Archive for the ‘Red Lines’ category

The Fire And Fury Of Presidents

August 25, 2017

The Fire And Fury Of Presidents, Hoover InstitutionVictor Davis Hanson, August 24, 2017

Image credit: Barbara Kelley

In regard to North Korea, measured diplomacy and mellifluous talk over the last three decades have done little but bring us to the point where nuclear-tipped missiles may soon be able to incinerate a U.S. city. Taking the position of “strategic patience” may have met Foggy Bottom’s standards for acceptable diplomacy. But surely the North Koreans saw it as a reckless form of appeasement to be leveraged rather than as magnanimity to be reciprocated.

There are many ways that presidents and their subordinates talk—or keep mum—in times of crisis. Most of them are far more dangerous than promising “fire and fury” when a nut points nuclear missiles at the American homeland.

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We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals.” —Barack Obama, April 2016

The media recently went ballistic over President Trump’s impromptu promises of “fire and fury” in reply to the latest North Korean threats—and even more so when he later doubled down under criticism and claimed he had not been tough enough. But American leaders have always resorted to such blunt talk in exacerbating circumstances such as the current one.

Recall Bill Clinton’s now widely quoted remark that it would be “pointless” for North Korea to develop nuclear weapons because using them would mean “the end of their country.” Likewise, President Harry Truman once promised Japan a “rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth” after dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Japan apparently got the message that there was no way out but unconditional surrender. President John F. Kennedy referred publicly to an “abyss of destruction” during the Cuban crisis.

And President Ronald Reagan was the master of the apocalyptic allusion. Remember his hot mic quip: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes”? Or his “evil empire” reference to the Soviet Union, delivered to a group of Florida evangelicals? George W. Bush was channeling Reagan when he dubbed Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “axis of evil”—“axis” was a World War II allusion that left no ambiguity, especially when married to the Reaganesque use of “evil.”

The media seems to have also forgotten the (now prescient) 2006 Washington Post joint op-ed by former Defense Secretary William Perry and future Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The two former Clinton administration officials called for a preemptory U.S. strike on a North Korea missile site. They mostly discounted the threat that North Korea would hit Seoul in response: “Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. . . .But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature.”

Later, Perry and Carter backtracked somewhat from such calls for nuclear brinksmanship. But in retrospect, given North Korea’s new nuclear capabilities, their idea of limited preemption might have been right. Regardless, publishing their preemptive call for war did not enrage North Korea to the point of no return.

By using such strong rhetoric, Trump was likely trying to remind North Korea and China that the United States is not necessarily the predictable rational actor they had assumed it was, but is now subject to episodes of fury and anger, especially when its West coast citizens are routinely threatened with extinction.

Of course, there are various ways for a president to sound dangerous—which should be distinguished from the various ways he actually becomes recklessly dangerous by sounding too accommodating or keeping silent.

The most inflammatory thing a recent president has said might have been President Barack Obama’s hot mic, quid pro quo quip. Obama got caught stealthily offering Russia a deal affecting our national security: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [Putin] to give me space. . . This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Given our current uncertainty about the effectiveness of our missile defense systems, Obama’s offer to back off now seems particularly chilling.

Trump’s bombast was at least invoked for the sake of collective U.S. defense. Obama, in contrast, was making concessions for his own gain: “give me space… my election… I have more flexibility.” And talk about electoral collusion! Putin, remember, was especially aggressive only after the 2012 election, as Obama had hoped, when he ceased giving Obama “space” and dropped the pretenses of reset by invading Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, and upped his interference into Western elections.

Trump was also vague in his “fire and fury” warning. If off the cuff, it at least was not foolishly specific, as Obama had been with deadlines to Iran on nuclear proliferation, “step-over lines” to Putin, and “red lines” to Assad. All these threats went unenforced and contributed to an insidious loss of U.S. deterrence capability.

Trump was also likely playing good cop/bad cop. Later, Defense Secretary James Mattis also emphasized the existential consequences facing North Korea. Yet, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster were focusing on the international community and diplomacy, as a means to emphasize carrots as well as sticks.

The carrot/stick routine was reminiscent of Nixon’s “mad bomber” or “madman theory” of collusion with his supposedly more sober subordinates. Nixon’s Chief of Staff H. R. Halderman later wrote that Nixon insisted on acting the madman and quoted Nixon once as bragging: “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button,’ and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

There are also many ways to be reckless in calm and measured tones. In July 1990, Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie reportedly assured Saddam Hussein, in careful diplomatese, that the Bush administration had no interest in adjudicating “Arab-Arab” border disputes between Iraq and Kuwait. A relieved Saddam invaded Kuwait a few weeks later. We might have wished that she had hinted about the coming fire and fury had he dared try. Then, at the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, George H. W. Bush urged “the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.” They did just that both immediately following Bush’s call and later in the 1990s on the assumption that the United States would help—and were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein as we largely sat by and watched.

No diplomat was more judicious than Secretary of State Dean Acheson. When he carefully offered a review of U.S. defense obligations at the National Press Club in January 1950, he either inadvertently or by design left out mention of South Korea. A few months later, North Korean communists invaded the south in a war that would eventually kill millions.

Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor, has sharply criticized the tough-guy rhetoric of President Trump. She has urged Americans to accommodate themselves to the idea of a nuclear North Korea with missiles pointed at the U.S. mainland, just as Americans had grown accustomed to the threat of nuclear war against the Soviet Union. Her admission seems to be a confession that the Obama administration’s laxity (“strategic patience”) accelerated North Korean missile development—and that the administration always assumed (but never stated publicly) that nuclear missiles pointed at the West coast were acceptable risks.

Much of Rice’s tenure in the Obama administration was characterized by public statements that sounded as calm and careful as they were either unhinged or abjectly untrue: the five public assertions that the Benghazi catastrophe was due to a video; the denial that the Iran agreement contained hidden side deals; the initial denial that she had any responsibility for unmasking and leaking the names of Americans caught up in government intercepts; the assurance that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons; and the false pledge to honor UN resolutions about Libya that limited American action to enforcing no-fly-zones and humanitarian aid—even as it bombed Muammar Gaddafi out of power .

All these declarations were delivered in professional tones and all were rank deceits that did the United States incalculable damage. Indeed, destroying the Gaddafi regime—after it had pledged reform and had given into U.S. pressure to give up its advanced nuclear weapons program—was a disastrous decision that may have convinced Kim Jong-un to resist efforts to de-nuclearize. Why would North Korea now surrender its nuclear weapons, when the last time a dictator did just that, his regime was bombed to smithereens by the U.S. military?

In regard to North Korea, measured diplomacy and mellifluous talk over the last three decades have done little but bring us to the point where nuclear-tipped missiles may soon be able to incinerate a U.S. city. Taking the position of “strategic patience” may have met Foggy Bottom’s standards for acceptable diplomacy. But surely the North Koreans saw it as a reckless form of appeasement to be leveraged rather than as magnanimity to be reciprocated.

There are many ways that presidents and their subordinates talk—or keep mum—in times of crisis. Most of them are far more dangerous than promising “fire and fury” when a nut points nuclear missiles at the American homeland.

Persia, Putin and the Pansy

October 3, 2015

Persia, Putin and the Pansy, Times of Israel, Irwin G. Blank, October 3, 2015

(Guess the name of the Pansy. But please see, The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil. — DM)

Putin, a product of the Soviet Communist system is well acquainted with the dictum of the father of the Bolshevik revolution that gave birth to the regime that he so faithfully served. V. I. Lenin’s famous quote-” Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

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In ancient times there was no greater empire than that of Persia. This imperial power stretched from the mountains of Afghanistan all the way to the islands of Greece and the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. Against the Greeks of Alexander the Great, it could field armies of millions of troops arrayed with the most modern weapons of war at the time. Until the rise of the Roman Empire, no power on Earth, made nations tremble as did the rulers of Persia.

Today the fanatic Ayatollahs in Teheran, with a megalomaniacal apocalyptic dream of Islamist imperialism and world conquest under their banner of jihad are hell bent on the recreation of their ancient empire and the destruction of all they see as infidels and unbelievers. Their conception of faith is a political and social fanaticism that goes even further than the hysterical rantings and horrendous nightmare that Nazi Germany once attempted to foist on mankind. Indeed, the very Nazi terminology for its origin, the word “Aryan” is associated with the nation whose name is a derivative of that racist term-Iran.

However, other than employing proxy allies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, the mad mullahs knew that their military, for all its goose stepping soldiers and bombast that they would require the tools necessary to fulfill their wicked aims. Firstly, it was able to build up a nuclear industry with the aim of developing the most lethal weapons of mass destruction. Through deception, deliberate obfuscation and diligent denial, it succeeded in the implantation of this atomic framework under the blindness of the international agency whose responsibility is to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, when its nefarious production methods and its open evidence of ballistic missile technology became apparent, Iran successfully parried the efforts to curtail its march toward nuclear weaponry by undertaking a Potemkin village of diplomacy whereby even the most seemingly astute diplomatically experienced national leaders, succumbed to the meanderings and sweetheart deal that Iranian negotiators engineered. The secrets of the Ayatollahs were swept under a Persian rug.

However, in the meantime, the Persian imperialist war mongers still were in great need of the assistance of a powerful ally in order to accomplish their more conventional aims in their desire to continue their conquest throughout the Middle East. What better place to seek this help than to another former empire builder than a nation which was chomping on the bit to return to an area of the globe from which it had been so unceremoniously evicted.

The former Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, has had dreams of installing its imperial presence in the Mediterranean Sea since the days of the Czars. Until 1972 when the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, evicted ( for the most part as a political move, not a military one) most of the Soviet personnel from his country, the USSR had been ensconced throughout Egypt and the Arab world. Indeed, it was the humiliating defeat of the Egyptian and Syrian forces by the Israel Defense Forces during the Yom Kippur War that demonstrated at that time, the weakness of the Soviet response to American supported Israel which was demonstrating the vapidness of the Soviet promise to come to the aid of its Arab allies. The US response to Soviet threats to directly intervene on behalf of its Egyptian and Syrian clients, by moving the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet towards the Syrian coast and the declaration of a higher war footing by all US forces, made the Soviets back down.

The political and military supported victory of American arms and diplomacy demonstrated the resolve of that world power to face down the threat of Soviet dominance in such a strategic region of Western interests. Not only did the diplomacy of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon White House make a shambles of the massive Soviet involvement in the Arab world, but it brought about the first true demarche of Soviet (Russian) imperial chicanery since the Berlin blockade of 1948 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

But the Russian Federation today is led by a president whose demonstration of the old Russian imperial nightmare is alive and well. Vladimir Putin, a former high official of the dreaded KGB,( Soviet Secret Service) has no qualms about restoring the dreams of the Czars and the re-entrenchment of his nation’s appearance in the Middle East. As a significant power player on the world scene and a massive supplier of sophisticated arms to anyone who opposes Western influence anywhere on the planet, the situation in the Levant and the hysterical anti-American paranoia in Teheran led the Ayatollahs to the road towards Moscow.

Sending one of their highest ranking military official to Moscow was a masterstroke of diplomatic skullduggery in presenting Putin with a challenge and an opportunity he could not ignore, For here, he was presented with a silver platter with which to serve up a poisonous dish to his arch-rivals, America and NATO. After witnessing their weakness to confront his military in the Ukraine and the Crimea, as well as his bloody campaign in Chechnya, all Putin had to do was experience orgasmic delight in sending his sea and air forces into a disintegrating Syria and pour weapons by the shipload onto the docks of Bandar Abbas in Iran. In full sight of Western intelligence and American spy satellites, crate after crate of Soviet munitions were soon trundling off the piers of the Syrian port of Latakia.

Iran was facing a significant threat to its allies in that disintegrating country and witnessing the probable demise of its Syrian puppet, Bashar al-Assad. The forces of ISIS (an Iranian rival for control of the Islamic world)  were on the march and its debilitating of the Syrian military as well as its capture of large swaths of Alawite controlled territory would put an end to the mullah’s plans for conquest. The entire northern tier of the Middle East would collapse and the Persian dream of conquering all the Sunni dominated lands of the region would go up in smoke. Iran had invested heavily in its subterfuge of the regimes of Iraq, Yemen and its military adventures in those countries. It required a strong ally and it looked to its northern neighbor with which its shares a common enmity for the West, and Putin, licked his chops and dove onto the plate presented to him.

Not only have Russian military forces seized control of the vital Syrian port of Latakia on the Mediterranean, but it has constructed revetments for air forces and ground personnel unseen in this region since the 1970s. His air forces have conducted bombing raids, not on ISIS, which was a planned political prevarication, but on US backed components of the anti-Assad coalition. Of course, Putin has no conflict with conducting airstrikes on civilians. After all, the West has been all but silent on the massive slaughter of approximately 300,000 civilians by the butcher of Damascus. Even when presented with irrefutable evidence of the use of internationally banned chemical weapons on his own countrymen, the US and NATO have been reticent (cowardly) in confronting this evil practice. Why not? The current leader of Syria’s father dropped poison gas on his own people in Homs when they revolted against his tyrannical rule and the world stood silent.

When the president of the United States declared that the Assad administration’s use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and force his hand – well, the red line turned into a yellow streak. The insipid and relatively weak assistance that this erstwhile leader of the world’s greatest superpower has shown to be the denigration and degradation of a once trusted and worthy ally. America’s allies no longer trust her and her enemies no longer fear her. It is not the American people who have lost their courage, it is their incompetently dangerous president and his minions that are responsible.

Not only for the rise of Russian/Iranian imperialism, but for its effect as daily demonstrated by the thousands, if not future hundreds of thousands, of men, women and children, fleeing from the murderous genocide of the Assad aided and abetted by this new Axis of evil-Islamic radicalism and Russian imperialism.

Iran seeks to conquer the Middle East and destroy the Sunni dominated Arab states of the region. With Russian assistance it will expand its imperial power behind Russian bayonets and the threat of its own nuclear umbrella to come. It is biding its time while innocents are being slaughtered and the threats against Israel, Jordan and Lebanon are unrelenting through public declarations and political oratory.

Putin, a product of the Soviet Communist system is well acquainted with the dictum of the father of the Bolshevik revolution that gave birth to the regime that he so faithfully served. V. I. Lenin’s famous quote-” Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

The American president, who through Constitutional authority commands the most expansive and well trained military in the history of the world, who purports to be the defender of international human rights, has proven himself to be, in the face of wanton aggression and slaughter, in the abrogation of his country’s duty to defend its most vital and established interests, in his tepid response to evil and his recalcitrance to even identify the greatest threat to Western civilization since the rise of Nazi Germany, has without a doubt, at least in this writer’s estimate, become akin to an ostrich-a bird that buries its head in the sand and presents its foes with an irresistible target.

The Dictionary of American Slang has a word for such a person-a weakling and a wimp-the word is “pansy.” The pansy of the United States will bring the most terrible war upon us all-including by beloved tiny Jewish country.

3 U.S. Defeats: Vietnam, Iraq and Now Iran

August 8, 2015

3 U.S. Defeats: Vietnam, Iraq and Now Iran, New York Times, David Brooks, August 7, 2015

[T]he Iranians just wanted victory more than we did. They were willing to withstand the kind of punishment we were prepared to mete out.

Further, the Iranians were confident in their power, while the Obama administration emphasized the limits of America’s ability to influence other nations. It’s striking how little President Obama thought of the tools at his disposal. He effectively took the military option off the table. He didn’t believe much in economic sanctions. “Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure,” he argued.

The president concluded early on that Iran would simply not budge on fundamental things.

Economic and political defeats can be as bad as military ones. Sometimes when you surrender to a tyranny you lay the groundwork for a more cataclysmic conflict to come.

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The purpose of war, military or economic, is to get your enemy to do something it would rather not do. Over the past several years the United States and other Western powers have engaged in an economic, clandestine and political war against Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program.

Over the course of this siege, American policy makers have been very explicit about their goals. Foremost, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Second, as John Kerry has said, to force it to dismantle a large part of its nuclear infrastructure. Third, to take away its power to enrich uranium.

Fourth, as President Obama has said, to close the Fordo enrichment facility. Fifth, as the chief American negotiator, Wendy Sherman, recently testified, to force Iran to come clean on all past nuclear activities by the Iranian military. Sixth, to shut down Iran’s ballistic missile program. Seventh, to have “anywhere, anytime 24/7” access to any nuclear facilities Iran retains. Eighth, as Kerry put it, to not phase down sanctions until after Iran ends its nuclear bomb-making capabilities.

As a report from the Foreign Policy Initiative exhaustively details, the U.S. has not fully achieved any of these objectives. The agreement delays but does not end Iran’s nuclear program. It legitimizes Iran’s status as a nuclear state. Iran will mothball some of its centrifuges, but it will not dismantle or close any of its nuclear facilities. Nuclear research and development will continue.

Iran wins the right to enrich uranium. The agreement does not include “anywhere, anytime” inspections; some inspections would require a 24-day waiting period, giving the Iranians plenty of time to clean things up. After eight years, all restrictions on ballistic missiles are lifted. Sanctions are lifted once Iran has taken its initial actions.

Wars, military or economic, are measured by whether you achieved your stated objectives. By this standard the U.S. and its allies lost the war against Iran, but we were able to negotiate terms that gave only our partial surrender, which forces Iran to at least delay its victory. There have now been three big U.S. strategic defeats over the past several decades: Vietnam, Iraq and now Iran.

The big question is, Why did we lose? Why did the combined powers of the Western world lose to a ragtag regime with a crippled economy and without much popular support?

The first big answer is that the Iranians just wanted victory more than we did. They were willing to withstand the kind of punishment we were prepared to mete out.

Further, the Iranians were confident in their power, while the Obama administration emphasized the limits of America’s ability to influence other nations. It’s striking how little President Obama thought of the tools at his disposal. He effectively took the military option off the table. He didn’t believe much in economic sanctions. “Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure,” he argued.

The president concluded early on that Iran would simply not budge on fundamental things. As he argued in his highhanded and counterproductive speech Wednesday, Iran was never going to compromise its sovereignty (which is the whole point of military or economic warfare).

This administration has given us a choice between two terrible options: accept the partial-surrender agreement that was negotiated or reject it and slide immediately into what is in effect our total surrender — a collapsed sanctions regime and a booming Iranian nuclear program.

Many members of Congress will be tempted to accept the terms of our partial surrender as the least bad option in the wake of our defeat. I get that. But in voting for this deal they may be affixing their names to an arrangement that will increase the chance of more comprehensive war further down the road.

Iran is a fanatical, hegemonic, hate-filled regime. If you think its radicalism is going to be softened by a few global trade opportunities, you really haven’t been paying attention to the Middle East over the past four decades.

Iran will use its $150 billion windfall to spread terror around the region and exert its power. It will incrementally but dangerously cheat on the accord. Armed with money, ballistic weapons and an eventual nuclear breakout, it will become more aggressive. As the end of the nuclear delay comes into view, the 45th or 46th president will decide that action must be taken.

Economic and political defeats can be as bad as military ones. Sometimes when you surrender to a tyranny you lay the groundwork for a more cataclysmic conflict to come.

Iran: U.S. Banned from Knowing Details of Iran Nuclear Inspection Agreement

August 3, 2015

Iran: U.S. Banned from Knowing Details of Iran Nuclear Inspection Agreement, Washington Free Beacon,  , August 3, 2015

(Mr. Najafi states in the highlighted paragraph that “no country is permitted to know the details of inspections. That likely refers to the P5+1 negotiators as well as to nations other than Iran. Does it refer to the results of the inspections or to how and by whom they were conducted when? Either way, how will the P5+1 negotiators know whether Iran continues to seek nuke weaponization and whether to “snap back” sanctions? If they are told little more than “everything is just peachy,” will that be satisfactory evidence that Iran has not violated the “deal?” Please see also, Iran Openly Refuses UN IAEA Inspectors Access to Military Sites.– DM)

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. In addition, no U.S. inspectors will be permitted to enter Iran’s nuclear sites.

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Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the nuclear inspection organization is barred from revealing to the United States any details of deals it has inked with Tehran to inspect its contested nuclear program going forward, according to regional reports.

Recent disclosures by Iran indicate that the recently inked nuclear accord includes a series of side deals on critical inspections regimes that are neither public nor subject to review by the United States.

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. In addition, no U.S. inspectors will be permitted to enter Iran’s nuclear sites.

“The provisions of a deal to which the IAEA and a second country are parties are confidential and should not be divulged to any third country, and as Mr. Kerry discussed it in the Congress, even the U.S. government had not been informed about the deal between IAEA and Iran,” Najafi was quoted as saying by Iran’s Mehr News Agency.

Due to the secretive nature of these agreements, IAEA officials vising with lawmakers are barred from revealing to them the details of future inspections.

The revelation has rattled lawmakers on Capitol Hill, several of whom are now rallying colleagues to sign a letter to President Barack Obama protesting these so-called side deals.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas) and at least 35 other lawmakers are circulating a letter to Obama to provide Congress the text of these agreements as is required under U.S. law.

“It has come to our attention that during the recent negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, at least two side deals were made between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran,” the letter states, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“These side deals, concerning the ‘roadmap for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programs,’ have not been made available to the United States Congress,” it states. “One deal covers the Parchin military complex and the other covers possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program.”

An informational email being circulated to lawmakers explains, “according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Obama Administration, these agreements have been negotiated in secret between the IAEA and Iran.”

Secretary of State John Kerry has personally “stated he has not seen these agreements and the Administration failed to submit these agreements as part of the JPCOA,” the email states.

Under the terms of a bill meant to give Congress a final say over the deal, the Obama administration is required to provide text of all agreements, the lawmakers write to Obama.

“Under the clear language of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which you signed into law, members of Congress are entitled to the text of these two side deals,” it states. “Specifically, members have a right to all ‘annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.’”

“Congress’s legal right to these documents creates a corresponding legal obligation for your administration to provide them for our review,” the letter says.

The lawmakers are demanding that the White House “immediately secure” these documents from IAEA “and then provide them to Congress” for review.

Pompeo and Rep. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) sent a separate letter to Obama administration official last week asking for them to disclose the nature of all secret side agreements with Iran.

Iran’s IAEA ambassador claims the agreements with the IAEA are separate from the actual nuclear accord inked with global powers.

“The Agency would know the nature of confidential documents and Iran have clearly briefed the IAEA on this; we have agreed on implementation of a roadmap which is not a part of the JCPOA, with the implementation already on process even before the Congress could examine and approve the deal,” Najafi was quoted as saying.

One senior congressional source familiar with the effort to obtain further information about the deal told the Free Beacon the Obama administration is not being transparent in the review process.

“On top of all the concessions–from ballistic missiles to conventional arms to a 24-day inspection period–we now learn that additional side deals were struck between the IAEA and Iran,” said a senior congressional source familiar with the effort to obtain further information about the deal.

“The Administration promised a transparent review process that would allow Americans and their elected representatives to assess the deal for themselves, but as it turns out, that was just utter bullsh**,” the source added. “The Administration signed off on an agreement that included a series of Iranian Eastern eggs, including secret deals regarding the possible military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear program, to which Congress and the public are not privy.”

Iran plans missile tests to flaunt defiance of Vienna deal and UNSC resolution

August 3, 2015

Iran plans missile tests to flaunt defiance of Vienna deal and UNSC resolution, DEBKAfile, August 3, 2015

iranian_long-range_ballistic_Shahab-3Iran’s long-range ballistic Shahab-3

Before taking off from Cairo Sunday, Kerry issued this emphatic statement:  “There can be absolutely no question that if the [Iran deal] is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer.”

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Shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Qatar Monday, Aug. 3, Iran’s highest authorities led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Sunday launched a public campaign to support Tehran’s noncompliance with the Vienna nuclear accord and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20, on its ballistic missile program. The campaign was designed by a team from Khamenei’s office, high-ranking ayatollahs and the top echelons of the Revolutionary Guards, including its chief, Gen. Ali Jafari.

It was kicked off with a batch of petitions fired off by the students of nine Tehran universities and Qom religious seminaries to Iran’s chief of staff Maj Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, demanding immediate tests of long-range ballistic missiles to prove that the missile ban was invalid.

It was essential, said one student letter, “…to underline the necessity for protecting the country’s defense capabilities and ensuring continued development of Iran’s ballistic missile capability.”

The students, whose influence on public opinion is substantial, went on to argue: “Firing the ballistic missiles in military drills would discourage the US Congress, the Israeli Knesset and their regional Takfiri mercenaries (a reference to the Islamic State) from future strikes against the Islamic Republic.”

The Security Council Resolution, which unanimously endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Vienna nuclear accord) signed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, called on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic technology until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day.”

Tehran retorted that none of its ballistic missiles were designed to deliver nuclear weapons, and so this provision was void. Shortly after its passage, the foreign ministry in Tehran issued an assurance that “…the country’s ballistic missile program and capability is untouched and unrestricted by Resolution 2231.”

On July 30, Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s senior adviser on international affairs and member of the Expediency Council, told reporters, “The recent UNSC Resolution on Iran’s defensive capabilities, specially (sic) its missiles, is unacceptable to Iran.”

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that Tehran deliberately engineered this campaign’s timing for it to surface the day before the arrival of John Kerry, the live wire behind the Vienna Accord, in Doha, Qatar, Monday. He has defined his mission as an effort to ease the concerns of the Gulf and other Arab nations about the negative affect of the accord on their security.

Before taking off from Cairo Sunday, Kerry issued this emphatic statement:  “There can be absolutely no question that if the [Iran deal] is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer.”

This proposition may be harder than ever to sell to Iran’s neighbors once its ballistic missiles are launched over their heads.

What information collected by Israeli intelligence reveals about the Iran talks

July 29, 2015

What information collected by Israeli intelligence reveals about the Iran talks, TabletRonen Bergman, July 29, 2015

It is possible to argue about the manner in which Netanyahu chose to conduct the dispute about the nuclear agreement with Iran, by clashing head-on and bluntly with the American president. That said, the intelligence material that he was relying on gives rise to fairly unambiguous conclusions: that the Western delegates crossed all of the red lines that they drew themselves and conceded most of what was termed critical at the outset; and that the Iranians have achieved almost all of their goals.

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On Nov. 26, 2013, three days after the signing of the interim agreement (JPOA) between the powers and Iran, the Iranian delegation returned home to report to their government. According to information obtained by Israeli intelligence, there was a sense of great satisfaction in Tehran then over the agreement and confidence that ultimately Iran would be able to persuade the West to accede to a final deal favorable to Iran. That final deal, signed in Vienna last week, seems to justify that confidence. The intelligence—a swath of which I was given access to in the past month—reveals that the Iranian delegates told their superiors, including one from the office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, that “our most significant achievement” in the negotiations was America’s consent to the continued enrichment of uranium on Iranian territory.

That makes sense. The West’s recognition of Iran’s right to perform the full nuclear fuel cycle—or enrichment of uranium—was a complete about-face from America’s declared position prior to and during the talks. Senior U.S. and European officials who visited Israel immediately after the negotiations with Iran began in mid 2013 declared, according to the protocols of these meetings, that because of Iran’s repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “Our aim is that in the final agreement [with Iran] there will be no enrichment at all” on Iranian territory. Later on, in a speech at the Saban Forum in December 2013, President Barack Obama reiterated that in view of Iran’s behavior, the United States did not acknowledge that Iran had any right to enrich fissile material on its soil.

In February 2014, the first crumbling of this commitment was evident, when the head of the U.S. delegation to the talks with Iran, Wendy Sherman, told Israeli officials that while the United States would like Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether, this was “not a realistic” expectation. Iranian foreign ministry officials, during meetings the Tehran following the JPOA, reckoned that from the moment the principle of an Iranian right to enrich uranium was established, it would serve as the basis for the final agreement. And indeed, the final agreement, signed earlier this month, confirmed that assessment.

The sources who granted me access to the information collected by Israel about the Iran talks stressed that it was not obtained through espionage against the United States. It comes, they said, through Israeli spying on Iran, or routine contacts between Israeli officials and representatives of the P5+1 in the talks. The sources showed me only what they wanted me to see, and in these cases there’s always a danger of fraud and fabrication. This said, these sources have proved reliable in the past, and based on my experience with this type of material it appears to be quite credible. No less important, what emerges from the classified material obtained by Israel in the course of the negotiations is largely corroborated by details that have become public since.

In early 2013, the material indicates, Israel learned from its intelligence sources in Iran that the United States held a secret dialogue with senior Iranian representatives in Muscat, Oman. Only toward the end of these talks, in which the Americans persuaded Iran to enter into diplomatic negotiations regarding its nuclear program, did Israel receive an official report about them from the U.S. government. Shortly afterward, the CIA and NSA drastically curtailed its cooperation with Israel on operations aimed at disrupting the Iranian nuclear project, operations that had racked up significant successes over the past decade.

On Nov. 8, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw him off at Ben Gurion Airport and told him that Israel had received intelligence that indicated the United States was ready to sign “a very bad deal” and that the West’s representatives were gradually retreating from the same lines in the sand that they had drawn themselves.

Perusal of the material Netanyahu was basing himself on, and more that has come in since that angry exchange on the tarmac, makes two conclusions fairly clear: The Western delegates gave up on almost every one of the critical issues they had themselves resolved not to give in on, and also that they had distinctly promised Israel they would not do so.

One of the promises made to Israel was that Iran would not be permitted to stockpile uranium. Later it was said that only a small amount would be left in Iran and that anything in excess of that amount would be transferred to Russia for processing that would render it unusable for military purposes. In the final agreement, Iran was permitted to keep 300kgs of enriched uranium; the conversion process would take place in an Iranian plant (nicknamed “The Junk Factory” by Israel intelligence). Iran would also be responsible for processing or selling the huge amount of enriched uranium that is has stockpiled up until today, some 8 tons.

The case of the secret enrichment facility at Qom (known in Israel as the Fordo Facility) is another example of concessions to Iran. The facility was erected in blatant violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, and P5+1 delegates solemnly promised Israel at a series of meetings in late 2013 that it was to be dismantled and its contents destroyed. In the final agreement, the Iranians were allowed to leave 1,044 centrifuges in place (there are 3,000 now) and to engage in research and in enrichment of radioisotopes.

At the main enrichment facility at Natanz (or Kashan, the name used by the Mossad in its reports) the Iranians are to continue operating 5,060 centrifuges of the 19,000 there at present. Early in the negotiations, the Western representatives demanded that the remaining centrifuges be destroyed. Later on they retreated from this demand, and now the Iranians have had to commit only to mothball them. This way, they will be able to reinstall them at very short notice.

Israeli intelligence points to two plants in Iran’s military industry that are currently engaged in the development of two new types of centrifuge: the Teba and Tesa plants, which are working on the IR6 and the IR8 respectively. The new centrifuges will allow the Iranians to set up smaller enrichment facilities that are much more difficult to detect and that shorten the break-out time to a bomb if and when they decide to dump the agreement.

The Iranians see continued work on advanced centrifuges as very important. On the other hand they doubt their ability to do so covertly, without risking exposure and being accused of breaching the agreement. Thus, Iran’s delegates were instructed to insist on this point. President Obama said at the Saban Forum that Iran has no need for advanced centrifuges and his representatives promised Israel several times that further R&D on them would not be permitted. In the final agreement Iran is permitted to continue developing the advanced centrifuges, albeit with certain restrictions which experts of the Israeli Atomic Energy Committee believe to have only marginal efficacy.

As for the break-out time for the bomb, at the outset of the negotiations, the Western delegates decided that it would be “at least a number of years.” Under the final agreement this has been cut down to one year according to the Americans, and even less than that according to Israeli nuclear experts.

As the signing of the agreement drew nearer, sets of discussions took place in Iran, following which its delegates were instructed to insist on not revealing how far the country had advanced on the military aspects of its nuclear project. Over the past 15 years, a great deal of material has been amassed by the International Atomic Energy Agency—some filed by its own inspectors and some submitted by intelligence agencies—about Iran’s secret effort to develop the military aspects of its nuclear program (which the Iranians call by the codenames PHRC, AMAD, and SPND). The IAEA divides this activity into 12 different areas (metallurgy, timers, fuses, neutron source, hydrodynamic testing, warhead adaptation for the Shihab 3 missile, high explosives, and others) all of which deal with the R&D work that must be done in order to be able to convert enriched material into an actual atom bomb.

The IAEA demanded concrete answers to a number of questions regarding Iran’s activities in these spheres. The agency also asked Iran to allow it to interview 15 Iranian scientists, a list headed by Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom Mossad nicknamed “The Brain” behind the military nuclear program. This list has become shorter because six of the 15 have died as a result of assassinations that the Iranians attribute to Israel, but access to the other nine has not been given. Neither have the IAEA’s inspectors been allowed to visit the facilities where the suspected activities take place. The West originally insisted on these points, only to retreat and leave them unsolved in the agreement.

In mid-2015 a new idea was brought up in one of the discussions in Tehran: Iran would agree not to import missiles as long as its own development and production is not limited. This idea is reflected in the final agreement as well, in which Iran is allowed to develop and produce missiles, the means of delivery for nuclear weapons. The longer the negotiations went on, the longer the list of concession made by the United States to Iran kept growing, including the right to leave the heavy water reactor and the heavy water plant at Arak in place and accepting Iran’s refusal of access to the suspect site.

It is possible to argue about the manner in which Netanyahu chose to conduct the dispute about the nuclear agreement with Iran, by clashing head-on and bluntly with the American president. That said, the intelligence material that he was relying on gives rise to fairly unambiguous conclusions: that the Western delegates crossed all of the red lines that they drew themselves and conceded most of what was termed critical at the outset; and that the Iranians have achieved almost all of their goals.

Eyes wide shut

July 24, 2015

Eyes wide shut, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, July 24, 2015

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spent more than four hours trying to defend the nuclear deal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Grilled by Republicans furious at the Obama administration’s total surrender to Iran, Kerry remained true to character: He doubled down on meaningless platitudes with self-righteous indignation.

In fairness to America’s top diplomat, whose stupidity is only matched by President Barack Obama’s evil, how else could he respond to rational concerns but to get on his high horse? Indeed, all he had at his disposal in the face of the emerging details of the agreement, each more shocking than the next, was a feeble attempt to invert reality and ridicule his critics in the process.

Referring to a “Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran” commercial aimed at persuading Congress to vote against the agreement and currently airing across the U.S., Kerry argued, “The alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t what we’re seeing ads for on TV. It isn’t a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation. That’s a fantasy, plain and simple.

This was Kerry’s way of insisting that he had not been “bamboozled” by his Iranian counterparts, as Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) asserted, nor “fleeced,” as committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused.

In other words, no wool was pulled over his eyes. Not by the Iranians, at any rate. They were clear all along. And loud, as Kerry can attest, since he was the target of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s repeated abusive outbursts during the negotiations.

No, if Kerry was “bamboozled” or “fleeced” by anyone it was Obama, who told him to secure a deal at any and all cost, because doing so would be better in the short run. As for the long-term repercussions, well, that would be a future administration’s headache.

The way Obama and Kerry both justify the travesty is even less comforting. They claim that since Iran was going to pursue nuclear weapons anyway — and support terrorism anyway, and violate terms anyway, and threaten to wipe Israel off the map anyway, and burn American flags anyway — it would be wiser to join them than beat them.

The logic is mind-boggling. But it does shed light on the administration’s attitude towards Israel.

Obama has been bent on earning the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded — simply for entering the Oval Office — by completing a contract with Iran. Kerry has been obsessed with procuring a document declaring “peace” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to become a Nobel laureate himself.

His dreams were dashed, however, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unwilling to cross certain red lines. Though Netanyahu did agree to negotiations, the release of well over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists, a halt in settlement construction, groveling before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a slew of slights from the White House, he refused to commit Israel to suicide.

It is thus that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not come to the negotiating table. Had the P5+1 countries not given Iran reason to believe that their red lines were merely rhetorical, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — Iran’s “supreme leader” in every respect — would not have allowed his puppets to parlay with American and European representatives in the first place.

No wonder Obama and Kerry can’t stand Netanyahu. If the president of the United States can roll over and abdicate to a sworn enemy, who does the prime minister of Israel think he is to remain steadfast?

Understanding this is crucial. What it means is that Obama’s camp is right — and Netanyahu’s is wrong — about not having been able to hold out for a “better deal.” Iran, like the Palestinians it supports, has one goal in mind: demolishing the enemy.

It remains to be seen whether Obama will garner enough support in Congress to enable him to veto opposition to the agreement, which gives Iran carte blanche for its genocidal-weapons development and billions of dollars to bolster global terrorism.

At the moment, it’s not looking good. What’s worse is an annex in the agreement that provides for cooperation between the P5+1 and Iran “to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”

This clause is causing a stir in Israel. It was also the focus of a question raised by presidential hopeful Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during the Senate hearing. He wanted to know if it means the U.S. would be required to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities from a potential Israeli military strike.

“No,” retorted Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, on hand with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to help Kerry through the ordeal. Rubio was not convinced.

He did issue a warning, however: “The Iranian regime and the world should know that this deal is your deal with Iran … and the next president is under no legal or moral obligation to live up to it.”

What the rest of us need to know is which will come first, an Israeli attack or a Republican in the White House?