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Iran: ‘Humiliating the United States, with no consequences’

american sailors captured by IranYesterday, when we posted on the IRGC hostage taking of U.S. Navy sailors and their riverine patrol boats to Farsi Island, we wrote of the prior incidents of Iran’s hostage taking in the Persian Gulf.

Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center and I commiserated about the seizure of six British Royal Marines in June 2004 by the IRGC naval contingent. The Royal Marines were taken to land, blinded and demanded to apologize for entering Iranian waters. They were then taken out onto the desert and blindfolded while weapons were chambered in a mock execution. They were released three days later in what was billed as a “misunderstanding.”  The Royal Marines were operating in Iraqi waters when seized by Iran.

As noted in a Reuter’s report on today’s seizure of U.S. patrol boats and arrest of U.S. Navy personnel, there was another seizure of British naval and marine personnel by Iranian Revolutionary guards that created a diplomatic crisis in 2007:

In March 2007, Iranian forces seized 15 British servicemen – eight Royal Navy sailors and seven marines – in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that separates Iran and Iraq, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. They were held for 13 days.

Look at Iran’s track record over the last several months since the JCOPA was endorsed by the UN Security Council. Iran fired off two ballistic missile tests in October and November 2015 in violation of UN Res. 1929. Last week, IRGC missile boats hailed the USS Harry Truman giving it and an accompanying destroyer, the USS Bulkley and a nearby French frigate a 23 minute warning before firing rockets in a live fire exercise 1,500 yards away. The Administration has been humiliated time and again by the Ayatollah and will continue to be held in contempt for being weak, even after the, Administration releases $100 billion in sequestered funds in foreign banks, perhaps as early as this week.

Meanwhile the spin at the White House was that the crews of the two patrol boats may be released by daylight to return to their base in Bahrain. Think, also, of those other American hostages held by the Islamic Regime in Tehran, an ex-FBI agent, a former Marine, a Christian Pastor, two American Iranian Businessmen and a convicted Washington Post reporter.

15 hours after the 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their boats were returned, but not before they were put through a humiliating process of being forced to kneel at gun point and ultimately forced to apologize for how the boats found their way into Iranian waters. That awaits a U.S. Navy investigation  into what occurred and possible Iranian violations of the Geneva Convention over treatment of the detained U.S. Sailors and use for propaganda purposes. Both they and their boats returned to the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain. What the IRGC learned of any technology on board the riverine patrol boats is another matter.

Nonetheless, this was the latest episode of U.S. humiliation by the Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC of President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif and President Obama, bound and determined to close the nuclear deal with Iran by releasing $100 billion of sequestered funds early next week on compliance day to this state sponsor of terrorism.

WATCH this Wall Street Journal video of the detention and apology by a possible U.S. Navy riverine boat commander:

us sailors captured by iran

Photo montage by the UK Daily Mail.

The Jerusalem Post published commentary by  Harold  Rhode, former Islamic and Turkish Affairs expert with the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment,  Tony Badran  and Ali Afoneh of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute  on this latest humiliating episode perpetrated by the IRGC navy, Former Pentagon official to ‘Post’: ‘Iran humiliating US with no consequences.’

See our December 2014 New English Review interview with Dr. Rhode, “China’s Islamist Threat”  and March 2014 interview with Dr. Michael Rubin, The Peril of Engaging Rogue States.

The Jerusalem Post opinion article noted:

Iran’s capture and release of 10 US sailors demonstrated that “moderates” such as President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have no real weight, while the real power continues to be wielded by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his hard line allies, such as the Revolutionary Guard, several commentators said Wednesday.

Propaganda videos of the soldiers blindfolded and kneeling released by Iranian media humiliated the world’s superpower and shows that Iran can continue its aggressive behavior with no consequences.

The Obama administration will not allow anything to get in the way of the nuclear deal’s implementation and the lifting of sanctions on Iran, they said.

“Test fire ballistic missiles. Check. Fire missiles near US ships. Check. Torch US ally’s missions. Check. Seize US sailors. Check. Get paid,” tweeted Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Iran’s continued aggressive behavior since the nuclear deal was agreed upon last summer gives it, and other rogue actors, the impression that it can act with a rather free hand.

Such a message must be terrifying to Israel and other US-Arab allies in the region.

Besides the question of whether there was a US apology to Iran, which administration officials deny, it remains unknown whether there was a secret deal or promise that facilitated the release of the sailors.

“Detainment of the US sailors was short, but the IRGC achieved its goal: The IRGC communicated the message to the domestic and the international audience that it calls the shots in Tehran, and humiliated the US,” Ali Alfoneh, an Iran expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington- based think tank, told The Jerusalem Post.

Harold Rhode, a distinguished senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser at the Pentagon, told the Postthat much of the equipment on the US boats was probably previously unavailable to Iran.

“Did Iran take US equipment? Will it share what it learns with North Korea, Russia and China?” “There is no concept of good will in the Middle East,” said the former Pentagon official.

The fact that until to now the US has not reacted on numerous issues – such as Iran’s testing of a ballistic missile in October in violation of a UN Security Council resolution and the firing of rockets near US naval ships – “demonstrates America’s weakness to Middle Easterners,” Rhode said.

“This is another case of America demonstrating that it is an unreliable ally and a harmless enemy,” he added.

“In the Middle East, when people smell weakness, they pounce,” said Rhode.

“Most amazingly from the Iranian point of view,” he continued, “is that they captured these sailors right before Obama’s State of the Union speech, and the president didn’t even mention it.”

“Did the Iranians do that on purpose to further humiliate Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry? From an Iranian cultural point of view, the answer is yes!” exclaimed Rhode.

This is a huge win-win situation for Iran, he continued, as Iran gets US advanced technology, it humiliates America, and it gives the US administration – so desperate to implement the unsigned Iran-US nuclear agreement – the excuse to say that Iran is cooperating with the US as a result of the agreement.

“A grand-slam for Iran, and a huge defeat for the US. Now Iran can continue advancing its ultimate goal of gaining nuclear weapons,” said Rhode.

Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told the Post the incident benefited the IRGC and other hardliners.

“They humiliated the United States. They received a groveling apology. They broadcast photos of the captured Americans.”

Rubin recalled a similar incident involving the UK in 2007, and how the photos and footage of the detained sailors made their way into the campaign commercials of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“To credit diplomacy for their release is like giving a slap on the back to an arsonist who started a fire and then wants credit for putting it out,” said Rubin.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Iran: Boat seizure “should be a lesson to troublemakers in the U.S. Congress”

Biden: Iran saw US boats in distress, acted “like ordinary nations would do”

After hours of interrogation, Iran says 10 captured U.S. sailors “released in international waters after they apologized”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Major Gaps between P5+1 and Iran on Framework Agreement

This Passover Easter weekend, the media was abuzz in speculative commentary on President Obama’s announcement in the Rose Garden on Thursday April 2nd of the P5+1 Framework for a nuclear deal with Iran. Problem is no one really knows what is involved in drafting let alone concluding a definitive technical agreement between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran by June 30, 2015, 90 days from now. President Obama extolled the virtues of the deal saying:

Good afternoon, everybody. Today, The United States, together with Allies and Partners, have reached a historic understanding with Iran, which if fully implemented, would  prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon, As President and Commander in Chief, I have no great responsibility than the security of the American people. I’m convinced that if this framework leads to a final a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world, safer. This has been a long time coming. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades.

Sound familiar?  It should.  Read the opening stanza of former President Bill Clinton on October 18, 1994, when he announced a previous nuclear framework agreement that failed to stop North Korea from eventually creating a stockpile of nuclear weapons and nuclear tipped missiles:

Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea’s nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.

In the words of baseball great Yogi Berra, “its déjà vu all over again.”

Today on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd interviewed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said:

“I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal…The current plan “leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure.” It would spark an arms race among the Sunni states, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” the Israeli leader warned. “And the Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world. I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran and it’s a nightmare deal for the world.”

Netanyahu stressed that when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capabilities, he prefers a “good” diplomatic solution to a military one.

He outlined such a solution as “one that rolls back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and one that ties the final lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program with a change of Iran’s behavior” and insists that Iran stops “calling for and working for the annihilation of Israel.” He also called for further sanctions on Iran as a way to get the country to take a deal that contains no concessions.

Watch the NBC “Meet the Press” segment with Israel PM Netanyahu:

Sen_ Chris Murphy

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Connecticut Democratic  Senator Chris Murphy, member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee  who followed Netanyahu on Meet the Press  found the agreement announced by the President, “remarkable. “ He remarked that  “sanctioning Iran into submission is not what the partners signed up for. When the question of changing Iran’s behavior on support for global terrorism and violations of human rights came up, Murphy basically followed the Administration line of let’s get the nuclear agreement done first. The Washington Post reported  Murphy saying:

It’s true that this deal doesn’t turn Iran from a bad guy into a good guy”. “But it’s a little bit of rewriting of history to suggest these negotiations were about all of the other nefarious activities of Iran in the region. These negotiations were about ending their nuclear program, such that we can start to lift up the moderate elements … [and] talk about all these other issues.

You take this issue [the nuclear program] off the table and you empower people like Rouhani and Zarif, who may see a different path for Iran — less as an irritant, more as a member of the global community.  “And you may see a pathway to solving some of these other problems (ballistic missiles, support for terrorism and human rights violations) and you can do it potentially without new rounds of traditional sanctions.

Ehud Yaari

Ehud Ya’ari Israeli Middle East analyst and Channel 2 TV Commentator.

More emerged about the differences in the announcement about the framework parameters between the State Department Fact Sheet and Farsi statement of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. Noted Israel Middle East analyst, Ehud Ya’ari, a Washington, DC Institute for Near East Policy Fellow and Israel TV Channel 2 commentator, identified six major gaps The Times of Israel reported:

  1. Sanctions: Ya’ari said the U.S. has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, whereas the Iranian fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed, which is set for June 30. (In fact, the US parameters state that sanctions will be suspended only after Iran has fulfilled all its obligations: “US and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” By contrast, the Iranian fact sheet states: “all of the sanctions will be immediately removed after reaching a comprehensive agreement.”)
  2. Enrichment: The American parameters provide for restrictions on enrichment for 15 years, while the Iranian fact sheet speaks of 10 years.
  3. Development of advanced centrifuges at Fordo: The US says the framework rules out such development, said Ya’ari, while the Iranians say they are free to continue this work.
  4. Inspections: The US says that Iran has agreed to surprise inspections, while the Iranians say that such consent is only temporary.
  5. Stockpile of already enriched uranium: Contrary to the US account, Iran is making clear that its stockpile of already enriched uranium — “enough for seven bombs” if sufficiently enriched, Ya’ari said — will not be shipped out of the country, although it may be converted.
  6. PMD: The issue of the Possible Military Dimensions of the Iranian program, central to the effort to thwart Iran, has not been resolved, Ya’ari said.

The U.S. parameters make two references to PMD. They state, first: “Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.”

They subsequently add: “All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordo, Arak, PMD, and transparency).” The Iranian fact sheet does not address PMD.

The differences between the sides became apparent almost as soon as the framework agreement was presented in Lausanne on Thursday night. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a series of tweets late Thursday, for instance, that protested the U.S. State Department’s assertion that the nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers would only see sanctions on the Islamic Republic removed “in phases.”

If this weekend is an example, the controversy about the framework “parameters” await the details from the final agreement targeted for June 30th. Problem is those negotiations may extend well beyond the current deadline, perhaps may spark further negotiations and may be incapable of resolution unless the Administration caves into all of Iran’s demands. In the meantime Swiss and French trade delegations are in Tehran discussing possible deals, the Germans have already held theirs, and, of course, Russia and China, have already conducted business with the Islamic Republic. Despite Turkey’s Erdogan expressing pique at Iran’s hegemony in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, he will soon hold trade talks again in Tehran on more gas deals.

Thursday’s announcement sent the Tehran Stock Exchange skyrocketing Friday. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are smirking over their victory contemplating keeping all of its nuclear, missile and military applications under wraps. Besides they also have four bargaining chips; three imprisoned Americans and a fourth missing for eight years.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of the P5+1 plus Iran and EU Foreign Relations Commissioner in Lausanne, Switzerland 4-2-15.

If you want to know what’s in the Nuclear Deal with Iran — Ask Tehran

Yesterday, we wrote how 47 Republican Senators, led by Arkansas U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, did us a real favor when they sent an open letter to the “Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. By published the open letter to Iran’s leaders, responses from Tehran revealed that the Congress may be by-passed and its approval might not be required to ratify a nuclear deal with Iran. Secretary of State Kerry indicated during his Senate Armed Services Hearing Wednesday that the Memorandum of Understanding was “non-binding” and thus no approval was required. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki affirmed that position. The White House “We the People” website petition campaign created by  “C.H.” of Bogota, New Jersey accused the 47 signatories of ‘traitorous’ actions violating the 1799 Logan Act which  bars private persons, but not members of Congress, from conducting  foreign relations was simply a smokescreen. Ditto for the New York Daily News front page and editorial declaration published Tuesday. 

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the U.S.” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight

After we published our clarification of Sen. Cotton’s letter, our colleague Ken Timmerman wrote and thanked us for our piece. He said more would be revealed in his FrontPage Magazine, article published today, “Iran Deal Secrets Revealed – by Iran.”

Here are some excerpts from the Timmerman article.

On why Zarif said Congressional approval wasn’t required:

 That if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Timmerman’s observation:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

Timmerman then recounts the repeated Iranian violations of the interim Joint Plan of Action adopted in November 2013 and how the Administration has caved to Iran’s demands:

When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuges Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.

Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.

And we never punish them. Not ever.

Timmerman asked a rhetorical question and gave the obvious answer:

Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?

Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.

But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.

“The US constitution trumps international law. The U.S. constitutional trumps the United Nations,” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”

It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.

Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.

So why is Iran engaging in this subterfuge?  It is all about achieving victory, meaning continuing the inevitable development of nuclear weapons, and having their financial sanctions lifted:

This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.

But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.

“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”

Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”

So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.

If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.

Remember, Sen. Cotton’s observation in a Tweet, after hearing Secretary Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday:

cotton tweet on iranEDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, second from right. Source: CNN September 2014.

Netanyahu in Washington: An Eleventh-hour Plea for Sanity by Jerry Gordon and Ilana Freedman

On Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu laid out in an address before a joint meeting of Congress, a compelling rebuttal to the President’s case for the phased deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He diplomatically paid court to President Obama for supplying both known and secret support for the Jewish nation of Israel.

We didn’t need Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come tell us how big a threat a nuclear enabled Iran will be. Well-informed Americans already know that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons production capability in the hands of an apocalyptic regime , will fan the flames of war in the Middle East and put the entire world at risk.

This is a regime whose rulers are sowing seeds of chaos in preparation for the coming of their messiah, the Twelfth Imam.

Netanyahu’s message to a packed house in a Joint Meeting of Congress was clear, concise, and spelled out starkly the issues and the choices we face.

Watch this C-span Video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s  address before the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3, 2015:

An affronted delegation.   Visually absent from the joint meeting were 50 Democrat members of both Chambers, who chose to demonstrate their partisan loyalty to their party and the President. At issue was misplaced sense that the President had been slighted, represented by Netanyahu’s presence before the Joint Meeting  of Congress, because the visit was organized by House Speaker John Boehner without consultation with Obama. That no representative of the Obama administration was present as well showed how petulant partisan politicians, even at the highest levels, can be when faced with what they perceive as slights, real or imagined.

By avoiding the Prime Minister’s speech, they also missed the more than 40 rounds of standing ovations that punctuated his remarks.  More importantly they  failed to observe minimum protocols of courtesy due to a visiting head of state. In this case, when the object of their anger is the head of state of one of America’s closest allies, their lack of courtesy is shameful.

According to reports from reliable sources, the President was “infuriated” by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. However,  because Netanyahu’s speech was full of praise for Obama and his generous assistance and support of Israel, all Obama could say was that Netanyahu didn’t present anything new or “any viable alternatives”. That became the veritable chorus from his White House spokespersons and in some quarters of the mainstream media. So bitter was the vitriol that one of Netanyahu’s detractors suggested that the Prime Minister’s speech was ‘racist’ because it was critical of America’s first minority President. A group of African American pastors responded by coming out in support of Netanyahu’s speech and went on record in a news conference to disagree with this bizarre comment, promising that they would stand with Israel.

The Prime Minister’s speech was framed in history.  Israel’s Prime Minister came to inform Americans about the seriousness of the threat represented by a nuclear Iran. He began the body of his speech by placing his remarks in an historical context.

He explained to the Congressional audience that the ancient Jewish Festival of Purim would begin the following evening. The holiday commemorates another Persian government, some 2,500 years ago, when Haman, Vizier to the Persian Emperor Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) singled out the entire Jewish population for slaughter.  They were saved by Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, and given permission to defend themselves against the massive pogrom that had been planned against them. Netanyahu then drew the parallel between this ancient plot against the Jews of Persia and the current threats against the Jewish State of Israel by the mullahs of Iran, the current government in the modern-day land of ancient Persia.

Bringing history a bit closer to home, Netanyahu made copious references to the Holocaust.  He introduced, for recognition and applause, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, who sat in the Speaker’s Box as an honored guest of the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara. Wiesel, who is a personal friend of the President, came nevertheless as Netanyahu’s guest. “Although he has deep affection for the President”, in the words of his friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “he didn’t feel saying that the Jewish people face danger would be an offensive message.”

These historical connections, creating links between the ancient threat of a Persian viceroy, the more recent catastrophe of the Holocaust, and the current threats of the apocalyptic reign of Shia Mahdists in Tehran, covered two thousand years of history of the Jewish experience. Today’s threat is hardly less significant. Whether from the Ayatollah Khamenei or the alleged moderates in his government, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, they, like Haman, are determined to wipe Israel, ‘the Zionist Enterprise” off the map of the world. In the words of Hezbollah’s retired Brig. Gen. Walid Sakariya, the nuclear weapons Iran is developing are intended to “create a balance of terror with Israel” and “finish off the Zionist enterprise.”

Netanyahu also reminded his audience that Israel is the bastion for world Jewry under anti-Semitic assault in the West and throughout the Muslim world. He warned that it would, out of necessity, defend itself against both conventional and non-conventional threats by Iran and its proxies:

This is why — this is why, as a Prime Minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

Netanyahu also put in historical context Iran’s continuing war against the West. He referenced Tehran’s secret war against America, Israel, and Jews that began with the Islamic Revolution in 1979 with the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis that lasted 444 days, a war that still continues.

He spoke of the hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers and diplomats who were killed by Iranian Quds Force and their proxies, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in locations like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, East Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He spoke of the hundreds if not thousands of Jews who were killed in actions across five continents. Witness as examples the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and 1994 AMIA Jewish Center blasts in Buenos Aires, Argentina and, more recently the bombing of an Israeli tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria by Hezbollah operatives.

Netanyahu aptly pointed out that the Iranian Constitution crafted by these Mahdists said that the purpose of the Islamic Revolution was to export Jihad around the world. Unlike the US, he said, which was founded on the promise of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, Iran’s founding documents promised, “Death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad.”

Netanyahu also warned his Congressional audience and those watching live from around the globe that Iran’s apocalyptic version of militant Islam comes from the source and that their current assault against ISIS should not fool us into adopting the ancient Arab maxim, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.  “When it comes to Iran and ISIS,” he said, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”

Iran as the agent of global jihad.     Among the most egregious of Iran’s involvement in attacks against the US, was the connivance with Al Qaeda in facilitating the training of many of the 9/11 perpetrators by the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Maghniyah.  That was revealed in affidavits by  former Iranian intelligence operatives in the Federal Iran 9/11 links case.

More recently, we have the revelations of collusion between the Shia Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda in e-mails from the treasure trove of information captured by US Navy Seal Team Six during the assassination of the late Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

Then there is the evidence of Iran’s Quds Force assisting the launch of ISIS in Syria. This is ironic now that the IRGC is leading Iraqi military forces against ISIS in the attack on the late Saddam Hussein’s birthplace of Tikrit, which was captured by ISIS. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is placed in the precarious and unwelcome position of standing by while Iran expands its reach and forwards its agenda.

Open Source Intelligence as the basis for Netanyahu’s warning.   The heart of Netanyahu’s message was conveyed halfway through his speech. It was based, he said, on information available on many public open sources which he invited his audience to “Google”. This was intended to quell any concerns raised by Obama that he would release classified intelligence that could torpedo negotiations with Iran. Many of the details of the ‘deal’ had already been leaked and were in the public domain. So he continued.

“We’ve been told,” he said, “that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal, a very bad deal.”  Instead, he pointed out, “this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program; and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That is why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

So why would anyone make this deal? Netanyahu posited this theory: “Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?”

Netanyahu used the petard of Ayatollah Khamenei’s own tweets, echoed by Secretary Kerry in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the future chaos wrought by this worse deal. He said, “My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.”

The State Department immediately accused him of taking Kerry’s Congressional testimony out of context, but here is Kerry’s own testimony, which makes the point abundantly clear:

Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

Netanyahu then painted a dystopian vision for the World and the Middle East region, should Iran, already a global sponsor of terrorism, become a nuclear threshold state and open the Pandora’s Box of nuclear proliferation:

Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.

And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Netanyahu drew attention to the looming threat of Iran’s missile program and military nuclear developments, excluded from the proposed Memorandum of Understanding  being word smithed in Geneva by Secretary Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif:

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.

And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.

Iran’s Ongoing Progress Despite Negotiations.   To buttress Netanyahu concerns about Iran’s nuclear military applications and ICBM program, we have just heard from reliable sources that the Islamic Republic has achieved a technical breakthrough – the miniaturization of nuclear warheads – through technical support from both China and North Korea so that nuclear warheads will be able to be installed on their slender Shahab missiles.

Less certain is whether experiments with nuclear triggers have succeeded, given several explosions that have occurred at the Lavizan sites near Tehran and at Parchin, the military explosives test center. If this report is separately confirmed it means that Iran would have the ability to load ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

If tests conducted in Caspian Sea by Iran and the purchase of container-launched missiles from Russia are an indication may provide the capability to deploy small yield nuclear detonations off the American coasts. Those could produce an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, possibly disabling our less-than-secure power grid sending the country hurtling back to the pre-industrial age.

Even as the negotiations continue, the media ran a story about how Iran conducted cruise tetst attacks against a mock US aircraft carrier. Less covered but also last week, Iran launched a cruise missile from a submarine in the Persian Gulf. The missile has a range of 150 nautical miles and was designed to destroy a US carrier. So even as they sit at the negotiating table, the Iranians rattle their sabers and clearly demonstrate their animus.

Netanyahu’s Plan.   Contrary to Obama’s comment that there was ‘nothing new’, Netanyahu was clear in firmly stating that the lifting of sanctions and restrictions must be justified by Iranian action in three areas:

  • Stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East;
  • Stop supporting terrorism around the world; and,
  • Stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s plan was clear. Marco Rubio summed it up nicely:  “Iran can have an economy, or it can have nuclear weapons. But it can’t have both.”

A closing thought from the Bible.  Netanyahu concluded his address by pointing to the frieze of Moses high on the wall opposite from where he stood surrounding the House chamber.  He recited and translated from the Hebrew Moses’ instructions in his final address to the ancient Hebrews about to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land:

Before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

A warning to be heeded.  Netanyahu’s message in his address to Congress is not lost on Israelis and the preponderance of Americans, who view Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon as a clear and present damage to the world.  At issue is whether the Administration’s obsession with an agreement with Iran at all cost has blinded them to the consequences of a deal that would allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

This is not the time for peevishness. No insults were intended and none should be interpreted. Netanyahu’s visit and his speech were timely – a last minute call for clarity and resolve against an implacable enemy masquerading as a negotiating partner.

There are many who fervently believe that any negotiations with Iran will lead us dangerously close to a nuclear precipice.  Perhaps,  Netanyahu’s comments before Congress where prescient. Apparently, Iran has rejected  the proposed phased deal placing negotiations in Geneva at an impasse.

Netanyahu’s ultimate message is clear:  Iran’s nuclear clock is rocketing towards midnight. Can we stop it in time or will our own Munich in Geneva lead us into a nuclear doomsday scenario that, once begun, no one will be able to stop?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Joint Meeting of Congress with Speaker John Boehner on left and Senate President Pro-temp Sen. Orrin Hatch on right on March 3, 2015.