Archive for the ‘Iran scam’ category

The Madness of King Barry (or not)

January 10, 2017

The Madness of King Barry (or not), Power Line, Scott Johnson, January 9, 2017 

If one hypothesized that President Obama’s object in entering into the JCPOA was to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, one might conclude that the man is madder than King George III in the Regency Crisis. Indeed, so it seems, more evidence emerges every day to support the hypothesis. You begin to think you might be on to something.

In the alternative, one might hypothesize that President Obama seeks to facilitate and finance Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal, and to protect its program from disruption until such team as Iran seeks to go for it forthrightly. In this case, although one shrinks from the conclusion, Obama’s actions appear rationally calculated to achieve their objective.

Today’s news brings us additional evidence in the form of the AP exclusive reporting that Iran is to obtain a massive batch of natural uranium from Russia with the blessing of President Obama. The AP reports:

Two senior diplomats said the transfer recently agreed by the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran foresees delivery of 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium. U.N. Security Council approval is needed but a formality, considering five of those powers are permanent Security Council members, they said.

The AP helpfully explains:

Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful.

Tehran already got a similar amount of natural uranium in 2015 as part of negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal, in a swap for enriched uranium it sent to Russia. But the new shipment will be the first such consignment since the deal came into force a year ago.

The AP adds this for those of us trying to sort out the madness or not of King Barry:

The natural uranium agreement comes at a sensitive time. With the incoming U.S. administration and many U.S. lawmakers already skeptical of how effective the nuclear deal is in keeping Iran’s nuclear program peaceful over the long term, they might view it as further evidence that Tehran is being given too many concessions.

The diplomats said any natural uranium transferred to Iran after the deal came into effect would be under strict surveillance by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency for 25 years after implementation of the deal.

Let me add: “…for 25 years after implementation of the deal or until such time as Iran chooses to pull the plug on the phony baloney JCPOA.”

Back to the diplomats speaking to the AP:

They said Tehran has not said what it would do with the uranium but could choose to store it or turn it into low-enriched uranium and then export it for use as reactor fuel.

Despite present restrictions on its enrichment program, the amount of natural uranium is significant should Iran decide to keep it in storage, considering its potential uses once some limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.

Here the AP goes outside Obama’s circle of love for informed comment:

David Albright, whose Institute of Science and International Security often briefs U.S. lawmakers on Iran’s nuclear program, says the shipment could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, “depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon.”

Omri Ceren adds these comments by email (footnotes omitted):

The 2015 nuclear deal obligated Iran to keep no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water, a material used in the production of weapons-grade plutonium.

But the Iranians have continued to produce heavy water, and they exceeded the cap in February and November. The violations functionally blackmailing the Obama administration: either someone would purchase the excess heavy water, allowing Iran to literally profit from violating the deal, or the Iranians would go into formal noncompliance, endangering the deal.

After the Iranians violated the deal in February the Obama administration purchased the excess heavy water for $8.6 million. After they violated the deal in November State Department spokesperson 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.

The Associated Press just revealed that in addition to getting millions of dollars, the Iranians are also getting 116 metric tons of uranium in exchange for their heavy water. That’s enough for more than 10 nuclear bombs. The Obama administration has approved those terms [reported in the AP story]…

There are no diplomatic or technical reasons Iran needs to sell excess heavy water to avoid violating the deal: the Iranians could 1st, stop producing heavy water or 2nd, dump the excess in a river, since it’s just water. Obama officials have separately suggested that Iranian over-production is a win-win because there are shortages in the global market, but: there are no shortages, even if there were the Iranians are substandard suppliers, and using the Iranians may create actual shortages by kneecapping the existing legitimate suppliers.

We report, you decide.

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East

January 8, 2017

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East, Iran News Update, January 8, 2017

(Please see also, In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran. — DM)

obama-750

Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, former member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14), writes in his January 6, 2017 article for UPI, that the legacy of President Barack Obama will be death and destruction in the Middle East. His vision cooperation between  the United States and Iran “has unlocked a Pandora’s box of conflict and sectarian strife across the zone.”

During the closing days of the Obama administration the controversial nuclear deal with Iran and his policies regarding that ruthless regime have allowed the mullahs to threaten the security of the Middle East, and perhaps, while Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Turkey have tried to prevent Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the region.

The U.S. and other countries is the West failed the Syrian opposition and allowed a civil war to continue into its seventh year, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, and setting off the huge migration crisis in Europe.

$150 billion of frozen assets were released to Iran by the U.S. as part of the nuclear deal, which the Tehran government was expected to use to shore up their economy, on the brink of collapse. Instead, the regime redouble its spending the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in many conflicts in the Middle East. Not only does Iran support Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, it funds and supplies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.

The nuclear deal has been breached, which Stevenson says demonstrates Iran’s complete disdain for the West. Two Qadr-H missiles were fired last March, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution tied to the agreement. “Israel must be wiped out” was marked on the missiles, and the test firing took place on the day that the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. Vladimir Putin sent the first shipment of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran last August.

President Obama attempted to make deals with the so-called “moderate” and “smiling” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which he interpreted as having a green light for Tehran’s expansionist policy. Rouhani is in fact in charge of a government which has executed around 3,000 people since he took office in 2013, ten just this year. Mass hangings are now carried out in public, even in football stadiums. Many of the officials in his government were complicit in the 1988 massacre of some 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were part of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran. In fact, it was supervised by Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who is Rouhani’s justice minister.

Obama began his administration by agreeing with Iran, and backing Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in Iraq. Stevenson writes, “Maliki was a puppet of the mullahs, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster the murderous Assad regime. Iran’s support for Maliki in Iraq and for Assad in Syria, two corrupt dictators who repressed and brutalized their own people, resulted in the rise of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.Thanks to U.S. acquiescence over Tehran, Daesh grew and became a threat to the whole world.”  He continues, “Obama compounded this grievous mistake by providing American military support and air cover for the genocidal campaign being waged by pro-Iranian Shi’ia militias in Iraq. Once again Iran exploited its role in ousting Daesh as a means for implementing its ruthless policy of ethnic cleansing to annihilate the Sunnis in Iraq’s al-Anbar Province. Horrific sectarian atrocities were committed during the so-called “liberation” of the ancient cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The Shi’ia militias, who formed the main part of the force fighting to recapture these cities from Daesh and are now engaged in the battle to recapture Mosul, are led by Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian terrorist Quds Force. Soleimani has also played a key role in Syria and the massacre in Aleppo.”

Tehran is gaining strength in Iraq. The Iraqi army is poorly trained, and the Iranian has Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s agreement to allowing Iranian-funded militias to take control of military operations. Political disarray in Baghdad, has paved the way for Iran to consolidate its hold in Iraq.

The unenviable task of trying to sort out the Middle East mess will be left to President-elect Donald Trump. Many people on his team believe that Iran is the main source of conflict in the Middle East and poses a greater threat to the West than North Korea or even Russia. It will be interesting to see how Trump will fare.

 

UNSC resolution promotes Mid East war

December 24, 2016

UNSC resolution promotes Mid East war, DEBKAfile, December 24, 2016

obama_bibi2480-1

The United States did not abandon Israel by its abstention from vetoing the UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements that was passed Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.

The one who abandoned Israel was US President Barack Obama – and not for the first time. During his eight years in office, Obama let Israel down at least three times on issues that jeopardized its security:

One of the first consequences of his 2011 “Arab Spring” initiative was the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak as Egyptian president and his direct promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of power in Cairo.

Four years later, Obama turned his back on Israel to award Iran favored status. Iran was allowed to retain the infrastructure of its military nuclear program as well as continuing to develop ballistic missiles, with the help of an infusion of $250 billion in US and European sanctions relief.

The horror of the carnage in Syria overshadowed the fact that President Obama allowed Tehran to pump Revolutionary Guards forces into the country through Iraq in order to fight for the brutal Assad regime. The president made no effort to halt the influx of pro-Iranian Shiite groups, including the Lebanese Hizballah, into Syria, as though it was perfectly natural and his policies had nothing to do with bringing Israel’s arch-foes to its back door.

In 2015, too, when Obama tried to wash his hands of the Middle East at large, he opened the war for the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to walk in and commandeer large swathes of Iraq and Syria virtually unopposed.

From those vantage points, the jihadists sent out a tentacle to Egyptian Sinai – close to another Israeli border.

Of late, the Obama has claimed he was not aware of ISIS’ potential for expansion, implying that US intelligence was at fault.

All the same, Obama never tired of emphasizing that he had done more than any US president before him to support Israel’s security, mainly in the form of advanced US weapons systems supplied for its defense. Because of the close military and intelligence ties between the two countries, no voice was raised to contradict him.

It is now time to point to the hypocrisy of the incumbent president’s posture: Had he invested less in granting benefits and free rein to the Jewish state’s closest enemies, Israel would perhaps have been less dependent on American hardware.

In the latest UN Security Council resolution, Israel is reprimanded on the score that “all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace on the basis of the two-state solution.”

Before anyone else, Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry are in a position to attest to the falseness of this equation.

On Nov. 25, 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a concession to ease the US peace initiative. Israel gave way further on its demand for direct negotiations, when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dug his heels in against meeting Israeli officials face to face. John Kerry was forced to engage in shuttle diplomacy.
Even after those concessions for peace, the Obama initiative fell flat when it came up against Palestinian resistance.

The departing US president seems determined to use his last weeks in office to teach the Israeli prime minister a painful lesson he won’t forget in a hurry after his White House exit on Jan. 20.

But he is getting it wrong one more time. The UN SC resolution will soon be reduced to a piece of paper. The Palestinians will wave it gladly in the face of the international community, but Israel won’t remove a single settlement or stop building new housing estates in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister’s Office made it clear that Israel is not bound by the resolution and rejects it.
The only concrete result will be to make peace more elusive than ever

The notion that Donald Trump will come riding to Israel’s rescue as soon as he moves into the Oval Office is foolish. He was elected to rebuild America as a global power. That would necessarily include restoring US influence in the Middle East, but how he proposes to accomplish this is not generally known.

If he decides to call on Israel for support and assistance, it stands to reason that he will introduce radical changes in Obama’s steps – especially the nuclear deal with Iran and the peace process with the Palestinians.

Not all those changes can be achieved peacefully. They may well entail the use of military force by the United States and Israel. In this sense, Security Council Resolution 2334 may turn out to be the real obstacle to peace, tending rather to promote belligerence in the Middle East, because the Palestinians and other hardliners and rejectionists will use the resolution as their justification for bashing Israel and more acts of terror.

The sorrow and the pity in Syria

December 21, 2016

The sorrow and the pity in Syria, Washington Times

(Please see also, Lies and Hypocrisy over Aleppo. — DM)

iraninsyriaIllustration on Iran’s future role in Syria by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Over the last five years, Syria has been descending into a hell on Earth. Over the last four months, the lowest depths of the inferno have been on display in Aleppo, an ancient city, once among the most diverse and dynamic in the Middle East. On Friday, in the final press conference of his presidency, Barack Obama addressed this still-unfolding humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.

“So with respect to Syria,” he said, “what I have consistently done is taken the best course that I can to try to end the civil war while having also to take into account the long-term national security interests of the United States.”

An estimated 500,000 dead, 11 million displaced, millions more living in fear, sorrow and pitiful poverty, Iranian forces backed by Russian forces occupying the heart of the Arab world — yet no-drama Mr. Obama remains so casual, so confident that the decisions he’s made were “the best” and, what’s more, that he made them “consistently.” Is refusing to change one’s mind as conditions worsen and policies fail really a virtue?

To bolster his case, the president emphasized that he has spent lots of time — “if you tallied it up, days and weeks” — attending meetings on Syria. “We went through every option in painful detail with maps,” he said, “and we had our military and we had our aid agencies and we had our diplomatic teams, and sometimes, we’d bring in outsiders who were critics of ours.” Imagine that: painful detail, maps, aid agencies, even critical outsiders.

Count me among those not convinced. In 2011, during that hopeful moment known as the Arab Spring, peaceful protesters took to the streets of Damascus. The dynastic dictator Bashar Assad responded brutally. Before long, a civil war was ignited.

Mr. Obama’s top advisers recommended assisting non-Islamist and nationalist rebels — not with the proverbial boots on the proverbial ground but with secure communications devices, money, weapons and training. Mr. Obama rejected that advice. He had done the math: Mr. Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, hadn’t enough loyal troops to prevail against Syria’s insurgent Sunni majority. So the fall of the Assad regime had to be both inevitable and imminent.

What that failed to take into account: Iran’s theocrats would send in foreign Shia fighters, including those of Hezbollah, their Lebanese proxy, all under the leadership of their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Vladimir Putin also would deploy forces in support of the Assad regime. We can surmise his reasons: to have a Mediterranean port for his navy; to re-establish Russia’s influence in the Middle East; to show the world that, unlike Mr. Obama, he does not abandon his friends; to diminish American credibility and prestige.

Mr. Obama’s response was, as it so often is, mainly rhetorical. He warned Mr. Putin that he was stepping into a quagmire. He proclaimed, as so he often does, that there can be “no military solution.”

The Russian president, a product of the KGB rather than the faculty lounge, knew that was nonsense. In the Middle East, the law of the jungle trumps international law every time.

Having accused President George W. Bush of overreach, Mr. Obama adopted a policy that might be called underreach. He decided not to enforce the “red line” he had declared against Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons. He decided not to eliminate Mr. Assad’s air power, which would have ended the barrel-bombing of civilians. He wasn’t even willing to help establish “safe zones” where innocent Syrians might stand a chance to defend themselves.

I know: Mr. Obama saw his mission as ending wars and certainly not risking additional American entanglements. And he is among those who believe that the projection of American power generally does more harm than good.

Not mutually exclusive is the theory that he had a specific goal in mind: to bring Iran’s rulers into a strategic partnership with the United States. To achieve that, he had to demonstrate that he respected what he has called their “equities” in Syria. Were he to take action against Mr. Assad, the Islamic republic’s envoys might walk away from the table where they were negotiating the nuclear weapons deal Mr. Obama envisioned as his great foreign policy legacy.

The president has been nothing if not “consistent” in his pursuit of detente with Iran’s Islamic revolutionaries. In all likelihood, that is what explains his decision, just after taking office, to turn a blind eye to the clerical regime’s ruthless repression of the Green Movement that took to the streets of Iranian cities following a rigged presidential election in 2009.

History will record that these efforts failed. Nixon went to China. Mr. Obama will not be going to Iran — or to Syria, which Iran intends to incorporate into its version of a caliphate (which Shia call an “imamate”).

Aleppo,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said last week at the U.N., “will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo. To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes.”

She went on to ask: “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”

Would it be unfair to suggest that the answers to these questions should have been apparent to her and the president years ago? Had that been the case, perhaps they would have formulated different policies and implemented a different course of action. Or perhaps not.

Iranian Commander Who Killed Americans Tours Syria, Violating International Travel Ban

December 19, 2016

Iranian Commander Who Killed Americans Tours Syria, Violating International Travel Ban, Washington Free Beacon, , December 19, 2016

CORRECTS SPELLING OF NAME TO SOLEIMANI - In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, prays in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, March 27, 2015. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sought Friday to reassure the six world powers conducting nuclear power talks in Switzerland, saying the negotiations remained focused on sealing a deal. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Qassem Soleimani,  (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Multiple sources who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon about the matter disclosed that the Obama administration is taking a soft approach with Iran, including not enforcing sanctions, in order to preserve the nuclear deal and diplomacy with Tehran, which has threatened repercussions for any new sanctions.

Soleimani’s visit to Syria is viewed as a sign that Iran is not worried about facing repercussions for its continued military presence in Syria in support of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.

Iran has breached international laws for some time without facing consequences. The Obama administration repeatedly assured Congress it would enforce sanctions on Iran when lawmakers expressed doubt about the viability of the Iran nuclear deal.

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

A top Iranian commander responsible for the deaths of Americans was photographed touring the war-torn city of Aleppo in Syria over the weekend, in violation of a United Nations travel ban that the Obama administration swore to enforce while selling the landmark nuclear deal with Iran to Congress, according to multiple sources and photographs.

Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani—a top general who leads Iranian militants across the globe and is directly responsible for the death of Americans—was recently photographed touring Aleppo in a demonstration of Iran’s waxing influence in Syria and disregard for international resolutions barring such behavior. Soleimani’s presence in Syria is a direct violation of the United Nations resolution governing the nuclear deal.

Soleimani’s visit coincided with moves by the terror group Hezbollah, which is controlled by Iran, to establish its own claim in Syria, according to regional reports and footage.

Iran’s public presence in Syria has not been met with action by the Obama administration, which has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to explain why it is not enforcing current sanctions against Iran. Soleimani continues to direct Iranian forces in both Iraq and Syria and has long been sanctioned for the murder of U.S. citizens.

Mutliple sources who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon about the matter disclosed that the Obama administration is taking a soft approach with Iran, including not enforcing sanctions, in order to preserve the nuclear deal and diplomacy with Tehran, which has threatened repercussions for any new sanctions.

Soleimani’s visit to Syria is viewed as a sign that Iran is not worried about facing repercussions for its continued military presence in Syria in support of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.

Iran has breached international laws for some time without facing consequences. The Obama administration repeatedly assured Congress it would enforce sanctions on Iran when lawmakers expressed doubt about the viability of the Iran nuclear deal.

The absence of consequences for Iran’s behavior has paved the way for Hezbollah to stake it own claim in Syria, according to congressional and foreign policy insiders who told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration is working behind the scenes to prevent any new sanctions against Iran.

“The Obama administration has been working overtime to prevent any U.S. official from doing anything new to punish the butchers of Syria, because they know that would force them to take action against Iran, and then Iran would walk away from the deal,” said one veteran insider who consults with Congress on the issue. “Now they’re ignoring even old sanctions against the Iranians. They’ll do anything to keep the Iranians in the deal for just a couple more weeks, so they can blame the inevitable collapse on Trump.”

A senior congressional aide apprised of the situation said the administration would continue to turn a blind eye to blatant violations in order to preserve diplomacy with Iran.

“This administration’s refusal to enforce sanctions explicitly allowed under the nuclear deal is not only cowardice—it’s dangerous,” said the aide. “What does it say about U.S. leadership when a terrorist like General Soleimani—someone with American blood on his hands—can freely travel to the ground zero of genocide in Syria without penalty? President Obama knows his nuclear deal is on thin ice, so he’s willing overlook blatant sanctions violations like this one even if it means more carnage in Aleppo.”

A second senior congressional source warned that refusal to enforce sanctions was empowering Iran’s radical regime, which has increasingly taken hold in Iraq as well, where the U.S. military has been accused of training Iranian-backed militias.

“The outgoing Obama administration struck a Faustian bargain with Iran, the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and Soleimani, head of the IRGC terrorist organization that’s responsible for the death of many hundreds of Americans, continues to do victory laps throughout the Middle East” the source said. “Unless the Trump administration changes course, this short-sighted Iran policy cannot and will not end well.”

Troops in Aleppo, as well as an Iranian reporter, have been spotted raising Hezbollah’s flag in recent days, calling into question the Obama administration’s claim that it has been working to constrain the terror group.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on radical regimes, told the Free Beacon that Iran sees the nuclear deal as a vehicle to advance its regional aspirations.

“For Obama, diplomacy’s goal was to affirm his brilliance,” Rubin said. “For Iran’s leadership, it was an asymmetric warfare tactic meant to distract from a continuous geopolitical goal.”

“Red lines matter. Over 25 years, both Republicans and Democrats signaled to Iran about what they were,” Rubin explained. “Obama, however, believed himself wiser than Reagan, Clinton, and Bush—at least that’s what the man in the mirror told him every morning. Once Iran realized there were no real red lines, it concluded it could bust sanctions with impunity. Soleimani is the personification of that conclusion.”

The State Department conceded on Monday that Soleimani’s visit to Syria violated United Security Council resolutions government the nuclear deal, but would not lay out steps meant to address the behavior.

“We do intend to consult with our partners on the security council about how to address our concerns with this,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing. “We’ve long said that Iran needs to choose whether it’s going to play a positive role in helping peacefully resolve conflicts, such as in Syria, or whether it will choose to prolong them. And you’re absolutely right, his travel was a violation.”

Update 3:05 P.M.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from the State Department.

The Audacity of Silence On Possible Iran-North Korea Nuclear Ties

December 16, 2016

The Audacity of Silence On Possible Iran-North Korea Nuclear Ties, Canada Free Press, , December 15, 2016

(Does the unwritten, never-produced or otherwise verified Khamenei “fatwa” against nukes — but not against missiles to deliver them —  upon which Obama, Kerry et al relied apply to North Korea? — DM)

If the silent officials of the Obama administration are confident that there has been no nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea, it’s time to put that assessment in writing and send it to Cruz. If, on the other hand, Clapper, Kerry, Lew or Obama himself have any information that points to nuclear collaboration, it’s past time to inform Cruz, the rest of Congress and the American public of the staggering extent of the radioactive debacle they are about to hand off to President-elect Donald Trump, under the heading of Obama’s legacy Iran nuclear deal.

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

It’s now more than eight weeks since Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to three senior officials of the Obama administration, detailing his concerns that North Korea and Iran might be working together on developing nuclear missiles.

In particular, Cruz had a question for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Referring to the period since the Iran nuclear deal took effect on Jan. 16, Cruz asked: “Has the U.S. intelligence community observed any possible nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea…”?

That’s one of the huge questions looming behind the Iran nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which President Obama has been urging President-elect Donald Trump to preserve.

It’s a question that deserves an immediate answer. If there has been any such nuclear teamwork between Tehran and rogue, nuclear-testing Pyongyang, that would be a violation by Iran that should immediately blow up the Iran deal — which the Obama White House currently touts on its web site as “The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon.”

Questions about possible Iran-North Korea teamwork on nuclear weapons are well-founded, as Cruz explained in his seven-page letter, referencing numerous open-source reports (including two of my own). North Korea and Iran have been strategic allies since just after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. They have a long history of weapons deals, in which the usual arrangement has been that North Korea works on the weapons, oil-rich Iran pays the bills, and technicians shuttle between both countries.

While there’s been no official U.S. confirmation that this Iran-North Korea partnership extends to nuclear collaboration, there’s plenty of official U.S. documentation that it includes cooperation on developing ballistic missiles. That has long raised questions about whether the two countries are also in nuclear cahoots, because ballistic missiles are basically cost-efficient only as vehicles for delivering nuclear warheads.

And though it could be mere coincidence, it is striking that during the past year, in which Iran — to multi-billion dollar emolument — has officially relinquished any interest in nuclear weapons, cash-hungry North Korea has never been busier. North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests this year alone, in January and September, bringing its total number of nuclear tests to five since 2006, four of them during Obama’s presidency.

Over many years, North Korea and Iran have both carried out numerous ballistic missile tests, including multiple tests by both countries since the Iran nuclear deal took effect this January. That raises the question of why Iran, having promised not to make nuclear weapons, continues to pour resources into testing ballistic missiles. If not for nuclear weapons, then for what? One obvious question is whether North Korea’s nuclear program might be secretly doubling as a nuclear backshop for Iran.

Cruz, in his letter, raised specific worries about North Korea’s test this September of a powerful new rocket booster, which according to North Korean state media had a thrust of 80 tons — enough power to carry “a heavier, or less-minaturized nuclear warhead to the United States.” That happens to be exactly the same amount of thrust referenced in a Jan. 17 Treasury press release that mentioned the excursions of “Iranian missile technicians,” who “within the past several years” have “traveled to North Korea to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government.”

Cruz asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to confirm that the capability of North Korea’s new rocket engine, tested in September, was the same as that of the North Korean rocket on which Iranian technicians had been working in North Korea.

Cruz also had some questions for Secretary of State John Kerry, including “What penalties do you plan to announce against Iran in light of its JCPOA violations?” He also wanted to know, “What is the United States doing to ensure that the $1.7 billion paid to Iran in cash earlier this year is not used to finance nuclear weapons research in North Korea?”

From all these Administration officials, Cruz requested answers no later than Nov. 1. To date, according to his staff, he has received no answers at all.

State and Treasury have not even extended the courtesy of acknowledging the letter. From Clapper’s office, at National Intelligence, came a message in October, saying they had received the letter, and would respond. They have not.

That’s an alarming silence. For years, Obama administration officials have dodged questions about possible Iran-North Korea nuclear teamwork by reciting the talking point that any signs of such cooperation would be cause for serious concern. Now it seems Administration officials are skirting even that customary evasion. Why?

My own queries to State, Treasury and National Intelligence, asking why they had not answered Cruz, ran into the same blank walls. State and Treasury made no response. National Intelligence emailed back on Dec. 6 only to say that they had received Cruz’s letter, and “are working to respond as soon as possible.”

Obama’s administration has racked up a record that suggests silence on Iran-related issues is not a good sign. Back in January, when Obama celebrated a $1.7 billion settlement of an old financial dispute with Iran, a number of lawmakers wrote to the Administration asking for details of this transaction, and whether it was a ransom for Iran’s release of American prisoners.

The Administration took weeks to provide even partial replies, denied paying ransom and omitted entirely the manner in which the $1.7 billion had been dispatched to Iran. It took more than six months for Congress and the press to eke out of the Administration the information that the entire $1.7 billion, converted into European hard currency, had been paid to Iran in stacks of cash — hard to trace and convenient chiefly for illicit purposes — with the first installment of $400 million conveyed, ransom-style, on the same day as the prisoner release, and held in Geneva until the airplane carrying the released American prisoners was on its way out of Iran.

For the Obama administration, invested in the Iran nuclear deal as one of Obama’s signature legacies, there is tremendous temptation to ignore or bury any evidence that Iran is cheating. There is also enormous incentive to downplay another of Obama’s legacies: the dramatic enhancement, since he took office in 2009, of the nuclear arsenal and proficiency of North Korea, now honing its increasingly powerful missiles, beefing up its stockpile of nuclear fuel, and preparing for its sixth nuclear test.

If the silent officials of the Obama administration are confident that there has been no nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea, it’s time to put that assessment in writing and send it to Cruz. If, on the other hand, Clapper, Kerry, Lew or Obama himself have any information that points to nuclear collaboration, it’s past time to inform Cruz, the rest of Congress and the American public of the staggering extent of the radioactive debacle they are about to hand off to President-elect Donald Trump, under the heading of Obama’s legacy Iran nuclear deal.

Iran Breaks Nuclear Deal and UN Resolutions

December 15, 2016

Iran Breaks Nuclear Deal and UN Resolutions, Gatestone Institute, Majid Rafizadeh, December 15, 2016

“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.” – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers), which can easily reach Eastern Europe, as well as countries such as Israel.

In addition, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that there would be no limit for the range and amount of missiles that Iran will develop.

The nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA) — effective, as of October 18, 2015, according to the State Department – clearly and distinctly stipulates that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missile activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”

Not only is Iran avoiding honoring this stipulation, but also Iran’s ballistic missile operations have significantly ratcheted up. More importantly, there has been no criticism at all from the Obama administration or other involved parties regarding this critical violation.

As cited by Iran’s state-owned Fars News Agency, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Iran’s commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, said in Tehran on Dec 6, 2016:

“In addition to enhancing the precision-striking power and quality of ballistic missiles, the Iranian authorities and experts have used innovative and shortcut methods to produce inexpensive missiles, and today we are witnessing an increase in production [of ballistic missiles].”

Iran is bragging about it.

1173-2

In addition, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that there would be no limit for the range and amount of missiles that Iran will develop. He boasted:

“90 percent of the country’s defense systems have reached an acceptable standard and enjoy competitive quality compared with the weapons of advanced countries; production of the national individual weapons and efforts to improve the quality and precision-striking power of ballistic missiles are among the defense ministry’s achievements in the defense field.”

Fars News reported on a December 6, 2016 statement from Iran’s Defense Minister:

“His remarks came as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired 2 home-made ‘Qadr H’ ballistic missiles from the Eastern Alborz Mountains at a target in Iran’s Southeastern Makran seashore some 1400km away… The missiles were fired on the sidelines of the main stage of the IRGC drills in Central Iran and various parts of the country.”

One missile, which was launched on March 2016, had a clear message written on it that said in the Hebrew language: “Israel should be wiped off the Earth”. Fars Agency adds:

“Qadr is a 2000km-range, liquid-fuel and ballistic missile which can reach territories as far as Israel… The missile can carry different types of ‘Blast’ and ‘MRV’ [Multiple Reentry Vehicle] payloads to destroy a range of targets. The new version of Qadr H can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability.”

Iran has repeatedly test-fired, long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles. For example, on March 2016, Iran tested a new ballistic missile, capable of carrying multiple warheads. More recently, Iran fired a test missile with an accuracy within 25 feet, which is characterized as “zero error,” according to Brig. Gen. Ali Abdollahi, the Iranian military’s deputy chief of staff, and Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers), which can easily reach Eastern Europe, as well as countries such as Israel.

According to a previous report obtained by the Associated Press, the launches are “destabilizing and provocative” and the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile fired by Iran are “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

In addition to violating the nuclear agreement, provoking and threatening other nations, and destabilizing the region, Iran is breaching two UN Security Council Resolutions. Security Council resolution 2231 (section 3 of Annex B) “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

The second United Nations Security Council resolution, 1929, states:

“Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”

Iran has the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. It is also the most diversified one. No country, other than Iran, has acquired long-range ballistic missiles before obtaining nuclear weapons. Ballistic missiles can be used for offensive or defensive purposes, but sophisticated missiles are more likely developed as delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.

These missiles have the capability of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. Iran Tasnim news agency reported:

“Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan praised the country’s military might…saying the Islamic Republic can mass produce ballistic missiles with any range and destructive power… In the missile sphere, Iran has been able to maximize the accuracy of projectiles, as emphasized by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, with reliance on the local forces, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said at an academic ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday.”

Iran is also is increasingly provoking other countries in the region, and has made it clear that the ballistic missiles are aimed at targeting other nations. Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said previously to FARS news agency that “Iran has built missiles that can hit targets at 2,000 Km. They are designed to hit Israel at such a distance.” He added that Islamic countries have surrounded Israel and “its [Israel’s] life is short. So it will collapse in any given war — long before a missile is even fired.”

Iran also exports these missiles to its proxies across the region. Tasnim news agency quoted General Hossein Salami as saying:

“Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles that are ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes… today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are (present) more than ever.”

In addition, Gen. Salami warned Israeli leaders that if they make the “wrong move,” Israel would come under attack.

It is crucial to point out that both Iran’s so-called “moderates” and hardliners are on the same page when it comes developing ballistic missiles. When his country was unveiling a new missile, Fateh 313, President Hassan Rouhani pointed out that “we will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.”

The Obama administration, the international community, a major global power, or a coalition of nations need robustly to confront these provocations, threats, and violations of the nuclear deal and UN Security Council Resolutions by Iran.