Archive for the ‘JCPOA decertification’ category

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Re -Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to the May 8, 2018 National Security Presidential Memorandum Relating to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

May 9, 2018

U.S. Treasury Department 5-08-2018

Source: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Re -Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to the May 8, 2018 National Security Presidential Memorandum R elating to the Joint Comprehen sive Plan of Action

{Here are the official details regarding sanctions and the JCPOA withdrawal. – LS}

Note: This document is in PDF format. Click HERE or the source link above to view.

Netanyahu says Israel obtained ‘half a ton’ of documents on Iran’s nuclear weapons program

April 30, 2018

By Guy Taylor – The Washington Times – Updated: 2:17 p.m. on Monday, April 30, 2018

Source Link:

{Absolutely amazing. – LS}

Israel’s prime minister says his government has obtained “half a ton” of secret Iranian documents proving the Tehran government once had a nuclear weapons program.

Calling it a “great intelligence achievement,” Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the documents show that Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions before signing a 2015 deal with world powers.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said Israel recently uncovered 55,000 documents and 183 CDs of information from Iran’s “nuclear archives.”

Speaking in English, perhaps with an international audience in mind, he says the material is filled with incriminating evidence showing the Iranian program, called “Project Amad,” was to develop a weapon.

President Donald Trump is to decide by May 12 whether to pull out of the international deal with Iran. Netanyahu has led calls for Trump to withdraw.

Decision Time on Iran

December 15, 2017

Decision Time on Iran, Washinton Free Beacon, December 15, 2017

(Please see also, Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal. — DM)

President Hassan Rouhani in front of a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei / Getty Images

Very soon, President Trump will have to decide whether America should remain a bystander to Iranian expansionism or take steps to confront this menace to international security and sponsor of global terrorism.

In October, when the president failed to certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aka the Iran nuclear deal, he began a process that is almost certain to force him to make controversial decisions in the coming months.

The Congress has had 60 days to propose measures that would punish Iran for its misbehavior and strengthen the JCPOA. It has not done so. The issue will therefore wind up once again in the Oval Office in January, when President Trump will choose between maintaining an agreement with a noncompliant signatory and re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

The pressure will be great from Democrats, Europeans, realists, and the remnants of the Obama echo chamber to persist in the fiction that a bad deal is better than no deal at all. Relenting to such pressure would signal to Iran that America is comfortable with a terrible status quo, and would bolster the impression among our allies that we are willing to cede the region to the Russian-Turkish-Iranian axis. Which would be a mistake.

To date, President Trump’s Iran policy has been mostly rhetorical. Other than decertification and shooting down two Iranian drones over Syria, the United States, writes Middle East analyst Tony Badran, “has relied on an indirect approach, premised on avoiding direct confrontation with Iran and its instruments,” such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. But, adds Badran, “this indirect, long-term approach has proven futile and counterproductive.” Iranian proxies have used the opportunity to consolidate their positions and expand their reach.

That has led to an Iranian presence on the border of Israel, inflamed sectarian tensions in Iraq, and missiles fired at Riyadh from the portions of Yemen under Houthi control. And all the while the mullahs in Tehran and their Revolutionary Guard Corps continue to benefit from the economic opportunities realized in the JCPOA.

The Trump administration seems to have recognized that Iran has the upper hand and started to resist. In recent days H.R. McMaster and Mike Pompeo have warned against Iranian influence in Syria, the administration has said that American forces will remain in Syria in the aftermath of the ISIS campaign, and Nikki Haley has denounced Iran’s illegal transfer of weaponry and technology to the Houthis. Monday brings the release of the president’s national security strategy, which is sure to have similar harsh language.

What has been missing is direct action against either Iran or its proxies. Instead we have a patchwork policy of containment that does not contain. Reuel Marc Gerecht describes it this way: “The White House annoys Tehran with minor sanctions, sells more weaponry to Gulf Arabs, occasionally has a second-tier official—the secretary of state—give a speech on Iranian oppression, leaves some troops in Syria and Iraq, and calls it progress.” Gerecht’s language is illustrative of the limits on American power that we have imposed on ourselves. A gnat annoys. A superpower overwhelms.

Having already to deal with tensions on the Korean peninsula, war in Afghanistan, and a global counterterrorism campaign, the temptation must be strong for the president to use the Sunni powers as U.S. subcontractors in the fight against Iran. He of all people should know that subcontractors are sometimes unreliable. But the cost of enhanced Iranian power in the Middle East and Persian Gulf is not printed on an invoice that the United States can refuse to pay.

Last week the president ignored received opinion and acted on the common sense notion that reality is indeed as it seems, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that willful ignorance is no escape from that fact. The conflagration that his internal and external critics predicted would follow this assertion of truth failed to materialize. Is it too much to hope that in 2018 he will follow his instincts once more, and act upon a concrete appraisal of the situation despite the insistence of elite opinion to the contrary?

For the JCPOA really is, as the president has said, a terrible deal. Iran does not have the interests of either the United States or our allies in mind. And speeches are no substitute for the unapologetic assertion of might in the right.

Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal

December 12, 2017

Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal, Washington Times December 11, 2017

President Trump said on Oct. 13 that Iran is not living up to the “spirit” of the nuclear deal that it signed in 2015. (Associated Press/File)

Congress is about to miss what was widely seen as a deadline to deal with President Trump’s demands for a harder line on the Iran nuclear deal, failing to agree on new sanctions against Tehran and punting the future of the deal back to Mr. Trump.

A Republican legislative push to establish new “triggers” that could reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran lifted under the Obama-era deal has gone nowhere ahead of Tuesday — the end of a 60-day unofficial deadline set by the administration for Capitol Hill to weigh in on the situation after Mr. Trump declared he could no longer certify that the accord was in the U.S. national interest.

Congressional aides say lawmakers still have time to propose something before Mr. Trump is mandated to decide again whether to weigh in on the deal, but White House aides say the president is rankled by the lack of progress on Capitol Hill and likely will pull the United States out of the deal entirely when it comes up for review on Jan. 13.

In October, Mr. Trump called on Congress and American allies party to the 2015 accord — including Britain, France and Germany — to propose ways to address what he called the deal’s “serious flaws,” including its failure to reimpose sanctions should Iran continue to carry out ballistic missile tests in violation of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions. Russia and China also signed the accord and, to date, none of the other signatories has followed the U.S. lead in trying to overhaul the agreement.

U.N. monitors have also repeatedly said Tehran is honoring the letter of the 2015 agreement in curtailing its suspect nuclear programs.

“Come January, the president may be extremely frustrated that neither Congress nor the Europeans have responded to his request for ways to fix the deal,” Mark Dubowitz, an analyst on Iran sanctions and CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in an interview. “It’s entirely possible at that time that the president will walk away from the deal.”

According to a law enacted by Congress in 2015, the president must certify every 90 days that Iran is honoring the deal and that it is in the U.S. national interest. Mr. Trump, in the early days of his administration, twice formally certified Iran’s compliance, but he clearly chafed at seeming to endorse an agreement that he harshly criticized on the campaign trail last year.

He made clear his unhappiness when announcing his Iran deal decision two months ago.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Mr. Trump said on Oct. 13. The deal “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”

Some of the president’s top aides, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have advocated staying in the deal out of concern about the negative effects an American pullout could have on Middle East security and on U.S. allies that remain committed to the deal.

The Obama administration strongly backed the agreement, which gave major sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for limits to its nuclear programs. For decades before the accord, the Islamic republic was suspected of developing nuclear weapons in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Legislative fix

Critics say the restrictions on Tehran will expire over the coming decade and that Iran has not moderated its policies in other areas the way President Obama and other supporters of the deal had hoped.

Mr. Trump moved in October to decertify the deal but stopped short of fully pulling Washington out of the agreement. Instead, he called on lawmakers to come up with legislative fixes “to strengthen enforcement, prevent Iran from developing an … intercontinental ballistic missile and make all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity permanent under U.S. law.”

Several senior administration officials told reporters on background ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement in October that the White House was giving Congress 60 days to deliver on such legislation, but congressional aides argued Monday that the president never put a hard deadline on the request.

Aides to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, say he is negotiating with key lawmakers such as Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, and Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who is one of the most prominent critics of the deal on Capitol Hill, to meet Mr. Trump’s demands for legislative action.

“Sen. Corker remains engaged in productive discussions with Sen. Cardin, Sen. Cotton and the administration about the appropriate path forward,” Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Corker, said Monday.

If the legislation comes to the fore and passes before Jan. 13 — an unlikely scenario given the limited number of congressional working days until then — there are concerns about how U.S. allies in Europe who signed the nuclear accord would react.

Analysts say any legislation calling for a reimposition of sanctions on Iran could trigger a demand from Iran for a renegotiation of the entire nuclear accord. There is little appetite for reopening the accord in Europe, where concerns are high that it would lead to an all-out collapse of the existing deal.

European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini has firmly rejected the idea of trying to renegotiate the agreement in hopes of getting new concessions from Iran. After a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Capitol Hill last month, Mrs. Mogherini told reporters flat out that “renegotiation [of the nuclear deal] is not an option.”

She also stressed that European nations “wish to see the United States continue in the implementation of the deal.”

There are also concerns about the impact a Trump administration pullout from the Iranian accord may have on U.S. efforts to engage in a negotiated solution to another nuclear-related crisis — that with North Korea.

Donald Trump’s undermining of the Iran nuclear deal only shrinks U.S. options for dealing with North Korea,” said Andray Abrahamian, a visiting fellow with the Jeju Peace Research Institute, a South Korea-based think tank.

“The U.S. president’s decertification of Tehran’s compliance will be well noted in Pyongyang, giving North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a credible excuse for refusing to negotiate with Washington,” Mr. Abrahamian wrote in a recent commentary published by Reuters.

New US Policy Confronts Iranian Regime, Opening up New Opportunities for Change

November 4, 2017

New US Policy Confronts Iranian Regime, Opening up New Opportunities for Change, Iran News Update, November 4, 2017

It appears that the only options left with Iranian authorities are confronting, retreating, or buying time until the end of the Trump presidency. Still, the regime must face the other factors at work against it, like the social disaffection within Iran towards the regime, and the recognition of the main opposition movements — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) — by US and its allies in the region.

There is now an opportunity, with the current international situation, for the Iranian people and its main opposition movement (NCRI and PMOI), as well as for the people of Middle East and the whole world, for these factors that can lead to regime change and put an end to Iran’s destabilization activities in the Middle East.

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INU – Saudi Arabia and Egypt, important countries in the region, concerned about the destabilizing activities of the Iranian regime in the Arab world, have strongly welcomed the October 13th announcement by US President Trump his regarding his new policy against the destabilizing behavior of Iran in the Middle East, particularly its missile activities. The new policy emphasized making the Middl#$e East a region without weapons of mass destruction.

The Iranian opposition movement and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, is leading a campaign to isolate the regime in Tehran. It welcomes the new White House strategy that delegitimizes the Iranian regime. Rajavi called on Trump and the international community to work toward “the ultimate solution”, regime overthrow and the establishment of freedom and democracy in Iran.

By refusing to give approval to the nuclear deal, and designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the list of terrorist organizations, the new US policy is targeting at the heart of the Iranian regime. According to the Washington Post the strategy marks an important change in US policy on the Middle East: a shift from focusing on war against ISIS and towards the end of Iran’s expansionism in the region.

The steps taken by the White House to carry out this policy include the visit by US Secretary of State to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region, imposition of sanctions on Hezbollah for being the military wing of IRGC in Lebanon, and sanctions on companies, financial institutions and individuals related to the regime’s ballistic missiles programs.

According to F. Mahmoudi, Kurdish-Iranian political and human rights activist, in his Al Arabiya article, “Therefore, there is no reason for any objection by European countries to the new White House policy. European states are only thinking of securing their financial and economic interests with Iran, as not only the political and military power of the Iranian regime but also economic control lie in the hands of the IRGC.”

Sanctions against the Iranian regime, IRGC and Hezbollah will put European companies and banks in serious danger if they deal with this regime and its affiliates.

Additionally, the sanctions and the terrorist designation of IRGC have put Hasan Rouhani, who earlier presented himself to the West as a moderate, in a position of fully supporting the IRGC.

Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, reacting to the new US strategy, defended the IRGC’s presence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and asked Europeans to stand strongly against Trump’s policy. However, it is believed that Europe will eventually choose the US instead of Iran and it will not sacrifice billion of dollars in trade benefits with the US. Additionally, Europe cannot accept the risk of Trump’s threat of leaving NATO.

It appears that the only options left with Iranian authorities are confronting, retreating, or buying time until the end of the Trump presidency. Still, the regime must face the other factors at work against it, like the social disaffection within Iran towards the regime, and the recognition of the main opposition movements — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) — by US and its allies in the region.

There is now an opportunity, with the current international situation, for the Iranian people and its main opposition movement (NCRI and PMOI), as well as for the people of Middle East and the whole world, for these factors that can lead to regime change and put an end to Iran’s destabilization activities in the Middle East.

Iran Paving Way to Abandon Nuclear Deal, Fortify Missile Program

October 25, 2017

Iran Paving Way to Abandon Nuclear Deal, Fortify Missile Program, Washington Free Beacon , October 25, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

“I’m not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official,” a State Department official told the Free Beacon after reviewing Iran’s accusations.  “The United States continues to meet its commitments under the JCPOA and will hold Iran strictly accountable for its commitments.”

One veteran congressional adviser who has helped craft Iran policy during the last two administrations told the Free Beacon the Islamic Republic’s latest moves are meant to distract from its widespread cheating on the nuclear accord.

“Iran was never going to stay in the deal the full time,” the source said. “They were going to cheat as much as they could, pocket as much as they could, and then bail as soon as anyone tried to enforce the deal.”

As the Trump administration works to tighten the deal and hold Iran accountable for its continued nuclear endeavors, Tehran may see an opportunity to abandon the deal before its clandestine activities are exposed.

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Iran has taken steps in recent days to file what it claims are 18 instances in which America violated the landmark nuclear agreement, a move that could set the stage for Tehran to abandon the deal and lay blame on the Trump administration, according to regional reports and sources familiar with the matter.

On the heels of an effort by the Trump administration to tighten the nuclear accord while still upholding U.S. commitments under it, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has submitted to European Union leaders a plethora of information recounting what it claims are 18 separate violations of the deal by the United States, according to Iran’s state-controlled media.

The latest move is said to be part of an effort by Iran to abandon the nuclear agreement and save face by blaming the United States for its decision, according to national security insiders closely tracking the situation.

As the Trump administration makes moves to sanction Iran for its ballistic missile program and regional support of terrorism, Iran is increasingly frustrated with the United States’ aggressive stance, which is being spearheaded by President Donald Trump and his congressional allies.

Iran’s foreign ministry submitted a report to the country’s Parliament outlining what it claims are at least 18 instances of the United States violating the agreement. The accusations come just days after Trump decertified Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal.

“The recent report is specifically about the Americans’ efforts to derail the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], so much so that the foreign ministry has delineated 18 blatant cases of breach of the agreement made by U.S.,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, an Iranian member of parliament, told the country’s state-controlled media organs on Tuesday.

Iran’s foreign ministry is said to have forwarded this information to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, one of the international organizations monitoring compliance with the agreement.

“The foreign ministry has forwarded ten letters to Ms. Mogherini in this regard, and the base of the report is on the continuation of sanction-era situation in areas of maritime transportation, oil and gas export, and the return of the revenues,” according to Falahatpisheh.

While the Trump administration has withheld from commenting on Iran’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric, officials told the Washington Free Beacon that the United States continues to uphold its commitments under the deal and will continue to do so.

“I’m not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official,” a State Department official told the Free Beacon after reviewing Iran’s accusations.  “The United States continues to meet its commitments under the JCPOA and will hold Iran strictly accountable for its commitments.”

One veteran congressional adviser who has helped craft Iran policy during the last two administrations told the Free Beacon the Islamic Republic’s latest moves are meant to distract from its widespread cheating on the nuclear accord.

“Iran was never going to stay in the deal the full time,” the source said. “They were going to cheat as much as they could, pocket as much as they could, and then bail as soon as anyone tried to enforce the deal.”

As the Trump administration works to tighten the deal and hold Iran accountable for its continued nuclear endeavors, Tehran may see an opportunity to abandon the deal before its clandestine activities are exposed.

“Now they see the Trump administration is working to fix the verification loopholes in the agreement, so they know the clock is ticking on how much longer they can cheat with impunity,” the source said. “So of course they’re already making up excuses to leave and fabricating U.S. violations.”

The Trump administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable for its repeated violations of the deal, as well as its support for regional terrorism, has sparked outrage among Iranian leaders, who have lashed out at the U.S. president in vitriolic terms and vowed that Iran will continue its massive military buildup.

“We have previously declared, and once again we declare that the defense capabilities of the country are non-negotiable and not to be bargained for,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.

Khamenei promised to continue building Iran’s ballistic missile program, which has been an ongoing source of international tension.

“That they ask, why we have some defense facility, why we produce them, or why do we conduct research; these matters are non-negotiable!” Khamenei was quoted as saying. “We won’t negotiate with the enemy on matters that provide us with our national sovereignty.”

70% of U.S. Voters Think Iran Deal Should Be Reworked, Require Senate Ratification

October 24, 2017

70% of U.S. Voters Think Iran Deal Should Be Reworked, Require Senate Ratification, CNS NewsPatrick Goodenough, October 24, 2017

(CNSNews.com) – Seven in ten American voters believe the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration should be renegotiated, and an even larger majority, 81 percent, think any new deal should require Senate ratification, a new poll has found.

The Harvard-Harris survey for The Hill found 70 percent support for renegotiating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including 85 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats polled.

The strong opinions about the need for Senate approval are especially striking. The Obama administration chose to treat the JCPOA as a political agreement between governments rather than a treaty. Under the Constitution a treaty requires the support of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate before it can enter into force.

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, a key JCPOA negotiator and among its most vocal defenders, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2015 that the administration had not taken the treaty route with the nuclear deal because “you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”

Commenting on the poll results, Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn said, “Americans see Iran as a bad actor on all fronts and substantial majorities believe this agreement is being violated and never should have gone into effect without a Senate vote.”

In the absence of a Senate ratification requirement, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which requires the president every 90 days to certify that Iran is meeting its commitments under the deal, and that the suspension of U.S. sanctions continues to be in U.S. national security interests.

On October 13, President Trump for the first time decertified Iran’s compliance, a step that does not do away with the agreement but does pave the way for congressional action, including possible reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions within 60 days.

The poll – a collaboration between The Harris Poll and the Harvard Center for American Political Studies – suggests American voters are divided over Trump’s decertification decision, with just 51 percent of respondents agreeing with the move.

Still, 60 percent of the voters surveyed said the nuclear agreement was a bad one for the U.S., and two-thirds – including half of the Democrats polled – said Iran has not complied with its obligations under the deal.

“Voters want it renegotiated but are split on whether Trump’s decertification was right, underscoring the need for Trump to keep explaining his policy and actions to an electorate that supports his aims,” said Penn.

In response to Trump’s decertification decision, Congress has several options it can pursue.

Reimposing nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted under the JCPOA would be the most contentious choice, since it would constitute a U.S. violation of the deal and could cause it to unravel. Iran has, however, indicated that it could in such circumstances stay in the agreement without the U.S., but with the other negotiating partners – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Congress could alternatively amend the INARA, building in new demands for a renegotiated, stronger version of the JCPOA.

The administration could then use the legislation to push Iran and the other negotiating partners in a bid towards achieving the “better” deal that Trump has called for. The president warned in his Oct. 13 announcement that “in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.”

Finally, Congress could do nothing, thereby lobbing the ball back into Trump’s court to deal with the next time the 90-day certification requirement comes round, in mid-January.