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Review Category : Iran

Five Options Trump Should Consider to Counter Iran

Iranian President Rouhani has invited countries in the Middle East to join what he called the security coalition of HOPE — a rough acronym for the Hormuz Peace Endeavor.  Rouhani has described this as a coalition that “will secure freedom of navigation, flow of energy and the regional stability in the Persian Gulf.”  He has also suggested that Iran should serve as one of the leaders of this coalition because “Iran during the last four decades fought against terrorism unequivocally…Iran is a country that has brought peace in the region.”

Coming from Iran, this proposal is rich in irony. 

(October 10, 2019 / Newsmax)

Iran, of course, is the main terror sponsoring nation that is interrupting the freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, in the Persian Gulf and in the Bab el Mandab.  In the latest attack, the Iranians used drones and missiles to knock out about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.  Iran’s attack on Saudi oil facilities took 5.7 million barrels per day of production offline and pushed oil prices (briefly) 18% higher.  Although Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, claimed credit for the attack on Saudi Arabia, the evidence was so strong that Iran was behind it that even the Western European leaders of France, Germany, and the UK, all of whom who continue to be part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, were forced to acknowledge Iran’s complicity.

What this means is that if Iran seriously wanted to promote freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, it doesn’t need to form a coalition.  It just needs to stop its aggression and promotion of terrorism through the Middle East (and worldwide). 

Unfortunately, we know the Iranian regime is never going to do that.  But, recognizing that the U.S. does have a national interest in keeping the oil and natural gas lanes in the Middle East flowing to the U.S. and the rest of the world – to prevent a major economic downturn – the question then becomes, what should the U.S. do to disincentivize future Iranian aggression, which may be imminent?

So far, President Trump has responded by expanding the list of sanctions the U.S. has put on Iran, all part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, which has pushed the Iranian economy into a recession.  Further, the U.S. plans to bar senior Iranian officials and their immediate family from entering the United States as immigrants or non-immigrants.  The President has also sent U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia, and has been promoting the idea of an Arab NATO, or a U.S. led multinational maritime effort, originally called Operation Sentinel, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf region, the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.  

All of these are good ideas.  But more actions may be necessary.  Here are five other options for the U.S.

First, the U.S. could diplomatically engage the Iranian regime. 

Second, the U.S. could act to sabotage the Iranian regime.  For example, it could unleash another cyberattack, along the lines of Stuxnet, or, more recently, its’ alleged cyberattack against a spy group tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Or, the CIA, or other U.S. forces, might support and/or train Iranian dissident groups.

Third, the U.S. could invade Iran and oust the Iranian regime, a la the 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Fourth, the U.S. could conduct some sort of lesser military action against the Iranian regime.  A good example of this was Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, which dissuaded Iran from challenging the U.S. Navy or from targeting oil shipping for many years.  In retaliation for Iran’s earlier mining of the Persian Gulf, which resulted in a U.S. ship being damaged and many of its crew being injured, the U.S. Navy destroyed two Iranian surveillance platforms, sank two of their ships, and severely damaged another.  In addition to going after the Iranian navy, other possibilities suggested include the U.S. specifically targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the Kharg Island terminal, through which more than 90% of Iranian oil exports go.  The U.S. could conduct these attacks in the open, or with official deniability, i.e., in the “gray zone”, as does Iran.

Fifth, the U.S. could attack some of the Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East.  For example, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iranian backed forces in Syria, or Iranian backed forces in Iraq.  Israel frequently conducts these kinds of attacks as well.  In each case, Israel does so to enforce its red lines.  For example, in Syria, the Israeli red line is that Assad and his Iranian-backed allies must honor a decades-old agreement that sets out a demilitarized zone along the frontier and limits the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the zone.  Once again, the U.S. could do this openly or in the gray zone.

In my view, several of these actions may already be eliminated.  Diplomacy seems counterproductive at this juncture, as “Iranians negotiate only after defeating their enemies… Signaling a desire to talk before being victorious is, in Iranian eyes, a sign of weakness or lack of will to win.”  Also, a full scale invasion of Iran makes little sense, as we have seen in Iraq how expensive, in both blood and treasure, it can be.  And a more limited U.S. attack against Iranian proxies also seems pointless, as it is well known that “Iran is willing to sacrifice Arab Shiites but not Persian Shiites.” 

This leaves just two viable options.  The U.S. could sabotage the Iranian regime, and/or the U.S. could conduct a limited strike against the Iranian regime.  In that order, I would recommend them to President Trump.

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In Regard to Iran, the West Hasn’t Learned the Lesson of the Dane-Geld

During the post-U.S. removal from the Iran deal, the Iranian regime has behaved abysmally, even by its already low standards.

(September 18, 2019 / Newsmax)

While Iranian President Rouhani was touring Europe, demanding that the Europeans provide funding to Iran, his regime was planning a terror attack in Europe, which might have led to hundreds of European and American casualties.

The Iranian Islamic Republican Guard Corps and their allies have grabbed, harassed, or bombed international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz or in the Bab al Mandab. They have also shot down a U.S. drone, and even grabbed hostages.

The Iranian leadership has continued its ballistic missile testing, which goes hand and hand with nuclear weapons development. The Iranian leadership has refused to cooperate with the IAEA, barring them from inspecting some nuclear weapons development sites that were recently exposed by Israel. The Iranian regime, which is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, has been expanding its support to militia/terror groups in GazaSyriaLebanon, and Yemen to menace Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other U.S. allies. And the Iranian regime has been smuggling oil through the U.S. or European sanctions (on Syria).

The Iranian leadership has “partially withdrawn” from the Iran deal, by violating key parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), most recently by using advanced centrifuges in uranium enrichment. Not that this makes any sense — there is no such thing as a partial withdrawal. A nation may only withdraw, or not withdraw, from a deal. Nevertheless, to cease its partial withdrawal, Tehran has demanded that the U.S. lift the sanctions and return to a 5+1 format involving the nuclear deal parties, and that the Europeans must “either buy oil or give us credit,” within a certain time.

And most recently, Iran was behind the attacks on major Saudi oil facilities that cut global oil supplies by 5%.

So, what is Europe’s response to all this bad behavior? Nothing but more appeasement.

The European Union has promoted the idea of an Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) whose purpose is to facilitate “legitimate trade” with Iran for any EU member and non-EU members as well. INSTEX is a barter system created by the Western Europeans, where, in any trade, money gets paid into the home country’s account, and it doesn’t cross the border in or out of Iran.

Britain has caved on enforcing EU sanctions that barred any oil sales to Syria. Originally, the British seized an Iranian ship that was illegally transporting oil to Syria. The Iranians then grabbed a British ship in retaliation. The British released the Iranian ship, after Iran gave a written promise that the ship would not deliver the oil to Syria. But the promise was insincere, as the Iranian ship eventually dropped off its oil in Syria, thereby breaking the sanctions, and earning themselves $130 million (or giving their puppet Assad a huge gift of oil). Meanwhile, Iran has only released some of the crew from the British ship.

France has offered $15 billion in credit to Tehran for it to end its partial withdrawal and to return to the JCPOA. The entire official budget of Iran is roughly $45 billion, so that would be a huge lifeline for the Iranian regime.

Unfortunately, this European financial appeasement of rogue and dangerous actors is not unique. It is actually steeped in ancient European history. As I once wrote, “(o)ver a thousand years ago, the (then) violent Danes would promise to stop their pillaging and plundering, supposedly permanently, but in practice temporarily, if their prey paid them off… (but) if the victim paid the geld, the Danes were generally not true to their word, and would return to the plundering and pillaging ….” This concept was immortalized by poet Rudyard Kipling in his poem, “Dane-geld,” whose final line was the lesson to be learned: “That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld, You never get rid of the Dane.”

The concept of Dane-geld is directly applicable to European attempts to pay off the Iranian regime today. It won’t work any better this time than it did with the Danes.

In 2015, the Iranians received more than $115 billion from the U.S. and other nations, to agree to the JCPOA. The hope, as President Obama articulated, was “ideally, we would see a situation in which Iran, seeing sanctions reduced, would start focusing on its economy, on training its people, on reentering the world community, to lessening its provocative activities in the region… it is possible that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of those more moderate forces inside of Iran.”

Despite all this money, none of these hopes were realized under the JCPOA. What resulted was just more Iranian sponsored aggression, terrorism, and other bad behavior.

It’s been a thousand years since the Danish Vikings were marauders demanding and receiving the Dane-geld. It has been a hundred years since the Rudyard Kipling poem first articulated the lesson of the Dane-geld. And it has been four years since the JCPOA demonstrated the truth of that saying, as it relates to the Iranian regime.

It would be nice if Europe finally learned its lesson.

Originally Published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-dane-geld-france-europe/2019/09/18/id/933303/

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One way to quell the Iranian appetite for expansion: Stop giving money to the Lebanese armed forces

This past weekend was a particularly hot one for Israel.  On September 1st, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, launched anti-tank missiles across Israel’s northern border, directly aiming at an IDF base. Fortunately, there were no sustained injuries.  Israel responded by attacking Lebanese targets and the outlying borders of Lebanese communities along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Fortunately, there are no known casualties.

(September 5, 2019 / JNS Press)

This was the first time since the Lebanese War of 2006 that there has been a significant military exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. It is felt that this skirmish might have been contained for now. However, the situation is extremely tense.

And what makes it tenser still is that we all know that this is a shadow war, and the Islamic Regime is actually the puppet-master  pulling the strings of Hezbollah  and other Shiite proxy  groups, throughout Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

According to Brigadier General Michael Herzog (retired) who spoke for EMET on a Conference Call on Tuesday, the recent eruption of violence is part of the showdown that has been going on for several years now. The main factors, he believes is the Iranian plans to make use of the turmoil by becoming the dominant force, and that Iran felt greatly emboldened after the 2015 nuclear deal.

He explained that all  of what we are now seeing  is part of the two pronged  plan outlined by Qassam Solomeini, the Head of the Quds force in 2016:  1.) Creating the direct corridor from Tehran through Bagdad, Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean, 2.) Building a formidable proxy front through Hezbollah and other Shiite militias.

This, as the Iranians simultaneously put on a benign mask regarding the intentions of their nuclear program. Right now, they are playing brinkmanship  with the international community, threatening to enrich uranium to 20% if they do not get immediate sanctions relief. (Once the 20% level is reached, it is very easy to get to the 90% level, the level of highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear bomb.)

Now, they are asking for up to 15 billion dollars from the international community in sanctions relief. There is no other word for this than blackmail.

And the Europeans are all too willing to be blackmailed, particularly the French.

It is incredibly upsetting that French President Emmanuel Macron is willing to give the Iranians that exorbitant sum of money without any preconditions, simply for coming to the table. It is obvious that they did not learn anything from the last round of Iranian negotiations, which also rewarded the money to the Iranians up front.

This works against any leverage that the United States has been using to pressure the Iranians to give up their two goals that have been outlined by Qassam Solomeini.
 Both Iran and Hezbollah are under increasing economic pressure as result of the sanctions.

If the international community persists in finding ways to give the Iranians “economic relief” and in finding ways of evading sanctions, we will never quell the massive Iranian appetite for expansion and control.

What is almost equally upsetting is the fact that the United States has been giving the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) upward of $100 million a year, to the tune of 1.7billion over the last ten years, as we see that the LAF has become increasingly under the grip of Hezbollah

We have watched as Hezbollah has increasingly taken over more and more power within Lebanon.  According to General Herzog, “there is a lot of concern in Israel today about Hezbollah and the Lebanese government. We have seen that Hezbollah is now the strongest political party. They have veto power within the Lebanese parliament and veto power within the defense establishment.”

Continues General Herzog, “Lebanese President Michel Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah.  Aoun has stated officially that Hezbollah’s military capabilities complement the military capabilities of the state of Lebanon, so the state embraces Hezbollah as a military actor. We have seen coordination of the state military, the LAF, and Hezbollah, We have seen that in a coordinated attack against Islamists a few years ago, and we have seen this recently  when Israel discovered cross-border tunnels from Lebanon into Israel and the LAF resisted attempts to prevent this.”

“And we have concerns about the lack of willingness of UNIFIL to go after Hezbollah, as well”

Adds General Herzog, “This calls for a re-thinking of the aid that the United States gives to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Israel has not been very vocal about this, but I know there are many concerns, here.”

And Sheik Nasrallah continues to refer to the LAF as a “partner” and a “pillar”.

The reason that America initial gave money to the Lebanese Armed Forces was as a result of the 2006 war, to help them to distance themselves from Hezbollah. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, all other armed groups, besides the LAF, must be out of Lebanon.
That includes Hezbollah.

Now that Hezbollah has been fully embraced by the LAF, one the first things that the United States can do to prevent Qassam Solomeini and the Iranian mullahs from fulfilling their expansionist objectives is to  immediately halt all money to the Lebanese Armed Forces. 

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/one-way-to-quell-iranian-appetite-for-expansion-stop-giving-money-to-the-lebanese-military/

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9/3/19 – Capitol Hill Policy Phone Seminar Series

LISTEN: “Iran’s Proxy War on Israel’s Northern Border” featuring Brigadier General Michael Herzog

This past weekend was a particularly hot one for Israel. Yesterday,  September 1st, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles across Israel’s northern  border, directly aiming at an IDF base. Thank G-d no-one sustained injuries. However, in a decoy move, Israel staged an evacuation of soldiers with bandages and fake blood to Rambam Hospital.

Israel responded by attacking Lebanese targets and the outlying borders of Lebanese communities along the Syrian-Lebanese border There are no known casualties.

This was the first time since the Lebanese War of 2006 that there has been a significant military exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. It is felt that this skirmish might have been contained for now. However, the situation is extremely tense. And what makes it even more tense is that we all know that this is a shadow war, and the Islamic Regime is actually the puppet-master  pulling the strings of Hezbollah  and other Shiite militia groups, throughout Ira, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen , as they simultaneously  put on a gentle face to the world about the true intentions of their nuclear program.

Brigadier General Michael Herzog

Biography

Michael Herzog, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is the Israel-based Milton Fine International Fellow of The Washington Institute. Over the last decade General Herzog has held senior positions in the office of Israel’s minister of defense under ministers Ehud Barak, Amir Peretz, Shaul Mofaz, and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. From September 2006 to October 2009, General Herzog served as chief of staff to Israel’s minister of defense. From November 2001 to July 2004, he served as senior military aide (“military secretary”) to the Israeli minister of defense. In that capacity, he acted as the liaison between the defense minister and the IDF, prime minister’s office, intelligence community, and Israeli defense establishment.

General Herzog was a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute in 2004-2006. His published work at the Institute included the study, Iranian Public Opinion on the Nuclear Program: A Potential Asset for the International Community, and the influential Foreign Affairs article, “Can Hamas Be Tamed?“.

Since 1993, General Herzog has played a key role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, participating in most of Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians, Jordanians, and Syrians, including the Wye Plantation summit, Camp David summit, the Taba negotiations, and the Annapolis summit and subsequent negotiations. From June 2009 to March 2010, he served as special emissary to Israel’s prime minister and minister of defense in the efforts to relaunch the peace process. The general’s career has included service as head of the Strategic Planning Division (1998-2001), deputy head of the Strategic Planning Division (1995-1998), member of the Intelligence Corps (1974-1994), and infantry soldier (1973 war).

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Ever Hear of Robert Stethem? Of How He Was Treated by the Iranians?

The roots of the latest Iran-U.S. crisis go back to 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear deal, one of the signature achievements of his predecessor Barack Obama, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on the country.

(CNN, Bianca Britton, June 25, 2019)

This talking point from the media is getting old, fast.

It is also completely untrue. The “roots of the Iran-U.S. crisis” go back much further than 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump removed America from the flawed JCPOA and re-imposed sanctions. In reality, they go back to 1979, when the current Iranian regime seized and abused American hostages.

The real reason that the United States, and the world at large, is facing a crisis with Iran is because the current Iranian regime is, and always has been, a radical, evil, violent and terror-supporting Islamist regime.

Let us focus on just one brutal example.

In 1985, Robert Stethem, a U.S. Navy diver, was on TWA Flight 847, returning from a project in Greece. That flight was hijacked by Hezbollah, a foreign-designated terrorist group in Lebanon that is “Revolutionary Iran’s most successful export,” as it is largely funded and largely controlled by the Iranian regime.

During the hijacking, Stethem and other U.S. military personnel were singled out for punishment as the flight flew back and forth to various airports. Stethem was tied up with elastic baggage straps and beaten a number of times. The straps were so tight that at one point, he cried out. Besides using their fists and feet, the hijackers beat Stethem with an armrest torn from a seat with sharp metal screws on the outside. When he collapsed, nearly unconscious, one of the hijackers jumped up and down on his ribs. After the first beating, Stethem, barely able to walk, was helped back to the coach section with several broken ribs and one hand completely numb. He had to be fed by another passenger.

In the evening, the Hezbollah hijackers brought Stethem back to the front of the airplane for another beating. He was again bound and blindfolded. Sometime after 2:30 a.m. in Beirut, the hijackers shot Robert Stethem—the bullet piercing his head behind the right ear and exiting on the other side of his head. One fellow passenger stated that “there were terrible blood-curdling screams … it was a long scream … I heard this three times, and I’ll never forget it.” The hijackers then tossed Stethem, still moaning, out the door and down onto the runway, where he lived in pain for another 10 minutes.

The current regime in Iran and Hezbollah are solely responsible for the 1985 torture and murder of Robert Stethem. That is because the current regime in Iran is led by the very same people who founded or supported the Islamic Republic in 1979, created Hezbollah in the 1980s, and ordered Hezbollah and other proxies to conduct acts of terrorism. The current Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was president of Iran in 1985. The current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was another one of the founders of the regime and an official of it in 1985. The current foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who charms Western audiences with his supposed “moderation,” was a diplomat of that regime in 1985.

Robert Stethem’s torture and murder is not the only such criminal conduct by the Iranian regime or its proxies. At this point, there are (at least) tens of thousands of victims of Iranian sponsored terror. Just focusing on the United States, Iran has killed hundreds of innocent victims. In the 2000s, it was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American soldiers who were murdered in Iraq by Iranian IEDs. In the 1980s and 1990s, besides Stethem, Hezbollah killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.

A nation that sponsors and directs such terrorism is an inherently evil regime.

So, when a news agency or foreign government claims that legal, moral and non-violent U.S. actions are the root cause of a U.S-Iranian crisis, where the Iranian regime has conducted illegal, violent and immoral actions—in this case, Iranian directed attacks on innocent international shipping and innocent foreigners—they are just plain wrong. The root cause of this crisis is that the Iranian regime is an evil regime that sponsors violence and terrorism.

Violence and terrorism that can kill innocent people, like Robert Stethem.

That is the “root of the Iran-U.S.” crisis.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/ever-hear-of-robert-stethem-of-how-he-was-treated-by-the-iranians/

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Lessons in the Appeasement of Iran

Photo: loavesofbread.swiss-image.ch

When I was a little girl growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, I often asked my parents a troubling question: Why did the international community do nothing to stop Hitler?

They would usually answer with a bewildered shrug.

I was named after my Aunt Sarah, who was murdered by the Nazis. Apparently, she never got the chance to march under the notorious gates of Auschwitz marked with the duplicitous message, Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Makes You Free”). When the Einsatzgruppen, the group of Nazis specifically trained to hunt down Jews, first invaded Poland, they went to my aunt’s shtetl, the village of Borschchtav. There, together with her neighbors, she was asked to strip down naked and dig a hole. These Nazis were so lustful in their passion to exterminate every Jew from the face of the earth that they would line them up, summarily shoot them in the backs of their heads and watch as they fell into the ditch the Jews themselves had just been forced to dig.

According to Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest and professor at Georgetown University, who has made it his personal mission to uncover these unmarked graves that dot the European landscape, there are at least 1.5 million Jews lying in ditches under cornfields of houses in unmarked graves that have not been recorded. That makes 7.5 million Jewish souls snuffed out during the Holocaust.

Some 74 years after the Holocaust, the European landscape is once again dotted with unabashedly shameless and foul signs of anti-Semitism.

The newly elected chairman of the European Union, Josep Borrell Fontelles, recently said in an interview in Politico, “We are not children following what they [the Americans] say. We have our own prospects, interests and strategy, and we will continue working with Iran. It would be very bad for us if Iran wants to develop a nuclear weapon. … Iran wants to wipe Israel out, nothing new about that. You have to live with it.”

In other words: As long as Iran is not aiming their nuclear warheads directly at Madrid, it’s perfectly acceptable.

He seems to be saying that we can live with another 7.5 million dead Jews (which, chillingly, is roughly today’s Jewish population of Israel).

He, along with many other world leaders, appears exceedingly resentful about the role that America has longed played as a moral leader in foreign policy and believes strongly in multilateralism. On Nov. 6, shortly after America had imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, the Spanish Foreign Minister said, “We reject any kind of position that resembles an ultimatum from anyone, and also from the United States.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran has found a particularly soft spot in his heart. On the recent advent of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Borrell tweeted, “Today marks 40 years of the Islamic revolution of #Iran. The regional power has changed a lot during this time. In 1976, the literacy rate was 35%, now it is 84%.”Iran is a key country in the Middle East region. He has had an essential role in the #Siria (sic) war, helping Assad while the Americans are pulling out.”

He then compared the relationship that America has had with Iran to that it has had with Vietnam. These are two regions of the world that the newly elected head of the European Union feels have had an indelible effect on America’s psyche, with the Vietnam War ending in 1975 and the Iranian revolution occurring in 1979. He seems to find it difficult to understand why three American Presidents have visited Vietnam, and none have visited Iran since the revolution.

This is a preposterous analogy. I may be missing something, but I haven’t heard any recent reports of the Vietnamese holding Americans hostage, working on a nuclear bomb, arming and equipping Hezbollah and Hamas, attacking shipping vessels in international waters or regularly leading their people ins chant of “Death to America.”

If this is what the European Union has elected for its leader, we are in for some very tough sailing ahead. The Iranians are blazingly defying the limits imposed upon them by the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action (JCPOA), as they are assiduously stepping up their time to have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. According to a July 10 report by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Iranian nuclear plant at Fordow, which was according to the JCPOA, supposed to have been converted into a “nuclear physics and technology center for international collaboration,” very little or nothing has been converted. It houses a tunnel complex with gas centrifuges, and it has been bolstering a support area to protect the facility from aerial bombardment.

The Iranians are masters of double speak and have brazenly manipulated most of the international community into blaming the United States for violating the terms of the deal. That is because the Trump administration had the courage to break away from a deal that was far too weak to begin with and about which we have ample evidence to believe that the Iranians were cheating.

In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “He who appeases the crocodile is only eaten last.”

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/lessons-in-the-appeasement-of-iran/

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It Is Immoral and Illogical to Blame the US for Iranian Aggression

Photo: EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Many critics of the Trump administration have made the argument that the U.S. decision to remove itself from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and to reimpose sanctions on Iran has unnecessarily provoked Iran.

Supposedly, it is because of these unnecessary provocations that the Iranian regime has unleashed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its Iranian proxy terror groups on international shipping in the PersiaGulf, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea, thereby endangering the world’s oil supply. They have also prompted the IRGC to shoot down a U.S. drone.

However, this argument is simply not true.

First of all, legally and morally speaking, it makes no sense to blame the U.S. for the Iranian regime’s aggression.

That is because we don’t assign blame to the non-violent party for “provoking” the intentional violent actions of the other party, under U.S. law, or under international law. Otherwise, we would be encouraging and excusing violence. And regardless of whether you agree with these actions, removing the U.S. from a political document like the JCPOA — which is not even an executive agreement — and re-imposing U.S. sanctions are both legal and non-violent acts.

Perhaps another example will make it clearer.

Osama Bin Laden declared war against the U.S. in 1998, citing a number of reasons. Among them — the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, U.S. support of Israel, and the economic sanctions the U.S. imposed after the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Does that mean that the U.S., which indeed did these three things, provoked the September 11, 2001 attacks? No serious person would ever make this argument.

Second, since the founding of the Iranian regime in 1979, the regime has consistently supported terrorism against the U.S. and other nations. Thus, the regime’s support for terror far precedes both U.S. sanctions and the JCPOA.

The State Department has long listed Iran as the “leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

In the 80’s, Iran set up, and directed, Hezbollah, a Lebanese terror group. Hezbollah bombed the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American servicemen who had been sent to Lebanon for peacekeeping purposes. Pretty much simultaneously, Hezbollah also bombed another building in Beirut, which killed 58 French soldiers.

Also, during the late 80’s, Iran went after international oil shipping with mines, one of which struck a U.S. ship, injuring U.S. sailors. This prompted the U.S. to respond with Operation Praying Mantis, which resulted in the destruction of Iranian ships and other assets. In 1996, Hezbollah bombed the Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, murdering another 19 U.S. servicemen. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq (from 2003 to the present), at least 600 hundred American soldiers were killed by roadside bombs or other weapons that were constructed, and supplied, by Iran to Iraqi rebels. The Iranian regime also has supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, going so far as to offer to pay $1,000 for each U.S. soldier killed.

Soldiers from many other nations, including the United KingdomAustralia, and Canada, have also suffered casualties in Afghanistan as a result of Iranian actions.

Even during the time between the announcement of the JCPOA, and the Trump administration’s removal from it, the Iranian regime was still committing acts of violence against the U.S. and other nations. As mentioned above, the Iranian regime continued to supply terrorists in Afghanistan that killed U.S. and other troops. The Iranians also seized more U.S. — and other nation’s — hostages, to replace hostages ransomed the same day as the deal went into effect.

The Iranians were aggressive in the Persian Gulf, with U.S. forces operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz often being approached by Iranian warships and aircraft in an “unsafe or unprofessional manner.” This happened 22 times in 2015, 36 times in 2016, and 14 times in 2017, before stopping in 2018. A U.S. Navy ship once had to fire warning shots to ward off IRGC boats. Another time, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating in the Red Sea — though neither missile hit the ship. Many of the missiles supposedly fired by the Houthis may have been fired by the IRGC or Hezbollah. The Iranian regime also seized U.S. sailors from two small ships. And there have been at least two assassination plots in Europe that were broken up over this time.

Third, it is completely irrational to blame the U.S., or any other country for that matter, for Iranian violence, because the Iranian regime has an ideology that actually supports and encourages terror attacks and violence.
The Iranian regime is driven by an expansionist doctrine to export the Iranian Revolution.

Iranian IRGC-Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani has admitted, “We are witnessing the export of the Iranian Revolution throughout the region, from Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen, and North Africa.”
Further, Iran’s leadership, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are “convinced that the End of Days has come… (and) the Shia messiah… will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom known as the caliphate. What’s more, they believe the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan”), and the United States (which they call the “Great Satan”).”

The Iranian regime has had a long and consistent history of violent actions directed against the U.S. and other nations. To blame the U.S., or any other nation — especially one that is a victim of Iranian regime sponsored violence — for any of that violence is both morally wrong and erroneous.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-jcpoa-terrorism/2019/07/08/id/923739/
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Why is the E.U. behaving as the Defense Attorney for Iran?

It is interesting to observe that the moment Iran decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal, on Monday, leaders of the European Union became the pro bono defense attorneys for the Islamic Republic.  The news that Iran has followed through on its threat to violate the limit imposed on its stockpile of enriched uranium was greeted by the European Union with the response of  “let’s do anything to keep this deal alive.”

When this deal was negotiated, we had been assured of immediate, “snap back sanctions”  by President Obama, if Iran violated the deal. Yet, instead of holding Iran accountable for its violations, the top European nations are seeking to give Iran a second chance.

The international community can use a refresher course about just what sort of a regime we are dealing with here.  Iran is governed by an apocalyptic, tyrannical, theocracy that believes that they will bring their Messiah,  the  12th Imam,  by converting the entire world to Shia Islam and obliterating the non-believers. In their religious zeal, they hang gays, publicly lash women who have been raped, and arbitrarily sentence political prisoners and religious minorities  to  exceedingly harsh  prison sentences.

The day that Iran decided to step up its production of highly enriched uranium to exceed the limits of the nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official, Mojtaba Zonour, said that “if the United States attacks Iran, only one half hour will remain in Israel’s lifespan”.

Yet, in some sort of Kafkaesque inversion, many of our European allies see the United States as the culprit, here, because the US kept careful tabs on Iranian violations of a deal, and Iran as the hapless  ictim.

The truth is that Iran has – despite what has been reported – not been complying with the deal. To be certain, it is correct that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not found Iran to be in material breach of the JCPOA. But that’s more because the IAEA has not been looking too carefully at what Iran has done.

There is evidence that Iran has carried out military nuclear research at Parchin, but the IAEA, charged with assuring Iran’s compliance with the deal, refused to even ask for access. This is shocking given that it is precisely sites like Parchin where Iran has conducted illicit nuclear weapons research.

It would be more accurate to say that the IAEA has not found any Iranian violations because it hasn’t looked for them. For example, in 2017, an IAEA official said that his organization would not demand that Iran grant it access to military sites “We’re not going to visit a military site like Parchin just to send a political signal.”

In addition, as Michael Doran pointed out about the nuclear archive that Israel spirited out of Iran last year in an article published last month in Mosaic magazine:

The archive reveals, among other things, that Iran never abandoned its nuclear-weapons program but simply restructured it, emphasizing dual-use activities that have allowed Tehran to claim with a modicum of plausibility that its nuclear activities are “peaceful” and “civilian.” The JCPOA helped advance this deception by bestowing international legitimacy on facilities like the Fordow bunker.

While Zarif is very good in his role of spokesman for an aggrieved Iranian regime, reality is quite a bit different from the way he presented it.

But Zarif is not acting alone. He is helped by what Doran describes as a “coalition of open minds” dedicated to preserving the nuclear deal. Members of this coalition, he observes, “agree with the Europeans that Trump, not Iran, is to blame for the military escalation in the Gulf.”

This belief is false.

As noted previously, Iran was never in compliance with the nuclear deal. The U.S. withdrawal just ended the sham that the deal was actually preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. For one thing,  the Iranians closed off military sites to the International Atomic Energy Administration inspectors

Furthermore, the JCPOA called on all parties “to refrain from any action inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of this JCPOA that would undermine its successful implementation.” Surely the ballistic missile tests violated the spirit of the agreement.

In violation of UN Resolution 2231, the United Nations has found evidence showing that Iran was the source of weapons shipped to the Houthi rebels. According to the resolution Iran is barred from exporting weapons for at least eight years after implementation of the deal.

Taken together, Iran has violated both the JCPOA itself and the UN resolution that implemented the deal. Its stockpiling of enriched uranium above the deal-imposed limit is Iran’s latest show of contempt for international law and norms.

It’s time for the world to stop making excuses for Iran and snapback all international nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic. It is only this kind of severe economic measure that can hope to force Iran to stop enriching uranium and open up all of its facilities to international inspectors.

The crisis can be defused. Iran can abide by the terms of the deal it agreed to and then there will be no need to reimpose sanctions. Or it can refuse and suffer the consequences.

Originally published: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/why-is-the-e-u-behaving-as-the-defense-attorney-for-iran/

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