Archive for the ‘Iran nuclear deal’ category

Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought

November 15, 2018

If Tehran pulls out of the 2015 deal, it could have a weapon in a matter of months.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a press conference in New York on Sept. 26. (Jim Watson/ AFP}

By Michael Hirsh | November 13, 2018, 6:02 PM Foreign Policy News

Source Link: Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought

{First, ‘breakout’ was 10 years away, then 2 years, then 6 months. Now it begins again. Honestly, if you still think Iran has no nukes then I have this great bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. – LS}

A secret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.

Experts say the revelation that Iran had more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves—as opposed to its ability to produce weapons-grade fuel, the main focus of the nuclear pact—is a surprising and troubling finding in the new intelligence.

“The archive is littered with new stuff about the Iranian nuclear weapons program,” Albright told Foreign Policy. “It’s unbelievable how much is in there.” One of his key conclusions from studying the documents was that the Iranians “were further along than Western intelligence agencies realized.”

The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.

“The U.S. was issuing statements that it would take a year at least, perhaps two years, to build a deliverable weapon. The information in the archive makes it clear they could have done it a lot quicker,” said Albright. He added that the French government, which was then saying Iran could achieve a weapon in three months, was much closer in its estimates.

Analysts were still sifting through the archive, said Albright, who is also known for tracking North Korea’s nuclear program and for investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs going back to the 1990s. “I don’t think even the Israelis have gone through it all,” he said. “Every day when they go through it they see something new.”

Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


Iran Moves to Lift Its Nuclear Enrichment Capacity

June 5, 2018

The Natanz nuclear site in Iran, in 2007. A new centrifuge assembly center there hints at a future resumption of industrial-scale enrichment.Credit Hasan Sarbakhshian/Associated Press

By Thomas Erdbrink June 5, 2018 New York Times

Source Link: Iran Moves to Lift Its Nuclear Enrichment Capacity

{I remember when the media gleefully announced Iran’s nuclear weapons ‘breakout’ was only 10 years away. Then is was 5 years followed by 2 years. Finally, they said 6 months or less. That was years ago.  Makes you wonder just where they are today. – LS}

TEHRAN — Iran announced on Tuesday that it had completed a new centrifuge assembly center at the Natanz nuclear site, in a first step to increasing its enrichment capacity.

While Iran said it would keep enrichment within limits set by the 2015 nuclear accord, the center’s opening seemed to signal that it could swing to industrial-level enrichment if that agreement, which the United States withdrew from last month, should further unravel.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, told state television that the center’s construction had been “in line with our safeguard commitments but not publicly announced.”

A spokesman for the Iranian nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said a letter had been sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency explaining the action. He also told the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency that Tehran would increase its capacity to produce uranium hexafluoride, a feedstock for centrifuges.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Monday that the country would adhere to enrichment limits set in the 2015 nuclear accord.CreditOffice of the Supreme Leader, via EPA

It was unclear whether the assembly center would actually begin to produce new centrifuges.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran stopped enriching uranium to the 20 percent level that would allow for rapid development of a nuclear weapon and agreed to a limit of under 5 percent. It will adhere to that limit, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a speech on Monday.

It was also uncertain whether the opening of the centrifuge plant would have any significant impact on Iran’s nuclear program, which continues to be closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

When Tehran agreed in 2015 to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international and United States sanctions, European companies rushed to enter the Iranian market. European governments have been working to keep the deal alive and protect those investments after President Trump dismayed many on the Continent by withdrawing and reimposing banking sanctions.

However, the American sanctions would still be a major problem, particularly for multinational companies, and several European firms have already announced plans to pull out of Iran. On Monday, the French group PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars, which produces 440,000 vehicles a year in Iran, started closing its joint ventures with local auto manufacturers, though PSA said it would seek a waiver from the United States to maintain that production level.

In his speech, Ayatollah Khamenei warned the Europeans that Iran’s patience was limited, but analysts said that Tehran’s demands of guaranteed purchases of Iranian oil and free bank transfers with the European Union might exceed what the bloc could deliver in any rescue plan for the agreement.

“The Europeans expect the Iranian nation to tolerate and grapple with the sanctions, to give up their nuclear activities, which is an absolute requirement for the future of the country, and also to continue with the restrictions that have been imposed on them,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “I would tell these governments that this bad dream will not come true.”

Iran, Angry and Divided, Fears Deeper Crisis if Nuclear Deal Ends

May 8, 2018

By Thomas Erdbrink May 8, 2018 New York Times

Source: Iran, Angry and Divided, Fears Deeper Crisis if Nuclear Deal Ends

{Again, I say this is a not-so-Trump-friendly source.  Regardless, Iran will suffer, but not as much as our soldiers did when blown up by Iranian IED’s – LS}

{UPDATE:  President Trump reinstated all the sanctions and said he will add the most severe sanctions possible.  I suspect the banking system in Iran will be targeted and Iran’s oil income will be cut off.  In other words, their economy will see new lows post haste.  We shall see their reaction as this whole thing is still in motion and will be for some time. – LS}

TEHRAN — The sense of crisis in Iran runs deep and wide. The economy is in free fall. The currency is plummeting. Rising prices are squeezing city dwellers. A five-year drought is devastating the countryside. The pitched battle between political moderates and hard-liners is so perilous that there is even talk of a military takeover.

Now, the lifeline offered by the 2015 nuclear deal, which was supposed to alleviate pressure on Iran’s economy and crack open the barriers to the West, is threatened, too: President Trump is expected to announce that he is withdrawing the United States from the agreement as soon as Tuesday, according to European diplomats.

The chief loser will be the country’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, who will now look weakened, foolish and burned for the risk he took in dealing with the Americans. His opponents, hard-liners, will gain influence, analysts say.

But in the long term, the unraveling of the nuclear agreement could be bad news for the entire Iranian leadership, already buffeted by mounting popular dissatisfaction over the economy and a lack of freedoms and prospects. It could be bad news for average Iranians, too.

“We will see more migration, more unemployment, more bankruptcies, more impoverishment,” said Amirhossein Hasani, who once made kitchen equipment but now tries to make a living selling foreign exchange. “Some might think this will lead to regime change, but protests will be cracked down and the government will be able to run the country. We will just get poorer.”

Even before Mr. Trump’s decision, the nuclear deal had not lived up to its promise of economic salvation for Iranians. Mr. Rouhani sold it as the solution to many of the country’s problems. He promised that foreign companies would flood Iran with investment and know-how, bringing jobs and opportunity to millions of unemployed people.

He also said that the compromise would lift Iran out of its international isolation, something illustrated by several airlines restarting connections to Tehran after the deal had been struck.

Students clashed with police officers in riot gear around Tehran University during anti-government protests in December. But the unrest was nationwide.CreditEuropean Pressphoto Agency

But deeper-rooted problems such as uncompetitive investment laws, widespread corruption and arrests of dual nationals by hard-line security forces dampened the boom the president had promised. Foreign businesses showed up in sizable numbers, but balked at the conditions that confronted them.

But what really cut back the potential benefits of the agreement was American sanctions, which have continued to prevent any serious bank from working in Iran. They also prevent almost all normal financial transactions, depriving Iran of much-needed credit and foreign investments.

The return of even broader sanctions in some form could put even more pressure on the economy.

“Someone, please change our fate, whoever, even Trump,” said Ali Shoja, a cleaner who said he can’t afford to support his three sons. “I used to be a driver, now I clean. What’s next? I cannot become a beggar.”

Hard-liners, who have long lost popular support but control security forces, the judiciary and state television, are set to declare victory, since they have always argued that the United States can never be trusted in any deal.

They will use the opportunity to undermine Mr. Rouhani and to try to seize power. But Mr. Rouhani himself came in after eight years with a hard-liner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at the helm. That both moderate and hard-line approaches have now failed has only deepened the sense of crisis.

Dissatisfaction over state policies is so widespread many wonder if the Islamic Republic and its current ideology are even sustainable, fueling talk of bringing in a military strongman to set things straight.

“This is a big failure for Mr. Rouhani — America has cheated on him by not keeping its promises,” said Jalal Jalalizadeh, a former member of Parliament. “But in the end we are all losers. Now it is clear that only direct and open talks with the United States can ever solve this.”

In fact, a collapse of the nuclear deal doesn’t leave Iran with many options. Iran’s every move will be scrutinized by the United States and Israel, perhaps sparking a military confrontation the country can hardly afford.

A rally against anti-government protesters in January. Hard-liners hope an end to the nuclear deal would reinforce their arguments against trusting the United States.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

Hard-liners say Iran should return to enriching uranium, as it was doing before the nuclear agreement.

“We will break the cement of Arak; we will reopen the heart of the nuclear plant,” Abolfazl Hassan Beigi, a hard-line member of Parliament, told local media, referring to a nuclear site Iran said it has disabled as part of the deal. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will start its nuclear activities again more powerfully than before, which will be a loss for America and its allies.”

But others point out that such moves could invite military action.

“I am for direct talks and transparent talks between Iran and America, the sooner the better,” said Abolghasem Golbaf, an analyst promoting change in the country. The talks should be open, for all to follow, he said. “When they talk secretly, they may make mistakes and nothing can be corrected. Iran and America should sit face to face at negotiation table.”

If the nuclear deal falls apart, Iranians are likely to find plenty of blame to go around, directing anger at both sides in the political deadlock, as well as at the United States. Nationwide protests in December and January — aimed at the entire leadership class — illustrated the depth of Iranian disillusionment.

“We could witness a blind explosion of anger and we will not know the outcome of such an event,” said Davoud Hermidas-Bavand, a professor of international relations who has taught at the National Defense University.

“Many people are ready to support anyone who can provide them some hope,” he said. “But you have to take into account that Iranians are also nationalistic and will definitely not blindly follow countries they view as harmful to Iranian interests.”

Some say they are surprised to even hear people saying they support Mr. Trump, whom they see as someone willing to solve their problems.

“When I sit in the taxi or bus I sometimes overhear common people saying they adore Trump, he at least honors his promises in campaign, they say,” said Ali Sabzevari, a now-unemployed publisher. “Powerless people take resort to a hero, no matter who is the hero — Hitler or Trump, anyone can be their hero.”

Others disagree.

“The common people will hate America more if Trump withdraws,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst. “They will face hardship and be poor. They will hate Trump. That’s good

Trump decides to exit nuclear accord with Iran

May 8, 2018


Source: Trump decides to exit nuclear accord with Iran

{May I remind you this is an AP story.  As a result, it will not be too flattering of Mr. Trump.  That being said, now…let’s really talk. – LS}

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to follow through on his campaign threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, according to two people familiar with his thinking, dealing a profound blow to U.S. allies and potentially deepening the president’s isolation on the world stage.

Trump’s decision means Iran’s government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what’s left of the deal. Iran has offered conflicting statements about what it may do — and the answer may depend on exactly how Trump exits the agreement.

The 2015 pact itself does not contain any provisions for leaving, but Trump was expected to re-impose most, if not all, of the sanctions on Iran that were eased under the deal. That would erase the economic benefits promised to Iran under the deal and be tantamount to the United States walking away.

It wasn’t immediately clear which sanctions would be slapped back on Iran and how quickly. But grace periods of a few months to half a year are expected to be granted so that businesses and governments can wind down operations that would violate re-imposed U.S. sanctions, the individuals said.

A slower withdrawal process could allow more room for Trump to reverse course later and decide to stay — if he secures the additional restrictions on Iran that European nations tried unsuccessfully to negotiate to prevent him from withdrawing. Indeed, as administration officials briefed congressional leaders about Trump’s plans Tuesday, they emphasized that just as with a major Asia trade deal and the Paris climate pact that Trump has abandoned, he remains open to renegotiating a better deal, one person briefed on the talks said.

The agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain’s top diplomat, the deal’s European members gave in to many of Trump’s demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to re-impose sanctions.

Macron was to have a conference call with British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about half an hour before Trump’s announcement.

Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. Macron vigorously supports the deal and tried to persuade Trump to stay committed to it during a visit to Washington last month.

The British Foreign Secretary traveled to Washington this week to make a last-minute pitch to the U.S. to remain in the deal, according to a senior British diplomat. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the British objective will remain to uphold and maintain the deal.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications, said U.S. officials and others, who weren’t authorized to speak ahead of an announcement and requested anonymity.

Building up anticipation, Trump announced on Twitter he would disclose his decision at 2 p.m. at the White House.

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how Trump’s decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn’t name Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek “engagement with the world.”

“It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said.

Under the most likely scenario, Trump would allow sanctions on Iran’s central bank — intended to target oil exports — to kick back in, rather than waiving them once again on Saturday, the next deadline for renewal, said individuals briefed on Trump’s deliberations. Then the administration would give those who are doing business with Iran a six-month period to wind down business and avoid breaching those sanctions.

Depending on how Trump sells it — either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it — the deal could be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump’s presidency have been filled with many such “last chances” for the Iran deal in which he’s punted the decision for another few months, and then another.

Other U.S. sanctions don’t require a decision until later, including those on specific Iranian businesses, sectors and individuals that will snap back into place in July unless Trump signs another waiver. A move on Tuesday to restore those penalties ahead of the deadline would be the most aggressive move Trump could take to close the door to staying in the deal.

Even Trump’s secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal’s critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it’s a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal. For weeks, Iran’s foreign minister had been saying that a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions would render the deal null and void, leaving Tehran little choice but to abandon it as well. But on Monday, Rouhani said Iran could stick with it if the European Union, whose economies do far more business with Iran than the U.S., offers guarantees that Iran would keep benefiting.

For the Europeans, a Trump withdrawal would also constitute dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.

The three EU members of the deal — Britain, France and Germany — were insistent from the start that it could not be re-opened. But they agreed to discuss an “add-on” agreement that wouldn’t change the underlying nuclear deal, but would add new restrictions on Iran to address what Trump had identified as its shortcomings. Trump wanted to deter Iran’s ballistic missile program and other destabilizing actions in the region. He also wanted more rigorous nuclear inspections and an extension of restrictions on Iranian enrichment and reprocessing rather than letting them phase out after about a decade.

Negotiating an add-on agreement, rather than revising the existing deal, had the added benefit of not requiring the formal consent of Iran or the other remaining members: Russia and China. The idea was that even if they balked at the West’s impositions, Iran would be likely to comply anyway so as to keep enjoying lucrative sanctions relief.

Although the U.S. and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found violating the new restrictions, U.S. officials and European diplomats have said. The Europeans agreed to yet more concessions in the final days of negotiating ahead of Trump’s decision, the officials added.


Trump: John Kerry Shadow Dealing With Iran ‘Possibly Illegal’

May 7, 2018

Source Link: Trump: John Kerry Shadow Dealing With Iran ‘Possibly Illegal’

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent 10:32 AM 05/07/2018 The Daily Caller

{Ketchup Boy better watch his step. – LS}

President Donald Trump took aim at former Secretary of State John Kerry for engaging in surreptitious talks with Iranian and European diplomats as a private citizen in attempts to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, in a Monday tweet.

Kerry reportedly has engaged in private meetings with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif to discuss the future of the nuclear deal. The former secretary of state’s conduct has come under scrutiny for possibly violating the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in dispute with the U.S.

Trump is considering withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran in the coming weeks after refusing to certify the Islamic Republic’s compliance. The president has long railed against the deal as one of the worst ever negotiated by the U.S. and how it does not address issues of concern to the U.S., like Iran’s ballistic missile program and its eventual expiration.

Claim That Iran Is Complying With The Nuke Deal Is A Lie

April 30, 2018

by Jeff Dunetz | Apr 29, 2018 via The Lid

Source Link: Claim That Iran Is Complying With The Nuke Deal Is A Lie

{No inspections are being made under the current agreement? What a joke!! – LS}

Between now and May 12th President Trump will announce his decision as to whether or not he will pull out of the JCPOA, the Nuclear deal with Iran. This reporter’s prediction is that the President will announce the United States will be leaving the Iran deal. His May announcement isn’t really the big one, two months later in July the U.S. will decide July whether or not to reimpose the American imposed sanctions with the terrorist regime and if the decision is yes, that will break the deal apart.  But whether you agree with the President or not, any claim that we should stay in the deal because Iran is complying with the JCPOA is simply not true.

President Trump said his final decision about the JCPOA would be based on achieving three improvements to the deal;  First, eliminate the provisions under which key nuclear restrictions expire over time. Second, stop Tehran’s nuclear-capable long-range missile program. Finally, allow for the inspection of military sites where the regime conducted clandestine nuclear activities in the past and may be doing so now.

The nuclear-capable long-range missile plan and the expiration were concessions made by the spineless team of Obama and Kerry. But the third item, inspections of military sites is allowed under the JCPOA . Because of a secret side deal revealed by the Associated Press, Iran gets to self-inspect the Parchin militarybase with no IAEA inspectors present. However, all other military base inspections are allowed under the JCPOA.

The IAEA has the authority under UN Security Council resolution 2231 (the JCPOA) to request access to sites and equipment associated with Section T. The resolution “requests the Director General of the IAEA to undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments for the full duration of those commitments under the JCPOA.” In addition, the resolution states: “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be requested to monitor and verify the voluntary nuclear-related measures as detailed in this JCPOA.”

Despite the what the JCPOA states, the Iranian authorities claim military sites are off limits to the IAEA. And the IAEA refuses to push the point because they don’t want Iran to seem non-compliant.This lack of access lead to the IAEA’s announcement that has been unable to verify a key part of the JCPOA, “Section T”  which outlines “Activities which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device” Per the deal the “Section T”  activities include:

  • Designing, developing, acquiring, or using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using multi-point explosive detonation systems suitable for a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring. 82.4.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.

We don’t know if Iran is violating” Section T.”  But because they are not allowing inspections on military sites and because they the IAEA won’t push the issue, we do not know if they are complying either.

Another example of non-compliance is Iran was supposed to reveal its nuclear history. According to the JCPOA, Iran was supposed to reveal the all the details of their nuclear program and “fess up” to the U.N. inspectors about their previous nuclear activity. The reason for this historical inquiry is not to find out whether or not Iran had a nuclear weapon’s program so they could be reprimanded for being bad children. The knowledge is needed to understand what the Iranian nuclear program was before the agreement so IAEA will know how, when, and where to inspect their program in the future. Iran refused to let this happen and eventually, during the Obama administration, the U.S. stopped asking.

Iran broke the terms of the heavy water provisions of the deal twice in 2016 but Obama let them “off the hook.”  According to the Obama/Kerry capitulation, err— JCPOA, the rogue regime was to keep no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water (which is used to manufacture weapons-grade plutonium). But the Iranians kept producing the heavy water and were over the cap in February and November 2016

Iranian heavy water production overages put Obama’s Iranian deal (his only foreign policy legacy besides screwing Israel) between a rock and a hard place. Either the Obama administration could find someone to purchase the excess heavy water (which would allow Iran to make a profit off of violating the deal) or expressing that Iran was in noncompliance of the deal, which would put Obama’s legacy in danger.

The first time Iran went over (February) the Obama administration purchased the overage for $8.6 million. Sensing a good way to make some extra spending money for the Ayatollah,  Iran violated the P5+1 deal again in November by over-producing the heavy water. When asked State Department spokesperson Mark Toner refused to call the overproduction a violation — “I’m not going to use the V word necessarily in this case” — and the Iranians eventually found someone else to purchase the excess (It is not true that Sec. Kerry criticized Mr.Toner to the carpet for not calling the overproduction an “Iranian revenue enhancement.”)

That’s nice the way Obama paid to let Iran off the hook.

Iran was circumventing the deal’s measures against acquiring nuclear-related materials outside the approved channels. They were repeatedly caught trying to acquire sensitive materials outside the mandatory procurement channels. Since the times they were caught, no country reported to the UN Security Council on items going to Iran without passing through the approved channels

However, the low number of proposals has raised the question of whether Iranian companies are simply ignoring the JCPOA requirements. When asked about the low number of proposals, Iran told officials that Iranian industries are depending on domestic production and that its industries do not trust the Europeans out of fear of not obtaining spare parts in the future. (Spare parts are specific to equipment, so an inability to obtain them in the future may render certain equipment inoperable). This, however, is at odds with Iran’s plans to increase industrialization across many industries, which would require NSG Part 2 parts that Iran does not make. This would be an incentive for Iranian industries to go elsewhere for the needed goods. Is Iran telling the truth when it says its industries are living without these essential dual-use goods, or is it buying these goods outside of the procurement channel?

Iran was in violation of the provision limiting the number of advanced centrifuges. ” It had also run 13-15 IR-6 centrifuges in a cascade that was supposed to be limited to ten centrifuges.” But lucky for them, some of their other centrifuges broke down putting them in compliance again.

Here’s the bottom line according to the Institute for Science and International Security (known by its unfortunate initials ISIS)

Iran has repeatedly tested the boundaries of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and in many cases crossed the line into a violation. Many of these violations and efforts to push the boundaries have not been reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its quarterly reports to member states, reflecting a failing on its part. But the information is not classified, and we have reported on these violations and controversies in previous reports.

The IAEA reports that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA because they refuse to report its violations, and its refusal to push the issue of inspections of military sites per the terms of the deal gives the rogue regime cover to violate the deal where or whenever it wants.

These aren’t the only reasons President Trump should pull out of the deal just a review of compliance, Reasons Trump should pull out of the deal are outlined here Why Trump MUST Pull Out Of The Iran Nuclear Deal.

Donald Trump Warns Iran Against Restarting Nuclear Program: ‘They Restart it, They’re Going to Have Big Problems’

April 24, 2018

by Charlie Spiering 24 Apr 2018 Breitbart

Source Link: Donald Trump Warns Iran Against Restarting Nuclear Program: ‘They Restart it, They’re Going to Have Big Problems’

{I recommend the Iranians renegotiate this hideous nuke deal.  Trump won’t back down, and honestly, I think you’ve been warned. – LS}

President Donald Trump did not restrain giving his opinion about the “terrible” Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, warning Iran against restarting its nuclear program.

“You’ll find out about that. It won’t be so easy for them to restart. They’re not going to be restarting anything. They restart it, they’re going to have big problems, bigger than they’ve ever had before,” Trump said during his meeting with Macron at the White House.

The Iranians warned that if the United States withdrew from the deal, they would restart their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Trump repeated that the deal reached under the Obama administration was a “terrible deal.”

“It’s insane. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said when reporters about the deal. “It should never have been made, but we will be talking about it.”

Macron said the Iran deal was an important part of stabilizing the region, pointing out that it was important to contain Iranian influence.

Trump agreed that Iran was a problem.

“It just seems that no matter where you go, especially in the Middle East, Iran is behind it. Wherever there’s trouble — Yemen, Syria, no matter where you have it — Iran is behind it,” he said.

He added that, “unfortunately,” Russia was also getting more involved in the region.

Trump ridiculed former Secretary of State John Kerry for not addressing other important issues in the Iran deal at the time of the agreement.

“The Iran deal is a disaster,” he said, pointing out that Iran was continuing to test ballistic missiles and fund terrorism in the Middle East.

Trump Hints He May Break With His Generals on Iran

March 23, 2018

FILE – U.S. Air Force General John Hyten testifies in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 4, 2017.

March 20, 2018 7:45 PM Jeff Seldin via VOA

Source Link: Trump Hints He May Break With His Generals on Iran

{Trump is getting his players in order to strengthen his deal making position for upcoming in-your-face meetings with Iran. – LS}


U.S. President Donald Trump appears increasingly willing to defy some of his top generals, as his administration grapples with how best to deal with Iran.

Trump is facing a May deadline to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, and signaled again Tuesday that he is not afraid to pull the U.S. out of the agreement unless other signatories are willing to make major changes.

“A lot of bad things are happening in Iran,” the president said during a visit to the White House by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The deal is coming up in one month, and you will see what happens,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks as he welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018.

Trump has long been critical of the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which aimed to contain Tehran’s nuclear program and block the country’s pathway to building nuclear warheads.

In January, Trump said he was waiving nuclear sanctions against Iran for the “last time,” demanding U.S. lawmakers and Washington’s European allies “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws.”

But since then, top U.S. military officials have pushed back, repeatedly describing the deal as mostly beneficial, even as they continue to voice deep concerns about Tehran’s aggressive behavior across the Middle East.

“As I sit here today, Iran is in compliance with JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
{Sorry, General. I find your statement extremely troubling. – LS}

“From a command that’s about nuclear [threats], that’s an important piece to me,” he said. “It allows me to understand the nuclear environment better.”

Hyten’s comments follow those made to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week by the commander of U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. operations in the Middle East.

“The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran so, if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said CENTCOM’s General Joseph Votel.

FILE – U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 27, 2018.

“Right now, I think it is in our interest,” Votel added. “There would be some concern [in the region], I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA.”

Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, have argued that staying in the deal is in the best interest of the U.S.

But despite having expressed confidence in his military advisers and officials early in his presidency, Trump has slowly been pushing aside those who have argued in favor of keeping the deal, most recently firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thinks it was OK,” Trump told reporters last week after announcing Tillerson’s removal. “I wanted to break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently.”

‘Destabilizing influence’

The man tapped to replace Tillerson, current U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, has gained a reputation for favoring a much tougher approach to Iran.

FILE – CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks at a forum in Washington, Jan. 23, 2018.

“The deal put us in a marginally better place, with respect to inspection, but the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat,” Pompeo said during an appearance in Washington last October.

“The notion that the entry into the JCPOA would curtail Iranian adventurism or their terror threat or their malignant behavior has now, what, two years on, proven to be fundamentally false,” he added.

Those concerns, both from the U.S. intelligence community and from defense officials, have only grown.

Top defense officials have criticized Iran for what they described as malign and destabilizing activities in places such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and even Afghanistan.

“They [Iran] are not changing their behavior,” Mattis warned during a visit to the region last week. “They’re continuing to be a destabilizing influence.”

Other defense officials said such concerns cannot be discounted when contemplating U.S. policy toward Iran.

“We are taking a comprehensive look,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters last Thursday.

“We remain in the agreement, but we want our partners to understand that Iran is the source of chaos and confusion in the region,” she said. “Everywhere you look, Iran is there.”

Defiant Iran Rejects Changes to Nuclear Deal and its Missile Program

March 19, 2018

by IPT News • Mar 19, 2018 at 9:58 am

Source Link: Defiant Iran Rejects Changes to Nuclear Deal and its Missile Program

{We shall see. – LS}

Iran has flat out rejected any efforts to renegotiate the nuclear agreement, amid reports of European efforts to constrain Iran’s regional expansion and ballistic missile program. Speaking in Tehran earlier this month, Ayatollah Khamenei proclaimed that Europe and the United States have no right to discuss Iran’s regional posture, according Dr. Raz Zimmt’s latest report for the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The region, Khamenei said in the same speech, belongs to Iran, not Europe.

The European Union reportedly is mulling new sanctions over non-nuclear related activities in an effort to keep the United States from terminating the nuclear agreement.

In response, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said that Iran “will not accept any changes, any interpretation or new measure aimed at limiting” the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The ballistic program of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has a defensive nature, will steadfastly continue,” said Shamkhani. The senior Iranian official is also close to the supreme leader Khamenei.

Iran’s foreign minister rejected his French counterpart’s call to reign in Iran’s missile program after a meeting in Tehran earlier this month intended to preserve the nuclear agreement.

Click here for to access the full Meir Amit Center report, which also covers other notable Iran-related developments this month.

For example, during a March 4 conference, a senior military adviser to the ayatollah called on the Syrian military to force U.S. troops out from the Euphrates Valley. That same day, a photo of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a recent meeting surfaced on social media. Nasrallah has been meeting with high profile terrorist leaders in recent months in a sign of growing cooperation with sworn enemies of Israel.

Hizballah’s devotion to Iran’s revolutionary ideology takes precedence over Lebanon’s constitution, Nasrallah said in a March 10 speech delivered to Iranians in Lebanon. Nasrallah reiterated that Hizballah adheres to Khamenei’s orders and avoids engaging in any behavior that irritates the supreme leader. While Hizballah claims to be Lebanon’s protector and vanguard, the speech reaffirms Hizballah’s primary commitment to carrying out Iran’s directives, even at the expense of Lebanese domestic interests.

These recent developments show that Iran and its proxies remain defiant in the face of international pressure to cease its destabilizing regional activities, while refusing to consider any alternative to the current nuclear agreement.


Republican senator expects Trump to pull out of Iran deal

March 18, 2018


Source Link: Republican senator expects Trump to pull out of Iran deal

{A leader like Trump believes no deal is much better than a bad deal.  With a loser like Obama, it was any deal at any cost. – LS}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he expects President Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement in May.

“The Iran deal will be another issue that’s coming up in May, and right now it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna be extended,” Corker told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“I think the president likely will move away from it unless my, our European counterparts really come together on a framework. And it doesn’t feel to me that they are,” he said.

Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles program and its role in Syria’s war in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, according to a confidential document seen by Reuters.

The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing U.S. President Donald Trump there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad.

Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories on Jan. 12. It said they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal,” which was agreed under his predecessor Barack Obama, or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran. U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

Asked if he believed Trump would pull out on May 12, the deadline for the president to issue a new waiver to suspend Iran sanctions as part of the deal, Corker responded, “I do. I do.”