Posted tagged ‘Wendy Sherman’

Inspector Clouseau was unavailable (2)

August 21, 2015

Inspector Clouseau was unavailable (2), Power LineScott Johnson, August 21, 2015

Today the juicebox leftists at Vox and their fellow lefties elsewhere in the media took a stab at discrediting George Jahn’s August 19 AP story reporting the self-inspection provisions of the IAEA side deal with Iran applicable to the Parchin facility. The AP has now posted the text of the original draft of the side deal here. The side deal shows President Obama and administration officials to be voluble liars on critically important matters inherent in the deal with Iran. Omri Ceren emails to provide the relevant background and bring the story up to date as of tonight. Omri writes:

The Obama administration spent the last 2 years telling lawmakers and reporters that any deal with Iran would require the Iranians to provide IAEA inspectors robust access to the Parchin military base, where the Iranians conducted hydrodynamic experiments relevant to the detonation of nuclear warheads. The IAEA needs the access to determine how far the Iranians got as a prerequisite to establishing a verification regime. Sherman in 2013: the JPOA requires Iran to “address past and present practices… including Parchin” [a]; Sherman in 2014: “as part of any comprehensive agreement… we expect, indeed, Parchin to be resolved” [b]; Harf in 2015: “we would find it… very difficult to imagine a JCPA that did not require such [inspector] access at Parchin” [c]; etc.

Last month Sen. Risch suggested in an open SFRC hearing that the West had collapsed on the requirement, and that instead the Iranians had worked out a secret side deal with Iran under which the Iranians would be trusted to collect their own samples for the IAEA [d]. Kerry refused to confirm the arrangement citing classification issues, but the AP’s Vienna reporter locked it down anyway [e].

White House officials and validators continued to declare that no way would the IAEA ever agree to that kind of arrangement, since it would preclude the agency from securing a chain of custody over the evidence. But the administration refused to transmit the side deal to Congress – which would have resolved the debate – and instead claimed that the U.S. couldn’t get the text because it was a confidential Iran-IAEA bilateral agreement. Business Insider confirmed that in fact U.S. diplomats can call for the agreement at any time because Washington sits on the IAEA’s Board of Governors [f]. Nonetheless Kerry told Congress that not only did the U.S. not have the text, but that he hadn’t even seen the final wording, though he added that maybe “Wendy Sherman may have” (she subsequently clarified she hadn’t either [g]).

Yesterday the AP revealed that its reporters had – in contrast – seen a draft reflecting the final language, and that they were in a position to confirm the concessions made to Iran [h]. Instead of allowing IAEA inspectors to collect evidence from Parchin, samples will be collected by the Iranians using Iranian equipment. Instead of allowing the IAEA to collect everything it wants, only seven samples will be handed over from mutually agreed upon areas. Instead of giving inspectors access to facilities, photos and videos will be taken by the Iranians themselves, again only from mutually agreed upon areas.

After yesterday’s article was published someone – presumably an overeager AP editor – tried to save some space by cutting several somewhat redundant paragraphs from the original draft. That triggered a flood of conspiracy theories about the AP retracting the story, and this morning there were a flood of snarky attacks on the outlet: “The AP’s controversial and badly flawed Iran inspections story, explained” (Vox [i]), “BREAKING: Nuclear Stuff Really Complicated” (TPM [k]), “Revised AP report… overwrites some of the more troubling aspects” (Haaretz [l]), “Potentially Deal-Shattering Report About Iran Inspections Has Some Issues” (HuffPo [j), etc.

As the news cycle unfolded today it became clear that the AP had the goods on the collapse to Iran. The AP restored the cut paragraphs and added a Washington angle [n]. AP reporters started listing specific concessions confirmed by the document [o][p][q][r] – and publicly daring critics to deny them [s]. Meanwhile IAEA chief Amano put out a statement that sought to defend the deal, but very much did not deny the AP report [m]. Then the afternoon press briefing happened, and again – as with Amano – State Department spokesman Kirby pointedly declined to back the White House validators who had attacked the AP’s report [t]:

QUESTION: … The points in the article that Iran would take the soil samples, Iran would take the videos; there would be seven points within Parchin, two points outside; that there wouldn’t necessarily be any IAEA inspectors in the facility… you don’t challenge those per se?
MR KIRBY: Well, as I said yesterday, Brad, I’m not going to comment about the contents of a draft document between the IAEA and Iran. Even the director general wouldn’t go so far as to reveal the details of what is a confidential agreement…

QUESTION: … was there any specific item in the story that – factual item in the story that was wrong? I don’t want to know which one it is, but there are times when you guys will say this was inaccurate without saying specifically what because you can’t comment on the specifics. So was there anything you can specifically say without identifying it that was inaccurate…
MR KIRBY: Well, as I said to Brad, I’m not going to get into speaking about the details of a draft document between —
QUESTION: I’m not asking about the details.
MR KIRBY: Arshad, I know, if you’d just let me finish.
QUESTION: Yep.
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to get into speaking about the details between – of a draft document between the IAEA and Iran or any other nation for that matter…

Then finally the AP just published the full text of the side deal, confirming the previous reporting [linked above].

After you read the side deal – which is short – you should also read another article the AP published this afternoon, which is an explainer on the substance of the Parchin debate now that the side deal is public. I wanted to make sure you caught the part about some of the policy and policy angles that are going to get reported out over the next few days:

The document on Parchin…will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons… Any indication that the IAEA is diverging from established inspection rules could weaken the agency… and feed suspicions that it is ready to overly compromise in hopes of winding up a probe that has essentially been stalemated for more than a decade. Politically, the arrangement has been grist for American opponents of the broader separate agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Critics have complained that the wider deal is built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.

On a policy level, the side deal effectively trusts Iran to investigate its own violations, something that comes off as a bit absurd on its face (“will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny”). On a political level, that absurdity will confirm suspicions that the IAEA has been pressured by parties who want to put aside substantive concerns over the viability of the nuclear deal in order to preserve it at all costs.

[a] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-113shrg87828/html/CHRG-113shrg87828.htm
[b] http://www.shearman.com/~/media/Files/Services/Iran-Sanctions/US-Resources/Joint-Plan-of-Action/4-Feb-2014–Transcript-of-Senate-Foreign-Relations-Committee-Hearing-on-the-Iran-Nuclear-Negotiations-Panel-1.pdf
[c] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/04/240324.htm
[d] https://youtu.be/N4TK8hOLrNA?t=9m44s
[e] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e1ccf648e18a4788ac94861a3bc1b966/officials-iran-may-take-own-samples-alleged-nuclear-site
[f] http://www.businessinsider.com/secret-part-of-the-iran-agreement-2015-7#ixzz3hVReKYZ0
[g] http://thehill.com/policy/defense/250306-obama-iran-deal-negotiator-says-she-didnt-see-final-side-deals
[h] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a9f4e40803924a8ab4c61cb65b2b2bb3/ap-exclusive-un-let-iran-inspect-alleged-nuke-work-site8
[i] http://www.vox.com/2015/8/20/9182185/ap-iran-inspections-parchin
[j] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ap-story-iran-inspections_55d50eeee4b0ab468d9fce0c%5D
[k] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/breaking-nuclear-stuff-really-complicated
[l] http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.672049
[m] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/statement-iaea-director-general-yukiya-amano-1
[n] https://twitter.com/wbenjaminson/status/634374928435970048
[o] https://twitter.com/bklapperAP/status/634386430542880770
[p] https://twitter.com/bklapperAP/status/634386158030594048
[q] https://twitter.com/bklapperAP/status/634385484232433664
[r] https://twitter.com/bklapperAP/status/634385265046487040
[s] https://twitter.com/bklapperAP/status/634405116859318272
[t] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/08/246211.htm#IRAN

Iranian negotiator discusses talks with Moniz

August 6, 2015

Iranian negotiator discusses talks with Moniz, Al Monitor, Arash Karami, August 5, 2015

(A sweet deal between good friends. — DM)

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Salehi said that he was asked to join the nuclear talks when the discussions on the Natanz enrichment facility reached a dead end. Salehi said he would only join the talks if Moniz, his American counterpart, did as well. According to Salehi, this was approved by Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, which he described as “the communications link between America and Iran.”

*****************

One of the most popular American negotiators in Iranian social media was US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor emeritus and former director of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment joined the nuclear talks between Iran and five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) to discuss the technical aspects of the nuclear deal with the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi.

In an interview with an Iranian newspaper, Salehi spoke about the negotiations and his relationship with Moniz. Just as Moniz was picked to lead the technical negotiations due to his nuclear expertise, Salehi, an MIT graduate, is one of the few individuals to have held important positions for three consecutive administrations — a sign that he has the trust of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Salehi first denied accusations that former hard-line nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was not a serious negotiator. Salehi was Iran’s foreign minister at the time and said that when he was at the meetings with the Supreme National Security Council, Jalili’s negotiating positions were in line with the country’s positions and that “he did not go rogue.”

According to Salehi, the reason for the deadlock during that time was the differences among the P5+1. Specifically, the EU3 (France, United Kingdom and Germany) saw their positions and interests separate from the E3 (US, Russia and China). He said that even when European Union Chief Catherine Ashton reached a point of agreement with Iran on one issue, one country would oppose it and throw everything off. This is why Iran agreed to bilateral talks with the United States in Oman.

Salehi said that he was asked to join the nuclear talks when the discussions on the Natanz enrichment facility reached a dead end. Salehi said he would only join the talks if Moniz, his American counterpart, did as well. According to Salehi, this was approved by Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, which he described as “the communications link between America and Iran.”

Salehi said he and Moniz did not know each other well when they were at MIT, but when they first met during the talks, “there was a feeling that he has known me for years.” Salehi added, “A number of my classmates are now Mr. Moniz’s experts.”

According to Salehi, Moniz entering the talks was important because Salehi expressed that he had been sent with “full authority” to sign off on all technical issues in the nuclear negotiations and Moniz had told him that he had the same authority. He added, “If the negotiations did not take place with the Americans, the reality is that it would not have reached a conclusion. No [other] country was ready to sit with us and negotiate for 16 days with their foreign minister and all of its experts.”

Salehi said that one of the more difficult times negotiating with Moniz was after they reached an agreement on a particular issue. Moniz would take it to the other members of P5+1, who would then make their own requests.

It was also reported that Moniz had given Salehi a gift for the birth of his granddaughter — clothes and a toy embossed with MIT logos. Salehi said that he had also brought gifts for Moniz — Iranian honey and trail mix of Iranian nuts.

 

Obama negotiator says she didn’t see final Iran ‘side deals’

August 5, 2015

Obama negotiator says she didn’t see final Iran ‘side deals,’ The Hill, Kristina Wong, August 5, 2015

(Were the secret agreements on which Kerry, et al, were “fully briefed” and hence know “exactly” what they say also “rough drafts?” Unlike Ms. Sherman, Kerry testified that he had not seen the secret agreement(s).– DM)

shermanwendy_052715gettyGetty Images

[L]ater in the hearing, she walked back her comments about not seeing the final arrangements. 

“I was shown documents that I believed to be the final documents, but whether there were any further discussions…” she added before being cut off by another question by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Later, she said responded, “I have” when asked whether she saw the final versions of the deals.

****************

The only Obama administration official to view confidential “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) admitted Wednesday she and her team have only seen rough drafts.

“I didn’t see the final documents. I saw the provisional documents, as did my experts,” said Wendy Sherman, a lead U.S. negotiator for the deal, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.  

Sherman, undersecretary of State for political affairs, said she was only allowed to see the confidential deals “in the middle of the negotiation” when the IAEA “wanted to go over with some of our experts the technical details.” 

She maintained the deals — which focus on with Iran’s prior work on a bomb and access to Iran’s Parchin military site — are still confidential and can’t be submitted to Congress.

Sherman said the U.S. did not protest to the confidentiality of the agreements, despite the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act demanding all related agreements, because the administration wanted the IAEA to respect the confidentiality of their agreements with the U.S.

“We want to protect U.S. confidentiality … this is a safeguards protocol. The IAEA protects our confidential understandings … between the United States and the IAEA,” she said.

However, later in the hearing, she walked back her comments about not seeing the final arrangements.

“I was shown documents that I believed to be the final documents, but whether there were any further discussions…” she added before being cut off by another question by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Later, she said responded, “I have” when asked whether she saw the final versions of the deals.

She also argued they could not be submitted to Congress because the administration does not have the deals, and that the Senate had “every single document” the administration has.

Sherman emphasized she would brief Senators later Wednesday afternoon in a classified session on everything she knows about the deal.

A similar briefing for House lawmakers last week did not assuage concerns for Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday calling on the administration to submit the deals.

She also noted that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later in the afternoon.

Although she said the U.S. did not ask or pressure Amano to conduct the briefing, she suggested it was a gesture beyond what the IAEA is obligated to do.

What information collected by Israeli intelligence reveals about the Iran talks

July 29, 2015

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

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

***********************

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam, Imam Obama, Sir John of Kerry and a great deal for Iran | Part II

July 20, 2015

(The views expressed in this post are mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Dealing from the Bottom

The current “deal” is based on a long-standing scam

Part I of this series, published on July 14, 2015, pointed out what should be a glaring consistency in the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” first made available on that date, and the November 24, 2013 Joint Plan of Actionneither provides for any “anytime -anywhere” inspections of Iran’s nuclear weaponization or missile sites. That consistency has been little remarked upon elsewhere.

Secretary Kerry now acknowledges that he never sought such inspections.

Leaving aside the twenty-four day lag between an IAEA request to inspect suspect facilities — which Kerry says is just fine — he claims that we now have a “unique ability” to get the U.N. Security Council to force inspections and reinstate sanctions. However, any effort to do so would almost certainly be vetoed by one or more Security Council members. The permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — five of the members of P5+1 which approved the “deal.”

On July 16th, US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said,

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

Kerry also claimed that the massive financial boost for Iran resulting from the lifting of sanctions will not enhance Iran’s support for terrorism.

Speaking to the BBC after the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers was reached, Kerry said that the more than $100 billion that Iran is set to receive “is going to make all the difference in the world is just – it’s not true.”

Acknowledging Iran is an international player in wreaking terror across the globe, Kerry said, “What Iran has done for years with Hezbollah does not depend on money.” He similarly stated Iran’s support of the Houthi rebels against the government in Yemen has not “depended on money.” [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

In its most recent report, the State Department wrote, “Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran.”

In 2010 alone, State reported “Iran provides roughly $100-$200 million per year in funding to support Hezbollah.”

Secretary Kerry is almost certainly wrong, on that as on other aspects of the “deal.”.

Here’s Megan Kelly’s wrap up.

 

Iran may reject the “deal.”

There are at least glimmers of hope that Iran may reject the “deal,” unanimously endorsed by the UN Security council today.

A UN Security Council resolution endorsing Iran’s nuclear deal that passed on Monday is unacceptable, the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammed Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

“Some parts of the draft have clearly crossed the Islamic republic’s red lines, especially in Iran’s military capabilities. We will never accept it,” he was quoted as saying shortly before the resolution was passed in New York. [Emphasis added.]

The Iranian Parliament also has problems with the “deal.”

On Saturday, the Fars News Agency reported that the Majlis threatened to reject the agreement’s provision on ballistic missiles, which call for an international embargo on missile technology to be extended for eight years–a significant, last-minute concession by the U.S.

Iran wants unrestricted ballsitic missile development and access to conventional arms dealers abroad.

“The parliament will reject any limitations on the country’s access to conventional weapons, specially ballistic missiles,” said Tehran MP Seyed Mehdi Hashemi.

. . . .

In addition, the nuclear deal says that the Majlis will ratify the Additional Protocol (AP) to the Non-Proliferation Treaty–but it does not say when.

The AP is the key to long-term monitoring of Iranian nuclear research and development by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Without approval of the AP, Iran may hide key information about its nuclear activity, and may accelerate advanced centrifuge research immediately when the nuclear deal expires, among other hazards. (Even then, its commitments under the AP will be somewhat voluntary.) [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

[W]hile the interim agreement of Nov. 2013 provided that Iran would ratify the AP within one year, there is no such deadline in the final Iran deal. The AP is merely to be applied “provisionally,” while the Majlis decides whether to accept it or not.

Meanwhile, if the Obama administration has its way, the U.S. Congress will have no opportunity to amend the deal–and will have to accept the lifting of international sanctions regardless of whether legislators accept or reject the agreement. [Emphasis added.]

Iranian leadership’s opposition to the “deal” appears to have come from Iran’s Supreme leader and the Iranian Parliament has the authority to reject the “deal.”

As expected, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s reaction to the nuclear deal was utterly different from that of President Hassan Rouhani. Right after the agreement was announced on July 14, Rouhani appeared on state television and praised the outcome. Yet when he and other officials visited Khamenei’s home a few hours later, the Supreme Leader did not say anything about the deal apart from a few lines thanking the negotiators. This reticence signaled to hardliners that they should increase their attacks on the agreement. [Emphasis added.]

America’s Supreme Leader, on the other hand, has been pushing vigorously to force the U.S. Congress to approve it, with no way to change it.

 

The “deal,” and Obama’s foreign policy in general, are rooted in His affinity for Islam

Obama may or may not be a Muslim. However, He thinks very highly of Islam and deems it the “religion of peace.” It would be ironic were Obama’s Iran “deal” to be rejected by Iran.

As observed in a Jerusalem Post article, with the thrust of which I agree, His affinity for Islam is at the root of His “deal.”

Obama is the first US president who genuinely conceives of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or interests.

. . . .

It is through this Islamo-philic prism that the Obama administration’s attitude to, and execution of, its foreign policy must be evaluated – including its otherwise incomprehensible capitulation this week on Iran’s nuclear program. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

The inspection mechanism provided for in the nascent deal make a mockery of Obama’s contention (July 14): “… this deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification,” and, “Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location… [They] will have access where necessary, when necessary.”

One can hardly imagine a more grossly misleading representation of the deal – so much so that it is difficult not to find it strongly reminiscent of the Muslim tactic of taqiya (the religiously sanctioned deception of non-Muslims). [Emphasis added.]

Indeed, immediately following the announcement of the agreement, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, made a stunning admission to CNN’s Erin Burnett. Starkly contradicting the president’s contention of “access where necessary, when necessary,” Rhodes conceded, “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere,” which is diametrically opposed to the impression he conveyed in April this year when queried on this issue. [Emphasis added.]

In His capacity as America’s Imam in Chief, Obama has consistently claimed that the “religion of peace” has nothing to do with the Islamic State or with Islamic terrorism (of which he claims there is none) — such as the recent murder of four members of the U.S. Marines and one member of the U.S. Navy — committed in the name of Allah. The Daily Beast has posted some of the terrorist’s writings. They include these statements:

“I would imagine that any sane person would devote their time to mastering the information on the study guide and stay patient with their studies, only giving time for the other things around to keep themselves focused on passing the exam,” Abdulazeez wrote. “They would do this because they know and have been told that they will be rewarded with pleasures that they have never seen.”

This life is that test, he wrote, “designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire.”

. . . .

“We ask Allah to make us follow their path,” Abdulazeez wrote. “To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world.” [Emphasis added.]

Obama apparently considers the Islamic Republic of Iran to be Islamic — and therefore peaceful — despite its widespread support for its terrorist proxies. That may explain the credence He gives to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s alleged fatwa preventing Iran from obtaining nukes. Obama and Khamenei have frequently referred to it in support of that proposition, although no text been produced. According to a Washington Post article dated November 27, 2013,

Oddly, the Iranian Web site does not provide the text of the original fatwa — and then mostly cites Western news reports as evidence that Khamenei has reiterated it on several occasions. The fatwa does not appear to be written, but in the Shiite tradition equal weight is given to oral and written opinions.

. . . .

Just about every Alfred Hitchcock thriller had what he called a “MacGuffin” — a plot device that gets the action going but is unimportant to the overall story. The Iranian fatwa thus appears to be a diplomatic MacGuffin — something that gives the Americans a reason to begin to trust the Iranians and the Iranians a reason to make a deal. No one knows how this story will end, but just as in the movies, the fatwa likely will not be critical to the outcome. [Emphasis added.]

Even if one believes the fatwa exists — and will not later be reversed — it clearly appears to have evolved over time. U.S. officials should be careful about saying the fatwa prohibits the development of nuclear weapons, as that is not especially clear anymore. The administration’s statements at this point do not quite rise to the level of  earning Pinocchios, but we will keep an eye on this issue. [Emphasis added.]

An April 6, 2015 article at the Middle East Media Research Institute provides additional information.

In March of this year Obama presented a Nowruz message to the people of Iran citing Khamenei’s alleged fatwa. Here’s a video from the White House.

Here are a few interesting excerpts:

“Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain,” he said. “And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution. My message to you—the people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek. [Emphasis added.]

“As I have said many times before, I believe that our countries should be able to resolve this issue peacefully, with diplomacy,” Obama said. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon. [Emphasis added.]

Isn’t that special! Why, in light of the alleged fatwa, does Iranian television broadcast simulations of nuclear attacks on Israel?

A short animated film being aired across Iran, shows the nuclear destruction of Israel and opens with the word ‘Holocaust’ appearing on the screen, underneath which a Star of David is shown, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Tuesday.

Khamenei’s Death to America rants are considered an excellent reason to have a “deal.”

Similarly, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was fond of saying “God Damn America.”

Obama apparently understood Khamenei’s words, but perhaps He didn’t understand Jeremiah’s words.

 

Conclusions

Elected on a platform of Hope and Change, Obama has brought us many changes; very few, if any, of those changes provide a basis for hope, at least until He has left office. Some will be difficult, if not impossible, even then to ameliorate. During His remaining time in office, He will continue to do His worst to eliminate any vestigial hope we may have. The “deal” with Iran is only one of the many changes for the worse that He has wrought.

Top US official: ‘Anytime, anyplace access’ to Iranian facilities was rhetorical flourish

July 16, 2015

Top US official: ‘Anytime, anyplace access’ to Iranian facilities was rhetorical flourish

via Top US official: ‘Anytime, anyplace access’ to Iranian facilities was rhetorical flourish – Middle East – Jerusalem Post.

 

The US pledge three months ago for “anytime, anyplace access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities was more of a rhetorical flourish than anything else, US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Thursday.

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

Sherman urged the Israeli public to read the 100-page agreement and then judge it on the facts.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed that under the accord, “instant” inspections will only be able to take place 24 days after requested, giving time – he charged – to clean up the site.

Sherman, however, quoted US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz as saying “it’s not so easy to clean up a nuclear site.” The reason there has been such a debate over IAEA inspectors visiting the Parchin military facility, she said, is that many years later there is still concern that the IAEA will find something there.

“Twenty four days may seem like a long time, but in nuclear matters, according to scientists and technical experts, it is actually a very short time,” she said.

Contrary to Netanyahu’s assertion that what was agreed upon in Vienna was a bad deal, Sherman called it “not only a good deal, but a very, very good deal” that not only fulfills the framework worked out in Lausanne three months ago, but actually went beyond it.

Sherman also said that there has been “extraordinarily close coordination” with Israeli experts, and that they were essential in development of certain components of the deal.

“One of your lead experts wrote an e-mail to us after the deal looking for further consultation to see where our joint experts produced a result,” she said. She added that Israeli experts were involved in everything from the redesign of the Arak hard water reactor, to looking at issues of weaponization that were in the accord.

She said Netanyahu urged Israeli experts to continue consultation and “give us the benefit of the expertise Israel has.” She said this cooperation “has been very valuable and consequential to the steps we took.”

 

 

Here’s the most critical part of Iran’s nuclear program that nobody is talking about

July 7, 2015

Here’s the most critical part of Iran’s nuclear program that nobody is talking about, Business Insider, Michael Eisenstadt, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, July 7, 2015

(Please see also, Iran’s Rafsanjani Reiterates ‘Israel Will Be Wiped Off The Map.’  — DM)

iran-missiles-exhibition-commemorationAtta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images. Missiles are displayed during ‘Sacred Defense Week,’ to commemorate the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Photo taken on Sept. 28, 2014 at a park in northern Tehran.

Early in the P5+1 negotiations, US officials stated that “every issue,” including the missile program, would be on the table. In February 2014, however, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman stated, “If we are successful in assuring ourselves and the world community that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon,” then that “makes delivery systems … almost irrelevant.”

****************

According to the latest reports stemming from the P5+1 talks, Iran is now insisting that UN sanctions on its ballistic missile program be lifted as part of a long-term nuclear accord.

In addition to further complicating already fraught negotiations, this development highlights the importance Tehran attaches to its missile arsenal, as well as the need to answer unresolved questions about possible links between its missile and nuclear programs.

Iran is believed to have the largest strategic missile force in the Middle East, producing short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, a long-range cruise missile, and long-range rockets. Although all of its missiles are conventionally armed at present, its medium-range ballistic missiles could deliver a nuclear weapon if Iran were to build such a device.

Early in the P5+1 negotiations, US officials stated that “every issue,” including the missile program, would be on the table. In February 2014, however, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman stated, “If we are successful in assuring ourselves and the world community that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon,” then that “makes delivery systems … almost irrelevant.”

Yet many observers remain concerned that personnel and facilities tied to Iran’s missile program were, and may still be, engaged in work related to possible military dimensions (PMD) of the nuclear program. These concerns underscore the need to effectively address the missile issue as part of the UN Security Council resolution that will backstop the long-term nuclear accord now being negotiated, if it will not be dealt with in the accord itself.

screen shot 2015-06-11 at 8.47.42 am copyEstimated Range of Iranian Long-Range Missile Forces

Deterrence, warfighting, and propaganda

The Iran-Iraq War convinced Tehran that a strong missile force is critical to the country’s security, and it has given the highest priority to procuring and developing various types of missiles and rockets. Missiles played an important role throughout that war and a decisive role in its denouement.

During the February-April 1988 “War of the Cities,” Iraq was able to hit Tehran with extended-range missiles for the first time. Iranian morale was devastated: more than a quarter of Tehran’s population fled the city, contributing to the leadership’s decision to end the war.

Since then, missiles have been central to Iran’s “way of war,” which emphasizes the need to avoid or deter conventional conflict while advancing its anti-status quo agenda via proxy operations and propaganda activities.

Iran’s deterrence triad rests on its ability to (1) threaten navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, (2) undertake terrorist attacks on multiple continents, and (3) conduct long-range strikes, primarily by missiles (or with rockets owned by proxies such as Hezbollah).

rtr2vqx9REUTERS/Fars News/Hamed Jafarnejad. Iranian military personnel participate in the Velayat-90 war game in unknown location near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran December 30, 2011.

Yet the first two options carry limitations.

Closing the strait would be a last resort because nearly all of Iran’s oil exports go through it and Tehran’s ability to wage terror has atrophied in recent years (as demonstrated by a series of bungled attacks on Israeli targets in February 2012). Therefore, Iran’s missile force is the backbone of its strategic deterrent.

Missiles enable Iran to mass fires against civilian population centers and undermine enemy morale. If their accuracy increases in the future, they could further stress enemy defenses (as every incoming missile would have to be intercepted) and enable Iran to target military facilities and critical infrastructure.

Although terrorist attacks afford a degree of standoff and deniability, missiles permit a quicker, more flexible response in a rapidly moving crisis — for example, after an initial series of preplanned terrorist attacks, Tehran or its proxies might need weeks to organize follow-on operations. Missile salvos can also generate greater cumulative effects in a shorter period than terrorist attacks.

Indeed, missiles are ideally suited to Iran’s “resistance doctrine,” which states that achieving victory entails demoralizing one’s enemies by bleeding their civilian population and denying them success on the battlefield. In this context, rockets are as important as missiles, since they yield the same psychological effect on the targeted population.

The manner in which Hezbollah and Hamas used rockets in their recent wars with Israel provides a useful template for understanding the role of conventionally armed missiles in Iran’s warfighting doctrine.

flickr_-_israel_defense_forces_-_damage_caused_by_rockets_fired_from_gaza_(10)Israel Defense Forces via Wikimedia Commons. An apartment building in the town of Kiryat Malachi, damaged as a result of rockets fired from Hamas.

Missiles are also Iran’s most potent psychological weapon. They are a central fixture of just about every regime military parade, frequently dressed with banners calling for “death to America” and declaring that “Israel should be wiped off the map.”

They are used as symbols of Iran’s growing military power and reach. And as the delivery system of choice for nuclear weapons states, they are a key element of Iran’s nascent doctrine of nuclear ambiguity and its attempts at “nuclear intimidation without the bomb.”

Finally, while most nuclear weapons states created their missile forces years after joining the “nuclear club” (due to the significant R&D challenges involved), Iran will already have a sophisticated missile force and infrastructure in place if or when it opts to go that route.

This ensures that a nuclear breakout would produce a dramatic and rapid transformation in Iran’s military stature and capabilities.

Iran’s missle force

Iran has a large, capable missile force, with a likely inventory of more than 800 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

These include single-stage liquid-fuel missiles such as the Shahab-1 (300 km range), Shahab-2 (500 km), Qiam (500-750 km), Shahab-3 (1,000-1,300 km), and Qadr (1,500-2,000 km).

Nearly all of them can reach US military targets in the Persian Gulf, and the latter two can reach Israel. These missiles, which include several subvariants, are believed to be conventionally armed with unitary high-explosive or submunition (cluster) warheads.

persian-gulf-missileKhalij Fars missile on a transporter.

Additionally, Iran has tested a two-stage solid-fuel missile, the Sejjil-2, whose range of over 2,000 km would allow it to target southeastern Europe — though it is apparently still not operational. In a June 28, 2011, press statement, Tehran claimed that it was capping the range of its missiles at 2,000 km (sufficient to reach Israel but not Western Europe), implicitly eschewing the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles in a presumed bid to deflect US and European concerns.

Yet its Safir launch vehicle, which has put four satellites into orbit since 2009, could provide the experience and knowhow needed to build an ICBM. (According to a May 2010 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Safir struggled to put a very small satellite into low-earth orbit and has probably reached the outer limits of its performance envelope, so it could not serve as an ICBM itself.) In 2010, Iran displayed a mockup of a larger two-stage satellite launch vehicle, the Simorgh, which it has not yet flown.

Tehran has also claimed an antiship ballistic missile capability that it probably intends for potential use against U.S. aircraft carriers: the Khalij-e Fars and its derivatives, the Hormuz-1/2, each with a claimed range of 300 km. Yet it is not clear that these systems are sufficiently accurate or effective to pose a credible threat to U.S. surface elements in the Gulf.

In addition, Iran recently unveiled the Soumar land-attack cruise missile, which is reportedly a reverse-engineered version of the Russian Raduga Kh-55. It has a claimed range of 2,500-3,000 km, though it may not be operational yet.

The Kh-55 was the Soviet air force’s primary nuclear delivery system.

Iran also fields a very large number of rockets, including the Noor 122 mm (with a range of 20 km), the Fajr-3 and -5 (45 and 75 km), and the Zelzal-1, -2, and -3 (with claimed ranges of 125 to 400 km). During the Iran-Iraq War, rockets played a major role in bombarding Iraqi cities along the border, and they are central to the “way of war” of Iranian proxies and allies such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Tehran has built this massive inventory so that it can saturate and thereby overwhelm enemy missile defenses in any conflict. It would likely use such tactics whether its missile force remains conventional or becomes nuclear-armed, since conventional missiles could serve as decoys that enable nuclear missiles to penetrate defenses. Numbers would also enable Iran to achieve cumulative strategic effects on enemy morale and staying power by conventional means.

missilesiranAP Photo/Iranian Defense Ministry. To outwork missile defense systems, Iran would use a high volume of missiles.

Finally, many of Iran’s missiles are mounted on mobile launchers, and a growing number are based in silo fields located mainly in the northwest and toward the frontier with Iraq.

This mix of launch options is likely intended to impede preemptive enemy targeting of its missile force. The resources invested in this effort are unprecedented for a conventionally armed force, which indicates that at least some of these missiles would likely be nuclear armed if Iran eventually goes that route.

Nuclear connections

In the annex of a November 8, 2011, report regarding the nuclear program’s possible military dimensions, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it possessed credible information and documents connecting Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. These indicated that, prior to the end of 2003, Iran had:

  • conducted engineering studies on integrating a spherical payload (possibly a nuclear implosion device) into a Shahab-3 reentry vehicle (RV);
  • tested a multipoint initiation system to set off a hemisphere-shaped high-explosive charge whose dimensions were consistent with the Shahab-3’s payload chamber; and
  • worked on a prototype firing system that would enable detonation upon impact or in an airburst 600 meters above a target (a suitable height for a nuclear device).

Moreover, in 2004, Iran began deploying triconic (or “stepped”) RVs — a design almost exclusively associated with nuclear missiles — on its Shahab variants.

Some experts (including Uzi Rubin and Michael Elleman) believe that Iran may have deployed the triconic RV to enhance the stability and thus the accuracy of its conventional warheads, and perhaps to achieve higher terminal velocities that could reduce reaction time for missile defenses.

But if Iran were able to build a miniaturized nuclear device, its experience in designing, testing, and operating missiles with triconic RVs could expedite deployment of this weapon. Indeed, David Albright claimed in his 2010 book Peddling Peril that members of the A. Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network possessed plans for smaller, more advanced nuclear weapon designs that might have found their way to Iran, though most experts doubt the regime’s ability to build such a compact device at this time.

russianukeDesmond Boylan/Reuter

Could Iran have smuggled in a nuclear bomb?

These reports underscore why Washington and its partners must insist that Tehran respond to the IAEA’s questions about past engineering studies, design work, tests, and other elements of the PMD file prior to the lifting of sanctions.

They also highlight the need for a UN Security Council resolution (as called for in the Lausanne parameters) that would impose limitations on Iran’s missile R&D work and threaten real consequences for those who assist Iran’s missile program.

Failure to do so would signal tacit acceptance of activities that could enable Iran to deploy its first nuclear weapon atop a medium-range missile — an achievement that took most nuclear weapons states, including the United States and Soviet Union, about a decade to accomplish.

This development would in turn magnify the destabilizing impact of an Iranian breakout, while incentivizing other regional states to either take preventive action or move toward nuclear capabilities of their own before Iran crosses that threshold.

EU officials confirm Israel not fully briefed on Iran talks

February 18, 2015

EU officials confirm Israel not fully briefed on Iran talks

US State Department reported to say Israelis would ‘twist details’ to undermine negotiations

By Avi Lewis February 18, 2015, 3:08 pm

via EU officials confirm Israel not fully briefed on Iran talks | The Times of Israel.

 


Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman speaks to the press in Jerusalem on February 22, 2014. According to reports, Sherman cautioned her European counterparts from disclosing information to Israel on the Iranian nuclear deal (screen capture: YouTube)

 

European officials have confirmed that the US State Department cautioned them against providing Israel with sensitive information on the current round of negotiations with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The account came amid vehement denials by the White House and State Department that they had stopped updating Jerusalem on the progress in the talks, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted Monday that Israel was indeed being kept in the dark.

The report quoted an unnamed European official involved in negotiations who said he was told recently by the State Department’s Wendy Sherman, the lead American negotiator with Iran, not to disclose too much information to the Israelis because “the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.”

Another unnamed State Department official speaking on Sherman’s behalf noted that talk with Israel was encouraged, so long as it remained clear “that the negotiation should take place in the negotiating room,” a reference to the fact that Israel is not directly involved in the talks.

The comments echoed those of an Israeli official interviewed for the report who quipped that he received only “empty” briefings on the looming deal, signalling perhaps a further chill in ties between the Obama administration and the Jewish state that The New York Times compared to “posting notes to each other on a refrigerator door.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that the Iranian nuclear program is an existential threat to Israel and that Tehran is intent on developing nuclear weapons to use against the Jewish state.

To that effect, Netanyahu vowed to go ahead with a speech before the US Congress on March 3 to discuss the looming nuclear deal, raising the ire of the White House, some US congressmen and his political opponents in Israel.

The report quoted another European official who said that US Secretary of State John Kerry was “fuming about [the] Israeli leaks” following a report Sunday on Channel 2 to the effect that the administration has been withholding information from Israel.

According to the TV report, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice had cut off contact with Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, while Sherman was quoted as saying that she will no longer keep Israel informed either.

The report was hurriedly denied by both US and Israeli officials.

Kerry, who has been leading the negotiations along with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, argued that it was in no one’s interest to negotiate in public.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Iran Nuclear Talks and North Korean Flashbacks

November 7, 2014

Iran Nuclear Talks and North Korean Flashbacks, ForbesClaudia Rosett, November 7, 2014

(During Clinton’s efforts to achieve detente with North Korea, Wendy Sherman found hope for change — for the better —  in every hostile utterance from NK leaders. Now she is Obama’s boot on the ground in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. What can possibly go right wrong? — DM)

Now, in the Obama administration’s increasingly desperate quest for an Iran deal, comes news that President Obama is proposing to Iran’s Khamenei, ruler of the world’s leading terror-sponsoring state, that Iran and the U.S. cooperate to fight the terrorists of ISIS. This has a familiar ring. Back in 2000, the visit of North Korea’s Vice Marshal Jo to the White House was preceded, shortly beforehand, by a “Joint U.S.-D.P.R.K. Statement on International Terrorism,” in which both the U.S. and North Korea agreed that “international terrorism poses an unacceptable threat to global peace and security.” Apparently this was all part of the negotiating process of finding common ground. What could go wrong? Not that anyone should pin all this on Wendy Sherman, who is just one particularly active cog in the Washington negotiating machine. But there’s a familiar script playing out here. It does not end well.

*****************

With the Iran nuclear talks nearing a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal, U.S. chief negotiator Wendy Sherman is under pressure to bring almost a year of bargaining to fruition. While U.S. policy rests ultimately with President Obama, and the most prominent American face in these talks is now that of Secretary of State John Kerry, the hands-on haggling has been the domain of Sherman. On the ground, she has been chief choreographer of the U.S. negotiating team. The President has been pleased enough with her performance to promote her last week from Under Secretary to Acting Deputy Secretary of State.

The talks themselves have been doing far less well, marked by Iranian demands and U.S. concessions. This summer the U.S. and its negotiating partners agreed to extend the original July deadline until November. Tehran’s regime, while enjoying substantial relief from sanctions, is refusing to give up its ballistic missile program and insisting on what Tehran’s officials have called their country’s “inalienable right” to enrich uranium.

The Obama administration badly wants a deal. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that last month Obama wrote a secret letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which “appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.” Speaking to reporters in Paris this week about the Iran nuclear negotiations, Kerry said “We believe it is imperative for a lot of different reasons to get this done.”

So, now that crunch time has arrived, what might we expect? If precedent is any guide, it’s worth revisiting Sherman’s record from her previous bout as a lead negotiator, toward the end of the second term of the Clinton administration. Back then, Sherman was trying to clinch an anti-proliferation missile deal with another rogue despotism, North Korea.

That attempt failed, but only after then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, together with Sherman, had dignified North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il with a visit to Pyongyang in late October, 2000. These American top diplomats brought Kim the gift of a basketball signed by one of his favorite players, Michael Jordan. Kim entertained them with a stadium display in which tens of thousands of North Koreans used flip cards to depict the launch of a long-range missile.

Less well remembered was the encounter shortly before Albright’s trip to Pyongyang, in which the State Department hosted a visit to Washington, Oct. 9-12 of 2000, by one of the highest ranking military officials in North Korea, Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok. The centerpiece of Jo’s trip was a 45-minute face-to-face meeting at the White House, in the Oval Office, with President Clinton. It was historic, it was the first time an American president had met with an official of North Korea’s totalitarian state.

And it was a deft piece of extortion by North Korea, which had parlayed its missile program — including its missile trafficking to the Middle East, and its 1998 test-launch of a missile over Japan — into this lofty encounter in which the U.S. superpower was pulling out all the stops in hope of cutting a deal before Clinton’s second term expired in Jan., 2001. By 2000 (or, by some accounts, earlier) the Clinton administration was also seeing signs that North Korea was cheating on a 1994 denuclearization arrangement known as the Agreed Framework. Eight months before Jo arrived in Washington, Clinton had been unable to confirm to Congress that North Korea had abandoned its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Nonetheless, Jo’s visit rolled ahead, with Sherman enthusing in advance to the press that “Chairman Kim Jong Il has clearly made a decision — personally — to send a special Envoy to the United States to improve relations with us.”

Officially, Jo was hosted in Washington by Albright. But it was Sherman, then the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for North Korea Policy, who orchestrated the events, squired Jo around Washington and briefed the press. It was Sherman who had helped prepare the way while accompanying her predecessor, the previous North Korea policy coordinator and former defense secretary, William Perry, on a trip to North Korea in 1999.

Jo arrived in Washington on Oct. 9, staying at the venerable Mayflower Hotel, where Sherman went to greet him. The next morning Jo and his delegation began their rounds with a courtesy call on Albright at the State Department. Then, before heading to the White House, Jo engaged in a symbolically freighted act. According to an account published some years later in the Washington Post by the senior State Department Korean language interpreter, Tong Kim, who was present for the occasion: “The marshal arrived in Washington in a well-tailored suit, but before going to the White House, he asked for a room at the State Department, where he changed into his mustard-colored military uniform, with lines of heavy medals hanging on the jacket, and donned an impressive military hat with a thick gold band.” Perhaps it did not occur to anyone at the State Department that North Korea was still a hostile power, a brutal rogue state fielding one of the world’s largest standing armies, and that this donning of the uniform on State premises was not just a convenience, but an implied threat. Or perhaps the zealous hospitality of the occasion just over-rode any thought at all. In any event, it was in his uniform that Jo went from the State Department to the White House.

Following those meetings, Sherman briefed the press. She made a point of mentioning that Jo had worn a business suit to the State Department. but changed into full military uniform for his meeting with the President of the United States. Sherman chose to interpret Jo’s wardrobe change as happy evidence of North Korean diversity under Dear Leader Kim: “We think this is very important for American citizens to know that all segments of North Korea society, obviously led by Chairman Kim Chong-Il in sending this Special Envoy, are working to improve the relationship between the United States and North Korea and this is obviously an important message to the citizens of North Korea as well.”

Actually, there were substantial segments of North Korean society whose chief preoccupation was finding enough food to stay alive, toward the end of a 1990s famine in which an estimated one million or so had died — forbidden by Kim’s totalitarian state to enjoy even a hint of the freedom that had by then allowed their brethren in South Korea to join the developed world. This was known at the time, but did not figure in Sherman’s public remarks.

On the second evening of Jo’s Washington visit, Albright hosted a banquet for him and his delegation at the State Department. She welcomed the “distinguished group” to the “historic meeting,” and invited everyone to relax and get better acquainted. There was laughter and applause. Jo made a toast — a disturbing toast — in which he said there could be “friendship and cooperation and goodwill, if and when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and our leadership is assured, is given the strong and concrete security assurances from the United States for the state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

If the State Department’s chief North Korea policy coordinator, Wendy Sherman, noticed a problem with that toast, and its mention of territorial integrity, it seems she did nothing to alert the assembled American dignitaries. The crowd clapped and raised a toast to North Korea’s envoy. It was left to outside observers, such as American Enterprise Institute scholar and North Korea expert Nicholas Eberstadt, to point out, as Eberstadt stressed at an AEI forum in 2008, that North Korea lays claim to the entire Korean peninsula, including South Korea. “Take a look at the maps; take a look at the preamble to the Workers’ Party charter,” said Eberstadt; the real message is, “We can be friends with North Korea if we are willing to subsidize North Korean government behavior and throw South Korea into the bargain too, but that is a pretty high opening bid.”

Jo’s visit ended with a U.S.-D.P.R.K Joint Communique, full of talk about peace, security, transparency and access. There was no missile deal. Kim Jong Il wanted Clinton, leader of the free world, to come parley over missiles in totalitarian, nuclear-cheating Pyongyang. Clinton demurred. In late October, Albright and Sherman went instead. As the clock ticked down on the final weeks of the Clinton administration, Sherman reportedly traveled to Africa with a bag of cold-weather clothes, to be ready in the event of a last-minute summons to North Korea.

In 2001, President Bush was inaugurated. Sherman left the State Department, and soon afterward she wrote an Op-ed for The New York Times, headlined “Talking to the North Koreans.” Sherman noted that “Some are understandably concerned that a summit with President Bush would only legitimize the North Korean leader” — nonetheless, she urged Bush to try it. Bush tried confrontation in 2002 over North Korea’s nuclear cheating, followed by years of Sherman-style Six-Party Talks, including two agreements, in 2005 and 2007, which North Korea punctuated in 2006 with its first nuclear test, and has followed during Obama’s presidency with two more nuclear tests, in 2009 and 2013.

Vice-Marshal Jo died in 2010. Kim Jong Il died in 2011, and was succeeded by his son, current North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, whose regime carried out the 2013 nuclear test, and threatened earlier this year to conduct another. Wendy Sherman rejoined the State Department under Obama, and has moved on from wooing North Korea to the bigger and potentially far deadlier project of negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. Considerable secrecy has surrounded many specifics of these talks, while Americans have been asked to trust that this is all for their own good. In a talk last month at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sherman said: “As Madeleine Albright once observed — a wonderful Secretary of State, a dear friend, and a business partner to boot at one point in my life — negotiations are like mushrooms, and often they do best in the dark.”

Now, in the Obama administration’s increasingly desperate quest for an Iran deal, comes news that President Obama is proposing to Iran’s Khamenei, ruler of the world’s leading terror-sponsoring state, that Iran and the U.S. cooperate to fight the terrorists of ISIS. This has a familiar ring. Back in 2000, the visit of North Korea’s Vice Marshal Jo to the White House was preceded, shortly beforehand, by a “Joint U.S.-D.P.R.K. Statement on International Terrorism,” in which both the U.S. and North Korea agreed that “international terrorism poses an unacceptable threat to global peace and security.” Apparently this was all part of the negotiating process of finding common ground. What could go wrong? Not that anyone should pin all this on Wendy Sherman, who is just one particularly active cog in the Washington negotiating machine. But there’s a familiar script playing out here. It does not end well.