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President Obama’s Latest Treachery on Iran Nuclear Deal

It has been a spectacular week for Russia and Iran.  Monday, Foreign Ministers Lavrov and Russia and Mohammed Javad Zarif meet in Moscow given the success of the JCPOA negotiations and UN Security Council endorsement to discuss listing weapons sanctions and ways to shore up the flagging fortunes of ally Bashar Assad in bloody Syria, the junior partner in the so-called Axis of Resistance.  That was followed by the announcement of an agreement to deliver on an expedited basis, four versions of the mobile S-300 advanced air defense system for $900 million.  Reuters first reported that Iran plans to sign a contract for four of the S-300 Russian missiles next week.”The text of the contract is ready and our friends will go to Russia next week to sign the contract,” Iran Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan reportedly said.  The earlier version of the S-300 systems were purchased in 2007, but not delivered because of objections by both Israel and the U.S.  Further sales of conventional Arms and missile technology were barred under the 2010 UN Security Council resolution.

A member of the Russian forces guards in front of surface-to-air S300 missiles in a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile unit on the Cape of Fiolent in Sevastopol on March 5, 2014. A military source has told Interfax-Ukraine that Russian commandos have seized control of the anti-aircraft missile systems and are guarding them. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV

A member of the Russian forces guards in front of surface-to-air S300 missiles in a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile unit on the Cape of Fiolent in Sevastopol on March 5, 2014. A military source has told Interfax-Ukraine that Russian commandos have seized control of the anti-aircraft missile systems and are guarding them. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV

The S-300 systems basically provides an anti-Missile shield of Iran’s “peaceful “ nuclear program against any U.S./Israeli aircraft  or medium range ballistic missile attack according to  the Pentagon.  Fox News reported “We have long expressed our concerns over reports of the possible sale of this missile system to the Iranians,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told Fox News. Further that “is a very capable weapons system that can bring down U.S. or Israeli jet aircraft.”

How capable are the new S-300 system?   Note this Washington Free Beacon report:

According to the defense website Deagel, the S-300V4 missile system is “1.5 to 2.3 times more effective” than previous systems “in its anti-missile defense capabilities.” The system is “capable of shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometers.”

All this stemmed from the July 24th meeting in Moscow by Iran’s controversial Quds Force director Gen. Soleimani with Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shogui endeavoring to expedite these deliveries of S-300 air defense systems and other weapon systems, including advanced Russian jet fighters to replace aging US fighters from the era of the Late Shah. That would complement the deliveries of Chinese stealth Jet fighters under a $10 Billion oil barter agreement. While objecting to the Russian sale to Iran of advanced S-300 missile deal, State Department press spokesman Admiral  John Kirby suggested  that it was excluded from the JCPOA terms lifting  both  conventional weapons and missile technology  sanctions under the 2010  UN  Resolution 1929 five and year  sunsets provisions.

Parchin Test Site 7-2015

Parchin Iran Military Explosives Test Site.

Then there was the exclusive AP report of its examination of one of the secret side deals between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The AP had been given access to the secret deal by a senior official of the IAEA on conditions of anonymity. The AP report of its examination of the secret side deal revealed   that it gave Tehran, the authority to use its own inspectors to deliver findings on alleged prior military developments for explosive nuclear triggers at the contested military site of Parchin. Iran for years had barred  IAEA inspectors access to Parchin and other known sites under the pretext that it would violate the Islamic Regime’s national security.  U.S. Intelligence has recently said that digital photos show the site being ‘sanitized”. The board of the IAEA, including the US and some of the P5+1 partners,  contemplate acceptance under the terms of the JCPOA  lifting upwards of $100 billion plus in sanctions relief slated for December of this  year based on the delivery of the PMD inspection reports. The reactions of the White House and presumably President Obama on vacation on the offshore island of Martha’s Vineyard stretch credulity.  They simply repeated the explanations by the President and White House press spokesperson Josh Earnest dismissing issues of trustworthiness of Iran’s Mullahs. The meme was the highly intrusive and robust IAEA inspection regime of the JCPOA would catch Iranian cheating instantly enabling punitive snapback of sanctions.

When  queried by journalists at yesterday’s State Department Daily Press Briefings, Press Spokesperson, Admiral John Kirby contended that  the IAEA  Director General Amano briefed both Chambers of Congress in closed door sessions on IAEA Iran inspection terms stating that the side deals  were “routine” and exemplary of the “robust intrusive” inspection regime. Further, he repeated the line that the US and other P5+1 already knew what Iran did a decade ago in prior military developments in violation of the non-proliferation treaty.  These PMD reports by the IAEA were to establish a baseline for the “intrusive, robust” inspections over the 10, 15 and 25 terms of the JCPOA. Now, given the AP report on this secret side deal between the IAEA and Iran it is questionable whether the entire agreement can assure any compliance by Iran.

Watch this C-Span video clip of State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby at yesterday’s Daily Press Briefing:

The reaction from Republican leaders in both Chambers was incredulity.  That was underlined by statements by two experts on nuclear inspections, former IAEA Deputy Director Ollie Heinonen of Harvard’s Belfer Center and David Albright of Washington, DC –based, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). The AP report on the IAEA side deal with Iran noted these comments:

House Speaker John Boehner said, “President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient – and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce: “International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period.” John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, “Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”

The Israel Project Daily Report noted Heinonen stating “that he knew of no other instance in which a country under scrutiny was allowed to conduct its own investigation.” Albright of ISIS, “called this arrangement “unprecedented and risky.” Albright warned that “ambiguity over Iran’s nuclear weaponization accomplishments and residual capabilities risks rendering an agreement unverifiable by the IAEA.”

Notwithstanding these developments Democrat Senators continued signing up yesterday signed up in support of the President’s nuclear pact with Iran.  Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, who succeeded Senator Kerry, said in a statement to the Boston Globe, yesterday:

I have concluded that diplomacy remains our best tool to secure a nuclear-weapon-free Iran, That’s why I intend to support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before Congress in September.”

This agreement is far from perfect and carries risks. But I believe our negotiators achieved as much as they reasonably could, and that if strictly implemented, this plan can be effective.

In contrast to Markey and other loyal Democrat Senators, we suggest that they heed the warning of colleague New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez at his Seton Hall University address:” Hope is not a national security initiative … if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it”.

The perfidy of the Obama Administration is exposed each day, yet the cupidity his claque of supporters of the Iran nuclear pact in the Congress like Senator Markey and other Democrats in both Chambers of Congress is appalling.  Witness the mind numbing comment by House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA: “I truly believe in this agreement”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow on August 18, 2015.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Unanimously Approves Iran Nuke Review Legislation

Our Iconoclast post title about a denouement today on the P5+1 Iran Nuke agreement review legislation was realized this afternoon in a unanimous Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote approving a compromise measure. The Committee action reasserted   Constitutional prerogatives forcing President Obama to relent his opposition. The vote was 19 to 0 based on the compromise language worked out between Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). Assenting to the new version of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review  Act of 2015, originally co-sponsored by embattled  New Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Sen. Corker, were two Committee Members, announced GOP Presidential Contenders, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Corker had not been a signatory to Arkansas Tom Cotton’s letter that was sent to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic in Tehran apprising them of the Senate’s advice and consent on major treaties and agreements.

This legislative victory preserves the right of the Congress to review changes in the prevailing sanctions against Iran occasioned by the presentation of the Administration of any definitive agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran by the intended date of June 30, 2015.  Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif announced at a ministerial meeting in Spain today, that negotiations leading towards a possible definitive agreement would start April 21st in Lausanne, Switzerland.  U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the House would approve the veto proof measure. A vote on the measure should reach the floor of the Senate shortly, at which time Amendments might be introduced for possible consideration.

Tower report noted:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee, said that the legislation, which passed 19-0, “absolutely, 100% keeps the congressional review process — the integrity of it — in place.”

The compromise language, which was worked out by Corker and ranking Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), shortened the amount of time of Congress would get to review a nuclear agreement with Iran from 60 days to 30, and softened some other provisions of the bill.

The bill is consistent with a poll released today by Suffolk University showing that Americans favor congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran by a wide margin—72% to 19%.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Barack Obama would sign the compromise bill, reversing the administration’s longstanding objection to any congressional oversight of a potential nuclear deal with Iran.

The New York Times reported how quickly Administration opposition to the legislation had folded:

Why Mr. Obama gave in after fierce opposition was the last real dispute of what became a rout. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said Mr. Obama was not “particularly thrilled” with the bill, but had decided that a new proposal put together by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made enough changes to make it acceptable.

“We’ve gone from a piece of legislation that the president would veto to a piece of legislation that’s undergone substantial revision such that it’s now in the form of a compromise that the president would be willing to sign,” Mr. Earnest said. “That would certainly be an improvement.”

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and the committee’s chairman, had a far different interpretation. As late as 11:30 a.m., in a classified briefing at the Capitol, Mr. Kerry was urging senators to oppose the bill. The “change occurred when they saw how many senators were going to vote for this, and only when that occurred,” Mr. Corker said.

Mr. Cardin said that the “fundamental provisions” of the legislation had not changed.

But the compromise between him and Mr. Corker did shorten a review period of a final Iran nuclear deal and soften language that would make the lifting of sanctions dependent on Iran’s ending support for terrorism.

The agreement almost certainly means Congress will muscle its way into nuclear negotiations that Mr. Obama sees as a legacy-defining foreign policy achievement.

Under the agreement, the president would still have to send periodic reports to Congress on Iran’s activities regarding ballistic missiles and terrorism, but those reports could not trigger another round of sanctions.

The Times reported possible floor actions that might resurrect original provisions:

The measure still faces hurdles. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, fresh off the opening of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, dropped plans to push for an amendment to make any Iran deal dependent on the Islamic Republic’s recognition of the State of Israel, a diplomatic nonstarter.

But he hinted that he could try on the Senate floor.

“Not getting anything done plays right into the hands of the administration,” Mr. Rubio said.

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, abandoned an amendment to make any Iran accord into a formal international treaty needing two-thirds of the Senate for its ratification, but he, too, said it could be revived before the full Senate.

The measure will be brought up for a floor vote later this month and is expected to pass both the Senate and the House in near veto proof form.

It is clear that the victors in this battle are the Republican Majority and concerned Democrats who have been monitoring polls and constituent opinions regarding Congressional Review prerogatives.  In retrospect  Sen. Cotton’s letter and the March 3rd address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a Joint Meeting of Congress alerted  Americans to problems with the P5+1 framework for a deal  announced on April 2nd despite the objections of President Obama and certain leading Democratic minority members of both the Senate and House. Perhaps the diktats announced last Thursday by Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the lifting of all sanctions upon signing of an agreement and denial of intrusive IAEA inspections of military nuclear weapons development sites conveyed to Senate Democrats that there were different opinions about the two Facts Statements. The one released by the State Department versus that of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Add to that was Monday’s removal of a 2010 moratorium on the sale of an advanced Russian S-300 air defense system to Iran an indication that President Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei could void weapons sanctions agreements at will.

The losers in this episode are Secretary Kerry and President Obama. How those negotiations go starting April 21st will determine if Congress will have anything to review on June 30th.

RELATED ARTICLE: Commentators On Arab TV: Obama Supports Iran Because His Father Was A Shi’ite

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). Source: Politico

Iranian Nuke Deal a House of Cards?

Tony Blinken Source AP

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Source: AP

Newly designated Deputy Secretary of State, former Deputy National Security Adviser, Antony “Tony” Blinken testified yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by California Republican Congressman, Edward Royce. Royce and Ranking Democratic Member, Elliot Engel of New York, were trying to determine the status of the Administration’s P5+1 negotiations on an agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. Blinken’s boss, Secretary of State Kerry, with the assistance of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz are huddling in Lausanne, Switzerland with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and nuclear program head, Ali Akbar Salehi, to reach a political agreement by a self-imposed deadline of March 31st.  Moniz and Salehi share an Alma MaterMIT, where they both earned doctorates, one in physics and the other in nuclear engineering back in the 1970’s. Moniz was an Assistant professor at MIT, while Salehi was in the nuclear engineering program.

 The latest press leak indicates that Iran might be given 40% of nuclear fuel enrichment capacity which translates to 6,000 centrifuges. That may be more than ample, Israeli PM Netanyahu, fresh from his Knesset elections victory on March 17th, contends will enable Iran to become a nuclear threshold state, although there are those who contend it may already have achieve that status.  There is debate whether any final Memorandum of Understanding will have a 10 or 25 year sunset term, and whether, Iran’s nuclear program is susceptible to so-called verifiable inspections, given evidence to the contrary compiled by the IAEA inspectors.

It was against this background that Tony Blinken provided testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He roused the skepticism of the house panel with comments that the deal would bar Iran from achieving a nuclear capability in perpetuity. An AFP report on yesterday’s hearing noted this exchange:

The Obama administration insisted before skeptical lawmakers Thursday that any deal with Iran would ensure for “perpetuity” that it could not develop nuclear weapons.

A comprehensive accord would also see “phased, proportionate” relief from tough sanctions that have severely constrained Iran’s economy, but such relief could be swiftly reversed should the Islamic republic violate any final deal, said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Several members of Congress and other critics have warned that the ongoing negotiations between world powers and Tehran would lead to a deal that would sunset after 10 years.

Once the deal ends, critics fear the Islamic republic could once again freely crank up its nuclear program and develop a bomb.

“That is simply not true,” Blinken told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“To the contrary, Iran would be prohibited from developing a nuclear weapon in perpetuity — and we would have a much greater ability to detect any effort by Iran to do so.”

He said that while some constraints would be lifted after a “significant period,” others would last “indefinitely, including a stringent and intrusive monitoring and inspections regime” by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.

And should Iran violate the agreement and begin a rush to a bomb, a process described as “breakout,” Blinken stressed that restrictions on centrifuges and uranium mills would prevent Iran from completing a nuclear bomb for at least a year.

“That would provide us more than enough time to detect and act on any Iranian transgression,” he said.

Blinken said Iran would be indefinitely barred under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Democrats and Republicans alike scoffed at the suggestion that such NPT restrictions would hold back Iran; with committee Chairman Ed Royce warning that Iranians “have been violating those commitments for years.”

Lawmakers also pointed to the need to include restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program in any nuclear deal, as reinforcement against the country using such a delivery system for an atomic bomb.

“The critical question of the possible military dimension of Iran’s program… would have to be part of any agreement,” Blinken acknowledged.

Blinken’s colleague at State, Deputy Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, who has been actively engaged in the P5+1 negotiations, has some relevant experience in dismissing Blinken’s assertion that the deal under consideration would bar Iranian’ nuclear breakout. Ms. Sherman was part of the Clinton Administration team that put together the executive agreement in 1994 with North Korea that was also supposed to stop the DPRK’s nuclear program by substituting light water reactors. That agreement was subject to a Congressional hearing.  By 2006, North Korea successfully evaded IAEA inspections, produced a nuclear fuel stockpile and tested a device resulting in collapse of the agreement. The Bush Administration stopped fuel oil deliveries to the DPRK.

Last time I looked at Blinker’s bio, he had a Columbia Law School degree, not in physics, like Energy Secretary Moniz or Iran negotiator, Salehi, both MIT alumni.

Washington Post columnist, Al Kamen, drew attention to Blinker’s obvious qualification enabling to make his perpetuity comment about a deal to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Blinken was apparently a consultant to the HBO series, “House of Cards”.   Kamen revealed:

Sometimes it’s good not to fast-forward through the credits roll. You never know what you’ll find.

So the other evening, when the credits came up for episode nine of this season’s “House of Cards,” this popped up: “Consultant: TONY BLINKEN.”

Whoa! As in the deputy secretary of state and former White House deputy national security adviser? That’s some pretty heavy-duty consulting power. Is Blinken moonlighting for Kevin Spacey?

Well, not exactly.

Blinken, a modest sort, said in an e-mail that “‘consultant’ vastly overstated” his role, which amounted to a “few phone calls” perhaps nine months to a year ago. That would have been when he was working in the White House. The calls came from head series writer Beau Willimon and some other writers for the show who wanted to “test the veracity or not of some foreign policy story lines.”

“At this point, I don’t remember the details or the issues” involved, Blinken said. And, no, he wasn’t paid for the advice. Probably a good thing, because the episode — one of the “Putin segments” — for which he got the credit line involves, even for the “House of Cards,” a wildly implausible shootout in the Jordan River Valley. (We’re not going to say more.)

And, yes, Blinken and wife Evan Ryan, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, are binge-watchers.

Watch this C-Span video clip of Deputy Secretary of State Blinken being questioned at the March 19, 2015 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran nuclear negotiations:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The photo shopped featured image is courtesy of the House of Cards TV series.

Senator Tom Cotton’s Open Challenge to Ayatollah Khamenei and President Obama on Nuclear Deal with Iran

Tall Lincolnesque Arkansas Junior Senator Tom Cotton did his constituents and all Americans proud.  His open letter to Iran’s Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei signed by 47 fellow Republican Senators was a ringing Constitutional declaration of Senate authority to review major international treaties. A rather remarkable achievement for the youngest US Senator  in the 114th Session of Congress following his electoral victory  on November 4, 2014  over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor.  His letter put on notice the theocratic tyrant in Tehran that the US Senate had the right under Article II, Sec. 2 of our Constitution to advise and consent on treaties negotiated by the Executive branch of our government.  Moreover it put the Supreme notice that Congress has the right to vote on the lifting of any sanctions passed under existing legislation and signed into law by President Obama. Further, it basically informed Iran’s Supreme Ruler and its President that any bilateral agreement entered into by executive order by the President would be null and void upon his leaving office and the end of his second and final term.

Josh Rogin in his Bloomberg report captured the essence of this latest riposte to President Obama in the headline, “Republicans Warn Iran — and Obama — That Deal Won’t Last.”  He noted:

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal — — which is reportedly near done — especially if it is working reasonably well.

Cotton told Rogin:

Iran’s ayatollahs need to know before agreeing to any nuclear deal that … any unilateral executive agreement is one they accept at their own peril.

Rogin went on to note an ironic precedent by Vice President Biden;

Vice President Joe Biden similarly insisted — in a letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — on congressional approval for the Moscow Treaty on strategic nuclear weapons with Russia in 2002, when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He further noted that Cotton’s letter came against the backdrop of recent review legislation:

The new letter is the latest piece of an effort by Senators in both parties to ensure that Congress will have some say if and when a deal is signed. Senators Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Tim Kaine and the embattled Bob Menendez have a bill pending that would mandate a Congressional review of the Iran deal, but Republicans and Democrats have been bickering over how to proceed in the face of a threatened presidential veto.

The relevant language of Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution reads:

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.

Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution:

Gives the Senate a share in foreign policy by requiring Senate consent, by a two-thirds vote, to any treaty before it may go into effect. The president may enter into “executive agreements” with other nations without the Senate’s consent, but if these involve more than minor matters they may prove controversial.

The emerging so-called phased P5+1 deal to forestall Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear state is anything but “minor.”  The Islamic Republic’s possession of nuclear weapons is a threat to Israel, America and the World.  In the hands of an apocalyptic Mahdist Shiite Islamic Republic nuclear weapons would foment chaos.  The chaos these madmen are eager to trigger they bizarrely believe would bring  about the rise from his slumber their moribund Messiah, the 12th Imam, from the Holy Well in the Holy city of Qom, Iran.  Just recall the first action of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad was to have his cabinet sign a letter to this effect that was deposited in that well in Qom.  Those possible Iranian nuclear weapons and the means of delivery could result in Islamic domination of the World and the possible destruction of both the reviled Great Satan (the U.S.) and Little Satan (Israel).

The reaction from Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif about the open letter to Iran’s leadership was:

In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.

The Democrats in the Senate were apoplectic.  Senate minority leader Harry Reid said, “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”  White House press Spokesman Josh Earnest said in reaction to the Republican Senate “open letter”:

Just the latest in an ongoing strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

President Obama said:

It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran.

Sen. Cotton issued this statement following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address before a Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd:

I am happy to welcome a truly courageous leader to address the Congress today.  There is no one better equipped to discuss the danger posed by a nuclear Iran than Prime Minister Netanyahu. For decades, Iran has had as its expressed goal for Israel to be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ and has been a lead financier and arms supplier of terrorist organizations dedicated to destroying Israel. If Iran is allowed to retain their nuclear program, the United States will find itself in a similar position.

The Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran have become an endless series of concessions. Any deal reached at the end of this month will inevitably empower our enemies and put our national security at risk. It is up to Congress to stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and restore the credible threat of force against Iran to permanently end their nuclear program.

We wrote this about Senator Cotton when he was elected on November 5, 2014:

Cotton, reading a profile of him by retired Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), had a career that resonated. He was a highly educated double Harvard graduate who voluntarily served as an Infantry officer in the US Army during the Iraq-Afghanistan conflict.  Wisse’s WSJ op-ed   was an unabashed endorsement, “Vote for Tom Cotton—and Redeem Harvard”.

[…]

Cotton is a sixth generation Arkansan from a cattle raising ranching family in the small community of Dardanelle, Arkansas. A graduate of both Harvard College and Law School, motivated by the events of 9/11, he rejected a JAG Commission. Instead, he volunteered   to go through OCS at Fort Benning and trained at both the Infantry and Ranger Schools.  Cotton served from 2005 to 2009. He had two tours, one in Iraq and a second in Afghanistan with the famed Screaming Eagles, the 101st Airborne, rising to the rank of Captain and received a Bronze Star for his combat actions. At 6’5″, he was selected as Platoon Leader at the Old Guard that provides the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

Perhaps the Senator Cotton’s open letter to Iran’s leadership was a forthright confirmation that the Republican leadership in the Congress heard PM Netanyahu’s message.  The letter represented a Constitutional challenge to the Administration asserting the Senate’s rights of review on any agreement that might be reached with Iran by March 31st that also called for lifting Congressional passed sanctions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Arkansas Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.

Obama’s Phased Nuclear Deal with Iran: Kicking the bomb down the road?

This column is co-authored with Ilana Freedman who is a veteran intelligence analyst and specialist in counter-terrorism. Ilana is Editor of FreedmanReport.com.

When we posted late Monday night, February 23, 2015, on breaking news about the phased deal resulting from bilateral discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, we knew from our sources that more shoes would be likely to drop. Last night we received information from these reliable sources on the extent to which the Administration had strayed from its original mandate. The information was:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry is poised to sign a secret Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. and Iran that was completed by negotiators on Saturday, February 14.
  • The State Department has received a decision from Eric Holder’s Department of Justice that the MoU does not require approval by the U.S. Senate in the Constitutionally defined process of Advise and Consent for treaties between the United States and other nations, and that therefore Congress will not be consulted.
  • The agreement does not cover the subject of inspections, removing the requirements of having inspections at any of the sites covered by the memorandum.
  • The agreement will allow Iran to have 10,000 enhanced centrifuges that will increase their nuclear program capacity by upwards of 50%.
  • Of the 10,000 centrifuges allotted, all of Iran’s 6,000 existing centrifuges will be converted to the enhanced, next generation versions. The conversion can begin immediately after the agreement is signed. This will enable Iran to achieve a nuclear threshold state in less than two years. The balance of 4,000 centrifuges will, according to our sources, be supplied by Russia.
Alireza Jafarzadeh Deputy Director of Natioal Council of Reskistance of Iran National Press Club  @-24-15 Source AFP

Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director, Washington Office of NCRI, National Press Club, Feb. 24, 2015.

It is not known whether other Iranian nuclear sites will likewise fall under this inspection exemption, including military test sites like Parchin and the secret parallel Lavizan site, which was disclosed in Washington on Tuesday, February 24th by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a National Press Club briefing. At the NPC briefing, Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the NCRI’s Washington D.C. office, reported on a secret test site which has been previously identified in reports of the Washington, D.C. based, Institute for Science and International Security.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,” he said.  Jafarzadeh said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

According to the presentation, the complex was described as a facility 164 feet underground. The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel, and lead-lined doors to seal out radiation leaks.  The facility itself is heavily shielded from radiation and insulated against noise and radiation leaks to avoid detection.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced… centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said.

The NCRI called the existence of the site “a clear violation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with the P5+1 group, he said.

When asked about the NCRI findings at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bi-lateral discussions with Iran, Secretary Kerry commented:

That U.S. officials knew of charges related to the site prior to this week, but that “it has not been revealed yet as a nuclear facility.”

“It is a facility that we are well aware of, which is on a list of facilities we have,” the Secretary of State said during a Capitol Hill budget hearing on Wednesday morning. “I’m not going to go into greater detail. . . .But these things are obviously going to have to be resolved as we go forward.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, ranking Democrat on the House Affairs Committee replied to Kerry:

 “The MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”

“They are the ones that told the world about the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Sherman said. “They now say that there’s a secret facility at Lavizan-3.”

A credible independent expert monitoring Iran’s nuclear program raised questions about the NCRI findings.  David Albright of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security commented in a USA Today article, February 27, 2015:

“The basic story raises questions about its authenticity. They may have answers but the questions raise further doubts,” Albright said. “The claims are so controversial that any manipulated evidence casts doubt on the whole story.”

The matter of possible violations of the P5+1 interim agreements, the lack of inspections of military applications facilities like Parchin, the Arak heavy water reactor and the Lavizan-3  site near Tehran underlines the evidence of Iran’s  retention of significant uranium enrichment  centrifuge capabilities under the suggested 10 year phase deal the Administration announced  earlier this week.  It begs the question of why any enrichment capabilities are provided to Iran under the proposed arrangement, given that the principal use of centrifuges is for enrichment of uranium into fissile materials for bomb making.

That was a point made by Dan Diker, executive producer of the Voice of Israel “National Security” program during a Middle East Round Table discussion on 1330am WEBY Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, “Your Turn” with co-hosts Mike BatesJerry Gordon of the NER and Shoshana Bryen , senior director  of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center.

Diker of the VOI noted:

The notion that Iran would be able to enrich any uranium is completely unacceptable.  The civilian nuclear programs around the world hosted by Canada and other western countries have nothing to do with centrifuges.  They are just not part of the nuclear file.  Many countries want to have peaceful civilian nuclear power.  The notion that the Iranians would claim that they need centrifuges to produce peaceful nuclear power is an absurdity.  The fact that the P5+1 have allowed any uranium to be enriched is an extremely dangerous proposition.  That is the message that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to bring to the American people and by extension to the world community.

As to why President Obama and Secretary Kerry would sanction the phased program, Bryen of the JPC suggested:

“[The President’s] thinking appears to be that ten years from now the Mullahs will have fallen, young Iranian democrats will have taken over, and it will be OK.  The big piece of this that he missed is that the Mullahs only represent one part of the Iranian body politic and that is the religious part. Iran is also Persian and Persians are empire-oriented.  Even if we get rid of the Mullahs, even if we get rid of the religious basis for governance in Iran and we have secular people, secular people in Persia believe in a Persian Empire. If we kick this can down the road ten years and the Mullahs are gone, Obama thinks that will be a good thing. I’m not sure that’s true.”

Listen to the February 24, 21015 1330am WEBY Middle East Round Table discussion on the Iranian nuclear program: Segment 1Segment 2Segment 3Segment 4.

An article based on the 1330am WEBY Round Table program will be published in the March 2015, NER.

The WEBY panel will also be heard on a separate Voice of Israel “National Security” program, Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1PM Israel Standard Time ( 6:00 AM EST in the U.S.).  A sound cloud of that VOI broadcast will also be available on March 1st.

Iran’s provocative activities during the so-called Great Prophet-9 maneuvers this week raised questions about the untimely demonstrations of force directed at the US Fifth Fleet presence in the Persian Gulf. The first episode was the destruction by Iranian cruise missiles on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 launched at a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a target near the international oil/gas choke point, the Straits of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.  Watch the video, here.

Then on Friday, February 27, 2015, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy announced the successful launch of a cruise missile from a submerged Ghadir midget-submarine with a range of 150 miles. Watch the video, here.   Sepah news service quoted Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of IRGC-N saying:

The new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.

“The new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats,” he was quoted as stating in Sepah News.

Iran’s latest operations in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz raises many questions. Why mount exercises in which a mock US aircraft carrier is destroyed by the Iranian navy? Or launch cruise missiles designed to take out a US naval destroyer just as the US is about to give them everything they want without a shot fired?  It may be a show of arrogance, a finger in the eye of the Obama administration (which it believes to be weak and foolish), or a move beyond the MoU into a new level of saber rattling to show its neighbors the seriousness of its ambitions. Or it might be all three, a typical multi-dimensional Persian chess play by the IRGC.

What the US must learn – and fast – is that this is not an enemy one can toy with. As in most Middle East politics, the weak are despised and the game goes to the powerful. As the secrets of Obama’s secret negotiations are revealed (or leaked), and the truth comes out about our feckless policies of negotiations and appeasement, the outcome is likely to be devastating for the region and the world.  Iran revels in its possible conquest of American might and moves a giant step closer to achieving its nuclear ambitions with America’s assistance – and blessings.

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