Posted tagged ‘Trump and Iran scam’

U.S. Considers Re-Imposing All Sanctions on Iran, Dismantling Nuke Deal

April 19, 2017

U.S. Considers Re-Imposing All Sanctions on Iran, Dismantling Nuke Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , April 19, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. Photo credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

Obama administration officials, while selling the nuclear deal to Congress, vowed that Iran would roll back its nefarious activities if it received relief from sanctions.

Tillerson informed Congress this has not happened. After receiving billions in cash assets and other economic relief, Iran invested heavily in its military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which continues to meddle in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and a host of other countries.

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The Trump administration is considering re-imposing a massive set of economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama administration as part of the landmark nuclear agreement that gave Tehran billions in economic support, according to U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s military buildup and disregard for international law could prompt U.S. reprisal.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress in a letter sent Tuesday that Iran is complying with requirements for its nuclear program imposed under the nuclear accord. However, Tillerson emphasized that Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Tehran’s malign activities across the Middle East and elsewhere have prompted the Trump administration to place all aspects of the nuclear agreement under critical review, which is viewed by some as a first step to nixing some controversial aspects of the accord, including the massive sanctions relief package.

U.S. officials familiar with the review told the Free Beacon that Iran’s continued support for terrorism has become a sticking point for the Trump administration as it reviews the agreement and the previous administration’s policy toward Iran.

“I think the key is what comes next,” one senior White House official familiar with the interagency review told the Free Beacon. “The question of ongoing sanctions relief will be critical—Iran has already gotten significant economic benefits from the nuclear deal and we need to take a hard look at what Iran is doing with the resources that continue to flow in.”

The Trump administration has been paying close attention to Iran’s ongoing military buildup, including its continued work on ballistic missiles and other offensive weapons aimed at interfering with U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf region.

“Yesterday was the annual Army Day celebration—also known as Death to Israel day—and they paraded some pretty serious new hardware through the streets,” the White House official disclosed. “That has to be a significant concern.”

The White House’s national security apparatus will closely monitor Iran’s behavior as it makes a decision about re-imposing sanctions lifted by the Obama administration.

Tillerson’s emphasis on Iran’s terror operation is “a first step, but we have to remain focused on the threat Tehran poses to America and our allies,” the official said.

Obama administration officials, while selling the nuclear deal to Congress, vowed that Iran would roll back its nefarious activities if it received relief from sanctions.

Tillerson informed Congress this has not happened. After receiving billions in cash assets and other economic relief, Iran invested heavily in its military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which continues to meddle in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and a host of other countries.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson told Congress. “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

“When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue,” Tillerson wrote.

We’re turning a blind eye to Iran’s genocidal liars

April 18, 2017

We’re turning a blind eye to Iran’s genocidal liars, The Australian, Michael Oren, April 19, 2017

(Please see also, What North Korea Should Teach Us about Iran. DM)

In responding forcibly to North Korean and Syrian outrages, President Trump has taken a major step towards restoring America’s deterrence power. His determination to redress the flaws in the JCPOA and to stand up to Iran will greatly accelerate that process. The US, Israel and the world will all be safer.

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The US has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities. Two of those regimes — Syria and North Korea — brazenly violated the agreements, provoking game-changing responses from Donald Trump. But the third agreement — with Iran — is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn’t even have to break it. Honouring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.

The framework agreements with North Korea and Syria, concluded respectively in 1994 and 2013, were similar in many ways. Both recognised that the regimes already possessed weapons of mass destruction or at least the means to produce them. Both ­assumed that the regimes would surrender their arsenals under an international treaty and open their facilities to inspectors. And both believed these repressive states, if properly engaged, could be brought into the community of nations.

All those assumptions were wrong. After withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Pyongyang tested five atomic weapons and developed ­intercontinental missiles capable of carrying them. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, less than a year after signing the framework, reverted to gassing his own people. Bolstered by the inaction of the US and backed by other powers, North Korea and Syria broke their commitments with impunity.

Or so it seemed. By ordering a Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base, and a US Navy strike force to patrol near North Korea’s coast, the Trump administration has upheld the frame­­works and placed their violators on notice. This reassertion of power is welcomed by all of ­America’s allies, Israel among them. But for us the most dangerous agreement of all is the one that may never need military enforcement. For us, the existential threat looms in a decade, when the agreement with Iran expires.

Like the frameworks with North Korea and Syria, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015 assumed that Iran would fulfil its obligations and open its facilities to inspectors. The JCPOA assumed that Iran would moderate its behaviour and join the international community. Yet unlike its North Korean and Syrian allies, Iran was the largest state sponsor of terror and openly vowed to destroy another state: Israel. Unlike them, Iran systematically lied about its unconventional weapons program for 30 years. And unlike Damascus and Pyongyang, which are permanently barred from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Tehran can look forward to building them swiftly and legitimately in the late 2020s, once the JCPOA expires.

This, for Israel and our neighbouring Sunni states, is the appalling flaw of the JCPOA. The regime most committed to our destruction has been granted a free pass to develop military nuclear capabilities. Iran could follow the Syrian and North Korean examples and cheat. Or, while enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it can adhere to the agreement and deactivate parts of its nuclear facilities rather than dismantle them. It can develop new technologies for producing atomic bombs while testing intercontinental ballistic missiles. It can continue massacring Syrians, Iraqis and Yemenis, and bankrolling Hamas and Hezbollah. The JCPOA enables Iran to do all that merely by complying.

A nuclear-armed Iran would be as dangerous as “50 North Koreas”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN in 2013, and Iran is certainly many times more dangerous than Syria. Yet Iran alone has been granted immunity for butchering civilians and threatening genocide. Iran alone has been guaranteed a ­future nuclear capability. And the Iranian regime — which brutally crushed a popular uprising in 2009 — has amassed a million-man force to suppress any future opposition. Rather than moderating, the present regime promises to be more radical yet in another 10 years.

How can the US and its allies pre-empt catastrophe? Many steps are possible, but they begin with penalising Iran for the conventions it already violates, such as UN restrictions on missile development. The remaining American sanctions on Iran must stay staunchly in place and congress must pass further punitive legislation. Above all, a strong link must be established between the JCPOA and Iran’s support for terror, its pledges to annihilate ­Israel and overthrow pro-American Arab governments, and its complicity in massacres. As long as the ayatollahs oppress their own population and export their ­tyranny abroad, no restrictions on their nuclear program can ever be allowed to expire.

In responding forcibly to North Korean and Syrian outrages, President Trump has taken a major step towards restoring America’s deterrence power. His determination to redress the flaws in the JCPOA and to stand up to Iran will greatly accelerate that process. The US, Israel and the world will all be safer.

Michael Oren is Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, a member of the Knesset and a former ambassador to Washington.

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria

April 10, 2017

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, April 10, 2017

On Thursday evening, President Trump met with China’s President Xi and bombed Syria. The decision came as Trump traveled on Air Force One to meet with Xi at Mar-a-Lago. An hour into their dinner, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched and pounded an airbase in Syria. The message wasn’t just for Assad and Putin. It was for Xi and his North Korean client state. The era of a weak America was over.

Xi had come to America expecting an easy photo op visit. President Trump would urge action on North Korea and Xi would smile coldly and shoot him down. Talk of fairer trade would be similarly dismissed.

And then Xi would go home and laugh that the bold new American leader was another paper tiger.

Except that President Trump had a different plan. Instead of Xi showing how tough he could be, Trump gave him a front row seat to a display of American power. The message was both obvious and subtle.

And President Xi, along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, aren’t laughing.

The obvious part was as blatant as a 1,000 pound explosive warhead slamming into concrete and steel, and as obvious as upstaging Xi’s efforts to stonewall Trump while warning that North Korea could be next if the Chinese leader continues to be obstinate.

Trump had warned throughout the campaign that he would not be laying his military plans on the table. “You’re telling the enemy everything you want to do!” he had mocked Clinton.

His address to the nation came an hour after the missiles had struck. The element of surprise had held.

And Xi came away with a very different message. The Obama era was over. The new guy was bold, dangerous and unpredictable. Like many of Trump’s American opponents, Xi understood now that the jovial man sitting next to him could and would violate the rules of the game without prior warning.

China would have to be careful. There was a cowboy in the White House again.

And that was the subtle part. Trump does not care very much about Assad. What he truly cares about is American power. Left-wing critics quickly pounced on Trump’s past opposition to strikes on Syria and his criticisms of Obama for not enforcing his own “red line”.

There is no contradiction.

Trump didn’t believe that strikes on Syria were a good idea. But once we had committed to a red line, then we had to follow through if we were going to be taken seriously.

And so Trump enforced Obama’s red line. Not because of Obama or Syria. But because of America.

“When he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world because it was a blank threat,” President Trump said.

President Trump intends to get things done. And he knows it won’t happen with “blank” threats.

Asked about whether the strikes represented a message to Xi and North Korea, Secretary of State Tillerson replied, “It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line and cross the line on violating commitments they have made.”

“President Trump has made that statement to the world tonight,” he added.

The message is more subtle than a 1,000 pound warhead. But not by that much.

President Trump’s move bewildered leftist critics who had to shift from accusing him of having a secret relationship with Russia to accusing him of ruining our relationship with Russia. It also enraged some supporters who maintained a dogmatic non-interventionist position. But Trump doesn’t make decisions based on ideology. He measures policies against real world objectives, not abstract philosophies.

What he has always wanted to do is solve real problems.

The problem he was solving on Thursday wasn’t Assad. President Trump recognizes that Syria is an unsolvable problem and that little good can come of extended engagement with it. There are no good guys in Syria. Only Sunni and Shiite Jihadis and their victims. Syria is and will always be a dead end.

The problem is that Obama thoroughly wrecked American prestige and power over eight years. And that makes it painfully difficult to get anything done when no one in the world will take us seriously.

President Trump sees North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. But he also sees the crisis as a way to leverage our military might to achieve better trade deals with both partners and rivals. He is not wedded to a globalist or anti-globalist ideology. Instead he sees every problem as an opportunity.

He is not committed to any international coalition, globalist or anti-globalist, except where it temporarily serves American purposes. That is what being a true nationalist actually means.

That is what makes him so unpredictable and so dangerous.

President Trump made a point in Syria. He timed that point for maximum effect. The point isn’t that Assad is a bad man. Though he is. It’s not that he isn’t a Russian puppet, though only the lunatic left could have believed that. The point is that he is determined that America will be taken seriously.

Cruise missile diplomacy isn’t new. Bill Clinton fired over 500 cruise missiles into Iraq. Not to mention Sudan. Bush fired cruise missiles into Somalia. Obama signed off on firing cruise missiles into Yemen and Syria at terrorist targets. The difference is that Trump isn’t just saving face with cruise missile diplomacy.

President Trump’s real objective isn’t the Middle East. It’s Asia. He doesn’t see Russia as our leading geopolitical foe, but China. Syria was the opening shot in a staring contest with the People’s Republic. The moves in this chess game will sometimes be obvious and sometimes subtle. And Trump is usually at his most subtle when he’s being obvious. That’s what his enemies usually miss.

President Trump’s first step in Syria was to reestablish physical and moral authority on the international stage while the President of China had to sit there and watch. He humiliated Democrats and their media operation at the peak of their Russia frenzy. And he sent the message that America is back.

It’s not a bad return on a $60 million investment. We’ve spent much more in the field with less to show for it.

The Obama era in international affairs ended with whimper and a hollow Nobel Peace Prize as a trophy. The Trump era in international affairs began with 59 cruise missiles and a big bang.

After Syrian Gassing, Trump Must Expose the Iran Deal

April 10, 2017

After Syrian Gassing, Trump Must Expose the Iran Deal, PJ Media, Roger L Simon, April 9, 2017

Among the more disturbing questions emerging from the renewed use of gas by Bashar Assad is whether Barack Obama and his loyal minions (Kerry, Rhodes, Rice, etc.) actually knew the Syrian leader still had chemical weapons, even though they trumpeted the opposite to the American public on numerous occasions. Either they lied or were so extraordinarily credulous they believed — apparently without verification — the Syrians had truly rid themselves of those WMDs, in which case Obama — not Trump — was Vladimir Putin’s personal “useful idiot.”

(It may even be time to take a second look at the contention of some that Saddam transferred his chemical weapons to Syria way back when, which would be a surprise vindication of Bush 43.)

Whatever the case, it’s “heavy water” under the bridge at this point, but should alert us even more to the absolute necessity of revealing everything known about the also Obama-instigated Iran Deal, all its myriad hidden codicils and clauses that remain mysterious to the citizens of this country in whose name they were allegedly signed. That agreement too could be the product of useful idiocy, a sucker punch from the mullahs.  The devil, in this case, is very much in the details, few of which we know, except that the Iranians refused to give a baseline development level for their nuclear weapons program in this first place. In a sense, that made everything else moot.

Nevertheless, Iran has been the beneficiary of this deal to the tune of billions of dollars, some evidently in cash, much of which has been and is being spent in Syria, if not directly on chemical weapons, on a war that no less than the former chief rabbi of Israel, himself a Holocaust survivor, has called another Holocaust.  Iran is also using the money to finance Hezbollah in that war, simultaneously arming those terrorist thugs with tons of modern weapons, including long range missiles, even while the mullahs use Hezbollah’s guerrillas as cannon fodder to spare Iran’s own quasi-terrorist Revolutionary Guard. The Islamic Republic’s obvious goal is to control both Syria and Iraq by proxies.  A victorious Assad would be Iran’s boy as much as Russia’s, possibly more.

The Trump administration should expose this deal in its entirety to public view now.  If that means Iran pulls out of the agreement — as they have warned — so be it.  The transparency is worth whatever minimal insurance against a nuclear-armed Iran might be inherent in these evanescent documents.  After seeing just how much insurance against chemical weapons was inherent in Obama’s deal with Putin over the crossing of our then-president’s “red line,” one could be skeptical that there is any at all.  Indeed, what little we know of the Iran Deal leads one to believe that it would be simple for the mullahs to be as busy as ever on their nuclear program.  That they are allied with North Korea makes this all the more likely.

Further to be investigated is Obama’s peculiar desire to make a deal with these same mullahs from the very beginning of his administration or even before. Indeed, Obama representatives have been accused of meeting with both Hamas and Iran during his first presidential campaign. These meetings are better documented than Trump’s supposed collusion with Putin, which seems so unlikely now.

In a continuation of that behavior, Obama later famously ignored the pleas for support by the Iranian pro-democracy demonstrators during the Green Revolution of 2009.  “Obama, you are either with us or are you with them!”  they chanted.  Obama was evidently with them. He didn’t want to disrupt his rapport with Ahmadinejad in order to make his dreamed-of deal. (You can see it all on YouTube here.  As we used to say in the sixties, “Which side are you on?”)

Obama and Kerry then welcomed the election of Hassan Rouhani, whom their cheering section in the willfully ignorant mainstream media ludicrously called a “moderate” when he was, if anything, worse than Ahmadinejad and has since been responsible for many more murders of political prisoners than his predecessor.  They made their deal with Rouhani, who is obviously now cooperating in the maintenance of peace…. Well, not exactly.

What’s behind all this? As I said at the outset, this is disturbing — liberalism and progressivism turned upside down, at least according to their own self-described principles. Everything is situational. That Democrats like Schumer and Pelosi were so positive about Trump’s actions in Syria is a sure sign that not so deep down they were more than a little uncomfortable when Obama did nothing after a similar gassing.  Like a lot of people I would imagine, they had to bury their feelings and opinions in the name of party loyalty, what the French called mauvaise foi.  They should have felt the same way yet more intensely after Obama’s execrable non-reaction to the Green Revolution.  Maybe they did, but we’ll never know until someone leaks it out in a memoir. We didn’t need to send in the Marines.  All Obama would have had to have done was to say a few words of encouragement echoed by the international community and the revolution might have happened.  It was close enough.

Thank God there’s a new sheriff in town. Maybe there will be some hope for the citizens of Iran, eventually, some support for regime change after eight years of kowtowing to the mullahs.  But for now lets at least clear up the terms of the mysterious deal, its provenance and its usefulness, if any.  No time like the present.

Iran Will Not Cancel The JCPOA – Because It Grants Iran Nuclear State Status And Is A Western Guarantee For The Regime’s Survival

April 7, 2017

Iran Will Not Cancel The JCPOA – Because It Grants Iran Nuclear State Status And Is A Western Guarantee For The Regime’s Survival, MEMRIA. Savyon and Yigal Carmon* April 6, 2017

(Cf. The Real War in ‘Syria’ and the Strategy for Long-Term Victory. — DM)

Introduction

The JCPOA grants the Iranian regime two historic achievements – the status of a nuclear state and immunity against a Western attack due to its nuclear development. This is effectively a Western guarantee of the Islamic Republic regime’s survival. These achievements cannot be cancelled unless the agreement itself is declared invalid.

Iranian spokesmen have stressed that even if President Trump’s administration cancels the agreement, the agreement cannot be cancelled – because Iran, in its prescience, involved the EU and the UN in backing the agreement. Even if the U.S. alone were to cancel the agreement, it would still remain in force – that is, Iran’s status as a nuclear state would remain.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani stressed, for example, at a November 11, 2016 cabinet meeting, the day after Trump was elected president, that there was no way to cancel the agreement. He said: “Iran’s wisdom in the nuclear agreement was in the fact that it had the JCPOA approved as a UN Security Council resolution, and not as a [bilateral] agreement with a particular country or administration. Therefore, it will not be changed by any decision by a particular administration.”[1]

Following the JCPOA’s Implementation Day, in January 2016, and even previously, Iranian regime officials repeatedly warned that if the U.S. violated the agreement, and especially if more sanctions were leveled against Iran, Iran would cancel the agreement and revert to the status quo that existed before the agreement, and would even advance beyond it?

For example, an October 21, 2015 letter of guidelines from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to President Rohani constituting “conditional approval” for the agreement stated: “Throughout the eight-year period, any imposition of sanctions at any level and under any pretext (including repetitive and reiterated pretexts of terrorism and human rights) on the part of any of the countries party to the agreement will constitute a violation of the JCPOA and the [Iranian] government would be obligated to take the necessary action as per Clause 3 of the Majlis resolution and stop the activities mandated by the JCPOA.”[2]

Iran Is Changing Its Policy – From Threats To Cancel The Agreement To Threats Of A Parallel Response

However, after the U.S. leveled additional sanctions against Iran, during both the Obama and Trump administrations, it became clear[3] that Iran was not going to implement its threats. Instead, Iran presented a new formula that does not obligate it to abrogate the agreement, as it previously threatened. The new formula determined that the Iranian regime would respond to any U.S. violation of the agreement with its own parallel violation.

Indeed, on March 26, 2017, after the U.S. State Department’s March 24, 2017 announcement of new sanctions against companies and individuals connected to Iran’s missile program, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced counter-sanctions against 15 U.S. companies. Additionally, in response to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, currently under consideration in the U.S. administration and the U.S. Senate designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, Majlis National Security Committee chairman Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi announced, on March 25, 2017, that the committee would present to the Majlis a plan to designate the CIA and U.S. Armed Forces as terrorist organizations, to be carried out after the March 21 Iranian Norouz holiday.[4]

On April 3, 2017, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reiterated: “If the moment comes that the Americans are not implementing the JCPOA, our reversion [to the pre-JCPOA situation] will be very swift, and we will arrive at even more than what we once had… We have enough guarantees for the day when the [Iranian] regime decides and feels that the level of America’s breaking of its promises is so high that we must revert to the pre-JCPOA [situation]. But it does not appear to me that this will happen.” [5]

It should be noted that in his threats about the possibility of Iran’s reversion to the status quo that existed prior to the agreement, Zarif does not set out any red line or specific condition whose violation will oblige Iran to cancel the agreement. Instead, he states that Iran will act “when it feels” that the U.S. is ratcheting up its level of violations against Iran. Furthermore, Zarif adds that such a situation, in his assessment, will not occur.

Iran’s backing down from its previous threats and warnings regarding the JCPOA’s continuing validity even if the U.S. cancels it is testimony to the agreement’s historic importance for the Iranian regime. In our assessment, Iran will not cancel the agreement even if the U.S. continues to level sanctions against the country, even if it is involved in military action against Iranian interests. Iran will not cancel an agreement that endows it with nuclear-state status and that constitutes a guarantee of the regime’s survival and provides immunity from a Western attack aimed at regime change. These historic achievements for Iran were granted to it by the Obama administration by means of the JCPOA.

Needless to say, the threat to revert to the pre-JCPOA situation is in itself an empty threat, because if the regime does this, it will bring itself back to a situation defined by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as “a two-month [nuclear] breakout time.”[6] By doing so, it will bring closer the risk of attack by the West.

The JCPOA – A Tool To Ensure The Survival Of The Iranian Regime

The Iranian regime is clinging to the JCPOA because this agreement guarantees its survival. President Obama promoted the Iranian regime from the status of a “defendant state”, subject to Security Council sanctions for its nuclear program, to the status of a legitimate nuclear state that can negotiate with the rest of the world powers over upgrading its nuclear activity.

The existential threat that led Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to revive Iran’s nuclear project in 2002, (after the founder of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, stopped the country’s Shah-era nuclear project), was the threat to the regime’s survival. The regime was under threat both from being attacked directly by the West, with the aim of bringing about regime change, and indirectly by mobilizing opposition elements at home, which the regime labeled “fitna” – such as the fitna – i.e. civil unrest – following the 2009 presidential election, which it suppressed. For this reason, Khamenei, during the negotiations for the JCPOA, demanded that the U.S. stop the American broadcasts in Farsi to Iran, suspend its political and economic support for Iranian opposition groups, and stop criticizing Iranian censorship of the Internet – all three demands pertain to regime survival (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 837, Khamenei’s Aim at the Nuclear Talks – Securing the Survival of His Regime, May 15, 2012).

With the JCPOA, Khamenei gained a double achievement, assuring both the survival of his regime and Iran’s membership in the nuclear club. The Iranian regime’s original aim in pursuing the JCPOA was to guarantee the survival of the regime in the face of all the possible threats, from within and without – and was not intended to obtain massive economic aid nor to bring Iran into the Western economy in order to ease its people’s economic distress – which Khamenei intends to do with the “resistance economy,” the main thrust of which is self-reliance and rejection of economic cooperation with the West and foreign investment in Iran.

Iran’s nuclear status, promised to Khamenei by the Obama administration in the agreement that is backed by Europe, allows him to both continue to repress the Iranian people and to continue exporting the Iranian Revolution in the region.

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iranian Media Project; Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

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[1] ISNA (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[2] MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[3] Tasnim (Iran), March 26, 2017.

[4] IRIB (Iran), March 25, 2017.

[5] Farsnews (Iran), April 3, 2017.

[6] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/john-kerry-iran-israel_us_55b22b45e4b0224d8831d360

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

April 5, 2017

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, April 5, 2017

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

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Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Timesreported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

Airplane Sales to Iran Put Under Critical Review By Trump Admin

April 5, 2017

Airplane Sales to Iran Put Under Critical Review By Trump Admin, Washington Free Beacon, April 5, 2017

A picture taken on August 20, 2010 shows an Iranian flag fluttering at an undisclosed location in the Islamic republic next to a surface-to-surface Qiam-1 (Rising) missile which was test fired a day before Iran was due to launch its Russian-built first nuclear power plant. AFP PHOTO/VAHID REZA ALAEI (Photo credit should read VAHID REZA ALAEI/AFP/Getty Images)

The move represents a departure from the Obama administration’s policy, which promoted the sale of airplanes to Iran across the United States and Europe.

The review of these deals appears to be part of a larger ongoing review of the entire Iran nuclear deal, which is being undertaken by the White House. The Trump administration could move to reverse many of the promises made by the United States to Iran under the previous administration, including airplane sales and other concessions aimed at promoting business in Iran.

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The Trump administration is undertaking a critical review of Obama administration-era policies permitting the sale of American airplanes to Iran, which have been used in the past to ferry weapons to terrorists and conduct other illicit activities, according to U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

U.S. airline manufacturer Boeing announced on Tuesday that it had reached a memorandum of understanding with Iran guaranteeing the sale of up to 60 planes pending review by the Trump administration.

Sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon speculated the latest announcement, which was announced earlier in the day by Iran, could be meant to pressure U.S. officials to sign off on the deal.

While the newly installed administration had come under fire earlier this year for seeming to continue Obama-era policies meant to approve these sales, U.S. officials now tell the Free Beacon that all past and future deals are coming under review by the new administration as part of a larger assessment of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

The review of sales between Boeing and Iran represent a first step to possibly canceling the deals, which have come under criticism by U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy experts who maintain the Islamic Republic will use the American aircraft to boost its air force and illicit weapons trade, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

“Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] will be reviewing aviation licensing as part of the National Security Council’s ongoing interagency review of the Iran deal,” a Treasury Department official told the Free Beacon.

The move represents a departure from the Obama administration’s policy, which promoted the sale of airplanes to Iran across the United States and Europe.

The review of these deals appears to be part of a larger ongoing review of the entire Iran nuclear deal, which is being undertaken by the White House. The Trump administration could move to reverse many of the promises made by the United States to Iran under the previous administration, including airplane sales and other concessions aimed at promoting business in Iran.

While the Treasury Department was unable to comment on specific licenses and ongoing determinations pursuant to the Boeing deal, officials pointed out that the latest announcement is not a final deal.

Any sale of planes by Boeing to Iran will be subject to review and require a license from the Treasury Department, officials said.

One senior White House official told the the Free Beacon that the most recent Boeing deal with Iran will be held for review along with the entire Iran nuclear deal.

“The review of existing Iran policy is ongoing–and this MOU will be part of that process,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record. “Obviously the administration wants American companies to get large contracts, but we have to put the of the American people first.”

Companies such as Boeing are still legally permitted to negotiate and enter into agreements with Iran as it relates to the sale of airplanes so long as the Iranian entities are not currently subject to U.S. sanctions.

However, the final sale of these planes requires specific consent from the Treasury Department.

The Obama administration had rushed to push through these types of sales before leaving office. President Donald Trump has advocated a tougher line and these sales could be nixed as a result of Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism across the Middle East.

One senior congressional source familiar with the situation told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration’s latest move should serve as a warning to Boeing.

“Treasury is finally committing to a full review of current licensing policies for aircraft sales to Iran,” the source said. “Boeing executives should be on notice: it’s not just this new request that they will need approval on, but the previous one for Iran Air as well.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a vocal opponent of the Boeing-Iran deal, told the Free Beacon that Boeing’s continued push to deal with Iran is “outrageous.”

“On the same day Bashar al-Assad’s Air Force dropped chemical weapons onto children, an American company announced its intent to sell airplanes to Assad’s patrons in Tehran,” Roskam said late Tuesday. “Iran continues to use commercial aircraft to support Assad’s atrocities in Syria and other terror proxies around the globe.”

Congress will continue its work to prevent the sale of planes to Iran, particularly in light of its ongoing use of civilian aircraft to ferry weapons and other illicit arms across the region.

“We will do everything within our power, and we hope the administration will do everything within its power, to prevent the sale of even more airplanes to state-owned companies in the Islamic Republic,” Roskam said.

Boeing has not backed off its commitment to these sales, despite fierce opposition in Capitol Hill and now in the White House.

One senior congressional adviser who has been working on the matter told the Free Beacon that Boeing’s aggressive lobbying campaign is beginning to backfire.

“Boeing has apparently calculated that their lobbying power can overcome the opposition of majorities in Congress and the American public, to say nothing of the Trump administration’s NSC and Treasury,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record.

“Maybe [Boeing is] right—though that’s not the mood on the Hill,” the source explained. “But banks will have to make a different calculation, since they don’t have the protection of the country’s most powerful lobbyists, and the Trump Treasury Department doesn’t fuck around with banks that facilitate Iranian terrorism, which is exactly what it means to give Iran airplanes. The fines would probably be in the billions.”