Posted tagged ‘Iran sanctions’

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

November 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress

October 27, 2017

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress, Iran News Update, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow. — DM)

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

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INU – US escalation toward the Iranian government and the Lebanese Hizbollah moved forward when on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted through measures designed to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and Hizbollah’s funding. Three resolutions were approved, after nearly six months of deliberations and amendments, that tighten the economic screws on Tehran and the Shiite militant party.

Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted orally in unison, and passed the following resolutions: 1- H.R 359 – Urging the European Union to designate Hizbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization; 2-H.R. 3342 – Sanctioning Hizbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act; 3-H.R. 3329 – Hizbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 (HIFPA).

On Thursday, Members will vote on Resolution H.R. 1698 – Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. These Ballistic missile sanctions put a stop to any outside support for Iran’s missile program, and are significant in terms of timing and efforts by the Trump administration to push for concessions from Tehran on the issue.

In terms of scope and reach of the proposed sanctions, the HIFPA bill represents the largest escalation against Hizbollah. It authorizes new sanctions against the group and its financial networks, and it requires the US president to release an annual estimate of the net worth of Hizbollah leaders and backers, including its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

Also targeted by the bill are Hizbollah affiliates, including Bayt Al Mal, Jihad Al Bina, the Islamic Resistance Support Association, the Foreign Relations Department of Hizbollah, the External Security Organization of Hizbollah, and its media outlets — Al Manar TV and Al Nour Radio.

An expert on Hizbollah at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hanin Ghaddar, said that “official Lebanese visits to Washington in 2017 have somehow succeeded in protecting the Lebanese banks from these sanctions.” She added, “But that doesn’t mean that Lebanon’s economy won’t be affected.”

Joseph Bahout of The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees with Ghaddar. He said “Hizbollah itself has mastered new financial engineering to navigate through sanctions but the real impact will be felt on banking system in Lebanon.” Mr Bahout continued, “If the Lebanese banks were to fully implement all the measures [requested under HIFPA] lots of foreign capital would flee the system.”

Hassan Nasrallah, an Hizbollah leader, previously boasted that “all the banks of the world cannot stand as an obstacle to Hizbollah.” He said, “As long as there is money in Iran, we will have money.”

Ms. Ghaddar said, “Hizbollah will not be directly affected as we all know how money comes from Iran — in bags — and sanctions won’t stop this flow.” However, she also said that this may hurt Hizbollah, as “its backers’ financial assets will have to be revealed, and its institutions will be sanctioned, this will create a serious gap and mistrust between Hizbollah and its community.” Ms. Ghaddar added that as a result, many in business community “will try to distance themselves from Hizbollah for fears of sanctions.”

Mr. Bahout said HIFPA may complicate Hizbollah’s activities locally, “like paying employees of their agencies [that are targeted] or doing business with organizations, commerce tied to them, and a whole range of minute day-to-day annoyances that could follow.”

There are concerns over possible Hizbollah retaliation. Ms. Ghaddar pointed out that the last time a lighter version of HIFPA passed in 2015, “Blom bank in Verdun was blown up few months after.”

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution

October 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards

October 13, 2017

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards, Washington Free Beacon, October 13, 2017

Rep. Peter Roskam / Getty Images

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

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Congress is set to consider new legislation that would require Iran to accept tough new conditions on the landmark nuclear deal or face a rash of harsh new economic sanctions aimed at thwarting the Islamic Republic’s continued nuclear buildup, according to a draft of new legislation exclusively viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement, top GOP lawmakers are already working on legislation that would compliment the White House’s announcement and move forward with efforts to harshly penalize Tehran if it does not accept rigid new standards on its nuclear activities within the next six months, according to a copy of draft legislation circulating in the House of Representatives.

The new legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would reimpose all economic sanctions lifted by the former Obama administration as part of the nuclear agreement if Iran refuses to comply with tough new standards restricting its ballistic missile program, arms buildup, and failure to permit access to a range of military sites suspected of engaging in nuclear work.

The legislation also would effectively kill provisions of the nuclear agreement known as sunset clauses. These are portions of the deal that would rollback restrictions on Iran’s advanced nuclear research and weapons buildup within the next five to six years.

Trump, as well as allies in Congress, maintains the original nuclear accord contains several key flaws that permit Iran to cheat on the deal and receive sweetheart bonuses—such as sanctions relief and other assets—despite evidence of multiple violations of the agreement.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the effort to tighten the deal said that many in Congress would be willing to reimpose all key sanctions on Iran if it does not agree to abide by the stricter enforcement regulations.

“The days of appeasing the Mullah’s every wish and sitting back and watching as the terrorist state goes nuclear are over,” said one senior congressional official intimately familiar with the new proposal. “Congress overwhelmingly opposed Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran. Now’s the time to assert our constitutional responsibility to defend our nation and use all tools of U.S. power to permanently prevent an nuclear armed Iran.”

This new legislation is similar to the policy approach advocated by senior Trump administration officials, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told reporters late Thursday the administration is looking to create a parallel nuclear deal that gives Congress a larger role in ensuring Iranian compliance.

These would include “trigger points that are specific to the nuclear program itself, but also deals with things like their ballistic missile program,” according to Tillerson.

Roskam’s new legislation, called the JCPOA Improvement Act of 2017, seeks to do precisely this.

In addition to banning Iran from developing, testing, and operating ballistic missile technology—which was never addressed in the original nuclear agreement – the new legislation would impose even stricter regulations on the amount of nuclear enrichment Iran can legally engage in.

It also would stop Iran from installing advanced nuclear centrifuges that can enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, much faster than older versions of this equipment. Under the original nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran would have been granted the right to operate advanced centrifuges within the next several years.

Congress also is seeking to address Iran’s development of heavy water nuclear reactors that provide a secondary pathway to a nuclear weapon via the use of plutonium, a by-product of such equipment, according to the draft legislation and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

The Obama administration had worked to ensure that, under the agreement, Iran retained its right to operate such reactors, despite opposition in Congress and elsewhere. Iran has already inked several deals with Russia to assist in the construction of new light and heavy water reactors, though this new legislation could complicate that matter.

Another key portion of the original agreement that has been vehemently criticized by Trump and congressional allies surrounds caveats that give Iran more than a month before consenting to inspections of its nuclear sites.

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

If Iran does not agree to the new restrictions proposed in the legislation, Congress has the ability to reimpose all sanctions that were lifted as part of the original accord. This represents a major new tool for Congress as it works to thwart Iran’s continued military endeavors across the Middle East and its pursuit of advanced new weaponry.

Under the new legislation, any future attempt to rescind these new restrictions would be subject to a vote in the United Nations Security Council, according to the bill.

Repeal and Replace In Farsi

October 13, 2017

Repeal and Replace In Farsi, Washington Free Beacon, October 13, 2017

(Are the media playing games with their headlines as usual or are their reports accurate? Here’s a link to the principal Times of Israel article cited, Netanyahu at odds with security team over Iran deal. — DM)

President Donald Trump is flanked by GOP senators to discuss health care / Getty Images

[T]he headlines preceding today’s remarks have been almost entirely shaped by the deal’s supporters, by the echo chamber that promoted and distorted the aims and conditions of the agreement to begin with. These were but some of the stories in Thursday’s edition of the Times of Israel: “Barak urges Trump not to decertify Iran nuke deal,” “Netanyahu at odds with security team over Iran deal,” “With Trump set to decertify Iran deal, experts tell Congress to stick to accord,” “Jewish Democrats who opposed Iran nuke deal now urge Trump to keep it.” You have to look hard for a piece detailing Iranian noncompliance, explaining the process of decertification and its relation to the overarching agreement, or quoting defenders of the president and his policy.

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President Trump is expected to announce today that he cannot certify Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement over its nuclear program that it entered into with the United States and five other nations in 2015. The president’s decision, according to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, will commence a 60-day expedited legislative process during which the Republican-controlled Congress may re-impose sanctions against the Islamic theocracy for its intransigence and belligerence. Sanctions, I might add, that should never have been lifted in the first place.

What is striking is that, with the exception of Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, none of the Republicans and Democrats who opposed the nuclear deal two years ago with such vehemence have gone out of their way to prepare the ground and make the national security case for the president’s decision.

Now, the Democrats I can understand. They are just playing to type. To say a kind word for Trump’s attempt to improve the deal would violate the secular commandment to resist his very being. The Republican silence, by contrast, is far more maddening.

This is the party that invited Bibi Netanyahu to criticize the deal in an address to a joint session of Congress. This is the party whose 2016 platform reads, “A Republican president will not be bound by” the deal and “We must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the survival of our friends.” This is the party that nominated and elected a president who said his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

Yet the headlines preceding today’s remarks have been almost entirely shaped by the deal’s supporters, by the echo chamber that promoted and distorted the aims and conditions of the agreement to begin with. These were but some of the stories in Thursday’s edition of the Times of Israel: “Barak urges Trump not to decertify Iran nuke deal,” “Netanyahu at odds with security team over Iran deal,” “With Trump set to decertify Iran deal, experts tell Congress to stick to accord,” “Jewish Democrats who opposed Iran nuke deal now urge Trump to keep it.” You have to look hard for a piece detailing Iranian noncompliance, explaining the process of decertification and its relation to the overarching agreement, or quoting defenders of the president and his policy.

And the reason you have to look hard is that there are few elected Republicans who are taking the lead on this issue. Internal division, uncertainty, and personal rivalry may once again prevent the congressional GOP from achieving the aims it has stated loudly and proudly for years. The parallels to the attempted repeal and replacement of Obamacare are startling and, for this conservative, disturbing. “This is health care for us,” Ben Rhodes said of the Iran deal back in 2014. It would be both a diplomatic and a political disaster if the Republicans flopped as badly while trying to undo the central achievement of Barack Obama’s second term as they had while trying to undo the central achievement of his first.

Iranian noncompliance is a no-brainer. Look at the number of advanced centrifuges Iran is currently operating, its repeated violation of limits on its heavy water stocks, its underground efforts to obtain nuclear- and missile-related technologies. Look at the IAEA’s acknowledgment in September that it has difficulty verifying compliance with Section T of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which forbids “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

And look at the Swiss cheese inspections regime. How can the president in good conscience certify compliance when no Americans are involved in the inspections, when inspections are limited to “declared” nuclear sites, when the Iranians have 24 days to prepare for IAEA inspections of other locations, when inspectors are forbidden from examining military bases? We have no idea what is going on in such places, much less in the places we do not know about. Remember: We didn’t know about the installations at Natanz and Arak until 2002 and the one at Fordow until 2009.

Of course a serious agreement would allow access to military locations. The apologies for Iranian stubbornness on this point are absurd. “For many Iranians—including those who support the nuclear deal—keeping inspectors out of military facilities is a point of national pride,” write Shashank Bengali and Ramin Mostaghim of the Los Angeles Times. Funny that national pride is okay as long as it’s Iran we’re talking about. Bengali and Mostaghim quote a “newspaper employee” in Tehran, Susan Saderi, who says, “It’s our country, and any country’s defense systems should be off limits to international inspections.”

No offense, Ms. Saderi, but you know whose defense systems are not off limits to international inspections?

  1. Associated Press from 2014: “Russians inspect Montana nuclear launch facilities.”
  2. Washington Free Beacon from 2014: “Russian Inspectors to Check U.S. Nuclear Cuts Amid Ukraine Crisis.”
  3. Fortune last August: “Russian Surveillance Plane Makes Low-Flying Pass of Capitol and Pentagon.”
  4. Wall Street Journal last August: “Top U.S. General Breaks Bread With Chinese Soldiers on North Korea’s Doorstep.”

Ok, the PLA probably didn’t allow General Dunford to count ammo stocks in Shenyang. But the point stands. The arms control treaties we signed with the Soviet Union permitted American inspectors to visit military locations. That was the whole point of trust but verify. President Obama may have trusted the Iranians—but then President Obama trusted Harvey Weinstein to oversee his daughter’s post-high school internship earlier this year. Why should Donald Trump play the patsy?

“If the political branches, [work] on a bipartisan basis on the parts of the deal we all know are flawed,” Cotton said earlier this month, “we will have the strong and unified front between Democrats and Republicans, and between Congress and the president, that the Iran deal never enjoyed. That unity will help the president forge a unified position with our allies—not only the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, but also Israel and our Arab allies. Then it will be Russia and China who must choose between a stronger deal and being isolated and in league with the ayatollahs.”

Are Republicans prepared to close ranks in a “strong and unified front” to remove the sunset clauses from the Iran deal, impose further limits on Iranian centrifuges, include Americans on IAEA inspection teams that have access to Iranian military bases, and constrain Iranian missile development? Or will they prove as disunited, feckless, spiteful, and incompetent as they did during the repeal and replace debacle?

I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

Trump Admin Will Not Commit to Designating IRGC as Terror Group

October 11, 2017

Trump Admin Will Not Commit to Designating IRGC as Terror Group, Washington Free Beacon , October 11, 2017

Members of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps / Getty Images

Trump last week signed new sanctions legislation mandating that the United States extend a terror designation to the IRGC, marking the first time in U.S. history a foreign country’s military branch would be hit with such a designation.

However, the State and Treasury Departments would not confirm Wednesday that the administration intends to make good on this law, which was approved by Congress with bipartisan support.

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The Trump administration will not commit to designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, Iran’s elite fighting force, as terrorists, despite a congressional mandate to do so by the end of the month, according to multiple U.S. officials and other administration insiders who told the Washington Free Beacon that holdovers from the Obama administration are working to stymie the effort.

While President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week that he will not certify Iran as in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal, it remains unclear if he will follow through with congressionally approved plans to extend a terror designation to the IRGC, a move that has prompted Iran to threaten greater attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The IRGC is responsible for numerous terror attacks on American troops over the years and has played a key role in interfering with U.S. operations in Syria. A bipartisan consensus in Congress has already backed such a designation, but key Obama-era holdovers and top national security officials who have the president’s ear are urging him to refrain, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

Top lawmakers and insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about the growing uncertainty over how best to hold Iran accountable for its terror activities expressed frustration over what they view as the administration’s inability to follow through with its foreign policy promises, particularly as they relate to Iran, which has increasingly targeted U.S. forces with military action.

New reports emerged Wednesday afternoon that Trump’s planned speech on Iran may be scaled back and not take place until Friday, if it does at all.

Trump last week signed new sanctions legislation mandating that the United States extend a terror designation to the IRGC, marking the first time in U.S. history a foreign country’s military branch would be hit with such a designation.

However, the State and Treasury Departments would not confirm Wednesday that the administration intends to make good on this law, which was approved by Congress with bipartisan support.

The administration may be getting cold feet due to the objections of key U.S. officials and those in the Treasury Department who view such a designation as harmful to American companies that have business interests in Iran, where the IRGC controls a majority of the economy, sources said.

“The IRGC is responsible for wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East and, through its Quds Force, for killing hundreds of American troops in Iraq,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Free Beacon.

“The IRGC represents a quintessential terrorist group and should be designated as such,” DeSantis said.  “Whereas the Obama administration flew pallets of cash to the IRGC, the Trump administration should act to hold the IRGC accountable.  Designating it as a terrorist group is a good first step.”

Neither the State Department or White House would confirm to the Free Beacon plans to follow through with this designation, prompting speculation that the process may be held up over objections by Obama-era holdovers in the Trump administration who view the move as a shot at dismantling the former president’s nuclear deal.

“Congress didn’t ask the president to designate the full IRGC,” according to one veteran Middle East policy advisor who lobbies Congress on Iran sanctions. “They told the president to do it by veto proof majorities. Obama holdover lawyers and his establishment staffers are telling him he can use loopholes to just go after some entities and circumvent Congress.”

These same voices are continuing to advise Trump against decertifying Iranian compliance with the deal, despite the president’s personal belief that the Islamic Republic has flagrantly violated what he has repeatedly described as a bad deal.

“These are the same people advising him to certify the nuclear deal, which was also rejected by bipartisan majorities in Congress,” the source said. “They’re wrong and if they stay wrong, lawmakers will eventually make it an oversight issue.”

A State Department official declined repeated requests for clarification on what the administration intends to do about the IRGC, but told the Free Beacon officials remain “deeply troubled by Iran’s longstanding provocative activities including its support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region.”

“We are committed to holding Iran accountable for its behavior,” the official said. “The United States retains the authority to respond to Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing activities. The U.S. government constantly reviews information, through an interagency process, to evaluate potential sanctions violators for targeting under existing sanctions authorities.”

A Treasury Department official did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

Iranian officials vowed last week to strike U.S. forces and bases in the region if the Trump administration moves forward with extending a terror designation to the IRGC.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a vocal opponent of the Iran deal, told the Free Beacon that Iran would be wise to back down from its threats.

“President Obama’s terrible Iran deal predictably emboldened the Iranian regime to build up their military and antagonize the region,” Duffy said. “Iran may have been able to bully our previous president, but the American people elected President Trump to stand up for the United States on the world stage.”

“The Iranian regime is already on notice for being the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, and it would be wise for them to back down from their belligerent posture,” Duffy added.

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead

October 10, 2017

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead, Al Arabiya, Heshmat Alavi, October 9, 2017

Members of Iranian armed forces march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS.

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

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All eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his upcoming Iran speech later this week to clarify his decision to certify or decertify Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), designed to curb the regime’s controversial atomic drive.

This has Iran’s regime on its toes, as senior elite in Tehran understand fully how the US can lead the international community in adopting strong measures against its broad scope of malign activities. Expected to be addressed is also a wide range of concerns over Iran’s dangerous policies in relation to its ballistic missile advances, meddling in Middle East states and supporting terrorist proxy groups as explained in a new video.

‘Iran’s unacceptable behavior’

Iran’s rogue behavior, currently imposing its influence on four major regional capitals of Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa, are the result of the Obama administration’s “overly lenient foreign policy, which sought to promote America’s priorities through consensus, rather than through the frank display of power,” as put by a recent The New Yorker piece.

“Lifting the sanctions as required under the terms of the JCPOA has enabled Iran’s unacceptable behavior,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a late September meeting with his P5+1 counterparts and Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Trump administration is also deeply concerned over Iran’s proxies mining the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait waterway, aiming its indigenous missiles from Yemen towards cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and from southern Lebanon towards Israel. This is Tehran in action with the objective of taking advantage of the destruction left behind by ISIS across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump told reporters before a Thursday evening meeting with senior military leaders at the White House. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

Trump has put Iran “on notice” over charges that Tehran violated a nuclear deal with the West by test-firing a ballistic missile. (Reuters)

Joint effort

Parallel to the White House there are voices on Capitol Hill advocating the new approach weighed by the administration.

“The president should decline to certify, not primarily on grounds related to Iran’s technical compliance, but rather based on the long catalog of the regime’s crimes and perfidy against the United States, as well as the deal’s inherent weakness,” Senator Tom Cotton said last week at a speech in the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Trump administration seeks to place necessary focus on Iran’s illicit Middle East ambitions and actions, talks are also ongoing as we speak over how to amend the JCPOA’s restrictions.

“Sunset clauses,” Iran’s ballistic missile development and testing, and an inspections regime lacking the bite to gain necessary access into the regime’s controversial military sites. Under the current framework Iran can easily conduct nuclear weapons research and development in military sites and claim such locations do not fall under the JCPOA jurisdiction.

While it is expected of Trump to decertify Iran, he most likely will not go the distance to completely pull America out of the nuclear agreement. Obama refused to send the JCPOA to Congress for discussion and approval. Trump, however, seems set to place the decision to impose further sanctions on Iran upon the shoulders of US lawmakers.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about the Iran nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on September 5, 2017. (Reuters)

More than ‘one piece’

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. (AFP)

Fear renders contradiction

Sensing an increasingly escalating tone from Washington, Tehran signaled its first sign of fear by expressing readiness to discuss its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. And yet less than 24 hours later, Iranian officials said no offers were made to negotiate such restrictions.

“Iran regards defensive missile programs as its absolute right and will definitely continue them within the framework of its defensive, conventional and specified plans and strategies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according state media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also felt the need to make remarks to save face before the regime’s already depleting social base. “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said at a recent Tehran University ceremony, according to state media.

Of course, we all remember how prior to the JCPOA signing in 2015 senior Iranian officials went the limits in describing any “retreat” regarding their nuclear program as a “red line.” To make a long story short, Tehran is comprehending how the times are changing at a high velocity, endangering its domestic, regional and international interests. And unlike the Obama years, its actions will not go unanswered.

Senator Cotton made this crystal clear at his speech: “Congress and the President, working together, should lay out how the deal must change and, if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”