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Review Category : Iran

False Sense of Security on Iran Deal is Dangerous

U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel recently expressed his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear accord reached with Iran, in Vienna, Austria, in July of 2015 ): “The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program.” (Reuters, March 13, 2018).

I have enormous respect for Gen. Votel, and for his service to our nation. But he, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, are just totally wrong in their position on the JCPOA.

The JCPOA does not deal with any nuclear threat coming from Iran. It is a political agreement that is totally toothless when it comes to Iran, and actually counterproductive to the U.S. national interests.

Of crucial importance, the JCPOA provides us no assurance that Iran is keeping to its’ nuclear restrictions. Iran does not allow the international inspectors into its military sites, where any nuclear development would actually occur. Physical inspections are a necessity; satellite surveillance can only show so much, and sometimes it raises more questions than it answers.

The inspectors have diplomatically, and cowardly, chosen to avoid any controversy with the Iranians by not asking for any inspections of military sites. This, in no way, can be said to be addressing the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Iran may also be working with North Korea to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The international inspectors have no way of knowing what is going on in that hermit Asian nation, so this is yet another avenue for Iranian violations.

Iran also defies a number of another supposed requirements from the JCPOA. Iran has produced excessive heavy water and sold it for profit. It has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building (IR-8) and operating (IR-6) larger numbers of advanced centrifuges than is allowed. Iran is also continuing to produce uranium enriched to 5 percent beyond the quantity it is permitted.

Further, aside from the nuclear restrictions, Iran has violated the five-year conventional arms embargo that was part of the JCPOA. Iran illegally ships weapons to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and many other nations.

Iran has also taken advantage of the JCPOA’s change in ballistic missile language to step up its ballistic missile tests. Until the JCPOA, UN. Security Council Resolution 1929, from 2010, said “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”

However, under the JCPOA and the accompanying UN resolution, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology . . . ” “Called upon,” of course, is much weaker language than “shall not,” which explicitly forbids the actions. Further, the Iranians have also blatantly lied by claiming the missiles they are testing are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, even though ballistic missiles are meant to deliver nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the JCPOA has provided Iran with tremendous amounts of monies to continue their aggressive and dangerous behavior in the Mideast. Simply to negotiate with the P 5 plus 1 (the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.) the Iranians received $12 billion or more in frozen funds.

For the deal itself, Iran obtained another $115 billion — or more — in frozen funds. Then, they collected another $1.7 billion in cash, at the exact same time, for some American hostages. And none of this includes the money Iran earned and is continuing to earn from the lifting of sanctions, which is valued at billions more.

Iran has put all this money to good use. In tandem with the Russians, they kept their bloodthirsty puppet Assad in power, and are currently helping him pummel the remaining rebel groups and slaughter civilians in Syria. They have been sponsoring jihadist groups in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain.

And they have effectively come to dominate Iraq, thanks to their Popular Mobilization Front troops. They are even “mucking around” by funneling money into Iraq to sway the outcome of its coming elections, according to Secretary of Defense Mattis.

So, to sum up, the JCPOA has been a total disaster for the U.S. Under it, Iran is still able to work on the nuclear program and its affiliated ballistic missile program. Thanks to it, “(a) cross the greater Mideast, Iran is proliferating dangerous weapons, fueling sectarian violence, and supporting terrorist proxies and militias, such as Hezbollah.

“The regime proudly chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel . . . (i)n Syria, Iran’s actions have directly interfered with efforts to de-escalate violence, defeat ISIS, and protect innocent civilians.”

And just by agreeing to it, the JCPOA has given Iran respectability with the outside world, despite its continuing human rights abuses and undemocratic actions. It has also helped end Iran’s economic isolation.

General Votel is simply incorrect when he claims the JCPOA has addressed the nuclear threat (and other threats) from Iran. It hasn’t. And it is way past time for the U.S. to acknowledge that fact, and act accordingly.
Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/hezbollah-jcpoa-votel/2018/03/27/id/851073/

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The Latest Situation in Israel’s Northern Border

Over the weekend, a series of extremely significant events happened in the skies over northern Israel and Syria.  An Iranian drone, dispatched from Syria, flew over the Golan Heights, violating Israeli sovereignty and Israeli airspace. Within one minute, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) downed the drone, and immediately embarked on a military campaign that struck at Iranian military sites inside Syria.

The Israeli military’s response was excellent. It was immediate. It was direct. And it was harsh. It struck down 12 military targets within Syria, which included four Syrian defense missile batteries, and four Iranian sites. Unfortunately, one IAF jet was downed and its pilot remains in serious condition.

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting, “I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning, Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. This demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”

According to Amos Yadlin, the Executive Director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who spoke on a conference call for The Israel Project, this recent military action “is perhaps the most serious event since the second Lebanese war or the alleged Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.  It is serious because for the first time we have targeted Iranian sites in Syria, and a lot [of] Iranian bases, which leads Damascus exposed. The rules of the game are not changing. There is a determination by Iran to build a serious military force inside Syria and Lebanon, and we have a serious determination not to allow this to happen.”

Thanks to the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, the Iranians are using much of their recently acquired wealth to build factories inside Syria and Lebanon.  The Iranian mullahs, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Russia’s Putin are all using what is left of the decimated country of Syria, after its protracted seven year civil war, to flex their muscles.

This is a very dangerous situation.

The Iranians are turning Syria into a Shiite military base and weapons factory. Many of these weapons are being transferred directly into the hands of Hezbollah.

According to MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Lebanese, pro-Hezbollah website Dahiya boasted that Hezbollah has 70,000 missiles ready to launch at Israel, and by the end of the year, they will have 500,000.

Unfortunately, much of the Sunni world, who is just as fearful of an Iranian crescent as Israel is, is sitting back and letting Israel do its job (although I am certain they are applauding).

But Israel knows what it has to do to survive in the Middle East. And it has never been easy. Now, thanks to the newly enriched and emboldened Iran, the Levant might become the theater in which the attempt for Shiite hegemony will have to be confronted.

Watch this space.

Originally posted at https://voiceoftruth.fireside.fm/articles/watch-this-space

Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

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Trump Right to Declare That Iran Deal Not Untouchable

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Recently, President Trump again waived key sanctions on Iran, keeping to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

In his statement on his decision, Trump vowed that, “Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. I will not do so again. This is a last chance.”

I hope this happens. As I have argued before, not only is the JCPOA itself not in the national interests of the United States, but, keeping to it despite Iranian cheating and aggression makes the U.S. look weak throughout the world stage. And this weakness invites more belligerence from enemy nations.

But until another four months pass, we have no idea what the president will do.

However, I can say with complete confidence that nothing that happens over the next four months will prompt the former Obama administration foreign policy experts, and “the blob” they fooled, especially the European elites, to reconsider their support for the Iran deal. We know this because of the past two years since the deal was implemented. Time after time, the Iranian regime had violated the JCPOA, or acted in an extremely dangerous and aggressive manner in the Middle East, only to have the foreign policy establishment rush to the barricades to caution against any move that would punish Iran by nixing the JCPOA.

The 2017-2018 demonstrations against the Iranian regime are just the most recent example. Iranian civilians took to the streets, originally to protest their lack of demonstrable economic benefits coming from the JCPOA, but eventually objecting to the brutal Islamist theocracy that governed them as well. So far, at least 25 Iranians are dead; thousands more have been arrested, and hundreds of them may be experiencing torture in the notorious Evin prison.

None of this seems to have prompted any reevaluation of the Iran deal by the foreign policy elites in any nation: “Reviving sanctions on Iran’s main export would allow Tehran to argue that the United States is ultimately the cause of Iran’s economic problems, said Richard Nephew, who worked on sanctions policy at the White House under President Barack Obama,” Reuters reported.

Of course, open Iranian violations of the JCPOA also were excused away. At least twice, the Iranian regime was caught producing excess heavy water at Arak. This breech of the agreement was simply “solved” by allowing Iran to sell this excess heavy water for extra cash currency, which undoubtedly helps to fund more Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East by the IRGC or terror proxies.

So too, it was excused when Iran refused to allow international inspectors to inspect Iranian military sites, despite language to the contrary in the deal. Obviously, the likeliest place for any illegal Iranian nuclear testing to be occurring would be in a military site. But we will never know, since rather than demand access, the international inspectors simply chose not to ask for entry to those facilities.

When it was discovered that Iran is likely violating Section T of the Iran deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” this too was pushed under the rug; even though these violations are directly related to nuclear weapons development. For example, Iran is likely using computer models to simulate a nuclear bomb, and/or designing multi-point, explosive detonation systems.

When Iran was caught sending missiles and weapons to fighters in Syria and Yemen, and some of the missiles sent to Yemen were fired at U.S. ships, in what was possibly an act of war, and clearly a violation of UN Resolution 2231 — which bans Iran from shipping weapons throughout the Middle East — the Iranians were once again given a pass. This was done despite the fact that UN resolution 2231 incorporates the Iran deal.

When Iran uses is monies from the JCPOA, including the sanctions relief that is still given to them each month, for nefarious purposes, this is immaterial to deal defenders. Some of this is being used to fund the Iranian controlled Shia militias in Iraq, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, which “dominate” Iraq, and whose membership includes terrorists with American blood on their hands.

When Iran went all in to protect its client regime, the vicious Assad government in Syria, to the tune of an estimated $15 billion a year, and waged an ethnic cleansing campaign against Sunni Arabs in Syria, once again funding all of this thanks to the JCPOA, this too was ignored by the elite.

Perhaps most prominently, when the Iranians threatened American Naval ships in the Persian Gulf, and even physically grabbed American sailors, who were intimidated and made to “apologize” to their captors — which the Navy deemed a violation of international law — this was also no big deal. The incident was quickly forgotten, even after Iran bragged that it (illegallyextracted information from the sailors’ confiscated phones and laptops, and made and took humiliating films and pictures of the prisoners.

As we can see, to the foreign policy establishment, the Iran deal is untouchable, no matter what Iran does. And when the facts don’t matter in evaluating a foreign agreement, this means that its proponents believe in it as an article of faith. Faith is most appropriate in shaping one’s religious views; it is not so appropriate when it determines one’s foreign policies.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-trump-jcpoa-nuclear/2018/01/31/id/840588/#ixzz56FTdmLcF

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No more Nedas: Will Iran’s regime again unleash immense brutality against protesters?

In 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama entered office, millions of people rose up against the ruling theocratic regime of Iran. The demonstrations began in response to the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had been favored by the ruling mullahs. The election had taken place on June 12, 2009, and two hours after the polls had closed, the results were announced, causing people to immediately take to the streets. By the next day, the peaceful demonstrators were met with the club-wielding Basij, a pro-government paramilitary group.

By June 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the election a “divine assessment” and declared that protests would no longer be tolerated. By June 22, video footage of a beautiful young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, who had been fatally shot by the Basij while demonstrating, quickly spread throughout the internet and grabbed international attention.

Unfortunately, there were many more anonymous Nedas. The government used this time to purge the opposition party as well as to conduct arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights activists. The Basij came out on horseback and began to trample on demonstrators. Hospitals were prohibited from reporting the amount of casualties. Many of the demonstrators had been carted off to the notorious Evin Prison to be tortured and raped. Many have never been seen or heard from again.

In the midst of all of this, freedom-loving dissidents throughout Iran were holding up signs saying “down with the dictatorship” and “Obama, where are you?”

The leader of the free world was silent during the initial days of the protests, and when he finally did speak, President Obama’s words were, at best, muted. He said, “It is up to the Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be.”

These people were looking towards the U.S. as the moral leader of the world, and one word from the president might have made a critical difference.

One cannot help but contrast this to the words of President Donald Trump regarding the new anti-regime protests in Iran. On Sunday, he tweeted, “Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

One has to marvel at the amazing courage of today’s demonstrators in Iran, who are able to protest despite the known brutality of the regime. Today’s Iranian protesters took to the streets because of government corruption, inflation and lack of economic opportunity. They are puzzled that their regime received $150 billion in unfrozen assets due to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, yet none of this has trickled down to the common man. They are probably disgusted that most of the key sectors of the economy are controlled by the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

We have no way of confirming this, but we are hopeful that the demonstrators might also be  motivated by disgust over the regime’s foreign policy; its aggressive behavior and meddling in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza; and its support for terrorist entities such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

We know that at the time I am writing this, the demonstrations have spread to seven cities, and that they are robust and impressive in size.

There is a lot more, however, that we do not know. We do not know whether or not the regime will once again unleash its immense brutality against the demonstrators. We do not know whether or not these demonstrations might blossom into a genuine threat to the regime.

What we do know is that most of Iran’s current population has been born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and that more than half of Iranians are younger than 35. Many of them despise the country’s oppressive and brutal theocracy, and would love to experience the beautiful taste of Western liberties.

We hope that just as we used Radio Free Europe to overthrow the chokehold of the former Soviet Union, we are also using Voice of America in Farsi to support the Iranian demonstrators. We hope that the CIA is on the ground doing whatever it can to support the legitimate voice of the opposition. We hope that we are using cyber technology to enable the demonstrators to break through the obstacles that the mullahs are imposing on social media and other methods of communication. We hope that the Iranian regime knows that if the outcome is at all similar to the unfortunate result in 2009, both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. will not hesitate to come together and impose crippling sanctions against Iran for its human rights violations.

We hope for the stability of the region and the world, but mostly for the Iranian people, that this odious regime can be overthrown. But in the meantime, we hope that there will be no more Nedas.

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, which describes itself as an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.

Article originally published at: http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2018/1/2/no-more-nedas-will-irans-regime-again-unleash-immense-brutality-against-protesters#.Wk0J4t-nHIU=

 

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Three-Dimensional Chess, Middle East Style

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently shocked the international community by announcing his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni political leader, made this announcement from Saudi Arabia, where some speculate that he is being held under house arrest, while others believe he is there on his own accord because he fears for his very life. These fears are not unfounded. In 2005, his father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was assassinated by a car bomb that is believed to have been planted by Hezbollah.

The Middle East is a mysterious region where suspicion hangs heavily in the air—under normal conditions. But the entire region, as of late, is mired in extraordinary circumstances. Since the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015, Iran has been vastly emboldened, empowered and enriched. The Iranians have been on the march throughout the region, sowing acts of aggression in Sana’a, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. They are attempting to establish a Shi’a crescent stretching from Tehran throughout the Middle East.

Lebanon has become a puppet state of Iran, and the Lebanese Armed Forces has now become dominated by Hezbollah. An important fact that many people do not know is that we still have a line item in the U.S. Defense Appropriations budget for $100 million towards Lebanon’s military.

There is no doubt that under today’s circumstances, that earmark falls, whether directly or indirectly, into the hands of Hezbollah. Unless and until Lebanon could rid itself of the presence of Hezbollah, American taxpayers’ dollars will be going into the hands of an organization that has been listed by our own State Department as a terrorist group.

Saad Harari knows how to read the tea leaves. The same week of his surprise announcement, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a missile that had been aimed to land at King Khalid National Airport near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted by Saudi-owned U.S. Patriot batteries.

Nov. 4, meanwhile, marked the most aggressive Saudi shakedown in recent memory. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, 32, purged the government of 11 members of the Saudi royal family and other business elites—in what he described as a “corruption crackdown,” but which may well be a rouse to consolidate his power and quash his political rivals, many of whom are in his own family. As Reuters reported, the Riyadh Ritz Carlton has been turned into a temporary—albeit luxurious—prison.

Adding to the intrigue, a day after the crown prince announced his palace purge, a helicopter carrying Prince Mansour bin Muqrin mysteriously crashed, killing a potential rival to the crown prince’s power.

The aggressive and ambitious young Saudi prince is not taking Iranian aggression in the region lightly. Saudi Arabia has urged its citizens to leave Lebanon. This sends a somewhat ominous message. In fact, on Nov. 6, Saudi Arabia’s minister of Gulf affairs wrote that Lebanon “has declared war on Riyadh.”

Some feel that this might be an indicator of a new war emerging between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims—the latest chapter in a 14-century-old dispute as to who will carry the mantle of Islam. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are experts at fighting proxy wars on someone else’s soil. As a joke that is making its rounds around Beirut goes, “The Saudis are willing to fight the Iranians, down to the very last Lebanese.”

In the meantime, there are at least 100,000 missiles staring down Israel from the Jewish state’s north. On Nov. 11, the Israeli Air Force intercepted a drone that fell on the demilitarized zone just north of the Golan Heights. A day earlier, the BBC reported that Iran has established a new  military base just south of Damascus.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated unequivocally last Saturday, “We will not allow the establishment of a Shi’ite axis in Syria as an operating base.”

Watch this space. In the Middle East, one cannot play checkers or chess. The game is three-dimensional chess, where the loss of a pawn on one board affects the positioning of the knights, queens and kings on two other boards.

Originally published at JNS.org.

Photo credit: State Department

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State Dept. Undermining Kurds, Our Long Time Allies

“The United States is deeply disappointed that the Kurdistan Regional Government decided to conduct today a unilateral referendum on independence, including in areas outside of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in September.

The United States State Department says what the State Department says, but what they say is usually wrong.

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The Enemies of Kurdistan are the Enemies of the US

“The Kurds have no friends but the mountains,” goes a traditional Kurdish saying. No friends but the mountains and Israel would be more accurate.

Israel stood alone when its political leadership embraced the Kurdish quest for self-determination. A “brave, pro-Western people who share our values,” is how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Kurds. The deep affinity is mutual. Israeli flags were raised during pro-independence rallies in the Kurdistan region, the US and across Europe.

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Has America Helped to Arm the Iranian Beast?

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed HR 1698, the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act, a bill authored by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, that will sanction Iranian and foreign companies, banks and individuals that support Iran’s illicit ballistic missiles program. The bill, which was passed by an overwhelming vote of 423-2, also prohibits entry to the United States of those who have supported Iran’s ballistic missiles program.

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