Archive for the ‘Iran – underground sites’ category

New Iron Dome version can destroy tunnels

March 11, 2016

New Iron Dome version can destroy tunnels, DEBKAfile, March 11, 2016

Anti_tunnel_missile_NEWIran keeps its ballistic missiles in underground bunkers

Israel has started testing a secret new weapon for defeating the tunnel systems which the Palestinian Hamas and Hizballah are busy digging for surprise attacks against Israel. Western sources reported Friday, March 11, that the new weapon, dubbed the “Underground Iron Dome,” can detect a tunnel, then send in a moving missile to blow it up.

US intelligence sources disclosed only that new weapon is equipped with seismic sensors to detect underground vibrations and map their location before destroying them.

Western experts have been talking for years about a secret Israeli weapon capable of destroying Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, which is buried deep inside a mountain not far from the Shiite shrine city of Qom. They suggested that this hypothetical weapon could be slipped through the Fordo facility’s vents, thread its way through the underground chambers and take down the illicit enrichment facility.

It was discussed again three years ago, when the Israeli Air Force on Aug. 23 2013 blew up the Popular Palestinian Front-General Command underground facility at Al-Naama on the South Lebanese coast, 15 km south of Beirut.

The PPF-GC leader Ahmed Jibril was then taking his orders from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

How this operation turned out was never revealed. But Western military sources saw it as a strong Israeli message to Tehran that its underground nuclear facilities were now vulnerable to attack. The secret JIbril command center was constructed in the 1970s by East German military engineers as one of most heavily fortified military sites in the Middle East.

As for the new weapon, the Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said that the US had allocated $40 million for completing in 2016 the establishment of “anti-tunnel capabilities to detect, map and neutralize underground tunnels that threaten the US or Israel.”

According to the spokesman, the main part of the development work (on the secret weapon) would be conducted in Israel in 2016. The US would receive prototypes and access to the test sites and hold the rights to any intellectual property.

The Israeli firms working on the anti-tunnel weapon are Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which developed the Iron Dome.

Sherwood denied claims from Israeli defense quarters that the US had earmarked $120 for developing the system, or that another $80 million would be available – half in 2017 and half in 2018.

DEBKAfile’s military sources emphasize that the timeline implicit in those estimates doesn’t necessarily represent the tempo of he Underground Iron Dome’s development.

According to past experience, unfinished Israeli weapons have more than once been rushed to the battlefield to meet an emergency war situation. The Iron Dome is one example. This has the advantage of testing innovative systems in real operational conditions, with the result that improvements and adjustments can be introduced much faster than planned.

Our sources add: Both Palestinian Hamas and the pro-Iranian Hizballah are working overtime on tunnels for sneaking terrorists and commando fighters into Israel to attack IDF posts and civilian locations. During Israel’s last counter-terror operation in the Gaza Strip, Hamas staged a deadly tunnel attack on the Israel side of the border and is planning repeats. Hizballah is training commando units for underground surprise incursions to capture parts of Galilee in northern Israel.

The Israeli government has spent more than $250 million since 2004 on efforts to thwart tunnel construction under the Gaza border.

IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot hinted at these efforts in February. “We are doing a lot, but many of [the things we do] are hidden from the public,” he told a conference at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center. “We have dozens, if not a hundred, engineering vehicles on the Gaza border.”

Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War

August 23, 2015

Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War, Amerian Thinker, John Bosma, August 23, 2015

(We live in “interesting times.” — DM)

The signing of a Munich-class agreement with Iran that hands it more than it ever hoped to pull off represents a shocking, craven American capitulation to an apocalyptic crazy state: a North Korea with oil. Nothing in Western history remotely approaches it, not even Neville Chamberlain’s storied appeasement of another antisemitic negotiating partner.

But it also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their publics into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.

The Iranian elite’s ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge’s Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975. Senior Iranian officials have periodically tied nuclear war to the return of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, which Iran’s previous president anticipated within several years. This reflects not just the triumphalist enthusiasm of a new arriviste nuclear power that just won more at the table than it dared to dream. It also reflects a self-amplifying, autarchic end-days theology that is immune to both reality testing and to Western liberal/progressive tenets about prim and proper nuclear behavior.

Admittedly, Iranian leaders have lately resorted to envisioning Israel’s collapse in more restrained terms through Palestinian demographic takeover of the Israeli state and asymmetric warfare. Still there remains a lurid history of Iranian officials urging the elimination of Israel and its people, of allocating their nukes to Israeli territory to maximize Jewish fatalities, of Iranian officials leading crowds in chants of “Death to Israel!” Iran’s government also released a video game allowing players to target various kinds of Iranian ballistic missiles against Israeli cities – this as part of intensive propaganda drumming up hatred of Jews. A more recent video game envisions a massive Iranian ground army marching to liberate Jerusalem. In all, Iran’s official stoking of genocidal Jew hatred is far beyond what Hitler’s government dared to advocate before the 1939 outbreak of World War 2.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal. It’s as if 75 years ago a US president had cheerfully engaged in peace talks with Hitler and his SS entourage despite learning the details of the Nazis’ secret Wannsee Conference where Hitler signed off on the Final Solution for the Jews. But whereas Hitler had the sense in that era to keep that conclave secret, Iran’s Wannsee intentionality toward Israel and world Jewry has for years been flamboyantly rude-and-crude and in-your-face. That this Iranian advocacy of a second Holocaust drew no objection from the US negotiators of this deal should make moral pariahs out of every one of them – including our president and Secretary of State.

These two factors alone, especially the abrupt evaporation of the US’s ultimate existential bargain with Israel through Obama’s de facto alliance with the mullahs, would drive Israel to the one attack option it can unilaterally use without running short of munitions and experiencing the massive US coercion embedded in that dependence. But there are other reasons why early Israeli nuclear pre-emption is not only justified but almost mandatory.

First, it is too late to stop Iran’s bomb-making momentum with conventional weapons or sanctions. That nation’s science and technology base is robust and improving. It has learned to domestically produce high-performance gas centrifuges whose uranium gas output is such that smaller numbers of them are needed for breakout. The US spent decades and many billions at labs like Oak Ridge National Laboratory on composites, software-controlled magnetic bearings, gas flow separations, thermal controls and ultra-precision manufacturing for these thin-wall, very-high-speed devices. Yet Iran has come up the centrifuge learning curve with surprising speed. Its metallurgists are familiar with a novel aluminum forging method that may yield nanophase aluminum shells so strong that they approach the centrifugal strength usually associated with more demanding composite-shell gas centrifuges. Also, Iran’s bomb engineering and physics can tap the sophisticated bomb designs and re-entry vehicle (RV) skills of North Korea, which is reducing the weight and mass of its H-bombs to fit on ballistic missiles and whose collaboration with Iran reportedly included Iranian technicians at North Korean bomb tests.

Other technology sources in the Nuclear Bombs R Us cartel for wannabe proliferators set up by rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan of Pakistan include China, Russia and Pakistan. Worst of all, under the US-Iran deal, Iran’s ballistic missiles can improve their reliability, accuracy, throw-weight and their post-boost RV-release thrusters.

Second, Iran’s underground nuclear targets are likely harder than American and Israeli hard-target munition (HTM) developers have assumed. Why? Because Iranian engineers have perfected the world’s toughest concrete, developing mixtures using geopolymers, quartz powders (called fume) and metal and ceramic fibers. The result is hardness levels reportedly up to 50,000-60,000 psi in experimental samples. This means that even shallow “cut and cover” hard targets like the Natanz centrifuge enrichment plant, an armored complex in an excavated pit that is then covered, can resist destruction by the US’s most lethal hard-target bomb: the 30,000-lb “Massive Ordnance Penetrator.” Only the B-2 and the B-52 can carry the MOP. Yet while the MOP can penetrate ~200 ft into 5000-psi targets, it only reaches 25 feet into 10,000-psi concrete – and Iranian cement for new or up-armored underground bunkers has likely progressed well beyond that.

US and Israeli HTM alternatives include staged-warhead penetrators and – high on the wish list – novel energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power than current HTMs. Tactical HTMs with up to four sequential warheads use precursor warheads to blast an initial opening for larger follow-through charges to destroy tanks, fortifications and bridge piers. But these impact at slow speeds compared to what’s needed to kill deep hard targets. The latter need superhard casings (probably single-crystal metals) and packaging to keep their sequenced charges intact during violent impacts of thousands of feet/second (fps). One benchmark is the Department of Energy’s Sandia lab’s success years ago in firing a simulated hard-target RV into rock at 4400 fps. Similarly, reactive-material (RM) munitions and next-generation HEDM (high-energy-density material) explosives and energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power look promising for the future. But these require years of iterative fly-redesign-fly testing to assure they’ll survive impact with their deep targets.

Bottom line: with even the US’s best non-nuclear HTMs marginal against Iran’s critical deep targets, Israel’s HTMs probably wouldn’t do the job either, being lower in kinetic energy on target. Alternatives like using HTMs to destroy entrances to such targets and ventilation shafts may work – but unless Iranian military power and recovery are set back months or years, this damage would be repaired or worked round. Moreover, nuclear facilities tunneled into mountains would be almost impossible to destroy with conventionals.

Still, the brains behind Iran’s nuclear bomb, missile and WMD is concentrated in soft targets like the Iranian universities run by the IRGC (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps), custodian of the bomb program). These can be hit by conventionals under a Peenemunde targeting strategy to kill as many weapon scientists and technicians as possible. (This recalls Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s directive for British bombers to target the residential housing on the small Baltic island where Hitler had sited his V-2 rocket program.) Alternatively, conventional or nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or HPM (high-power microwave) weapons could destroy for months all the computers and communications that support university-hosted bomb work. This would keep these scientists and surrounding urban populations alive.

Third, Obama’s decision to provide Iran “training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems” is the clearest indicator that this accord is aimed squarely at Israel. Why? It eliminates the sole option Israel has left now that it lacks the US-supplied conventional HTMs to destroy unexpectedly hard deep targets, forcing it at best into a slow-motion conventionals-only campaign. This would expose it to brutal political and military blowback by Iran and its Chinese, Russian and European suppliers – and by an enraged American president. In essence, it appears that the Obama regime has under the accord deliberately stripped Israel of every option except nuclear pre-emption – which Obama, in typically liberal-progressive fashion, assumes would never happen. Ergo, Israel would be forced to accommodate Iranian military supremacy.

Fourth, what may drive an early Israeli nuclear attack are two considerations: (a) Russian S-300 ATBM/SAMs (anti-tactical ballistic missile/surface-to-air missile) in Iranian hands; and (b) Hezb’allah’s thousands of missiles. Russia’s agreement to supply Iran four batteries of its fearsome S-300 by late August for defending priority targets would make it very difficult for Israel to mount the complex precision bombing strategies needed for tough targets. The S-300, the world’s best, can knock down high-speed aircraft from near ground level to almost 100,000 feet. It can also engage some ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, Hezb’allah’s arsenal of more than 60,000 rockets (by some estimates) is a much greater threat to Israel, especially its air force, than is appreciated. Hezb’allah has retrofitted an unknown fraction of these missiles, whose range now covers almost all of Israel, with GPS and precision guidance, allowing them to hit critical targets. Unfortunately, Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling interceptors were designed on the assumption that most incoming missiles would be inaccurate and so the interceptors could be saved only for those approaching critical targets. The result? Hezb’allah rocket campaigns targeting Israeli airbases and other military targets could quickly run Israel out of interceptors. Iran could easily order such a campaign to throw Israel off balance as it focuses on the deadly US-abetted nuclear threat from Iran.

An Israeli nuclear pre-emption is thus eminently thinkable. Every other option has been stripped away by Obama’s decision, concealed from Israel, Congress and our allies until it was too late to challenge, to let Iranian bomb-making R&D run free and to harden Iran’s bomb-making infrastructure against Israel – while imposing lethal restrictions on Israeli countermeasures and forswearing any US and allied military attacks, such as B-2’s and B-52’s dropping MOP bombs.

The die is now cast. Nuclear pre-emption becomes attractive to a nation in extremis, where Israel is now:

…Israel needs to impart a powerful, disorganizing shock to the Iranian regime that accomplishes realistic military objectives: digging out its expensive underground enrichment plants, destroying its Arak plutonium reactor and maybe Bushehr in the bargain, killing its bomb and missile professionals, scientists and technicians, IRGC bases, its oil production sites, oil export terminals and the leaders of the regime where they can be found.

…its initial strike must move very fast and be conclusive within 1-2 hours, like the Israeli air attack opening the 1967 Six-Day War. The goal is to so stun the regime that Israel controls the first and subsequent phases of the war and its ending. This means that Israel must hit enough critical targets with maximum shock – and be willing to revisit or expand its targets – so as to control blowback and retaliation from Iran’s allies. In essence, this involves a very fast-paced Israeli redesign of the Middle East in the course of a nuclear war for survival.

…what is poorly appreciated is that nuclear weapons from 10 to 300 kilotons (KT) – depending on accuracy – can destroy deep hard targets to 200+ meters depth by ground coupling if they penetrate merely 3 meters into the ground (Effects of Nuclear Earth Penetrators and Other Weapons: National Research Council / National Academy Press, 2005, pp. 30-51). Israel could lower bomb yields or achieve deeper target kills by its reported tests of two-plane nuclear attacks in which the first plane drops a conventional HTM like a GBU-28 to open up a channel; the second plane drops its tactical nuclear bomb into that ‘soft’ channel for greater depth before bursting. This unavoidably would produce fallout on cities downwind. Fortunately, the same medical countermeasures used for radiological accidents (Chernobyl accidents, etc.)  – potassium iodide pills (available domestically from www.ki4u.com) – can be airdropped for use by exposed urbanites.

…the more important objective, however, is decapitation and economic paralysis by EMP and HPM effects that destroy all electronic, electrical and electromechanical devices on Iranian territory. While a high-altitude nuclear burst would affect most of Iran’s territory, it may not be necessary if smaller, lower-altitude weapons are used.

…A small number of nuclear weapons (10-15?) may suffice: one each for known underground hard targets, with one held in reserve pending bomb-damage assessments; several low-yield bombs for above-ground bomb-related depots; and low-yield neutron weapons to hit IRGC and regime targets while avoiding blast and fallout. Reactors can be hit with conventional HPM pulse weapons to burn out electrical, electronic and electromechanical systems for later reactor destruction by Special Forces. A targeting priority (using antipersonnel conventionals) would be university-hosted bomb/missile scientists.

…Israeli F-15s and F-16s provide the most accurate delivery for the initial phase – assuming that the S-300 batteries can be decoyed, jammed or destroyed (where Israeli air force experience is unmatched). The small stock of Jericho-2 ballistic missiles probably would be held in reserve. They can’t be used against buried targets unless their re-entry vehicles (RVs) are fitted with penetrator casings and decelerators like ribbon parachutes (used to slow down US test RVs for shallow-water recovery at Pacific atolls) to avoid disintegrating on impact. (Both methods require flight-testing, which is detectable.) Israel’s Dolphin subs in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean can launch nuclear or (probably) conventional cruise missiles with cluster munitions for IRGC targets.

The final issue is how Israeli and US leaders would operate in these conditions. An Israeli decision to go nuclear would be the most tightly held decision in history, given the prospect of out-of-control blowback by our current president if that was leaked. Still, Israel sees itself being driven into a Second Holocaust corner, possibly within weeks as the S-300s begin deploying around Iran’s nuclear targets. Once it decides nukes are its only way out, it would simulate and map out all possible event chains and surprises once it launches. Unavoidably, it would also have to decide what to do if it learns the US is feeding its pre-launch mobilization information to Iran, using its electronic listening posts and missile-defense radars in the region. It may have to jam or destroy those US sites.

For the US, however, this no-warning nuclear war would land like a thunderbolt on an unprepared White House that would likely panic and lash out as Obama’s loudly touted “legacy” goes up in smoke. The characteristic signatures of nuclear bursts would be captured and geolocated by US satellite. The commander of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs would call the White House on the famous red phone. (As one of the few civilians who sat through a red phone alert at NORAD in July 1982, after a Soviet missile sub launched two test missiles off the Kamchatk Peninsulaa, I can testify it is a frightening experience for which nothing prepares you.) Given the psychology of our current president and his emotional investment in his Iran deal, what might follow could challenge the military chain of command with orders that previously were unthinkable.

Now retired, John Bosma draws on a 40-year background in nuclear war-gaming and strategic arms control (SALT 1 and 2, Soviet arms-racing and SALT violations, US force upgrades) at Boeing Aerospace (1977-1980); congressional staff and White House experience (1981-1983) in organizing the “Star Wars” ballistic missile defense (BMD) program and proposing its “defense-enforced strategic reductions” arms-control model adopted by the Reagan State Department; military space journalism (1984-1987); and technology scouting in conventional strategic warfare, rapid (1-2 hours) posture change in space, novel BMD engagement geometries with miniature air-launched interceptors, counter-WMD/terrorism, naval BMD and undersea warfare. Clients included DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Missile Defense Agency, the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, the Navy and the  He follows Israeli forces and BMD and has studied Iran’s nuclear R&D programs. All of his work is open-source

 

State Dept Struggles to Explain Massive Nuke Concessions To Iran

June 13, 2015

State Dept Struggles to Explain Massive Nuke Concessions To Iran, Washington Free Beacon via You Tube, June 12, 2015

 

Nuclear Negotiations At An Impasse

June 11, 2015

Nuclear Negotiations At An Impasse, MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon, June 11, 2015

Leader Khamenei Rejects Agreement Reached On Token Inspection Of Military Sites And Questioning Of Scientists; U.S. Willing To Close IAEA Dossier On Iranian PMD, To Settle For Inspecting Declared Nuclear Sites Only, And To Rely On Intelligence; EU Objects.

Introduction

This past week, members of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team revealed details about the Iran-U.S. nuclear negotiations. The negotiations were dealt a blow when Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei rejected an agreement reached by the two sides concerning a token inspection of military facilities and questioning of several nuclear scientists and “military personnel”; these were to be the response to the IAEA’s open dossier on possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program to which Iran has so far refused to respond.

Iranian reports on these developments show that in order to arrive at a comprehensive agreement, the U.S. is willing to forgo actual inspection of Iranian military facilities and to settle for inspection of declared nuclear facilities only, as set forth under the Additional Protocol, while the ongoing monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program will be left to intelligence elements.[1]

Thus, at this stage, there is a deadlock: Iran is refusing both to respond to the IAEA dossier on its PMD, and to allow actual inspection of facilities that are not declared nuclear facilities.

Furthermore, the EU has announced its objections to a comprehensive agreement with Iran in the absence of satisfactory answers from it regarding the IAEA dossier on its PMD. It said that the IAEA investigation of the PMD “will be essential” to a nuclear deal.[2] IAEA Director-General Yukio Amano has also linked the investigation of Iranian PMD to the attainment of such an agreement.

The Issue: Inspection Of Iranian Military Sites, Questioning Of Iranian Scientists

On May 25, 2015, in an Iranian television interview, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and head negotiator Abbas Araghchi disclosed that this issue had been agreed upon, but that when the Iranian team returned to Tehran for Khamenei’s approval, Khamenei had rejected this agreed solution out of hand (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 4928, Top Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Abbas Aragchi: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It, May 25, 2015 and Appendix I).[3]

It was evident also from Aragchi’s statements that after Khamenei rejected the agreed solution, Iran even reneged from what had been agreed as part of the Additional Protocol, and is now insisting that limitations and restrictions that are part of the Protocol be implemented in a way that will make future inspections difficult. As part of Iran’s backpedaling, Araghchi repeatedly emphasized that “so far, nothing has been concluded” regarding the issue of the inspections.[4]

U.S. Willingness To Disregard IAEA PMD Dossier

Statements by negotiating team member Hamid Baidinejad show that in return for willingness on Iran’s part to sign a comprehensive agreement, the U.S. was willing to forgo actual investigation of the IAEA’s open PMD dossier on Iran and instead to conduct a token inspection of military sites and questioning of Iranian nuclear scientists and military personnel. The U.S. asked Iran to carry out a number of specific steps, thereby paving the way to a comprehensive solution for this issue. These steps included inspections at several points in Iran, including two military facilities, and questioning several senior military officials and scientists (see Appendix II).

Iranian Negotiators’ Two Versions Of Events

An analysis of these statements by the Iranian negotiators shows that there are two different versions of what took place in the negotiations. According to Araghchi, the Iranian team agreed to the U.S.’s demand for a token inspection, but when the team returned to Tehran, Khamenei completely rejected this token inspection. Aragchi’s disclosure that the Iranian negotiators had arrived at an agreement with the Americans that was subsequently rejected by Khamenei caused an uproar in the Iranian political system, triggering harsh criticism against both the negotiators and the leaders of the pragmatic camp, and even leading to a public confrontation between Khamenei and pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani.[5]

The second version of events emerged after the uproar sparked by Aragchi’s revelations. Another negotiator, Baidinejad, in an attempt to correct Araghchi’s claim, stated that the Iranian negotiators had rejected the U.S. demands, even the demand for token inspection, but that the Americans had pressed them to present the demand to Khamenei anyway; when they did so, at the Americans’ urging, Khamenei rejected it outright.

Conclusion

Iran’s reneging on its consent to the U.S. demand for token inspections of its military facilities and questioning of some of its scientists and military personnel in exchange for the closing of the IAEA’s PMD dossier on it places President Obama in a difficult situation, and brings the negotiations to an impasse. This is because along with Khamenei’s rejection, the EU and the IAEA director-general both oppose closing Iran’s dossier in order to arrive at a comprehensive agreement.

It was apparently under these circumstances that CIA director John Brennan was secretly dispatched in early June to Israel, in order to persuade Israel, and, via Israel, the EU, that intelligence monitoring of any Iranian PMD was a satisfactory solution and that actual investigation of the PMD, which Khamenei rejected, could be waived. To this end, Brennan also underlined,on May 31, 2015 on CBS’s Face the Nation, the close U.S.-Israel security cooperation.[6]

In light of this situation, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on May 31, 2015 that with regard to inspection, “other solutions must be discussed.”[7]

Appendix I: Aragchi’s Version Of Events

In an interview that aired May 25, 2015 on Iran’s Channel 2 TV,Araqchi said [8]: “[Our] red lines may change under certain circumstances. This is another issue. We may change some of our red lines for a certain period of time. This is not a problem. The [leader] will give us new instructions, and the team will act accordingly. We have acted within this framework, and we will do so in the future. We will not let ourselves go beyond this framework…

“The Additional Protocol, which is the internationally accepted [control] regime, was not a red line for us. As I said before, our [negotiating] team does not determine those red lines. From the very beginning – and given that the Additional Protocol is [internationally] accepted – we were given permission to accept it during the negotiations. So far, it has not been accepted – we do not have an agreement yet – but it is one of the issues that the negotiating team has been given instructions to accept. As I said, the red lines may or may not be changed in due course, and the Additional Protocol may or may not be accepted at some point, but so far, this has not happened, and our instructions have not changed…

“If the military officials, the relevant officials, the Iranian parliament or the council appointed by Khamenei reach the conclusion that the access provided for in the Additional Protocol comes under the same category as the inspections that Khamenei banned, we will obey and will categorically not allow ‘managed access…’

“The ‘Possible Military Dimension’ [PMD] has always been a strong pretext for the [West]. We have to take this pretext away from them. We have created conditions that will enable us, within the framework of reaching the final nuclear agreement, to resolve the issue of PMD. This is possible now. In the negotiations, we discussed and reached several possible solutions, but these were not accepted in Tehran. These include [allowing the IAEA] to interview several [nuclear scientists], and allowing access to several facilities. They gave us a list and said: ‘If you let us have access to these people and these facilities, we will end the issue of PMD.’ This, however, was not accepted by Tehran, and Khamenei decisively and courageously rejected it..”

Appendix II: Baidinejad’s Version Of Events

In June 1, 2015 statements on his Instagram account that were quoted by the Iranian news agency Fars, negotiating team member Hamid Baidinejad said:[9] “One of the first principles agreed upon, already at the start of the Iran-P5+1 negotiations, was that in a future nuclear agreement, Iran would implement the Additional Protocol on a temporary and voluntary basis until the Majlis decides whether to ratify it and takes into account the other side’s implementation of its obligations…

“It is natural that after a comprehensive nuclear agreement is signed, Iran would be expected to revert to its previous decision – that is, temporarily and voluntarily implementing the Additional Protocol… Without the implementation of the Additional Protocol, even if it is on a temporary basis, the IAEA will not be able to confirm that Iran’s nuclear program is civilian, and that would mean that the process for resolving the nuclear issue will have failed…

“In no way does the Additional Protocol include a clause regarding an obligation on the part of the member states to agree to inspection of their military facilities or investigation of their nuclear scientists. The only thing that the Additional Protocol does make possible is controlled access to non-nuclear facilities, for taking [soil] samples for proving that there is no nuclear activity at facilities that are not declared [to be nuclear sites]…

“Should there be evidence of nuclear material at undeclared sites, whether they are military or civilian, the IAEA will be able to demand controlled access to them [but] only by means of a specific procedure already set out, so that an [Additional Protocol] member state will agree to the sampling in order to prove that it is not conducting nuclear activity in undeclared facilities…

“The Additional Protocol is not a special agreement between the international community and Iran; it is an important international document. Over 120 states are currently members of this protocol, and some have signed it and implemented it temporarily. Therefore, the attempt to interpret it in a way that will include an obligation on the part of [member]states to undergo inspection at [their] military facilities or to allow investigation of [their] nuclear scientists is completely mistaken…

“The discussion on the issue of [Iran’s] PMD, [that is,] Western countries’ claim that Iran has a military nuclear program for producing nuclear weapons, is historically rooted in the years prior to 2003. In recent years, U.S. and Western intelligence services have said that before 2003, Iran’s military wing – commanded by specific commanders in the country – engaged in an extensive clandestine project for producing nuclear weapons. To prove their mistaken claim, [the West] presented intelligence based on their intelligence agencies; however, Iran considers all this intelligence [data] to be faked… There is no doubt that these false accusations against Iran can only be resolved with a political agreement. Discussion of this issue, no matter how lengthy, will not remove these accusations…

“[That is why] the Iranian negotiating team proposed during the talks that Iran and the P5+1 resolve this issue, because they [i.e. the P5+1] would like, along with reaching an agreement, that the issue of the accusations [that Iran] attempted to obtain nuclear weapons will be resolved. They proposed that Iran take several specific steps and thus pave the way to a comprehensive solution to the issue… Iran announced that it considers this dossier faked… But an agreement on it depends on what steps Iran will be asked to take [in order to close the dossier]. They announced that they will discuss the issue on level of the P5+1 [alone] because of its special sensitivity, and will submit their final opinion to Iran at the appropriate time.

“In the round [of talks] that preceded the [April 2015] press release in Lausanne, the P5+1 countries presented Iran with a program that includes inspection at a few points, including two military facilities, and questioning of several senior military officials and nuclear experts whose names were noted in the IAEA reports both directly and indirectly. They claimed that [if they] were allowed access to these sites, and the IAEA was permitted to question these people, that would be the end of the matter of the [PMD] accusations against Iran. As soon as this insulting proposal was raised, Iran rejected it unequivocally… At the same time, the P5+1 asked the Iranian representatives to present the P5+1’s opinion to officials in Iran, despite their express opposition, [for the officials’ approval].

“Leader [Khamenei’s] harsh response rejecting the demand by these countries to inspect military facilities and question nuclear scientists was a completely correct and accurate response. The nuclear negotiations team is proud of having expressed the exact same position [as Khamenei] three months ago, thanks to its complete grasp of the position of the regime and of the leader… Unfortunately, there were some in Iran who were not updated on the details of this issue… and instead of praising the Iranian negotiating team, took the opportunity, while being unaware of the process by which the issue was brought up for discussion – which was reported in full to top regime officials – to launch extremely harsh attacks on the Iranian negotiating team, to plan protests, and to demand a halt to the negotiations…

“These objections and accusations will not last long, but airing these concerns to public opinion can cast doubt on the regime’s main institutions. Everyone is expected to understand Iran’s critical circumstances, and, in this Year of Empathy Between the Government and the People they must join hands in defending Iran’s basic principles and rights and must unite with senior officials in order to efficiently promote the sensitive stage of the nuclear negotiations under the guidance of top senior officials in the regime of the Islamic Republic – and especially by Leader [Khamenei] who is very closely overseeing the negotiations. This way, if an agreement is reached, it will guarantee the preservation of the great Iranian nation’s basic principles.”

Endnotes:

[1] Under the Additional Protocol, the clarification of PMDs at facilities that are not declared nuclear facilities is subject to the consent of the member state under investigation; thus, such sites in fact cannot be inspected.

[2] AP, June 8 2015.

[3] In the interview, Aragchi said that the NPT’s Additional Protocol was not a red line for the Iranian team, and that the team had in fact beeninstructed to accept it. He explained that Iran could always harden its position on these issues. See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4928, “Top Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Abbas Araqchi: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It,” May 25, 2015. It should be mentioned that under former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, IAEA questioning of Iranian scientists was permitted, and two visits to theParchin military facility were allowed. The Iranian team’s acceptance of this demand by the international community was presumably based on this precedent.

[4] Irib (Iran), June 4, 2014.

[5] Senior figures in Iran’s ideological camp hastened to obscure Araghchi’s statements, and to correct them. Majlis speaker for national security affairs Alaa Al-Boroujerdi stated that Aragchi’s words were untrue, and added: “Aragchi only discussed the major issues, and did not say that Iran had consented to inspection of military facilities… Khamenei announced that we will not allow any talks with Iranian scientists, after he noticed that we were under threat by terrorists. The arrest of several who murdered our nuclear scientists revealed that these [perpetrators] were linked to the Mossad. We have red lines, and we will implement them. ISNA, Iran, May 25, 2015. The Javandaily, which is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), also denied Aragchi’s statements regarding the red lines: “In a television interview, top Iranian negotiation [Aragchi] referred to a particular point, and this issue should be addressed. He said: ‘…Perhaps under certain conditions our red lines will change, and the work [of the negotiations] will proceed according to instructions.’ This declaration regarding the possibility of changes to the red lines under certain circumstances is mistaken, for several reasons… As is evident from their names, the red lines are borders that define the basic framework of the negotiations, and without them the negotiations will reach undesirable and unexpected results.” Javanalso warned the Iranian negotiating team about deviating from the red lines: “The Iranian nation supports its negotiating team as long as it operates to realize its rights in the framework of the national interests and preserves national honor. Any withdrawal from this basis, and acceptance of being forced into humiliation by the enemy side, will be met with a popular response from the nation, and will undoubtedly go down in history as a dark and negative point.” Javan, Iran, May 26, 2015. A new website affiliated with the extremist ideological camp called on May 26, 2015 on Khamenei to fire Foreign Minister Zarif and his negotiating team for their “American tendencies.” Amanpress.ir, May 26, 2015.

[6] Haaretz (Israel), June 9, 2015.

[7] Mehr (Iran), May 31, 2015.

[8] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4928, Top Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Abbas Aragchi: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It, May 25, 2015.

[9] Fars (Iran), June 1, 2015.

Leaked Information: Khamenei’s Lies Exposed

June 9, 2015

Leaked Information: Khamenei’s Lies Exposed, Front Page Magazine, June 9, 2015

(?????????????????? — DM)

1.29.13-Ayatollah-Ali-Khamenei-431x350

[W]hat the ayatollah is announcing to the media — that basically the Islamic Republic does not desire to seal a final nuclear deal with the six world powers — is not the truth.  The leaked information (in Persian language) indicates that the Supreme Leader has already instructed the nuclear negotiating team and his advisors to ignore his public statements and seal the final nuclear deal.

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Iran’s paramount religious leader can be described as one of the longest-ruling dictators in the Middle East who still enjoys the throne. An ideologue and a Shiite Islamist, he is also a shrewd Machiavellian politician.

Although he attempts to project himself to the Muslim world as a united religious leader who pursues truth, faith, and honesty, his double-faced character can easily be detected in the discrepancies among his statements and policies.

When Khamenei came to power, he lacked the charisma of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. To rule, he continued the major policies of his predecessor, relying on hard power and hardliners to suppress domestic opposition, making different statements to the public than in private, and funding Shiite or non-Shiite extremists groups in the region such as Hezbollah and the Houthis.

In addition, he created the Office of the Supreme Leader, comprised of close advisors and excluding the presidential and other major offices in order to further consolidate his power and prevent the leaking of information. The Islamic Republic’s major domestic and foreign policy decisions are made in the small gilded circle of his office and he is the final decision-maker of the country.

To rule, the ayatollah began wielding power without being held accountable. In order to do so, his government pre-select a handful of candidates to become president. Presidents do not have any actual power, but would be held accountable, blamed for any gaffes such as economic mismanagements and failure in nuclear talks, among other things. This system has so far worked for the ayatollah.

His predecessor and founder of the Islamic Republic came to power by promising people that oil revenues will be distributed among the population and that people do not have to pay for major bills such as electricity or water (in a speech that he gave in Behesht e Zahra). The videos and audios of that speech were removed from public access. Now, one can even be punished or executed by the Islamic Republic if the government finds that particular speech in one’s possession.  Ayatollah Khamenei also continued this dual policy of deceiving the public.

Most recently, with regards to the marathon nuclear negotiations, Mr. Khamenei’s double standards have become more obvious due to leaked information.

In less than a month, the six world powers (known as the P5+1; the United States, China, Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Russia) and the Islamic Republic will be reaching the deadline for their marathon nuclear talks, marking one the lengthiest international negotiations of our generation.

The position and opinion of the Islamic Republic’s paramount leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the nuclear negotiations and the terms of the final nuclear deal can be characterized as the most crucial factor in determining whether a final deal will be reached by the end of June or not.

Khamenei recently stated, “We will never yield to pressure… We will not accept unreasonable demands… Iran will not give access to its (nuclear) scientists,” he added, “They say we should let them interview our nuclear scientists. This means interrogation… I will not let foreigners talk to our scientists and to interrogate our dear children… who brought us this extensive (nuclear) knowledge… We will not allow the privacy of our nuclear scientists or any other important issue to be violated.”

Nevertheless, what the ayatollah is announcing to the media — that basically the Islamic Republic does not desire to seal a final nuclear deal with the six world powers — is not the truth.  The leaked information (in Persian language) indicates that the Supreme Leader has already instructed the nuclear negotiating team and his advisors to ignore his public statements and seal the final nuclear deal.

The Supreme Leader’s double-standards and the difference in what he states publicly and what he instructs behind the scenes, indicate that he indeed needs the final nuclear deal and he will be more likely willing to allow inspections in order to obtain the deal. Ayatollah Khamenei is cognizant of the fact that the final nuclear deal is geopolitically, economically, and ideologically a win for him. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will not be dismantled, Iran’s break-time to become a nuclear state will shrink from one year to zero in the next few years, Iran’s economy will be strengthened, and the US will likely ignore Iran’s increasing influence and their proxy wars in the region because of the nuclear deal.

Khamenei is being disingenuous with the public and other nations for several reasons. First of all, The fact that Iran’s negotiating team are continuing with the talks, sitting at the same table with Obama administration’s diplomats, and the fact that there is contradiction between what the Supreme Leader and his advisors stated publicly and behind the scenes indicates that Khamenei is giving a green light to the nuclear team to get a nuclear agreement from the White House, the major player in the talks.  Secondly, by showing that Iran is not in need of such a deal, Khamenei is giving leverage to the Iranian negotiating team to obtain more concessions from the West.

Khamenei attempts to publicly show that he is a strong religious and nationalistic leader who is totally against foreign inspection and monitoring of his country. Finally, he desires to project the picture that he is not desperate for the final nuclear deal in order to get as many concessions as he can from the Obama’s administration. And so far, his tactics and dual policies have worked for him in further strengthening his throne and power.

Forfeiting America’s Military Leverage

June 6, 2015

Forfeiting America’s Military Leverage, American ThinkerAbraham Katsman, June 6, 2015

International diplomacy, it is said, is the art of letting the other party have your way.  While there are numerous diplomatic strategies to accomplish that, one of history’s more effective means of pursuing foreign policy goals was for a superior power to conspicuously display naval forces in the waters of the weaker power, posing a military threat until satisfactory terms with the weaker nation could be reached. Such “gunboat diplomacy” could be remarkably persuasive.

But if there is such a thing as the opposite of gunboat diplomacy, we are witnessing it in the nuclear negotiations with Iran.  There will be repercussions.

The United States and other leading nations taking part in the negotiations have military capabilities that dwarf those of Iran, at best a second-rate power. Yet, in spite of the huge military advantages — not to mention the moral gulf between the U.S and Iran, or the huge stakes of allowing Iran to go nuclear — negotiations have proceeded as if between equals.

U.S. military spending is greater than that of the next seven countries combined. Superpower America has a near-monopoly on those gunboats, as well as military aircraft and cruise missiles. But that power is only useful if there is a willingness to use it — or, more precisely, if America’s enemies believe that that there is such a willingness.

If there were ever thoughts that the U.S. under Obama would lay down the law with Iran and order, under overt military threat, the “voluntary” dismantling of the mullah’s nuclear program, they have passed quietly. Sure, President Obama occasionally makes some perfunctory mention that the military option is still on the table, but no one takes his half-hearted warning seriously, least of all the Iranians.

It doesn’t help matters when Obama says, as he did on Israeli TV this week, “A military solution will not fix [the Iranian nuclear problem]. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

Obama has effectively forfeited America’s military leverage. He has taken the position that the only alternative to his Iranian appeasement approach is war, and that war is not an outcome acceptable to him under any circumstances.

No Iranian misconduct disrupts Obama’s pacifism. Against American interests and those of America’s allies, Iran has expanded its reach into Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, ethnically cleansing Sunni communities in Iraq. It has seized a cargo ship under U.S. protection, and holds several Americans hostage (complete with an ongoing farcical “trial” against Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian for espionage). It has increased its nuclear stockpile and violated its existing international agreements, including regarding type and number of centrifuges it may operate, and announced that it will build additional reactors with the help of China and Russia.

In fact, America’s gunboats notwithstanding, it is Iran that has been dictating the terms of a prospective agreement. Iran’s intransigence in the nuclear negotiations has been rewarded: the U.S. has already backed off demands regarding Iranian nuclear enrichment, centrifuges, missile technology, and duration of the prospective agreement — and gotten nothing in return.

Not only is the United States administration going along with all this, but it has released some $11 billion in cash assets to the Islamic Republic. On top of that, it is offering a “signing bonus” of tens of billions of additional dollars to Iran for coming to a nuclear agreement, irrespective of Iranian behavior, support for terror or holding Americans prisoners.

In this context, with no credible American military threat on the table, we should not be surprised that Iran is getting everything it wants from the negotiations at no cost and no risk. As a bonus, it gets to show the world how unserious its American arch-enemy has become.

For the last century, the United States has asserted a global foreign policy, the core of which is being ready, willing, and able to impose its military might to protect its vital interests. Is there a more compelling current American interest than to keep nuclear weapons out of the reach of a rabidly anti-American, anti-Semitic, destabilizing, theocratic, apocalyptic regime, which also threatens the world’s major oil suppliers and is the world’s greatest supporter of terror? If Obama cannot even consider the military protection of that interest, he has rendered American foreign policy impotent, and its military capabilities irrelevant.

That abandonment of longstanding American projection of military power to protect global interests does not go unnoticed, by either friend or foe. The American military’s deterrent effect has been eroded; its security umbrella to its allies looks a lot less secure. The effect on alliances both current and future is corrosive.

From Riyadh to Taipei to Jerusalem, from Moscow to Beijing to Pyongyang, the world is paying close attention. As much as these nuclear negotiations are about Iran, they are even more about America.

 

Obama Assures Iran It Has Nothing to Fear

June 2, 2015

Obama Assures Iran It Has Nothing to Fear, Commentary Magazine, June 1, 2015

(Obama seems to have been talking about Iranian efforts to militarize nukes, not peaceful uses such as medical or generation of electricity. If, as claimed, Iran has no intention of getting, keeping or using nukes why try to halt it? Why bother even to negotiate?– DM)

“A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

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At this point, there is virtually no one in Israel or the United States who thinks it is remotely possible that the Obama administration would ever, under virtually any circumstances, use force against Iran. Though President Obama and his foreign policy team have always claimed that “all options,” including force, are always on the table in the event that Iran refuses to back down and seeks to produce a nuclear weapon, that is a threat that few took seriously. But President Obama has never been quite as explicit about this before as he was in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 in which he reportedly said there is no military option to stop Iran. If Obama wanted to telegraph Iran that it could be as tough as it likes in the talks over the final text of the nuclear deal being negotiated this month this statement certainly did the job. Though they had little worry about Obama’s toughness or resolve, the ayatollahs will be pleased to note that the president no longer even bothers to pretend he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran’s nuclear ambition.

According to the Times of Israel, Obama said:

“A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

Though he continued to use rhetoric that left force as an option, the implicit threat of American action if a nuclear weapon were a possibility has lacked credibility since the president began his second term. Once he embarked upon secret back-channel talks in which, one by one, he abandoned his previous pledges about forcing Iran to shut down its program in concessions and virtually every other U.S. position on the issue, force was never a real possibility. The signing of a weak interim deal in November, 2013, and then the framework agreed upon this spring signaled the end of any idea that the U.S. was prepared to act. That is especially so because the current deal leaves Tehran in possession of its nuclear infrastructure and with no guarantees about inspections or the re-imposition of sanctions in the event the agreement collapsed. The current deal, even with so many crucial details left unspecified makes Iran a U.S. partner and, in effect, the centerpiece of a new U.S. Middle East policy that essentially sidelines traditional allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel that are directly threatened by Iran.

Moreover, it must be conceded that the use of force against Iran would be problematic even for the United States and its vast military resources. As for Israel, despite a lot of bold talk by some in the Jewish state, there has always been skepticism that its outstanding air force had the ability to sustain an air campaign for the length of time that would be required to make a difference. Nevertheless, the notion that force would not be effective in forestalling an Iranian bomb is mistaken. Serious damage could put off the threat for a long time and, if sanctions were kept in place or made stricter as they should have been to strengthen the West’s bargaining position, the possibility of an Iranian nuke could have been put off for the foreseeable future.

Yet, while talk about using force has been largely obsolete once the interim deal was signed in 2013, for the president to send such a clear signal that he will not under any circumstances walk away from the current talks, no matter what Iran does, is significant.

After all, some of the most important elements of the deal have yet to be nailed down. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly stated that he will never allow the sort of inspections that would make a deal verifiable. He has also demanded that sanctions be lifted permanently on the day the agreement is signed, and that there should be no provision for them to be snapped back. Nor are the Iranians conceding that their stockpile of nuclear fuel be taken out of their hands.

So if Obama is to get the “verifiable tough agreement” he told Channel 2 he seeks, the U.S. must somehow convince the Iranians to back down on all these points. That’s going to be difficult since the past two years of negotiations with Obama have taught them to wait for him to give up since he always does so sooner or later. The president’s statement makes it clear that, no matter how obdurate the Iranians remain, he will never walk away from the talks. And since this deal is the lynchpin of his foreign policy legacy, they know very well that all they have to do is to be patient.

Iran already knows that the deal in its current form allows them two clear paths to a bomb. One is by cheating on its easily evaded terms. The other is by waiting patiently for it to expire, the sunset provision being another astonishing concession by Obama.

If a tough deal were even a possibility, this would have been the moment for the president to sound tough. But throughout this process, the only toughness the president has shown has been toward Israel as he sought to disparage and dismiss its justifiable worries about his course of action. Merely saying now, as he does in the Channel 2 interview, that he understands Israel’s fears is mere lip service, especially since it comes along with a virtual guarantee to Iran that it needn’t worry about a U.S. strike under any circumstance.

With only weeks to go until the June 30 deadline for an Iran deal, there is no question that Obama’s statement makes an unsatisfactory final text even more certain than it was before. That’s good news for Tehran and very bad news for an Israeli people who have no reason to trust the president’s promises or believe in his good intentions.

U.S. to probe allegations that Iran, North Korea are linked in nuclear and missile research

May 29, 2015

U.S. to probe allegations that Iran, North Korea are linked in nuclear and missile research, Washington TimesGuy Taylor, May 29, 2015

Greece_Iran_Nuclear_Talks_.JPEG-07bc0_c0-336-4000-2667_s561x327Photo by: Yorgos Karahalis Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses journalists during a news briefing in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, May 28, 2015. Iran’s foreign minister is holding out hope that a “sustainable, mutually respectful” deal can be struck with world powers in talks over his country’s nuclear program before the current deadline of June 30. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

U.S. officials said they were seriously examining an Iranian dissident group’s claims on Thursday that Iran and North Korea are forging ballistic missile and nuclear research ties — but that the allegations are unlikely to derail ongoing nuclear negotiations between Western powers and Tehran.

“We have seen these claims, and we take any such reports seriously,” said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke. “But we don’t have any information at this time that would lead us to believe that these allegations impact our ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.”

He added that U.S. officials have not yet been able to verify the claims made by members of the dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The dissident group, which has offices in Paris and Washington, claims to have evidence proving that a delegation of North Korean nuclear and missile experts visited a military site near Tehran in April amid the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Analysts say the exiled NCRI has a clear political agenda to smear the government in Tehran and to try and disrupt the nuclear talks. The group has a controversial past in Washington, where the State Department for years listed a key arm of it known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or “MEK,” as a terrorist organization.

But the dissident group also has a history of exposing major clandestine nuclear operations in Iran. It has long claimed credit for tipping off Western powers to the existence of the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and its heavy-water plutonium facility at Arak in 2002 — two facilities that Western officials have deemed to be violations of U.N. nuclear regulations.

 

Top Iranian Negotiator: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It

May 28, 2015

Top Iranian Negotiator: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It, MEMRI-TV videos, May 28, 2015

In an Iranian TV interview, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, revealed that the Iranian negotiating team had reached possible solutions with the P5+1 on the issue of inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities, but that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had decisively rejected them. Inspection of the facilities is one of the key issues remaining in the nuclear talks. The interview aired on Iran’s Channel 2 TV on May 25.

 

Iran: We’ll Build Five More Underground Nuclear Plants

May 13, 2015

Iran: We’ll Build Five More Underground Nuclear Plants, Commentary Magazine, May 13, 2015

There has likely not ever been an administration that has politicized intelligence to the degree that Obama’s has, systematically ignoring any information that would undercut the White House and State Department narrative first on Russia, then on Syria, and now on Iran. As anyone who has ever dealt with intelligence knows, 90 percent if not more is what appears in the open sources every single day. And so, in that spirit, here is an interview with Mohammad Javad Larijani that the Iranian news agency Tasnim just published in Persian. Now, like Rouhani (and, for that matter, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini), Larijani spent time in the West. In Larijani’s case, it was to study mathematics at Berkeley. He has had quite a career, mostly in the judiciary, and today, he is among Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s most trusted advisors. So what did Larijani say earlier today with regard to the “historic” agreement that Obama and Kerry have embraced? “…Our facilities will not only remain underground, but will go deeper in the ground,” he said, expressing indignation at Vice President Joseph Biden’s assurances at a recent speech to the Washington Institute that all options remain on the table should Iran cheat on its commitments. He then condemned any slowdown of research and development at the once-covert nuclear enrichment center that Iran built under a mountain at Fordo, and called on Iran to build five new underground facilities.

As talks continue (and sanctions collapse apace), it is important to step back and consider a few broader patterns with regard to Iranian behavior.

First, what the Iranian government is doing is engaging in an elaborate game of good cop, bad cop. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif might whisper sweet nothings into Secretary of State John Kerry’s ear, and like a naïve schoolgirl on the night of the senior prom, President Barack Obama might believe that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s statement that if Obama gives up everything, Rouhani will love him for eternity, but there is ample evidence that Iran simply intends to screw the United States. Sincere partners do not play these games.

Second, it is Diplomacy 101 to only strike deals with those who can enact them. Bill Clinton’s Arab-Israeli negotiating team learned this the hard way in 2000, when they called the president to Camp David after Palestinian and Israeli negotiators agreed to a deal. When Palestinian chairman Yasir Arafat arrived, however, he not only flatly refused to agree to what his negotiators had committed him to, but he also refused to make a counteroffer. It was a lesson some of George W. Bush’s diplomats learned the hard way. When the United States negotiated with Zarif back in 2003, Iranian authorities did not abide by the deal that Zarif had struck. There are two possibilities: Either Zarif lied to Ambassador Ryan Crocker and then-National Security Council official Zalmay Khalilzad, or Zarif was sincere but he did not have the influence and ability to guarantee that all of Iran’s myriad power centers would abide by his agreement. And confusing the target with ever shifting power centers—the Iranian equivalent of Three Card Monte—is Iranian strategy 101, whether it comes to revising commercial contracts, undercutting diplomacy, or even negotiating a cultural exchange.

This brings us to the issue of who in Iran has committed themselves to resolving Iran’s nuclear program through negotiations. For a moment, let’s assume that Rouhani and Zarif are sincere (although there is ample evidence that they are not). Has the Supreme Leader really endorsed a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear deal as proponents of the talks have suggested? Take the issue of “heroic flexibility.” That doesn’t mean, as proponents of the deal have suggested, that Khamenei has thrown his weight behind the talks. His own advisors have explained that what Khamenei blessed was a change in tactics, not a change in policy. In other words, so long as Iran gets its nuclear capability, the Supreme Leader doesn’t care if it comes through subterfuge or if he holds his nose and has representatives talk to the Americans. How sad it is that Obama and Kerry have such faith in the Supreme Leader, when he refuses to meet American officials, and yet doesn’t hesitate to find time for GambiansBelarusians, and Eritreans. What the White House and the news media have not realized, however, is that the term “Heroic Flexibility” also has religious connotations. It’s sad to see the State Department and the media—both bastions of multiculturalism—so myopic on issues of culture. Now, none of this even begins to touch the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that has said no to any deal from the very beginning.

So what to make of Larijani’s interview? His proximity to the Supreme Leader should concern anyone who does not have political blinders on. Whether because of personal ambition (in the case of some diplomats or Kerry’s destructive quest for a Nobel Peace Prize), ideological sympathy, or just naiveté, too many do. Simply put, it’s strange to see the White House and the State Department convince themselves that Khamenei is onboard with a substantive nuclear deal that will end Iran’s military nuclear program and illicit nuclear activities when so many statements that come from his office and his proxies suggest the opposite.