Archive for the ‘Iran and JCPOA’ category

Commander says Iran’s people will punch U.S. Secretary of State in the mouth

May 22, 2018

Source Link: Commander says Iran’s people will punch U.S. Secretary of State in the mouth

Reuter’s Staff May 22, 2018

{Take your best shot, Bubba. – LS}

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A senior Iranian military commander poured scorn on U.S. threats to tighten sanctions on Tuesday, saying the Islamic Republic’s people would respond by punching U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the mouth.

Pompeo said on Monday Washington would impose new penalties if Tehran did not make sweeping changes, including dropping its nuclear program and pulling out of the Syrian civil war.

Two weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration has threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran further on a course of confrontation.

“The people of Iran should stand united in the face of this and they will deliver a strong punch to the mouth of the American Secretary of State and anyone who backs them,” Ismail Kowsari, the deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran said, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency.

Limiting Iran’s missile capabilities was one of Pompeo’s main demands.

“Who are you and America to tell us to limit the range of ballistic missiles?” Kowsari said, according to ILNA. “History has shown that with the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America is the top criminal with regard to missiles,” he added.

Qassem Soleimani, the head of the branch of the Revolutionary Guards that carries out operations outside Iran’s borders, was singled out by Pompeo as a top troublemaker in the Middle East.

Kowsari said that the Iranian people back Soleimani.

“Soleimani is not a single person. The great people of Iran support him,” Kowsari said.

Separately, Iran’s government spokesman said that the plan outlined by Pompeo would exacerbate the public’s hostility to the United States.

“Do the Americans think that the silk glove that they’ve taken out and the iron hand that they’ve extended to the people, a hand that’s backed by Israel and the [Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization], will make Iranian people think that America wants democracy?” Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said on Tuesday, according to state media.

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) is an exiled Iranian armed opposition group which has called for the overthrow of the Iranian government for decades.

John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor, has been a supporter of the MKO, which the Iranian government sees as a terrorist group.

 

OH BOY! Iranian Regime Threatens to Release Names of Western Officials Who Took Bribes to Pass Nuke Deal

May 13, 2018

by Jim Hoft May 12, 2018 Gateway Pundit

Source: OH BOY! Iranian Regime Threatens to Release Names of Western Officials Who Took Bribes to Pass Nuke Deal

{This could be interesting. – LS}

Earlier this week President Trump withdrew from the sham Iranian nuclear deal. President Trump knew the deal with the Iranian mullahs was not working.

This was despite former Secretary of State John Kerry working against the Trump administration to salvage the weak deal with the Iranian regime.

 On Saturday John Kerry was spotted at a meeting with Iranian officials in Paris, France.

Of course, the Iranian regime is very upset with President Trump’s decision.

Now this…
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari warned Western officials this week that if they do not put pressure on the Trump administration the Iranian regime will leak the names of all Western officials who were bribed to pass the weak deal.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari (Press TV)

This could get good.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Re -Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to the May 8, 2018 National Security Presidential Memorandum Relating to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

May 9, 2018

U.S. Treasury Department 5-08-2018

Source: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Re -Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to the May 8, 2018 National Security Presidential Memorandum R elating to the Joint Comprehen sive Plan of Action

{Here are the official details regarding sanctions and the JCPOA withdrawal. – LS}

Note: This document is in PDF format. Click HERE or the source link above to view.

Netanyahu says Israel obtained ‘half a ton’ of documents on Iran’s nuclear weapons program

April 30, 2018

By Guy Taylor – The Washington Times – Updated: 2:17 p.m. on Monday, April 30, 2018

Source Link:

{Absolutely amazing. – LS}

Israel’s prime minister says his government has obtained “half a ton” of secret Iranian documents proving the Tehran government once had a nuclear weapons program.

Calling it a “great intelligence achievement,” Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the documents show that Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions before signing a 2015 deal with world powers.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said Israel recently uncovered 55,000 documents and 183 CDs of information from Iran’s “nuclear archives.”

Speaking in English, perhaps with an international audience in mind, he says the material is filled with incriminating evidence showing the Iranian program, called “Project Amad,” was to develop a weapon.

President Donald Trump is to decide by May 12 whether to pull out of the international deal with Iran. Netanyahu has led calls for Trump to withdraw.

Netanyahu: Iran had secret ‘Project Amad’ to design, produce and test warheads

April 30, 2018

By Tom DiChristopher CNBC April 30, 2018

Source Link: Netanyahu: Iran had secret ‘Project Amad’ to design, produce and test warheads

{Another big chunk of the Obama legacy just got flushed down the James Crapper. – LS}

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed a cache of files he claims were obtained from Iran and prove Tehran ran a secret program to build nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu’s office billed the televised statement as a “significant development” regarding the Iran nuclear deal, but it largely rehashed what the world long ago accepted: That Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons.

That acknowledgement marshaled international support for a U.S. campaign to impose a tough series of sanctions against Iran. The impact of those sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, ultimately producing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Netanyahu’s remarks come less than two weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump must decide whether to continue suspending sanctions against Iran under that deal, or restore the penalties on one of the world’s biggest oil producers.

Iranian leaders have long said their nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. But Netanyahu on Monday unveiled tens of thousands of pages of documents, which he said were copied from a “highly secret location” in Iran.

Those files detail Project Amad, which Netanyahu described as “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons.” He said the files provided “new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive.”

The announcement also followed a meeting between Netanyahu and newly sworn-in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this weekend.

“We’ve shared this material with the United States and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” Netanyahu said.

The Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. The accord lifted a series of sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear program and allowing international investigators access to its facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and the signatories to the agreement have repeatedly confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal as it is written.

But the Trump administration, Israel and foreign policy hawks have long argued that the accord itself is flawed. Last year, the White House announced a major policy shift aimed at working with U.S. lawmakers and European partners to toughen the nuclear deal.  {You have to excuse them folks, afterall, this is CNBC. – LS}

In January, Trump waived sanctions against Iran, but said he would not suspend them when the next deadline arrived on May 12 unless the United States and Europe had agreed on a path forward.

 

Iranian president to Trump: Stay in nuke deal or face ‘severe consequences’

April 24, 2018


“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday. “Iran is prepared for all possible situations.” | Iranian Presidency Office via AP

By LOUIS NELSON 04/24/2018 07:14 AM EDT Politico

Source Link: Iranian president to Trump: Stay in nuke deal or face ‘severe consequences’

{Here we go again. More threats from Iran. You’d think they were speaking from a position of strength but their economy is failing, their people are suffering, and their currency is being devalued daily. Any more resistance by the Mullahs will result in tighter sanctions and an eventual collapse. With Trump, economic power backed up by the world’s largest military is a huge bargaining chip. I wouldn’t want to call his bluff if I were them. He just might not be bluffing as many others have found out. – LS}

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Tuesday of “severe consequences” for the U.S. should it withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a step President Donald Trump has indicated he will take if certain changes to the agreement are not made.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments … the Iranian government will firmly react,” Rouhani said in a speech, according to a Reuters report.

The Iranian president’s warning coincides with the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington, where he is expected to urge Trump to keep the U.S. in the deal, which was negotiated under former President Barack Obama and agreed to by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany and Iran.

Complaints about the Iran deal were among Trump’s most frequent talking points on the 2016 campaign trail, including a pledge to pull the U.S. from it. The president has yet to follow through on that promise, opting instead to continue extending the deal while demanding that it be altered to address other behavior by the Iranian government, including its funding of groups deemed by the U.S. to be terrorist organizations, that currently falls outside the scope of the nuclear deal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that his nation’s compliance with the deal was “either all or nothing,” indicating that Iran would not remain party to the deal if the U.S. withdraws, even if the other nations do not. Rouhani, delivering a speech in the city of Tabriz, said Iran is prepared for whatever move Trump makes.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” the Iranian president said. “Iran is prepared for all possible situations.”

 

Trump Admin Halts Taxpayer-Funded Purchases of Iranian Nuclear Materials

November 29, 2017

Trump Admin Halts Taxpayer-Funded Purchases of Iranian Nuclear Materials, Washington Free Beacon , November 29, 2017

Getty Images

After leaving the door open to additional purchases, senior Trump administration officials confirmed to the Free Beacon on Wednesday that the U.S. government would no longer engage in these nuclear transactions with Iran, a major policy shift that sources say is part of an effort to crackdown on Iran’s access to U.S. funds.

Lawmakers and other insiders had viewed the $8.6 million payment to Iran as a scheme to give Iran access to U.S. currency as part of an incentive package aimed at keeping it in compliance with the nuclear deal. The former administration stonewalled several attempts by lawmakers to discern the full details of the transaction.

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The Trump administration has put a stop to U.S. purchases of nuclear materials from Iran, a policy that first began under the Obama administration in an attempt to ensure Iran remains in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Obama administration sparked controversy in Congress and the national security world when it announced in late 2016 that it would spend more than $8 million dollars to purchase Iranian heavy water, a nuclear byproduct, in a bid to keep the Islamic Republic in line with restrictions on these materials imposed under the nuclear agreement.

The Obama administration, in what lawmakers described as a “potentially illegal” taxpayer-funded transaction, paid at least $8.6 million to purchase 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran. The nuclear byproduct can be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, which is why restrictions were initially placed on Tehran’s stockpile.

The transaction occurred via an offshore third-party, according to U.S. officials, who made clear at the time that it would engage in further purchases if they were needed to help keep Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal.

After leaving the door open to additional purchases, senior Trump administration officials confirmed to the Free Beacon on Wednesday that the U.S. government would no longer engage in these nuclear transactions with Iran, a major policy shift that sources say is part of an effort to crackdown on Iran’s access to U.S. funds.

Lawmakers and other insiders had viewed the $8.6 million payment to Iran as a scheme to give Iran access to U.S. currency as part of an incentive package aimed at keeping it in compliance with the nuclear deal. The former administration stonewalled several attempts by lawmakers to discern the full details of the transaction.

Trump administration officials told the Free Beacon they have informed Iran that it is now solely responsible for maintaining compliance with the nuclear deal.

“No, the United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told the Free Beacon. “We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under their heavy water limit in the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official title of the nuclear agreement.

A State Department official confirmed this shift in policy to the Free Beacon following a request for further information.

In May, House lawmakers approved a bill spearheaded by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), to outlaw all future purchases of Iranian heavy water by the United States. Democrats in the Senate opposed a similar measure due to concerns that it would conflict with U.S. efforts to preserve the nuclear agreement.

One source familiar with the administration’s thinking on the policy shift told the Free Beacon it is part of a larger effort to take a tougher line towards Iranian efforts to gain further access to cash assets.

“This is another place where the Trump administration is saying ‘no’ to Iranian extortion and blackmail,” said the source, a veteran Middle East policy expert who routinely works with congressional offices on the Iran issue.

“Iran was deliberately overproducing heavy water and then telling the U.S. ‘buy it from us or it’ll blow up the deal’,” the source said. “The Obama administration paid, effectively rewarding Iran for violating the nuclear deal. The Trump administration refused to let the Iranians hold the deal hostage.”

At the time the Obama administration was orchestrating the cash transaction, lawmakers were intentionally being kept in the dark, the Free Beacon first reported.

Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, then a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon at the time that the former administration was seeking to subsidize Tehran’s nuclear program.

“The Obama administration’s deal with the Mullahs in Tehran to purchase heavy water demonstrates a disturbing, potentially illegal, willingness of the administration to subsidize Iran’s nuclear program,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “This purchase allows the Iranians to offload previously unsellable product and it destigmatizes the act of doing business in Iran.”

The purchase was “made without explanation as to how Iran will receive these funds or what steps the administration is taking to prevent what will almost certainly be U.S. taxpayer dollars from possibly being used to support terrorist activities, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, or Iran’s ballistic missile program,” Pompeo said at the time.

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran

October 31, 2017

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran, Washington Free Beacon, October 30, 2017

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and Iranian technicians at a nuclear power plant of Natanz / Getty Images

The United States is pursuing a rigorous new regime for international inspections of Iran’s nuclear program that includes access to off-limits military sites as well as increased transparency on the Islamic Republic’s often obfuscated enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, according to U.S. officials and congressional leaders spearheading the new inspection effort.

A delegation of 13 leading senators petitioned the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, led by Ambassador Nikki Haley, to implement a series of stricter inspection methods that would give Western countries a deeper look into Iran’s suspected use of military sites to continue contested nuclear work prohibited under the landmark nuclear agreement, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration is said to be fully on board with these tougher inspection measures, which could address lingering questions about Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, U.S. officials said. Iran has been found in breach several times since the accord was implemented.

The letter, spearheaded by Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) and a delegation of top GOP senators, urges the United States to force the United Nations into accepting a tough new nuclear inspection regime in Iran that could shed sunlight on the country’s hidden nuclear efforts.

Many of Iran’s most contested military sites and uranium enrichment plants have been off-limits to international inspectors or subject to a delayed timeline that gives Iran at least a month to prepare for inspections, a part of the nuclear agreement that has come under particular criticism from those who say it gives the Islamic Republic time to cleanup and hide possible nuclear work falling outside of the accord.

The senators highlight a series of “shortcomings in the inspection and verification regime” led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which has itself admitted in recent months that it does not have a full picture of Iran’s current nuclear program.

A major “deterioration in the amount and quality of the information provided by IAEA inspections [has] prevented the inspection and verification regime of the JCPOA from being as thorough and transparent as possible,” the senators write, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. is said to fully back these tougher inspection requests and is already pushing for a change at Turtle Bay.

“The senators’ letter is completely in sync with Ambassador Haley’s concerns about Iranian nuclear inspections,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission told the Free Beacon Monday, several days after the senators first sent their letter.

Haley “will continue to press for the most aggressive implementation of the nuclear deal, while also working to move the U.N. toward stronger measures against dangerous Iranian actions that fall outside of the deal, including their missile testing, arms smuggling, and support for terrorism,” the official said.

A spokesperson for Perdue’s office described the letter as part of a larger bid to crackdown on flaws in the nuclear deal that were originally obfuscated by the Obama administration when it first sold the deal to Congress and the American public.

“It’s very clear President Obama’s dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal doesn’t have the teeth he claimed it would,” the congressional official told the Free Beacon. “President Trump was right to decertify this deal, and now we have to turn up the pressure on the IAEA to get more detailed reporting and ensure all potential nuclear sites—including military installations—are inspected thoroughly.”

“Senator Perdue is encouraged Ambassador Haley has brought these issues to the U.N. and supports her effort to get better information about Iran’s nuclear activities,” the source said.

U.S. officials and those in Congress are seeking to close a series of gaps that have allowed Tehran to receive a month’s notice before inspections and also keep secret its most contested military sites.

The letter highlights flaws in a portion of the nuclear deal known as Section T, which is supposed to provide assurances that Iran is not engaging in any activities that would contribute to the design or development of a nuclear explosive device.

The IAEA has admitted in recent weeks that it is unclear exactly how to interpret this portion of the accord and has been unable to fully verify efforts undertaken by Iran on this front.

Without this information, the United States cannot fully determine “if Iran makes any effort to leave the JCPOA abruptly or gradually,” according to the letter, which was also signed by Sens.Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), and several others.

Access to Iran’s military sites remains a key outstanding issue for the Trump administration and Congress, according to these officials, who say there is no credibly way to determine Iranian compliance with the nuclear accord without such access.

“We believe that without visits to military sites, the IAEA cannot make a credible conclusion that Iran is meeting its section T obligations,” the senators wrote.

The group is also pushing greater transparency on Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts, including its mining of uranium ore and yellow cake.

Inspection regimes “should include the number of visits to mines and ore concentration plants,” according to the senators, who say that Iran should be forced to inform the West about the amount of yellow cake it produces.

Additional new measures would include disclosures of “the type and amount of uranium fed into [nuclear] cascades at” each of Iran’s facilities. Such information would provide a clearer picture of how much enriched uranium Iran has on hand.

Iran must also provide more information about the number of nuclear centrifuges it is operating in its Natanz plant, as well as other areas, according to the senators, who are pushing for greater inspection of Iran’s storage of advanced nuclear centrifuges.

This would include “an assessment on if the IAEA surveillance measures are conclusive” on this front, or if further inspections are needed.

“With these improvements to inspection and reporting practices, we can better deny Iran’s access to a nuclear weapons capability,” the senators wrote.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council declined to comment on the letter, saying it does not discuss “correspondence between Congress and government officials,” but the issues highlighted in the missive appear to jibe with the Trump administration’s public criticism of the accord.

One veteran foreign policy insider for works closely with Congress on the Iran portfolio told the Free Beacon that the new U.S. inspection efforts highlight important ways in which the IAEA’s current regime has failed to provide critical information about Tehran’s nuclear progress.

“This letter does a couple of things,” the source said. “It highlights how the IAEA has been spinning its wheels in Iran, and hasn’t visited the sites where Iran is likely to be developing nuclear weapons technology.”

“It also serves notice that Congress knows the IAEA is full of shit when its top officials say they’ve confirmed Iran is complying with the deal,” the source added.

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards

October 13, 2017

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards, Washington Free Beacon, October 13, 2017

Rep. Peter Roskam / Getty Images

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

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Congress is set to consider new legislation that would require Iran to accept tough new conditions on the landmark nuclear deal or face a rash of harsh new economic sanctions aimed at thwarting the Islamic Republic’s continued nuclear buildup, according to a draft of new legislation exclusively viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement, top GOP lawmakers are already working on legislation that would compliment the White House’s announcement and move forward with efforts to harshly penalize Tehran if it does not accept rigid new standards on its nuclear activities within the next six months, according to a copy of draft legislation circulating in the House of Representatives.

The new legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would reimpose all economic sanctions lifted by the former Obama administration as part of the nuclear agreement if Iran refuses to comply with tough new standards restricting its ballistic missile program, arms buildup, and failure to permit access to a range of military sites suspected of engaging in nuclear work.

The legislation also would effectively kill provisions of the nuclear agreement known as sunset clauses. These are portions of the deal that would rollback restrictions on Iran’s advanced nuclear research and weapons buildup within the next five to six years.

Trump, as well as allies in Congress, maintains the original nuclear accord contains several key flaws that permit Iran to cheat on the deal and receive sweetheart bonuses—such as sanctions relief and other assets—despite evidence of multiple violations of the agreement.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the effort to tighten the deal said that many in Congress would be willing to reimpose all key sanctions on Iran if it does not agree to abide by the stricter enforcement regulations.

“The days of appeasing the Mullah’s every wish and sitting back and watching as the terrorist state goes nuclear are over,” said one senior congressional official intimately familiar with the new proposal. “Congress overwhelmingly opposed Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran. Now’s the time to assert our constitutional responsibility to defend our nation and use all tools of U.S. power to permanently prevent an nuclear armed Iran.”

This new legislation is similar to the policy approach advocated by senior Trump administration officials, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told reporters late Thursday the administration is looking to create a parallel nuclear deal that gives Congress a larger role in ensuring Iranian compliance.

These would include “trigger points that are specific to the nuclear program itself, but also deals with things like their ballistic missile program,” according to Tillerson.

Roskam’s new legislation, called the JCPOA Improvement Act of 2017, seeks to do precisely this.

In addition to banning Iran from developing, testing, and operating ballistic missile technology—which was never addressed in the original nuclear agreement – the new legislation would impose even stricter regulations on the amount of nuclear enrichment Iran can legally engage in.

It also would stop Iran from installing advanced nuclear centrifuges that can enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, much faster than older versions of this equipment. Under the original nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran would have been granted the right to operate advanced centrifuges within the next several years.

Congress also is seeking to address Iran’s development of heavy water nuclear reactors that provide a secondary pathway to a nuclear weapon via the use of plutonium, a by-product of such equipment, according to the draft legislation and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

The Obama administration had worked to ensure that, under the agreement, Iran retained its right to operate such reactors, despite opposition in Congress and elsewhere. Iran has already inked several deals with Russia to assist in the construction of new light and heavy water reactors, though this new legislation could complicate that matter.

Another key portion of the original agreement that has been vehemently criticized by Trump and congressional allies surrounds caveats that give Iran more than a month before consenting to inspections of its nuclear sites.

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

If Iran does not agree to the new restrictions proposed in the legislation, Congress has the ability to reimpose all sanctions that were lifted as part of the original accord. This represents a major new tool for Congress as it works to thwart Iran’s continued military endeavors across the Middle East and its pursuit of advanced new weaponry.

Under the new legislation, any future attempt to rescind these new restrictions would be subject to a vote in the United Nations Security Council, according to the bill.

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead

October 10, 2017

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead, Al Arabiya, Heshmat Alavi, October 9, 2017

Members of Iranian armed forces march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS.

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

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All eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his upcoming Iran speech later this week to clarify his decision to certify or decertify Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), designed to curb the regime’s controversial atomic drive.

This has Iran’s regime on its toes, as senior elite in Tehran understand fully how the US can lead the international community in adopting strong measures against its broad scope of malign activities. Expected to be addressed is also a wide range of concerns over Iran’s dangerous policies in relation to its ballistic missile advances, meddling in Middle East states and supporting terrorist proxy groups as explained in a new video.

‘Iran’s unacceptable behavior’

Iran’s rogue behavior, currently imposing its influence on four major regional capitals of Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa, are the result of the Obama administration’s “overly lenient foreign policy, which sought to promote America’s priorities through consensus, rather than through the frank display of power,” as put by a recent The New Yorker piece.

“Lifting the sanctions as required under the terms of the JCPOA has enabled Iran’s unacceptable behavior,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a late September meeting with his P5+1 counterparts and Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Trump administration is also deeply concerned over Iran’s proxies mining the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait waterway, aiming its indigenous missiles from Yemen towards cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and from southern Lebanon towards Israel. This is Tehran in action with the objective of taking advantage of the destruction left behind by ISIS across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump told reporters before a Thursday evening meeting with senior military leaders at the White House. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

Trump has put Iran “on notice” over charges that Tehran violated a nuclear deal with the West by test-firing a ballistic missile. (Reuters)

Joint effort

Parallel to the White House there are voices on Capitol Hill advocating the new approach weighed by the administration.

“The president should decline to certify, not primarily on grounds related to Iran’s technical compliance, but rather based on the long catalog of the regime’s crimes and perfidy against the United States, as well as the deal’s inherent weakness,” Senator Tom Cotton said last week at a speech in the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Trump administration seeks to place necessary focus on Iran’s illicit Middle East ambitions and actions, talks are also ongoing as we speak over how to amend the JCPOA’s restrictions.

“Sunset clauses,” Iran’s ballistic missile development and testing, and an inspections regime lacking the bite to gain necessary access into the regime’s controversial military sites. Under the current framework Iran can easily conduct nuclear weapons research and development in military sites and claim such locations do not fall under the JCPOA jurisdiction.

While it is expected of Trump to decertify Iran, he most likely will not go the distance to completely pull America out of the nuclear agreement. Obama refused to send the JCPOA to Congress for discussion and approval. Trump, however, seems set to place the decision to impose further sanctions on Iran upon the shoulders of US lawmakers.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about the Iran nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on September 5, 2017. (Reuters)

More than ‘one piece’

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. (AFP)

Fear renders contradiction

Sensing an increasingly escalating tone from Washington, Tehran signaled its first sign of fear by expressing readiness to discuss its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. And yet less than 24 hours later, Iranian officials said no offers were made to negotiate such restrictions.

“Iran regards defensive missile programs as its absolute right and will definitely continue them within the framework of its defensive, conventional and specified plans and strategies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according state media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also felt the need to make remarks to save face before the regime’s already depleting social base. “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said at a recent Tehran University ceremony, according to state media.

Of course, we all remember how prior to the JCPOA signing in 2015 senior Iranian officials went the limits in describing any “retreat” regarding their nuclear program as a “red line.” To make a long story short, Tehran is comprehending how the times are changing at a high velocity, endangering its domestic, regional and international interests. And unlike the Obama years, its actions will not go unanswered.

Senator Cotton made this crystal clear at his speech: “Congress and the President, working together, should lay out how the deal must change and, if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”