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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.

Iran’s Khamenei Changes the Terms of the Nuclear Deal

The only ones who may be surprised are Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Democrat senators who filibustered a Senate bill to prevent Obama from entering into this farcical dangerous agreement.

Iran’s Khamenei Changes the Terms of the Nuclear Deal – Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Iran nuclear deal, officially adopted on Oct. 18, is already a dead letter. Earlier this month Iran test-fired a new-generation ballistic missile, called Emad, whose only practical military use is to deliver a nuclear warhead. The test was a bald violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted unanimously in July, in which “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” for at least eight years.
  • Then Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei weighed in on the nuclear deal by way of a public letter to President Hassan Rouhani. In it Khamenei demands that the U.S. and Europe completely lift, rather than temporarily suspend, their economic sanctions, putting an end to any possibility that penalties could “snap back” in the event of Iran’s noncompliance.
  • Khamenei also demands that sanctions against Iran for its support of terrorism and its human-rights abuses must also go.

Khamenei changes the timetable for Iran to ship out its enriched uranium and modify its plutonium reactor in Arak until the International Atomic Energy Agency gives Iran a pass on all “past and future issues (including the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program).” So much for the UN nuclear watchdog even pretending to monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal.

RELATED ARTICLE: Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015

Obama Executive Order Lifts Iran Sanctions: Tweet #StatesCanSueObama!

Sunday, October 18, 2015,  President Obama signed an executive order initiating the start of the Iran nuclear pact under the JCPOA. In the bureaucratic argot it was  the Adoption Day, the 90th day following  Finalization Day, the unanimous  endorsement of the JCPOA  by the UN Security Council on July 20th. Sixty days hence on Compliance Day, December 15, 2015, if the UN watchdog agency the IAEA files a report on Iran’s prior military developments with findings, then upwards of $100 billion in funds sequestered under international and U.S. sanctions might be released. That’s a big if.

Congress, as we have written has been thwarted in its attempt to reject the pact by a Democrat Senate minority vote in September. Further, even if the Republican majority brought a resolution to bring a suit against the President’s  violations of several Iran sanctions law and the lack of complete information on negotiations and side agreements under Corker Cardin, it would fail to pass as it lacks a super majority.  That is why it is up to the more than 27 members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) led by Florida’s AG Pam Bondi to consider bringing a cause of action in a favorable Federal District Court.  To that end today we sent each one of the RAGA Members the following tweet: #StatesCanSueObama!

We know that some of the  RAGA members expressed concern in late August 2015 urging their colleagues to push for sanctions.Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe and State AG Scott Pruitt co-authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Let States Do the Job Obama Won’t: Sanction Iran”:

President Obama’s executive agreement with Iran is enormously controversial for good reason. Negotiated in coordination with Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the deal welcomes Iran as a participant in the world community conditioned only on marginal changes to its nuclear program. It effectively allows Iran to maintain technology that would lead to a nuclear weapon, as well as continue its human-rights abuses, sponsoring of terrorism, imprisoning of American hostages, and threats to American allies, including Israel.

Fortunately, the U.S. states have the power to limit these threats, if they all choose to use it.

To date, 25 states have enacted such sanctions against Iran. This is pursuant to the explicit authorization for such sanctions contained in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.  Congress found “that the United States should support the decision of any State or local government that for moral, prudential, or reputational reasons divests from, or prohibits the investment of assets of the State or local government in” Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed during July 28th congressional testimony that President Obama’s deal does not affect the states’ ability to impose sanctions on Iran. However, he  said that the administration “will take steps to urge [the states] not to interfere,” because President Obama had, as part of the deal, agreed to “actively encourage” the states to drop their sanctions.

We urge states to do exactly the opposite. Rather than drop their sanctions against Iran, states should strengthen and expand those sanctions.

On  August 31st, Oklahoma AG Pruitt and Michigan AG Bill Schuette sent a letter to all 50 states urging them to impose state-based sanctions against Iran.

On September 8th, 2015 14 Republican  Governors signed a letter drawing attention to the States’ authority under the 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Federal  law  to enact sanctions as we noted in our October 2015 article, “Can States Prevent the Release of Iran Sanctions Through Federal Litigation?”

As of yesterday, with the President’s  signing  an executive order adopting the JCPOA, there may be a race by some members of RAGA to also consider bringing a suit to  block release of sequestered funds that may likely be devoted to the continued  support of global terrorism and development of ballistic missile technology . The latter for the express purpose of deploying a nuclear weapon against  US interest and allies in the Middle East, especially Israel. Just a few days before the President’s action on Adoption Day,  Iran announced a successful test of the Emad guided missile with sufficient range , 1,700 kilometers,  in violation of both  the  2010 UN Security Council Resolution 1929  and Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA.

Noted Constitutional Lawyer David B. Rivkin, Jr. of the Washington, D.C. office of  the law firm of Baker Hostetler, has successfully brought actions on behalf of  the US House of Representatives in Federal  court on separation of powers grounds. He has presented arguments that the  states have standing to bring a suit to block release of sanctions.  In a discussion of this and other options in our October NER article he argued:

The states that are interested in pursuing this can certainly go forward in part, because of the viability of state-level sanctions and a number of states have put forward sanctions of their own.

A number of Attorney Generals and Governors can. They should and will be interested in this and you don’t need many states. You can have a couple of states doing that. However, they have to have a very carefully thought out sanctions package in place and they have to put it forward under state law. Then they can take the position that the legality of a sanctions package depends upon what is the federal government’s policy toward Iran.

By the way you don’t even need state legislatures. A number of states have Constitutions that allow governors to pass sanctions by executive order. They don’t even need to pass it as legislation. It is a question of individual state Constitutions. It could be done in a matter of weeks if you had governors who were interested in it.

The Dallas team of the National Security Task Force of America  (NSTFA) undertook a grass roots action. They tweeted Texas Governor Abbott and Attorney General  Paxton and 125 Texas legislators urging them to join with other states in bringing a suit that might prevent release of sequestered funds under various federal  Iran sanctions laws.  We believe that exemplary model developed by the Dallas  NSTFA team  might be followed in many of the states whose Governors signed the September 8th letter to President Obama. That is why we took the initiative today of tweeting the members of the Republican Attorney Generals Association led by Florida AG Pam Bondi.

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

Obama to waive Sanctions? Tweet Your State Governor to Sue the President in Federal Court!

According to reports out of Tehran, President Obama is poised to wave sanctions next week. This despite Congressonal outrage over Iran’s violation of bans against missile testing .  Note this comment in a Washington Free Beacon report:

“The ink isn’t even dry on President Obama’s nuclear agreement and Iran is already breaking rules,” Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) said on Thursday. “This should not come as a surprise to anyone since Iran has cheated on every deal.”

Iran’s missile test and disclosure of underground  sites  occurred just before  yesterday’s initiation date of October 15, 2015 for the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. Incredulously, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that Iran’s  missile test have nothing to do the nuclear pact. Really?  The only reason for testing precision guide missile is to launch nuclear weapons. Watch this Reuters  video of Earnest’s White House Daily Press Briefing on JCPOA ‘initiation day:”

Now, it is your turn to do something: Tweet your state Governor to sue  Obama  in Federal court for unlawful conduct.  That is what the members of the Dallas Task Force of the Lisa Benson Radio Show National Security Task Force of America (NSTFA) are doing.

Congress is on vacation and lost the opportunity to sue the President when minority Democrat Senators spiked a Republican majority sponsored resolution last month rejecting the Iran deal. Further, while the Senate has standing to sue the President in Federal court over his mishandling of the Iran nuclear pact and review by Congress, it  is unable to pass a resolution authorizing that suit as it lacks a super majority.  Noted Washington, DC Constitutional litigator, David B. Rivkin, Jr. of the Baker Hostetler Law firm, who has brought successful Federal Court suits on separation of powers grounds over the Affordable Care Act, thinks that the 30 states that passed Iran sanctions laws under Federal Law would have standing to bring a similar cause of action.

So the  Dallas members of the (NSTFA)  are sending  tweets containing  messages urging Texas  Governor Abbott , Attorney General Paxton  and Texas state legislators to  join with  Republican gubernatorial colleagues  in 14 other States to file a suit in Federal court. That might possibly  stop the clock on implementation of the Iran nuclear deal by December 15, 2015 preventing release of  upwards of $100 billion in sequestered funds . That assumes Iran gets a rubber stamp of approval from the UN nuclear Watchdog agency, the IAEA about its prior military developments. Iran suggests it only has peaceful nuclear energy applications or intentions despite enrichment of uranium and building plutonium producing heavy water reactor . They have only one purpose; providing fissile material for an arsenal of nuclear weapons.    Iran is counting on release of those funds to support global terrorism including aiming ICBMs at the US and allies in Europe and the Middle East, like Israel.  Iran already has a running start on that. The 2013 interim Joint Plan of Action released $12.9 billion in sequestered funds.  Further, Swiss Banking authorities released $60 billion in hard currency reserves of Iran that were held by member banks.  That was just a few days after the UN Security Council, including the US, unanimously endorsed, the  Joint Comprehensive  Plan of Action (JCPOA) .

Now there is further cause for action by American citizens.  Just this week Iran disclosed it violated a UN Security Council resolution  barring testing of  ballistic missile technology by launching a precision guided Missile , the Emad, or  pillar in Farsi,  with a range of 1,700 kilometers. That would have sufficient range to hit Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Egypt and NATO members in Europe.  That same guided missile would be capable of lofting a nuclear bomb in a satellite into a polar orbit.  If detonated over the US  that could trigger a devastating Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) effect shutting down our digital economy and power grid possibly resulting in millions of casualties.  If that wasn’t enough, we had a senior Revolutionary Guards officer threaten to attack US interests in the Gulf of Mexico.  Moreover, despite approval of the Iran nuclear deal by what passes for its parliament, the Majlis,  the  Iranian  Council of Guardians ratified  the amended law that it didn’t violate Islamic Sharia law. Ayatollah Khamenei  forbid  further negotiations with the US with calls from his hard liners chanting “Death to America”.  Iran is already in an alliance with Russia, Syria and Iraq sending funds, weapons and more than 7,000 Revolutionary Guard  to prop up the Assad Regime in Damascus, isolating America’s allies in the Middle East.

Texas has standing before Federal courts to bring a suit against the President. Texas and 29 other states  enacted state Iran sanctions laws, authorized under a 2010 Federal Comprehensive Iran Sanctions law.   Moreover, the executive order that the President  signed today recognizing the UN recommended JCPOA may be in violation of the failed Corker –Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Further  there  a 2012 federal law closing the loophole licensing foreign subsidiaries of US parent corporations barring them from doing business in Iran.

15 States, including Texas, signed a letter authored by Florida Governor Rick Scott objecting to the President’s mishandling of the Iran nuclear act negotiations that drew attention to state sanctions statutes.

As noted in the Miami Herald “Naked Politics” blog, “the [September 8th] letter focused concerns about how it would affect pension divestment policies and contracting restrictions.” The governors’ letter supported the position articulated by Washington, DC constitutional litigator David Rivkin, Esq.:

Paragraph 25 of the Iran nuclear agreement provides that the federal government will “actively encourage” states to lift state-level sanctions such as the divestment and contracting restriction laws,” the letter states. “While Secretary Kerry confirmed in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the agreement will not preempt state law because it is not a treaty, we are concerned about what steps your Administration may take to attempt to implement paragraph 25. Therefore, we wish to make it clear to you in advance of any efforts to implement paragraph 25 that we intend to ensure that the various state-level sanctions that are now in effect remain in effect. These state-level sanctions are critically important and must be maintained.’

The letter was signed by Govs. Scott, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mike Pence of Indiana, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, John Kasich of Ohio, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

In our NER article on the question of states having the authority to bring possible federal litigation over sanctions relief, we noted this comment from an August 2015 Steptoe International Compliance blog post on “The  JCPOA and State Sanctions:”

The Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) does not say much about Iran sanctions imposed by US state governments. … These state restrictions can be more extensive in scope than US federal sanctions. For example, some state restrictions (e.g. in Florida) attach automatically to the parent entity of the company who engages in certain Iran activities. Laws in many states provide for the lifting of Iran sanctions when the President removes Iran from the list of countries that support terrorism; but the JCPOA does not do that, and, as a result, Iran sanction laws in most states will remain intact

Below are  what the Dallas NSTFA  will be tweeting  Texas Governor Abbott, Attorney General Paxton, every state legislator, the Texas Congressional  delegations in both the US Senate and House, as well major media in the Lone Star State.  You can do the same along with like minded citizens in the 13 remaining states. A number of us will be doing that here in Florida. All you have to do is change the name of your respective state, state officials and Google their Tweet addresses on-line. Then  get your  teams to retweet them.  Can we count on you to do the same in the remaining states of Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin?

StateSealofTexasSealSuggested Tweets for Texas National Security Task Force President Obama Signing Executive Order For Iran Nuclear Deal:

#Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal: Gov. Abbott Sue  in Federal Court Now!
# Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal: Iran Violated Deal before Obama Signed
#Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal:  Texas Iran Sanctions Law Gives Standing to Sue
#Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal:  Stop Iran Missiles aimed at US Now!
# Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal:  Demand Iran Release 4 Americans Now!
#Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal:  Iran  Already Received  $72 Billion  back!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal:  Pay US Victims of Iran Terror First!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal:   Congress Didn’t Sue but Texas Can!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal:  Gov. Abbott Join 14 States Who Objected to Iran Deal in Federal Court
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal:  AG Paxton file Federal Court brief now!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal:  Stop Iran Nuke EMP attack!
# Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal: Keep Iran Out of the Gulf of Mexico!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal: You can Stop Iran Nukes  Now!
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal: Texas  Legislature Pass Resolution to  file Suit  Now!
#Texas Sue Obama over Iran Deal: Pres. violated Iran Laws He Signed !
#Texas Sue Obama Over Iran Deal: Make the Lone Star State  First to File  in Federal Court

Consult these New English Review articles and Iconoclast blog posts for further background information:

Obama Poised to Sign Iran Deal: Time for the States to Bring ...

Can the States Stop Implementation of Iran Nuclear Deal …

Could The JCPOA be in Violation of a 2012 Iran Sanctions …

Can States Prevent Release of Iran Sanctions through Federal Litigation?

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

Revealed: Russia’s Great Game in the Middle East

It was a bizarre turn of events at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York on the 70th Anniversary of the world body.  President Obama gave a speech lambasting Putin’s Russia over its seizure of Crimea and  invasion of eastern Ukraine violating the country’s sovereignty. However, he paid court to Russia and China for supporting the  Iran nuclear pact unanimous approved  by the UN Security Council poised to release tens of billions in sequestered funds as of December 15, 2015. He  questioned Russia’s sudden military presence in western Syria building a military complex to bolster the Assad regime.  A regime that rained barrel bombs causing the deaths of 250,000. A regime ethnically cleansing the country’s Sunni population sending millions to displaced persons camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and hundreds of thousands in flight to the EU.  The President got warm applause over his rapprochement with Cuba.

Putin, when he had his turn at the rostrum accused the U.S., without naming it, of causing the rise of the Islamic State through its invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan,  ultimately creating a Sunni supremacist Caliphate.  Following Putin Iranian President Rouhani  had his turn at the rostrum in the Assembly hall. He made the astounding proposal that an international alliance including Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq  combat terrorism in the Middle East.  A proposal that Rouhani  said should be confirmed in another Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action akin to the Iran nuclear pact.  He noted the nuclear pact  was  concluded  “without the impediment of the Zionist enterprise”, meaning Israel.  Witness  the cheek of President Rouhani   of Iran  suggesting  a new Shia alliance in the Middle East, plus Russia welcoming  the US to join in fighting Sunni Supremacist  Islamic State.

What was on display at the UN was the supplanting  of the U.S. in the new great game of the Middle East by  Russia.  It was enough to make one’s head spin with these sudden turns  of events. It made the U.S., look like a “JV team “struggling  to keep up.

The usually astute Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Washington, DC-based  Jewish Policy Center  was asked  by this writer during the September 27, 2015 Lisa Benson Show why  these developments occurred so suddenly.  She said that  Putin’s Russia like all great powers do when they are confronted by a vacuum, especially one that threatens its national  interests.  Thousands of Jihadists have left Chechnya, Dagestan, and Tartarstan in Russia attracted by the Salafist  Islamic doctrine of the Islamic State as a declared Caliphate.  Thus  Putin’s objective is to “bottle” up these Sunni Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.  Putin admitted as much in a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose  Sunday evening when he said:

More than 2,000 fighters from Russia and ex-Soviet republics are in the territory of Syria. There is a threat of their return to us. So instead of waiting for their return, we are better off helping Assad fight them on Syrian territory.

Watch the CBS 60 Minutes Charlie Rose interview with Russian President Putin:

When Lisa Benson asked Bryen about  where Iran’s proxy Hezbollah stood in these developments, she  replied  Hezbollah “had not been an efficient fighting force in Syria.  Further, she commented that Russian presence in Syria is meant to actually limit Hezbollah’s  involvement, perhaps  to a defensive role “in the Alawite enclave.”  Moreover, she noted  that Putin is not interested  in a war with Israel ,suggesting that the meeting with Netanyahu  in Moscow was  to coordinate means to avoid conflict. However, Bryen  noted  Putin has another interest in the region, “control over the flow of gas to Europe” being developing offshore in Israeli, Egyptian,  and Lebanese fields.  Bryen thinks there is ‘no evidence’ of Russian presence on the Syrian frontier on Israel’s Golan Heights.  Notwithstanding a spate of rocket and mortar attacks on the Golan responded to by the IDF this past weekend that Israeli Minister of Defense Ya’alon thinks were ordered by Iran.  We shall soon see whether Putin’s gamble pays off.  Or results in another graveyard  like Afghanistan  rout of the Soviet 40th Army in 1989.

We could see this  thunder clap about to occur in the run up to the UN General Assembly session.  We had the Russian announcement of  military aid and mission to be established in the Alawite bastion of Latakia province.  Included were  the building of expanded landing fields to accommodate Ilushin cargo aircraft  and squadrons of  Mig and Sukhoi fighters, transiting from Russia to Syria  via Iran and Iraqi airspace. Then there was the announcement of Black Sea fleet maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  In late July, following the UN endorsement of the Iran deal, Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander  Qasem Soliemani in Moscow  met with Putin and  Russian Defense Minister Shogui. Those discussions were  ostensibly to expedite deliveries of Russian advanced air defense systems, but  in reality to plan for Russian direct involvement with Iranian forces . In May , we witnessed an alleged US ally, Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi traveling to Moscow  to obtain additional fighter  deliveries to aid in the battle against the Islamic State. Meanwhile, President Obama had committed 3, 500 American military trainers to assist  the  Iraqi National Security forces  to recover Anbar province and  Mosul. Abadi, our alleged ally in the coalition against ISIS,   brought in Russian military advisors to link  up with   Soliemani  directing  Iraqi Shia militia forces.

The unkindest  cut of all was the announcement  on the eve of the UN General Assembly of a joint intelligence and security operations center in Baghdad sharing  information among Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

There was  also evidence that the U.S. led coalition strategy in Syria and Iraq “defeating and degrading” ISIS had collapsed.  That was reflected  in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by CENTCOM commander, Gen. Lloyd Austin who told Senators that  the $500 million program to train Syrian opposition fighters had failed ignominiously. We had spent $40 million training and equipping 60 candidates, who signed waivers that they were to fight ISIS, not Assad. 40 of those surrendered their weapons and joined Al Qaeda affiliate jabhat al Nusra.    If that wasn’t  enough, we had the roiling scandal of a revolt by CENTCOM  intelligence analysts who requested a Pentagon Inspector General  investigation into why assessments were being prettied up by superiors  to present a misinformed picture to the President and National Security Staff that we were succeeding in the air campaign without US boots on the ground.  That was further depicted in testimony by ex-CIA director, retired Army General Petreaus , who  testified  before the same Senate Armed Services Committee  recommending establishing   no fly zones, sanctuary havens in country and deploying  Special Forces teams.  Add to that the failure of the Obama White House to honor its commitment to supply  Syrian Kurdish YPG  and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces with updated weapons, ammunition and equipment.  The Kurds are  being attacked by Turkish air force fighters.  To cap things off, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, coordinator of the  Coalition effort,  resigned after a year of service.  As former Defense Intelligence Agency  head, retired Army General Michael Flynn observed, this is what you get when you “politicize intelligence”. The President suggested in his UN address  that the Islamic State   “violent extremism , distorts ”the true meaning of the Islamic faith.”

Russian may have “frozen” the Syrian conflict in a stalemate.  The U.S. finds itself suddenly on the sidelines, largely, by its own “red lines”. Now with Russia’s direct involvement in Syria and Iraq, we will soon find out if ISIS is vanquished or remains a growing global threat. Such are the rules of The Great Game that in the 19th Century pitted imperial Czarist Russia against the British Empire.

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

Can the States Stop Implementation of Iran Nuclear Deal?

On the Sunday, September 20, 2015 Lisa Benson Show we interviewed, David B. Rivkin, Jr. a noted Constitutional  litigator, a partner in the Washington, DC office of the Baker Hostetler law firm. The topic was “Can the Senate Sue the President over his handling of the Iran Nuclear Deal?”  Rivkin is also   a Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).  He served in a variety of legal and policy positions in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush  Administrations, including stints at the White House Counsel’s office, Office of the Vice President and the Departments of Justice and Energy. While in the government, he handled a variety of national security and domestic issues, including environmental and energy policy, tax, trade and constitutional issues.  He is a much sought after as a media commentator on matters of constitutional and international law, as well as foreign and defense policy.

Rivkin recently won a landmark decision in the D.C. Federal District Court in the matter of House v. Burwell over the supremacy of Congressional appropriations authorities with regard to implementation of the Affordable Care Act that affirmed Congressional standing to bring such an action. He co-authored a September 6, 2015 Washington Post opinion article with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) suggesting a possible suit by the Senate against the President for non–compliance with the language of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act requiring delivery of all requisite documents including the privileged IAEA side agreements.  A September 10, 2015 WSJ op ed by Rivkin and Elizabeth Price Foley discussed how the successful House v. Burwell suit gave standing to Congress to bring possible litigation against the President. Moreover, the suit in the ACA matter had survived a motion to dismiss by the Administration. We have published similar proposals by Sklaroff and Bender for Senate litigation over the JCPOA unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council on July 22, 2015.

The Sklaroff Bender proposal required the Senate to change Rule 22 to achieve cloture to cut off filibusters by Minority Democrats, before Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) might offer up a resolution to treating the Iran nuclear agreement as a treaty under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution requiring a two thirds vote under the advise and consent of the Senate.  However, to initiate that would have required McConnell to make changes in Rule 22 at the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015.  Currently, to cut off debate requires 60 votes. Congressional Research Service reports on this issue indicated previous proposals reducing the threshold down in steps to a simple majority vote. A number of prominent conservative activists and organizations advocated such a change at the start of the new Congress but McConnell pushed back, arguing that Democrats would use the new rules once they returned to the Majority to quash Republican concerns in the future.

The Senate Republican majority failed in a last move to upend the Iran Nuclear deal. As reported by the AP, a Senate vote on a resolution requiring Iran to recognize Israel as a quid pro quo to lifting sanctions failed once again to reach the 60 vote’s threshold.  The vote was 53 to 45 before the deadline of September 17th under the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, in an AP report on the Administration’s start to implement the JCPOA, the deal “likely will be revisited by the next commander-in-chief.”  The AP reportedHouse Speaker John Boehner suggesting that possible litigation might be an option. Other Senators and Members of Congress have suggested renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act of 2006 before it sunsets in 2016.

Watch this mid-April 2015  Wall Street Journal interview with David B. Rivkin, Esq. He had presciently predicted the problems confronting  Congress  under the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to pass resolutions rejecting the JCPOA.

During the Lisa Benson Show interview, Rivkin suggested that the President had violated Coker-Cardin by not delivering all of the requisite information, including the IAEA side agreements with Iran. As a result of this violation, the Congressional review period has never started and, consistent with the statutory language of Corker Cardin, the President’s authority to lift any sanctions against Iran or unblock any frozen Iranian funds has been vitiated. Rivkin expressed the view that, if the President were to indicate that he intends to lift sanctions, or unblock frozen assets, this decision can be challenged in court, either by the House or the Senate, or the States. Listen to the Rivkin interview on the Lisa Benson Show sound cloud, here.

Rivkin and colleague Lee Casey wrote about that possibility in a July 26, 2015, Wall Street Journal opinion article, “The Lawless Underpinnings in the Iran Nuclear Deal“. They argued:

The Obama end-run around the Constitution could yet be blocked if states exercise their own sanctions regimes …The administration faces another serious problem because the deal requires the removal of state and local Iran-related sanctions. That would have been all right if Mr. Obama had pursued a treaty with Iran, which would have bound the states, but his executive-agreement approach cannot pre-empt the authority of the states.

That leaves the states free to impose their own Iran-related sanctions, as they have done in the past against South Africa and Burma. The Constitution’s Commerce Clause prevents states from imposing sanctions as broadly as Congress can. Yet states can establish sanctions regimes—like banning state-controlled pension funds from investing in companies doing business with Iran—powerful enough to set off a legal clash over American domestic law and the country’s international obligations. The fallout could prompt the deal to unravel.

An explanation of the JCPOA State Sanctions impasse was outlined in a Steptoe International Compliance blog on August 15, 2015, “The JCPOA and State Sanctions” by Bibek Pandy:

The Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) does not say much about Iran sanctions imposed by US state governments. Almost two dozen states (including New York, California and Florida) have passed laws that in some form (i) ban the awarding of government contracts to companies tied to Iran, and/or (ii) prohibit public funds from investing in companies doing certain types of business in Iran. These state restrictions can be more extensive in scope than US federal sanctions. For example, some state restrictions (e.g. in Florida) attach automatically to the parent entity of the company who engages in certain Iran activities. Laws in many states provide for the lifting of Iran sanctions when the President removes Iran from the list of countries that support terrorism; but the JCPOA does not do that, and, as a result, Iran sanction laws in most states will remain intact.

[…]

Companies considering engaging in activity authorized under the JCPOA need to be still mindful of non-federal Iran sanctions. In particular, state government contractors with Iran links should review state procurement laws before engaging in activities permitted by the JCPOA. Furthermore, contractors can face civil penalties in many states for providing false certifications related to their Iran activities. The bar for Iran-related disqualification in some states is relatively low, and the JCPOA does not change that.

David B RivkinDavid B. Rivkin, Jr., Esq.

Following the Lisa Benson Show, David Rivkin and this writer held a conversation to explore the possibilities of a state level initiative. Florida Attorney General (AG) Pam Bondi led a filing made in the 1st Federal District Court in Pensacola on behalf of Florida and more than two dozen other State AGs endeavoring to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Federal Judge Vincent heard oral arguments and ruled on the matter sending it ultimately to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.   Rivkin thinks that a similar action could be mounted by Florida and a few other states in the same legal venue, the 1st District Court.  The filing might be based on existing Florida sanction law passed under the federal 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) supplemented by an Executive Order.

The State cause of action, according to Rivkin, could be filed in a matter of weeks, potentially forestalling the release of sanctions before the implementation date under JCPOA, December 15, 2015. As indicated in a September 11, 2015 FDD memo by Dubowitz, Fixler, et.al. the subsequent release of upwards of $120 billion of sequestered funds in several Asian banks would take an additional six months. Thus the Rivkin state litigation proposal, if implemented promptly, might possibly stop the release of Iran nuclear sanctions.

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

Will Republicans Protest and Litigate to Stop Iran Nuclear Pact?

stop iran rally september 9thWhere there were five undeclared Democrat Senators on the cusp of reconvening Congress, today there is only one, Ms. Cantwell from Washington State. Three Democrat Senators: Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Price of Michigan declared for the President’s position. Two of the three Democrat Senators who declared for the President position, Blumenthal and Wyden are up for re-election in 2016, while Price is not. The lone Democrat who joined with the Republican majority to oppose the Iran Pact is West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin.

In a statement released by his office, Manchin said, “I believe that to be a super power, you must possess super diplomatic skills, and I believe that we can use these skills to negotiate a better deal.”

That leaves possibly 58 Senators, 54 Republicans and four Democrats opposing the Iran nuclear pact. That is two shy of the required 60 votes for cloture under the current Senate Rule 22 to cut off a filibuster. A vote on the majority resolutions rejecting the Iran pact could be scheduled as early as Thursday. That is, if the promised filibuster led by Senator Minority Democrat Leader Reid doesn’t stop the vote first.

Reid unleashed the filibuster option on Saturday, September 5th. White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Tuesday, September 8th:

It would be a little ironic for now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to express concerns about a tactic that he, himself, employed on countless occasions. The other thing that I’ll point out is that the 60 vote threshold is actually one that was approved by the 98 senators who voted for the Corker-Cardin legislation back in the spring.

Opponents of the Iran nuclear pact circulated a letter on Capitol Hill today signed by 15 governors including  four  Republican hopefuls; Jindal of Louisiana, Christie of New Jersey, Kasich of Ohio and Walker of Wisconsin.  Republican majority and other opponents of the filibuster floor maneuver by minority Democrats criticize it for denying an up or down vote on the measure that Americans in leading polls taken by a 2 to 1 margin have urged Congress to reject the Iran deal.  Harvard law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case Against the Iran Deal said in a Steve Malzberg Show interview on NewsMax TV, September 3, 2015:

As an opponent of the deal, a filibuster would be a good result because it would deny legitimacy to the deal. The American public is not going to accept a deal that was filibustered. Let’s remember what a filibuster is. It was a southern strategy designed to undo democracy and to offend equality.

Dershowitz drew attention to the quandary that Israel and PM Netanyahu would face if the Iran pact was approved:

I know Benjamin Netanyahu. I’ve known him since 1973. He is not going to sit back and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

This deal makes it much harder for Israel to defend its people.

In a Washington Post opinion article by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), member of the House Permanent Intelligence Committee, and Constitutional lawyer, David B. Rivkin, Jr.  Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the failure to deliver a side deal might void the Iran pact. Further they raised the prospect of   possible litigation against the President on the grounds that the he didn’t deliver the requisite information. They were especially concerned about the IAEA side agreements with Iran to prepare a Road Map on prior military developments. Aversion of which was leaked with provisions for self inspection at the military site of Parchin, Iran.  That Road Map is a condition for release of $100 billion in sequestered funds held by US and foreign financial institutions.    Switzerland has already released their sanctions and Russia and China are poised to release their holdings. The EU3 component of the P5+1 are already in discussions with Tehran over billions of trade deals preventing a possible snap back of sanctions should Iran be found cheating on a sneak out to a nuclear weapon.  A weapon that some believe it may already have and be able to possibly via a satellite launch.

The Pompeo- Rivkin Washington Post opinion was earlier supported by Jerome Marcus, Esq. in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, An Informed Vote on the Iran Deal.”  Marcus suggested  based on his experience as a young lawyer assisting former State Department counsel, Abraham Sofaer in the Reagan era,   executive agreements like JCPOA with far reaching implications should be treated as if it was a treaty.  Marcus concluded:

The lesson for today is clear: When a legislative body is deciding whether to approve an international agreement, especially one as important as the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, its members have the right to access the agreement’s negotiating record. Members of Congress should demand that record now, and they should examine it, before they cast their votes.

To bring such a suit Dr. Robert B. Sklaroff and Lee S. Bender, Esq. suggested in a FrontpageMagazine article that the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell should undertake the following steps:

Emergency Prescription for Senate:  [1]—Pass rule that abolishes the filibuster; [2]—Pass resolution declaring the Iran nuke deal to be a “treaty”; [3]—Defeat the deal; and [4]—Sue President Obama to enjoin him from implementing the deal.

The procedures for initiating the first critical step, achieving cloture cutting off the threatened filibuster, are contained in two relevant Congressional Research Service reports; Considerations for Changes in Senate Rules by Richard S. Beth, January 2013 and Filibusters and Cloture by Beth and Valerie Heitschusen, December 2014.

Sklaroff heard Dershowitz at a presentation in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on September 2nd.  He reported on Dershowitz’s remarks and response:

On September 2, Dershowitz, at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, N.J., amplified on this viewpoint, quoting Federalist 64:  “The power of making treaties is an important one, especially as it relates to war, peace, and commerce; and it should not be delegated but in such a mode, and with such precautions, as will afford the highest security that it will be exercised by men the best qualified for the purpose, and in the manner most conducive to the public good.”

When I [discussed] with him the necessity to sue Obama, he initially raised concern that this would be discarded as a “political question.” “Who would sue?” he asked rhetorically. “Senator McConnell!” said I. “Well, it’s a possibility, because he would have standing, representing the Senate.”

Has such a suit been brought by the Senate against President Obama and the Supreme Court ruled on the matter of executive overreach of lawful authorities?   There is the example of the Supreme Court   June 2014 unanimous ruling against the President for his three day recess appointment of National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Protection officials in 2012 that required approval by  the Senate.  The original matter was brought by a Washington State bottler and a decision rendered in the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals by Judge David B. Sentelle. Note the comments of the Republican Counsel for the Senate and then Senate Majority Leader Reid from a Washington Post article:

Miguel Estrada, who represented Senate Republicans in the case, called the ruling a victory for the Senate. “The Supreme Court reaffirmed the Senate’s power to prescribe its own rules, including the right to determine for itself when it is in session, and rejected the President’s completely unprecedented assertion of unilateral appointment power,” he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Senate Republicans for denying nominees a chance to be confirmed through a vote of the full chamber. “President Obama did the right thing when he made these appointments on behalf of American workers.”

Tomorrow, September 9, 2015, Democrat Presidential front runner Hillary Clinton former Secretary of State, embroiled in a private email server controversy, will make the case for support of the President’s position.  She has previously gone on record saying:

The Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, they’re gonna say we agreed with the Americans, I guess their president can’t make foreign policy. That’s a very bad signal to send.

Clinton will be a minor distraction from the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) Stop Iran Now Rally chaired by Jenny Beth Martin on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building with a cast of media luminaries in the opposition camp.  The event is co-sponsored by TPP, Zionist Organization of America and the Center for Security Policy. The roster of those speaking includes TPP head Martin, Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump, fellow Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX), Conservative talk show Hosts Glen Beck and Mark Levin, David Bossie of Citizens United, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Chairman of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, former CIA-director, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Chairman of the FDD, Frank Gaffney of the CSP, Sarah Stern of EMET and Mort Klein of the ZoA. This will be a media spectacle.

Late this afternoon, my colleague at 1330amWEBY Mike Bates, host of “Your Turn”, and I reviewed these developments.  Listen to the WEBY audio segment here.  Bates observed that the motivation behind these political maneuverings was President Obama’s objective all along to bolster Iran’s position in the Middle East as a recognized nuclear threshold state threatening traditional support for Allies in the region, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt. Bates thought the Reid filibuster play was simply a travesty of politics as usual in Washington.   In turn we both discussed the strange case of Florida US. Representative and Democratic National Committee head, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who has infuriated segments of her large but divided Jewish constituency.  In her public statement she said tearfully that from her “Jewish heart” the Iran pact, as defective as it is, was the correct thing to do.  We concurred that the filibuster if not upended by a Republican cloture to force an up or down vote would enable her and other Democrat colleagues up for re-election in 2016 to claim that there was never a vote. Political cover that comes at a high price of Iran receiving tens of billions now with promises of trillions in economic trade benefits. All while harboring secret development of nuclear weapons threatening the U.S. and Israel.

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

Obama’s Dangerous Spin on the Iran Nuclear Deal

There was a spirited panel discussion on  the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security stemming from President Obama’s  remarks on the Iran nuclear deal  during  his interview on CNN’s Farid Zakaria’s Global Public Square (GPS) Sunday morning program.  Panelists Barry Shaw in Israel, Shoshana Bryen of The Jewish Policy of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center and this writer. The interview was recorded last Thursday following the President’s speech at American University and contentious meeting with a select group of American Jewish leaders. It was alleged that he told them that “if they left  off criticizing his deal, he would leave off criticizing them. That was a warning to the major American Jewish lobby group , the American Israel Political Action Committee. (AIPAC) and an affiliate, Concerned Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran have funded a multi-million ad campaign opposing the President’s Iran nuclear deal up for a vote in Congress in  Mid-September.

President Obama  also asserted during the interview that the Republican opposition to the Iran nuclear deal was ideological and political and not dissimilar from so-called hardliners in Iran. In response to a question on this from Zakaria he said:

The reason that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the folks in his caucus who oppose this jumped out and opposed it before they even read it, before it was even posted, is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done. And in that sense they do have a lot in common with hard- liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo. What I said was that there are those who, if they did not read the bill before they announced their opposition, if they are not able to offer plausible reasons why they wouldn’t support the bill or plausible alternatives in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon other than potential military strikes, then that would indicate that they’re not interested in the substance of the issue, they’re interested in the politics of the issue.

Zakaria asked, “Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government ( a reference to Israeli Pm Netanyahu] to inject himself into a debate that is taking place in Washington?“  The President  responded:

You know, I’ll let you ask Prime Minister Netanyahu that question if he gives you an interview. I don’t recall a similar example. Obviously the relationship between the United States and Israel is deep, it is profound, and it’s reflected in my policies because I have said repeatedly and, more importantly, acted on the basic notion that our commitment to Israel security is sacrosanct. It’s something that I take very seriously, which is why we provided more assistance, more military cooperation, more intelligence cooperation to Israel than any previous administration.

But as I said in the speech yesterday, on the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he’s made are incorrect. If in fact my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that’s not just good for the United States, that is very good for Israel. In fact, historically this has been the argument that has driven Prime Minister Netanyahu and achieved consensus throughout Israel.

So the question has to be, is there in fact a better path to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon than this one? And I’ve repeatedly asked both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to present me a reasonable, realistic plan that would achieve exactly what this deal achieves, and I have yet to get a response. So, as I said yesterday, I completely understand why both he and the broad Israeli public would be suspicious, cautious about entering into any deal with Iran.

Notwithstanding the President remarks in the CNN Zakaria interview, New York Democratic Senator Charles E. Schumer and Bronx New York House Member, Elliott Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Relations Committee and several other leading Democrat members of both the New York and California delegations have also opted to oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action announced in Vienna on July 14th and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security on July 22nd.  Congress will reconvene after Labor Day for more Hearings and a vote to either approve or reject the Iranian nuclear deal. President Obama has threatened veto it if a majority of both the Houses of Congress vote to reject it.

Watch these CNN Video clips of President Obama interview with Farid Zakaria on August 9, 2015

On Israeli PM Netanyahu

On Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei

On his American University Speech

LBS Soundcloud August 9 correctedThe following were important takeaways from  the August 9th Lisa Benson Radio Show:

Israel’s History of Unilateral Actions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs despite US Objections.

Barry Shaw speaking from Israel drew attention to Israeli attacks on the Osirak reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1981 and Syria’s al-Kibar reactor in September 2007. He noted that Israeli PM Menachem Begin suggested that  his order for the so-called Raid on the Sun in Iraqi would set a precedent for future similar actions by his successors.  Shaw noted the objections by the Reagan Administration and even US media  characterizations of Israel’s actions  as state sponsored terrorism . However a decade later in the 1990’s Dick Cheney , then Secretary of Defense expressed  the thanks of the US  for Israel’s action in 1981 during the Gulf War in 1991.  Following, the 2007 Syria reactor raid, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel for not exhausting diplomatic efforts. Shaw noted that following the raid Syria let in the IAEA to inspect the reclaimed site of the former Al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory Shaw also reflected the views of a  significant majority of Israelis backing PM Netanyahu’s intervention criticizing the Iran nuclear pact.

The Dangers of Obama’s Withdrawal of US Assets in the Region.

Shoshana Bryen drew attention to the dangers of withdrawal of US military assets in the Persian Gulf abetting the hegemonic objectives of Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei  and the Islamic Regime IRGC. As of the fall, the US will have no carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf for the first time in decades. She went to note  the President postulated that Saudi Arabia and Iran might find themselves coming closer on certain issues. If the Gulf States see their future with Iran, rather than with the US, we will not have a base in the Persian Gulf. The US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and US facilities in Kuwait and Oman may not be able to use those facilities to attack Iran if, in fact, their governments see Iran as the key power for the future.

Military Option  may have been  taken Off the Table with Iran Weapons Purchases from Russia and China.

This  writer  drew attention to the Moscow trip of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani to meet with Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shogui to speed up deliveries of the S-300 air defense system and the $10 billion oil barter deal with China for delivery of stealth fighters.  He suggested that this was a breach of both UN travel bans on the Quds Force Commander as well as the UN resolution 1929 sanctions against purchase of conventional  weapons and missile technology precluded on both five and eight sunsets under the JCPOA.  It makes any military option harder by orders of magnitude. While both the US and Israel  aren’t without resources of our own, Iran breaches  of  sanctions  makes the decision to use American military power more complicated.

Iran North Korea Nuclear and ICBM Development Cooperation may already have developed a bomb

Host  Lisa Benson drew attention to a recent American Thinker article co-authored by Bryen and her husband,  Stephen, “Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?”  The Bryens suggest that Iran may already have developed a nuclear weapon in cooperation with North Korea.  This writer interviewed analyst Ilana Freedman regarding the same issue in a March 2014  NER article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea ?”   The Bryens postulate that Iran may already have a small nuclear bomb that might be used  as a threat in the region to provide a nuclear cover for hegemonic objectives. The motivation on the part of the North Korean, who earn hard currency through illicit transactions is receipt of funds from Iran, a member of the same original A.Q. Khan network that provided techno logy for the North Korean bomb making and Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Plan B –Restoring Military Funding in support of National Security Objectives in the Middle East and NATO Allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States Threatened by Putin’s Russia

Notwithstanding , a possible veto of a Congressional  resolution rejecting the Iran nuclear deal, Bryen and Gordon suggested that the Congress has to stop the hollowing out of our military capabilities under sequestration. That should be addressed in September when National Defense Act Appropriation bills come up for approval in both chambers.  Bryen noted Plan B is precisely to end sequestration – which has to happen for American national security reasons including Iran and beyond Iran. The size of the Army has to increase (it is projected to decrease by another 40,000) and the drain of mid-level officers (Captains, Majors and LT Colonels) has to stop. Our Navy has to begin to restore ship building. She noted the fleet size is he smallest since WWI.

Poland and the Baltic States have requested a stronger NATO presence out of fear that Russia will do to them what it did to Ukraine. Ukraine was NOT a member of NATO, so there were mixed ideas about what to do, but Poland and the Baltic States are. If Russia thinks it can intimidate or even occupy parts of those states, simply because it sees the US as a waning power, NATO will be finished. With that, the remnants of American influence will be finished. We have to put troops in those places and do exercises in those places and we should reconsider installing the radars that President Obama declined to place in Poland and the Czech Republic when he first took office.

Listen to the Soundcloud of the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show

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

Iran: We Defied UN Travel Ban, sent Quds Force Commander to Moscow

Qassem's Reach for quds Force NY Post(1)We posted yesterday on Fox News reporting the visit of Iran’s Special Forces Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani to Moscow in defiance of UN travel bans to visit Russian President Putin.  We also noted that he also visited with senior Defense Ministry officials. FoxNews today cited an Iranian news agency confirmation of  Gen Soleimani’s visit in defiance of UN travel bans,  the new Fox report  also confirmed  that he visited with Russian Defense Minister, Gen. Sergei Shogui regarding delivery of the advanced S300/S400 air defense system, Iran confirms trip by Quds Force Commander to Moscow to discuss arms shipments”:

Iranian officials confirmed Friday that General Qassem Soleimani, the heavily sanctioned Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander, traveled to Russia last month and was conducting weapons deals, including discussion of the S-300 missile system, according to Reuters.

[…]

According to two separate Western intelligence sources, Soleimani arrived in Moscow on Iran Air flight 5130 from Tehran on July 24, ten days after the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers was announced that included a provision to lift the arms embargo on Iran.

Three days later, Secretary of State John Kerry testified about the Iran nuclear deal before the Senate Armed Services Committee, assuring Congress pressure would remain on Iran’s shadowy general.

“Under the United States’ initiative, Qassem Soleimani will never be relieved of any sanctions,” Kerry told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In Moscow, Soleimani met with President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s defense minister.

In June, Russia announced it would send S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran by next year according to officials.

Watch this latest Fox News report on Quds Force General Soleimani:

In January 2015 we noted in an NER/Iconoclast post the visit of Russian Defense Minister Shogui to Tehran to meet Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Dehghan to sign a mutual defense treaty and the delivery of the updated S300 system objected to by the US and Israel in 2010 and subsequently banned under UN Security Resolution 1929 on conventional arms and ballistic missile technology.  Gen. Shogui is an intimate member of President Putin’s inner circle and some observers indicate could be a possible successor.  TAAS reported the US studying the announced Russian –Iranian military agreement, but specifically objecting to possible shipment of the S-300/400 air defense system. Russia might finally ship Iran the advanced S-300 air defense system that both the US and Israeli successfully lobbied former Russian President Medvedev in 2010 to cancel.  Immediate payment by Iran of $800 million for the S-300 system may have cemented the deal.

Administration scrambles to explain Iran’s sanctions violation.

Fox News noted the comments of Administration officials about this breach of UN sanctions:

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said Friday the U.S. is very concerned about the development.

“Qassem Soleimani is subject to a UN travel ban and this travel ban requires all states to prohibit Qassem Soleimani from traveling to their nation and the only exception to that is if the Iran sanctions committee grants an exemption,” she said at UN headquarters in New York.

The White House did not specifically blame the Russians for hosting the Iranian general.

“I can’t confirm these specific reports but it is an indication of our ongoing concerns with Iran and their behavior,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday at the daily press briefing.

Reactions from former House Republican Intelligence Committee and Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Mike Rogers, former chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, weighed in late Friday afternoon.

“We should not underestimate what this means to our national security,” he said. “A leading general in Iran just told the world that the United States of America is irrelevant and Russia welcomed him with open arms. Not only do Russia and Iran not fear us, they do not respect us. And that is dangerous.”

Soleimani’s Moscow visit elicited a reference during the Republican debate Thursday night.

“He’s directly responsible for the murder of over 500 American servicemen in Iraq and part of this Iranian deal was lifting international sanctions on Gen. S – the day Gen. S flew back from Moscow to Iran was the day we believe Russia used cyber warfare against the joint chiefs,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

While the Administration and media tries to portray this latest episode as evidence of hard liners in Iran trying to upend the JCPOA, we are not buying any of these explanations.  It illustrates how incompetent the Administration has been in conducting its diplomatic initiatives with two geo-political autocrats, Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and Russia’s President Putin.  The import of the Russian commitment to deliver the S300 air defense system is not lost on Israeli PM Netanyahu and Sunni US allies in the Middle East as it calls into question the credibility of any conventional military option for dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  This episode should be another clear  demonstration  to wavering Democrat  US Senators and Representatives that Iran will cheat on its agreements under the JCPOA to further its ambitions become a nuclear threshold and state supporter of  global terrorism.  The Iran nuclear pact announced in Vienna on July 14th was virtually shredded ten days later on July 24th with Gen. Soleimani’s arrival in Moscow. His visit to finalize arrangements for Russian weapons deliveries was in defiance of not only his travel bans but also UNSC Resolution 1929 banning purchase of conventional weapons and missile technology five years ahead of its sunset under the Iran nuclear pact.

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