Thursday, July 23, 2015

From Ian:

Israeli Leftist Nukes Iran Deal
Journalist Ari Shavit is one of Israel’s most celebrated left-wing voices. He is celebrated in the United States as a voice for political change in Israel and an advocate for concessions to the Palestinians. His recent memoir, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, was fêted by the literary elite.
Yet Shavit is shocked by the Iran deal–what he calls a “horror story.” In a brilliant but grim op-ed in Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz, Shavit does a better job than virtually anyone else in summarizing exactly what is wrong with the disastrous Iran deal.
First, it removes sanctions and does not provide adequate monitoring:
The Iranian negotiating team succeeded in destroying completely the sanctions mechanism that had been activated against Iran. It also managed to prevent real, effective supervision of secret, unknown nuclear sites….The chance of its getting caught is low and the chance of reactivating the sanctions is slim. So the decision of whether to race or not to race toward the bomb in a new secret track will be very much up to Iran.
Second, Shavit writes,
…the international community commits to upgrading Iran’s nuclear capacity, which it will activate in due course: …the international community is not only enabling, but actually ensuring the establishment of a new Iranian nuclear program, which will be immeasurably more powerful and dangerous than its predecessor. In fact the Iranians are giving up an outdated, anachronistic deployment in order to build an innovative legitimate one, with the world’s permission and authority. “The joint comprehensive plan of action” will lead to Iran becoming in 2025 a muscular nuclear tiger ready to spring forward, with an ability to produce dozens of nuclear bombs.
Essentially, Shavit says, the world gave in:
The fact is that in each chapter Iran’s dignity is preserved, but the U.S. and Europe’s isn’t. The fact is that the Iranian Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majlis, has a much higher status in the agreement than the American Congress. The fact is that Iran is unrepentant, does not promise a change of course and takes an almost supercilious attitude toward the other parties. As though it had been a campaign between Iran and the West, and Iran won and is now dictating the surrender terms to the West.
Michael Oren: What a Good Iran Deal Would Look Like
Could a better deal have been achieved? The answer — emphatically — is yes.
The biting sanctions enacted by Congress, and approved by President Barack Obama, halted the Iranian nuclear program. They also forced the Iranians to the negotiating table where they would have remained and made far-reaching concessions were the sanctions intensified or at least sustained.
These sanctions presented Tehran’s international customers with a choice: Either do business with Iran or with the United States. Russia, China and others might have protested continuing sanctions on Iran but, in the end, it is highly unlikely that they would have forfeited access to America’s $17 trillion economy to cut oil deals with Iran.
The Iranian military, with its mostly 1970s-vintage weaponry, posed no serious threat to the world’s largest and most sophisticated armed forces. A combination of robust sanctions and a credible military threat by the United States would have compelled the Iranians to make more far-reaching and substantive concessions than the few largely symbolic gestures contained in this deal.
These were the terms that Israel sought and communicated to American decision makers. We have the greatest interest in reaching a good diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat, and the most to lose from either a bad deal or a resort to force. After all, in any confrontation with Iran, Hezbollah and other proxies are poised to fire thousands of rockets at our homes.
Israel would have embraced an agreement that significantly rolled back the number of centrifuges and nuclear facilities in Iran and that linked any sanctions relief to demonstrable changes in its behavior. No more state support of terror, no more threatening America’s Middle Eastern allies, no more pledges to destroy the world’s only Jewish state and no more mass chants of “Death to America.” Israel would have welcomed any arrangement that monitored Iran’s ICBMs and other offensive weaponry. Such a deal, Israeli leaders across the political spectrum agree, was and remains attainable.
The alternative to this deal is not, as its supporters insist, war, but a better deal. Indeed, the present agreement will likely escalate, rather than avert, conflict. Already Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has pledged to continue Iran’s armed struggle against the United States. Iran Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has sworn to prevent inspections of suspect Iranian nuclear sites. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, the only Arab leader to celebrate the deal, can continue to butcher his own civilian population with impunity.
Iran’s Win-Win…Win Win Win Nuke Deal
Why would the mullahs cheat on a deal as good for them as this one?
The Obama administration sent the Iran Nuclear Deal to Congress on Sunday, and on Monday the 60-day clock starts ticking for a largely hostile Capitol Hill to review all the elements, unclassified and classified. The big question, of course, is whether and how the Iranians can be kept from cheating.
The administration has gone to great lengths to ensure there are all sorts of technical bells and whistles. But President Barack Obama can’t use the most obvious and compelling argument in his arsenal. Simply put, this is one terrific agreement for Tehran. And Iran is likely to have no interest in violating it. Here’s why.
Money for Nothing: It’s the cruelest of ironies that Iran is reaping huge rewards for giving up something it wasn’t supposed to be doing in the first place. Iran has accepted constraints on a nuclear program that over the past 10 years illegally and illicitly produced fissile material for a possible nuclear weapon and engaged at secret sites in what the IAEA has described as possible military dimensions of a nuclear program. In exchange for accepting constraints on this nuclear enterprise, Iran will receive billions in unfrozen oil revenues, begin to ramp up oil production and over time attract foreign investment likely to attract billions more.
Legitimacy for its Nuclear Program: Having stood in violation of at least six UN Security Council resolutions over the past decade, it’s a testament to the skills of Iranian negotiators that the agreement they produced wasn’t about ending the Iranian nuclear program but restricting it. And these restrictions aren’t permanent.
Nuclear Creepout: Iran's Third Path to the Bomb
Though much ink has been spilled about whether these two "paths" to the bomb have been blocked, both presuppose a decision by Iran to sacrifice its reconciliation with the world in the next ten to fifteen years for the immediate gratification of building a weapon (the purpose of a covert breakout is less to avoid detection before crossing the finish line than to make the process less vulnerable to decisive disruption).
Such an abrupt change of heart by the Iranian regime is certainly possible, but more worrisome is the prospect that Iran's nuclear policy after the agreement goes into effect will be much the same as it was before—comply with the letter and spirit of its obligations only to the degree necessary to ward off unacceptably costly consequences. This will likely take the form of what I call nuclear creepout—activities, both open and covert, legal and illicit, designed to negate JCPOA restrictions without triggering costly multilateral reprisals.
It is important to bear in mind that the JCPOA bars signatories from re-imposing any sanctions or their equivalents on Iran, except by way of a United Nations Security Council resolution restoring sanctions. "That means there will be no punishments for anything less than a capital crime," explains Robert Satloff. The language demanded by Iranian negotiators, and accepted by the Obama administration, makes small-scale cheating virtually unpunishable.
Moreover, the specific terms of the JCPOA appear to have been designed to give the Iranians wide latitude to interpret their own obligations. Two, in particular, should raise eyebrows.

Garry Kasparov: Springtime for America’s Enemies
Dangerous and short-sighted U.S. diplomacy has empowered no one except state sponsors of terrorism and fascistic regimes.
There has never been a better time in history to be an enemy of the United States of America. While America’s traditional allies in Europe and the Middle East express confusion and frustration, Obama’s White House delivers compliments and concessions to some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. In the span of a single week, the U.S. has restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, pressured Ukraine to accept Vladimir Putin’s butchering of its eastern region, and brokered a deal to liberate Iran from sanctions.
These actions would represent a tremendous series of diplomatic triumphs if they improved human rights in these repressed nations, saved lives in conflict regions, or improved global security. That is, in fact, what the White House says these deals will do, despite copious evidence to the contrary. These negotiations represent willful ignorance of the fundamental nature of the regimes in question, especially those of Iran and Russia. Cuba is a political hotspot in the U.S. and remains a potent symbol of totalitarianism, but despite its regional meddling, especially in Venezuela, it isn’t on the scale of the global threats represented by Iran’s terrorism and nuclear ambitions and Putin’s nuclear-backed expansionism. Regardless of the wishes of the Iranian and Russian people, their leaders have no interest in peace, although they are very interested in never-ending peace negotiations that provide them with cover as they continue to spread violence and hatred.
Obama Lobby Smear in Iran Deal Debate Cannot Go Unanswered
The debate over the Iran nuclear deal signed last week is just beginning but the willingness of the administration to smear its opponents is already clear. Both in his speech yesterday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh and then later on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama cast the divide on the issue as one between warmongers and peacemakers, linking opponents to the Iraq War. Having won the presidency twice by running against George W. Bush, it is hardly surprising that he would return to that familiar theme. Nor is it any shock that he would, as he has throughout a period in which he systematically abandoned his past stands on what a deal with Iran should look like, claimed that the only alternative to surrendering to Tehran’s demands was war. But there was one line in his softball interview with Stewart that should have set off alarm bells throughout the pro-Israel community, including among those who are loyal Democrats and inclined to support the White House on this and any other issue. By urging citizens to contact Congress to counteract the influence of “the money, the lobbyists,” Obama was smearing the pro-Israel community and AIPAC as seeking to involve the country in a war where “they would not going to be making sacrifices.” In doing so, he conjured up memories of both President George H.W. Bush’s controversial stand against AIPAC during the 1991 debate about loan guarantees to Israel but also writer Pat Buchanan’s claim that Jews were pushing for wars in which they wouldn’t fight.
Obama’s claims that the only alternative to his appeasement of Iran would be war have always been a false choice. Having cornered Iran into negotiations after being forced by Congress to accept harsher sanctions than he wanted, Obama immediately discarded all the West’s political and military leverage by agreeing to Iranian demands about allowing them to enrich uranium and keep their nuclear infrastructure in secret talks in 2013. This came only a year after he had pledged in his foreign policy debate with Mitt Romney that any Iran deal would require them to give up their nuclear program. Over the course of the next two years, he systematically abandoned nearly every previous U.S. on the issue and eventually agreed to a pact that expired after ten years and even guaranteed the Iranians the right to continue nuclear research and with an inspections program that gave them 24 days notice. Having undermined the international consensus in favor of isolating Iran, he now accuses critics of wanting war. But all they have been asking for is the sort of tough diplomacy that would have avoided the kind of proliferation that his deal makes inevitable.
The analogies with Iraq and the invocation of the name of former Vice President Dick Cheney is a punch line, not a coherent argument. There is no comparison between a willingness to allow Iran to become a threshold nuclear state and to enrich the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But it is an attempt to signal to Democrats that Obama sees Iran appeasement as a core partisan issue on which no dissent should be tolerated. And that is the context in which Obama’s cracks about money and lobbyists and who makes the sacrifices should be viewed.
The Iran Agreement in International Law and U.S. Law: Contradictions
From the particular standpoints of national and international law, there are notably major contradictions within the new Iran agreement that have yet to be recognized. Of these, the most egregious example has to do with core provisions of the agreement that allow Iran to enrich uranium - or effectively "go nuclear" - after 15 years.
These provisions, prima facie, are in stark violation of the 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, notably those treaty portions that already obligate Iran, and all other non-nuclear member states, to remain non-nuclear for the Treaty's "indefinite duration."
Correspondingly, it also follows, according to Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, or the "Supremacy Clause," that U.S. entry into the new Iran agreement expressly violates American law, specifically, the "supreme law of the land." This country, of course, is a nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT.
A second relevant legal contradiction concerns the Obama administration's declared unwillingness to base its negotiations with Iran upon a prior or contingent expectation that the country's leadership renounce its genocidal statements about Israel. This contradiction, too, represents a flagrant U.S. violation of both international and national law, in this case, because the 1948 Genocide Convention criminalizes not only genocide per se, but also "Conspiracy to commit genocide," and "Direct and public incitement to commit genocide."
Surprise! The States Can Reject the Iran Deal
The Obama administration has sent the Iran nuclear deal to Congress for a 60-day review provided by the Corker bill. However, President Barack Obama has pre-empted Congress by going to the UN Security Council first, which has already voted to end international sanctions and accept the deal. Furthermore, even if Congress rejects the deal, it will struggle to muster a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto.
There is one effective way, however, that the Iran deal can be rejected: states and local governments can refuse to comply with it.
That may come as a surprise. States and local governments do not play much of a role in foreign policy. However, they cannot be forced to implement an international treaty or agreement that is not self-executing–i.e. one whose implementation requires new congressional laws.
Thanks to the victory at the Supreme Court by then-Texas Solicitor General Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 96% in Medellín v. Texas (2008), it is a settled principle in constitutional law that states cannot be forced to comply with international treaties unless Congress has passed statutes giving them effect.
Israel's perspective on US/Iran nuclear deal: "Most Israelis think Obama is too naive"
Dr. Zimmt says most Israelis consider Obama "naive" about the situation in the Middle East in general.
As for this specific deal, the Israeli government continues to consider Iran a serious threat to their security, not just because of their growing nuclear capabilities but also their support for terrorism in the region.
Dr. Zimmt explains why this deal won't really prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
In fact, it might encourage other states like Saudi Arabia to follow in Iran's footsteps.
Iran expert Dr. Raz Zimmt on Obama's nuclear deal

Kerry, Moniz Lie (Again) About Iran Deal
If the Iran deal were any good, the Obama administration would not have to lie about it. Yet Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz continue to do just that. The latest example is a joint op-ed in the Washington Post, in which the Laurel and Hardy of American diplomacy attempt to defend the nuclear deal using a series of half-truths and blatant lies that is worth decoding concisely, in full.
Claim: Obama fixed the mess Bush left. It is telling that Kerry and Moniz begin by blaming Bush. Here are the facts about what really happened when Obama took office. Bush left his successor a rare diplomatic achievement: a series of UN Security Council resolutions that united the international community against Iran’s nuclear program. Obama set about trying to unravel that consensus. He opposed new sanctions and allowed the regime to regroup during the Green Revolution–an event Kerry and Moniz omit. Yes, Iran was racing down the nuclear path–and Obama was content to let it do so, until Congress and the French–the French!–pressured Obama to acknowledge reality.
Claim: The Iran deal is the “best” and “only” way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. By President Obama’s own admission in April, the deal allows Iran to achieve “zero” breakout time toward a nuclear weapon after ten years or so. Many better deals were possible, including deals that address Iran’s support for terror. But Obama gave up on those options–and on military pressure.
‘Better’ Iran deal can still fix ‘historic mistake,’ PM says
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said an alternative nuclear deal with Iran that would curb the Islamic State’s aggression is still within reach, and railed against the agreement struck last week as a “historic mistake.”
“No agreement is better than this bad agreement,” said Netanyahu, reiterating his denouncement of the accord struck July 14.
Under the agreement, Iran has agreed to dismantle or mothball much of its nuclear industry in return for an easing and eventual lifting of sanctions. World powers have called it a historic opportunity to set relations with Iran on a new path.
Netanyahu has argued, however, that it is not enough to keep Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons that could be used to target Israel. He has said that military force remains on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, although experts say unilateral strikes by Israel appear highly unlikely for now.
“A better deal that would tie the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and would roll back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — such a deal would be tied to ending Iran’s aggression and terrorism. That’s the real alternative,” he said.
Deal boosts Iran terror threat on border, top diplomat warns
Israel anticipates a “major escalation” of Iranian-backed terror attacks on its borders as a direct result of the nuclear agreement the US and five additional world powers struck with Tehran, Foreign Ministry’s director-general Dore Gold said Wednesday evening.
Although he did not detail the specific threats for Israel that could be impacted, or list specific accommodations that Israel sought to counter the threats, Gold warned that “the moment that the funds become available from frozen accounts…that’s when the Middle East goes south and things become extremely dangerous in the region.”
Saying that the release of $150 billion of frozen funds would free Iran from having to choose which terror activities to support, Gold said Iranian troops and their proxies in the region “will have an ability to be everywhere simultaneously.”
“we would expect a major escalation of the insurgent and terror threat against the State of Israel, along most of our border[s]. And that’s a direct result of removing sanctions and having this money that results from [it] go to Iran, first for Iran’s own military buildup and secondly for Iranian surrogates, which surround the State of Israel,” he said during a conference call hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.
While the Iranian-backed Shiite terror group Hezbollah has been operating in Lebanon since the 1980s, its recent involvement in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime has brought its forces to the Golan Heights, where altercations between the group’s fighters and IDF troops have already taken place.
Iran has also made great efforts to acquire and distribute advanced weaponry to terror groups, Gold said. “We have been seeing an expansion of Iranian deployment around Israel.”

WSJ: Anne Bayefsky on the Iran Sanctions: The Forgotten History

Former Israeli Ambassador: Iran to Get $700 Billion in Sanctions Relief
Iran is slated to receive some $700 billion in sanctions relief and economic windfalls as a result of a recently inked nuclear accord reached with global powers, according to former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
Oren, citing Israeli government sources, claimed in a recent op-ed that the Obama administration is being deceitful about the full cost of reaching a deal with Iran.
Sanctions on Iran will be removed, and international companies will have the opportunity to pursue business interests in Tehran, resulting in a huge profit for the Islamic Republic, according to Oren.
“These [sanctions] cannot be ‘snapped back’ if Iran were to violate the deal, as its defenders contend, but reinstated only after a lengthy international process that excludes all the contracts signed by Iran before it were to cheat,” Oren writes in Politico.
“As such, the deal serves as an incentive for foreign companies to sign a great number of short- and medium-term contracts with Iran,” according to Oren. “The windfall is estimated to reach $700 billion, according to Israeli government sources.”
Obama gave Europe control of the Iran sanctions ‘snap back’ mechanism
“If Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place,” President Obama said in his White House statement on the nuclear agreement. He added, “we’ve built in a snap-back provision so we don’t have to go through lengthy negotiations at the U.N. to put the sanctions right back in place.”
But any inspections at Iranian military facilities to which Iran objects, and the “snap-back” re-imposition of United Nations sanctions would require the United States government to win the unanimous support of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy—ALL of them. This would be necessary to have the five votes required under the agreement’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism to override objections from Iran, Russia, and China. (See Articles 36-37 and Annex I Article 78). And, under the Treaty of Lisbon rules controlling the EU’s “Common Foreign and Security Policy,” key decisions on the CFSP require unanimous approval by ALL 28 MEMBERS of the European Union.
It may be true that “No one country could block a snap-back of sanctions,” as Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said, but no one country—not even the United States—could re-impose them either unless all of Europe went along.
Sanctions on Iran were always less popular in Europe than the United States, not least because Germany and other members of the EU were the principal trading partners of Iran before the nuclear sanctions were imposed. The first U.S. sanctions were imposed by President Clinton in 1995 and by Congress in 1996, but they were fiercely opposed by European governments and companies. Europe did not impose its own sanctions on Iran until fifteen years later, in 2010.
Why is the Iran deal bad? Think North Korea.
Is Iran more like North Korea or Libya? That is the question politicians and the public must ask themselves as they consider President Obama's nuclear deal.
Libya is the shining success story of negotiated disarmament — one of the very few. On Dec. 19, 2003, following nine months of secret talks with the United States and Britain, Moammar Kadafi agreed to give up his entire arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The component parts were to be either destroyed or shipped abroad.
Only a few months later, American officials were able to display at Oak Ridge, Tenn., nuclear equipment taken from Libya. Tons of chemical weapons and weapons precursors were destroyed. Kadafi even turned over to the U.S. for "safekeeping" five Scud-C missiles as part of his pledge to get rid of any missiles with a range longer than 300 kilometers. Earlier, Kadafi had renounced terrorism and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of victims of the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The experience with North Korea was very different. In 1994, after threatening to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Pyongyang signed the Agreed Framework pledging to freeze the construction and operation of its plutonium reactors. In return, the United States agreed to provide it with substantial aid, including fuel oil deliveries and help in constructing two light-water reactors that could be used for nuclear energy but not nuclear weapons. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, were supposed to monitor compliance.

The U.S. duly provided North Korea with $1.3 billion in food and energy assistance. In 2001, ground was broken on the first of the light-water reactors. Although it was not tied to the Agreed Framework, North Korea received even more largesse from South Korea, which, under its "sunshine policy," delivered $8 billion in economic assistance from 1996 to 2008.
We now know, however, that North Korea never had any intention of abiding by its commitments. Before and after signing the Agreed Framework, Pyongyang was secretly enriching uranium. In 2002, North Korean officials brazenly admitted as much to a visiting American delegation.
JPost Editorial: Words and Deeds
On Sunday, at the beginning of a three-day visit to Iran to explore business ties, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel declared that it will be impossible for his country to normalize relations until the Iranians recognize Israel.
On Monday, the Iranians rejected Gabriel’s call.
“We have totally different views from Germany on certain regional issues in the Middle East and we have explicitly expressed our viewpoints in different negotiations,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Monday.
It is a worn-out saying, but actions really do speak louder than words. Iranians were not paying attention to Gabriel’s empty statements, but rather to the alacrity with which the Germans – before any other European country – rushed to Tehran to reap the benefits of a new era of economic cooperation with Iran.
The ink on the nuclear arms agreement has barely dried; the deal has yet to be ratified; the sanctions have yet to be removed; yet the Germans are clamoring to do business.
That Gabriel made pro forma statements regarding Israel hardly registered with the Iranians, and rightly so.
Much more significant was the fact that leading heads of German industry had schlepped all the way to Tehran.
Watch: Thousands rally in NYC's Times Square against Iran nuclear deal
An estimated 10,000 people turned out at New York's landmark Times Square on Wednesday in protest over the Iran nuclear deal signed last week.
They urged the US Congress to reject the agreement brokered in Vienna to rein in Tehran's atomic program.
Speakers at Wednesday's rally included New York's former governor George Pataki, Jerusalem Post senior contributing editor Caroline Glick, former Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, former congressman Allen West and Steven Emerson, founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Pataki addressed the crowd, saying that "this isn't a bad deal, it's a God-awful deal, it must be rejected. Congress must do its job and stand up for the American people, stand up for our safety and say 'no' to this Iranian deal."
Claiming that "we know what the outcome of this deal will be," Glick said that "our responsibility as free men and women is to stand up and ensure the security and continuity and strength and morality of the United States of America."
 New Yorkers to Schumer: Kill the Iran Deal or Find a New Job
Waving signs reading “Schumer—You Are No Shomer” and “Schumer—You Control the Votes to Stop the Iran Deal,” thousands of New Yorkers flooded Times Square on Wednesday evening to call on Congress to reject the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear agreement.
The rally, organized by the Jewish Rapid Response Coalition in partnership with dozens of U.S. pro-Israel groups, featured speeches by former New York Gov. George Pataki, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), among others.
The crowd, estimated at 10,000 by event organizers, stretched over seven city blocks.
Congress has 60 days to review—and potentially reject—the Iran nuclear deal reached by the Obama administration. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who will likely be his party’s next Senate leader, is seen as a key figure that can influence Democratic votes on the issue.
“This is the day Chuck Schumer has two choices,” said former Pataki aide and event organizer Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, to applause from the crowd. “He will round up the votes in the Senate to help kill this agreement before it kills us and our allies. … If he doesn’t do that, we will remember.”
“Remember folks, New Yorkers get bored pretty bored with their elected leaders,” said Wiesenfeld. “If you don’t do it, Chuck, we’ll be plenty bored. We’ll throw you the hell out.”
Senators Grill Kerry over Nuke Deal: 'You've Been Fleeced'
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee are grilling Secretary of State John Kerry over the deal that the P5+1 countries reached with Iran over its nuclear program.
Kerry was greeted with applause from a handful members from the radical CodePink group. But the mood changed immediately as Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) called the hearing to order.
Corker told Kerry he's "fairly depressed" after listening to the secretary answers to lawmakers' questions Wednesday, in a classified briefing. He compared the US negotiators who worked out a deal with Iran over its nuclear program to “a hotel guest who leaves only with his bathrobe.”
“You've been fleeced,” Corker said. “Instead of Iran being a pariah, you've turned Congress into a pariah. “
He added: “If we had dealt with dismantling Iran's nuclear program, our allies in the region would not react like they did.”
Kerry replied by saying that he believed there could be no better accord than the one that was reached, which he called was "a good deal for America, for the world and for our allies."
"We set out to dismantle [Iran's] ability to build a nuclear weapon and we achieved that," he said, calling the idea that a better deal could be reached to a unicorn, and saying "it's a fantasy."
Politifact Lies: Cotton Right on Obama Promise to Dismantle Iran’s Nuclear Program
Politifact acknowledges that President Obama promised to dismantle Iran’s entire nuclear program in 2012, when he touted that promise in his re-election campaign.
However, Politifact says, by the time negotiations formally began–Sep. 26, 2013–Obama had dropped that demand.
The first problem with that claim is that negotiations began before that date. There had been five secret back-channel meetings between the Obama administration and Iran, dating back to early 2013.
The Associated Press reported that talks had begun even earlier, in 2012–even as Obama was telling American voters that he would dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.
Hey @TheIranDeal, I Have Some Questions – Actually, Lots of Them
According to Rhodes, @TheIranDeal is “dedicated to delivering the facts and answering your questions about the deal and how it enhances American national security.” What that means—and here, Rhodes was explicit—is ensuring that America isn’t dragged “into another conflict in the Middle East.” In other words, the choice is between agreeing to this lousy, feeble deal or risking the lives and limbs of our troops in an Iraq/Afghanistan redux. But if you’re still not convinced, you can send comments and questions to @TheIranDeal, and they will be answered. As the Twitter page declares, “Tweet us your questions, and we’ll set the record straight.”
As of the afternoon of Wednesday, July 22, more than 24 hours after the Twitter feed was launched, and with more than 12,000 followers already signed up, @TheIranDeal had published exactly 19 tweets. They were all pretty platitudinous, more or less, for example, “Why#IranDeal is a vital step: Problems like sponsoring terror or detaining citizens made more difficult to resolve if Iran acquired a nuke.” As for answering the difficult questions, I saw no evidence of any effort to do so. Two questions I sent them remain, at the time of this writing, unanswered, and dozens of friends and colleagues have told me that they were hearing the same virtual silence.
Maybe the White House is short-staffed. Maybe President Barack Obama’s confidant, Valerie Jarrett, has suddenly decided she doesn’t like the idea. Maybe they don’t know how to answer the difficult questions. I can’t say for sure, but what I do know is this: With @TheIranDeal, the Obama administration has pledged itself to a direct dialogue with the citizens of this country and with the global public at large. So we need to hold them to account and bombard them with questions and comments.
In that light, I modestly offer some suggestions, in no particular order, as to what you all should be raising. There are any number of topics—the lifting of sanctions, the support for terrorism, the Iranian backing for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the weak inspections regime, the woeful human rights situation in Iran—that must be addressed. All you have to remember is to keep your questions within Twitter’s 140-character limit. Oh, and maybe start off with the word “Hey,” since this is now apparently an acceptable addition to the lexicon of political terminology.
Ron Paul: Iran Should Freely Enrich Uranium
Former Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul failed three times running in presidential elections; now it remains to be seen if his candidly anti-American and pro-Iranian statements Monday will affect the current campaign of his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
Ron Paul - who has called to cut American defense aid to Israel and criticized America as being "one-sided" in favor of Israel as opposed to the Hamas-run Gaza - strongly backed the Iran deal in a column on the website of his Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity on Monday.
"It is unfortunate that Iran was forced to give up some of its sovereignty to allow restrictions on a nuclear energy program that was never found to be in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty," wrote Paul. "But if the net result is the end of sanctions and at least a temporary reprieve from the constant neocon demands for attack, there is much to cheer in the agreement."
The statement comes despite the fact that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated in numerous reports that Iran apparently conducted nuclear weapons testing at its covert military sites, sites which Iran reiterated on Tuesday it won't let international inspectors visit, and which are ignored in the deal.
Report: China to Build Two More Nuclear Plants in Iran Following Landmark Deal
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, announced on Wednesday that China will likely construct two new nuclear power plants in the country, Iran’s semi-official state news agency Fars reported.
“We are in talks with the Chinese over the construction of two 100-MW power plants,” Salehi said, addressing AEOI staff in Tehran.
Salehi also referred to another contract signed with Russia to build two additional nuclear power plants, noting that, “God willing, the construction work will start this year.” Salehi expressed hope that the four nuclear power plants would start operations within the next 3 to 4 years.
Addressing the nuclear negotiations that led to Iran signing a deal with the P5+1 countries last week, Salehi said that the world powers, “failed to materialize all their objectives, at least in technical aspects.”
Salehi’s remarks are not the first time the AEOI has mentioned cooperation with China in building nuclear facilities in Iran.
Iran Vows to Buy Weapons Anytime, Anywhere
A senior Iranian official who led the negotiations with world powers that led to the recent nuclear deal said that the Islamic Republic will continue to import and export arms freely across the globe without restriction, according to recent comments flagged by the CIA’s Open Source Center.
Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said that he insisted during the negotiations that Iran be able to purchase and ship military hardware at any time and from any place, according to the comments made on state-controlled television.
Araghchi vowed “to buy weapons from wherever possible, and [said that Iran] is to provide weapons to whomever and whenever it considers appropriate,” according to a translation of his comments made by the Open Source Center.
The issue of Iran’s ability to purchase and move arms has emerged as a key concern among critics of the Obama administration’s deal. As part of the agreement, Iran will allowed to import and export weapons.
Araghchi claimed that the deal goes further. Iran will not adhere to any current restrictions of its arms trade, he said.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman backs Israel over Iran nuclear deal concerns
King Salman, who inherited the Saudi throne in January, expressed doubt about the nuclear deal's verification process, as well as questioning the "snap-back" mechanism for re-imposing sanctions if Iran violated its terms, Mr Carter told reporters.
"Those are the same issues that we know will arise" during the agreement's implementation, said the defence secretary, who also announced that the king had been invited to Washington to meet Mr Obama.
Saudi Arabia's Sunni leadership regards mainly Shia Iran as its main regional adversary. The two countries are directly opposed in armed conflicts in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.
Mr Netanyahu has alluded to Saudi concerns in his repeated denunciations of the deal, which he amplified on Wednesday in a speech to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, honouring Matteo Renzi, the visiting Italian prime minister.
"In Israel and in many countries in the Middle East, there is broad agreement – this is a bad agreement that must be opposed," he said.
Saudi Press: We Must Have A Military Nuclear Program Within A Decade
Following the July 14, 2015 announcement in Vienna of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Saudi press featured numerous articles openly calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to use the coming decade – the time frame of the JCPOA – to develop their own military nuclear program, against the nuclear threat that they say Iran will constitute after the agreement expires.
There have already been calls for a clandestine Saudi nuclear program to parallel Iran's, which were backed up by official Saudi sources. For example, the month before the announcement of the JCPOA, Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. Emir Muhammad bin Nawwaf bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Saud told the Daily Telegraph that if the upcoming nuclear agreement with Iran did not include a serious Iranian commitment to refrain from developing nuclear weapons, then as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, "all options are on the table." He emphasized that over the years, his country had opposed the development of nuclear weapons, but that Iran's policy on the issue "has changed the whole outlook in the region."
Emir Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., made similar statements, on a number of occasions. In April 2014, at a security conference in Bahrain, Al-Faisal called on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to acquire nuclear knowledge to deal with the Iranian danger. The previous year, at the 2013 Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference, he threatened that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, the GCC would consider acquiring its own "nuclear deterrent."
Honest Reporting: When Anonymous Washington Sources Sling Mud At Israel
On it’s own, this briefing should not have been published as is. Due diligence on Haaretz’s part would mean finding someone in Washington willing to talk on record, and right of response from Jerusalem. In the absence of that, this briefing should’ve been filed away as background info for the Haaretz staff.
Due diligence on Haaretz’s part would also mean questioning these anonymous officials. Israel doesn’t prefer war. Israelis neither seek nor expect Iran’s utter capitulation. And despite the “best deal we could get” talking points, there was an alternative. Here’s what a good Iran deal would look like.
Our “senior administration officials in Washington” trying to discredit Israeli concerns while plugging the Iran deal chose well in Haaretz. Recent staff editorials have called the deal “an incredible diplomatic achievement,” while dismissing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s objections as “hysteria.”
That’s out of touch with the Israeli mainstream. Israeli public opinion polls have found 71 percent believe the deal brings Iran closer to a nuclear bomb, 51 percent would bypass Obama to defeat the accord, and 47 percent support independent Israeli military action against Iran.
Iranian Textbooks Teach War Against US, West
Iranian school textbooks, like those of other nations, imbue youngsters with their countries' most important values. In Iran, studies show, this means apocalyptic war and victory over the USA and the West.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs who served in the past as liaison between Israel and the U.S. Congress, notes this sample: In a 12th grade textbook entitled The Qur'an and Life, p. 125, Iranian high school seniors learn of the Ayatollahs' sublime goal: the battle against the USA and other "arrogant oppressors of the world," led by "idolatrous devils" – a battle that is already raging throughout the world, awaiting the students' sacrifice.
Iranian affairs expert Prof. Eldad Pardo of Hebrew University in Jerusalem has researched Iran's school textbooks over the last 10 years. He published a report this past May for the Institute of Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), in which he wrote, "Iran has created a war curriculum to prepare an entire generation for global war, based on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's vision of collective martyrdom… The battle between the new Islamic (Iranian) civilization and the evil Western civilization is seen as one between good and evil, and is being waged on a global scale…. The school textbooks prepare the Iranian people for a constant state of emergency, requiring Iranians to foment revolutions throughout the world…"
Ettinger calls upon the US Congress to hold hearings on this educational phenomenon, especially considering that "school textbooks are considered by the Ayatollahs a critical means to mobilize the youth, charting the roadmap to the final military victory over the infidel USA and the West. Hence, the crucial relevance of school textbooks to the Congressional debate on" the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Washington Post seeks UN help to free journalist in Iran
The Washington Post, stymied in its efforts to win the release of journalist Jason Rezaian from Iran, has filed an urgent petition asking help from a United Nations agency.
Rezaian was arrested over a year ago and has been held for months without charges in Iran’s Evin Prison.
In a statement released Wednesday, Post Executive Editor Martin Baron says, “Every aspect of this case — his incarceration, his trial, the conditions of his imprisonment — has been a disgraceful violation of human rights. And it violates common decency.”
Secretary of State John Kerry has said US officials raised the issue of captive Americans with Iran persistently during recent nuclear talks, but to no avail.
The Post petition was filed with a UN working group that focuses on unlawful detentions.
Hundreds of Iranian teachers arrested amid protest
More than 200 teachers were arrested on Wednesday during a protest outside the parliament in Tehran demanding the release of their colleagues from jail, an activist group said.
Authorities launched a crackdown after over 2,000 teachers from across Iran gathered outside parliament carrying placards and chanting “Free those arrested,” the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran dissident group said.
Anti-riot police on motorbikes roamed the streets and there was a heavy security presence in metro stations, the group of Iranian pro-democracy activists in exile said in a statement.
The NCRI is a coalition of Iranian opposition groups, including the popular People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran [aka MEK], which is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and EU.
White House’s @TheIranDeal Gets Rivals @TheIranBomb and @TheIranMeal
More playfully, @TheIranMeal seems to exist in a universe where the multilateral agreement involved the safe handling of delicious, addictive Persian cuisine.
Instead of targeting current or hopeful government officials, @TheIranMeal caters to journalists and policy wonks focusing on the Middle East. Its voice vaguely echoes Iran’s negotiators, explaining that Iran hates “juice” rather than Jews (it prefers the richer and more exotic treat sharbat) and boasting that President Barack Obama really pushed for the deal in pursuit of “the best gosh darn pistachios on earth.”
Many Iran-watchers gamely played along. Yahoo’s White House correspondent Olivier Knox, for instance, joked that the account would be a handy mediator between the two more serious accounts. @TheIranMeal replied that it would be happy to cater the talks, courtesy of its delivery guy’s “sturdy bike and impressive calves.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation asked @TheIranMeal about the agreement’s effect on enrichment of fesenjan, a dangerously addictive meat stew whose ingredients include ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup. The account responded that the IAEA (not the International Atomic Energy Agency but the “International Awesome Eats Agency”) would be “strictly monitoring pomegranate supply chains.”

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