Archive for the ‘P5+1’ category

Obama, the Iran Scam, Ben Rhodes and Public Credulity

May 8, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or any of its other editors. — DM)

A recent article by David Samuels at the New York Times Magazine, based on an interview with Obama’s foreign policy guru Ben Rhodes, purported to explain how, and about what, the Obama administration lied to get public support for the Iran Scam. According to the article, the principal Obama lie involved who was the Iranian president when the negotiations with Iran began. It’s much deeper and worse than that. As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s “the rest of the story.” 

Iranian President Rouhani was elected on June 15, 2013 and assumed office on August 3d. According to Rhodes,

negotiations started when the ostensibly moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president, providing an opening for the administration to reach out in friendship. In reality, as Samuels gets administration officials to admit, negotiations began when “hardliner” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still president. [Emphasis added.]

There is no necessary inconsistency — about a month and a half elapsed between Rouhani’s election and becoming the Iranian president. However, that is of little if any consequences.

Mr. Rosen, interviewed in the above video, touches, very briefly, on other problems with the Iran scam. Back in the world of reality, “we” had been negotiating with Iran during Ahmadinejad’s presidency for a couple of years, during which “we” gave Iran everything it requested. This article is intended to provide substantially more information and analysis of what happened and why during “our” secret bilateral negotiations with Iran.

The Negotiations

According to interviews with Iranian vice president and Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, translated and published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on August 17, 2015, secret bilateral negotiations between the Obama and Iranian regimes had begun much earlier and included Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State, William Burns. During those negotiations, the U.S. conceded that Iran’s right to Uranium enrichment would be respected, that Iran’s missile programs would be left out of any deal and that its efforts to develop nuclear warheads and other devices would be ignored. Obama had essentially caved in to Iran’s demands even before the existence of negotiations was acknowledged.

In an interview published in the daily Iran on August 4, 2015 under the title “The Black Box of the Secret Negotiations between Iran and America,” Iranian vice president and Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, who is a senior member of Iran’s negotiation team and was foreign minister under president Ahmadinejad, revealed new details on the secret bilateral talks between Iran and the U.S. that started during Ahmadinejad’s second presidential term. According to Salehi, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, whom Salehi knew from his period as a doctoral student at MIT, was appointed to the American negotiation team at Salehi’s request, a request which the Americans met within hours. [Emphasis added.]

Salehi added that Khamenei agreed to open a direct channel of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on the condition that the talks would yield results from the start and would not deal with any other issue, especially not with U.S.-Iran relations. Following this, Salehi demanded, via the Omani mediator Sultan Qaboos, that the U.S. recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and received a letter from Qaboos expressing such American recognition, which he relayed to Ahmadinejad.  [Emphasis added.]

The secret bilateral Iran-US negotiations had begun with a letter for Iran delivered to an Omani official. Salehi told an Omani intermediary.

‘I am not sure how serious the Americans are, but I will give you a note. Tell them that these are our demands. Deliver it on your next visit to Oman.’ I wrote down four clear issues, one of which was official recognition of rights to [uranium] enrichment. I figured that if the Americans were sincere in their offer, then they must agree to these four demands. Mr. Suri gave this short letter to the mediator, and stressed that these were Iran’s demands. [He added that]if the Americans wished to solve this issue, they were welcome to, otherwise dealing with White House proposals would be useless and unwarranted…

“All the demands in the letter were related to the nuclear challenge. These were issues we have always come against, such as closing the nuclear dossier [in the Security Council], official recognition of [Iran’s] right to enrich [uranium], and resolving the issue of Iran’s actions under the PMD [Possible Military Dimensions]. After receiving the letter, the Americans said: ‘We are certainly willing and able to easily solve the issues Iran has brought up.’ [Emphasis added.]

The first meeting between the Iranian and American negotiating teams began following eight months of coordination. Iran

sent a team to Oman that included the deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, Mr. [Ali Asghar] Khaji, as well as several CEOs. The Americans were surprised in the first meeting and said, ‘We cannot believe this is happening. We thought Oman was joking. We aren’t even prepared for these talks with you.’

Q: What was the level of the team that the Americans dispatched?

A: It included Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. They said: ‘We only came to see if Iran was truly willing to negotiate.’ Our representative gave them the required response and eventually there were talks on this issue. The initial result was achieved and the ground was prepared for further coordination. [Emphasis added.]

Q: How were the Americans convinced that the Iranian diplomats who were dispatched had the necessary authority?

A: [Until] that phase, Iran and America had not been allowed to sit opposite each other at the negotiating table. The fact that Iran had sent a deputy foreign minister to the talks indicated its seriousness. The Americans also noticed how seriously [Iran was taking] the issue. At that meeting, Khaji pressed the Americans to set up a roadmap for the negotiations, and eventually the talks of a roadmap were postponed to the second meeting. At the second meeting, Khaji warned the Americans: ‘We did not come here for lengthy negotiations. If you are serious, you must officially recognize enrichment, otherwise we cannot enter into bilateral talks. But if you officially recognize enrichment, then we too are serious and willing to meet your concerns on the nuclear matter as part of international regulations.

International regulations were later agreed upon by the P5+1 negotiators, in the form of the Iran – IAEA secret deals concerning nuke inspections and a UN resolution dealing with Iranian missiles. Neither was included in the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action.

“Of course, at that time we were [still] exchanging various information with the Americans via the [Omani] mediation, and this is documented at the Foreign Ministry. We did not do it in the form of official letters, but rather unofficially and not on paper. The Omani mediator later came to Iran, held talks with us, and then later spoke to the Americans and told them our positions, so that the ties were not severed. But there was no possibility for direct talks.

Thus, a real opportunity was squandered because, at the time, the Americans were genuinely prepared to make real concessions to Iran. Perhaps it was God’s will that the process progressed like that and the results were [eventually] in our favor. In any case, several months passed and Obama was reelected in America [in November 2012]. I thought that, unlike the first time, we must not waste time in coordinating [within regime bodies], so with the leader’s backing and according to my personal decision, I dispatched our representatives to negotiate with the Americans in Oman. [Emphasis added.]

Q: Didn’t you have another meeting with the leader about the process and content of the talks?

A: No. Obviously during the process I wrote a letter to the leader detailing the problems. He said ‘try to solve them.’ He was always supportive but told me to ‘act in a manner that includes necessary coordination [within the regime]. In this situation, I dispatched Khaji to the second meeting in Oman (around March 2013) and it was a positive meeting. Both sides stayed in Oman for two or three days and the result was that the Omani ruler sent a letter to Ahmadinejad saying that the American representative had announced official recognition of Iran’s enrichment rights. Sultan Qaboos sent the same letter to the American president. When Ahmadinejad received the letter, several friends said that this move would be fruitless and that the Americans do not keep [their]  commitments. [But] we had advanced to this stage. [Emphasis added.]

. . . . We [then ] prepared ourselves for the third meeting with the Americans in order to set up the roadmap and detail the mutual commitments. All this happened while Iran was nearing the presidential elections [in June 2013]. At that time, the leader’s office told me that I had to cease negotiations and let the next government handle the talks after the results of the elections were known.

. . . .

Q: What was the Americans’ position in the first meetings between Iran and the P5+1 held during the Rohani government [era]?

A:After the Rohani government began to operate – along with the second term of President Obama – the new negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were started. By then, Kerry was no longer an American senator but had been appointed secretary of state. As a senator, Kerry had been appointed by Obama to be in charge of handling the nuclear dossier, and then [in December 2012] he was appointed secretary of state. [Emphasis added.]

“Before that, the Omani mediator, who had close relations with Kerry, told us that Kerry would soon be appointed [U.S.] secretary of state. During the period when the secret negotiations with the Americans were underway in Oman, there was a situation in which it was easier to obtain concessions from the Americans. After the Rohani government and the American administration [of Obama’s second term] took power, and Kerry become secretary of state, the Americans spoke from a more assertive position. They no longer showed the same degree of eagerness to advance the negotiations. Their position became harder, and the threshold of their demands rose. At the same time, on the Iranian side, the situation [also] changed, and a most professional negotiating team took responsibility for negotiating with the P5+1. [Emphasis added.]

As to the reluctance of the American side to make concessions after Kerry had replaced Clinton as the Secretary of State, it must be remembered that “we” had already made all or most of the concessions Iran sought.

Another positive point was that [President] Rohani oversaw the dossier, knew its limits, and as a result succeeded in producing a good strategy to advance the nuclear dossier. At the same time, Rohani took responsibility for everything. Many may have reservations and ask why we were putting ourselves in danger, but Rohani’s willingness to take responsibility was very high. There are those who say, from a political standpoint, that he was willing to take a very great risk, because, had the negotiations not achieved certain results, and had the best results not been achieved, he would have faced waves of criticism. But he took upon himself the risk of [such] criticism. In any event, he agreed to take this responsibility, and, God be praised, even God helped him, and he emerged [from the negotiations] with his head held high.” [Emphasis added.]

At some point, the negotiations broke down over “technical issues.” Salehi, a technical expert as well as a diplomat, found a way to resolve those issues.

A . . .  condition was that American experts would come to Iran and talk to me. I said that as vice president I would not enter into a discussion with their experts, because as far as the protocol was concerned, this would create a bad situation and they would say that Iran would capitulate in any situation. This was not good for Iran, but I was willing to quit and to come to the talks not as vice president but as the foreign minister’s scientific advisor. Larijani said ‘he’s right.’ The next day, Fereydoun asked me to come to his office and asked me who my [American] counterpart was. I said, the [U.S.] Department of Energy. Fereydoun called Araghchi and said, ‘Tell [U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs] Ms. [Wendy] Sherman that Salehi is joining the negotiations provided that the American secretary of energy also joins the negotiators.‘ Araghchi and Sherman were the liaison between Iran and America. Araghchi said in this conversation with Fereydoun that on such short notice it was unlikely that they [i.e. the Americans] would send their secretary of energy. I heard [Fereydoun’s conversation with Araghchi]. In short, Fereydoun asked and Araghchi contacted Sherman and a few hours later a report that they welcomed Iran’s proposal arrived. [Emphasis added.]

Q: How many hours did it take before they [the Americans] said yes?

A: It didn’t take long. I went to see Fereydoun in the evening and the next day they responded. This was because of the time difference [between Tehran and Washington].

Q: The general perception was that because Moniz was brought into the negotiating team, you were brought into the Iranian team?

A: [On the contrary,] Moniz came because of me. In any case, in February [2015] I joined [the negotiations], and praise God, matters moved forward with Moniz.

Q: Did you and Moniz study together?

A: Moniz knew me more than I knew him. I saw him at the annual IAEA meeting. When I was a doctoral student at MIT, he had just been accepted as a staff member. He is five years older than me.

Q: Did you take one of his classes?

A: No. He knew me because my doctoral studies advisor was his close friend and right hand man in scientific fields. Even now he is an advisor on many of Moniz’s scientific programs. Many of my fellow students are now experts for Moniz. One of them was Mujid Kazimi, who is of Palestinian origin. He recently died. He was two years older than me but we were friends in college. After graduating, he became the head of the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and was a prominent figure who carried out many programs with Moniz.

Q: How did Moniz treat you initially?

A: In light of our prior acquaintance, he was excited. We’ve known each other for years and he treated [me] very well. Our first meeting was in public.

Q: How did you feel when you heard Moniz was coming [to the talks]?

A: I was very happy. I was assured. I said that the prestige of the Islamic Republic remained intact [because] an Iranian official would not speak to an American expert but rather would negotiate with a high-ranking American official. This was very important. Second, as I said before, he could make a decision [while] an expert could not. We had a very interesting group meeting. The American experts were same ones who had dealt with disarmament vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.

“I said [to Moniz]: ‘I cannot accept your offer for various reasons.’ One American expert said, ‘We do not accept the basic assumption of your calculations.’ I said, ‘Tell us what is the basic assumption of [your] calculations so we can work from there.’ He said ‘we can’t do that.’ I said to them, ‘If you don’t accept our estimation, then tell us [yours]. You say that you cannot because this [exposes] your process. If we show [our] calculation, you will know our working secrets.’ So then I said ‘ok, what do we do now?’ The meeting stagnated.

“Later I thought about it… and said ‘Mr. Moniz, I am here with full authority from my country. Anything I sign will be acceptable to my country. Do you have full authority as well, or does any result achieved here need to be asked and clarified with officials from other countries?’ He said ‘no, I have full authority.’

Q: Did you have full authority?

A: Yes. In the scientific discussions, I knew the level of [Iran’s] demands. I said, ‘Mr. Moniz, you made an offer to Iran, and Iran rejects it. I want to ask you a question. If you can answer it [then] I will have no problem with your offer.’ I continued and said: ‘Show me one place on earth where enrichment is taking place using the method you are demanding of us. If you can give me even a single example then I will sign on the spot and we will become the second country to enrich in this method.’ He looked [at me] and then announced that the meeting was over, and we spoke. We had the first private meeting that lasted two or three hours. He said: ‘Mr. Salehi, when I was called [out of the negotiating room, it was because] Obama wanted to speak to me. Now I am free [to continue]. What you said is acceptable [but] there are practical problems with your offer.’ I said, ‘Do you agree? Then I relinquish that proposal.’ Eventually. we reached mutual understandings on this issue. I said ‘let’s start from the top.’ This diplomatic challenge should be published in a memoir so that everyone can understand how we reached 6,000 centrifuges. It is a very nice story… [Emphasis added.]

The Aftermath

Ultimately, Iran’s right to enrich Uranium was fully recognized in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and in the subsequent Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA). As to the missile aspects of the  “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, neither document dealt with Iranian missiles. That was left up to the United Nations Security Council to deal with in its resolution approving the nuke “deal.” In light of Russia’s warm relations with Iran, Russia would most likely veto any proposed Security Council resolution finding Iran in violation of its missile provisions.

The “verification” mechanism was included only in separate and secret “side deal(s)” solely between Iran and the IAEA which members of the U.S. Congress were not permitted to see during the pseudo-approval process. According to Kerry, he was not permitted to see them either, but the details were “fully explained” to him.

Here’s a video of Secretary Kerry under questioning about the side deals:

Questions might have been better directed to this Kerry clone; more candid answers might have been provided.

As I wrote earlier, the Iranian nuke inspections are a sick joke.

Any pretense that the IAEA will have “any time, anywhere” access to Iran’s military sites was mere rhetoric, as acknowledged by US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on July 16th

“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Sherman said in a conference call with Israeli diplomatic reporters. “That phrase, anytime, anywhere, is something that became popular rhetoric, but I think people understood that if the IAEA felt it had to have access, and had a justification for that access, that it would be guaranteed, and that is what happened.” [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Sherman was right about the rhetorical nature of administration assertions, but wrong about IAEA access, of which there will apparently be little or none pursuant to the secret deals between Iran and the IAEA.

As I observed on August 4, 2015,

In an interview on Al Jazeera TV last week Ali Akbar Velayati, Security Adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, stated that

United Nations nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would not be given access to Tehran’s sensitive military nuclear sites.

. . . .

“First, allow me to emphasize that the issue of the missiles and of Iran’s defensive capabilities were not part of the negotiations to begin with,” Velayati said. [Emphasis added.]

“No matter what pressure is exerted, Iran never has negotiated and never will negotiate with others – America, Europe, or any other country – about the nature and quality of missiles it should manufacture or possess, or about the defensive military equipment that it needs. This is out of the question.” [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the IAEA, stated over the weekend that “no country is permitted to know the details of future inspections conducted by the IAEA.” [Emphasis added.]

Najafi’s statement could mean (a) that no details about inspection methodology will be disclosed, (b) that no details about inspection results will be disclosed or (c) both. If inspection methodologies — who did the inspections as well as when, where and how, are not disclosed, what useful purpose will they serve, other than for Iran? If details of the results of inspections are not disclosed, that will also be the case. How, in either or both cases, will the members of the P5+1 negotiating teams have sufficient information to decide whether to “snap back” sanctions — if doing so is now even possible — or anything else? [Emphasis added.]

Conclusions

One can only hope that our next president will dispose of the Iranian “deal” as a treaty which Obama refused to submit to the Congress as the Constitution requires or at least ostentatiously ignore it and grant no more concessions.

Otherwise, be not afraid; Obama the Great One — the smartest person in any room and the best President ever — has made us safe. How can one possibly be safer alive than dead?

Iran’s Free Hand in Testing Ballistic Missiles

March 16, 2016

Iran’s Free Hand in Testing Ballistic Missiles, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, March 16, 2016

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The United Nations Security Council met in an “emergency” closed door session on Monday March 14th to discuss Iran’s recent testing of ballistic missiles reportedly designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The words “Israel must be wiped out” were written in Hebrew on the side of the missiles. These most recent tests followed in the wake of missile tests conducted last fall, which the Security Council did nothing about at the time.

While North Korea was finally hit with more UN sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests, North Korea’s nuclear weapons collaborators in Iran continue to be let off the hook without even a slap on the wrist.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told reporters, after the March 14th meeting produced no concrete results, that she will keep trying “no matter the quibbling that we heard today about this and that.” She said that Iran’s missile tests were “in defiance of provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the resolution that came into effect on January 16, on Implementation Day for the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].”

The quibbler in chief is Russia. Its UN ambassador said that Iran has not violated the resolution and that there was no need for any punitive measures against Iran.

The truth is that the Obama administration is now hoisted with its own petard. Ambassador Power complained that “Russia seems to be lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act rather than stepping up and being prepared to shoulder our collective responsibility.” Yet that would not have been as easy for Russia to do if the Obama administration had not allowed a loophole in the nuclear deal wide enough for Iran to fire a whole bunch of missiles through.

President Obama wanted the nuclear deal with Iran so badly that he gave in to Iran’s last minute demands to preserve its missile program. Iran insisted that all prior UN Security Council resolutions which had unambiguously prohibited Iran’s development, testing or procurement of ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons must be terminated. Otherwise, Iran would not go forward with the JCPOA. To make matters worse, even though Iran had held the JCPOA hostage to its missile demands, the Obama administration also bowed to Iran’s insistence that its missile program would not be covered by the JCPOA itself. Thus, Iran would not be subject to the automatic “snap back” of sanctions when Iran is found to have violated the JCPOA, because its missile tests would be outside the scope of the JCPOA. In fact, the Obama administration agreed to language in the JCPOA to clarify that such separation of Iran’s missile program from the JCPOA was the intent. All reliance for dealing with Iran’s missile tests would be placed on the much weaker Security Council Resolution 2231.

The new Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA but drafted as separate from the JCPOA, used weaker language than the outright prohibition that had existed under the prior resolutions that were now superseded. Calling upon Iran to refrain from doing something is not the same as an enforceable ban. Moreover, even this insipid “call upon” language is included in an annex to the resolution. This annex is little more than a statement of intent by the parties negotiating with Iran, which Iran does not consider binding on itself.

The Obama administration missed the window of opportunity to clamp down on Iran’s missile testing when those tests were being conducted last fall. The previous Security Council resolutions that prohibited Iran’s missile program outright, and the sanctions regime against Iran, were then still in effect. Those resolutions were referenced in the JCPOA itself as still being binding until the JCPOA was actually implemented. Implementation in turn was dependent on verification of Iran’s compliance with certain commitments set forth in the JCPOA having to do with its enrichment and plutonium programs. Until the JCPOA’s formal implementation date of January 16, 2016, when those resolutions were terminated, the missile program ban had not been technically untethered from the JCPOA.

All the Obama administration had to do last fall was to declare Iran in breach of the JCPOA because the missile ban under those resolutions that Iran breached were effectively incorporated into the JCPOA until terminated. The sanctions were still in place. Iran’s assets were still frozen. Russia’s “lawyering” would have done it little good last fall when the United States still had the upper hand both legally and in practical terms. But President Obama frittered away the last real chance to hold Iran’s feet to the fire before the sanctions were lifted. He wanted the nuclear deal to go forward as a centerpiece of his “legacy” and let the next president worry about its fallout.

In fact, instead of pressing the case against Iran and threatening to walk away from the JCPOA when he had the leverage, Secretary of State John Kerry actually defended Iran’s position on its missile tests. “The issue of ballistic missiles is addressed by the provisions of the new United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR), which do not constitute provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Kerry wrote in a letter to Senator Marco Rubio last September.  “Since the Security Council has called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, any such activity would be inconsistent with the UNSCR and a serious matter for the Security Council to review.”

Rubio raised his concern with Kerry that the language in the new Security Council resolution did not appear to require Iran to refrain from pursuing its ballistic missile tests. Rubio seized upon the weak “call upon” language discussed earlier as the basis for his concern. Kerry’s response was that “if Iran were to undertake them it would be inconsistent with the UNSCR and a serious matter for the Security Council to review.”

Senator Rubio had a right to be concerned. Kerry had deliberately agreed to a circular process to deal with Iran’s missile program violations, which was doomed to fail. To placate Iran, he kicked the can down the road until the JCPOA was actually implemented and the prior, much stronger Security Council missile resolutions that were initially tied into the JCPOA by reference went away. The separation of the JCPOA and the new Security Council resolution was completed as of the formal implementation date. Kerry had to know that once the JCPOA was implemented and in full force, with sanctions lifted and the missile program separated out from the JCPOA with its automatic “snap back” provisions, Russia would likely veto any separate sanctions resolution against its ally and missile purchaser based on Iran’s missile tests. The American people got suckered by President Obama’s reckless concessions.

Iran not only will have a pathway to nuclear enrichment sufficient to produce nuclear weapons when the deal’s restrictions sunset – if not before. Thanks to the Obama administration, Iran presently has a free hand to develop and test ballistic missiles capable of delivering those nuclear weapons along any pathway of attack it chooses.

Iran Threatens to Walk Away From Nuke Deal After New Missile Test

March 8, 2016

Iran Threatens to Walk Away From Nuke Deal After New Missile Test, Washington Free Beacon, March 8, 2016

FILE - This file picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. Iran tested a ballistic missile again in November 2015, a U.S. official said Dec. 8, describing the second such test since this summerís nuclear agreement. The State Department said only that it was conducting a "serious review" of such reports. The test occurred on Nov. 21, according to the official, coming on top of an Oct. 10 test Iran confirmed at the time. The official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that, but declined to elaborate. The official wasnít authorized to speak on the matter and demanded anonymity. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

FILE – This file picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location. Iran tested a ballistic missile again in November 2015, a U.S. official said Dec. 8, describing the second such test since this summerís nuclear agreement. The State Department said only that it was conducting a “serious review” of such reports. The test occurred on Nov. 21, according to the official, coming on top of an Oct. 10 test Iran confirmed at the time. The official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that, but declined to elaborate. The official wasnít authorized to speak on the matter and demanded anonymity. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Iranian leaders now say that they are poised to walk away from the deal if the United States and other global powers fail to advance the Islamic Republic’s “national interests.”

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Iran on Tuesday again threatened to walk away from the nuclear agreement reached last year with global powers, hours after the country breached international agreements by test-firing ballistic missiles.

Iran’s most recent ballistic missile test, which violates current U.N. Security Council resolutions, comes a day after the international community’s nuclear watchdog organization disclosed that it is prohibited by the nuclear agreement from publicly reporting on potential violations by Iran.

Iranian leaders now say that they are poised to walk away from the deal if the United States and other global powers fail to advance the Islamic Republic’s “national interests.”

“If our interests are not met under the nuclear deal, there will be no reason for us to continue,” Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, warned during remarks delivered to a group of Iranian officials in Tehran.

“If other parties decide, they could easily violate the deal,” Araqchi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state-controlled media. “However, they know this will come with costs.”

Araqchi appeared to allude to the United States possibly leveling new economic sanctions as a result of the missile test. The Obama administration moved forward with new sanctions earlier this year as a result of the country’s previous missile tests.

Iran’s latest missile test drew outrage from longtime regime critics on Capitol Hill.

“The administration’s response to Iran’s new salvo of threatening missile tests in violation of international law cannot once again be, it’s ‘not supposed to be doing that,’” Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) said in a statement. “Now is the time for new crippling sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Ministry of Defense, Aerospace Industries Organization, and other related entities driving the Iranian ballistic missile program.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) warned that the nuclear agreement has done little to moderate Iran’s rogue behavior.

“Far from pushing Iran to a more moderate engagement with its neighbors, this nuclear deal is enabling Iran’s aggression and terrorist activities,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Sanctions relief is fueling Iran’s proxies from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. Meanwhile, Khamenei and the Iranian regime are acting with impunity because they know President Obama will not hold them accountable and risk the public destruction of his nuclear deal, the cornerstone of the president’s foreign policy legacy.”

McCarthy went on to demand that the Obama administration step forward with new sanctions as punishment for the missile test.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department had difficulty Monday explaining why the nuclear agreement limits public reporting by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, on potential deal violations by Iran.

Yukiya Amano, the IAEA’s chief, disclosed on Monday that his agency is no longer permitted to release details about Iran’s nuclear program and compliance with the deal. The limited public reporting is a byproduct of the nuclear agreement, according to Amano.

When asked about these comments again Tuesday, a State Department official told the Free Beacon that the IAEA’s reports would continue to provide a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear program, though it remains unclear if this information will be made publicly available.

“There isn’t less stringent monitoring or reporting on Iran’s nuclear program,” the official said. “The IAEA’s access to Iran’s nuclear program and its authorization to report on it has actually expanded. It’s a distortion to say that if there is less detail in the first and only post-Implementation Day IAEA report then that somehow implies less stringent monitoring or less insight into Iran’s nuclear program.”

While the IAEA “needs to report on different issues” under the final version of the nuclear agreement, the agency continues to provide “a tremendous amount of information about Iran’s current, much smaller nuclear program,” the source maintained.

The IAEA’s most recent February report—which was viewed by nuclear experts as incomplete and short on detail—“accurately portrays the status of Iran’s nuclear program,” including its efforts to uphold the nuclear deal, the official added.

“We expect this professional level of reporting to continue in the future,” the official said.

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations?

December 18, 2015

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations? MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon* December 17, 2015

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According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.

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Introduction

With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ closure, on December 15, 2015, of Iran’s PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier, the JCPOA is now back on track for the implementation that began on Adoption Day, October 18, 2015.

It is now Iran’s turn to meet its JCPOA obligations, which include removing nine tons of low-level enriched uranium from the country, dismantling centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, pouring concrete into the core of the nuclear reactor at Arak in a way that will prevent it from being used for producing plutonium, adopting the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and more.

Once the IAEA confirms that Iran has done this, Implementation Day will be declared; under it, the lifting of some of the sanctions on Iran and the suspension of others will take place, as promised by the U.S. and European countries on October 19, 2015.

However, at this point, Iran is providing only a show of making progress in its implementation of its obligations. Inactive centrifuges are being transferred from site to site, and not a single active centrifuge has yet been dismantled. Iran has reached agreements with Russia to store its enriched uranium, and documents have been signed with the superpowers for changing the designation of the Arak reactor. But so far Iran has actually met none of its obligations.[1]

Holding back Iran’s implementation is the October 21, 2015 letter from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to Iranian President Hassan Rohani setting nine new conditions that must be met first.

According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.[2] Zarif also announced, upon his arrival in New York on December 17, 2015, that there is a possibility that he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “for discussions on the implementation of the JCPOA.”[3]

Could The U.S. And Europe Ease Or Lift Sanctions Even If Iran Does Not Meet Its JCPOA Obligations?

U.S. representatives have given no indication that the sanctions will be eased or lifted if Iran does not meet its obligations under the JCPOA. However, in his December 15, 2015 statements, when he presented his PMD report to the IAEA Board of Governors, IAEA secretary-general Yukiya Amano hinted at such a possibility. He said: “First, Iran needs to complete the necessary preparatory steps to start implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed with the E3/EU+3 countries. JCPOA Implementation Day will occur when the Agency has verified that Iran has implemented measures specified in that agreement. I will inform the Board promptly when the Agency has verified that the preparatory steps have been completed [emphasis MEMRI’s].”[4]

The term “preparatory steps” does not appear in the JCPOA. It is not reasonable to suppose that the West would be satisfied with mere “preparatory steps” on Iran’s part instead of full implementation of its obligations before sanctions are eased.

It should also be noted that Amano said on the same occasion: “All parties must fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA.”[5]

At this stage, it is unclear whether Amano’s use of the words “preparatory steps” instead of the words “fully implement… commitments under the JCPOA” represents intentions on the part of the U.S. administration; it could be nothing more than a general statement. This will become clear in the near future.

In the meantime, in his December 16, 2015 address to the nation, Iranian President Rohani effusively praised the JCPOA and Iran’s gains under it, and stated that in “January” the sanctions on Iran would be lifted.[6]

However, “January” is not a reasonable time frame. Iran would not succeed in completing all its tasks in such a short time, and IAEA would certainly not be able to submit a report verifying it had done so by then.

 

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

 

Endnotes:

[1] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[2] See Zarif’s statements in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[3] ISNA (Iran), December 17, 2015. It was also reported that secret talks were held in Oman in November 2014 between U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEAO) director Ali Akbar Salehi, on the possibility that Kazakhstan would be the country to which Iran would sent its enriched uranium, instead of Russia. The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2015.

[4] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[5] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[6] President Rohani said: “I announce to the Iranian people that in January the sanctions will be lifted; thus, one of the 11th government’s election promises to the people will be kept, the sanctions will be lifted from the feet of the Iranian economy, and the way will be opened for more cooperation with the world.” President.ir (Iran), December 16, 2015.

The inspection joke

December 16, 2015

The inspection joke, Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit, December 16, 2015

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

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U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American nation from the Oval Office following the San Bernardino terrorist attack earlier this month. In his address, he beat around the bush, doing all he could to avoid describing the attack as the work of Islamic terrorists. He opted instead for euphemism and bland language. This turned him into the butt of a viral joke online about how he would have responded to the Pearl Harbor attack almost exactly 74 years ago. “A few bad men arrived on planes and shot people on ships,” Obama would have told the nation, making no mention of “Japanese” “war” or “attack on America.” This approach neatly dovetails with what happened on Tuesday, when the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution ending its probe into Iran’s efforts to manufacture nuclear bombs.

The Iran nuclear deal stipulates that the IAEA director general “will provide by 15 December 2015 the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues” regarding “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. Although current IAEA chief Yukiya Amano is highly regarded, it was clear early in the negotiations that the Iran deal was skewed in favor of Tehran.

Almost two years ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon attended a panel in Munich. On stage were Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Amano, among others. When Zarif was asked why his government would not let Amano visit Parchin [where some of the clandestine research was carried out], Zarif lied, telling the audience that such a visit was prohibited. When Ya’alon asked Amano why he didn’t interject and expose Zarif’s lie, Amano said the timing, and the venue, weren’t right. From that moment onward, it was clear that Amano would probably shirk his duty as chief inspector when it came to the Iranian nuclear deal, culminating with the Tuesday’s decision at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting (Iran, for its part, was not convinced that the IAEA would be on its side, and staged a conflict in the upper echelons of the regime, but it calmed down once it became clear that the IAEA would pass a very nonthreatening resolution.)

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

Why has Amano let Iran off the hook? Why has he forgone, at the very least, an effort to get to the bottom of Iran’s deception over the years? Why does Amano think that it is not worth exposing the truth, even if the West wants to look the other way and ignore Iran’s bomb making efforts? Only he knows.

Even the proponents of the deal should view Amano’s approach as a mistake. During the 2014 conference in Germany, Ya’alon warned that the West was fooling itself if it thinks the deal would work. Tuesday’s decision has two ramifications: First, Iran will consider it a concession and assume that this will define the West’s conduct down the road, and second, it will embolden the ayatollahs in Iran. From now on their approach to the West will be “anything goes, because we are always successful.” One day, a leader may rise in the West and try to end Iran’s lucky streak, but it may be too late.

History has proven that mistakes are bound to be repeated.

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies)

December 16, 2015

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies), The Jewish PressLori Lowenthal Marcus, December 15, 2015

IAEA-AmanoIAEA’S Dir. Gen. Yukiya Amano in Vienna. Sept. 14, 2015. Photo Credit: YouTube screen capture

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is thrilled that the world’s nuclear watchdog agency has decided, despite the continued lying by Iran about its nuclear weapons program and its violations of UN ballistic missile bans, to close its investigation into whether there had been any possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Kerry’s statement, released on Tuesday, Dec. 15, noted that a Dec. 2 assessment by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, revealed Iran had engaged in activities consistent with a nuclear weapons program as recently as a mere six years ago.

For some reason, Kerry seemed to find that reassuring.

The Secretary of State said that with the consensus adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors, it will now be able to “turn its focus now to the full implementation and verification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

In other words, everyone can now move towards lifting sanctions against Iran which not only continued to lie about its past nuclear activity, but which has already twice violated United Nations missile bans on it since the time the JCPOA was agreed to in July.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power acknowledged Iran’s October violation of the missile ban.

Iran’s latest violation of the missile ban was made public by a United Nations Panel in a report dated Dec. 11, Reuters reported on Tuesday. That report was forwarded to the UNSC’s sanctions committee.

Iran has consistently said it will defy any limitations on its ballistic missile program, whether enshrined in UN resolutions or otherwise.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) was outraged by the IAEA’s decision, and the green light it gives to the administration’s willingness to move towards implementation of its nearly toothless Nuclear Iran Deal.

“The vote today is a total capitulation to the Iranian regime’s aggressively dishonest behavior with respect to its commitment under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Sadly, though not surprisingly, the IAEA Board of Governors closed the investigation into Iran’s nuclear program, despite proof of Iran’s dishonesty and in the absence of thorough, truthful answers to many outstanding issues. The president will now use this decision to lift sanctions on Iran without having the complete truth regarding its nuclear weapons related activity. This is a grave and historic error that sends the wrong message,” wrote Pompeo.

The Kansas member of Congress pointed out that the Iran deal, which lasts for more than a decade, means many more years of the U.S. and its partner nations look the other way while the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism continues “cheating, lying, and breaking the rules.”

“This is wholly unacceptable and will most assuredly lead to more of the same from Ayatollah Khamenei. Other rogue nations now know too that America will accept deceit and fraud in dealings with respect to nuclear proliferation.”

Kerry said on Tuesday that the watchdog agency can still investigate Iran if “there is reason to believe” that country is “pursuing any covert nuclear activities in the future, as it had in the past. In fact, the JCPOA – by providing for implementation of the Additional Protocol as well as other enhanced transparency measures – puts the IAEA in a far better position to pursue any future concerns that may arise.”

The IAEA may be able to continue to investigate, but given that past violations have been met with no consequences, it’s a cold assurance that such investigations can continue.

Incredibly, Kerry’s statement concludes:

Today’s resolution makes clear that the IAEA’s Board of Governors will be watching closely to verify that Iran fully implements its commitments under the JCPOA. We will remain intensely focused going forward on the full implementation of the JCPOA in order to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Isn’t that comforting?

What About Iran’s “JCPOA”?

December 15, 2015

What About Iran’s “JCPOA”? Gatestone InstituteLawrence A. Franklin, December 15, 2015

(The article mentions, but otherwise provides little of substance concerning, Iran’s interpretation of the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA).  This analysis by the Middle East Media Institute is about Supreme Leader Khamenei’s “guidelines” for its interpretation and implementation. They suggest something quite different from the document presented to the U.S. Congress.– DM)

  • The self-appointed P5+1, elected by no one but themselves, should be embarrassed to find that they have made a deal with no one but themselves.
  • The media’s emphasis on the JCPOA has sadly neglected any in-depth coverage of Iran’s own comprehensive plan of action, which seems to consist of developing nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and related systems to deliver them.
  • The IAEA cannot even confirm with certainty that Iran does not already possess a nuclear bomb, and yet is not expected to challenge Tehran’s assertion that it ceased nuclear weapons development more than a decade ago.
  • Although the U.S. also cannot be certain of Iran’s intentions, it would be advisable to assume that Iran means what it says: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Iran is cheating already — or is it? Iran has not signed anything, so presumably it cannot be cheating on something it never agreed to – as predicted on these pages half a year ago. The self-appointed P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), elected by no one but themselves, should be embarrassed to find that they have made a deal with no one but themselves.

The lavishly touted and lavishly dangerous “Iran Deal” not only paves the way for Iran to have nuclear weapons, as it was planning, anyway; it also rewards Iran’s repeated violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — which it did sign — with up to $150 billion. With a punishment like that, we should all start violating commitments.

Iran’s recent missile tests have, been undermining the rationale of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the P5+1 signed with itself. If Iran is concerned that its missile tests might have violated multiple UN Resolutions, a paltry detail such as that clearly has not bothered anyone before, so why should it bother anyone now?

The media’s emphasis on the JCPOA has sadly neglected any in-depth coverage of Iran’s own comprehensive plan of action, which seems to consist of developing nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and related systems to deliver them.

While Western diplomats were congratulating themselves on their JCPOA arrangement, Iran sent a “slap-in-the-face” signal to the Free World by launching an Emad [“Pillar”] ballistic missile on October 10. On December 8, State Department spokesperson John Kirby indirectly acknowledged the launch of a second ballistic missile, fired on November 21. Kirby was quick to point out that test was not a violation of the JCPOA.

The launches are violations, however, of UN Security Council Resolution #2231, which bans ballistic missile tests by Iran. Although these tests do not defy the letter of the JCPOA, they do defy the spirit of it. Even though the initial missile test was denounced by the U.S. and allied UN representatives, no action has so far been taken against Iran. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, did condemn the October test and probably will also condemn the second test. But if this is outrage, that may be the extent of it.

What seems clear is that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), which controls the ballistic missile program, is attempting to goad the West into additional punitive action against the Islamic Republic. Such response would serve to strengthen the hardline opposition to the JCPOA in Iran. Further, if the United States does nothing but issue condemnatory rhetoric, it will be interpreted by the regime as additional confirmation that the U.S. desires a nuclear agreement at virtually any cost.

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The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), after its investigation into the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s past nuclear weapons development activities, was forced, thanks to Tehran’s lack of cooperation and transparency to deliver an inconclusive initial report on December 2[1].

The Iranian regime’s officials, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Sayed Abbas Araghchi, have demanded the immediate lifting of the 12 UN Resolutions against Iran when the IAEA Board of Governors votes on the final PMD report on December 15.

The IAEA cannot therefore confirm with certainty that Iran does not already possess a nuclear bomb, or whether or not Tehran is presumably still pursuing one. The IAEA Board of Governors is, nevertheless, not expected to challenge Tehran’s assertion that it ceased any such activities more than a decade ago.

Iran currently has several types of ballistic missiles in varying stages of development. The range of these missiles extends from the regional to the intercontinental — with a version of one missile capable of reaching the continental United States. The most touted operational system is the Shahab (“Meteor”) program, with several follow-on versions. The Shahab system has benefited by seemingly close cooperation with North Korea’s ballistic missile program, Russian nuclear weapons engineers who were unemployed after the Soviet Union imploded, and China’s direct and indirect technical assistance.

The principal threat to regional states, particularly to Israel, is that one does not know what one does not know — in this instance, the stage of Iran’s nuclear weapons programs.

Action by the U.S. Congress to inquire why the public disclosure of Iranian ballistic missile tests is being disseminated in dribs and drabs is long overdue, especially as America’s technical intelligence collection methods provide immediate and certain knowledge of such tests.

Although the U.S. also cannot be certain of Iran’s intentions, it would be advisable to assume that Iran means what it says: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” If one assumes that these statements, made by a regime that stones women to death, are not mere propaganda, but ideological commitments, the time to demonstrate the Free World’s resolve by way of strategic military exercises on Iran’s borders is long overdue.

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[1] Initial PMD Report summary observations are that Iran had a coordinated program to develop a nuclear explosive device up through 2003 but the program appears not to have advanced beyond scientific testing which did permit Iran to acquire certain competencies and capabilities. However, some aspects of the program continued until 2009.