Archive for the ‘Iran nuke inspections’ category

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

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.

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.

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution

October 15, 2017

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution, Israel Hayom, Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, October 15, 2017

Iran is now facing a three-pronged American challenge: the steps that stem directly from the newly announced Trump Doctrine; new legislation against it; and unilateral action by Trump should Congress fail to enact new legislation, leading to the U.S. withdrawing from the pact.

In one fell swoop, through a single speech, Trump put the ball squarely in Iran’s court.

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When it comes to North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump has adopted a policy of containment and deterrence, owing to the fact that it presents a general threat.

But when it comes to Iran, things are different. On Friday, Trump unveiled a new doctrine against this component of the Axis of Evil, a doctrine that is based more on red lines and clear thresholds that would trigger American action should they be crossed.

This approach represents a creative blend of strategic decisiveness and tactical caution. The strategic decisiveness rests on his pledge to counter Iran head-on, should the need arise, over its repeated violations of key parts of the 2015 nuclear deal, and over its conduct in the region (including its ongoing ballistic missile program and its continued support for terrorist groups and destabilization efforts).

The tactical caution part is based on his recognition that a potential Iranian-American clash is not necessarily immediate, forceful or even inevitable. In other words, the White House has articulated a gradual process that gives Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a way out by mending his ways before the moment of truth arrives.

Thus, even though the Trump Doctrine is a break from the way the nuclear deal has been implemented so far, Washington will stay in it in order to improve it, hoping that its threats will have a moderating effect on the ayatollah regime. Therefore, Trump’s decision to decertify the agreement doesn’t mean that he is bent on withdrawing from it. He is still going to play by the rules, but his new doctrine presents several powerful deterrent elements.

The first: He has sent a signal to Tehran of what’s to come. Through the newly announced sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which complement other steps the Pentagon has taken in the region to curtail Iran’s destabilizing activity, Iran now knows what’s at stake.

The second: He announced what could be a new, comprehensive and structured mechanism to punish Iran. If and when Congress decides to adopt such a mechanism, it will include a host of steps against the regime, including sanctions that are automatically imposed if Iran violates certain provisions characterized as “red lines” (say, regarding its missile program).

The third: If Congress fails to pass new legislation to punish Iran over the next two months, this will lead to the termination of the agreement as far as he is concerned – with all the consequences that this may entail.

Iran is now facing a three-pronged American challenge: the steps that stem directly from the newly announced Trump Doctrine; new legislation against it; and unilateral action by Trump should Congress fail to enact new legislation, leading to the U.S. withdrawing from the pact.

In one fell swoop, through a single speech, Trump put the ball squarely in Iran’s court.

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.”

Omni Ceren: Decertification Approaches

September 28, 2017

Omni Ceren: Decertification Approaches, Power Line,  Scott Johnson, September 28, 2017

Omri Ceren writes to comment on the Reuters story by Francois Murphy reporting that “IAEA chief calls for clarity on disputed section of Iran nuclear deal.” Omri’s commentary on the story — please check it out — should serve as a preview of coming attractions. He writes:

This is pretty close to game over on certification.

Condition 1 of Corker-Cardin requires the president to certify “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement” [a]. One part of the agreement – Annex 1, Section T – prohibits Iran from conducting certain “activities which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device” [b].

The IAEA has not been able to verify Iran is implementing Section T because the relevant activities would be occurring on military sites and Iran has barred the IAEA from inspecting those sites [c][d][e]. IAEA officials say they won’t even ask for access because they know Iran would say no and it would give the Trump administration an “excuse” on the deal [f].

The policy community has known about this failure for months: in August nuclear experts from FDD and ISIS published a report that concluded “it is likely that some of the conditions in Section T are not currently being met and may in fact be violated by Iran” [g].

Yesterday IAEA chief Amano confirmed the IAEA has indeed been unable to verify Iran is implementing Section T….Here are the Amano quotes:

“Our tools are limited,” Amano told Reuters when asked if his agency had the means to verify Section T. “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).” Amano said he hoped the parties to the agreement would discuss the issue in the Joint Commission.

Advocates of the Iran deal respond that the IAEA hasn’t found any Iranian violations [h]. 1st, that’s not relevant for certification: condition 1 requires the president to certify Iran has implemented all parts of the agreement, not that Iran hasn’t been caught cheating on the parts they have implemented. 2nd, the IAEA hasn’t caught Iran cheating because they haven’t been able to look where Iran is cheating: last week lawmakers on Senate Intelligence suggested to the Weekly Standard they’ve seen classified reports that Iran is violating the deal [i].

[a] https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/615/text
[b] https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/245318.pdf
[c] https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/69753/us-demand-for-military-inspections-rejected
[d] http://kayhan.ir/en/news/42609
[e] http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=1396052200040
[f] https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1BB1JC-OCATP
[g] http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/verifying-section-t-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal
[h] http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2017/sep/14/debate-nuclear-deal-us
[i] http://www.weeklystandard.com/cotton-on-iran-nuclear-deal-i-simply-do-not-see-how-we-can-certify/article/2009716