than $2,200.

While the European Union, including Germany, designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist entity, Germany allows Hizballah’s political wing to operate freely. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization entirely. Even senior Hizballah officials have noted the futility in distinguishing between its political and military wings, acknowledging that Hizballah is a hierarchical organization with a clear chain of command. The organization’s terrorist and military wings answer to its senior leadership and political echelons, including Iran – its primary sponsor.

US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds

October 16, 2017

US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds, DEBKAfile, October 16, 2017

Iraqi and Kurdish sources reported Monday that the US had warned the Al-Abadi government against deploying the Iraqi air force against Kurdish targets in the fighting which erupted around the oil town of Kirkuk Monday. The US Air Force would shoot the Iraqi planes down, Baghdad was warned. The US also informed the Iraqi government that its military offensive against the Kurds over Kirkuk constituted a flagrant violation of Clause 9 of the Iraqi constitution, as well as a breach of Iraqi-US agreements which prohibit the use of military force for resolving internal political disputes.

Returning ISIS Jihadists Pose Long, Uncharted Challenge

October 16, 2017

Returning ISIS Jihadists Pose Long, Uncharted Challenge, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, October 16, 2017

For months now, Western counterterrorism experts have sounded the alarm: as ISIS loses ground, foreign fighters from America and Europe may try returning home. When they do, the experts cautioned, they will carry the terror threat with them, ready and willing to strike. Law enforcement needs to be prepared.

Now, with the fall of the Iraqi city of Harija, the Islamic State’s last major stronghold, and the impending collapse of its Syrian capital, Raqqa, the time has finally come. But is law enforcement prepared?

Not really.

An estimated 5,000 Europeans joined ISIS and other terrorist groups since fighting first broke out in Syria. While some surviving members may choose to remain in the region, or travel to other conflict areas like Afghanistan, a few thousand others are likely to try to make their way back home. In countries such as France, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands, most of them are at the border, where they will be taken into custody and ultimately tried for terror-related offenses.

But that covers only those who re-enter through legal means. Most will try clandestine paths. And porous borders make such under the radar re-entry disturbingly simple, as smuggling of refugees has already made abundantly clear.

An ongoing lack of coordination of intelligence and security agencies among European countries further enables terrorists to slip in unnoticed. That’s what happened with Mehdi Nemmouche, who shot and killed four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in 2014. Reda Kriket travelled twice to Syria before being arrested in March 2016 on suspicion of plotting “at least one” attack in France. And Brussels-Zaventem Airport bomber Ibraham El Bakraoui had been previously arrested by Turkish officials as he attempted to reach the Islamic State.

“Despite improvements since 9/11, foreign partners are still sharing information about terrorist suspects in a manner which is ad hoc, intermittent, and often incomplete,” a 2015 report of the Task Force in Combating Terrorist And Foreign Fighter Travel said.

In a typical example of European intelligence failures, though Dutch authorities learned of that arrest through the FBI weeks before the attacks, that information was never turned over to Belgium.

Such critical intelligence slips do not pose risks only to Europe. “The larger concern is that some European extremists might be able to make it to the United States undetected once they have left the battlefield,” state the report’s authors.

With visa-free entry into the U.S. for European citizens, such fears are not unfounded, and compound the threats posed by returning U.S. nationals.

Even so, some U.S. officials caution against over-reacting to the threat American returnees may cause. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper arguesthat most of the 40 Americans who have returned from the Islamic State did so for reasons “that don’t relate to plotting” – such as homesickness and family matters. Others, like analysts at the New America Foundation put a greater emphasis on the danger from jihadists who never actually left the U.S., but were radicalized locally or online.

But not everyone agrees.

“Whether or not returning fighters carry out attacks, they return with the prestige of warriors and credibility on the street,” a 2014 RAND report observed. “They are able to recruit other fighters to go to the Middle East and they can gather like-minded groups around them.” RAND political scientist and International Center for Counterterrorism fellow Colin Clarke agrees, writing in the Atlantic that some returnees, both in the U.S. and in Europe, may “attempt to resuscitate dormant networks, recruit new members, or conduct lone-wolf style attacks,” as some Europeans have already done.

Tackling the threat, U.S. and European officials agree, depends heavily on European authorities’ ability to improve their intelligence capabilities – a daunting task at a time when rising crime rates, concerns about existing terror threats, logistically complex bureaucratic systems, and international rivalries continue to draw on their reserves. Moreover, not all European states agree on the best way to handle returnees. While most are jailed and tried on terror charges, returnees to Denmark, for instance, are placed in rehab programs that offer schooling, job training, and housing, among other benefits – the hope being that they will rejoin society and reform.

Moreover, the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network put forth a series of recommendations in July for all member states. Countries should:

· Create “re-socialization” programs for detainees even pre-trial.

· Provide religious guidance through “trustworthy chaplains.”

· Employ mental health experts to work with those who may suffer PTSD or “disillusionment.”

· “[B]e aware that many returnees – even if not engaged in criminal behavior – may still strongly support ideologies opposing apostates, other religions, so-called infidels, women’s rights and even EU societies as such. Most have been subject to severe indoctrination. Consider dialogue, mentoring and other techniques for returnees with such strong beliefs.”

In part, this careful handling reflects the reluctance of countries like Denmark to treat returnees as criminals. But as RAND points out, it also comes as a result of difficulties in assessing “which returnees pose a terrorist threat and which do not.” These uncertainties could require monitoring all returnees for indefinite periods, raising civil rights questions as well as economic and other practical concerns.

Whether such careful handling will effectively thwart radicals remains to be seen. Meantime, U.S. officials are taking a different, more punitive approach. Sentences are longer – and can include the death penalty, which is banned in Europe. Moreover, EU laws can be vague regarding which potentially terror-related activities constitute a crime. By contrast, RAND says, American courts are better prepared for the challenges of convicting returnees, thanks in part to the fact that in the United States, “providing material support to a terrorist organization, which includes joining or attempting to join a terrorist group, is already a crime.”

But for both Europe and America, RAND suggests another alternative: encouraging returnees to cooperate with intelligence agencies in exchange for lighter sentences, thereby becoming valuable resources in the battle against jihadism in the homeland, helping to locate and convict other terrorists returning from abroad, especially those who have entered illegally. These are the hardest to find and pose the greatest danger.

But even without cooperation from within, there may be other strategies. Rand’s Colin Clarke calculates that approximately half of all Islamist terrorists involved in attacks in Europe had criminal pasts. In contrast, others put the figure closer to 22 percent. “Many foreign fighters began as criminals,” Clarke writes on Lawfare, “and many might turn to crime on their return.” Indeed, those seeking to finance attacks are likely to look to criminal activity – such as drug trafficking – to secure it.

Hence, he notes, “To root out returning foreign fighters, authorities should first look to the underworld from which the fighters originally emerged. Criminals inevitably return to what they know best.”

Clarke’s approach for Europe applies equally to America. Yet for all its practicality, the criminal element also points to an additional danger: as Canadian counterterrorism analyst Mubin Shaikh has noted, “prisons are a factory for radicalization. The jihadis themselves say prison is the university of jihad.” Should those trained in militant jihad find their way back into the criminal circuit, that situation could only worsen.

Ultimately, the problem of returning jihadists promises to be a complicated one across the West, likely for years to come. In the face of an unprecedented terror threat, we have no map to travel by. But in the words of Swiss author Ella Maillart, “the sooner we learn to be jointly responsible, the easier the sailing will be.”

How we got to a nuclear North Korea

October 16, 2017

How we got to a nuclear North Korea, Washington Times, William C. Triplett II, October 15, 2017

Illustration on the history leading up the North Korean nuclear crisis by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump and his Cabinet have said repeatedly that the present state of affairs with North Korea represents 25 years of American foreign policy failure going back over at least three presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Reviewing this disaster, there are at least three major mileposts.

The first of these would be the Dec. 1, 1994 hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Clinton administration’s “Agreed Framework” with North Korea. The regime had agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program and in return, the United States pledged hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to substitute forms of energy for Pyongyang. Late in the hearing, Sen. Larry Pressler, South Dakota Republican, was pressing the Clinton administration’s spokesman, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, over whether the agreement permitted a “go anywhere in North Korea, anytime” inspection regime. It didn’t, as he was forced to admit.

At that moment, Sen. Pressler asked me to flip open a prepared chart standing on an easel. There was an audible gasp in the room because written on the chart was this: “Based on North Korean actions to date, DIA assesses that North Korea will continue its nuclear weapons program despite any agreement to the contrary.” The statement was made by Lt. Gen. James Clapper, then the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. At the time, Gen. Clapper had the reputation as a straight shooter and everyone in the Foreign Relations Committee hearing room knew that the emperor had no clothes: The Agreed Framework was not going to work, ever, because the Kim regime would cheat on it from the get-go.

The Clinton administration then had a choice: It could go with the judgment of Gen. Clapper and mount a worldwide diplomatic effort to shut down the North Korean nuclear program through trade sanctions and other harsh measures, or it could heed the advice of Mr. Gallucci, State Department Counselor Wendy Sherman, U.N. Ambassador and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and pretend that the Agreed Framework was fully clothed. Gen. Clapper lost.

The second milepost came in early October 2002. The incoming Bush ‘43 administration had learned disturbing information about North Korea, but the events of Sept. 11, 2001 had distracted top policymakers. They were just then sending out Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific James Kelly to Pyongyang. Mr. Kelly confronted North Korean diplomat Kang Sok-ju about accusations that North Korea was secretly building nuclear weapons. Kang was equally direct: “Not only yes, but hell yes, and you tell that to your president!”

At this point, the Bush ‘43 story gets murky. We know that strong, decisive action was not taken but not why it was not taken. We know that the North Koreans set off their first weapon in 2006 on George W. Bush’s watch. We know that the Bush administration launched new negotiations with the North Koreans under Ambassador Christopher Hill, National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s old colleague from the George H.W. Bush administration. Those negotiations failed spectacularly.

Conversation among former Bush ‘43 veterans suggests that in addition to Mr. Kelly, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Security Adviser Scooter Libby also favored a get-tough policy toward North Korea before the Kim regime passed the nuclear threshold, but Mr. Bush sided with Secretary Rice and Ambassador Hill. We will have to await the opening of the Bush ‘43 files to determine what really happened, but certainly we can say that the pressure of the Iraq War sucked the air out of Bush administration policymakers on North Korea and other pressing matters.

In the case of the third milepost, the warning came from outside the U.S. government. In the early Obama administration, Stanford University professor Siegfried S. Hecker, a proponent of negotiations with North Korea, was permitted to see the inside of the North Korean nuclear weapons production facilities and he was “stunned,” he said, by what he saw. North Korea had graduated from essentially an experimental set-up to a full-scale industrial program, and they did it with outside help. As late as 2012, Mr. Hecker was ringing the alarm: “It is important, therefore, to stop Pyongyang from importing large quantities of key centrifuge materials and components to prevent it from building large additional centrifuge facilities now that it has apparently mastered the art of manufacture and operations.”

For whatever reason, neither Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nor Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman heeded his call. Nor was the State Department alert under Mrs. Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, when the North Koreans managed to obtain a supply of Soviet-era rocket engines that make a North Korean nuclear weapon deliverable to the United States.

At the end of the day, Harry Truman was right: The buck stops at the Oval Office, but in the case of the North Korean disaster, it has had a number of stops along the way.

• William C. Triplett II is the author of Rogue State (Regnery, 2004).

A Slow Death for the Iran Deal

October 16, 2017

A Slow Death for the Iran Deal, Gatestone InstituteJohn R. Bolton, October 16, 2017

The JCPOA is also packed with provisions that have never received adequate scrutiny. Take Annex III, which envisages full-scale assistance to, and cooperation with, Iran’s “peaceful” civil nuclear efforts. Annex III contemplates facilitating Iran’s acquisition of “state of the art” light-water reactors, broader nuclear-research programs, and, stunningly, protection against “nuclear security threats” to Iran’s nuclear program.

It sounds suspiciously like the Clinton administration’s failed Agreed Framework with North Korea. Many Clinton alumni were part of Mr. Obama’s Iran negotiation team. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Mr. Trump and his congressional supporters should expressly repudiate Annex III and insist that Europe, Russia and China do the same.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump has excoriated repeatedly, is hanging by an unraveling thread. Congress won’t improve it. American and European businesses proceed at their own peril on trade or investment with Iran. The deal should have died last week and will breathe its last shortly.

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As Abba Eban observed, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.” So it goes with America and the Iran deal. President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. would stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even while he refused to certify under U.S. law that the deal is in the national interest. “Decertification,” a bright, shiny object for many, obscures the real issue — whether the agreement should survive. Mr. Trump has “scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it.”

While Congress considers how to respond — or, more likely, not respond — we should focus on the grave threats inherent in the deal. Peripheral issues have often dominated the debate; forests have been felled arguing over whether Iran has complied with the deal’s terms. Proposed “fixes” now abound, such as a suggestion to eliminate the sunset provisions on the deal’s core provisions.

The core provisions are the central danger. There are no real “fixes” to this intrinsically misconceived agreement. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party, has never included sunset clauses, but the mullahs have been violating it for decades.

If the U.S. left the JCPOA, it would not need to justify the decision by showing that the Iranians have exceeded the deal’s limits on uranium enrichment (though they have). Many argued Russia was not violating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (though it likely was) when President Bush gave notice of withdrawal in 2001, but that was not the point. The issue was whether the ABM Treaty remained strategically wise for America. So too for the Iran deal. It is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests. As Charles de Gaulle put it, treaties “are like girls and roses; they last while they last.”

Pictured: A uranium conversion facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, used as part of Iran’s uranium enrichment process. (Photo by Getty Images)

When Germany, Britain and France began nuclear negotiations with Iran in 2003, they insisted that their objective was to block the mullahs from the nuclear fuel cycle’s “front end” (uranium enrichment) as well as its “back end” (plutonium reprocessing from spent fuel). They assured Washington that Tehran would be limited to “peaceful” nuclear applications like medicine and electricity generation. Nuclear-fuel supplies and the timely removal of spent fuel from Iran’s “peaceful” reactors would be covered by international guaranties.

So firm were the Europeans that they would not even negotiate unless Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activity. Under these conditions, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed their effort could proceed. Today, JCPOA advocates conveniently ignore how much Barack Obama and the Europeans conceded to Iran’s insistence that it would never give up uranium enrichment.

The West’s collapse was a grave error. Regardless of JCPOA limits, Iran benefits from continued enrichment, research and development by expanding the numbers of scientists and technicians it has with firsthand nuclear experience. All this will be invaluable to the ayatollahs come the day they disdain any longer to conceal their real nuclear strategy.

Congress’s ill-advised “fixes” would only make things worse. Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton suggest automatically reimposing sanctions if Iran gets within a year of having nuclear weapons. That’s a naive and dangerous proposal: Iran is already within days of having nuclear weapons, given that it can buy them from North Korea. On the deal’s first anniversary, Mr. Obama said that “Iran’s breakout time has been extended from two to three months to about a year.” At best, Corker-Cotton would codify Mr. Obama’s ephemeral and inaccurate propaganda without constraining Iran.

Such triggering mechanisms assume the U.S. enjoys complete certainty and comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program. In reality, there is serious risk Tehran will evade the intelligence and inspection efforts, and we will find out too late Tehran already possesses nuclear weapons.

The unanswerable reality is that economic sanctions have never stopped a relentless regime from getting the bomb. That is the most frightening lesson of 25 years of failure in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Colin Powell told me he once advised British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw: “Jack, if you want to bring the Iranians around, you have to hold an ax over their heads.” The new proposals aren’t even a dull razor blade.

The JCPOA is also packed with provisions that have never received adequate scrutiny. Take Annex III, which envisages full-scale assistance to, and cooperation with, Iran’s “peaceful” civil nuclear efforts. Annex III contemplates facilitating Iran’s acquisition of “state of the art” light-water reactors, broader nuclear-research programs, and, stunningly, protection against “nuclear security threats” to Iran’s nuclear program.

It sounds suspiciously like the Clinton administration’s failed Agreed Framework with North Korea. Many Clinton alumni were part of Mr. Obama’s Iran negotiation team. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Mr. Trump and his congressional supporters should expressly repudiate Annex III and insist that Europe, Russia and China do the same.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump has excoriated repeatedly, is hanging by an unraveling thread. Congress won’t improve it. American and European businesses proceed at their own peril on trade or investment with Iran. The deal should have died last week and will breathe its last shortly.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

Joe Lieberman: “North Korea And Iran Are An Alliance Of Evil Aimed At The United States”

October 15, 2017

Joe Lieberman: “North Korea And Iran Are An Alliance Of Evil Aimed At The United States”, Real Clear PoliticsTim Hains, October 15, 2017

(The remarks of former senator and Democrat VP candidate Liberman are right on point. — DM)

 

“The extent to which Iran and North Korea are working together is the only question. It is not whether they are working together, it is how much they are working together,” he explained. “We know that North Korean designs for intercontinental ballistic missiles have been reflected in the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran has put up.”

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‘United Against Nuclear Iran’ chairman Joe Lieberman joins FNC’s Maria Bartiromo to discuss the president’s choice to leave the Iran nuclear deal up to Congress and the extent to which North Korea and Iran are working together. 

“I think the president made the right decision, he did it in the right way,” the former Democratic vice presidential candidate said. “He could have withdrawn from the whole thing the other day.”

“He basically said to Congress and our allies, and the Iranians, we’re going to pull out of this agreement unless it changes… One, we’re asking the Iranians to agree not to develop nuclear weapons. That was the whole purpose of the sanctions, and the deal only puts a pause, saying that in eight or ten years they can start doing things that will allow you to build nuclear weapons again.”

“The Supreme Leader in Iran says he doesn’t want to build nuclear weapons anyway,” Lieberman said. “Let’s make that happen.”

“Second, how can you have an agreement you have any trust in on something this important? If you can’t really inspect the military sites where they would be cheating if they were cheating… And this Iranian regime has a bad record of cheating an awful lot on agreements.”

“The extent to which Iran and North Korea are working together is the only question. It is not whether they are working together, it is how much they are working together,” he explained. “We know that North Korean designs for intercontinental ballistic missiles have been reflected in the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran has put up.”