Posted tagged ‘U.S. Congress and Iran’

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2

January 10, 2018

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2, BreitbartPenny Starr, January 9, 2018

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.


The House of Representatives approved House Resolution 676 on Tuesday, putting into the Congressional Record its support for the protesters that have taken to the streets in cities across Iran in opposition to its oppressive radical Islamic government.

HR 676 reads: “Supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes.”

House approves resolution in support of Iran protests, 415-2

Two Republicans voted against the resolution: Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

The House Radio and TV Gallery confirmed to Breitbart News the vote count and the two members who voted “no” on the resolution.

 The regime in Iran has insisted the protests have been put down, but supporters — including those who have held rallies across the United States in recent days — say the protesters need support for their cause to bring about a Democratic Republic in the country.

Hundreds gathered in Washington, DC, and an estimated 2,000 in Los Angeles, California, over the weekend in support of the protesters.

“Let us declare our solidarity with the people of Iran,” Amir Emadi — whose father was one of 52 Iranian refugees killed in 2013 by Iraqi security forces in Camp Ashraf, Iraq — said at the rally in the nation’s capital.

“We are gathered here to say to the international community; you must recognize the legitimate right of the people of Iran and overthrow the ruling religious dictatorship and establish a secular, democratic, Republic of Iran,” Emadi said. “You must strongly condemn and hold accountable the Iranian regime for murder and mass arrest of defenseless protesters.”

“You must impose sanctions on the regime for killings and arrests during current uprisings,” said Emadi, who supports the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

At least 21 protesters have been killed since protests began on December 27, but some say the number is much higher. Authorities in Iran have said that at least 450 people weredetained, but the U.S. Department of State said the number could be as many as 1,000, CNN reported.

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.

Decision Time on Iran

December 15, 2017

Decision Time on Iran, Washinton Free Beacon, December 15, 2017

(Please see also, Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal. — DM)

President Hassan Rouhani in front of a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei / Getty Images

Very soon, President Trump will have to decide whether America should remain a bystander to Iranian expansionism or take steps to confront this menace to international security and sponsor of global terrorism.

In October, when the president failed to certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aka the Iran nuclear deal, he began a process that is almost certain to force him to make controversial decisions in the coming months.

The Congress has had 60 days to propose measures that would punish Iran for its misbehavior and strengthen the JCPOA. It has not done so. The issue will therefore wind up once again in the Oval Office in January, when President Trump will choose between maintaining an agreement with a noncompliant signatory and re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

The pressure will be great from Democrats, Europeans, realists, and the remnants of the Obama echo chamber to persist in the fiction that a bad deal is better than no deal at all. Relenting to such pressure would signal to Iran that America is comfortable with a terrible status quo, and would bolster the impression among our allies that we are willing to cede the region to the Russian-Turkish-Iranian axis. Which would be a mistake.

To date, President Trump’s Iran policy has been mostly rhetorical. Other than decertification and shooting down two Iranian drones over Syria, the United States, writes Middle East analyst Tony Badran, “has relied on an indirect approach, premised on avoiding direct confrontation with Iran and its instruments,” such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. But, adds Badran, “this indirect, long-term approach has proven futile and counterproductive.” Iranian proxies have used the opportunity to consolidate their positions and expand their reach.

That has led to an Iranian presence on the border of Israel, inflamed sectarian tensions in Iraq, and missiles fired at Riyadh from the portions of Yemen under Houthi control. And all the while the mullahs in Tehran and their Revolutionary Guard Corps continue to benefit from the economic opportunities realized in the JCPOA.

The Trump administration seems to have recognized that Iran has the upper hand and started to resist. In recent days H.R. McMaster and Mike Pompeo have warned against Iranian influence in Syria, the administration has said that American forces will remain in Syria in the aftermath of the ISIS campaign, and Nikki Haley has denounced Iran’s illegal transfer of weaponry and technology to the Houthis. Monday brings the release of the president’s national security strategy, which is sure to have similar harsh language.

What has been missing is direct action against either Iran or its proxies. Instead we have a patchwork policy of containment that does not contain. Reuel Marc Gerecht describes it this way: “The White House annoys Tehran with minor sanctions, sells more weaponry to Gulf Arabs, occasionally has a second-tier official—the secretary of state—give a speech on Iranian oppression, leaves some troops in Syria and Iraq, and calls it progress.” Gerecht’s language is illustrative of the limits on American power that we have imposed on ourselves. A gnat annoys. A superpower overwhelms.

Having already to deal with tensions on the Korean peninsula, war in Afghanistan, and a global counterterrorism campaign, the temptation must be strong for the president to use the Sunni powers as U.S. subcontractors in the fight against Iran. He of all people should know that subcontractors are sometimes unreliable. But the cost of enhanced Iranian power in the Middle East and Persian Gulf is not printed on an invoice that the United States can refuse to pay.

Last week the president ignored received opinion and acted on the common sense notion that reality is indeed as it seems, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that willful ignorance is no escape from that fact. The conflagration that his internal and external critics predicted would follow this assertion of truth failed to materialize. Is it too much to hope that in 2018 he will follow his instincts once more, and act upon a concrete appraisal of the situation despite the insistence of elite opinion to the contrary?

For the JCPOA really is, as the president has said, a terrible deal. Iran does not have the interests of either the United States or our allies in mind. And speeches are no substitute for the unapologetic assertion of might in the right.

Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal

December 12, 2017

Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal, Washington Times December 11, 2017

President Trump said on Oct. 13 that Iran is not living up to the “spirit” of the nuclear deal that it signed in 2015. (Associated Press/File)

Congress is about to miss what was widely seen as a deadline to deal with President Trump’s demands for a harder line on the Iran nuclear deal, failing to agree on new sanctions against Tehran and punting the future of the deal back to Mr. Trump.

A Republican legislative push to establish new “triggers” that could reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran lifted under the Obama-era deal has gone nowhere ahead of Tuesday — the end of a 60-day unofficial deadline set by the administration for Capitol Hill to weigh in on the situation after Mr. Trump declared he could no longer certify that the accord was in the U.S. national interest.

Congressional aides say lawmakers still have time to propose something before Mr. Trump is mandated to decide again whether to weigh in on the deal, but White House aides say the president is rankled by the lack of progress on Capitol Hill and likely will pull the United States out of the deal entirely when it comes up for review on Jan. 13.

In October, Mr. Trump called on Congress and American allies party to the 2015 accord — including Britain, France and Germany — to propose ways to address what he called the deal’s “serious flaws,” including its failure to reimpose sanctions should Iran continue to carry out ballistic missile tests in violation of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions. Russia and China also signed the accord and, to date, none of the other signatories has followed the U.S. lead in trying to overhaul the agreement.

U.N. monitors have also repeatedly said Tehran is honoring the letter of the 2015 agreement in curtailing its suspect nuclear programs.

“Come January, the president may be extremely frustrated that neither Congress nor the Europeans have responded to his request for ways to fix the deal,” Mark Dubowitz, an analyst on Iran sanctions and CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in an interview. “It’s entirely possible at that time that the president will walk away from the deal.”

According to a law enacted by Congress in 2015, the president must certify every 90 days that Iran is honoring the deal and that it is in the U.S. national interest. Mr. Trump, in the early days of his administration, twice formally certified Iran’s compliance, but he clearly chafed at seeming to endorse an agreement that he harshly criticized on the campaign trail last year.

He made clear his unhappiness when announcing his Iran deal decision two months ago.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Mr. Trump said on Oct. 13. The deal “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”

Some of the president’s top aides, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have advocated staying in the deal out of concern about the negative effects an American pullout could have on Middle East security and on U.S. allies that remain committed to the deal.

The Obama administration strongly backed the agreement, which gave major sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for limits to its nuclear programs. For decades before the accord, the Islamic republic was suspected of developing nuclear weapons in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Legislative fix

Critics say the restrictions on Tehran will expire over the coming decade and that Iran has not moderated its policies in other areas the way President Obama and other supporters of the deal had hoped.

Mr. Trump moved in October to decertify the deal but stopped short of fully pulling Washington out of the agreement. Instead, he called on lawmakers to come up with legislative fixes “to strengthen enforcement, prevent Iran from developing an … intercontinental ballistic missile and make all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity permanent under U.S. law.”

Several senior administration officials told reporters on background ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement in October that the White House was giving Congress 60 days to deliver on such legislation, but congressional aides argued Monday that the president never put a hard deadline on the request.

Aides to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, say he is negotiating with key lawmakers such as Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, and Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who is one of the most prominent critics of the deal on Capitol Hill, to meet Mr. Trump’s demands for legislative action.

“Sen. Corker remains engaged in productive discussions with Sen. Cardin, Sen. Cotton and the administration about the appropriate path forward,” Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Corker, said Monday.

If the legislation comes to the fore and passes before Jan. 13 — an unlikely scenario given the limited number of congressional working days until then — there are concerns about how U.S. allies in Europe who signed the nuclear accord would react.

Analysts say any legislation calling for a reimposition of sanctions on Iran could trigger a demand from Iran for a renegotiation of the entire nuclear accord. There is little appetite for reopening the accord in Europe, where concerns are high that it would lead to an all-out collapse of the existing deal.

European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini has firmly rejected the idea of trying to renegotiate the agreement in hopes of getting new concessions from Iran. After a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Capitol Hill last month, Mrs. Mogherini told reporters flat out that “renegotiation [of the nuclear deal] is not an option.”

She also stressed that European nations “wish to see the United States continue in the implementation of the deal.”

There are also concerns about the impact a Trump administration pullout from the Iranian accord may have on U.S. efforts to engage in a negotiated solution to another nuclear-related crisis — that with North Korea.

Donald Trump’s undermining of the Iran nuclear deal only shrinks U.S. options for dealing with North Korea,” said Andray Abrahamian, a visiting fellow with the Jeju Peace Research Institute, a South Korea-based think tank.

“The U.S. president’s decertification of Tehran’s compliance will be well noted in Pyongyang, giving North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a credible excuse for refusing to negotiate with Washington,” Mr. Abrahamian wrote in a recent commentary published by Reuters.

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran

October 31, 2017

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran, Washington Free Beacon, October 30, 2017

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and Iranian technicians at a nuclear power plant of Natanz / Getty Images

The United States is pursuing a rigorous new regime for international inspections of Iran’s nuclear program that includes access to off-limits military sites as well as increased transparency on the Islamic Republic’s often obfuscated enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, according to U.S. officials and congressional leaders spearheading the new inspection effort.

A delegation of 13 leading senators petitioned the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, led by Ambassador Nikki Haley, to implement a series of stricter inspection methods that would give Western countries a deeper look into Iran’s suspected use of military sites to continue contested nuclear work prohibited under the landmark nuclear agreement, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration is said to be fully on board with these tougher inspection measures, which could address lingering questions about Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, U.S. officials said. Iran has been found in breach several times since the accord was implemented.

The letter, spearheaded by Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) and a delegation of top GOP senators, urges the United States to force the United Nations into accepting a tough new nuclear inspection regime in Iran that could shed sunlight on the country’s hidden nuclear efforts.

Many of Iran’s most contested military sites and uranium enrichment plants have been off-limits to international inspectors or subject to a delayed timeline that gives Iran at least a month to prepare for inspections, a part of the nuclear agreement that has come under particular criticism from those who say it gives the Islamic Republic time to cleanup and hide possible nuclear work falling outside of the accord.

The senators highlight a series of “shortcomings in the inspection and verification regime” led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which has itself admitted in recent months that it does not have a full picture of Iran’s current nuclear program.

A major “deterioration in the amount and quality of the information provided by IAEA inspections [has] prevented the inspection and verification regime of the JCPOA from being as thorough and transparent as possible,” the senators write, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. is said to fully back these tougher inspection requests and is already pushing for a change at Turtle Bay.

“The senators’ letter is completely in sync with Ambassador Haley’s concerns about Iranian nuclear inspections,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission told the Free Beacon Monday, several days after the senators first sent their letter.

Haley “will continue to press for the most aggressive implementation of the nuclear deal, while also working to move the U.N. toward stronger measures against dangerous Iranian actions that fall outside of the deal, including their missile testing, arms smuggling, and support for terrorism,” the official said.

A spokesperson for Perdue’s office described the letter as part of a larger bid to crackdown on flaws in the nuclear deal that were originally obfuscated by the Obama administration when it first sold the deal to Congress and the American public.

“It’s very clear President Obama’s dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal doesn’t have the teeth he claimed it would,” the congressional official told the Free Beacon. “President Trump was right to decertify this deal, and now we have to turn up the pressure on the IAEA to get more detailed reporting and ensure all potential nuclear sites—including military installations—are inspected thoroughly.”

“Senator Perdue is encouraged Ambassador Haley has brought these issues to the U.N. and supports her effort to get better information about Iran’s nuclear activities,” the source said.

U.S. officials and those in Congress are seeking to close a series of gaps that have allowed Tehran to receive a month’s notice before inspections and also keep secret its most contested military sites.

The letter highlights flaws in a portion of the nuclear deal known as Section T, which is supposed to provide assurances that Iran is not engaging in any activities that would contribute to the design or development of a nuclear explosive device.

The IAEA has admitted in recent weeks that it is unclear exactly how to interpret this portion of the accord and has been unable to fully verify efforts undertaken by Iran on this front.

Without this information, the United States cannot fully determine “if Iran makes any effort to leave the JCPOA abruptly or gradually,” according to the letter, which was also signed by Sens.Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), and several others.

Access to Iran’s military sites remains a key outstanding issue for the Trump administration and Congress, according to these officials, who say there is no credibly way to determine Iranian compliance with the nuclear accord without such access.

“We believe that without visits to military sites, the IAEA cannot make a credible conclusion that Iran is meeting its section T obligations,” the senators wrote.

The group is also pushing greater transparency on Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts, including its mining of uranium ore and yellow cake.

Inspection regimes “should include the number of visits to mines and ore concentration plants,” according to the senators, who say that Iran should be forced to inform the West about the amount of yellow cake it produces.

Additional new measures would include disclosures of “the type and amount of uranium fed into [nuclear] cascades at” each of Iran’s facilities. Such information would provide a clearer picture of how much enriched uranium Iran has on hand.

Iran must also provide more information about the number of nuclear centrifuges it is operating in its Natanz plant, as well as other areas, according to the senators, who are pushing for greater inspection of Iran’s storage of advanced nuclear centrifuges.

This would include “an assessment on if the IAEA surveillance measures are conclusive” on this front, or if further inspections are needed.

“With these improvements to inspection and reporting practices, we can better deny Iran’s access to a nuclear weapons capability,” the senators wrote.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council declined to comment on the letter, saying it does not discuss “correspondence between Congress and government officials,” but the issues highlighted in the missive appear to jibe with the Trump administration’s public criticism of the accord.

One veteran foreign policy insider for works closely with Congress on the Iran portfolio told the Free Beacon that the new U.S. inspection efforts highlight important ways in which the IAEA’s current regime has failed to provide critical information about Tehran’s nuclear progress.

“This letter does a couple of things,” the source said. “It highlights how the IAEA has been spinning its wheels in Iran, and hasn’t visited the sites where Iran is likely to be developing nuclear weapons technology.”

“It also serves notice that Congress knows the IAEA is full of shit when its top officials say they’ve confirmed Iran is complying with the deal,” the source added.

70% of U.S. Voters Think Iran Deal Should Be Reworked, Require Senate Ratification

October 24, 2017

70% of U.S. Voters Think Iran Deal Should Be Reworked, Require Senate Ratification, CNS NewsPatrick Goodenough, October 24, 2017

( – Seven in ten American voters believe the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration should be renegotiated, and an even larger majority, 81 percent, think any new deal should require Senate ratification, a new poll has found.

The Harvard-Harris survey for The Hill found 70 percent support for renegotiating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including 85 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats polled.

The strong opinions about the need for Senate approval are especially striking. The Obama administration chose to treat the JCPOA as a political agreement between governments rather than a treaty. Under the Constitution a treaty requires the support of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate before it can enter into force.

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, a key JCPOA negotiator and among its most vocal defenders, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2015 that the administration had not taken the treaty route with the nuclear deal because “you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”

Commenting on the poll results, Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn said, “Americans see Iran as a bad actor on all fronts and substantial majorities believe this agreement is being violated and never should have gone into effect without a Senate vote.”

In the absence of a Senate ratification requirement, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which requires the president every 90 days to certify that Iran is meeting its commitments under the deal, and that the suspension of U.S. sanctions continues to be in U.S. national security interests.

On October 13, President Trump for the first time decertified Iran’s compliance, a step that does not do away with the agreement but does pave the way for congressional action, including possible reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions within 60 days.

The poll – a collaboration between The Harris Poll and the Harvard Center for American Political Studies – suggests American voters are divided over Trump’s decertification decision, with just 51 percent of respondents agreeing with the move.

Still, 60 percent of the voters surveyed said the nuclear agreement was a bad one for the U.S., and two-thirds – including half of the Democrats polled – said Iran has not complied with its obligations under the deal.

“Voters want it renegotiated but are split on whether Trump’s decertification was right, underscoring the need for Trump to keep explaining his policy and actions to an electorate that supports his aims,” said Penn.

In response to Trump’s decertification decision, Congress has several options it can pursue.

Reimposing nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted under the JCPOA would be the most contentious choice, since it would constitute a U.S. violation of the deal and could cause it to unravel. Iran has, however, indicated that it could in such circumstances stay in the agreement without the U.S., but with the other negotiating partners – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Congress could alternatively amend the INARA, building in new demands for a renegotiated, stronger version of the JCPOA.

The administration could then use the legislation to push Iran and the other negotiating partners in a bid towards achieving the “better” deal that Trump has called for. The president warned in his Oct. 13 announcement that “in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.”

Finally, Congress could do nothing, thereby lobbing the ball back into Trump’s court to deal with the next time the 90-day certification requirement comes round, in mid-January.

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’

October 18, 2017

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’, Breitbart,  Clare M. Lopez, October 17, 2017


Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.


President Donald J. Trump put the Iranian regime on notice with his speech last week: the time when the United States (U.S.) government would turn a blind eye to its decades-long drive for deliverable nuclear weapons is over. Citing a long litany of destabilizing, rogue behavior on the part of Tehran, the president announced he would not re-certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear deal.

That is a necessary and first step, but must be followed up with a clear U.S. strategy for ending Iranian support to Islamic terror proxies and the criminal regime of Syrian Bashar al-Assad, its reckless regional aggression, human rights abuses against its own people, and above all, development of an entire range of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – biological, chemical, and nuclear – as well as the ballistic missiles on which to deliver them.

By making explicit references to “Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program” and “illicit nuclear program,” President Trump acknowledged what many have known for a long time: there has never been a time since 1988, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first ordered his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to “get the bomb,” that Iran has not had a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The world first learned publicly about that illicit program in 2002, when the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) blew the lid off the program with revelations about places whose names are now well-known, including Natanz and Isfahan. Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

One of the most glaring problems with the terms of the JCPOA is that there is no obligatory mechanism under which the Iranian regime is compelled to open facilities to IAEA inspection where it is suspected that nuclear weapons work is being done. Iran’s leadership has made quite clear in numerous public statements that it will never allow inspectors onto military sites it declares off-limits. Unfortunately, this means there is no chance under the terms of the JCPOA for IAEA inspectors ever to clear up the many unresolved “Possible Military Dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program – involving nuclear warhead work, explosive charges to initiate the implosion sequence of a nuclear bomb, and more – that were enumerated in the November 2011 quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program by the IAEA Board of Governors.

On 11 October 2017, the NCRI issued a new report, entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” which reveals four more of the clandestine sites where the Iranian military is conducting nuclear weapons R&D. While Iran’s alarming and destabilizing geo-strategic behavior certainly provides more than enough reason for the president to find the JCPOA not in America’s national security interests, it is the Iranian regime’s blatant violation of the nuclear NPT as well as material breaches of the JCPOA (especially section T, that deals with nuclear warhead work), that fully justify U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal entirely.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles

October 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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