Archive for the ‘Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorist designation’ category

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’

October 18, 2017

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’, Breitbart,  Clare M. Lopez, October 17, 2017

AFP

Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

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President Donald J. Trump put the Iranian regime on notice with his speech last week: the time when the United States (U.S.) government would turn a blind eye to its decades-long drive for deliverable nuclear weapons is over. Citing a long litany of destabilizing, rogue behavior on the part of Tehran, the president announced he would not re-certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear deal.

That is a necessary and first step, but must be followed up with a clear U.S. strategy for ending Iranian support to Islamic terror proxies and the criminal regime of Syrian Bashar al-Assad, its reckless regional aggression, human rights abuses against its own people, and above all, development of an entire range of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – biological, chemical, and nuclear – as well as the ballistic missiles on which to deliver them.

By making explicit references to “Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program” and “illicit nuclear program,” President Trump acknowledged what many have known for a long time: there has never been a time since 1988, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first ordered his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to “get the bomb,” that Iran has not had a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The world first learned publicly about that illicit program in 2002, when the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) blew the lid off the program with revelations about places whose names are now well-known, including Natanz and Isfahan. Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

One of the most glaring problems with the terms of the JCPOA is that there is no obligatory mechanism under which the Iranian regime is compelled to open facilities to IAEA inspection where it is suspected that nuclear weapons work is being done. Iran’s leadership has made quite clear in numerous public statements that it will never allow inspectors onto military sites it declares off-limits. Unfortunately, this means there is no chance under the terms of the JCPOA for IAEA inspectors ever to clear up the many unresolved “Possible Military Dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program – involving nuclear warhead work, explosive charges to initiate the implosion sequence of a nuclear bomb, and more – that were enumerated in the November 2011 quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program by the IAEA Board of Governors.

On 11 October 2017, the NCRI issued a new report, entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” which reveals four more of the clandestine sites where the Iranian military is conducting nuclear weapons R&D. While Iran’s alarming and destabilizing geo-strategic behavior certainly provides more than enough reason for the president to find the JCPOA not in America’s national security interests, it is the Iranian regime’s blatant violation of the nuclear NPT as well as material breaches of the JCPOA (especially section T, that deals with nuclear warhead work), that fully justify U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal entirely.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution

October 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Slaps Crippling Sanctions on Iran

October 15, 2017

US Slaps Crippling Sanctions on Iran, Clarion ProjectMeira Svirsky, October 15, 2017

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (Photo: © ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The new designation “freezes the IRGC out of the U.S. financial system” by making doing business with the IRGC (and essentially the entire Iranian military) forbidden.

Also included in the new designation are sanctions against three Iranian companies as well as a Chinese company that does business with the IRGC.

The new sanctions are expected to hit the Iranian economy hard and make other countries reluctant to do business with the IRGC as well, since foreign countries that do business with the IRGC also would be liable to stiff U.S. penalties.

The IRGC owns and controls much of the Iranian economy, from oil production to businesses and manufacturing.

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Acting on the direction of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Treasury slapped a new terror designation on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which will result in crippling new sanctions against the terror arm of the Iranian government.

“I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism, and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates,” U.S. President Trump said. “I urge our allies to join us in taking strong actions to curb Iran’s continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”

Watch U.S. President Trump’s speech outlining his new Iran strategy

A previous designation enacted in 2007 had only sanctioned the IRGC’s Qods Force, the special forces unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations. As noted by the Treasuring Department, the Qods Force provides support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban; the IRGC, in turn, provides material support to Qods Force by providing training, personnel and military equipment for it.

The new designation “freezes the IRGC out of the U.S. financial system” by making doing business with the IRGC (and essentially the entire Iranian military) forbidden.

Also included in the new designation are sanctions against three Iranian companies as well as a Chinese company that does business with the IRGC.

The new sanctions are expected to hit the Iranian economy hard and make other countries reluctant to do business with the IRGC as well, since foreign countries that do business with the IRGC also would be liable to stiff U.S. penalties.

The IRGC owns and controls much of the Iranian economy, from oil production to businesses and manufacturing.

Although the designation — which is based on Executive Order 13224 instituted by the Bush Administration – falls short of designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Yet, analysts say the effect in practical terms will be the same.

“I think of it as a distinction without a difference in terms of what the impact will be and how the Iranians are going to read it,” said Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution and a former State Department adviser on Iran, speaking to Vox.

At a press conference, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained the strategy. “There are particular risks and complexities to designating an entire army [as a foreign terrorist organization], so to speak, of a country where that then puts in place certain requirements where we run into one another in the battlefield that then triggers certain actions that we think are not appropriate and not necessarily in the best interest of our military,” he said.

In imposing the new sanctions, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin stated, “The IRGC has played a central role to Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror.  Iran’s pursuit of power comes at the cost of regional stability, and Treasury will continue using its authorities to disrupt the IRGC’s destructive activities.

“We are designating the IRGC for providing support to the IRGC-QF (Qods Force), the key Iranian entity enabling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s relentless campaign of brutal violence against his own people, as well as the lethal activities of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. We urge the private sector to recognize that the IRGC permeates much of the Iranian economy, and those who transact with IRGC-controlled companies do so at great risk.”

Iran-backed Iraqi ultimatum to Kurds to leave Kirkuk. First test for Trump’s threat to Rev Guards

October 14, 2017

Iran-backed Iraqi ultimatum to Kurds to leave Kirkuk. First test for Trump’s threat to Rev Guards, DEBKAfile, October 14, 2017

After Trump declared that the entire IRGC was guilty of terrorism, including all its agents and proxies – the Iraqi PMU militia would lay itself open to the definition of terrorists for attacking Kurdish forces, who are America’s frontline military ally in the war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

All eyes in the Middle East are watching to see how the Trump administration responds to such an attack if it takes place. Its non-response would be interpreted by Tehran as a license for its IRPG to keep going.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar Al-Abadi Saturday night, Oct. 14, gave the Kurdish Peshmerga an ultimatum to surrender the positions in the Kirkuk oil region they have held since pushing ISIS out three years ago, and also cancel the Kurdish Republic’s Sept. 25 independence vote.

The Kurdish troops were given until early Sunday to comply with those demands, in the face of heavily armed troops of the Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization Force (PMU), an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, massed around Kirkuk.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal exclusively that the Iraqi prime minister issued this ultimatum under heavy pressure from al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He placed the PMU at Abadi’s disposal and any arms he might need for an operation to fight the Kurds, should they defy the ultimatum. They stand against thousands of The KRG fighters deployed around Kirkuk.

Over the weekend, both sides beefed up their military strength in and around Iraq’s northern oil city. Iraq has deployed to Kirkuk the PMU as well as special operations units to face a Peshmerga force of 9,000 fighters.

Just hours before the deadline, a Peshmerga commander on the western front said Kurdish fighters had “taken all the necessary measures” and were “ready for a confrontation” if necessary.

American forces, who maintain a small military team in Kirkuk for carrying messages between the opposing camps, proposed a number of compromises, but they were all rejected by the Iraqi prime minister.

Washington also notified Baghdad that the US would not tolerate military aggression against Irbil, capital of the KRG, Dohuk or Sulaymaniyah, or military incursions of Kirkuk, only a small party of civilian officials.

It is not clear whether Abadi will heed Washington’s directives. However, DEBKAfile’s sources stress that President Donald Trump’s speech Friday night, laying out a new, tough strategy for Iran and its Revolutionary Guards,  lent a potential military clash over Kirkuk a new perspective beyond a local conflict.

After Trump declared that the entire IRGC was guilty of terrorism, including all its agents and proxies – the Iraqi PMU militia would lay itself open to the definition of terrorists for attacking Kurdish forces, who are America’s frontline military ally in the war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

All eyes in the Middle East are watching to see how the Trump administration responds to such an attack if it takes place. Its non-response would be interpreted by Tehran as a license for its IRPG to keep going.

Trump designates Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, calls for more sanctions

October 13, 2017

Trump designates Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, calls for more sanctions, Washington ExaminerJoel Gehrke, October 13, 2017 

(Iran considers designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group as tantamount to a declaration of war. — DM)

As Trump spoke from the White House, the Treasury Department announced it was designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity under a White House Executive Order. That announcement said the group provides “support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.”

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The Trump administration on Friday designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, a move that President Trump followed up with by calling for tougher sanctions against the organization.

“I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates,” Trump said in a White House speech.

“I urge our allies to join us in taking strong actions to curb Iran’s continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” Trump added.

“The IRGC has played a central role to Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday. “We urge the private sector to recognize that the IRGC permeates much of the Iranian economy, and those who transact with IRGC-controlled companies do so at great risk.”

As Trump spoke from the White House, the Treasury Department announced it was designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity under a White House Executive Order. That announcement said the group provides “support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.”