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PODCAST: The Dangers of the Iran Nuclear and Missile Deals

LISTEN to this podcast of the January 17, 2016 Lisa Benson Show with Claudia Rosett on KKNT 960 – The Patriot. Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon co-hosted this show with commentary from Board of Advisors member, Richard Cutting.

On Saturday, January 16, 2016 there was a plethora of breaking news. It was kicked off with the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program triggered by alleged compliance with terms of the JCPOA political agreement certified by the UN watchdog agency, the IAEA.  This was the Orwellian “implementation Day” under the unsigned agreement by all of the parties to JCOPA starting 24/7 monitoring of Iranian enrichment facilities.  There was the announcement from Tehran  of  the swap of  five US citizens held hostage in Iran  in exchange for  Clemency granted by President Obama  for  seven Iranians convicted or charged with industrial espionage and acquisition of illicit equipment and software for nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Sunday morning, January 17, 2016 there were further developments; the announcement by   the US Treasury Office e for Foreign Assets Control of new sanctions against 11 individuals and entities in Iran involved with illicit procurement  for ballistic missile development. Iran had launched two precision guided ballistic missiles in tests in October and November 2015 that violated UN Res. 1929 and JCPOA provisions arousing the ire of Congress.

President Obama in remarks on these developments, released on Sunday, said:

“Today’s progress — Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program — these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience. America can do, and has done, big things when we work together”.

Watch the President’s  YouTube video remarks on this alleged historic political deal  purportedly preventing Iran  from developing nuclear weapons:

To complicate matters there was seizure of 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their Riverine Command boats coincidental with the President’s State of the Union Address before Congress on Tuesday, January 12th. Iran flashed video and pictures of the crews kneeling with hands behind their heads at gunpoint held by IRGC soldiers followed with an apology by the young commander for entering Iranian controlled waters off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Earlier on January 6th, a mini earthquake registering 5.5 on the Richter scale was picked by the several seismographic agencies in China, Japan and the US signaling the fourth in a series of illicit nuclear blasts by North Korea. That immediately led to the question of whether it was a mini-hydrogen bomb as promoted in propaganda by Pyongyang or perhaps a test of nuclear warheads. Warheads capable of being fitted on missiles that North Korea had developed and sold to Iran.

In anticipation of these developments we had asked recommendations from a valued guest of the Lisa Benson broadcasts, Shoshana Bryen , senior director of the Washington, DC  Jewish Policy Center as to who we might bring on to comment on these developments and the Iran – North Korea  strategic alliance. She suggested we contact Claudia Rosett, Journalist in Residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  We followed up on her suggestion and arranged to have Rosett as our guest on the Sunday, January 17th broadcast. That was a fortunate coincident. We had met Rosett in 2009 at a presentation she gave in Pensacola, Florida on the official corruption in the UN Oil for Food program. See our New English Review article; “Claudia Rosett: The UN is Absolutely Corrupt” (February 2009).

Claudia Rosett Journalist-in-Residence Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

Claudia Rosett is an award-winning reporter and commentator. Over the past 35 years, including 18 years as a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1984-2002, she reported from Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and the Middle East. Ms. Rosett has testified before six U.S. Congressional committees on topics including corruption under the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, and the strategic alliance between North Korea and Iran. Currently she is focused on illicit networks of Iran and North Korea, including shipping traffic. Ms. Rosett holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from Columbia, and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, with a specialization in finance.

Here are some of the high points raised by Rosett during the Lisa Benson Show broadcast:

  • Iran never signed the nuclear deal now being implemented, nor did any of the other parties (the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany).
  • This is not a lasting or enforceable deal.
  • IAEA monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program guarantees nothing. The IAEA has no power to enforce, only to monitor. Iran can play the same game of chicken as North Korea did, throwing  out IAEA monitors when convenient, and carrying on to make nuclear bombs.
  • In the deals now going on, both nuclear and the hostage/prisoner releases this past weekend, Iran is cleaning up.
  • Remember, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The real headline should be: Return of some $100 billion in unfrozen funds to world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Iran carried out two sanctions-violating ballistic missile tests this past fall; the only real reason Iran to continue developing ballistic missiles would be to put nuclear warheads on them.
  • President Obama, in deciding which Iranians to release in the hostage/prisoner swap, ruled out prisoners detained for terrorism and violent crime, but released violators of sanctions in other words; he pardoned people some of whom had abetted Iran’s weapons and nuclear programs. A damaging signal that the U.S. is not serious about enforcing this nuclear deal.
  • Iran will now be able to access roughly $100 billion, or by some accounts more, in unfrozen funds though the actual amount remains murky.  We have never been given a full accounting of these funds.
  • There has been deliberate obfuscation by the Obama Administration on the terms of this nuclear deal (the secret side agreements between Iran and the IAEA, for instance) as well as the consequences.
  • The possibility of Iran and North Korea working together on nuclear missiles is a serious concern. In the 21st century, North Korea is the only country known to have tested nuclear weapons. It is the obvious place for the Iranians to hide a nuclear test, or benefit from the data, in plain sight.
  • Israel’s air force destroyed the Al Kibar nuclear reactor that was being built in Syria with substantial help from North Korea. The U.S. should have allowed a similar strike against Iran some time ago, or the U.S. should have carried one out itself.
  • We have just seen U.S. sailors detained on their knees before the Iranians before they were released. When have we seen members of the Iranian military on their knees before the U.S?  Iran is humiliating America. This is an invitation to other enemies of America to do the same.

The Iran deal is worse than the nuclear deals the U.S. cut with North Korea.  North Korea has been making nuclear weapons and conducted four nuclear tests. Iran is even more dangerous, and the consequences here could be much worse.

Our usually astute European listener commented with his opinions:

The Iranian deal agreed and pushed forward by the Obama administration gave in to all Iranian demands and the nuclear watchdog deal by the IAEA is a complete sham. As mentioned numerous times the Iranians have in undisclosed parts of Iran three other nuclear research sites which have never been checked on and where they are continuing enrichment.

The JCPOA is a draft which was to be negotiated and approved but nothing was discussed and the addendums were all kept top secret.

For the P5 the whole deal is a way to boost their trade deficits and they accepted everything that the Obama Administration and the Iranians agreed on.

The IAEA made a complete flop of their controls in North Korea and the same could occur in Iran.

It has been that North Korea is being financed by Iran and they could easily sell nuclear warheads and ship them by plane to Iran.

I sincerely hope that some lawmakers in the U.S. have listened to this broadcast and will take the necessary steps to block the Iranian agreement after the elections.

RELATED ARTICLE: World Watches How Iran, Now Free of Nuclear Sanctions, Will Act

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

France Passes Palestine State Recognition: Could UN Security Council be Next Stop?

In a majority vote, the French National Assembly passed a  resolution  for symbolic recognition of Palestine statehood.  This adds France to a list of EU members, Sweden, Ireland,  the UK, and Spain whose Parliaments have passed similar resolutions.  Another such vote is pending in Denmark, while the European Parliament has scheduled a debate and possible vote on December 18, 2014. France24 provided this report on the vote in Paris, “French legislators vote in favor of recognizing Palestinian state”:

The non-binding, but highly symbolic National Assembly vote urges the government to recognize Palestine as state, reflecting growing European impatience with the stalled Middle East peace process.

MPs voted 339 to 151 in favor of the motion calling upon the French government to recognize the state of Palestine “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

Reporting from the National Assembly shortly after the vote, FRANCE 24’s Armen Georgian noted that while the motion was expected to pass, the number of votes in favor revealed “a very clear majority” of French lawmakers supported the move by the ruling Socialist Party.

The vote came despite the opposition from the centre-right UMP party, whose newly-elected leader, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, urged his party members to vote against the motion.

France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities and right-wing lawmakers have criticized the ruling Socialist Party of trying to woo Muslim voters.

The Voice of America account of today’s National Assembly vote  indicted that 60 percent of French polled support Palestinian statehood.

This latest EU member declaration vote for Palestine statehood has been criticized by Israel and praised by the PA. France24 reported:

The Israeli embassy denounce[ed] the move as harmful to prospects of peace in the region.

“Israel believes that the vote in the National Assembly… will reduce the possibility of achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” according to an Israeli statement released shortly after the vote. “Decisions of this nature harden the Palestinian position and send the wrong message to the people and the leaders of the region,” it added.

The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, welcomed the vote and expressed its “gratitude” to French lawmakers.

“We call on the French government to translate its parliament’s vote into action,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.

“We wish to express our gratitude to the members of the French parliament for adopting a resolution on the side of justice and human dignity,” she said. “For peace to prevail, support for the two-state solution must be more than lip service.”

 This is all part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestine 194 Campaign that has garnered  formal recognition from more than 130 members of the UN General  Assembly, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a controlling vote bloc.  Our European source in Geneva reports possible moves by the Hollande government to introduce formal statehood recognition before the UN Security Council this month, not waiting for the outcome of European Parliament vote on their resolution in Strasbourg.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy in our NER interview ,published in the current December edition, warned about  what the Administration might do at any scheduled UN Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood. Note  his responses  on this question  by this writer and Mike Bates of 1330AM WEBY in Pensacola, Florida:

Gordon:  The Palestinians have campaigned at the UN and elsewhere for Palestinian state recognition. We have seen votes in Sweden, UK, Spain, something that may even occur in France and the European Parliament. Is that realistic or is it simply just symbolic?

Schanzer:  It’s symbolic for now. However, the Palestine 194 Campaign does pose a threat to Israel long-term. It is not just that the Palestinians would declare a state or gain recognition of statehood. The problem is as this campaign continues to gain steam you are going to see countries that are at least potentially going to impose sanctions on Israel. Why? Because they disagree with where Israel’s borders are, or that Israel’s policies continue in the West Bank in terms of its maintaining control of certain territory that the Palestinians claim as their own. There is also the threat of an ICC, the International Criminal Court action that the Palestinians have been promoting. If the Israelis don’t basically bend or buckle to their territorial demands, that Israel could find itself fighting off an international lawsuit. There is significant concern on the part of the Israelis about where this is going. I think it’s undeniable at this point that the Palestine 194 Campaign is gaining steam.

Bates:  Can the United Nations recognize Palestine as a state without the approval of the Security Council?

Schanzer:  They already have two years ago at the General Assembly. It was roughly 130 countries that recognized the state of Palestine; however, it was only a symbolic vote because it did not make Palestine the 194th country. PA has not backed down. They continue to push the issue. They continue to work with sympathetic countries to have internal votes that would recognize the State of Palestine. This would entail an upgrade of the diplomatic mission and perhaps other perks and agreements on how to deal with the Israelis moving forward. While, it wouldn’t make the state of Palestine, so to speak, the 194th country, it would give the Palestinians more facts on the ground and leverage to work with.

Bates:  The General Assembly vote was purely symbolic. It didn’t admit Palestine as a member state to the UN. Does that require approval of the Security Council?

Schanzer:  It does. The Security Council would be absolutely necessary to make it the 194th country. One of the things that Jeffrey Goldberg’s [The Atlantic] article noted was a one line that was very disconcerting. That was that the United States may be considering lowering the shield, as they call it, at the UN Security Council so that they might abstain on a vote about Palestinian statehood as opposed to vetoing it, which they have in the past.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius smiling during National Assembly Debate on Palestine Statehood resolution. December 2, 2014, Source AP.