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‘Czech Donald Trump’ set to win parliamentary elections

October 21, 2017

Euroskeptic party led by billionaire businessman likened to Donald Trump set to win Czech parliamentary elections, civic democrats second.

Published time: 21 Oct, 2017 16:17

Source: ‘Czech Donald Trump’ set to win parliamentary elections – polls — RT News

The leader of ANO party Andrej Babis © David W Cerny / Reuters

The populist Czech ANO movement led by billionaire Andrej Babis, dubbed ‘the Czech Donald Trump,’ is poised to win the eastern European country’s elections by a wide margin, according to the exit polls. The center-right, euroskeptic ODS came in second.
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Top candidate of Peoples Party (OeVP) and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz talks with journalist after leaving a polling station in Vienna, Austria October 15, 2017. © Leonhard Foeger

ANO, which means ‘Yes’ in Czech and also stands as an acronym for the ‘Action of Dissatisfied Citizens’, has taken a clear lead in the election with more than 30 percent of the vote, beating its closest rivals by around 20 percentage points, according to exit polls cited by the Czech media.

The center-right, euroskeptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has come in second, securing about 11 percent backing. The anti-immigrant and anti-Islam far-right populist Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), led by the Czech-Japanese entrepreneur Tomio Okamura, moved into third place with about 10.8 percent support.

The polls also show that five more parties have managed to clear the five percent hurdle and get into parliament, including the Czech Pirate Party, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Union as well as the movement of Czech mayors and independents.

The exit polls’ results demonstrate a significant shift to euroskepticism in the Czech Republic as all the three leading parties represent anti-establishment forces in one way or another. Babis, who leads the ANO movement, is particularly known for his skepticism about the euro and severe criticism of the EU’s immigration policies, including the refugee quota system.

The SPD also actively opposes immigration and calls Islam an ideology rather than a religion while the Civic Democrats are critical towards the EU and advocate permanent exception from euro adoption for the Czech Republic.

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Supporters of far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) react after first exit polls in the general election during a party meeting in Vienna, Austria, October 15, 2017. © Michael Dalder

The pro-EU Social Democrats (CSSD) received only 7.7 percent of the votes, according to the exit polls, while the liberal TOP 09 movement, which is considered to be the strongest supporter of the further European integration and euro adoption, even failed to clear the election hurdle as it gained only slightly more than four percent of the vote.

Babis, who is poised to become the new Czech prime minister as his party’s electoral victory is almost certain, is, however, a controversial figure. The Czech Republic’s second richest man and a billionaire, who owns one of the Czech biggest private employers – the agricultural giant Agrofert – as well as a media empire, he has already served as finance minister and deputy prime minister, but was dismissed due to allegations of financial misconduct.

Babis was sacked from the government in May after a months-long coalition crisis that started with allegations that he dodged taxes as Agrofert CEO back in 2012. He was separately charged over allegedly misusing EU subsidies. Babis dismissed all the allegations, calling them “politically motivated.”

Despite his issues with the law, Babis remains one of the most popular Czech politicians. In September, the Czech President Milos Zeman told the local media that he would name Babis the new prime minister in the event of his party’s victory, even if he were in police custody.

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Alice Weidel (R), top candidate of the anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) in Berlin, Germany, September 24, 2017 © Wolfgang Rattay

The two-day vote was held on October 20 and 21 to fill 200 seats in the Czech parliament’s lower house – the Chamber of Deputies. The voting ended at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Saturday with most ballots being expected to have been counted by the end of the day. However, the official results are scheduled to be announced no sooner than next week.

The results of the Czech elections have become just the latest episode of what seems to be the onward march of the right across Europe. Just a week ago, two anti-migrant parties gained the lead in the Austrian parliamentary elections and are now expected to form the ruling coalition.

Earlier, the right-wing anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party enjoyed what was called a historic success while Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and perforce the Social Democrats suffered their worst results in more than half a century at the September parliamentary elections in Germany.

In the French presidential elections in spring 2017, Marine le Pen, the head of the right-wing National Front party made it into the run-off, beating candidates from such major establishment parties as the Republicans and the Socialists.

And in the Netherlands, Geert Wilder’s ultra-nationalist Party of Freedom came second in this year’s parliamentary elections.

Hamas chief: We won’t discuss recognizing Israel, only wiping it out

October 19, 2017

Yahya Sinwar says ‘no one in the universe can disarm us,’ likens belief that terror group will relinquish weapons to ‘Satan dreaming of heaven’

Today, 6:56 pm

Source: Hamas chief: We won’t discuss recognizing Israel, only wiping it out | The Times of Israel

The Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip on Thursday dismissed US and Israeli demands that it lay down its arms and recognize the Jewish state, saying the terror organization is instead debating “when to wipe out Israel.”

The remarks came during a closed roundtable discussion between Yahya Sinwar and Gazan youth about the ongoing reconciliation negotiations with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, to which some media outlets were invited to attend.

“Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel,” Sinwar said, according to the Hamas-linked news agency Shehab.

A Hamas spokesperson released a few official quotes from the meeting. The Sinwar comment about discussing “when we will wipe out Israel” was not included in the transcript, which featured the Hamas leader again rejecting disarmament and Israel recognition.

“No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens,” Sinwar said, according to the official statement. “No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation.”

Since its inception nearly three decades ago, Hamas has sought to destroy the State of Israel.

Fighters from the Izz-a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas terror group, attend a memorial service for a commander killed in an apparently accidental explosion in the southern Gaza Strip on June 10, 2017. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Sinwar’s comments on Thursday came as much of the international community was scrutinizing the terror organization as it attempts to join the internationally recognized government of the Palestinian Authority, which is controlled by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s party, Fatah.

On Thursday the United States called for Hamas to disarm and renounce violence before being allowed to implement the highly touted unity deal with Fatah.

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations,” said White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt in a statement released by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” Greenblatt said, in comments later commended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One issue that threatens to derail the reconciliation process is the question of what will be the future of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military and its weapons arsenal. Abbas said he wants full control of all guns in Gaza.

On Thursday, Sinwar doubled down on Hamas’s stance that it will not relinquish its armed forces.

Hamas’s new deputy leader Salah al-Aruri (seated L) and Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (seated R) sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements work to end their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

“Disarming us is like Satan dreaming of heaven. No one can take away our weapons,” he said.

He also reportedly admitted that the talks could collapse. “There is a danger to the reconciliation project,” Sinwar was quoted as saying, though he did not elaborate.

Last week, the two rival Palestinian factions signed an agreement in Cairo to allow the PA to take full control of the Gaza, which it was kicked out of 10 years ago by Hamas in a violent conflict.

Speaking immediately after signing the deal, Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas deputy political leader, said Palestinian unity was vital “so that we can all work together against the Zionist enterprise.”

Sinwar on Thursday reiterated his group’s desire for the reconciliation process to be successful, and personally invited Abbas to hold the next meeting of his party’s central committee and of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the largest Palestinian political umbrella group, in Gaza.

“I call for the Fatah Central Committee and the Palestine Liberation Organization to hold its next meeting in Gaza, headed by [Abbas],” Sinwar said, according to a Hamas spokesperson.

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, stage an anti-Israel parade as part of the celebrations marking the first anniversary of an Israeli army operation in Gaza, November 14, 2013 (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

During his talk, Sinwar also touched upon prisoner negotiations between Hamas and Israel.

In his statement, Sinwar reportedly said “we are ready for a second Shalit deal,” a reference to the 2011 prisoner exchange for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit that was his own ticket out of Israeli prison. In the new deal, he claimed, Fatah leader and convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti, as well as others, would go free.

Hamas is said to be holding captive three Israelis — Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima — all said to have entered the Gaza Strip of their own accord. Hamas is also holding the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers who were killed in the Strip during the 2014 Gaza war.

Last month it was reported that Hamas had accepted an Egyptian proposal for a prisoner swap with Israel whereby the bodies of 39 Palestinians killed in the 2014 Gaza war, 19 of whom are Hamas members, would be handed over to the group in exchange for Hamas acknowledging the fate of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. The IDF says the two were killed in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war. Hamas has hinted that it is holding the two soldiers and has also implied that they could still be alive.

In the second stage of the Egyptian plan, Israel would reportedly release the so-called “Shalit captives” — 58 Palestinians who were rearrested in the summer of 2014 after being set free in the 2011 swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Syrian Rocket Strikes Israel’s Golan Heights, IDF Responds

October 19, 2017

October 19, 2017

Source: Syrian Rocket Strikes Israel’s Golan Heights, IDF Responds

A Syrian SA-5 battery. (Screenshot)

The IDF responded to a stray Syrian missile that hit an open field in northern Israel.

Israel responded to a stray rocket from Syria that struck an open field in the Israeli Golan Heights Thursday. No injuries or property damage were reported.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents,’ the army said in a statement.

The IDF confirmed that the rocket was the result of a “stray” missile, rather than an intentional attack from regime or opposition forces taking part in the Syrian civil war.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that IDF units are scouring the area.

Earlier this week, Israeli warplanes bombed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery near Damascus in retaliation for a Syrian attack Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft.

By: TPS and World Israel News Staff

 

Why Are So Many Claiming That Iran Is Complying with the Deal, When Evidence Shows They Aren’t?

October 19, 2017

by Alan M. Dershowitz

Source: Why Are So Many Claiming That Iran Is Complying with the Deal, When Evidence Shows They Aren’t?

The evidence is mounting that Iran is not only violating the spirit of the no-nukes deal, but that it is also violating its letter. The prologue to the deal explicitly states: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” This reaffirmation has no sunset provision: it is supposed to be forever.

Yet German officials have concluded that Iran has not given up on its goal to produce nuclear weapons that can be mounted on rockets. According to Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin newspaper:

“Despite the nuclear agreement [reached with world powers in July 2015], Iran has not given up its illegal activities in Germany. The mullah regime also made efforts this year to obtain material from [German] firms for its nuclear program and the construction of missiles, said security sources.”

Frank Jansen, a prominent journalist, has reported that the “Revolutionary Guards want to continue the nuclear program at all costs.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently stated that it could not verify that Iran was “fully implementing the agreement” by not engaging in activities that would allow it to make a nuclear explosive device. Yukiya Amano of the IAEA told Reuters that when it comes to inspections – which are stipulated in section T of the agreement – “our tools are limited.” Amano continued to say: “In other sections, for example, Iran has committed to submit declarations, place their activities under safeguards or ensure access by us. But in Section T I don’t see any (such commitment).”

It is well established that Tehran has consistently denied IAEA inspectors’ access to military sites and other research locations. This is in direct contravention to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and bipartisan legislation set out by Congress, which compels the president to verify that “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement.” Yet, according to the Institute for Science and International Security, as of the last quarterly report released in August, the IAEA had not visited any military site in Iran since implementation day.

For its part, the IAEA has been complicit in allowing Tehran to circumvent the agreement and act as a law unto itself. Consider that after the deal was negotiated with the P5+1 nations, it was revealed that Tehran and the IAEA had entered into a secret agreement which allowed the Iranian regime to carry out its own nuclear trace testing at the Parchin complex – a site long suspected of being a nuclear testing ground – and would report back to the IAEA with ‘selective’ videos and photos. This arrangement – which went behind the back of Congress – is especially suspect when considered in light of the Iranian regime’s history of duplicity.

To be sure, revelations about Iran testing the boundaries of the JCPOA – and crossing the line into violation – are not new. While many of these violations have not been disclosed by the previous U.S. administration, or by the IAEA, there is a myriad of information and analysis suggesting that Iran has previously failed to comply with several provisions of the JCPOA. It has twice been revealed that Iran exceeded the cap on heavy water mandated by the agreement, and has also refused to allow testing of its carbon fiber acquired before the deal was implemented. Moreover, it has also been reported that Tehran has found new ways to conduct additional mechanical testing of centrifuges, in clear violation of the JCPOA.

These violations are not surprising when considering Iran’s belligerent posture in the Middle East. Iran continues to exploit the instability in the region to prop up and fund terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, whose chants of “Death to Israel” are now also accompanied by vows of “Death to America.” For its part, the Iranian-funded Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 missiles aimed directly at Israel. As such, it is clear that rather than combatting Iran’s threatening posture, the influx of money thrust into the Iranian economy, coupled with ambiguities in the text of the agreement, have had the reverse effect of emboldening the Iranian regime and fortifying its hegemonic ambitions. Iran also continues to test its vast ballistic missile program and deny its own people fundamental human rights.

Yet, even if Iran were to comply with the letter of the nuclear agreement, it would still be able to build up a vast nuclear arsenal within a relatively short timeframe. The approach adopted by the Trump administration – articulated in a statement delivered by the president several days ago – is justified by the realities on the ground. By announcing that he is decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, President Trump is giving Congress 60-days to act. Not only is President Trump giving the United States back some of its leverage, but he is also sending a powerful message to the rogue leaders in Iran and North Korea – who are believed to have cooperated on missile technology – that the era of containment and deterrence policies is over. The United States is returning to its original mission of prevention.

Interestingly, in the aftermath of President Trump’s address, the Saudi Press Agency reported that King Salman called the U.S. President to offer his support for America’s more “firm strategy” on Iran and commitment to fighting “Iranian aggression.” Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, offered similar praise for the new U.S. posture, saying in a statement that President Trump “has created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism.” It is no secret that these two previously discordant states are now cooperating in unprecedented ways as they try to counter the threat posed by a nuclear Iran. When Israel and the Gulf States are on the same page, the world should listen.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that King Salman called President Trump to offer his support for America’s more “firm strategy” on Iran and commitment to fighting “Iranian aggression.” Pictured above: President Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. (Image source: The White House)

There are those that argue that by decertifying, President Trump has undercut American credibility and sent a message to the world that it can’t count on one American president following through on deals made by his predecessor. But the fault for that lies squarely with President Obama who refused not only to make his deal a binding treaty, but also to seek any congressional approval – both of which would have assured greater continuity. He knew when he signed the deal that it could be undone by any future president.

The goal, of course, is not to undo the deal but rather to undo its sunset provision and to make Iran keep the commitment it made in the prologue: never to obtain “any nuclear weapons.”

The available evidence now strongly supports the conclusion that Iran is not keeping that commitment: that it is determined to develop a nuclear arsenal capable of being mounted on intercontinental ballistics missiles. If the current deal is not changed, it is likely that Iran will become the new North Korea – or worse – before very long.

Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of, Trumped Up! How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy, which is now available.

A shorter version of this article appeared in The Hill.

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

October 17, 2017

Source: FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow | TheHill

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

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Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.

That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment.

Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam.

Between 2009 and January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion,” a November 2014 indictment stated.

His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show.

In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014 and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia.

“As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Gadren testified.

“Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added.

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.

Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”

UN Accused of ‘Blackmailing’ Israeli Telecomm Company to Cut Services to Jews

October 17, 2017

BY:

Source: UN Accused of ‘Blackmailing’ Israeli Telecomm Company to Cut Services to Jews

The United Nations Human Rights Council is pressuring a major Israeli telecommunications company to cease operations in disputed areas of the Jewish state or face a potential designation as a human rights abuser, according to a copy of communications sent by the Human Rights Council that is being viewed as an attempt to blackmail international corporations into boycotting the Jewish state.

The UNHRC recently sent a letter to the CEO of Bezeq, a major Israeli telecoms firm, accusing it of promoting settlement activity in Israel and of providing cellular services to areas that the Council believes are Palestinian territory.

The UNHRC’s effort to create a database of companies working in and with Israel is being viewed by pro-Israel leaders as an effort to intimidate Israeli and Western businesses as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, a global effort that has been described by the United States and others as anti-Semitic in nature. Bezeq is among a number of companies, including those in America, who have received such letters from the UNHRC.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the situation said the Trump administration opposes the UNHRC database and views it as part of a larger effort to isolate the Jewish state and use the United Nations to bully international corporations.

The UNHRC has long been accused of harboring an anti-Israel bias and recently elected a number of prominent global human rights abusers to take a seat at the council, including nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Angola, and Qatar, all of which have been accused of violating their citizens’ human rights.

The UNHRC’s effort to create a database of corporations that it claims support Israeli settlement growth and the abuse of Palestinian human rights has been described by some pro-Israel voices as a blackmail effort meant to undermine the Jewish state’s international standing.

The UNHRC sent a letter to Bezeq in late September accusing it of “supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, as well as the “use of nature resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes,” according to a copy of that letter that first circulated on Facebook.

The UNHRC threatens to add Bezeq to its database of companies operating in what it claims are Israeli settlements and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Bezeq owns approximately 40 real estate properties in the West Bank used for telecommunications infrastructure, and operates antennas throughout the West Bank,” the UNHRC wrote in its letter.”

“Bezeq provides landline, cellular, internet, and cable TV services to residents of settlements in the West Bank,” according to the UNHRC, which considers this activity a violation of its accords.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the UN criticized the creation of the database, telling the Washington Free Beacon the United States will not participate in such an effort.

“We have made clear our opposition regarding the creation of a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and we have not participated and will not participate in its creation or contribute to its content,” the official said.

Anne Bayefsky, a prominent pro-Israel activist and head of Human Rights Voices, a watchdog group that monitors anti-Israel bias at the UN, told the Free Beacon the letter to Bezeq represents an effort by the international body to promote BDS efforts against Israel.

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Prince Zeid Al Hussein, acting in cahoots with the UN Human Rights Council, has been blackmailing companies around the world as part of a UN BDS campaign directed at Israel,” Bayefsky said.

Similar letters have been sent to companies across the globe, threatening them with inclusion into this anti-Israel database.

“Until now, the UN High Commissioners Office has been sending around secret letters both to companies and to states, threatening them with inclusion in a database of offenders that the UN plans to release by the end of the year,” Bayefsky said. “The database is to include companies that ‘directly or indirectly’ are connected to Israeli settlements. It is nothing short of an assault on the economic welfare of the state of Israel, period.”

As many as 30 American companies are believed to have received similar letters, according to Bayefsky, who urged the Trump administration to take greater action to counter the campaign.

“American shareholders and businesses, and the communities that depend on them, have no idea whether the State Department has been in touch with these companies and given them immediate and appropriate advice about how to handle this dangerous UN affront,” Bayefsky said. “The fact is that the high commissioner and the Council have no legal basis whatsoever in writing these letters or demanding any response to the Council’s anti-Israel resolutions that in turn have no legal status. Moreover, American companies that write back to the high commissioner may well violate American law, especially given numerous states that have adopted anti-BDS legislation.”

“The silence from American officials has been deafening and totally inexcusable,” Bayefsky said. “Blackmail is not defeated by playing by the blackmailers rules.”

Representatives from Bezeq and the UNHRC did not immediately respond to Free Beacon requests for comment on the matter.

Iran on Pathway to Fully Restart Nuclear Weapons Program

October 11, 2017

BY:

Top lawmakers urge Trump not to leave deal

Source: Iran on Pathway to Fully Restart Nuclear Weapons Program

Iran is on the pathway to fully restarting its contested nuclear weapons program due to insufficient international inspections of its military sites and caveats in the landmark nuclear deal that permit it to reengage in nuclear enrichment work within the next several years, according to experts who testified Wednesday before Congress.

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to preserve the agreement and focus on more aggressive enforcement.

Reps. Ed Royce (R. Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chair and ranking member of the committee, both advised the Trump administration to “enforce the hell out of” the deal, rather than abandon it.

They offered this advice despite testimony by leading nuclear experts that Iran has repeatedly violated agreement and could be back on the pathway to a nuclear weapon within the next five or six years.

While Trump is expected to lay out his plan later this week, White House officials have remained mum about what exactly the president will say and how he will proceed with either enforcing or leaving the agreement.

Congress is set in the coming weeks to consider a range of new sanctions and other measures to target Iran’s growing military influence in the region, as well as its continued aggression against U.S. forces operating in Syria and other areas.

David Albright, a prominent former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told lawmakers that Iran has violated key portions of the agreement and remains just as committed to nuclear weapons work as it was before the deal was struck.

“Given Iran’s current trajectory, the risk is great that Iran will seek nuclear weapons once the nuclear limitations start to end, or these JCPOA limitations begin to sunset,” Albright said. “The first nuclear sunset of note is eight years after Adoption Day, or six years from now, when Iran can scale up advanced centrifuge manufacturing.”

Within the next three years, Iran will be permitted to transfer and move arms across the region. While the Islamic Republic has already engaged in this behavior, despite current bans, the removal of this prohibition would allow the country to legally purchase and build sensitive technology to enable its weapons work.

“Iran has merely temporarily frozen its most threatening nuclear weapons capabilities,” Albright said. “It has stated as a matter of policy that it will not allow inspections of its military sites, even though some are known to have been the site of secret gas centrifuge manufacturing and nuclear weapons development work.”

Other military sites that cannot be inspected encompass those tied to nuclear weapons development and other sensitive equipment.

Iran has “violated the deal on many occasions,” according to Albright, who outlined efforts to avoid verification requirements and exceed the limits of heavy water, another nuclear byproduct.

Iran also has run more advanced nuclear centrifuges than permitted under the agreement, another key violations, according to Albright.

Despite the evidence of violations, both Royce and Engel were in agreement that Trump should keep the deal and find ways to more forcefully police it.

“I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it,” Royce said. “Let’s work with allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites, and we should address the fundamental sunset shortcoming, as our allies have recognized.”

Engel said that if the United States pulls out of the deal, it would send a message to the globe that America “cannot be counted on to keep its word.” Such a move also would erode the United States’ ability to counter the North Korean nuclear threat, according to Engel.

Gen. Charles Wald, former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, told lawmakers that the deal has weakened America’s ability to respond to Iranian aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“Iran is already moving more directly and brazenly against U.S. interests and our allies,” Wald said in his testimony. “This stems in part from what the JCPOA does: it removes the aforementioned restrictions on Tehran’s power projection resources. Yet this also results from what the JCPOA represents: the weakening of U.S. credibility to push back as Iran aggravates the growing security vacuum in the Middle East.”

Iran, now flush with cash as a result of the deal, has strengthened its missile programs, which already were among the most advanced in the region.

“For the first time in decades, Iran is at daggers drawn with U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf,” Wald said. “It is assisting its Houthi proxy in Yemen with attacks on U.S. ships and our allies—including a steady hail of ballistic missiles targeting Saudi cities and bases. Flush with rising revenues from sanctions relief, Iran is also consolidating control over the heart of the Middle East and directly undermining U.S. efforts to stabilize Syria and Iraq.”