Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
— U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015
Our relationship with the world is based on Iranian nation’s interests. In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.
— Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s tweet on January 14, 2014
There is a very good possibility that the entire global balance of power will be profoundly altered within a relatively short interval of time. For the last 14 centuries, a war has been waged within the Islamic world over which version of Islam, Shiite or Sunni, will carry the mantle of the true heirs to the Prophet Muhammad’s crown. This ancient, primordial conflict is now being felt in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq and the repercussions are being felt throughout the Middle East and northern Africa.
One direct and easy path to influence the balance of power is to be the first Muslim state in the region to possess nuclear weapons capabilities. Iran has made it fundamentally clear for decades now that they are on an unwavering race to be the winner in the Muslim nuclear arms race. This prospect put the Sunni Arab world in a state of sheer terror.
The hatred between the Sunnis and Shiites carries within it the intensity of a family conflict. As any law enforcement official knows, most violent crimes are crimes of passion, committed not between strangers but between close family members. The Sunnis that the Iranians regard as “apostates” are despised by them, and the feeling is mutual. Both sides would like to see the other eliminated, and now a nuclear arms race has been introduced into an already volatile Middle East.
But make no mistake: The Iranians have been working assiduously to achieve not just regional, but global hegemony. They have a long list of enemies, and the United States, “the Great Satan” is on the very top of the list.
Every November 4, the Iranians hold an annual “Death to America Day” and celebrate the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran and the capture of 52 American hostages for 444 days. This past November, the crowd was larger than any before, and that was while the United States and the other P5+1 nations (Russia, Germany, China, Great Britain and France) were in the midst of nuclear negotiations with Iran. It was Iranian-made improvised explosive devices with Farsi imprinted on them that killed and tore off the limbs of American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was Iran that was responsible for the 1983 bombing of the Marine army barracks in Lebanon which left 241 U.S. servicemen killed.
It is absolutely incomprehensible how U.S. President Barack Obama can overlook all this. Not only does he insist on framing the issue as having to do only with Israel, but he also seems to believe that once a deal is signed, sworn enemies become fast friends. Does he not remember the sorry experience with North Korea, which signed a nuclear arms treaty but has already conducted four nuclear missile tests? The Iranians are now perilously close to the nuclear breakout point, if they haven’t passed it already.
In a Jan. 26, 2014 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran “will not accept any limitation” on its nuclear technology in the context of a comprehensive agreement between Tehran and the West, and that the Iranians will not “under any circumstances” agree to destroy any uranium enrichment centrifuges. This led Zakaria to the conclusion that the negotiations with Tehran were “headed toward a diplomatic train wreck.”
Contrary to what Obama said in his State of the Union address, the Joint Plan of Action agreed to in Geneva never “halted the progress of [Iran’s] nuclear program and reduced its nuclear stockpile.” The JPA allows the Iranians to continue enriching uranium to 3.5% and, according to the Institute for Science and Security, Iran has produced enough enriched uranium in the past year for at least two nuclear bombs.
Just last week, Tehran announced it was building two new nuclear reactors in the Bushehr region, and the U.S. State Department covered for Iran, saying this was not in violation of the JPA. It is also transferring its nuclear infrastructure and materials into Syria to build a nuclear facility; Syria is currently hiding 50 tons of enriched uranium, which went missing from the Iran.
It is obvious that these negotiations are intended as a smokescreen, behind which Iran is sprinting toward its deadly goal.
The U.S. Congress must weigh in. What Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and others have valiantly tried to do is to re-introduce biting sanctions, if, and only if, no deal is reached. The bill imposes no new sanctions while the talks are ongoing. If no deal is reached by June 30th, the deadline that Obama himself set for the talks, then the sanctions kick in. Rather than spoiling the talks, this should incentivize the Iranians to reach a deal. Yet, the president insists that the legislation will guarantee the failure of the talks.
As Menendez, who has courageously stood up to the president from his own Democratic Party on this, said on January 16, “It is counterintuitive that somehow Iran will walk away because of some sanctions that would never take pace if they strike a deal.”
It is necessary to impose sanctions in the event that the talks fail, but it is not sufficient. In the past, Iran made the greatest amount of progress in their nuclear program while under the most stringent sanctions. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani once declared, “I would rather let a million people starve then stop work on the Iranian nuclear project.”
What must be done does not require new legislation. All that is necessary is to implement the 1972 Case Act, which is already a standing act of law (1 U.S. Code § 112b — United States international agreements; transmission to Congress). This law stipulates that “the secretary of state shall transmit to the Congress the text of any international agreement (including the text of any oral international agreement, which agreement shall be reduced to writing), other than a treaty, to which the United States is a party as soon as practicable after such agreement has entered into force with respect to the United States but in no event later than sixty days thereafter. However, any such agreement the immediate public disclosure of which would, in the opinion of the president, be prejudicial to the national security of the United States shall not be so transmitted to the Congress but shall be transmitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives under an appropriate injunction of secrecy to be removed only upon due notice from the president.”
Anyone who is concerned that the Iranians are using the negotiations to hoodwink the rest of the world, and that should include anyone with eyes who can see, should acquaint themselves with this act and take action to ensure that the letter and the spirit of this law are implemented.
Be that as it may, bad behavior should not be rewarded. The lifting of the sanctions has infused approximately $20 billion into the Iranian economy. In addition, before the talks began the U.S. unfroze at least $8 billion in assets that had been frozen during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Now that the Iranians have agreed to a second six month extension of the talks, the U.S. will be giving them an extra $700 million per month, just to come to the table.
No wonder Menendez, who has really emerged as a hero in this, stated at a hearing on Tuesday that “the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds into the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with original sin, an illicit nuclear weapons program going back over the course of 20 years that they are unwilling to come clean on. So I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case.”
Which brings me to the quarrel reported last Friday by The New York Times wire service between Obama and Menendez: “In the course of the argument, which was described as tense but generally respectful, Mr. Obama vowed to veto legislation being drafted by Mr. Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, that would trigger sanctions after multiparty talks are set to end this summer. … According to one of the senators and another person who was present, the president urged lawmakers to stop pursuing sanctions, saying such a move would undermine his authority and could derail the talks. … The president said he understood the pressures that senators face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to take the long view rather than make a move for short-term political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said he took “personal offense.”
Menendez told the president that he had worked for more than 20 years to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and had always been focused on the long-term implications. Menendez also warned the president that sanctions could not be imposed quickly if Congress waited to act and the talks failed, according to two people who were present.
This is part of the classic anti-Semitic canard that Jews control the world through their money. For the president of the United States to echo this claim is not only a personal insult to his fellow Democrat, Menendez, but also a shockingly incendiary and irresponsible statement toward the Jewish community. Obama must know that anti-Semites both within and outside of the U.S. will repeat this charge ad nauseam, and use it as “evidence” for their conspiratorial delusions that American Jews control U.S. foreign policy.
Unfortunately, the president has this backwards. Iran is deep at work on a nuclear enrichment and a missile program which is designed to reach the eastern seaboard of the continental U.S. Menendez and Kirk, and those who will sign onto a renewed sanctions program, should be commended for taking the long-term view rather than just looking to a short term “foreign policy victory” of a deal with Tehran that will not last until the ink on the paper has a chance to dry.
In the meantime, all of us who realize the true intentions of the Islamic Republic of Iran should fully acquaint ourselves with the Case Act.
Originally published at Israel Hayom: https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=11327
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