web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Senate Passes Bill that Puts Armlock on Obama Making a ‘Bad Deal’

Friday, May 8th, 2015

The Senate voted 98-1 Thursday to limit President Barack Obama’s ability to make a “bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear program.

The lone opponent was Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill into law, which President Obama will sign after having originally threatened to veto any bill that gives the Congress the right to review a final deal with Iran.

The bill, unless it is amended, gives Congress 30 days to review the deal, a change from the original 60-day review period that was proposed until Democrats forced a compromise that also blocked amendments that would make a deal with Iran impossible. One of the most explosive proposed amendments called for Iran to recognize Israel as a condition to an agreement on limiting and supervising its nuclear development.

Most significantly, the bill prevents Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran until the end of the 30-day review period, assuming Congress does not scotch the deal. President Obama would have the power to veto a Congressional rejection.

Iran has not yet reacted to the passage of the bill in the Senate. It has been adamant in demanding that all sanctions be lifted immediately when a deal is signed, which won’t happen once President Obama signs the bill into law.

 

“This bill as drafted will provide some political cover to Senate Democrats to say they have voted to provide strict scrutiny and congressional approval of an Iran deal,” Texas Republican Ted Cruz said in the Senate this week.

He conceded that the bill won’t stop a deal, “no matter how terrible it is,” but the political fallout from a Congressional rejection and a presidential veto would be explosive, especially when taking into account that the campaigns for presidential nominees are underway.

 

North Korea Will Nuke US If It ‘Forces Our Hand’

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

A senior North Korean official told CNN Thursday that the country will use a nuclear weapon to strike the American mainland if the United States “forced their hand.”

The rare interview was conducted with Park Yong Chol, deputy director of the regime-linked DPRK think thank called the Institute for Research into National Reunification.

Park said North Korea needs to continue developing its nuclear arsenal, which he said can hit American soil, to “counter the U.S. threat.”

When questioned about” human rights abuses in North Korea, Park fired back, “The U.S. President and other high-ranking administration officials have acknowledged really severe forms of punishment on inmates in detention. If you talk about human rights in the DPRK, we will talk about human rights in the U.S.”

Park’s threat to use nuclear weapons if the United States “forced its hands” is particularly worrisome because of the country’s close links with Iran and Tehran’s development of a nuclear warhead. North Korea has provided technologies to Iran, and an alleged Israeli strike on a nuclear facility under construction in northern Syria four years ago killed several North Korean scientists.

Park’s claim that North Korea can nuke the United States is not accepted by many American officials, but there is no questioning the threat to U.S. bases in South Korea.

The Breaking Defense website reported that former Pentagon strategist Van Jackson said that American missile defenses in the Pacific are “woefully outgunned” and that Patriot launchers and Navy ships could not defend American bases.

Diplomacy with North Korea not only has failed but also has allowed it to become a nuclear power.

Given North Korea’s close ties with Iran, it is far from certain that the Obama administration is not repeating the same scenario with its negotiations with the Islamic Republic over the future of its nuclear program.

Dozens Killed in Strategic Syrian Qalamoun Battles

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Arab sources report that dozens of combatants from both Hezbollah and Free Syrian Army/Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Rebels) have been killed in ongoing fierce fighting in the Qalamoun region. The battle has been dubbed “The Spring Battle” by Arab media.

The area, along the Syrian-Lebanon border is strategically critical. It controls the Lebanon-Damascus supply pipelines and is how Hezbollah supports Bashar Assad’s army and regime in Damascus.

If Assad/Hezbollah loses control of the area, Damascus is more likely to fall to the Syrian Rebels. It will also cut off Assad’s Alawite region in northwest Syria from from Damascus too.

Hezbollah believes that if Assad falls, so will they.

Assad is unable to send significant, if any, forces to assist in this battle, and his army is stretched thin in other areas, in particular around Damascus, which is a primary target for the Syrian Rebels.

At the moment, it is believed that the Syrian Rebel forces are winning in the Qalamoun region.

A source close to Hezbollah told Reuters that Nasrallah has deployed 85% of his combat forces to fight in Syria, leaving only 5% of his forces on the border with Israel.

A Lebanese paper claims that 1500 Hezbollah terrorists have been killed since they joined in the fighting in Syrian’s civil war.

The number of senior Hezbollah commanders killed in Qalmoun fighting has risen to six.

US Senate May Vote Thursday on Nuclear Review Bill

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

The U.S. Senate may vote as early as Thursday to pass the Iran nuclear review bill, according to Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN).

Corker told reporters at a briefing at the Capitol building Tuesday he believes there will be an “overwhelming” vote to pass the bill.

Senate leaders are still trying to work out a way to consider at least some amendments to the bill, said Corker.

As of last week, more than 66 amendments to the bill had been submitted by various lawmakers for consideration.

Meanwhile, world powers led by the U.S. return next week to continue talks with Iran, this time in Vienna.

Talks at this point will be held among diplomats at the level just below foreign ministers, starting next Tuesday, with the negotiations to end on Friday.

The U.S. is expecting to wrap up talks on how to limit Iran’s nuclear development technology by June 30.

Iran is still insisting the international community lift all sanctions imposed on Tehran immediately when the document is signed.

US Navy Begins Escorting UK Ships in Strait of Hormuz

Monday, May 4th, 2015

The United States has added vessels from Britain to the list of ships to be given protection in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Navy warships have already begun to provide an escort to UK-flagged vessels as they sail through the Strait, said Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Warren told reporters at a briefing on Monday the Navy has escorted one British ship through the strait so far.

The decision followed a discussion between London and Washington over the security status in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. vessels have been under escort protection of the Navy since April 28, 2015, when Iran seized the M/V Maersk Tigris. The Maersk, a Danish ship, was flagged under the Marshall Islands at the time it was captured.

The United States is obligated to defend vessels flagged under the Marshall Islands according to a mutual defense treaty between the two countries. The 34 sailors who were aboard the captured vessel were last heard from about 24 hours after the seizure, and said they were in good condition but were being confined to quarters. They have not been heard from since, nor has there been any independent confirmation of their whereabouts or condition following that contact.

UN Peacekeepers Wounded by Syrian Shelling — Will UN Probe This One?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Two members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were hit by mortar fire Monday in the Golan Heights in Israel in what was allegedly a “spillover” attack on their base from Syria.

One of the two was taken to a hospital in serious but stable condition. The second, a female soldier, was treated at the scene. She is in good condition, the Hebrew-language Ynet site reported. Both were stationed in their base on the Israeli side of the border with Syria at the time of the attack. There has been no confirmation of the above information from the IDF Spokesperson, who issued a terse statement saying only that two UNDOF soldiers were slightly wounded in a “spillover” attack on their base from the Syrian civil war across the border in the Golan Heights.

(Ed. Note: The UNDOF force is comprised of some 800 soldiers from the Republic of Ireland, Fiji, India, Nepal and the Netherlands. It has been monitoring the cease-fire line that separates Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights since 1974. Israel won the territory after a defensive battle with Syria in 1967, and was forced to defend in again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was subsequently annexed by Israel.)

According to military sources, the mortar fire was launched from Syria. But it is not clear who fired the two shells.

They could have been launched by a number of terror organizations or the Free Syrian Army which whom the revolt began. It is also possible they were fired by the government troops fighting to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.

Likewise, it is possible the mortar fire came from Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps troops, who have been fighting alongside Assad’s troops for years, together with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror guerrillas from Lebanon.

The undisputed fact is that this is not the first time mortars have been fired across the border on the Golan Heights. This time IDF designated the area a “closed military zone” following the attack – even though the IDF again determined it to be another “spillover” from the four-year-long Syrian civil war.

UNDOF transferred its Golan Heights base last year across the border from Syria to Israel due safety concerns. Irish soldiers serving in the force say “It’s a unique mission; danger lurks around every bend,” according to a report posted Monday in the Irish Times.

In that, UNDOF soldiers are facing circumstances similar to those of their colleagues in UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) and the former European Union monitors at the Rafa border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

That is, when things get a little too hot, they acknowledge the danger and back down – fast.

In this case, they were allowed to move their base to the Israeli side of the border, but today’s attack on the base — “errant mortar fire” — proves such a move is no sinecure.

This past January – just a couple of weeks after the Paris terrorist massacres, in fact – a UNIFIL unit got caught in the crossfire when Hezbollah terrorists attacked an Israeli civilian convoy with a military escort traveling along a road a few kilometers from the northern border.

Hezbollah fired six missiles at the convoy from a position three kilometers deep into southern Lebanese territory in the cross-border attack. The convoy was traveling on a road also deep into Israeli territory.

Two IDF soldiers and a civilian died; several others were wounded. A home in an Israeli Druze village took a direct hit and went up in flames; it was completely destroyed and most of the residents were badly traumatized.

State Dept.: Iran ‘Hoodwinked Countries but This Time It’s Different

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

An assistant Secretary of State has said that Iran “hoodwinked” Latin American countries and did not honor agreements, but Foggy Bottom says nuclear talks are a separate issue, so don’t worry.

Following are remarks from Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere to retirees on Foreign Service Day Friday:

The involvement of Iran in the Western Hemisphere is never benign. I want to underscore that: it is never benign. Iran signed an enormous number of agreements with countries in the region, almost none of which have come to any real fruition or benefit for those – for the countries of the hemisphere….

I do think that there are fewer countries that get kind of – that kind of get hoodwinked by Iran.

She also said that economic sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for it to follow through with several agreements and that Iran’s desire to be a greater influence in the West requires close monitoring.

First of all, sanctions work. Second of all, Iran cannot be trusted.

The third statement would seem to be that the United States cannot trust Iran to honor an agreement on its nuclear activity and should not lift sanctions, but the State Dept. differs.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked State Dept. spokesman Jeff Rathke on Friday to explain otherwise, and here is how he tried to wiggle out of Logic 101:

That is a separate issue from the nuclear talks which are focused on Iran’s nuclear program…: I think there’s a difference between the types of agreements you’re talking about.  You’re referring to agreements …on economic cooperation and other such things.

What we’re talking about in the nuclear context is, first of all, a situation where there is a unified international community where there are international sanctions, a wide variety of them, UN sanctions, United States sanctions, European Union sanctions, as well as others, that put pressure on Iran and also that make it in Iran’s interest to deal with those sanctions and to negotiate on the nuclear program.

And how about the billions of dollars that would flow into Iran’s coffers when sanctions are lifted in return for a deal? “Are you not concerned at all that what you don’t see now in terms of a growing Iranian threat in the Western Hemisphere will become a concern if Iran suddenly has a windfall of billions and billions of dollars in money? Lee asked.

No problem, Rathke answered.

“We have separate ways of dealing with other problematic behavior by Iran, whether it’s in regional context, whether it’s support for terrorism, and so forth.  So that’s why we’re focused on the nuclear issue.  And if Iran meets all of its required steps under an eventual joint comprehensive plan of action, then the world will be a safer place because of it.” he said.

Note the two-letter word “if.”

But didn’t Asst. Sec. of State Jacobson say Iran’s presence in the west is “never benign”? So this time it will be different?

“Well,” Rathke said, “we remain concerned about those – about Iran’s activities and we will remain vigilant about them and we retain the tools to deal with them.”

Vice-President Joe Biden is very concerned, or at least that is what he said last week to a Washington think tank, to wit:

“Despite good reasons to think that most of it [money] will go to urgent domestic needs, some or all of it may fund further mischief in the region.”

Rathke reiterated “we are vigilant.”

Therefore, so the “logic” goes, Obama won’t get hoodwinked.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-iran-hoodwinked-countries-but-this-time-its-different/2015/05/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: