Archive for the ‘Iranian navy’ category

Iran’s Fast Boats Stop Harassing U.S. Navy, Baffling Military

January 26, 2018


The U.S. says Iran has halted the harassment of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf by boats like this Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps speedboat, shown in 2012. Photo: Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By Gordon Lubold in Washington and Nancy A. Youssef in Kuwait City Updated Jan. 25, 2018 4:08 p.m. ET The Wall Street Journal

Source: Iran’s Fast Boats Stop Harassing U.S. Navy, Baffling Military

{Are we tired of winning yet? Nope…MAGA – LS}

Tehran halts dangerous encounters in Persian Gulf amid tensions over nuclear deal.

The Iranian military has halted the routine harassment by its armed “fast boats” of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. military said, a turnabout that officials welcomed but were at a loss to explain.

The boats for at least two years would dart toward the U.S. vessels as they passed through the Persian Gulf, risking miscalculation, but haven’t done so for five months, U.S. military officials said.

The officials said they hoped the respite would continue. “I hope it’s because we have messaged our readiness…and that it isn’t tolerable or how professional militaries operate,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East this week. Iranian officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The fast boats, typically armed with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers, have come within shooting distance of American naval vessels, encounters that grew routine even though each one presents potential dangers to American vessels transiting through international waters.

In some of the more serious incidents, Iranian crews have directed spotlights at ship and aircraft crews, potentially blinding pilots as they conduct operations, according to U.S. military officials. In one case, an Iranian boat pointed a weapon at an American helicopter flying off a Navy vessel, officials said. In the most serious incidents, U.S. vessels have fired warning shots in return.

The Iranian boats are typically crewed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, U.S. military officials have said. The IRGC is Iran’s elite military unit and reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Since January 2016, there has been an average of more than two “unsafe or unprofessional” incidents each month, according to the U.S. military. There have been 50 such incidents in the last two years, officials said.

But in response to a query, U.S. military officials said there have been no such incidents since August 2017.

The apparent shift in Iranian behavior comes as an international nuclear agreement with Tehran is teetering as President Donald Trump threatens to end U.S. sanctions relief provided to Tehran under the deal, signed under President Barack Obama.

Washington’s European allies are discussing ways of heightening sanctions against Iran for actions not directly related to the country’s nuclear program.

Gen. Votel said that the abatement in the Persian Gulf didn’t alone signal a broader “strategic shift” by Iran, noting activities such as Iran’s support of Houthi rebels in Yemen. “I think we have to look at Iran in totality,” Gen. Votel said.

The U.S. has publicly criticized what it says is Iranian backing of the Houthis. Iran also has sent forces to Syria and backs militants operating there on behalf of the Assad regime.

Military officials noted that while Iranian harassment in the Gulf had declined, the country’s forces weren’t idle. Iran has been observed by the U.S. conducting activities that approach but stop short of what would be considered harassment, a U.S. military official explained.

Officials at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, in Manama, Bahrain, were loath to guess the reasons behind it.

“We are not going to speculate on the reason for this recent positive trend in interactions, though we hope it will continue in the future,” said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, in Manama, Bahrain.

Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, said the decrease in harassment is part of a broader pattern by Tehran to refrain from provoking the U.S. and providing fodder for the Trump administration to blame them for regional instability.

“I think they understand the administration’s policy at this stage is to put the spotlight on Iranians and portray them as the source of all evil in the region,” he said. “The Iranians are certainly part of the problem in the region, but they’d like to be portrayed as part of the solution, not just the problem.”

The lull in harassment coincides with an internal directive last summer in which Mr. Vaez said Tehran’s Supreme National Security Council had ordered the IRGC to stand its ground in the region, but not to harass U.S. Navy ships. The council is presided over by President Hassan Rouhani but Mr. Khamenei has the final say.

Capt. Urban said the U.S. Navy hadn’t modified its operations in the region and would continue to operate “wherever international law allows.”

The last incident, in August, occurred when an Iranian drone flew in the vicinity of aircraft conducting night operations on the USS Nimitz.

Capt. Urban expressed concern about Iranians’ use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, to harass American vessels.

“Even with the decreased incidents, we remain concerned with the increased number of Iranian UAVs operating in international airspace at night without navigation lights or an active transponder as would be expected according to international norms,” he said. “We continue to advocate for all maritime forces to conform to international maritime customs, standards and laws.”

The U.S. military currently is participating in a joint exercise called Native Fury with the United Arab Emirates, designed for training in ways to get essential supplies into the Gulf region over land if the Strait of Hormuz was ever blocked, as Iran has threatened to do in the past. Some military experts see Native Fury as a message to Iran.

It is “a demonstration of our resolve,” Gen. Votel said. The Iranians also are conducting a two-day exercise in the Strait of Hormuz.

 

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

August 14, 2017

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup, Washington Free Beacon, August 14, 2017

Iranian military ship and light replenishment ship are seen docked for refueling / Getty Images)

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Iran gains Mediterranean bases in Italy and Syria

September 25, 2016

Iran gains Mediterranean bases in Italy and Syria, DEBKAfile, September 25, 2016

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As part of Iran’s drive to rule the strategic waves of regional waters, Tehran has negotiated a naval exchange deal with Rome for its warships to be berthed in Italian ports, DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal.

In this context, the US Pentagon and Navy chiefs once again urged Israel to update and enlarge its war fleet, which they said was “full of holes” to catch up with the rapidly changing conditions opposite its shores, where Russia, Iran and Egypt are building up armadas of warships that are bigger and more advanced than ever before.

The American warning to Israel was first reported by DEBKAfile Aug. 11 (Urgent Israeli Navy order for new US coastal craft), after Moscow posted its Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, and Egypt took delivery of theAnwar El Sadat, the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers bearing 92 choppers, purchased from France. The second, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was handed over on Sept. 16.

Israel’s naval inferiority was further underlined last week when Iran’s Navy commander, Rear-Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, went into action to carry out supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s orders to acquire naval bases in Syria and Italy for establishing a permanent Iranian fleet presence in the Mediterranean.

The admiral moved fast. The Italian Navy chief Rear-Admiral Roberto Chia Marcella visited Tehran on Sept. 5. and Saturday, Sept. 24, the first Italian frigate, Euro, docked at Bandar Abbas, home to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards command.

Until now, the farthest point reached by the Iranian Navy was the Gulf of Aden.

The intervention of the fleets of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemen war pushed the Iranian navy back from its thrust to expand its presence towards the Mediterranean. Their joint action evicted the Iranian navy from Yemen’s Red Sea ports, and prevented Tehran from capturing the strategic islands in the mouth of the Bab-al-Mandab Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea.

Today, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources note, the Iranian Navy is hard put to obey the ayatollah’s orders, lacking the warships and advanced submarines for this new strategic mission. Iran’s warships can certainly not stand up to Egypt’s Mistral-class helicopter carriers or find answers for the Dolphin-class submarines that Germany has sold Israel.

Hence the approach to Rome to extend the Iranian navy’s capacity and range of operations.

The two admirals’ talks in Tehran ended in a vague agreement “to strengthen bilateral ties.”

Iran, however, has the money and the will to invest in new warships, while Italy has the will to build such ships for the Iranian fleet. The Italians are, moreover, not averse to allowing the Iranian fleet to use their Mediterranean bases.

Besides the financial benefits, Italy is additionally motivated by the steady reduction in the number of warships that the US Sixth Fleet maintains at its ports. It has been nearly a year since a US aircraft carrier anchored at an Italian port. Italy’s Defense Ministry and its military command understand that if the US president who succeedsBarack Obama in January continues the policy of withdrawing American forces from the Middle East, Italian naval bases will be emptied of warships.

Rear-Admiral Marcella’s comments during his visit to Tehran are worth noting: He said “In the future, we will witness Italian vessels berthing at (Iran’s) southern harbors falling within the Iranian Navy’s sphere of operation.” He added, “It is certain that these talks and meetings will lead to the development of interaction and cooperation in different military areas between the two countries of Iran and Italy.”

For his part, Iranian Navy Commander Sayyari said “Italy enjoys around 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) of maritime border and the Mediterranean is also strategically very significant, given the fact that it connects the important Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar.”

These words served to delineate the waters where Italian-made Iranian warships were likely to operate in the future. The Euro’s arrival at Bandar Abbas Saturday, Sept. 24 lent substance to those words.

Iran: Anti-American Propaganda

September 1, 2016

Iran: Anti-American Propaganda, MEMRI-TV via YouTube

(H/t LS for the video link. — DM)

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Vessels

August 25, 2016

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Vessels, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, August 25, 2016

Humor | Navy to issue knee pads to sailors deploying to Persian Gulf

July 1, 2016

Navy to issue knee pads to sailors deploying to Persian Gulf, Duffel Blog, July 1, 2016

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“It’s not easy keeping your hands on your head while your boat bounces on the wake of a squadron of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] speedboats,” Richardson added. “These knee pads will let our sailors show our adversaries that we are made of sterner stuff than they think.”

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WASHINGTON — Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced today that all Navy personnel deploying to the Persian Gulf will be issued knee pads, effective immediately.

The new safety initiative follows in the wake of a widely-publicized incident in January, in which a commander of the riverine boat USS Bergdahl ordered his sailors to kneel for several hours, in violation of Navy, OSHA and Coast Guard regulations.

“Osteoarthritis is a real problem,” Mabus said. “We can’t have our guys spend this much time on their knees without appropriate ‘knee-pro.’”

“Have you ever knelt on non-skid [paint] on a rolling deck?” Mabus added. “It’s absolute agony.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson noted that Navy leaders need to do a better job looking out for the joint health of sailors.

“And also their dignity, but we don’t have to shell out money to pay for restoration of dignity,” he said.

“It’s not easy keeping your hands on your head while your boat bounces on the wake of a squadron of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] speedboats,” Richardson added. “These knee pads will let our sailors show our adversaries that we are made of sterner stuff than they think.”

Capt. Kyle Moses, commodore of Commander Task Force (CTF) 56, whose boats were involved in the incident, was said to be “relieved.”

Mabus concluded the announcement by thanking the Marine Corps for volunteering to pay for the Navy’s kneepads out of the Corps’ birthday ball budget.

 

Navy investigation finds US sailors captured in Iran were unprepared, Iran broke the law

June 30, 2016

Navy investigation finds US sailors captured in Iran were unprepared, Iran broke the law, AP via Fox News, June 30, 2016

Navy boat in Iranian watersUS sailors captured by Iran face disciplinary action

The lengthy investigation concluded that while the boat crews erred in entering Iranian waters, the Iranians violated international law by impeding the boats’ “innocent passage,” and violated U.S. sovereign immunity by boarding and seizing the boats.

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Weak leadership, poor judgment, a lack of “warfighting toughness” and a litany of errors led to the embarrassing capture and detention by Iran of 10 U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf in January, according to a Navy investigation released Thursday.

Six officers and three enlisted sailors have been disciplined or face disciplinary action.

The trouble began even before the sailors left port in Kuwait aboard two 50-foot boats on a short-notice, 300-mile journey to Bahrain. They were delayed, unprepared, poorly supervised and ill-suited for the mission, the report said.

At least one sailor had been up all night with boat repairs. Their higher headquarters failed to arrange air or surface monitoring of the boats’ transit. Such monitoring “would likely have prevented” the sailors’ capture by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, according to the report.

The Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, was presenting the investigation’s results at a Pentagon news conference.

The lengthy investigation concluded that while the boat crews erred in entering Iranian waters, the Iranians violated international law by impeding the boats’ “innocent passage,” and violated U.S. sovereign immunity by boarding and seizing the boats.

Why Is The Iran Report On The Treatment Of U.S. Sailor’s Still Classified?

May 17, 2016

Why Is The Iran Report On The Treatment Of U.S. Sailor’s Still Classified? Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, May 17, 2016

US Sailors

[T]he full details of the treatment of the sailors after they were taken into custody is obviously known to Iran . . . it is simply not known to the American people.

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We previously discussed how the government has kept 28 pages classified in the 9-11 Report to protect Saudi Arabia from a public backlash of its alleged involvement (or at least the involvement of Saudi officials) in the attacks. Now, a report on the treatment of U.S. sailors by Iran in seizure of Navy boats earlier this year will reportedly remain classified for some time. That is rather curious since Iran already knows how it treated the sailors. Again, there is a suspicion that the Administration simply does not want the public to know the full details of the mistreatment, which Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says are far worse than has been made public. Recently, the Navy fired the commander in the incident.


The 10 sailors were captured and their high-speed special boats were seized when they drifted into Iranian waters around Farsi Island. They were held for 16 hours and the Iranians used videotapes of sailors apologizing and crying for propaganda purposes.

Now, Forbes (who was given a classified briefing) alleges that the Administration is keeping details of the incident classified for a year or longer. He stated “I think that when the details actually come out, most Americans are going to be kind of taken aback by the entire incident, both how Iran handled it and how we handled it.”

I fail to see why the description of the treatment cannot be released immediately. I can understand the need to review and potentially classify the conditions leading to the seizure. There are issues of communications and diplomatic exchanges are likely sensitive. However, the full details of the treatment of the sailors after they were taken into custody is obviously known to Iran . . . it is simply not known to the American people.

Source: Fox

IRGC Navy Commander: U.S. Vessels Will Be Sunk in Persian Gulf If They Make the Slightest Mistake

May 15, 2016

IRGC Navy Commander: U.S. Vessels Will Be Sunk in Persian Gulf If They Make the Slightest Mistake, MEMRI-TV via YouTube, May 15, 2016

The blurb beneath the video states,

In a recent TV interview, IRGC Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said: “The Americans are aware that if they make even the slightest mistake, their naval vessels will be sunk in the Persian Gulf, the Hormuz Strait, and the Sea of Oman.” He further claimed that Iran’s vessels would emerge from “undersea tunnels,” in which “no force will be able to harm our naval vessels.” In the interview, which aired on IRINN TV on May 10, Fadavi maintained that the crew of U.S. vessels is now obliged to speak Farsi in the Persian Gulf, and indeed do so.

Iran Continues Needling U.S. Over Navy Boat Seizure

April 8, 2016

Iran Continues Needling U.S. Over Navy Boat Seizure, Front Page Magazine, Ari Lieberman, April 8, 2016

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Pentagon remains mute.

On January 12, at approximately 9:23 a.m., a pair American navy riverine command boats or RCBs, set sail south from Kuwait to Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet. At 2:10 p.m., the navy received a report that the RCBs had been intercepted by the Iranians. At 2:45 p.m., the military reported that all communication with the RCB flotilla was severed. At 6:15 p.m., the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Anzio received a communication from the Iranians that the sailors were being detained. Coincidentally, their detention coincided with Obama’s scheduled State of the Union Address, which predictably, made absolutely no mention of the event.

The Pentagon claimed that the RCBs strayed into Iranian territorial waters as a result of a “navigation error” and thereafter, one of the RCBs experienced engine trouble. They were then greeted by a pair of Iranian speed boats. Photos and video of the incident released by the Iranians show that the Iranian boats were armed with nothing more than forward mounted Russian 14.5mm DShK machine guns of Korean War vintage.

At gunpoint, the Iranians transferred the boats and their crew to Farsi Island where they maintain a military base. The boats and crew members were released some 16 hours later during which time, the Iranians thoroughly inspected the RCBs. Two satellite phone sim cards were stolen by the Iranians and the Pentagon has not divulged what, if any, information they contained. The groveling John Kerry thanked his Iranian counterpart profusely for releasing the illegally detained sailors.

Aside from these bare facts, the Pentagon has not released any new information concerning the embarrassing incident, a humiliation unparalleled in modern U. S. naval history. As I previously noted, several troubling questions still remain unanswered.

First, how did an experienced naval crew, equipped with sophisticated navigational equipment and traveling a well-charted, straight forward path, encounter a “navigational error” that led them into the territorial waters of an extremely hostile entity? In the absence of additional information, the Pentagon’s explanation makes absolutely no sense.

There has been speculation that the Iranians employed a device that spoofed or tricked the RCB’s on-board GPS devices with fake signals, leading the sailors into believing that they were on a correct course when they had in fact, substantially deviated. If the Iranians had in fact employed such a device, it would not have been the first time. In 2011, they reportedly misdirected a U.S. drone operating in Afghanistan by hacking into its GPS. The drone and all of its technology fell into Iranian hands relatively intact. The Pentagon has not issued any comment on this theory and notably, has not issued any denial of this troublesome scenario.

Second, and even more troubling, is how did 10 American sailors surrender their heavily armed and armored RCBs to a vastly inferior Iranian force without firing a single shot? Why weren’t readily available military assets immediately deployed and dispatched after the military was notified of the hostile encounter? Who gave the commander the order to surrender and was the decision to surrender influenced by political considerations, notably Obama’s State of the Union Address?

While the Pentagon continues to remain mute on these and other crucial issues surrounding the seizure of the RCBs, the Iranians have been extremely talkative, missing no opportunity to humiliate the “Great Satan.”  The list of outrages includes the following:

  • The sailors were forced to kneel at gunpoint with their hands interlocked behind their heads. The display was videotaped.
  • The commander was forced to apologize and acknowledge his “navigational error” and the graciousness of his Iranian captors on Iranian TV.
  • The Iranians reenacted the surrender spectacle during one of their annual “Death to America” demonstrations.
  • The sailors were subjected to rather intense interrogation.
  • Iranian TV aired footage purporting to show an American sailor crying.
  • A female sailor endured further humiliation and was forced into Sharia compliance by being made to wear a head covering.
  • Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly issued the Iranians responsible for capturing the RCB sailors with “medals of conquest.”
  • Approximately two weeks after the sailors were freed; Iran released footage of one its drones shadowing the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. The drone incident occurred on the very day the sailors were captured. A U.S. Navy spokesman called the flyover “abnormal and unprofessional.”
  • As noted, two satellite phone sim cards, likely containing classified information, were stolen by the Iranians.
  • In mid-March, naval commander Gen. Ali Razmjou of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced that Iran had retrieved thousands of pages of information from laptops, GPS devices and maps used by U.S. Navy sailors.

It is likely that we have not heard the last from the Iranians on this humiliating saga. In fact, Razmjou said that the IRG will publish a book about the incident. The Iranian bombast stands in marked contrast to the Pentagon’s demurred, almost docile stance. The reasons for the Pentagon’s silence are not hard to fathom. Something happened in the Arabian Gulf on January 12 that if revealed, would likely cause considerable embarrassment to the Obama administration.

In mid-February, Sen. John McCain threatened to subpoena the sailors if the Pentagon was not more forthcoming about the details surrounding the incident. He correctly noted that it did not take that long to debrief the sailors, accused the administration of “dragging [its] feet” and gave the administration a deadline of March 1 to present more information. That deadline has come and gone but the public still remains in the dark thanks to the Obama administration’s attempts to obfuscate.

In the meantime, Iran continues to test ballistic missiles in defiance of UNSC resolution 2231 and flush with $150 billion, continues to operate as a malignant regional influence by providing sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels and other assorted terrorist organizations. More ominously, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have constructed a ballistic missile base in Syria near the Israeli border, greatly magnifying an already explosive situation.

Obama will ignore these and other Iranian transgressions because he recognizes that the JCPOA, his crowning foreign policy achievement, is on thin ice. For the very same reason, he will continue to order the Pentagon to obfuscate and remain silent on the circumstances surrounding the seizure of U.S. personnel in the Arabian Gulf because it will likely embarrass the administration and add to further congressional calls to toughen sanctions against the Islamic Republic.