Archive for the ‘Obama and Iran scam’ category

Obama-era cash traced to Iran-backed terrorists

February 9, 2018

By Bill Gertz – – Wednesday, February 7, 2018 The Washington Times

Source: Obama-era cash traced to Iran-backed terrorists

{The legacy of Barack Hussein Barry Sotero Obama, American’s first Kenyan president, is still around for all to see. Only it’s not the kind of legacy that inspires me to write home to grandma about. – LS}

The U.S. government has traced some of the $1.7 billion released to Iran by the Obama administration to Iranian-backed terrorists in the two years since the cash was transferred.

According to knowledgeable sources, Iran has used the funds to pay its main proxy, the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah, along with the Quds Force, Iran’s main foreign intelligence and covert action arm and element of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The U.S. money supplied to Iran as part of an arms settlement dating back to the 1970s also has been traced to Iran’s backing of Houthi rebels seeking to take power in Yemen. Iran has been supporting the Yemen rebels as part of a bid to encircle and eventually take control of Saudi Arabia.

The intelligence tracing the American funds to Iranian-backed terrorists is likely to further fuel President Trump’s effort to undo the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration’s main foreign policy initiative codified in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Iran nuclear deal is called.

Despite promises to reject the deal during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump announced in January the U.S. would not pull out of the Iran nuclear accord for now. But the president criticized the transfer of money to Tehran and signaled that Washington is going after Iran’s funding of terrorism.

“The enormous financial windfall the Iranian regime received because of the deal — access to more than $100 billion, including $1.8 billion in cash — has not been used to better the lives of the Iranian people,” Mr. Trump said Jan. 12. “Instead, it has served as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression, and to further line the pockets of corrupt regime leaders.”

Mr. Trump said the United States is countering Iranian proxy wars in Yemen and Syria and cutting the regime’s money flows to terrorists.

“We have sanctioned nearly 100 individuals and entities involved with the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile program and its other illicit activities,” he said.

The American money sent by the Obama administration was first flown to Switzerland aboard an unmarked chartered aircraft, and then converted into euros, Swiss francs and other currencies. An Iranian transport aircraft flew the cash to Iran in January and February 2016 in three shipments. The first aircraft arrived in Tehran on Jan. 16, 2016, with $400 million piled on wooden pallets. Two other aircraft shipments of cash were sent on Jan. 22, 2016, and Feb. 5, 2016, totaling $1.3 billion.

In all, Iran received $1.7 billion in U.S. cash that has been used to fund its covert terrorist support operations.

The first $400 million coincided with the release of four Americans held hostage by Iran, a move by Iran to make the money appear as if the Obama administration had paid a ransom to Tehran for the release of the Americans.

The Obama administration sought to justify the cash transfers to the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism by claiming the U.S. government was set to lose a legal arbitration case over arms purchases from the United States made by the government of the Shah of Iran, the predecessor government to the Islamist regime that took power in 1979. However, the primary motivation was President Obama’s effort to woo the Iranian regime and seek to change its backing for terrorism in the Middle East.

The Trump administration has sharply reversed course and is working hard to punish Iran for its terrorist activities. Iran has been linked to the deaths of scores of Americans through its backing for terrorism.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has been one of the administration’s main hawks on Iran, although he recently softened his opposition to jettisoning the Iran nuclear deal. In the administration’s recently released defense strategy blueprint, Mr. Mattis shifted the focus of American defenses from countering terrorists to confronting nation-states. He said Iran “continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability.”

“In the Middle East, Iran is competing with its neighbors, asserting an arc of influence and instability while vying for regional hegemony, using state-sponsored terrorist activities, a growing network of proxies, and its missile program to achieve its objectives,” he stated.

Joint Staff revising strategy

The Pentagon’s Joint Staff is working on a revision of U.S. military strategy following the release of Defense Secretary James N. Mattis’ new national defense strategy and the updated Nuclear Posture Review. Both the strategy and review outline significant shifts in approaching foreign threats and in directing American responses.

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the launch of the military strategy revision at a hearing Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee.

“The national defense strategy provides detailed defense policy guidance for military strategy, planning and operations,” Gen. Selva said in his prepared statement. “Therefore, the chairman’s 2016 classified national military strategy will require an update to maintain complete consistency with the national defense strategy and the president’s national security strategy released in December.”

The process of revising military strategy began shortly after the new defense strategy was announced.

Gen. Selva did not provide any details on the revisions, but he noted that the revisions will be “a step toward increasing the lethality and flexibility of the joint force in light of the reemergence of great power competition.”

The revision is expected to alter the military’s approach to dealing with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, and terrorism — the main threat matrix that, like almost everything in the Pentagon, has been given its own acronym: CRIKT. Countering terrorism will continue to be focus but no longer the military’s main focus.

The Joint Staff, the military group at the Pentagon that supports the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, also is getting a makeover.

“We have begun a review of the Joint Staff’s organization and processes to determine if we need to make adjustments to support the chairman’s global integrator responsibilities and to better position the chairman to support the secretary’s decision making,” Gen. Selva said.

Treasury sanctions Asian terrorists

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted South Asian terrorist financing and support networks on Wednesday by designating three people as major terrorist backers. The three were identified as Rahman Zeb Faqir Muhammad, Hizb Ullah Astam Khan, and Dilawar Khan Nadir Khan.

The sanctions block all property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction and are aimed at preventing the financiers from moving money and fundraising.

The Treasury Department “continues to aggressively pursue and expose radicals who support terrorist organizations and run illicit financial networks across South Asia,” Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.

“We are targeting operatives who have provided logistical support, improvised explosive devices and other technological assistance to al Qaeda, Lashkar-e Taiba, the Taliban and other terrorist groups,” she said.

The sanctions are part of stepped up efforts by Treasury to disrupt terrorism fundraising.

Ms. Mandelker said the Trump administration is calling on Pakistan’s government and others in the region “to work with us to deny sanctuary to these dangerous individuals and organizations.”

Raham Zeb is a financier and technology operator for the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e Taiba, known as LeT, involved in Afghan terror operations.

Hizb Ullah is a bombmaker and financier for terrorists linked to Shaykh Aminullah, a designated terrorist. He was linked to shipments of improvised explosive device precursor chemicals sent from Pakistan to Afghanistan and used by the Taliban and another terrorist group.

Dilawar also worked with Shaykh Aminullah and helped communicate the shaykh’s message among terrorists and facilitated fund transfers, including international transactions.

 

Congress Demands DOJ Turn Over All Docs Related to Obama Scheme to Nix Hezbollah Terror Investigation

December 21, 2017

Congress Demands DOJ Turn Over All Docs Related to Obama Scheme to Nix Hezbollah Terror Investigation, Washinton Free Beacon , December 21, 2017

Fighters of the Shiite Hezbollah movement / Getty Images

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million per month just in the United States, according to the report.

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Congress instructed the Department of Justice on Thursday to turn over all documents and communications that may be related to newly disclosed efforts by the Obama administration to handicap an investigation into the terror group Hezbollah and its Iranian benefactors, according to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter represents the first salvo in a new investigation by congressional leaders into allegations senior Obama administration officials thwarted a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah’s illicit operations.

The Obama administration, in what congressional insiders described to the Free Beacon as a “potentially criminal” enterprise, interfered with the DEA’s investigation into Hezbollah drug activities in order to avoid angering the terror group’s chief patron Iran and preserve the landmark nuclear deal.

“I’ve long believed that the Obama administration could not have done any more to bend over backwards to appease the Iranian regime, yet news that the Obama administration killed the investigation into a billion dollar drug ring that lined the terrorist group Hezbollah’s pockets in order to save its coveted Iran deal may very well take the cake,” DeSantis said.

“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist group with American blood on its hands and it would be unconscionable for American policy to deliberately empower such a nefarious group,” he said.

Congressional leaders have begun a formal investigation into the matter and petitioned the DOJ to hand over “all documents and communications” that may shine light on “interference with the DEA’s law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah,” according to a letter sent by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio.).

“We have a responsibility to evaluate whether these allegations are true, and if so, did the administration undermine U.S. law enforcement and compromise U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote to Sessions, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

The lawmakers are requesting the DOJ hand over to Congress all materials relating to a DEA operation known as Project Cassandra, which Politico first reported was part of an effort to investigate Hezbollah’s drug activities across Latin America.

The lawmakers also are demanding files and communications related to other Hezbollah investigations, including, but not limited to, Operation Titan, Operation Perseus, and the Iran-Hezbollah Super Facilitator Initiative, according to the letter.

DeSantis and Jordan also have requested DOJ produce documents related to key individuals linked to these investigations, including those in Hezbollah’s inner circle.

Additionally, the lawmakers are seeking “all documents and communications referring or relating to the potential designation of Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization,” as well as, “all documents referring or relating to efforts to prosecute targets related to Hezbollah through the” RICO Act.

DOJ must provide Congress with these communications and documents no latter than 5 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2018.

Lawmakers also have required DOJ brief them no later than Jan. 12, 2018, on the matter.

The request for information marks the first investigatory effort by lawmakers since Politico first disclosed that the Obama administration may have thwarted DEA investigations into Hezbollah as part of an effort to avoid upsetting Iran.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter described the Hezbollah meddling as one part of a larger Obama administration effort to overlook Iran’s global terror operations.

Congress is particularly interested to learn whether key senior Obama administration officials, including former National Security Council staffer Ben Rhodes, were involved in meddling with the Hezbollah operation as part of an effort to preserve diplomatic relations with Iran and pave the way towards the nuclear deal.

The investigation by DeSantis and Jordan is being undertaken under the wider umbrella of oversight efforts into the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Iran that led to the nuclear deal.

Congressional officials and others have long maintained the Obama administration misled lawmakers and the American people about the nature of the deal in order to ensure its survival.

In addition to the latest information on the Hezbollah investigation, the Obama administration has been accused of helping Iran skirt international sanctions and providing Tehran with multiple cash infusions to ensure it remained at the bargaining table.

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million per month just in the United States, according to the report

Trump Admin Halts Taxpayer-Funded Purchases of Iranian Nuclear Materials

November 29, 2017

Trump Admin Halts Taxpayer-Funded Purchases of Iranian Nuclear Materials, Washington Free Beacon , November 29, 2017

Getty Images

After leaving the door open to additional purchases, senior Trump administration officials confirmed to the Free Beacon on Wednesday that the U.S. government would no longer engage in these nuclear transactions with Iran, a major policy shift that sources say is part of an effort to crackdown on Iran’s access to U.S. funds.

Lawmakers and other insiders had viewed the $8.6 million payment to Iran as a scheme to give Iran access to U.S. currency as part of an incentive package aimed at keeping it in compliance with the nuclear deal. The former administration stonewalled several attempts by lawmakers to discern the full details of the transaction.

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The Trump administration has put a stop to U.S. purchases of nuclear materials from Iran, a policy that first began under the Obama administration in an attempt to ensure Iran remains in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Obama administration sparked controversy in Congress and the national security world when it announced in late 2016 that it would spend more than $8 million dollars to purchase Iranian heavy water, a nuclear byproduct, in a bid to keep the Islamic Republic in line with restrictions on these materials imposed under the nuclear agreement.

The Obama administration, in what lawmakers described as a “potentially illegal” taxpayer-funded transaction, paid at least $8.6 million to purchase 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran. The nuclear byproduct can be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, which is why restrictions were initially placed on Tehran’s stockpile.

The transaction occurred via an offshore third-party, according to U.S. officials, who made clear at the time that it would engage in further purchases if they were needed to help keep Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal.

After leaving the door open to additional purchases, senior Trump administration officials confirmed to the Free Beacon on Wednesday that the U.S. government would no longer engage in these nuclear transactions with Iran, a major policy shift that sources say is part of an effort to crackdown on Iran’s access to U.S. funds.

Lawmakers and other insiders had viewed the $8.6 million payment to Iran as a scheme to give Iran access to U.S. currency as part of an incentive package aimed at keeping it in compliance with the nuclear deal. The former administration stonewalled several attempts by lawmakers to discern the full details of the transaction.

Trump administration officials told the Free Beacon they have informed Iran that it is now solely responsible for maintaining compliance with the nuclear deal.

“No, the United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told the Free Beacon. “We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under their heavy water limit in the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official title of the nuclear agreement.

A State Department official confirmed this shift in policy to the Free Beacon following a request for further information.

In May, House lawmakers approved a bill spearheaded by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), to outlaw all future purchases of Iranian heavy water by the United States. Democrats in the Senate opposed a similar measure due to concerns that it would conflict with U.S. efforts to preserve the nuclear agreement.

One source familiar with the administration’s thinking on the policy shift told the Free Beacon it is part of a larger effort to take a tougher line towards Iranian efforts to gain further access to cash assets.

“This is another place where the Trump administration is saying ‘no’ to Iranian extortion and blackmail,” said the source, a veteran Middle East policy expert who routinely works with congressional offices on the Iran issue.

“Iran was deliberately overproducing heavy water and then telling the U.S. ‘buy it from us or it’ll blow up the deal’,” the source said. “The Obama administration paid, effectively rewarding Iran for violating the nuclear deal. The Trump administration refused to let the Iranians hold the deal hostage.”

At the time the Obama administration was orchestrating the cash transaction, lawmakers were intentionally being kept in the dark, the Free Beacon first reported.

Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, then a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon at the time that the former administration was seeking to subsidize Tehran’s nuclear program.

“The Obama administration’s deal with the Mullahs in Tehran to purchase heavy water demonstrates a disturbing, potentially illegal, willingness of the administration to subsidize Iran’s nuclear program,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “This purchase allows the Iranians to offload previously unsellable product and it destigmatizes the act of doing business in Iran.”

The purchase was “made without explanation as to how Iran will receive these funds or what steps the administration is taking to prevent what will almost certainly be U.S. taxpayer dollars from possibly being used to support terrorist activities, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, or Iran’s ballistic missile program,” Pompeo said at the time.

Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal?

November 4, 2017

Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal? The Point (FrontPage Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, November 3, 2017

(Please see also, Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare, which deals with some of the newly released Bin Laden documents:

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

— DM)

The release of the Bin Laden files was met with a great deal of interest. There was less interest in why it took so long to release them. But this story sheds some light on that. And raises some very troubling questions.

On the penultimate day of the Obama administration, less than 24 hours before the president would vacate the White House, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release meant to put to rest what had been a pesky issue for his office. “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011.” Accompanying the press release were 49 documents captured during the raid, bringing the total number of documents made public to 571.

The actual number was 440,000.

On Wednesday, November 1, CIA director Mike Pompeo announced the release of “nearly 470,000 additional files” from the Abbottabad raid. From 571 to 470,000: The “most transparent administration in history,” you might say, has just been trumped, by nearly three orders of magnitude.

So why did Obama Inc. obstruct the release of the files? The apparent answer may be that it was trying to protect its peace moves with the Taliban and Iran.

… Obama’s National Security Council hand-picked 17 documents to be provided to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point for analysis. (Obama’s NSC would later hold back two of those documents. One of them, laying out the deep ties between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda leadership, would complicate Obama administration efforts to launch negotiations with the Taliban, according to an explanation the NSC’s Doug Lute offered to West Point.)

… The new materials make clear that ODNI sought to mislead the country not only about the size of the collection but about its contents, too. The January ODNI press statement claimed that the batch of 49 documents it was then making public “mirrors the themes in previous releases,” chief among them Osama bin Laden’s “hatred, suspicion of Iran.”

… Barack Obama wanted what al Qaeda already had: a mutually beneficial partnership with Tehran. Revealing to the American people the truth about Osama bin Laden’s cozy working relationship with the Iranian government might have fatally undermined that diplomatic quest, just as the ongoing vitality of al Qaeda, amply testified to in the bin Laden documents, would have contradicted Obama’s proud claims in 2012 that al Qaeda was “on the run.” So Obama, with the eager cooperation of some in the intelligence community, bottled up the bin Laden documents and ran out the clock.

… The CIA release of the additional 470,000 documents includes a 19-page report on al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran authored by an unidentified al Qaeda operative. The author lays out some tensions between al Qaeda and Iran but makes clear those differences don’t preclude cooperation. The document reports that the Iranian regime was giving its “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed.” This included safe haven in Iran, the facilitation of travel for senior al Qaeda operatives, and “money, arms,” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

This is far from the biggest scandal to emerge from the Obama era. In some ways it’s almost routine.

And yet it reveals that Obama’s appeasement of Islamic terrorists, from the Taliban to Iran, dominated foreign policy, suppressed counterterrorism and permeated every corner of his administration. Even the Bin Laden documents had to be kept locked up to protect the narrative.

Even while Obama was using Bin Laden’s unintended death (Obama had sought to put Osama on trial to shut down the trials of terrorists in the Article III system)  to campaign for reelection, he was cozying up to Bin Laden’s allies in Iran.

And covering up the truth.

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles

October 17, 2017

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, October 17, 2017

Former Secretary of State John Kerry wasted no time condemning President Trump’s decision not to recertify, and to possibly withdraw from, the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran that Kerry negotiated on behalf of his boss Barack Obama. President Trump insisted on significant improvements to the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known. The JCPOA’s fundamental flaws that President Trump wants fixed include Iran’s ability to block unfettered international inspections, the wiggle room that Iran is exploiting to continue developing and testing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and the sunset clause on nuclear enrichment that would provide Iran a clear path to becoming a nuclear armed state after the current restrictions are lifted. Obama and Kerry had promised that these issues would be dealt with satisfactorily before agreeing to the final terms of the JCPOA. Instead they caved to Iranian pressure in order to get the deal done.

Now that President Trump is trying to clean up the mess Obama and Kerry left him, Kerry has the gall to label President Trump’s decision a “reckless abandonment of facts in favor of ego and ideology” and to accuse the Trump administration of “lying to the American people.” It was the Obama administration that recklessly abandoned the facts in pressing ahead with the deal. The Obama administration lied to the American people, abandoning its own promises to ensure that the deal contained ironclad protections. Moreover, all that President Trump has done so far is to return the JCPOA to Congress for review. Had Obama followed the Constitution and submitted the JCPOA to the Senate as a treaty in the first place, the JCPOA in its present form almost certainly would not have been approved. Congress should now have the opportunity to revisit the JCPOA to determine whether the protections that the Obama administration promised are working as advertised. Congress should also consider whether time limits on Iran’s commitments continue to make sense in light of what we are now experiencing with Iran’s nuclear technology collaborator, North Korea. It bought time to turn into a full-fledged nuclear power under our noses.

Kerry had promised that the Iranian regime would be prohibited from testing ballistic missiles. This turned out to be a lie. After the JCPOA was finalized, with no such prohibition included, Iran continued to test such missiles. The Obama administration’s response was that the missiles had become a separate issue, to be dealt with under a new United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA.  The new resolution replaced clear prohibitions imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program with a weak declaration in an annex that simply “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity such as development and test launches related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years.

Iran has tested several ballistic missiles during the last two years, including two Qadr H missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” emblazoned on the sides. The commander of Iran’s Army, Major General Ataollah Salehi, had told reporters just a month before the launch of those missiles that Iran was “neither paying any attention to the resolutions against Iran, nor implementing them. This is not a breach of the JCPOA.”

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, spurning requests from Obama administration officials to impose sanctions against Iran under the Security Council resolution, asserted that the Iranian missile test did not violate the resolution. “A call is different from a ban so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” the Russian ambassador said. In short, the JCPOA did not cover the missile tests and the replacement UN Security Council resolution that did mention the missiles is toothless.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told CNN, during an interview aired on April 6, 2015,  that under the deal’s terms then still being negotiated, “you will have anywhere, anytime, 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.” Rhodes claimed that “if we see a site that we need to inspect on a military facility, we can get access to that site and inspect it. So if it’s a suspicious site that we believe is related to its nuclear efforts, we can get access and inspect that site through the IAEA.” This was another lie. After the JCPOA was finalized in July 2015, Rhodes shamelessly denied that anytime, anywhere inspections were ever considered as part of the negotiations. “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere,” Rhodes said on July 14, 2015.

The JCPOA’s supporters, including Kerry, have made much of the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has on several occasions verified Iran’s compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, keeping its stock of low-enriched uranium below the limit set forth in the JCPOA and not pursuing further construction of the Arak reactor. Iran was found to have slightly exceeded the limit on its stock of heavy water, but has remedied the problem to the IAEA’s satisfaction. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reiterated in a statement he issued on October 9th that Iran has remained in compliance with its JCPOA commitments.

The problem, as any clear-eyed observer of the process recognizes, is that the IAEA relies on Iran for self-inspection of certain sites that the regime does not want the IAEA to inspect freely on its own. IAEA inspectors have avoided examining military sites it knows exists and has no reliable way of tracking undeclared sites. The IAEA’s explanation for not visiting any of Iran’s known military sites is that it had “no reason to ask” for access. Evidently, the IAEA is supposed to block out the fact that Iran had conducted tests relevant to nuclear bomb detonations at a military site before the JCPOA’s finalization in 2015. The IAEA should just pretend that such tests could not possibly happen again.

“Nobody is allowed to visit Iran’s military sites,” said Iran’s Head of Strategic Research Center at the Expediency Council and adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati. Intimidation works. The IAEA knows not to ask.

As to the JCPOA’s sunset provisions, the Obama administration lied about that too. Kerry claimed on September 2, 2015 that the JCPOA “never sunsets. There’s no sunset in this agreement.”

This month Kerry has resorted to parsing words. He claims the phrase ‘sunset provisions’ is a “misnomer,” before then defending the JCPOA’s time limits. “We were comfortable because the cap on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile remains in place until 2030,” Kerry wrote in an article published in the Washington Post late last month. In other words, let’s just kick the can down the road and hope for a more reasonable Iranian regime in 13 years that would agree to extend the time limits. In the meantime, Kerry advises us not to worry. Kerry declared, “15 or 25 years from now, we still have the same military options we have today.”

John Kerry has obviously learned nothing from the North Korean fiasco, which resulted from years of phony agreements with the rogue regime and so-called “strategic patience.” The United States clearly does not have the same military options today to deal with a nuclear armed North Korea as it did 23 years ago when former President Bill Clinton decided not to use military force to stamp out North Korea’s nuclear program at its inception. Instead, Clinton started us down the primrose path of naïve diplomacy with a duplicitous regime that now is on the verge of being able to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear warheads delivered by intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is precisely because North Korea’s actions over the last 23 years have proven that making concessions to a rogue regime in order to obtain denuclearization commitments is so dangerous that President Trump does not want to make the same mistake with Iran.

America’s European allies are also upset with President Trump for refusing to recertify the deal and threatening to pull out if certain conditions are not met. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement last Friday praising the JCPOA and its implementation. They said that the nuclear deal with Iran was “the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. Therefore, we encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.”

Perhaps these European leaders should remember their own history. Appeasement through phony deals with a rogue dictatorship does not work, as proven by the infamous Munich Pact signed by British and French Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler seventy-nine years ago.

Israel Takes on the SHIA Crescent

October 2, 2017

Israel Takes on the SHIA Crescent, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, October 2, 2017

At least, Israel has a more sympathetic ear in the Trump administration than it did in the Obama administration for raising its concerns about Iran’s growing threat, not only to Israel but to U.S. interests in the region and beyond. President Trump’s sharp denunciation of the Iranian regime during his address to the UN General Assembly represented a welcome departure from the Obama administration’s milquetoast approach to Iran. 

As the U.S.-led coalition continues to drive ISIS from its bases of operation in Syria, the Trump administration has proclaimed its intention not to allow Iran to turn Syria into its own satellite, as Iran has essentially done in Iraq. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the “so called liberation of areas by Assad’s forces and Iranian proxies could actually accelerate the cycle of violence and perpetuate conflict rather than get us to a sustainable outcome.” He claimed that the Trump administration’s “objectives are to weaken Iranian influence across the region broadly,” without discussing the means to accomplish those objectives.

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Despite Israel’s repeated warnings, Barack Obama’s reckless appeasement of the Iranian regime has enabled its rise as a hegemonic threat in the Middle East region as well as a threat to international peace and security. In 2009, Obama turned his back on millions of dissidents in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, who were peacefully protesting the rigged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. In 2011, Obama precipitously removed the remaining U.S. combat troops from Iraq, giving rise to ISIS’s re-emergence in Iraq from its bases in Syria. The radical Shiite Iranian regime purported to come to the “rescue” of both countries from the Sunni terrorists, turning Iraq into a virtual vassal state of the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the process. Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran legitimized Iran’s path to eventually becoming a nuclear-armed state, while immediately filling its coffers with billions of dollars to fund its aggression. 

Meanwhile, Syria has become ground zero for Iran’s execution of its regional ambitions, which is to establish its Shiite Crescent connecting with its allies, including Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This plan has included the establishment of a land route that Iranian-backed militias secured in June, beginning on Iran’s border with Iraq and running across Iraq and Syria all the way to Syria’s Mediterranean coast. This road makes Iran’s job easier in supplying arms by land, as well as by air and sea, to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and to equip Iran’s own forces fighting inside of Syria in support of Assad. This helps explain why Iran has placed so much importance on helping the Syrian regime establish control over the Deir ez-Zor area in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.

“Everything depends now on the Americans’ willingness to stop this,” said an Iraqi Kurdish official who was quoted in a New Yorker article. However, U.S.-led coalition forces apparently have done next to nothing to stop this major advance in Iran’s Shiite Crescent expansion. “Obama ran down our options in Syria so thoroughly, by the time this administration took over,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The Iranian influence is spreading because they are so heavily involved in regime activities,” Tabler added. “It’s a new monster.”

Furthermore, Iran has funded and armed its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, which has sent its militia from its home base of Lebanon to fight alongside Assad’s forces.  And Iran has used Syria as a transit point for shipment of sophisticated rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon for future use against Israeli population centers. Despite the fact that Hezbollah has American blood on its hands, the U.S.-led coalition has chosen not to do anything about Hezbollah’s presence in Syria, bought and paid for by Iran.

While Israel chose not to take sides in Syria’s civil war with military intervention of its own, it has bombed weapons storage facilities and convoys inside Syria for its own protection. Just recently, on September 7th, Israeli jets struck a Syrian weapons facility near Masyaf, which was reported to have been used for the production of chemical weapons and the storage of missiles. Israel will also do what is necessary to repel Iranian-backed forces if they edge too close to areas near the Golan Heights, shrinking the buffer between Israel and Iranian controlled territories.

However, such tactical measures may not be enough to thwart Iran’s larger ambitions. In light of intelligence reports that Assad may be ready to invite Iran to set up military bases in Syria, Israeli leaders have concluded that they cannot wait until the Trump administration decides to deal more forcefully with Iran’s growing use of Syria as a staging area for carrying out its expansionist Shiite Crescent strategy.  “Their overriding concern in Syria is the free reign that all the major players there seem willing to afford Iran and its various proxies in the country,” wrote Jonathan Spyer in an article for Foreign Policy. As long as nobody else is addressing the concern Iran’s growing control raises in a satisfactory manner, “Israel is determined to continue addressing it on its own.”

At least, Israel has a more sympathetic ear in the Trump administration than it did in the Obama administration for raising its concerns about Iran’s growing threat, not only to Israel but to U.S. interests in the region and beyond. President Trump’s sharp denunciation of the Iranian regime during his address to the UN General Assembly represented a welcome departure from the Obama administration’s milquetoast approach to Iran.

As the U.S.-led coalition continues to drive ISIS from its bases of operation in Syria, the Trump administration has proclaimed its intention not to allow Iran to turn Syria into its own satellite, as Iran has essentially done in Iraq. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the “so called liberation of areas by Assad’s forces and Iranian proxies could actually accelerate the cycle of violence and perpetuate conflict rather than get us to a sustainable outcome.” He claimed that the Trump administration’s “objectives are to weaken Iranian influence across the region broadly,” without discussing the means to accomplish those objectives.

Whether the Trump administration follows through remains to be seen. In the meantime, Israel will have to deal with the fallout of Iran’s ambitions in Syria itself.

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps: Nuclearization, Missile Development Alongside Agreements With The Superpowers; EU3, IAEA Director-General Submitted To Obama Administration Pressure, Agreed To JCPOA With No Real Inspection, No Response To Iran’s Missile Program; French President: ‘Absolutely Necessary’ That JCPOA Be ‘Supplemented’

September 9, 2017

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps: Nuclearization, Missile Development Alongside Agreements With The Superpowers; EU3, IAEA Director-General Submitted To Obama Administration Pressure, Agreed To JCPOA With No Real Inspection, No Response To Iran’s Missile Program; French President: ‘Absolutely Necessary’ That JCPOA Be ‘Supplemented’, MEMRI, September 8, 2017

(Please see also, Powers may end up with Iranian model for NKorea. Obama would be very proud. –DM)

Introduction

Top Iranian officials have stated in the past that Tehran is learning from the experience of North Korea in attempting to actualize aspirations for regional supremacy and gaining the status of a global nuclear power.

Iran has achieved both of these under the cover of an agreement with the superpowers that protects it from both attack and inspection, and allows it to proceed, legitimately and with the help of the superpowers, to develop its nuclear capabilities. These include detonation of a nuclear device “for research purposes” as well as the continued development of its missile program, without any restrictions whatsoever under the agreement.

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps

Like North Korea, which came to several agreements with U.S. administrations, i.e. the Clinton and Obama administrations, as well as with other superpowers, yet continued with its military nuclear program without allowing real inspection of its sites, and also continued to develop long-range ballistic missiles, Tehran is utilizing the JCPOA to develop its nuclear capabilities without allowing real inspection, while continuing to develop and freely test long-range missiles.

It was President Obama who pressured the EU3 – the UK, France, and Germany – and the International Nuclear Energy Agency (IAEA) to agree to no inspection of military and other suspect sites, and to keep the issue of missiles separate from the JCPOA, thus enabling Iran to do as North Korea has done, without any significant response from the West. Iran, which monitored the West’s reaction to North Korea’s activity, concluded that it could do the same, and this lesson has been expressed in statements by top Iranian officials.

For example, Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Larijani said in a September 2005 speech: “I recommend once again that you pay attention to the conduct of North Korea. After two years of dealings with North Korea, what have you got? You have accepted North Korea ‘s nuclear technology in the field of uranium enrichment. So accept ours now.”[1]

The Kayhan daily, which is affiliated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in an October 12, 2006 editorial titled “Lessons from North Korea”: ” “[North] Korea has built a [nuclear] bomb before the American’s eyes, despite the great pressure it was under, and [despite] years of harsh international sanctions – and no one has managed to do anything [against it]. What this means precisely is that if any country, such as North Korea, concludes, for political or security reasons, that it must have nuclear weapons, it will ultimately succeed in implementing its wish – even if the whole world doesn’t want it to. The superpowers may manage to slow down [its] path [in going] nuclear, or may apply economic and psychological pressures on it and on its citizens – but   in the end the wish that arises from among the people is what prevails and determines the policy.”[2]

An article in Sobh-e Sadeq, the weekly of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published in June 2008, called North Korea’s decision to destroy the cooling tower of the reactor at Yongbyon that month “a strategic deception” aimed at alleviating the pressure from the superpowers that oppose its nuclear activity. It added that the destruction of this facility could be a step towards another nuclear test. Also according to the article, the destruction of the tower, the use of which had long been suspended, did not prevent North Korea from being able to revive its activity, thanks to its knowhow, and with its stock of plutonium it could conduct at least another eight nuclear tests.[3]

The Iran Diplomacy research center, which is close to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, called, in April 2009, for careful study of the U.S. reaction to North Korea’s launch that month of a long-range missile, saying that the North Korean model could be applied to the Middle East.[4]

The conservative Iranian daily Resalat stated, following the North Korean missile launch, that the U.S. was weak and could not force its position on North Korea, which, it said, benefits from Russian and Chinese support. It added that the Obama administration was facing a difficult dilemma. If it adopted the harsh position of the preceding Bush administration, Obama’s conciliatory image would be harmed. If it gave in to North Korea, it would strengthen North Korea’s position in southeast Asia.[5]

Iran acted based on North Korea’s experience, but with greater sophistication, as manifested in the following aspects:

1. Instead of rejecting inspections out of hand like North Korea, Tehran created a framework under which only declared nuclear sites could be inspected, along with a different framework in which there would be no inspections of military and other sites, and gained full Western cooperation for this, in addition to tremendous benefits for itself. The West agreed to this Iranian scheme, and the President of the United States himself even explained on July 14, 2015, the day this agreement was announced, that “[t]he IAEA will have access where necessary, when necessary.”[6]Today, the U.S. is obligated to reconfirm every quarter that Iran is meeting the terms of the agreement even though inspection is limited to certain sites only.

2. Tehran took the issue of long-range ballistic missile development out of the negotiations for the JCPOA, and in the absence of an international treaty regulating the issue of long-term missiles, the Obama administration allowed Iran to continue to develop its missile capability to the point where it threatens the Middle East and the West. It should be noted that Iran calls its long-range missiles “defensive missiles” but that by any accepted standard they are offensive missiles; it also threatens the countries of the region with them.


On missile, in Hebrew and Farsi: Israel Should Be Wiped Off the Face of the Earth.” Photo: Fars, Iran, March 9, 2016. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth,’ March 16, 2016.

3. The JCPOA was written in such a way that it expires after a certain time period, as do the restrictions and certain qualifications to which Tehran agreed.

4. The U.S. administration acquiesced to Tehran’s demand that its heavy water be stored in nearby Oman, its proxy, where it will be in immediate reach of Iran. The administration also acquiesced to Iran’s demand that it be allowed to continue developing advanced-generation centrifuges, such that after the JCPOA expires in 2025 it will be able to skip significant stages in its nuclearization process.<

What Inspection Did The EU3 And IAEA Agree To Under Pressure From The Obama Administration?

IAEA director-general Yukia Amano recently announced that the IAEA could enter any site in Iran to inspect it. But his statements are misleading, because the JCPOA does not allow real inspection of any nuclear site except for those declared by Iran. The following are the terms agreed to in the JCPOA by Amano and the Europeans:[7]

  1. The JCPOA created a unique inspection framework for Iran that bypasses the Additional Protocol, which allows inspection of military sites, which Iran accepted as a voluntary and unilateral step, and from which it can drop out without violating the JCPOA.
  2. The JCPOA transferred the authority to make clear professional decisions from the IAEA to a political supreme forum whose authority supersedes that of the IAEA – with the agreement of IAEA director-general Yukia Amano, who relinquished his status under pressure from Obama.
  3. The JCPOA set out a series of restrictions for conducting inspections; for example, any claim by the IAEA must not be motivated by an intent to damage Iranian military or security activity. This wording hands Iran the tools to prevent any inspection of any security or other site, by arguing that such an inspection is motivated by an intent to damage its military activity. The procedure demands that the information that casts suspicion on any of these sites and that prompts a request for inspection be revealed to Iran, Russia, and China – and this demand, which cannot be met, is aimed at stopping the inspection process in its tracks.
  4. The JCPOA created a political precedent for a non-credible inspection process, through closing Iran’s PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) file by a predetermined political decision and while negotiating with Iran about writing the IAEA report on the PMD – i.e. the file was not closed independently by the IAEA. That is, IAEA inspectors did not visit the sites, and the samples from these sites were taken by the Iranians themselves and handed over to the IAEA inspectors without any way of ascertaining that the sample taken is what was handed over. IAEA director-general Yukia Amano submitted to the Obama administration’s pressure to agree to this unprofessional and non-credible procedure, violating the trust placed in him and in the IAEA as an independent, professional, and authoritative body. This is because the Iranians made their acceptance of the JCPOA conditional upon the closure of their PMD file in this exact way, so that there could be no entrance to suspect military sites. Additionally, he submitted to Iran’s refusal to allow the IAEAto question Iranian nuclear scientists, and agreed not to mention the term “PMD” in the report focusing on this issue, because Iran opposed this. Furthermore, the IAEA report on the PMD issue stated that there was indeed suspect activity in Iran, but refrained from stating that the Iranian regime was responsible for it.

These were also clarified by Iran’s representative in the IAEA, Reza Najafi, in a September 21, 2015  interview with the ISNA news agency. He said: “I deny the Reuters report that the samples from Parchin were taken in the presence of IAEA inspectors. We ourselves took the samples. This is the red line for us, and no inspector is authorized to enter a military site and conduct an inspection. The visit of Amano and his deputy was strictly a general protocol visit; they had no equipment, not even a cellphone, their visit did not last more than a few minutes, [and it was] only  in order for them to see that there is nothing suspicious and that the claims about [Parchin] were completely wrong.”[8]

See also the following MEMRI reports:

French President Macron: It Is “Absolutely Necessary” That The JCPOA “Be Supplemented… As Far As The Use Of Ballistic Missiles Is Concerned”

French President Emmanuel Macron, in an August 29, 2017 Paris speech to a conference of French ambassadors, spoke of the need to fortify the JCPOA as part of the nonproliferation regime, and proposed “absolutely necessary” supplementation of it “as far as the use of ballistic missiles is concerned” after 2025 when the JCPOA expires. He said: “[T]his agreement [JCPOA] was improved thanks to the intervention of France. There is no alternative to the nonproliferation regime and we will be extremely strict as to its implementation. The framework of this agreement is good. It can be supplemented by some work [on it] after 2025 – an absolutely necessary work as far as the use of ballistic missiles is concerned.”[9]

* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Studies Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Appendix: Additional MEMRI Reports On The Subject

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 994, Iranian Nuclear Chief Ali Larijani: The West Should Learn the Lesson of North Korea, September 26, 2005.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), October 12, 2006. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1321, Iranian Daily Close to Supreme Leader Khamenei: ‘If Any Country Such as North Korea, Concludes, for Political or Security Reasons, That It Must Have Nuclear Weapons, It Will Ultimately Succeed… Even if the Whole World Is Opposed…’ October 13, 2006.

[3] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), June 30, 2008.

[4] Iran Diplomacy (Iran), April 6, 2009.

[5] Resalat (Iran), April 6, 2009.

[6] Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office, July 14, 2015.

[7] See Section Q of Annex of the JCPOA, pp 42-43, Apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/world/full-text-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal/1651. See also MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1325 – Discussion Of Iranian Violations Of JCPOA Is Futile; The Inspection Procedure Designed By The Obama Administration Precludes Actual Inspection And Proof Of Violations, August 18, 2017.

[8] ISNA (Iran), September 21, 2015.

[9] Elysee.fr, August 29, 2017.