Archive for the ‘Iran – sanctions’ category

In Contrast To Rohani Allegations In UNGA, Senior Iranian Officials Confirm U.S. Has Met Its Obligations Under JCPOA

September 24, 2016

In Contrast To Rohani Allegations In UNGA, Senior Iranian Officials Confirm U.S. Has Met Its Obligations Under JCPOA, MEMRI,  Y. Carmon and A. Savyon* September 23, 2016

Introduction

In his September 22, 2016 speech at the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rohani accused that the U.S. is not meeting its obligations towards Iran under the JCPOA. He said: “The lack of compliance with the deal on the part of the United States in the past several months represents a flawed approach that should be rectified forthwith… Any failure on the part of the United States in implementing it (the deal) would constitute an international wrongful act and would be objected to by the international community.”[1] 

30061Rohani at the UNGA (Image: Farsnews.com, September 22, 2016)

Rohani’s statements, which are part of an Iranian attempt in recent weeks to create a false impression that the U.S. has not met its obligations towards Iran, are in stark contradiction to statements made by senior members of the Iranian negotiation team who explicitly admitted that the U.S. has in fact met its obligations under the JCPOA (see below).

This Iranian measure is a response to the refusal of Western banks to conduct transactions with Iran in dollars, despite the lifting of the nuclear sanctions in January 2016, because the initial sanctions imposed on Iran by Congress for human rights violations and for terrorism are still in force. As will be recalled, Iran refuses to negotiate with the West on issues of terrorism, on the grounds that these issues are internal sovereign matters.

Below is a MEMRI report on this issue published on August 15, 2016.

As the first year of the JCPOA is marked, and in light of Western banks’ rejection of Iranian transactions in dollars, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his supporters in the West have launched a campaign to pressure the U.S. to lift the initial sanctions imposed on Iran by Congress for human rights violations and for terrorism. Their aim is to have these sanctions lifted without negotiations and without giving anything in return.

As will be recalled, Iran from the outset restricted the framework of the negotiations to the nuclear issue, and refused to allow them to include other issues such as human rights, terrorism, or missiles, which it considers internal sovereign matters. Therefore, the initial American sanctions concerning these areas remain in force.

A demand for lifting of all the sanctions, including the initial ones, was made by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the months after the JCPOA was achieved in July 2015.[2] Perhaps Tehran thought that with the lifting of the nuclear sanctions, the entire sanctions regime would collapse, including those concerning human rights, terrorism, and missiles. But this did not happen. The U.S. Treasury Department is following the letter and the spirit of U.S. law, and is warning banks worldwide that the initial sanctions remain in force.[3]

In light of this situation, Iran and the supporters of its regime in the West are now working to create a false impression that the U.S. has not met its obligations towards Iran. They claim that, in order to fulfill its commitments towards Iran in the JCPOA, the U.S. is obligated to revoke or circumvent the initial sanctions imposed on Iran by Congress, which currently prevent banks from dealing freely with Iran.  For example, Tyler Cullis, member of the Iranian lobby in the U.S., the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), stated in a recent policy paper that “the United States is committed to ensuring that neither U.S. law nor policy is standing in the way of non-U.S. banks resuming correspondent banking relations with their Iranian counterparts… If U.S. laws or policies are interfering with Iran realizing the full benefit of the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial institutions, then the U.S. is required to take steps to ensure that those laws or policies no longer are running such interference. To do so could require additional changes to U.S. laws or policies governing the issue.”[4]

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiating team member Majid Takhtravanchi also demanded that the U.S. take explicit steps to remove any obstacles currently preventing banks from dealing with Iran. He said on June 27, 2016,: “Two [contradictory] messages are coming out of Washington: The State Department says that there is no problem carrying out banking and financial transactions with Iran, while the OFAC says the opposite… We want the OFAC… to guarantee that there is no problem for the banks that are cooperating with Iran…”[5]

It should be mentioned that the Iranian implication that the U.S. has not met its obligations towards Iran stands in contradiction to explicit statements made recently by Iranian officials, mainly negotiation team members from Iran’s pragmatic camp, who confirmed that the U.S. had upheld its part of the JCPOA. Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiating team member ‘Abbas Araghchi said on a television special marking the first anniversary of the JCPOA: “Both sides have met their obligations under the JCPOA… In order to benefit from the JCPOA… we must carry out several steps because there are restrictions that are not connected to the JCPOA… The other side has implemented its obligations, and if it had not, that would have been a violation of the JCPOA, and we would have handled it in the Joint Committee…

“The JCPOA was meant to remove the obstacles of the sanctions from Iran’s economic path. [Indeed], these obstacles have been removed, but there are other obstacles, such as the initial sanctions by America, FATF [Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering], and laws connected to money-laundering, which require time [to take care of].

“From the outset, [the other side] was not meant to lift the sanctions that are not connected to the nuclear issue; that is written even in the [2013] Geneva Joint Plan of Action [about the lifting of] ‘sanctions related to the nuclear [issue], because we were negotiating about the nuclear issue [alone]…

“The sanctions on the dollar and the use of the financial apparatus of America belong to the initial sanctions imposed long ago because of issues that are not nuclear-related… We raised the matter in the negotiations, but the Americans did not agree to lift these sanctions… and demanded additional concessions [from us] in matters that were part of our red lines…

“The Americans are serious about maintaining their initial sanctions; this is the essence of America. Iran is Iran and America is America, and as long as we do not negotiate on bilateral relations [with the U.S.], these sanctions will remain in force. The American Treasury Department tells [the banks worldwide] that these sanctions are in force, and has warned them not to get in trouble because of them. These sanctions are not related to the JCPOA.”[6]

Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiating team member Hamid Ba’idinejad said at a press conference marking the first anniversary of the JCPOA: “Up to this very moment, the members of the [Iranian] negotiating team believe that the JCPOA has not been violated [by the U.S.], and still believe that it is possible to solve the problems [concerning transactions in dollars] with discussions, recommendations, and talks… From the outset, the task set out [for the Iranian negotiating team] was to resolve the nuclear issue [alone]. So far, the Islamic Republic has made no decision to negotiate with America on [the other] issues in dispute…

“Our regime never expected us to achieve the lifting of the sanctions for human rights [in the framework] of the nuclear talks.”[7]

Expediency Council head Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said: “America is telling [the banks worldwide] that it has not lifted the [initial] sanctions because this problem is related to human rights, terrorism, Palestine, and Lebanon. These [issues] too we could have solved.”[8]

However, after Khamenei warned, on August 1, 2016, that the U.S. had violated its commitments, the negotiating team heads fell into line with him, and began to state that the U.S. had indeed violated its obligations and to demand further changes in U.S. policies and laws.

A U.S. capitulation to these Iranian demands would be a blow to the authority of Congress, which imposed the initial sanctions, and to the separation of powers in the U.S. Moreover, it would constitute U.S. support for Iran’s ideological camp – Khamenei, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, and the ayatollahs connected to them – and not to the pragmatic camp, and would also stand in contradiction to President Obama’s commitment that the JCPOA deals only with the nuclear issue.

 

* Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; A. Savyon is the director of MEMRI’s Iran Media Project

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Farsnews.com, September 22, 2016.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6151, Khamenei Declares That He Will Not Honor The Agreement If Sanctions Are Merely Suspended And Not Lifted, September 4, 2015.

[3] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1249, Post-JCPOA, The IRGC Is The Factor Stopping Iran From Integration Into The Western Economy, May 20, 2016.

[4] Niacouncil.org, August 2016.

[5] Tabnak (Iran), July 27, 2016.

[6] Fars (Iran), July 11, 2016.

[7] Fars (Iran), July 13, 2016.

[8] Fars (Iran), August 10, 2016.

Iran: Attack on US Boats is Warning to Congress on Sanctions

January 13, 2016

Iran: Attack on US Boats is Warning to Congress on Sanctions, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, January 13, 2016

(Here’s an analysis of the Iranian actions:

— Oh well. — DM)

 

obama_tv

The official media narrative is that Obama’s great relationship with Iran enabled the release of the American sailors captured at gunpoint by Iran’s terrorist IRGC. The media is full of praise for Obama for letting ten American sailors be taken hostage… and then released.

That’s how low the bar is set.

Meanwhile Iran is making it clear that it’s sending a very different kind of message.

Iran’s army chief said on Wednesday the seizure of two US navy boats and their 10 sailors should be a lesson to members the US Congress trying to impose new sanctions on Tehran.

“This incident in the Persian Gulf, which probably will not be the American forces’ last mistake in the region, should be a lesson to troublemakers in the US Congress,” Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, head of Iran’s armed forces, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Iran isn’t even bothering to threaten Obama. It just slaps him around. Instead it uses his weakness to threaten Congress which it now considers stronger than Obama.

Thumbing nose at US, Iran unveils depot for nuclear-capable missiles

January 5, 2016

Thumbing nose at US, Iran unveils depot for nuclear-capable missiles, DEBKAfile, January 5, 2016

In clear defiance of the Obama administration, Iran revealed on Tuesday a second underground facility for storing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

In a one-minute video shown on Iranian state-run television,  Ali Larijiani, speaker of Iran’s parliament, was shown inspecting the depot of “Emad” ballistic missiles along with officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

DEBKAfile military sources: The Emad, which has a 750-kilogram warhead and a range of 1,700 kilometers, is capable of striking any point in Israel. Iran carried out a successful test of the missile four months ago, in October 2015.

Washington announced that the test was a violation of the nuclear agreement between Iran and Western powers. Tehran replied that it never agreed in any stage of the negotiations to limit its missile program in the framework of the agreement.

At the end of December, the Obama administration announced that it was weighing the possibility of imposing fresh sanctions on Iran following the launch of the missile. Several days later, however, Washington withdrew the plan after Tehran threatened that it would view the imposition of new sanctions as a breach of the nuclear agreement.

On Tuesday, Iran not only said it will continue to develop the Emad, but claimed the weapon is already in operational use by the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran Deal Backers Embarrassed By Obama Admin’s Sanctions Blunder

January 4, 2016

Iran Deal Backers Embarrassed By Obama Admin’s Sanctions Blunder, Washington Free Beacon, January 4, 2016

Hassan Rouhani

A last minute delay last week in the implementation of new Iran sanctions has some prominent congressional backers of the nuclear deal accusing the Obama administration of capitulating to Iranian demands, according to sources both on and off Capitol Hill.

Senior Obama administration officials at the White House’s National Security Council told Congress Wednesday morning that new sanctions were coming as a result of Iran’s repeated ballistic missile tests, which violate current United Nations Security Council Resolutions prohibiting such activity.

However, the administration quietly walked back its announcement, telling lawmakers that the sanctions would be indefinitely delayed.

The move sparked a fierce backlash among prominent congressional leaders who have served as chief advocates for the administration’s efforts to ink a nuclear deal with Iran.

Sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the delay claim that the administration has repeatedly allowed Iran to dictate the terms of the deal out of fear that the Islamic Republic will ditch the deal before it is officially implemented later this month.

Iranian leaders have made clear that any new U.S. sanctions will force it to walk away from the nuclear agreement. In the wake of the new sanctions debate, Iranian military leaders announced over the weekend they are working to increase the strength and destructive power of the country’s arsenal.

The White House’s initial message to Congress on Wednesday morning offered tough rhetoric chastising Iran’s ballistic missile program and its recent test firings.

“Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions,” Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department’s acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an embargoed statement that was forwarded to congressional offices that morning and viewed by the Free Beacon.

“We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigorously press sanctions against Iranian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—including those related to Iran’s support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile program,” Szubin maintained in the statement, which was later scrapped.

Hours after that initial communication was sent to the Hill, the administration nixed the announcement, saying in a subsequent communication that the new sanctions—which were to hit 11 entities and individuals known to be enabling Iran’s missile program—would be indefinitely delayed.

Lawmakers who just that morning had applauded the new sanctions were not pleased.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), a leading supporter of the Iran deal, blasted the move, expressing disappointment with the administration’s efforts to appease Iran.

“I am disappointed that the Administration has delayed punitive action in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests,” Hoyer said in a statement. “We are always in a sensitive moment in our dealings with Iran, and there is never a perfect time to undertake such actions. But Iran must know with certainty that violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, both inside and outside the scope of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be met with serious consequences.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), another leading deal supporter who initially praised the new sanctions, also expressed dismay at the administration’s move to delay the effort.

“I believe in the power of vigorous enforcement that pushes back on Iran’s bad behavior,” Coons told the Wall Street Journal. “If we don’t do that, we invite Iran to cheat.”

When asked to address the issue on Sunday, a senior Obama administration official told the Free Beacon that there are still “remaining issues” that need to be addressed before new sanctions are announced.

“As we’ve said, we’ve been looking for some time‎ at options for additional actions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch,” the senior official explained, reiterating the White House’s commitment to sanctions.

“We are considering various aspects related to additional designations, as well as evolving diplomatic work that is consistent with our national security interests,” the official said. “As always, we keep Congress informed about issues related to Iran sanctions, and will continue to do so as we work through remaining issues.”

A State Department spokesman echoed this stance, telling the Free Beacon that it continues to explore ways to increase sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the administration might reconsider new sanctions once it strikes a “side deal” with Iran.

“I would expect that the administration will return to these sanctions after cutting some kind of side deal with the Iranians offering even more unilateral concessions,” Dubowitz said.

Critics of the move remain skeptical.

“To push back against Iran’s repeated missile and human rights provocations, Congress should pass the Menendez-Kirk bill to immediately renew a critical Iran sanctions law that expires this year,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal.

One consultant who has worked with Congress on issues pertaining to the nuclear deal told the Free Beacon that the administration fears Iran’s threats to break the deal.

“First the Obama administration strong-armed congressional Democrats into approving a politically toxic nuclear deal, under the pretense that at least the White House would fight Iranian aggression in other ways,” the source said, explaining that lawmakers who have defended the deal were made to look foolish by the sanctions delay.

“People like Coons and Hoyer went home and told constituents that they’d at least make sure Iranian terrorism and missile work was punished,” the source said. “Now the Obama team has deprived them of even that fig leaf. They’re going to have to defend total capitulation to their constituents.”

Meanwhile, Iran announced on Friday that it is working to significantly boost “the destruction power and precision” of its missiles, according to comments carried in the country’s state-controlled press.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani instructed the country’s military leaders to strengthen the missile program following rumors that the United States was contemplating new sanctions.

“Following [on] the president’s letter, we held numerous meetings with the executive officials, commanders, and officials in the missile sector and decided work out appropriate plans as soon as possible to enhance the defensive power and capability as well as the effective deterrence power of our missiles contrary to the will of the hegemonic system which seeks to restrict the Islamic Republic militarily,” Hossein Dehqan, Iran’s defense minister, said.

The Mullahs Thank Mr. Obama

January 3, 2016

The Mullahs Thank Mr. Obama, Power LineScott Johnson, January 3, 2016

The American people should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road.

******************

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carries an incisive editorial (“The mullahs thank Mr. Obama,” accessible here via Google) on developments with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Every step along the way, Iran proves itself the mortal enemy of the United States, and yet President Obama thinks otherwise.

Iranian intentions are clear. Their actions comport with their announced view of the world. When the mullahs chant “Death to America,” we have no ground for believing they don’t mean it. No ground, that is, other than wishful thinking.

As John put it, it is difficult to reconcile Obama administration policies strengthening the Iranian regime with a good faith intention to pursue peace in the Middle East or to advance the national security interests of the United States. We can only infer that Obama’s highly ideologized view of the world is immune to experience.

The Journal’s editorial provides this handy summary of current complexities:

The U.S. and United Nations both say Iran is already violating U.N. resolutions that bar Iran from testing ballistic missiles. Iran has conducted two ballistic-missile tests since the nuclear deal was signed in July, most recently in November. The missiles seem capable of delivering nuclear weapons with relatively small design changes.

The White House initially downplayed the missile tests, but this week it did an odd flip-flop on whether to impose new sanctions in response. On Wednesday it informed Congress that it would target a handful of Iranian companies and individuals responsible for the ballistic-missile program. Then it later said it would delay announcing the sanctions, which are barely a diplomatic rebuke in any case, much less a serious response to an arms-control violation.

Under the nuclear accord, Iran will soon receive $100 billion in unfrozen assets as well as the ability to court investors who are already streaming to Tehran. Sanctioning a few names is feckless by comparison, and Iran is denouncing even this meager action as a U.S. violation of the nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the sanctions reports on Thursday by ordering his defense minister to accelerate Iran’s missile program. Your move, Mr. Obama.

Opponents of the nuclear accord predicted this. Mr. Obama says the deal restricts Iranian action, but it does far more to restrict the ability of the U.S. to respond to Iranian aggression. If the U.S. takes tough action in response to Iran’s missile tests or other military provocations, Iran can threaten to stop abiding by the nuclear deal. It knows the world has no appetite for restoring serious sanctions, and that Mr. Obama will never admit his deal is failing. The mullahs view the accord as a license to become more militarily aggressive.

Further proof came Wednesday when U.S. Central Command acknowledged that Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels last week fired several rockets that landed within 1,500 yards of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. A Revolutionary Guard spokesman Thursday denied the incident but a day earlier the semiofficial Tabnak news agency quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying the rockets were launched to warn the U.S. Navy away from “a forbidden zone” in the Persian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked waterways, and the USS Truman carrier group has every right to sail there. By any measure the rocket launch was a hostile act that could have resulted in American casualties.

This follows Iran’s arrest in October of Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, who according to Iranian media reports is being held in Evin Prison though no charges have been filed. The reports suggest that Mr. Namazi is suspected of spying because he is one of the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leaders.” That’s the dangerous outfit that sponsors the annual gabfest in Davos.

Iran has also shown its gratitude for the nuclear deal by convicting Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian on absurd charges of espionage. The Iranian-American has been held for more than 500 days.

The White House’s media allies are blaming all of this on Iranian “hard-liners” who are supposedly trying to undermine President Rouhani for having negotiated the nuclear deal. Memo to these amateur Tehranologists: The hard-liners run Iran.

The American people should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes renders his deep thoughts via Twitter (below).

In the annals of inanity, this is Hall of Fame material.

The Iran deal will be implemented. The United States has an Embassy in Havana. .

 

One day later: Obama backs off new Iran sanctions

January 1, 2016

One day later: Obama backs off new Iran sanctions, Israel National News, Elad Benari, January 1, 2016

(Please see also, Possible New US Sanctions against Iran “Illegal”, Says Spokesman and Rpt: U.S. Preparing New Sanctions On Iran After Rocket Test – America’s Newsroom. — DM)

Pussy ObamaPresident Barack Obama

New American sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program? Not so fast.

The White House has delayed its plan to impose new financial sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, American officials said Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes just one day after it was reported that the Obama administration is preparing new sanctions on international companies and individuals who played a role in Iran’s ballistic endeavors.

According to the officials, the decision to back off the new sanctions comes amid growing tensions with Iran over the nuclear deal struck earlier this year.

The officials said the Obama administration remains committed to combating Iran’s missile program and that sanctions being developed by the U.S. Treasury Department remain on the table. They also said imposing such penalties was legal under the landmark nuclear agreement forged between global powers and Iran in July.

But they offered no definitive timeline for when the sanctions would be imposed after the decision was made to delay them. At one point, they were scheduled to be announced Wednesday morning in Washington, according to a notification the White House sent to Congress.

In October, Iran conducted a ballistic missile test, eliciting strong condemnation from members of the UN Security Council.

A month later, it tested another ballistic missile, and an American official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that.

A team of UN sanctions monitors said in a confidential report seen byReuters on December 15 that a medium-range Emad rocket that Iran tested on October 10 was a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, making it a violation of a UN Security Council resolution.

Iran, however, has rejected claims that the missiles it is testing are capable of delivering a nuclear warhead and has also rejected the idea that the missile tests are against UN resolutions.

Republican leaders on Thursday accused the Obama administration of losing its will to impose the sanctions, after Tehran countered on Thursday that it would accelerate the development of its arsenal.

“If the president’s announced sanctions ultimately aren’t executed, it would demonstrate a level of fecklessness that even the president hasn’t shown before,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a leading critic of the nuclear deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

President Hassan Rouhani had earlier said on Twitter that he had instructed Iran’s Ministry of Defense to accelerate the development of ballistic missiles in response to the news reports of the impending U.S. sanctions.

Asked to comment, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the timeline for missile-related sanctions was unrelated to threats made by Iran on Thursday and the broader nuclear deal recently reached with Tehran.

The State Department offered no explanation for the delay, noted The Wall Street Journal.

“We’ve been clear from the outset that—outside the parameters of Iran’s nuclear program—we would continue to take appropriate actions to address Tehran’s destabilizing behavior,” said Kirby.

Rpt: U.S. Preparing New Sanctions On Iran After Rocket Test – America’s Newsroom

December 31, 2015

Rpt: U.S. Preparing New Sanctions On Iran After Rocket Test – America’s Newsroom, Fox News via You Tube, December 31, 2015

(Please see also, Possible New US Sanctions against Iran “Illegal”, Says Spokesman. — DM)