Monday, January 24, 2022

From Ian:

Jonathan Tobin: 'Stolen land' myth doesn't stand the test of reality
One of the tragicomic if all too prevalent customs of contemporary woke corporate culture is the way many groups and corporations now open meetings with ritual acknowledgments that they are on "stolen land." It involves the convener of the gathering to begin any proceedings by first stating that those speaking are "on the lands" of whatever Native American tribe once lived there as the indigenous inhabitants of the North American continent.

That is part of the context of the claim that the State of Israel was built on "stolen land," a phrase that was used by Hussain Altamimi, one of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's staffers when he smeared it as a "racist-European ethnostate." Unsurprisingly, Altamimi didn't lose his job when this came out. Why would AOC fire someone who reflects the same hatred of the Jewish state that she and other "Squad" colleagues have often expressed?

This is a commonplace myth spread by those who believe in intersectional ideology, which deems the efforts of all oppressed "people of color" to resist the racist oppression of those possessing "white privilege" to be part of one great righteous struggle.

Part of the problem with this facile and toxic idea is that whatever you think the answer to the question about the identity of the rightful owners of the North American continent might be, the notion that Jews are merely "European" or non-indigenous to the Middle East or the land of Israel is a lie.

Unfortunately, individuals who accept and spread that lie are not confined to those who work in the offices of radical members of Congress, even if their bosses are one of the young rock stars of the Democratic Party who are planning on taking it over once the current octogenarian leadership departs.

These myths are widely accepted throughout academia and the mainstream media. They are reflected in the coverage of Israel in which, as one recent article in The New York Times about a Jerusalem property dispute put it, the Jews were accused of trying to "Judaize" their own ancient capital.
How an Israel victory can become a become a win for the region
For many years, one of the more prominent fault lines in the Middle East was perceived as being between the Jewish State and the Arab world. There was an almost facile western understanding that all of the centuries-old conflicts in the region could be seen through the prism of the 100-year conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Land of Israel.

Thankfully, this tired idea of ‘Linkage’ has long been debunked by the realities on the ground.

However, there is a very real fault line in the Middle East that has become even more stark in recent weeks.

The situation in Lebanon where Iran’s proxy Hezbollah is holding a nation hostage to its whims and narrow political and ideological aims is creating new understanding and alliances there. This, coupled, with the recent attacks on the UAE by the Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen, are demonstrating that the Middle East is now divided by the moderates who want a more stable and peaceful future for the region, and those who seek to sew chaos, conflict and bloodshed.

The peace and normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, as well as warming ties around the Sunni world, have demonstrated a historic understanding of the reality that the Israel-Arab conflict is dead.

The result has seen economic, security and cultural agreements between the Jewish State and its neighbors.

Nevertheless, I believe the time is ripe to go even further.
Update on the Abraham Accords

NGO Monitor: Candidates for the UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinians, Biased Candidates for a Biased Mandate
The Special Rapporteur on the “situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” is a UN mechanism that is marred by extreme bias, selectivity, and partiality. In contrast to every other country-specific mandate that must be renewed by the UN Human Rights Council on an annual basis, the Rapporteur is the only indefinite mandate, as noted on OHCHR’s webpage, enduring “until the end of the Israeli occupation.” In addition, it is the only mandate that is manifestly selective and partial, aimed at examining alleged violations by Israel alone. Palestinian violations and systematic atrocities committed by the PA and Palestinian terror groups are expressly excluded.

According to the selection criteria for Special Rapporteur, the basic requirements for the role include knowledge of international human rights and humanitarian law, experience in the field of human rights, and credibility in advancing human rights and peace. In addition, under Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, Special Rapporteurs are required to exhibit personal integrity, expertise, independence, impartiality, and objectivity.

In contrast to these stipulations, the position of Special Rapporteur has mainly been filled by individuals with extensive histories of anti-Israel animus and who have used their platform for activism and to promote extreme hostility towards Israel, including boycott campaigns, and antisemitism. Former Rapporteurs John Dugard and Richard Falk, and outgoing Rapporteur Michael Lynk, are responsible for promoting the apartheid slander and BDS, downplaying or erasing Palestinian terrorism, and mislabeling terror-linked NGO officials as “human rights defenders.”

US Ambassador to Israel: ‘The Biden Administration Believes it Must Take Care of the Palestinian People’
I hate to break it to Ambassador Nides, but the “final status” of Jerusalem was decided some 3000 years ago, when it became the center of Jewish life, the place where Jews lived uninterruptedly for thousands of years. There have been updates to the story since, as the city changed rulers, but not its central significance to Jews. The last major change was in 1980, when the modern state of Israel formally annexed all of Jerusalem. Its “status” is not subject to “negotiations between the parties.” Sorry, Mr. Ambassador. No can do.

As for the Biden administration’s support for Israel more broadly, Nides characterized it as “unconditional.”…

“Unconditional”? Not if the Bidenites are willing to violate the Taylor Force Act and provide hundreds of millions of dollars to the P.A. despite its continuing to reward past, and incentivize future, terrorist acts through the “Pay-For-Slay” program that is Mahmoud Abbas’ proudest achievement. Not if it is willing to let the PLO, which has Israeli blood on its hands, reopen an office in Washington.

“Unconditional”? Not If the Biden Administration refuses to admit that Israel has a very strong claim to retain all of Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank), based on Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine, which encourages “close settlement by Jews on the land.” What land? All the land that the League of Nations assigned to the Palestine Mandate for the Jewish National Home. That land extended from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. Have the Bidenites read, and understood what the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine signifies? Are they aware that Article 80 of the U.N. Charter committed the U.N. to fulfill the requirements of any League of Nations mandates still remaining? Does Biden, does Blinken, does Sullivan understand that Resolution 242 of the U.N. Security Council allowed Israel to retain the territory it deems necessary in order to have “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries”? I have an awful feeling that Ambassador Nides has paid no attention to, inter alia, the Mandate for Palestine, the Treaty of San Remo, Article 80 of the U.N Charter, and Resolution 242 of the Security Council. It’s time, Ambassador Nides, for you to hit the books, and burn the midnight oil.

“Some of the conversations are meant to calm your anxiety. If I were Israeli, I would be anxious too. I respect that with all my heart,” Nides said.

They’d be a little less anxious in Israel, Mr. Ambassador, If you’d do the right and handsome thing, and announce that “upon reconsideration, I intend to visit the five settlement blocs that Israelis keep telling me, will remain part of Israel, whatever else may be subject to negotiation. Yes, I’d like to see some things in the West Bank for myself. And I will.”

Impotent rage from the rais in Ramallah, feeling betrayed. Quiet satisfaction in Jerusalem. A highly desirable denouement.
MEMRI: Articles In Emirati, Saudi Media: Biden's Feeble Iran Policy Is Reason For Houthi Attacks On Us; Biden May Repeat Deadly Mistake Of Obama Administration, Turn Iran Into Nuclear Power
On January 17, 2022, the Houthi rebels in Yemen fired drones and missiles at Abu Dhabi airport, killing three people and causing extensive damage. In response to this attack and the continued Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, the Saudi and Emirati media published many articles that sharply criticized the Biden administration, accusing it of adopting a feeble policy vis-à-vis Iran and the Houthis. The authors of the articles, including senior journalists and newspaper editors, accused the Biden administration of taking a weak stance towards Iran and of "courting" and "chasing" it to sign a new nuclear agreement, which, they said, will eventually enable this country to attain nuclear weapons. This weakness, they added, and Biden's insistence on employing diplomacy vis-à-vis Iran and his refusal to threaten military action against it, encourage Iran and its proxies in the region to exacerbate their aggression.

America's silence in the face of the situation in Yemen, stated the articles, is tantamount to abandoning and betraying its allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Condemning Biden's decision at the beginning of his term to remove the Houthis from the list or terrorist organizations, and stating that this is one of the reasons for their exacerbation of their attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the writers called on the Biden administration to rectify this mistake by redesignating the Houthis as terrorist.

The following are excerpts from some of these articles:

Editor of Emirati Daily: U.S. Refusal To Threaten Military Action Is Encouraging Iran To Continue Its Rogue Policies

Karam Na'ama, editor of the London-based Emirati daily Al-Arab, wrote on January 18, 2022 under the headline "­There Are 40,000 U.S. Troops [Here], Yet There Is No War in the Region": "According to the data that has been published, there are 40,000 U.S. troops in the Arab countries of the East Mediterranean, in Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. There is also ongoing activity in the U.S. airbase in Jordan, to which forces previously stationed in Saudi Arabia have been transferred. In Iraq, 2,500 U.S. troops still remain, and 900 troops are deployed in northeastern Syria and in the Al-Tanf base near the Iraqi and Jordanian border…

"Yet nobody in the Pentagon is discussing [the option of] war in the Iranian context, despite all the Israeli pressure to threaten such a war. This [U.S. approach] is part of a 40-year policy that reflects the Americans' ignorance regarding the essence of the Iranian theocracy. [This approach] cannot be ascribed [solely] to the failure of Donald Trump or to the weakness of Joe Biden…

"The American refusal to beat the drums of war encourages Iran to continue its rogue behavior… which deepens the concern of Washington's strategic allies, chiefly Saudi Arabia, regarding the ongoing Iranian hegemony over countries in the region…
Plot Twist in the Sordid Mass Murder Scandal Rocking Argentina
Nisman’s death enraged Argentinians. On Feb. 18, 2015, almost half a million Argentinians led by a phalanx of fellow federal prosecutors marched in the torrential rain to demand justice. Seven years later, Nisman’s public life and work have been all but erased.

Damian Pachter, the journalist who broke the story of Nisman’s death, who was hounded out of Argentina days later following threats made by the Kirchner government, told The Daily Beast that the “only conclusion I see is that they won, above all by planting the seed of doubt in the mind of the general public, reinforced by a co-opted judicial system that adapts to the political interests of the day.”

With the Argentine economy in shambles, and the country once again sliding towards failed state status, Pachter told The Daily Beast that “after seven years it is too late, but this case reveals the old Argentine reality: a country plagued by corruption in which whoever holds power does practically what they want.”

Argentina, under the leadership of Fernández and Kirchner, appears sanguine about the AMIA bombing, which Nisman was appointed to investigate in 2004. Last week, Daniel Capitanich, Argentina’s ambassador to Nicaragua, attended the fourth inauguration of President Daniel Ortega alongside Iranian Vice President Rezaee.

Argentina, Wolff said, “is difficult to explain… It’s a country in which you come back after a month and everything has changed, but you come back after 20 years and nothing has changed.”

“The people voted in an illicit association,” he said of the current government, adding that no progress has been made since Nisman’s killing “because when the executive sullies the site of the crime, everyone ends up writing their own tango.”

Sergio Berni, the nation’s intelligence chief, presented Nisman’s mother Sarah his condolences “before he was informed whether Nisman was alive or dead,” recalled former parliamentarian Jorge Enriquez in a Thursday radio interview about what he called “the unpunished deed that shames us Argentines.”

Today, Nisman’s family appears to be turning away from the public spotlight. His daughters are on summer vacation and his mother did not attend a march late Tuesday night, organized to mark seven years since his murder.
Seth Franzman: Houthis second missile attack on the UAE: The new normal?
The ability of the Iran-backed Houthis to stop air traffic at a major international airport is important. It shows their growing threat and range. They are graduating to a major regional threat and Iranian proxy.

Much as Hezbollah became an international threat, with tentacles stretching to South America and Africa, the Houthis have been put on steroids by Iran’s backing. They receive technology such as drones and missiles. The Iranians use them as a test bed for new drone and missile technology. They give Iran influence over the Red Sea, where Iran has sent IRGC spy ships.

In addition, Iran has posted key IRGC officials to Yemen. A top Iran diplomat, who was likely also an IRGC adviser to the Houthis, died of COVID in December after serving in Yemen.

Iranian technology being tested on UAE
Monday’s attack also came a day after Israel’s foreign minister and science and technology minister announced a hi-tech investment fund with the UAE. The Israeli initiative envisions a “binational industrial R&D fund with the UAE, which will support requests for joint activities between Israeli and Emirati companies,” the ministries said in a joint statement. “The fund’s support will enable access to international resources, knowledge, technology and infrastructure that currently do not exist in Israel and will also enable assistance to Israeli companies through recruitment of local partners, compliance with foreign regulations and the creation of marketing, economic or business advantages.”

Iranian media reports have often said the Houthis are waging a war not only against Saudi Arabia and now the UAE but also are part of the broader Iranian “resistance” against the US and Israel. In January 2021, reports said Iran had sent the Shahed-136 drone to Yemen. The drone has a range of some 2,000 km. and could reach Israel.

Israel has expressed solidarity with the UAE in the face of the attacks. However, the overall context of Tehran’s expansion of the Houthi war to the skies of Abu Dhabi shows how the Iranian threat to the region is rapidly growing to include a hand in attacks across an arc of some 3,000 km. from Lebanon to the Gulf. “Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a passion for the development of advanced technologies, which will improve quality of life, the environment and the economy,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday. While Israel and the UAE want to invest in technology to improve the quality of life, Iran’s message is that it can seek to destabilize the quality of life throughout the region.

The Houthis Must Be Relisted as a Terrorist Group
Attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the poverty-stricken people of Yemen appear to have been blocked by the Houthis themselves, as well as by the United States, which has withdrawn support for Saudi Arabia, while giving the Houthis a free pass.

The Houthi strategy, it appears, is to use the dire living situation of the civilians under its control as a shield to get what it wants, such as being removed from the terrorist list and continuing its terror activities without facing any consequences.

If the Biden administration surrenders to this strategy, not only will the terror group feel that it has won, it will also be empowered to ratchet up its violence, crimes, and drone and missile attacks.

A surrender to this form of extortion will also set precedent for other terrorist groups or countries to deprive their populations of humanitarian aid, and hold them as hostages while they blackmail the US and the international community into handing them as a ransom whatever they dream up -- in addition to continuing their terrorist activities without any consequences.

The United States can, as it is doing with Iran, re-list the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and allow the export of humanitarian goods to Yemen -- if the Houthis even permit. If they do not, it is all the more reason to hold them accountable even more harshly rather than reward them.
UAE & Saudi Arabia angered over Hamas support of Houthi attacks

1 in 20 Israelis now positive for COVID
Over 83,000 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, the Health Ministry reported Monday.

As of Monday afternoon there were 531,430 active cases in Israel, with 181 more COVID patients hospitalized in serious condition, the ministry reported. As of Monday, there were 814 patients hospitalized in serious condition nationwide, the highest since the fourth COVID wave peaked, but still a lower number than Israel saw during the third wave.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the 415,147 tests processed Sunday came back positive, the highest percentage since the COVID pandemic hit Israel in early 2020.

Thus far, 8,458 Israelis have succumbed to the virus, including four people who died between midnight Sunday and 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. Another 14 COVID patients died on Sunday, after 20 COVID patients died of the virus on Saturday. In the past seven days, 110 Israelis have died of COVID, 80% more than died of the virus in the preceding seven-day period. To compare, the entire month of November 2021 saw 88 COVID deaths, followed by 50 COVID deaths in December 2021.

Meanwhile, 8,340 medical staffers were either sick with COVID or in quarantine, including 1,150 doctors and 2,675 nurses.

Despite the rampant transmission, the reproduction rate of the virus is dropping and on Monday stood at 1.23, meaning each confirmed carrier infects an average of 1.23 other people. When the R umber drops it is generally seen as a sign that the wave might be starting to drop.
IDF to raze five West Bank outpost homes after settler attack
The political Right has charged the IDF with “collective punishment” against Israeli settlers for issuing a demolition order on Monday against five structures in the Givat Ronen outpost in the northern West Bank near Yitzhar, just days Jewish extremists in that area torched a vehicle belonging to left-wing activists.

MK Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party) accused the IDF of exacting vengeance against the outpost because its residents were suspects in the attack. She made use of a parliamentary questioning procedure to demand answers on the matter from Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White).

Her request for an emergency response to the questions was denied, giving Gantz 21 days to provide her with information.

“Will these homes be demolished by then?” she asked on Twitter.

“It depends on the coalition members.”

Struck posted her four questions on Twitter.
- "What is the legal justification” for the demolition order?
- When has a similar action been taken against Palestinians?
- Will this now be the new policy?
- What precedents are there for collective punishment."

She also posted a photograph of a young couple and their infant child who live in one of the structures, noting that the husband was not even in the area at the time of Friday’s attack. The settlers attacked left-wing activists and Palestinian farmers who were planting saplings near the nearby Palestinian village of Burin.
Internal rifts impair ability to counter Iranian, Palestinian threats — think tank
A leading Israeli think tank presented its annual strategic survey to President Isaac Herzog on Monday, arguing that Israel’s increasing domestic rifts hamper its ability to develop an integrated, long-term approach to the major challenges it faces.

Because of this, wrote researchers from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, Israel is failing to “maximize its security, economic, and technological potential in its response to the political, security, and internal challenges.”

The authors of the Strategic Survey for Israel 2022 decried an erosion of trust in Israeli institutions, alongside rising extremism in the country. They specifically identified the weakness of Israel’s police force and the spread of essentially ungoverned regions within Israel, including among Bedouin in the Negev.

“Meanwhile, there are gaps in readiness for multi-front and high casualty war scenarios, or for violent incidents involving Jews and Arabs,” according to the report. “The consequences of these weaknesses are affecting the responses to other national security challenges.”

The INSS study identified Iran and the Palestinians as the other leading threats.

The authors maintained that Iran, Israel’s most serious external threat, currently has the capabilities needed to break out to a nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks, though it has not yet made that decision.

At the same time, Israel is at a “strategic impasse” over Iran, with no apparent good options. A partial arrangement between Iran and the P5+1 powers during ongoing talks in Vienna would leave Israel facing Iranian proxies and the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon in the coming years, while a breakdown of talks would allow Iran to continue progressing toward nuclear weapons capability.
Islamic Jihad glorifies terror: The Beit Lid Massacre
This week in 1995, a bomb exploded at the Beit Lid junction near Netanya, killing 18 soldiers and one civilian.

Ohad Sahar Ha Levi described the scene:
On January 22,1995, as an 18 year old soldier in the paratroops (Force 202), I stood waiting at Beit Lid Junction. A few moments after 9 o’clock am two suicide bombers dressed as soldiers infiltrated the military bus station where hundreds of young soldiers waited to go to their bases. In one last moment, where I remember talking to a fellow soldier, a massive explosion of a suicide bomber ripped all our lives apart. A second attacker exploded a few minutes later as medical personal had already responded to the scene. I cannot explain to you the casualty I saw this day, or what it means to see and feel 22 young soldiers blown apart

The soldiers killed were: Lt. David Ben-Zino, 20, of Ashdod; Lt. Adi Rosen, 20, of Moshav Bitzaron; Lt. Yuval Tuvya, 22, of Jerusalem; Sgt.-Maj. Anan Kadur, 24, of Daliat al-Carmel; Staff-Sgt. Damian Rosovski, 20, of Kadima; Staff-Sgt. Yehiel Sharvit, 21, of Haifa; Staff-Sgt. Yaron Blum, 20, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Maya Kopstein, 19, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Daniel Tzikuashvili, 19, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Avi Salto, 19, of Rishon Lezion; Sgt. Rafael Mizrahi, 19, of Ramat Gan; Sgt. Eran Gueta, 20, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Soli Mizrahi, 18, of Ramat Ramat Gan; Cpl. David Hasson, 18, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Amir Hirschenson, 18, of Jerusalem; Cpl. Gilad Gaon, 18, of Herzliya; Cpl. Ilie Dagan, 18, of Kochav Yair; Cpl. Eitan Peretz, 18, of Nahariya; and Shabtai Mahpud, 34, of Moshav Tnuvot. Moments after the first bomb went off, a second was detonated, in an attempt to kill first responders rushing to the scene.

Lt. Eyal Levy, 20, of Ashdod, and Cpl. Yaniv Weiser, 18, of Givatayim, who were seriously wounded in the attacks, later died of their wounds. Dozens more were seriously wounded.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

On the anniversary of the attack, Islamic Jihad took to social media, bragging of the "heroic martyrdom operation". No regrets, no talk of peace, just raw glorification of violence and terror.

Hizbullah Facing Calls to End Iran's "Occupation" of Lebanon
In Lebanon, the poverty rate has nearly doubled from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021, electricity is on only 2 hours a day, and the national currency has lost 90% of its value.

"More and more people are expressing their discontent openly," said a Shiite woman from the Baalbeck region, a Hizbullah stronghold.

Some 200 political figures, including former ministers and parliamentarians, have established the National Council to Lift the Iranian Occupation of Lebanon.

Ahmad Fatfat, head of the council and former minister, said their goal was to restore Lebanon's sovereignty.
Lebanon’s former PM Saad Hariri quits politics amid deep financial crisis
Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Monday that he was suspending his work in politics and will not run in parliamentary elections scheduled in May. The decision marks the first time in three decades that the powerful Sunni family is out of politics and comes as Lebanon is in the throes of a financial meltdown.

Hariri’s decision came as Saudi Arabia, once his main backer and the country where the Hariri family made much of its fortune, has distanced itself from the 51-year-old politician.

Hariri, a three-time prime minister and current member of parliament, inherited the political leadership from his late father, billionaire businessman Rafik Hariri, who was one of Lebanon’s most powerful and influential politicians after the end of the 1975-90 civil war. The late Hariri was assassinated in February 2005 in a massive truck bomb in Beirut. Afterward, the family chose Saad Hariri to lead the family despite the fact that he has an older brother.

Hariri said he now sees that Lebanon does not have the chance for a positive future with Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon, internal divisions, rising sectarian sentiments and the dysfunction of the state.

Hariri acknowledged he had failed to prevent Lebanon from falling into the worst economic crisis in its modern history. He added that he did all he can to prevent civil war in Lebanon by compromising, an apparent reference to forming governments that included the powerful Hezbollah jihadist group.

Iran talks: Will a deal be reached? Doubtful - INSS report
Iran and world powers are unlikely to reach a deal to resolve the nuclear standoff, a report from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) issued on Monday states.

According to the report, the Islamic Republic feels emboldened by its nuclear achievements, and backing from various countries and will not be willing to return to the deal’s nuclear limits without some sweeteners that are beyond what the US is willing to provide.

The report warns that Israel is not properly mobilizing its various military, diplomatic, economic and technological powers to achieve its national interests based on a clear and coherent strategy.

The report’s authors include INSS executive director Emmanuel Trachtenberg, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel, former national security council chief Meir Ben Shabbat, former IDF intelligence analysis chief Dror Shalom, former Mossad Iran desk chief Sima Shine and many others.

“Tehran represents the most serious external threat to Israel, first and foremost due to Iran’s quest to achieve military nuclear capability,” the report reads.

"Israel’s structural inability to handle on its own all the challenges posed by Iran’s conduct, as well as the growing need to increase coordination with the United States and tighten the special relationship with it – whether or not the agreement is reached between Iran and the great powers on its nuclear program,” it emphasized.
Biden Admin Withholds Secret Iran Agreement From Congress
The Biden administration is withholding a "secret agreement" with Iran from Congress as negotiations over a revamped nuclear deal continue in Vienna, according to two Republican lawmakers.

Reports emerged late Friday that Russia proposed an interim nuclear deal to Iran with the knowledge of U.S. officials. The deal would reportedly lift some sanctions on Iran in exchange for a limited set of restrictions on the country’s nuclear program. Russia offered the deal to Iran on the sidelines of ongoing negotiations in Vienna, according to NBC News, which first reported on the document. Tehran is said to have rejected the interim deal, saying that it prefers a large-scale agreement that will provide it with billions in cash windfalls. Republican lawmakers say details of the agreement are being kept from Congress.

"Russia sent a secret agreement to Iran," Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday during a press call. "Russia is trying to take the lead now in the negotiations with Iran. This is a secret agreement. We haven’t seen it."

The existence of this document indicates that the United States and international partners are eyeing an alternative interim agreement with Iran as efforts to ink a revamped version of the 2015 accord stall due to Iran’s increasingly hardline stance. Republicans in Congress say that, during the past year, the Biden administration has ignored requests for briefings on the status of talks and what a new deal will look like. The Free Beacon first reported last week that the Biden administration is obstructing more than a dozen congressional investigations into the negotiations and sanctions relief.

The Biden administration is required to present any new deal to Congress before it is signed due to a 2015 law, the Iran Nuclear Deal Review Act, that was passed after the Obama administration skirted congressional oversight to sign the original accord.
Iran Rejects Russian Proposal for Interim Nuclear Deal
As part of an effort to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, Russia has discussed a possible interim agreement with Iran in recent weeks that would involve limited sanctions relief in return for reimposing some restrictions on Tehran's nuclear program. Sources said the U.S. is aware of Russia's proposal. The Iran Permanent Mission to the UN said on Friday that Tehran does not want an interim deal. A senior U.S. official said, "we are certain that no such interim arrangement is being seriously discussed."

Under one draft interim agreement that sources said Russia presented to Iran, Tehran would be required to stop enriching uranium up to 60% purity and dispose of its current stockpile, possibly by exporting it to Russia. In exchange, Iran would receive access to billions of dollars in oil revenues frozen in foreign bank accounts, including in South Korea. The proposal had a six-month duration, and stipulates Iran would receive additional sanctions relief for each extension and $10 billion in sanctions relief from unfrozen assets in South Korea, Japan and Iraq.
Iran Rules Out US Prisoner Release as Nuclear Talks Precondition
Iran on Monday ruled out any US preconditions for reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, including the release of American prisoners held by the Islamic Republic while blaming Washington for the slow pace of talks between Tehran and world powers in Vienna.

The lead US nuclear negotiator told Reuters on Sunday the United States was unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran to revive the nuclear pact unless Tehran released four US citizens Washington says it is holding hostage.

“Iran has never accepted any preconditions … The US official’s comments on the release of US prisoners in Iran is for domestic use,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference.

Iran has been in talks with world powers since April to reinstate the deal. In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump had ditched the agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran, prompting Iran to gradually breach limits of the deal on its nuclear program.

But after eight rounds of talks, the thorniest points remain the speed and scope of lifting sanctions on Tehran, including Iran’s demand for a US guarantee of no further punitive steps, and how and when to restore curbs on Iran’s atomic work.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA said earlier on Monday that preconditions set by US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley would slow down the nuclear talks in Vienna.

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