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End Looms for Congressional Action on the Iran Nuclear Pact

While the Congress is on summer recess until it reconvenes just after Labor Day, the President, his White House staff and loyal Congressional supporters are engaged in briefings and discussions with 15 undecided Senators and 30 House Members endeavoring to gain their support for the Iran nuclear pact. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced in Vienna on July 14, 2015. A week later on July 22nd, the Iran nuclear pact was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council. The President is seeking to buttress the vote count under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Congressional rejection of the JCPOA might trigger a Presidential veto.

With each Senate and House Hearing on the Iran nuclear pact, more was revealed about why it might not pass muster. Especially concerning were revelations about the handling of IAEA inspections of suspected military development sites in Iran by Iranian inspectors. These developments have called into question the delivery of a Road Map by the IAEA in October that might release upwards of $100 billion in Iran’s sequestered funds. Critics think the release of those sequestered funds may not be used for shoring up the country’s economy. Instead, they contend it may simply be used to bolster destabilizing activities in the Middle East via Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the Houthi in Yemen.

Several Republican Senators and House Members are drafting legislative proposals for rejection of the Iran nuclear pact or re-setting the 2006 Iran Sanctions Act in 2016. They are proposing possible amendments of the JCPOA, endeavoring to make it a better deal. The President has chosen a partisan path that does not welcome bi-partisan deliberation. There are various  contending options. They encompass resolutions to reject the pact and schedule a vote as a treaty, assuming the President may have the votes to override a veto. As we have discussed in the August edition of the New English Review, there is also possible litigation that might achieve the same end.

Polls taken of Americans by Quinnipiac University show a consistent 2 to 1 edge among respondents urging members of both Congressional Chambers to reject the Iran Nuclear Pact with deep divisions along political lines. The American Jewish opinion, reflected in several polls, is also divided on support for the President’s plan. Polls by the alleged ”pro-Israel, pro-Peace” J Street Group depict more Jews in favor of the President’s position. Further, there have been revelations of campaign contributions to Democrat Senate and Congressional Members by Iranian American Political Action Committees.

Traditional centrist groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have come out opposing the Iran nuclear pact. Secure America Now and AIPAC are actively opposing the Iran nuclear pact. AIPAC established an affiliate, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, solely devoted to blitzing messages in TV ads and social media. They even provide direct links for constituents to contact their Senators and Congressional Representatives to express their views.

As August was ending, Stop Iran Now! Rallies occurred across the U.S. on Sunday, August 30, 2015 in Boston, Miami and Santa Barbara. More such rallies are planned leading up to a major event in Washington, DC, A March to Save America. It has been long hot summer recess for Members of Congress in their states and districts holding town hall hearings to gauge the pulse of constituents on the President’s nuclear deal with Iran.

President Obama at America University in Washington, August 5, 2015. Source: Reuters

The President’s Address at American University

Prior to going on a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama gave a partisan major address at American University in Washington, DC on August 5, 2015. President Obama used the venue of American University’s new Center of International Service in our nation’s capital to present a 55 minute speech directed at undecided Democrat Senators and Representatives in Congress.

He suggested that the nuclear pact with Iran was better than the alternative: war. The Wall Street Journal noted the hortatory and accusatory rhetoric of the President Obama’s remarks:

Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option: another war in the Middle East. So let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war.

Following the President’s speech, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters:

The president is trying to turn this into a partisan issue, but there is bipartisan concern.

He went out of his way lambasting the opposing Republican majorities in Congress as the party of warmongers. He tied them to the legacy of the Bush II Wars in Iraq suggesting the outcome was the morphing of Al Qaeda in Iraq into the Islamic State or ISIL. He said the cost was thousands killed, tens of thousands injured at a price of a trillion dollars. He told American Jews that he had improved the Jewish nation’s qualitative military edge with commitment of billions in conventional military aid. He implied that support would enable Israel to overcome the Islamic Regime’s existential threats of “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Jews,” notwithstanding Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s holocaust denial and antisemitism. Obama criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s opposition to the JCPOA for Iran’s nuclear program. He suggested that Netanyahu’s alternative of simply “squeezing” Iran’s theocratic leadership was not a better solution, and might lead to war. On the contrary, Netanyahu has argued that the current Iran nuclear deal actually provides multiple pathways for Iran to achieve nuclear breakout, leading to possible war.

In a post speech dialogue with Washington pundits, the President deepened his partisan criticism of Republican opponents to the Iran nuclear deal. Gerald Seib, who writes a daily Capitol Column for The Wall Street Journal reported the President saying:

There is a particular mindset that was on display in the run-up to the Iraq war that continues to this day. Some of the folks that were involved in that decision either don’t remember what they said or are entirely unapologetic about the results. This mindset views the Middle East as a place where force and intimidation will deliver on the security interests that we have, and that it is not possible for us to at least test the possibility of diplomacy. Those views are prominent now in the Republican Party.

Watch President Obama on this C-Span video of his American University speech, August 5, 2015:

President Obama, Jewish Federation of North America webcast, White House 8-28-15. Screen Capture YouTube.

The President’s Message to Israel and American Jews: “We’ll treat you like family.”

There is a song by the pop group Alabama, “Down Home,” that goes: “Down home, where they know you by name and treat you like family. Down home, a man’s good word and a hand shake are all you need.” The tag line ‘we treat you like family’ has become an overworked turn of phrase by hundreds of national and local advertisers, including used car mega dealer, CarNation.

President Obama picked up on that theme in a 45 minute White House interview Friday August 28, 2015, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) and the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COPMAJO). President Obama on the August 28th webcast said:

The bond between the United States and Israel is not political. It is something that grows out of family ties and bonds that stretch back generations, and shared values and shared commitments and shared beliefs in democracy. And like all families sometimes there are going to be disagreements. And sometimes people get angrier about disagreements in families than with folks that aren’t family.

He held the ties between the US and Israel as “sacrosanct “and hoped that relation would improve after the discussions and presumably the upcoming Congressional vote:

As soon as this part of the debate is over, my hope is that the Israeli government will immediately want to rejoin conversations we started long before on how we can enhance Israeli security in a very troubled neighborhood,

He was hoping to mollify a national webcast audience with a Congressional vote on the Iran nuclear pact looming in Congress. His other key points were that the deal “would cut off Iran from all pathways to a bomb, sparing Israel from an existential threat.” Moreover, that achievement would enable the US to concentrate on preventing Iran from supplying more missiles to Hezbollah. While acknowledging that the mullahs exhibited bad behavior towards the US and Israel, he was less concerned with “taunts.” He was placing reliance on an agreement that had “robust verification and compliance with intrusive inspections.” Inspections that from leaked IAEA confidential protocols with Tehran were alleged by pact critics to be conducted by Iran at military sites, like Parchin. Just prior to the webcast there were reports from the IAEA that nuclear testing may have been conducted at the Parchin military site. That raises questions of whether a Road Map of such prior military developments could be delivered by October to potentially release $100 billion in sanctioned funds to Iran in December. The President suggested that if such cheating was discovered that both US and multilateral sanctions could be “snapped back.” However this seems increasingly difficult given the arbitration commission established by the JCPOA that includes Iran. Further, the rush by European partners in the P5+1 to cash in on development projects in Iran may practically preclude that.

Witness the meeting in Zurich this week with Swiss and Iranian businessmen following the lifting of sanctions by the Swiss government. The Swiss Ambassador to Tehran extolled the virtues of the Islamic Republic of Iran as “a pole of stability in a region.” He spoke in front of a cartoon depicting two doves defecating on the head of Israeli PM Netanyahu. The Swiss Federal Foreign Affairs Department promptly issued “regrets” over the incident. This despite evidence that Tehran, to the contrary, persists in destabilizing behavior.

The President trivialized Iran’s economic importance by saying that Iran is not a “super power.” Despite having a beleaguered economy, the Supreme Leader Khamenei has diverted billions over decades as a state sponsor of terrorism designated by the US State Department since 1999.

He also suggested that the release of more than $100 billion in sanctioned funds would be devoted to restoring an economy whose GDP had plummeted by 20 percent. He took credit for that while Congress had passed sanctions before he begrudgingly signed off on them. He justified the ability to snap back sanctions based on the alleged record of compliance by Tehran over the past two years under the terms of original framework that released modest amounts of funds. He alleged that when Tehran lagged in compliance, there were temporary halts in release of funds until time was afforded to correct issues.

The question and answer portion of the interview with the President focused on questions from viewers including antisemitic rhetoric emerging in the debate over the Iran pact. Other questions from viewers across the country dealt with maintaining the qualitative military edge of Israel and whether reconciliation with Israel could be achieved despite disputatious relations with PM Netanyahu. The President’s response on the debate over the pact allowed him to turn the question back on the Jewish Federation and COPMAJO representatives. He touted the support from New York Jewish Congressman, Jerrold Nadler. Nadler had become the subject of intense protests by local  New York Jewish officials and Holocaust survivors in his Manhattan Brooklyn District. The Times of Israel reported how the President responded:

I would suggest that in terms of the tone of this debate everybody keep in mind that we’re all pro-Israel,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t impugn people’s motives.

At the conclusion of the JFNA and COPMAJO interview the President remarked:

I’m hopeful that members of Congress get behind this deal. And I promise you that nobody’s going to have a bigger stake in implementing it effectively than me.

Watch this YouTube video of the JFNA and COPMAJO webcast with President Obama:

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) Ranking Member with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Source: AP

Dilemma facing the Democrat Undecideds

The White House JFNA and COPMAJO sponsored interview capped a hectic week for President Obama fresh back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. He is preoccupied with trying to shore up support among the remaining 15 undecided Democrat Senators, especially six: Michael  Bennet of Colorado, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Chris Coons of Delaware, Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, Corey Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. All of these key undecided Democrats have been assiduously courted by the Senate whip team supporting the President and both pro and opposing local groups in their home states.

According to a Politico report, J Street conducted a poll in Colorado showing that 62 percent of Jewish voters supported the President’s position. Sen. Bennet, up for re-election in 2016, has been inundated with thousands of phone calls from constituents opposing the President’s position.

New Jersey Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Chris Christie beseeched freshman Senator Booker at a Chabad House news conference at Rutgers University to follow the lead of his fellow New Jersey Democrat colleague in the Senate Bob Menendez and New York Senator Charles Schumer, both of whom have opted to reject the Iran nuclear pact in the upcoming Congressional vote. Christie said:

For Sen. Booker this morning, the people of your state, the people of this country and the people of the world are counting on you to be a strong, direct and powerful moral voice. To look your President in the eye — to look our president in the eye — and say, ‘No, Mr. President. Not this time.’

Blumenthal, a supporter of punishing Iran sanctions has promised his largely liberal base in Connecticut that he will deliberate on his position. He met with Soros-backed MoveOn.org and with local opponents to the Iran nuclear pact. Former Senator Joe Lieberman suggested that, “I hope and pray he opposes the agreement. This is the kind of agreement that Dick Blumenthal never would have negotiated.” Blumenthal is also up for re-election in 2016.

Coons of Delaware, a Democrat member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will announce his decision on September 1, 2015 at the University of Delaware. His colleague in the Delaware delegation, Sen. Tom Carper announced his support for the President’s position. Oakley of Oregon, while a nominal undecided, probably has been marked down by the Senate Democrat whip team as a probable in the President’s vote count.

The big unknown is Maryland Senator Cardin, ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and co-author of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) passed in May. He demonstrated concern over the IAEA side deal and later revelations about Iranian inspections during Committee hearings on the nuclear pact. Normally aligned with the Administration on most issues, perhaps because of the largely Orthodox Jewish presence in Baltimore County and many calls from constituents, he is genuinely conflicted. Cardin is expected to announce a decision prior to the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK)

The Resurrection of the Filibuster Threat

Monday August 24th, President Obama flew out to Las Vegas to appear at a Democratic fundraiser for the successor to Senate Democrat Minority leader, Harry Reid. The following day, Tuesday, August 25th, Reid floated a trail balloon for a possible filibuster that might succeed in delaying or precluding a vote on any Senate Resolution opposing the President’s Iran nuclear deal. CNN Politics reported:

“I felt cautiously optimistic that we would have enough votes to sustain the President’s veto, and that seems pretty clear to me, but we’ll see,” Reid told reporters after an event with President Barack Obama Monday in Nevada, according to a transcript provided by Reid’s staff. “As far as procedurally stopping this bill from moving forward, I hope — I know it’s a long shot — but I hope that it can be done.”

Freshman Republican Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton immediately issued the following statement:

Harry Reid wants to deny the American people a voice entirely by blocking an up-or-down vote on this terrible deal. He is obstructing because he is scared. He knows that a majority of Americans and Senators oppose this dangerous deal, and that its only chance for survival is if he and the president ram it down the throats of the American people.

CNN Politics suggested that the exchange between Reid and Cotton indicated that the Democrat may have the votes in hand to scupper the vote on the Iran pact:

Overriding a veto would require Republican senators to get 13 Democrats to join them, the threshold for ending a filibuster to hold a vote is lower — 60 votes instead of 67. That Democrats are eying preventing a vote, and not just sustaining a veto, points to increasing confidence that their party members won’t break ranks.

Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, added Tuesday that, “If Senator Cotton is upset with the 60-vote threshold, we recommend he discuss it with the Republican leadership since they were responsible for bringing the bill to the floor that set up a 60-vote threshold.”

Omri Ceren, Managing Director for Press and Strategy at the Washington, DC –based Israel Project was cited by Seth Lipsky in a New York Post article calling the filibuster tactic by the Senate Democrat minority leader Reid, “a “staggering betrayal” and “stab in the face.” Americans in a leading poll have urged Congress to reject the Iranian deal by a 2 to 1 margin.  Ceren further noted:

The pro-Israel community worked in a bipartisan fashion with Congress to give the president breathing room for negotiations while protecting legislative prerogatives. He thinks the Senate Democrats therefore owe Americans an up-or-down vote.

Republicans Work on Options

Meanwhile, the Republican opposition is working on new legislative options, should either a filibuster or veto override result in approval for the Iran nuclear pact and lifting of $100 billion in sequestered funds to Tehran in December. The target of the legislative initiative is the Iranian Revolutionary Guards whose elite leaders like controversial Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani are among more than 800 persons whose travel bans and asset restrictions will be lifted by the JCPOA. Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. John Barraso (R-WY) said in a Wall Street Journal article, “Iran has a long rap sheet, and I want to continue to prosecute Iran for its bad behavior.” Republican Presidential hopeful Florida freshman Senator Marco Rubio is preparing sanctions specifically directed at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard leaders. The creation of new sanctions or the resetting of the 2006 Iran Sanctions Act, due to expire in 2016, might present a quandary for Democrat Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton and others. The proposal addresses the Islamic Regime’s support for terrorism and human rights abuses. Moreover the Obama White House is concerned that any moves to impose these proposals might trigger a reaction by Iran to scuttle the JCPOA backed by the EU3, Russia and China. There already have been comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and others to that effect. Another option is one being promoted by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) resetting the 2006 Iran Sanctions Act which is scheduled to sunset in 2016. Under their proposal, the reset sanctions would have no set term and would bar investments by US firms of more than $20 million in Iran’s key energy sector.

Larry Klayman, Esq.  Freedom Watch.

Litigation to Pursue the Treaty Option

In the August NER, we wrote about the possibility of another means of quashing the Iran nuclear pact, litigation overturning the JCPOA and treating it as a treaty. In the run up to the passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, there were amendments by Republican Senators Cotton and Johnson that the pact be considered as a treaty and subjected to a two-thirds vote upon the advice and consent of the Senate. Later in Senate Banking Committee hearings on the Iran pact, Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies suggested that the deal should be amended, eliminating the sunset provisions and the so-called snap back sanctions. As precedent for possible amendment of the JCPOA, he noted more than “250 bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements and treaties from the Cold War Era.” Secretary Kerry in House Foreign Affairs testimony in late July 2015 contended that it was impossible to get a treaty passed by Congress. That was in response to a query by Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI),” For 228 years the Constitution provided a way out of that mess by allowing treaties to be with the advice and consent of [two-thirds] of U.S. Senators. Why is this [Iran deal] not considered a treaty?”

When we published “How Best to Overturn the Iran Nuclear Pact” in the August 2015 New English Review, we reviewed several options. One proposal suggested by Dr. Robert B. Sklaroff entailed direct litigation by Congress before the Supreme Court under provisions of the US Constitution seeking a ruling treating the Iran nuclear pact as a treaty requiring the advice and consent of the Senate. We wrote:

That proposal entailed independent Congressional litigation on demonstrable Constitutional legal grounds regarding executive overreach. If the Senate was granted standing on direct appeal, based on the B. Altman SCOTUS ruling, it might result in a predisposed SCOTUS rendering a positive ruling thus quashing the Iran nuclear pact. Further, the ruling might unfetter the hands of any successor to President Obama on inauguration day in 2017 to undertake remedial actions. Such actions might reduce the current existential threats to both the US and Israel.

On August 4, 2015, Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch filed a motion in the Palm Beach Florida Federal District court seeking a declaratory judgment overturning the Iran nuclear pact.  Constitution Daily reported:

Almost as soon as the lawsuit landed on the docket of District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, the judge ordered Klayman to offer reasons why the case should remain alive, as a genuine controversy under the Constitution’s Article III. The judge noted that his court would have no choice but to dismiss the case, if Klayman is unable to show that he would personally suffer a legal injury if the review process for the Iran deal went forward, or is unable to convince the judge that how the deal is being handled in Congress is anything other than a “political question.”

Probably the toughest test for Klayman is his attempt to prove that he has “standing” to sue, in the Article III sense of showing a personal harm, because the Supreme Court in recent years has been regularly tightening the restrictions on the right to file lawsuits in federal courts. That trend, though, has not met with universal approval among federal judges.

The difference between the Klayman Freedom Watch filing and the proposal that Sklaroff and lawyer Lee Bender have proposed is that the Senate would have standing to bring such an action under Constitutional law. At issue is would the Senate Majority Leader bring such an action should Congress fail to pass a resolution rejecting the Iran nuclear pact.

Should such litigation succeed in obtaining a Supreme Court ruling approving a treaty vote by the Senate, it would have a major advantage: the ability to examine the underlying negotiation documents. That prospect was the subject of a Wall Street Journal opinion article by Jerome S. Marcus,An Informed Vote on the Iran deal.” Marcus is a talented litigator who brought the Z Street case against the IRS with resulting victories in both the DC Federal District and Circuit Court of Appeals. Marcus in the WSJ opinion article describes his personal experience working as a young attorney with legendary State Department legal adviser, Judge Abraham Sofaer, during the Reagan era on clearance of the Strategic Defense Initiative under the 1972 ABM Treaty. He describes going back to foundational documents in the National Archives during the first 40 years following the adoption of the Constitution. He concluded:

The 1854 edition of Thomas Jefferson’s “Manual of Parliamentary Practice,” published after his death in 1826, concurs on this issue: “It has been the usage for the Executive, when it communicates a treaty to the Senate for their ratification, to communicate also the correspondence of negotiators.” The manual also reports precedents showing that, in cases where such material wasn’t initially sent to the Senate, it was requested by the Senate and, in each instance, provided by the executive branch.

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 next month.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Iran Deal Backed by 31 Democratic Senators

Dems help Obama near historic capitulation

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

Gold Star Father Asks the U.S. Congress to Reject the Iran Nuke Deal

arron karen and billy vaughn

Navy SEAL Arron with parents Karen and Billy Vaughn.

Golds Star Father Billy Vaughn tells us why Congress should vote AGAINST the Iran Deal.

Billy and Karen Vaughn are the parents of fallen Navy SEAL, Aaron Carson Vaughn (SEAL Team VI).

On August 6, 2011 Aaron was killed in action in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan when a chopper (call sign Extortion 17) carrying thirty Americans was shot from the sky. The day Aaron’s life ended theirs began again.

Here is a panorama of the August 30th, 2015 Boston Stop Iran Now rally:

panorama of boston stop Iran rally

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A Genocidal Obsession Against America and Israel

Certainly you read about the six-year-old from Colorado Springs who got suspended from school for sexual harassment, specifically for kissing his little classmate on the hand.  It was his second suspension, the first for kissing the same little girl on the cheek when he was five.

Think of what “the authorities” would have done to this menace if he had told his teacher he hated her, or worse, that he wished she were dead. Permanent exile? Reform school? Mandatory psychotherapy? Banishment to Siberia?

The point is that this child’s totally benign, even sweet, behavior was taken with dead seriousness by the [idiotic] powers-that-be, and if he had verbalized any angry feelings, you know the punishment would have been even more draconian.

Contrast this with the behavior of the man who occupies the Oval Office when listening over the past decades to the bellicose chants of the mad mullahs in Iran––“Death to America, Death to Israel”––with the man who apparently thinks it’s okay for Israel’s enemies today to chant: “Israel must be obliterated!”

For this man, Barack Obama, no problem.

In fact in an interview in The Atlantic in May, writer Jeffrey Goldberg asked Mr. Obama how he squares his admission that the Iranian regime represents “venomous anti-Semitism” with his eagerness to sell them nukes, Obama––incredulously––responded in the following way:

“Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.”

Uh huh. And it clearly doesn’t preclude Iran from carrying out a nuclear attack on a state and a people that has obsessed this lowly species of “clerics” for a lifetime of all-consuming hatred. The same self-interests didn’t stop Hitler! But Mr. Obama knows all this.

He is acutely aware that just this week, Iranian, ahem, “Supreme Leader,” Ali Khamenei, called for the destruction of the “barbaric, wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel” and the dispersal of the Jews who had emigrated to Israel from some other place.

But so obsessed is Mr. Obama with helping the chief purveyor of terrorism in the entire world gain a fast-track to nuclear bombs that he and his laughably impotent Secretary of State, John Kerry, caved on virtually every issue––on more than 12 key issues, also listed here ––that might have kept both America and Israel if not safe, than safer.

Then we learn of secret talks in which the Obama regime agreed and approved––in 2011, no less, behind the backs of every American––that Iran had a “right” to operate a nuclear program.

Of course, sane people pushed back immediately on Obama’s genocidal agreement. Within weeks, a majority of Americans of every political affiliation rejected the deal, as did every Republican member of the House and Senate––and also increasing numbers of Democrats.

Again, Obama showed the sentiments he simply can’t conceal, using all the anti-Semitic code words  that Jews have heard for centuries. His words “dredge up the [forgery of] “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” said the esteemed political science professor and Ford Foundation fellowship recipient Abraham Ben-Zvi of Haifa University––accusations about Jewish “money” and “lobbyists” opposing the Iran deal, all of which dredge up the toxic canard of dual loyalty.

In the news at the same time that the deadly deal with Iran was struck was an announcement that a Manhattan Federal Court awarded an immense amount of money––in the billions––to the families of American victims who were wounded or killed in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) bombings and shootings that killed 33 and injured hundreds between 2001 and 2004. And as day follows night, Mr. Obama went to bat for––drum roll here––the terrorists! He insisted that the court lower the judgment so the extant Palestinian terrorists wouldn’t go broke.

Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

A child barely older than a toddler gets slammed for kissing his cute little girl crush, but a thug regime totally dedicated to murdering Jews and Americans gets a pass from Mr. Hope and Change.

And people wonder why a billionaire candidate who is pro-American, pro-Israel, pro-military, pro-capitalist, pro-taking out ISIS, is galloping toward a presidential nomination and why a doddering, lying, pro-Obama candidate is not only going down, but probably to Leavenworth!

Iran’s Supreme Leader: U.S., Israel conspiring against the Qur’an

Obama hardest hit. After all his pandering to Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic groups in the U.S., all his fantastic praise of the nonexistent Muslim role in building the United States, all his appeasement and accommodation of Iran, this is what he gets.

 

“Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urges Islamic unity against real enemies: U.S. and Israel,” by Kellan Howell, The Washington Times, August 22, 2015:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, on Saturday called on the Islamic nations to unite in the face of the world’s “bullies” and greatest enemies: the U.S. and Israel.

Mr. Khamenei accused the U.S. of seeking to incite “third-party” states against the Islamic Republic but said “such third parties are only deceived puppets,” Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

He argued that the bullying powers are conspiring “against the [Koran] and not Shiism and Iran, because they know that the [Koran] and Islam are the center of awakening nations.”

Mr. Khamenei added that Iranians chant slogans like “death to America, death to Israel” because they have “realized that their real stubborn enemy is the world arrogance of Zionism,” the Times of Israel reported.

Speaking to Iranian officials in charge of the Hajj — the massive annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca — Mr. Khamenei said the pilgrimage was the perfect opportunity for Iranians to convey his message to other Muslims and encourage Islamic unity.

“The world bullies are fully, seriously seeking to stir violence and discord under the name of Islam and are trying to disrepute the religion of Islam, foment internal fights among Islamic nations and even among the people of one nation to weaken the Muslim Ummah, and transferring the Iranian nation’s experience about unity and recognition of the enemy to other nations in the Hajj season can defuse these plots,” he said, The Times of Israel reported….

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Open Letter from Iranian Human Rights Activists: ‘Do Not Appease the Iranian Regime’

iran_woman

Unidentified Iranian woman protesting.

In the past few weeks, some Iranian activists have vocally supported the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (China, Russia, France, United Kingdom, United States and Germany). While we deeply respect the experience and views of these men and women, it is important to hear all perspectives.

We represent another collection of Iranian activists who share the world’s hope for a better future but believe that appeasing the Iranian regime will lead to a more dangerous world.

We have spent our lives advocating for peace, justice and freedom in Iran. We represent a diverse array of Iranians who hope to warn the world of the danger of this regime regardless of how many centrifuges spin in Iran.

This deal will provide up to $150 billion windfall of cash into the bank account of our tyrants and theocrats. This money will not be spent on the Iranian people but rather to enrich a repressive regime.

Sadly, the world has not demanded real improvements in human rights. Thousands of activists continue to languish behind bars (including several Americans) and it is tragic that their release was not included in these discussions.

We are sounding the alarm bells before it is too late. Those who care about peace should help restore focus to the Iranian regime’s brutal human rights records, its support for global terror and role in destabilizing the Middle East. More pressure should be applied to the regime, not less.

One day when the Iranian people are finally free, they will hold an accounting of who stood on their side and who stood on the regime’s. It is not too late to hold the Iranian regime accountable for their continued human rights violations.

Today in Iran, political prisoners are tortured. Bloggers, journalists and teachers remain behind bars. Sexual and religious rights are trampled. Women are treated as second class citizens.

Western apologists and appeasers of Iranian theocracy do no favors to the Iranian people. They distance the likelihood of positive change and undercut the hopes of the Iranian people.

When the Iranian regime no longer fears its people, then the world will no longer have a reason to fear the Iranian regime.

Signed by:

Mahvash Alasvandi (two sons executed)
Bijan Fathi (two sons executed)
Sayeh Saeedi Sirjani (father jailed, died in custody)
Banafsheh Pourzand (father jumped to death under house arrest)
Ahmad Mostafalou (jailed, tortured, escaped execution)
Shadi Paveh (father executed) 
Borzumehr Toloui (uncle executed)
Soheila Dorostkar (brother executed, his body was never recovered)
Shabnam Assadollahi (jailed and tortured)
Afshin Afshin-Jam (jailed and tortured)
Ahmad Batebi (jailed and tortured)
Kaveh Taheri (jailed and tortured)
Marina Nemat (jailed and tortured)
Shiva Mahbobi (jailed and tortured)
Salman Sima (jailed and tortured)
Roozbeh Farahanipour (jailed and tortured)
Abbas Khorsandi (Jailed and tortured)
Abazar Nourizad (father jailed and tortured, out on bail, prohibited from leaving Iran) 
Nima Rashedan (jailed)
Alireza Kiani (jailed)
Amir Hossein Etemadi (jailed)
Siavash Safavi (jailed)
Saeed Ghasseminejad (jailed)
Behzad Mehrani (jailed)
Roya Araghi (Jailed) 
Marjan Keypour 
Sheema Kalbasi 
Majid Rafizadeh 
Youhan Najdi
Masood Masjoodi
Liuna Issagholian
Ahmad Eshghyar 
Daniel Jafari
Ashkan Monfared
Hossein Ladjevardi 
Avideh Motamen Far
Afshine Emrani
Bahram Bahramian
Sirus Malakooty
Babak Seradjeh
Shahla Abghari 
Siavash Abghari
Majid Mohammadi
Damon Golriz 
Hassan Dai
Keyvan Kaboli
Sam Yebri
Elham Yaghoubian
Shayan Arya 
Peter Kohanloo
Amir Khosrow Sheibany
Soheila Nikpour
Reza Taghizadeh 
Setareh Yavari
Mansoureh Nasserchian 
Maryam Moazenzadeh
Parviz Sayyad
Farrokh Zandi
Partow Nooriala
Alireza Saghafi
Manda Zand Ervin
Fati Mohammadi
Akhtar Ghasemi (jailed)
Maryam Namazie
Aynaz Anni Cyrus (Jailed and tortured)

Peace Processing Iran

The principle is similar: faced with an enemy that repeatedly declares its genocidal hatred, acts on it wherever possible, constantly strives to improve its ways and means, you peace process. Why was it successful with Iran and not with the “Palestinians”? Perhaps because the comical P5 + 1 applied the pressure to itself in the case of Iran, leaving no one to resist. The same pressure applied to Israel since 1993 has failed to produce total surrender. Drastic concessions were proposed but the enemy insisted on the right of return of “refugees” down to the third, fourth, and forever generations that would spell the elimination of the Jewish state. There were no significant limits to the concessions made by the P5+1 and no expectation that the deal will yield anything other than itself. The deal is that there’s a deal.

The devil is not in the details it is in the evil, the collusion with evil. Antisemitism in its modern form of antizionism is the ultimate perversion: choosing death over life, it reverses good and evil. The perverse subject embraces evil while proclaiming his goodness. The Iran “deal” is not the result of American government naiveté, faulty negotiating skills, or realpolitik. It has nothing to do with slowing Iran’s nuclear arms development. It is an international seal of approval for Iran’s genocidal project. A wink of complicity.

What better proof than the hasty visit of German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel accompanied by a regiment of businessmen? Germany of all nations, still heavy with the weight of the Shoah, had to demonstrate immediately that the deal is a practical matter of trade and polite relations. But the truth bled through the window dressing and, as befits perversion, was expressed in an outright lie: Gabriel reminded his Iranian counterparts that they must not question Israel’s right to exist. “That is unacceptable,” he declared, accepting it as if it were a second helping of ham hocks. Italy’s molto simpatico PM Matteo Renzi reassured his amico grandissimo that his country would always be there to defend Israel. With what? French MFA Laurent Fabius who distinguished himself during negotiations by taking a strong position—before caving in to pressure—waited an extra week for his sober visit, sans traveling salesmen but bearing a missive from President Hollande inviting President Rohani to visit him in November. What could be more grotesque, more obscene than these frantic gestures laced with hollow excuses?

Obama&Kerry are trying to force, cajole, intimidate, manipulate Congress and public opinion to approve the phony agreement that will, they claim, slow down Iran’s nuclear arms project while giving the Islamic Republic (they don’t pronounce its real name for good reasons) time to become the friendly partner they deserve. All the concrete evidence proves the contrary. So what have they really accomplished?

While talking up the deal domestically, with special emphasis on Jewish organizations, they sent Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to dangle yummy defensive military goodies in front of the Israeli government as a consolation prize. What have they wrought? Kerry, grilled by the Senate Foreign Relations committee, is scolded for being duped. If his only fault was a failure to get better terms from those crafty Persians, then the honor of America’s chief negotiator and aspiring Tour de France cyclist would be intact. Now, fearing the slick sale pitches will not do the trick, the Secretary of State has moved on to sinister threats. Invited by the Council for Foreign Relations to defend the deal, he warned that if Congress should vote against it, “Israel will be more isolated and more blamed [sic].”

So that’s the win-win? If the agreement is approved, Israel will be in greater danger, if it is rejected, Israel will be blamed. In fact, it doesn’t matter. The collusion agreement with Iran has nothing to do with foreign policy or non-proliferation of nuclear arms. It is a call to ratify the genocidal equation: Iran is deserving of trust, Israel can be thrown to the dogs. Good and evil are reversed. The damage is already done.

While Europeans were creeping to Iran like worker ants, each with a few crumbs to sell, the EU parliament was mulling over a measure that would stigmatize products from the Israeli “colonies.” Grotesque perversion. Iran, by virtue of the deal, instantly becomes a suitable trading partner while Israel, an apartheid state guilty of Occupation, is unfit for human consumption. Gays swinging from the hangman’s rope, political prisoners tortured to death, arms and treasure flowing to jihad forces that wreak havoc throughout the Middle East and sow subversion in the rest of the world… all disappear with the lethal narrative fed to global media by the wire services. After months of negotiation…a historic agreement…Iran forgoes nuclear arms development in exchange for removal of sanctions and the dawn of normal relations with the well-behaved world. Unprecedented inspections regime. Money-back guarantee. Snap-back sanctions. Diplomacy trumps war.

Death to America, Death to Israel. Our plan to erase Israel from the face of the earth is not negotiable. We will never abandon our right to develop nuclear arms and advanced delivery systems, we will arm our allies, no American will be included in the inspection teams, our military sites are forever off limits, allahu akhbar, flag burnings and raucous bloodthirsty cries… Secretary of State Kerry proves he’s a good sport by briefly admitting that if Death to Israel Death to America were actually a statement of policy, it would be worrisome. But it’s just rhetoric.

The once-free world, draped in virtue to exclude Israel from the concert of nations, mired in perversity to welcome Iran with open arms, dives into the abyss. And a significant percentage of American Jews, apparently, buy into this perversion. Out of the goodness of their hearts they become deaf, dumb, and blind to Iran’s words and deeds, and reserve their severity for an Israel they could accommodate if it would stop throwing monkey wrenches into the global jamboree.

Vainglorious President Barack Hussein Obama, displaying his major diplomatic exploit—bouncing up and down the stairs of Air Force One—makes his victory lap in Kenya, where he lectures the locals on, of all things, clean government, democracy, and homosexual rights. Tell it to yer mulla’, brotha’!

Though the personal responsibility of Obama, Kerry, Mogherini, and other grinning negotiators is enormous, it won’t help to blame them because they are upheld by populations that are themselves captive. People who sincerely believe in their own decency and wish to do no harm recoil at the very sound of the name “Israel.” Americans, who win all the polls for loving Israel, dumbly follow their twice-elected president though he made his intentions clear from the first step of the primaries. How many American Zionists repeat the absurd fairy tale about how Iran will be contained, mollified, and magically turned over to the freedom-loving youth they see on BBC news? British Prime Minister David Cameron interjects “Islam is a religion of peace” into a forceful defense of the nation against Islamist ideology. France, still reeling from the latest beheading/impalement incident sails into a new plot to behead a naval officer. The denial machine tries to photoshop the Chattanooga jihad attack against a military base. The body count in Syria rises inexorably, Bashir al Assad thanks Iran and Hezbollah for their invaluable support, the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, is being ethnically cleansed of Christians, and the good news is that Iran signed something? With disappearing ink.

“It starts with the Jews but it doesn’t end with the Jews.” This isn’t an incidental geopolitical fatality. It starts with the Jews because it is the triumph of evil and death over goodness and life. Judaism is the source of the ethics on which our civilization is founded. Antizionism, the contemporary variety of antisemitism, is a lethal perversion. When the genocidal hatred of the Islamic Republic is validated by an international agreement piloted by the United States of America, when every single concrete detail is clearly available for public information, when every public statement by governments that defend the deal is patently false, when the “alternative to war” is a virtual onslaught against Israel’s existence, when the immoral United Nations is invested with powers stolen from democratically elected governments, we have reached the catastrophic level of perversion.

Rational arguments will be useless unless this perversion is understood, exposed, and confronted.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Nidra Poller’s book Karimi Hotel is now available in English and Al Dura: long range ballistic myth is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Dems, Republicans and Experts Question Terms of Iran Deal

Politicians and experts from across the political spectrum are calling into question the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran. The two primary issues – verifiability and the possibility of military dimensions (PMD) of the Iranian nuclear program – threaten to derail the agreement.

A report, “Verifying a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran,” written by the former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Olli Henomen, states that for the agreement to be effective in real terms, verifiability must be a function of “unfettered,” “anywhere, anytime” access and not subject to any bureaucratic procedures which would give Iran time to alter the results of any inspections.

The report, signed by 20 foreign policy experts including Democrats and Republicans, criticizes the Obama administration for drawing up an agreement that essentially lets Iran remain a “nuclear threshold state,” specifically noting the fact that the agreement does not resolve any issues having to do with PMD and that sanctions relief will come without any of the above issues being resolved. In addition, the proposed verification provisions fall significantly short, meaning that there is no assurance that Iran’s nuclear program will stay contained within the limitations set out by the agreement.

Other damning reports recently released have come to the same conclusions:

  • A report titled “Necessary Safegurads for a Final Deal with Iran” by Eric Edelman – a career foreign service officer, ambassador and under-secretary of defense for policy — and the president’s former senior adviser Dennis Ross, says “it is uncertain whether the potential monitoring and verification regime adumbrated in the White House factsheet would be remotely sufficient for this task.”
  • Another report titled “Sunsets and Snapbacks: The Asymmetry Between an Expanding Iranian Nuclear Program and Diminishing Western Leverage” by Mark Dubowitz and Annie Fixler questions wisdom of  making an agreement with Iran before the issue of PMD is resolved, thereby giving up any leverage the West may have. In addition, the report makes the case that it is folly to believe that sanctions can realistically be “snapped back” once international companies have invested billions of dollars in Iran.  The report notes that “international sanctions regime took decades to put in place and to have an impact on Iran’s economy and decision making.” Any snap-backs, if possible, will not be felt immediately. Given that the breakout time to create a bomb is estimated at one year, snap-backs offer no real deterrance to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament voted to take away their power to veto of any nuclear agreement drawn up with world powers. In amending their own previous legislation, the lawmakers put the veto power into the hands of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a group made up of ministers and military commanders chosen by Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and headed by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

“Whatever decision the leader takes in this regard, we should obey in parliament,” said speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani . “We should not tie the hands of the leader.”

However, the lawmakers did reject any inspections of the country’s nuclear program that are not “conventional” visits, effectively banning inspection of military sites.

At the same time, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said “at the point where we are, things are not clear [in terms of whether an agreement with Iran] can be reached. There is a need to clarify, make precise and ensure the deal is robust.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is a look inside of a nuclear reactor. Photo: © Reuters.

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How to Con America – And Get a Nuclear Bomb!

The Clarion Project has released a new video titled “How to Con America and Get a Nuclear Bomb in 4 easy steps.”

How did Iran manage to dupe America to be set firmly on the road to nuclear weapons? What happened to the ironclad deal America had insisted on. It seems Iran cleverly dodged inspections, refused to close nuclear facilities, increased their centrifuges and continue to enrich uranium.

The Clarion project believes, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Islamic State recruiting ‘highly trained foreigners’ to produce chemical weapons

How can they attract “highly trained foreigners” when they represent, as every Western authority will tell us, a twisted version of Islam that outrages all of the true, peaceful principles of the religion? The cognitive dissonance is absolute, but no one in any position of power or influence seems to notice or care.

“Isis recruiting ‘highly trained foreigners’ to produce chemical weapons,” by Alexander Ward, the Independent, June 7, 2015:

The terrorist group Isis is recruiting “highly trained professionals” to make chemical weapons – and has already used them in an attack.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said the group was now undertaking “serious efforts” to develop their chemical weapons arsenal.

Speaking to the Australia Group, which is composed of nations against chemical weapons, she said: “Da’esh [Isis] is likely to have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons,” Ms Bishop added.

Ms Bishop’s speech is the latest concern that Isis is attempting to acquire nuclear and chemical and biological weapons, after India warned the extremists could obtain a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.

It was reported in March that Isis had been attacking Iraqi soldiers with roadside bombs containing chlorine gas in fighting around Tikrit, after footage emerged showing plumes of orange smoke emerging for the bombs.

It follows similar allegations that the extremists had released toxic gases in the eastern district of Kobani, during the siege of the town on the Syrian border, although it could not be confirmed.

Ms Bishop added: “Apart from some crude and small scale endeavours, the conventional wisdom has been that the terrorist intention to acquire and weaponise chemical agents has been largely aspirational.

“The use of chlorine by Da’esh [Isis], and its recruitment of highly trained professionals, including from the West, have revealed far more serious efforts in chemical weapons development.”…

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Islamic State could transport Nuclear Weapon from Nigeria into U.S. through Mexico

This very real threat was corroborated in March by Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), who “warned that Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS could exploit the capabilities and knowledge of Latin American smuggling networks to infiltrate the U.S. through Mexico and possibly bring in weapons of mass destruction.”

by Edwin Mora, Breitbart News, June 3, 2015:

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), in the latest edition of its propaganda magazine, indicated that it could purchase a nuclear weapon in Pakistan, take it to Nigeria, and then smuggle it into the U.S. through Mexico by using existing trafficking networks in Latin America.

In an op-ed article published in the ninth edition of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine released in late May, the jihadist group claims it could transport a nuclear device in the same way illicit drugs are smuggled into Europe through West Africa, adding that Boko Haram’s presence in Nigeria could facilitate the transaction.

The Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, pledged allegiance to ISIS in March.

In March, Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom), warned that Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS could exploit the capabilities and knowledge of Latin American smuggling networks to infiltrate the U.S. through Mexico and possibly bring in weapons of mass destruction.

The general, in October 2014, acknowledged that illegal drugs from South America move “through West Africa, up the Maghreb and into Western Europe,” adding that ISIS enemy al Qaeda and its affiliates take “a lot of money to allow it to flow.”

According to the alleged author of the Dabiq op-ed article, kidnapped British photojournalist John Cantlie, ISIS could smuggle a nuke into the U.S. by using the same route and reversing the flow— moving the nuke from West Africa into South America, from where it could be transported into the United States through Mexico.

“Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table,” Cantlie wrote in the article entitled “The Perfect Storm.” “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah [province] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.” He addded:

The weapon is then transported over land until it makes it to Libya, where the mujāhidīn [fighters] move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Columbia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible.The nuke and accompanying mujāhidīn arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States.

“From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they’re mingling with another 12 million ‘illegal’ aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car,” he also wrote.

If not a nuke, ISIS could easily smuggle in “a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive” that is easy to manufacture, said the article.

Cantlie wrote that ISIS, which started as a movement in Iraq, has suddenly morphed into a global phenomenon that the West and the democratic world as a whole is ill-prepared to handle.

He said that Boko Haram controls most of Nigeria, home to “an exhausted and smashed national army that is now in a virtual state of collapse”.

While testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Gen. Kelly noted, “Last year, ISIS adherents posted discussions on social media calling for the infiltration of the U.S. southern border. Thankfully, we have not yet seen evidence of this occurring, but I am deeply concerned that smuggling networks are a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.”

“While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted,” he added.

The general, speaking at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. in October 2014, warned that Latin American drug cartels were working with jihadist groups in West Africa, namely Sunni group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates.

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Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Middle East continues to spin into crisis. Iran continues to move toward great influence in the Middle East, and can now lay claim to be in control of Ramadi, Fallujah, and other regions of Iraq, the very nation America freed from ISIS and brought into order, and a level of peace and calm the country had not ever known.

Obama’s phenomenal combination of ignorance, incompetence, and spoken Islamic bias only adds to the mess. Yet, in spite of these factors, Democrats and their ideological cousins who make up the radical and socialist left still blame former President Bush claiming if he had not lied and went after chemical weapons allegedly stored in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, none of the calamities exploding in the Middle East would be occurring today. Once again the liberal mantra is Bush lied; that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction hidden by Saddam Hussein. Well…I received the below artocle from a U.S. Navy Captain (Ret.), and I thought you might like to read another side to the age-old charges.

The following report was published in the New York Times. The NYT is the last place I would have expected a report such as this. I don’t presume that the clandestine purchase of WMD’s will alter the opinions of any liberals who have made up their minds as to the nonexistence of such weapons, because this is what they intend to inscribe in the secondary school history books for the edification of the next generation of American citizens, and once entered, it etched in the minds of our youth to perpetuity, and truth obliterated in a sea of political correctness.


 

NYT: CIA bought, destroyed undeclared Iraqi chemical weapons demanded by UN

POSTED BY ED MORRISSEY

The topic of WMD in Iraq has been a hot potato for more than two decades, ever since the end of the first Gulf War and the procession of 17 UN Security Council resolutions demanding that Saddam Hussein verifiably destroy them. Hussein ignored those demands and committed numerous violations of the 1991 cease-fire agreement that suspended the war. In 2003, the US went back to war in part over the issue of WMD, deposing Hussein but coming up empty on the accusations of chemical and biological weapons, which prompted the “Bush lied” arguments that have echoed ever since.

Occasionally, caches of chemical weapons have been found in Iraq, reviving the debate, but they have been weapons that had already been declared and transferred to UN control before the 2003 invasion. If the WMD existed in Iraq, what happened to it? Many suspected that it got transferred to Syria prior to the 2003 invasion, but the New York Times reports today that the CIA actually did find at least some of the suspected and undeclared caches of chemical weapons — and destroyed them:

The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war. …

In confidential declarations in the 1990s to the United Nations, Iraq gave shifting production numbers, up to 18,500. It also claimed to have destroyed its remaining stock before international inspectors arrived after the Persian Gulf war. …

The handoffs varied in size, including one of more than 150 warheads. American ordnance disposal technicians promptly destroyed most of them by detonation, the officials said, but some were taken to Camp Slayer, by Baghdad’s airport, for further testing.

This is the first time that there has been any media reporting on finds specific to the disputed munitions that Hussein refused to acknowledge. It sounds as though there were a large quantity of Borak rockets eventually procured, too, not just a few leftovers that might have been innocently overlooked by the previous dictatorship in Iraq. C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt also report that these were not the kind of exhausted and expired chemical weapons that the UN had been storing, but still potent enough to alarm the US when they were discovered.

Why this was kept quiet was anyone’s guess, but the secret was tightly held. Perhaps the CIA and Pentagon wanted to keep it under wraps so that they could quietly buy as many of the weapons off the black market as they could, without tipping their hand to the insurgency. That might have been good strategy, but the Pentagon kept it so quiet that it never told veterans serving in Iraq or the VA physicians that treated them later about the possibility that they had contact with chemical weapons from any source. It seems unlikely that the insurgents didn’t get their hands on any of the Boraks — and it’s not entirely clear that the US got them all, either.

This should recast the WMD debate from the 2003 invasion, but it probably won’t. At least so far, there’s no indication that the US found the new chemical- and biological-weapons programs that their faulty intelligence showed Saddam Hussein restarting between the two wars, and that will overshadow even a large number of undeclared saran-filled Borax in any attempt to show that the issue of WMD Intel was at least nuanced. On the other hand, we’ve waited almost a decade to find this out, so it’s impossible to say what else may have been discovered and not declared by the Pentagon and CIA during that period. It may be another decade before we can safely assume anything.

Denouement on P5+1 Iran Nuclear Deal?

Yesterday, President Putin was up to his usual antics lifting the 2010 moratorium on sale of the Russian S-300 advanced air defense system.  This was exquisitely timed to  consternate  the  efforts  of President Obama and  Secretary of State Kerry in the midst of trying to sell Congress  today on the merits of  the inchoate  P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. In diplo-speak the most the White House and State Department could say in response was that Putin’s action was “unhelpful”.   State Department spokesperson Marie Harf in response to questions raised in yesterday‘s Daily Press Briefing said:

“We think given Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region, in places like Yemen or Syria or Lebanon that this isn’t the time to be selling these kind of systems to them.” But she added: “We don’t think this will have an impact on unity in terms of inside the negotiating room.”

For Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu it was evidence that Russia, as we wrote in January may have signed on to the Axis of Resistance . At the time on January 20th, smiling Russian and Iranian Defense Ministers met in Tehran, shook hands and publicly announced that the moratorium was passé. The $800 million paid by Iran for the S-300 air defense system   would finally be honored and the new toys delivered to protect Iran‘s nuclear and military development centers from an air assault by Israel.  We wrote:

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu signed an “cooperation” agreement with Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan in Tehran.  Both countries are the targets of Western and US Sanctions. Both countries are afflicted with erosion of oil and energy revenues.  Both countries are seeking to blunt opposing US interests in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  That is reflected in a comment of Iranian State television by Dehghan reported by AFP, that Iran and Russia had a “shared analysis of US global strategy, its interference in regional and international affairs and the need to cooperate in the struggle against the interference of foreign forces in the region.”  There is also the matter of weapon systems deals with proceeds which might bolster Russia’s depleting foreign currency reserves, while combating America’s ally in the Middle East, Israel.

Iranian Defense Minister   Dehghan in light of Putin lifting the moratorium on the S-300 sale said: “Extra-regional threats and the spread of terrorism by (insurgent) groups have increased the need to further expand cooperation.”  Note this Wall Street Journal comment about who directly benefits in Russia from the sale of the Antey S-300 System to Iran:

Rostec Corporation Chief Executive Officer Sergei Chemezov said in February that Iran was still considering Russia’s offer to supply Antey-2500 missile systems, with a range of about 200 kilometers (125 miles), according to Russian state news agency TASS. Rostec didn’t immediately respond to questions about the status of the offer on Monday.

Mr. Chemezov, who became friends with Mr. Putin when the two worked for the KGB in the 1980s, is among those sanctioned by the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine.

That was a prelude to yesterday’s announcement from the Kremlin. Putin purposefully chose yesterday to rattle the West Wing, Foggy Bottom and Jerusalem by proving that  sanctions, whether UN, EU or Congressional are next to useless when it comes to dealing with rogue regimes. The only thing these masters of disinformation and mischief understand is the willingness to back up words with commitment to us military power.  Something lacking in the backbone of the P5+1 cabal lusting after exchanges with the Mahdist Mullahs in Tehran with visions of billion dollar and Euro development deals dancing in their minds.   Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), unlike the Metternichean Munchkins in the West Wing said it best in today’s Wall Street Journal:

“Before a final nuclear deal is even reached, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has started to demolish international sanctions and ignore the U.N. arms embargo,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), who sponsored legislation that seeks to impose new sanctions on Iran if a final deal isn’t reached by June 30.

Notice the assist that Foreign Minister Lavrov provided as rational for his boss’ latest chess move:

“At this stage, we believe the need for this kind of embargo, and a separate voluntary Russian embargo, has completely disappeared,” Mr. Lavrov said Monday, citing the recent progress in nuclear talks. He called the missile system “exclusively of a defensive nature” and said it “doesn’t threaten the security of any governments in the region, including, of course, Israel.”

Not trusting these fine words from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said:

“It’s proof that the economic momentum that will come for Iran after lifting sanctions will be exploited for an arms buildup and not for the welfare of the people of Iran,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

That must have garnered more respect from Secretary Kerry poised to brief House and Senate members this week on the nuclear deal with no content announced in Lausanne 12 days ago.  Kerry had the cupidity to praise Russia for its constructive stand, a reference to a Foreign Ministry announcement allegedly saying that the State Department Fact Sheet on the parameters for a final agreement to be reached by June 30th was “accurate”.  Note what Josh Earnest , White House Press Spokesperson said; “That underscores the kind of unity around the specific agreement that we believe has been critical to our success.” President Obama hedged his bets this weekend reiterating “the possibility of backsliding” before the June 30 deadline.

 Something that both Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei and Foreign Minister Zarif suggested was simply “spin.”  Then, last Thursday, Khamenei demanded that all sanctions be lifted upon signing of an agreement with the P5+1 and hands off our national security and military developments.  Not to worry, said President Obama, Khamenei was simply grandstanding before his hard liners on their version of National Nuclear Development Day celebrations following their perceived victory on April 2nd in Switzerland.  The deal with no content was still on despite the tough slog to create definitive terms by the deadline of June 30th.  That the Congress shouldn’t interfere with what he deemed the “best bet” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear device to complement its rising hegemony in the troubled Levant.  He was like the Looney Tunes cartoons character Yosemite Sam suggesting to both Congress and Israel to “back off”. You will get your chance to learn about the final deal if and when it occurs.   Not exactly confidence building steps.

President Obama stoked the disquiet over the P5+1 deal with remarks in both his New York Times and NPR interviews suggesting that Iran would be prevented from achieving nuclear breakout in the remaining months of his second and final term in office and that 10 to 15 years out, all bets were off about Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons.  President Obama always point to IAEA’s track record to conduct “robust intrusive” inspections.  Weapons and the means of delivering them that some believe may have been covertly developed in cooperation with the DPRK.  North Korea  was beyond the ability of the IAEA to verify military  nuclear development s  as evidenced by  the  failure of  a more worthy framework developed by the Clinton Administration that  North Korea breached and was sanctioned by the Un repeatedly while relentlessly  developing and testing nuclear weapons and the ICBMs  to deliver them. Thereby putting the lie to President Obama’s assertion that “if Iran cheats, the world will know”.  Rogue regimes, whether in Moscow, Pyongyang, or Tehran are your basic sociopaths. They believe that agreements are simply black dots on white paper, meaningless. Or as Humpty Dumpty said to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

The Administration is rolling its big guns in briefings to both the House and Senate. Besides Kerry, Energy and Treasury Secretaries, Ernest Moniz and Jack Lew will be sent to the Hill to make the case for the P5+1 deal to proceed. Notwithstanding  that Congress is poised for legislative action this week in a possible denouement with the White House.   Embattled  Democrat  New Jersey U.S. Senator  Bob Menendez , targeted with corruption charges by  the Obama Justice Department, suggested he wasn’t “backing  off” from  his  co-sponsorship with  Republican colleague, Tennessee  Senator Bob Corker , chair of  the Senate Foreign  Relations committee,  of  Iran nuclear deal review legislation. A vote is scheduled this week that may determine whether the bill is veto-proof, given a threat from President Obama. It appears from a Politico report today that Corker and the Democrats may have reached a compromise enabling passage by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday of the pending legislation.  Given the emerging Iranian and now Russian defiance of sanctions and previous military developments inspections, the vote may be within striking distance of becoming veto proof on the Senate version of the pending legislation. Evidenced by comments from both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that the GOP majority could deliver a veto proof vote on the Senate version.

Now, if you have gotten this far in reading this, you might ask whether the sophisticated S-300 system that the Wall Street Journal said was capable of knocking down swarms of cruise and ballistic missiles, attacking aircraft. Aircraft like the aging B-2 Stealth bomber capable of carrying that new and more powerful Massive Ordnance Penetrator that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the USAF tested in January 2015. Think of what Israel did in 2008, a year following its destruction of a North Korean supplied nuclear reactor and bomb factory on the Euphrates River at al-Kibar in Syria in Operation Orchard.  As we wrote in our January 2015 Axis of Resistance Iconoclast post:

In June 2008, Israel’s air force undertook massive air training exercises involving more than 100 aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean against Greek S-300 Russian air defense systems. That effort demonstrated the canny effectiveness of swarming attacks against the S-300 and later versions that upset the Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards.

That was seven years ago. Perhaps, Israel has followed with keen interest the development of advanced versions of the S-300, the S-400 and might have something in mind to keep Iran’s Defense establishment worried.  Unlike their peers in the Pentagon, Israel doesn’t talk about such matters.

Meanwhile, will Congress act on Iran nuclear deal review legislation setting up a denouement with President Obama over his threat to veto it?  Stay tuned for developments.

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

Iran’s Cheating Heart

Country and Western Icon, Hank Williams wrote a ballad back in the 1950’s, “Your  Cheatin’ Heart”.  Perhaps there is a new version in the international arena, “Iran’s Cheating Heart”.  Iran’s track record of evading inspections by the IAEA under prior Additional Protocols has been, shall we say, less than fulsome. Add to that the Islamic Regime’s non compliance with requests by the IAEA for information on so-called previous military developments (PMD). Especially the barring of inspections at the military explosives test site of Parchin, where there appears to have been concealment  of  tests of nuclear triggers. We raise this because President Obama in his announcement of  the framework for a final agreement to be negotiated by June 30th had talked about “robust intrusive inspections.”  Moreover, he said, “ If Iran cheats, the world will know about it”. Further,  Secretary Kerry when asked during an NPR interview on April 8th about Iran’s PMD said that would be part of the negotiations.

Yesterday, Ayatollah Khamenei in his first public statement on the P5+1 Political Framework  stirred up a hornet’s nest of  controversy about major differences between the State Department Fact Sheet and Iran’s “understanding”.  Khamenei  said that all sanctions would be lifted  immediately upon signing of a definitive agreement, adding that PMD was off the table.  The Wall Street Journal  (WSJ) in its report on these latest disagreements over the political framework announced April 2nd drew attention to what Khamenei said:

It must absolutely not be allowed for them to infiltrate into the country’s defense and security domain under the pretext of inspections. Military officials must not allow strangers into this private domain under the pretext of supervision and inspection, or stop the defensive development of the country.

The WSJ noted this myopic comment of the eponymous senior administration  official:

We see the Iranians working to build support for the deal back home, which is a positive signal of their intent to complete the final agreement.

The Wall Street Journal cited  the usually clear-eyed Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), chief Congressional critic of the P5+1 framework, saying:

As each new day reveals a new disagreement, it’s increasingly clear that Iran, in fact, failed to reach agreement with the United States and its partners on a political framework.

michael-makovsky-Michael Makovsky, executive director of the Jewish Institute  for National  Security Affairs  (JINSA) in  the current  edition of The Weekly Standard dissected the reality of those ‘robust intrusive inspections’ under Additional Protocols between Iran and  the IAEA in an article, “Iran’s Cheating: Can’t Trust, Can’t Verify”. First off, Makovsky notes there is “no Additional  Protocol”:

There is a model Additional Protocol that the IAEA uses as a basis for negotiating a specific agreement with each individual country tailored to its situation. Indeed, this provision opens the door to yet another round of haggling with Iran, making it impossible to know what exact measures Iran will end up being bound by.

But we do know, and this is the second concern, that no Additional Protocol contains the sort of “anytime, anywhere” inspections that UNSCOM provided for and that experts agree is necessary to police Iran’s program. What an Additional Protocol would likely contain, according to the framework agreement, is an expansion of the number of facilities subject to inspections—to include Iran’s uranium mines and centrifuge factories—and stricter requirements for advance notice of any nuclear facilities Iran plans to construct.

On why  the Military test site at Parchin is important:

If Iran decides to sprint for a nuke, however, it won’t do so in a uranium mine; it will do it at one of its enrichment plants, most likely a clandestine plant, potentially hidden on a military base. It is precisely such sites that the IAEA has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get access to for years. Of particular concern has been the Parchin military complex, where the IAEA suspects Iran tested high-explosives for a nuclear weapon. Yet inspectors have never been allowed to set foot on the site, watching instead as satellite imagery showed Iran demolishing the suspected site and paving it over to conceal any evidence of its cheating.

Then there is  Iran’s track record on ‘implementing “ Additional Protocols:

Third, there is the ambiguity of the term “implement.” Iran has previously “implemented” an Additional Protocol. In 2003, about the same time it was cheating on its agreement with the Europeans, Iranian leaders signed an Additional Protocol with the IAEA. Indeed, for the next two years they actually observed it. But in early 2006, Iran announced that it would no longer abide by the Additional Protocol and curtailed inspectors’ access. They could well try to pull the same stunt again. And according to a “fact sheet” released by the Iranian foreign ministry, Iran believes it has only committed “to implement the Additional Protocol on a voluntary and temporary basis for the sake of transparency and confidence building.”

Not only our intelligence but even Israel’s is deficient when it comes to  detecting Iran’s  covert  nuclear program:

U.S. intelligence services have a dismal track record of detecting clandestine nuclear efforts and predicting breakout—in North Korea, Pakistan, and India, for example. Israeli security officials have admitted in private that they too have significant gaps in their knowledge about Iran’s facilities. This is not an indictment of American or Israeli intelligence capabilities; it is simply very challenging to detect covert nuclear activities. Permitting Iran to keep its vast nuclear infrastructure largely intact, as the JCPOA does, only compounds the challenges the United States and the world will have in detecting Iranian cheating.

If Iran has been engaged in cooperative nuclear weapons development with North Korea, as we have written, that compounds the difficulty of detecting covert sites for storage of fissile material and research on nuclear warheads for those  ICBMs it is developing.

Makovsky concludes:

An intrusive inspections and verification regime is the sine qua non of any arms agreement, especially with a congenital cheater like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, the JCPOA fails on this crucial issue, by not demanding complete information about the extent of Iran’s past nuclear weapons research and eschewing “anytime, anywhere” inspections of all facilities. In other words, it is currently worth no more than the paper it might have been written on.

There’s an old Southern phrase in the U.S. that appears apt in the current controversy over what was intended in the P5+1 Political Framework  for a nuclear agreement  with Iran:  “this dog won’t hunt”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of Breitbart.

The West has Forsaken the non-Nuclear Iran Pledge

Prime Minister Netanyahu is right. The West led by President Obama has forsaken its non-nuclear Iran pledge. It is looking like Obama’s pledge was one more of his ‘red lines’ he never intended to keep. The recent testimony by Secretary of  State Kerry to the Senate that Iran will not be permitted to construct nuclear weapons is a lie.

If it isn’t a lie, then why has the Senate and the American public been kept in the dark about the details; and why is Obama afraid to have Netanyahu speak to the Congress? The answer is Obama has decided to cooperate with Iran’s Ayatollah to give them a path to develop nuclear weapons as long as it doesn’t happen during Obama’s presidency.

The Obama administration is about to unleash double-speak to explain that the Iran’s nuclear weapons program is a peaceful program because they haven’t found any bombs yet. Kerry and Obama must explain why a peaceful program is located in bomb proof caves and at locations that Iran will not allow the U.N. nuclear inspectors to visit; and explain the existence of another secret uranium enrichment site.

The real reason Obama is infuriated with Netanyahu is that Netanyahu is about to expose the truth to Congress and the American public. If this wasn’t the case Obama should welcome pressure from allies so he can extract a better deal from Iran. Instead he is joining with Iran against Israel and U.S. allies to create a path for it to develop nuclear weapons.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Iran Opposition Unveils Secret Tehran Uranium Enrichment Site” – 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,” Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said Tuesday. The site was in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran and has underground labs connected by a tunnel.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced…centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said. The NCRI has made several important revelations in the past of the existence of secret nuclear sites in Iran. (AFP)

Iran Practices Military Attacks on Mock U.S. Aircraft Carrier – Ali Akbar Dareini Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched large-scale naval and air defense drills near the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday in which dozens of speedboats swarmed a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier. State TV showed footage of missiles fired from the coast and the fast boats striking the mock U.S. aircraft carrier. Last month the Guard’s navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi, said on state TV that his force is capable of sinking American aircraft carriers. (AP-ABC News)

Iran nuclear deal, ISIS threat stimulating Sunni powers to unite – even with Israel – Arab leaders and officials have been meeting frequently in past weeks, likely discussing the threat of Islamic State and the Iranian threat.

As the US and Shi’ite Iran inch closer to a nuclear deal that many Sunnis and Israelis don’t trust and as Islamic State’s reach spreads, Arab leaders are frantically consulting on how to deal with the threats and some may consider a covert alliance with Israel, a former Pentagon Middle East adviser told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser at the Pentagon, said he saw the possibility of a “temporary tactical alliance with Israel” by Sunni Arab states.

The fatal flaw in the Iran deal: A sunset clause?—Charles Krauthammer – The news from the nuclear talks with Iran was already troubling. Iran was being granted the “right to enrich.” It would be allowed to retain and spin thousands of centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. Yet so thoroughly was Iran stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that just last Thursday the IAEA reported its concern “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed . . . development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Bad enough. Then it got worse: News leaked Monday of the elements of a “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would reenter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview in December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.

The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.

Obama’s Dangerous Iran Nuke Deal

The February 10th Wall Street Journal editorial asked “Has the U.S. already conceded a new era of nuclear proliferation?” and concluded that “Mr. Obama is so bent on an Iran deal that he will make any concession to get one.”

As we should know by now, President Obama has no negotiating skills and even less understanding of the world the U.S. used to lead by virtue of its military power and democratic values.

If he succeeds in getting a deal, absent Congress doing anything about it, the Wall Street Journal says it will result in “a very different world than the one we have been living in since the dawn of the nuclear age. A world with multiple nuclear states, including some with revolutionary religious impulses or hegemonic ambitions, is a very dangerous place.”

Yes, but. We already live in such a world and the real question is whether, absent their “revolutionary” rhetoric, shouting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” do those at the top levels of the Iranian ruling structure want to risk having their nation destroyed if they were ever to use nuclear weapons?

No nation on Earth has done so since the U.S. ended the war with the Japanese Empire with two atom bombs rather than put at risk the lives of our troops in an invasion. Why do we think Iran would use their nukes if they acquired them?

The short answer is that the United Nations has passed six resolutions to deny Iran the capability of developing a military nuclear program and the current negotiations, the P5+1, while led by the U.S., are joined by Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Cartoon - Iran Threat to US

For a larger view click on the image.

Nations in the Middle East and around the world are inclined to think the Iranian leadership would use such weapons. Obama is intent on ignoring their judgment.

If you want to know why Iran continues to be involved in negotiations to restrict its nuclear weapons agenda, you need to know that the U.S. will release $11.9 billion to Iran by the time the talks are concluded in June. That’s the figure cited by our own State Department.

On January 21, the U.S. released $490 million, the third such payment since December 10. For sitting at the negotiations table, Iran will secure $4.9 billion in unfrozen cash assets via ten separate payments by the U.S. It had received $4.2 billion in similar payments under the 2013 interim agreement with the U.S. and was given another $2.9 billion by the Obama administration last year in an absurd effort to get them to agree to end their effort to become a nuclear power.

In a sense there are several Iran’s. There is the Iran of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard, both committed to the Islamic revolution that brought the present day Iran into being in 1979. They value having a nuclear weapons capability no less than the U.S. or other nations do.

Then there are the Iranian realists who would far prefer a detente between the U.S. and Iran because they believe it would be in both our interests. These are the voters who elected Hassan Rouhani in 2013 to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has served in office from 2005. They represent some 70% of its citizens would want peace, trade and normal relations with the U.S. Their leaders, however, have thoughts of hegemonic power in the Middle East to advance Shiite Islam.

The problem is that many of the Iranian leadership do not speak in terms other than an utter contempt for the U.S. and with an outspoken enmity for any nation that opposes the expansion of Islam. In late January, one of its newspapers, Kayhan, reported that “Professors, students and employees at the Imam Sadeq University, condemning the insults against the prophet of Islam by Charlie Hebdo…demand closure of the French embassy in Tehran.”

The demonstrators carried placards read, “I am not Charlie, I am the innocent child of Gaza”, “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to Britain”, “Death to France”, ‘Death to Wahabism” and comparable signs all indicative of Iran’s hostility to any response to the terrorism it has sponsored for decades since the Islamic Revolution was initiated there in 1979.

On January 23, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying “I do not believe that ten years of confrontation will have had any benefits for anyone. Ten years of sanctions has yielded 19,800 contrifuges, exactly that which the sanctions wanted to halt.”

There is no question that sanctions and the long negotiations have reduced Iran’s capacity to create nuclear weapons agenda. The current negotiations, however, are signaling an abandonment of that policy.

At Friday prayers in late January, Hojjat al-Eslam Zazem Sediqi told those in attendance “Our statesmen should know the enemy, should know with whom they are dealing and negotiating with…You are speaking with wild beasts which do not show mercy to (anyone) young or old, and who insult the Prophet, the most sacred of sacred.”

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDC) maintains a constant monitoring of Iranian news media and government outlets. The reported news out of Iran paints a picture of fire-breathing zealots against a moderate political class and population. The question is whether the zealots will have the final word.

On January 28, Ali Alfoneh, a FDC senior fellow, authored a policy brief that concluded that “Even in the unlikely event that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiating team reach a nuclear agreement with international negotiators, its implementation may well fall to the Islamic Revolutionary Corps…The IRGC’s vociferous opposition to nuclear concessions and improving ties with the West raises serious questions over whether future Iranian governments will uphold any nuclear deal that the current one signs.”

There are two major power centers in Iran, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the IRGC. Rouhani is routinely referred to as “a moderate.” As Alfoneh noted, “Meanwhile, Rouhani’s cabinet is torn between public demands for jobs and human rights, the creeping infiltration of the IRGC, and the Supreme Leader’s dogged attempts to maintain the status quo at all costs.”

In late January, the Democrats on Capitol Hill, led by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gave Obama another two months to reach a deal before they vote for new sanctions. In the House, progressives are urging their colleagues to hold off moving any legislation that would tighten economic penalties on Iran. At this point, the only thing that has worked has been sanctions and the return of frozen funds, a form of bribery.

Meanwhile, Iran has taken credit for the training and arming of Shiite rebels who overthrew the leadership in Yemen. Iran also supports the Hezbollah in Lebanon that is threatening Israel from the area of the Golan. In reprisal for a recent attack, Israel responded with an air strike that killed an Iranian general. None of this helps position Iran as a potential peaceful partner.

This is why John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has invited Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address a joint session of Congress. He did so without consulting the White House, but we should keep in mind that Obama released five Taliban generals from Gitmo without consulting Congress.

Netanyahu will spell out what he has said in the past. A nuclear Iran is an existential and a potentially catastrophic threat to Israel. He will likely point out that it is a threat to Saudi Arabia and all the other nations in the Middle East and worldwide.

The question is whether we are dealing with rational people leading Iran or not. In the end, we are asked to assume that even the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards want to live, want their children and grandchildren to live, and want their nation to continue. That is what Obama is betting on. The problem with that is that Islam puts a high value on martyrdom.

© Alan Caruba, 2015