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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Obama’s Deal with Iran Ushers in New Age of Middle East Insecurity

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Back in 2010, I interviewed Gerard Araud, who is now the French ambassador in Washington, while he was still serving as France’s envoy to the United Nations in New York. We talked at length about Iran, and this was the first thing he told me:

The Iranian nuclear program has no civilian explanation whatsoever. You don’t start a civilian nuclear program by enriching uranium. It’s like if you buy the gas before the car.

Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany) world powers last week announced that a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program has been reached.

In the days prior, as I watched the Iran nuclear negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne slide past an agreed deadline of midnight on March 31 into, appropriately, April Fools’ Day, it struck me that nothing had changed since Araud—who remains a trenchant critic of American concessions to Iran—uttered those words five years ago.

The Iranian nuclear program was never about the civilian use of nuclear energy. It was, and remains, geared towards the production of a nuclear weapon—hence all the lies and deceit practiced by the Iranian regime over more than a decade, and hence the succession of U.N. Security Council resolutions and anxious International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports underlining how Iran’s nuclear activities do not comport with those associated with a civilian program.

In fact, the glaring unresolved issues that held up the negotiations in Lausanne reflect this fundamental state of affairs, reinforcing the perception that the Obama administration will concede on almost anything in order to secure a deal. Iran hasn’t disclosed the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its program, and will have even less incentive to do so if sanctions relief is offered regardless.

At the same time, Iran has been told that it can continue operating centrifuges at its underground Fordow facility, thus enabling it to further master the enrichment process. And as for their stockpile of enriched uranium, which the Iranians were supposed to be shipping to their Russian allies for safeguarding, well, apparently they won’t be doing that either.

At best, then, what we have here is a weak deal. The main goal is to carry on talking, as it has been since the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) was agreed between Iran and the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany—the P5+1—in Geneva in November 2013. As the former George W. Bush administration official Michael Doran, arguably the most insightful Iran analyst in the United States, told me last year:

The interim deal is for six months and can be rolled over by mutual consent for another six months and another six months, interminably. The Iranians are very good negotiators, so they will work to string this along for as long as possible.

Because it’s a weak deal, there will inevitably be contradictory interpretations of what has been agreed. The overriding point, though, is that the Iranian regime will enjoy a great deal of leeway, thereby gravely hampering any attempts at verification by outside agencies like the IAEA.

Speaking on a conference call organized this week by The Israel Project, Olli Heinonen, a former IAEA deputy director-general, observed, “You need to know how far [the Iranians] got, which are the important institutions and capabilities so that you pick the right things for the monitoring…By far the best starting point is to have a complete disclosure.”

If the pressure of biting sanctions and the threat of military action didn’t persuade the Iranians of the need for transparency, then a deal that allows them to maintain their nuclear infrastructure with little international oversight will be regarded in Tehran as a strategic victory.

Iran Deal: US and Allies are the Junior Varsity (Little League?)

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

They can’t even coordinate their public descriptions of what the deal entails, that’s how bad it is.

The sort of, kind of nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran makes concrete the previous understanding that U.S. President Barack Obama has been dead wrong about almost every major terrorist threat he has encountered: Al Qaeda is not, as he intoned, “decimated”; ISIS is not a “junior varsity” terrorist network; and Iran is not a partner with whom the west can successfully negotiate.

It looks like the U.S. is the captain of the junior varsity team. And Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will not sugarcoat his assessment.

This “agreement” which is not a deal, is not even the framework of a deal, is, ultimately, an attempt by the Obama administration to rack up at least one foreign policy “achievement” during its tenure.

But that “achievement” confuses an end date to a series of discussions with the attainment of even the modest goals this administration claimed it would reach.

What follows are key details which have been released about the “agreement” reached between the U.S.-dominated allies known as the P5+1 (the junior varsity) and Iran, regarding the latter nation’s nuclear program.

A quick perusal makes clear the U.S. administration’s insistence that  diplomacy would safely ensure Iran would not become a threshold nuclear power was exactly what its critics claimed: a hollow gesture which rewarded Iran with its goal of more time to continue in pursuit of achieving that status. What’s more, the deal which the parties are currently hurtling towards will not only permit but will actually legitimize Iran in its achievement of that status.

CENTRIFUGES

Iran currently has 9,000 operational centrifuges (that is the generally accepted number). The U.S. claims that, under the terms of the new deal, about 3,000 fewer Iranian centrifuges will be operational during the next 10 years, while 5,060 centrifuges will continue enriching uranium during that period.

The U.S. also claims that Iran will not use “advanced” centrifuge models for 10 years, and any development will be in accordance with P5+1 oversight. The Iranians say nuts to that, and will continue doing research and development on advanced centrifuges during the duration of the 10 year period.

Fordow, the uranium enrichment plant built in an underground bunker, will be used for “peaceful purposes.” The U.S. claims that Iran will move two-thirds of its centrifuges out of this facility and will not enrich uranium there for at least 15 years.

In other words, even according to the U.S. version of the facts, and even were one to believe that Iran will strictly adhere to its obligations under this “pre-deal,” Iran gets to continue enriching uranium, thousands of centrifuges will continue spinning, and the underground bunker will have operational centrifuges during the term of the deal.

CURRENTLY ENRICHED URANIUM

The U.S. claims that Iran’s acurrently enriched uranium will be reduced. That is already a three-step default by the allies. Initially, all enriched uranium was to be destroyed. As the result of negotiations the Iranians had allegedly agreed to instead move its already enriched uranium to Russia, where it was to be converted for non-military use.

Instead, the U.S. is reduced to bragging about a mere “reduction” in Iran’s already enriched uranium. And we don’t know what is meant by “reduction” or “neutralization” – another term used in the U.S. fact sheet.

According to a former CIA analyst, “If Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile remains in the country,” and if it is only converted to powder form, which the Obama administration had previously – erroneously – claimed meant it would be neutralized, “Iran will retain the capability to make about eight or more nuclear weapons in about three months.”  Maybe little league rather than junior varsity players more accurately describes Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiating team.

Obama Calls Netanyahu About Nuke Deal

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu, from Air Force One, to update Netanyahu on the terms of the Iran nuclear framework.

Iran Deal – First Thoughts

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Well, there’s no deal, but there is a framework. And what are those secret clauses anyway?

If Iran cheats, the world will know it. And then what?

Personally, I’m wondering how exactly sanctions are going to “snap back” when it’s discovered that Iran is cheating, and US companies are heavily invested in Iran. Just not happening.

Also, quite scary to officially learn that Iran is only 2 to 3 months away from a bomb – I think that’s even less time than Netanyahu thought. Who knows, maybe they have one already, and just have to assemble it.

So the bottom line is, Iran gets to keep their nuke program at a lower setting, and modernize parts of it into modern research facilities with world approval.

They get a massive investment of dollars over the coming years as sanctions get dropped to never be restored again, no matter what Iran violates.

And Iran gets to continue to aggressively take over the Middle East, but this time with more money.

While President Obama is sure we can trust Iran because of some imaginary, non-existent Iranian fatwa against nuclear weapons (a fatwa that allowed the Iranians to get within 2-3 months of having nuclear breakout capability).

Can anyone say “bad deal”?

Iran Toys with Obama and Vows ‘No Agreement Today’

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran declared Thursday “no agreement will be signed today and the six world powers are not due to sign any agreement today” despite P5+1 comments that a deal “is close but elusive.”

Zarif added there might be a joint statement by midnight “if everything goes well.”

Iran has made mincemeat of President Barack Obama’s threat to “walk away” from the negotiations if a framework agreement was night signed by midnight March 31. In the end, the president phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Earnest Moniz to tell them to hang in there if there were signs of progress.

Obama sounded tough in the American media, which said that the president told his representatives in Lausanne to tell Iran they indeed would “walk way” and leave sanctions in place, figuring that threat might make Iran a bit more flexible.

Iran is not that stupid not to figure that Obama would try to play games as Tehran is not twisting him around its little nuclear finger.

The truth was in a statement attributed to an official and reported by The York Times. He said:

They were turning our own deadline against us to see if we would give ground.

Perhaps one day, President Obama will give the orders to Kerry and Moniz to pack their bags and go home, and then maybe Iran will compromise. Or maybe it won’t.

In either case, Iran is making the West sweat it out and lose lots of political points back home, especially in Washington.

If Obama and the other nations in the P5+1 are giving Iran more time to put up or shut up, they won’t look so incredibly naïve if not ignorant, but Iran has a few points in its favor.

The talks have been extended for two days, and if Zarif’s statement of “no agreement” today comes true, the negotiations will drag on into Friday, if not longer.

You don’t have to read Zarif’s lips to understand his mind. He stated loud and clear Thursday:

We have always stated that there could be only ONE agreement which could go into effect at the end of the talks on July 1 if everything goes well.

The capital letters in the word “ONE” were published by the Iranian regime’s Fars News Agency.

Of course, he is playing games. There is nothing he would love more than a framework agreement that is so ambiguous that Iran can put Kerry and his Western partners through the wringer again in June, somewhere around a minute before midnight of a final agreement.

Zarif toyed with everyone with fantastic double talk:

[All issues] more or less resolved, but of course this does not mean that all issues that are to be touched in the final agreement have been specified. We are supposed to reach consensus and the delegations will start working on the text in the near future.

Things might grow difficult when drafting starts; now we believe that problems have almost been resolved.

After assuring everyone that progress is being made, he made out the West to be the real obstacle to a framework agreement, saying that “progress in talks depends on political will, and there has always been a problem with the political will of the opposite party.”

Iran also is playing to the hilt its advantage of conducting task with several delegations. Fars reported, “He [Zarif] said negotiations have become more complicated since several delegations are now meeting each other for bilateral and multilateral talks to discuss ‘their concerns, viewpoints and probably different approaches from both legal and political views.”

Biggest Democratic Foe of Obama on Iran Indicted

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted on Wednesday, April 1. The 61-year old senator has been in public life for more than 40 years.

Menendez was indicted on corruption charges which accuse the senator of actions taken on behalf of a wealthy campaign donor in exchange for expensive vacations and gifts.

The indictment charges Menendez with conspiracy with his friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, eight counts of bribery and other charges, including making false statements.

The indictment states that Menendez made overtures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which claimed Melgen overbilled the government by nearly $9 million. It also claims that Menendez intervened two other times by making inquiries on behalf of Melgen and his friends.

In exchange for taking these actions on behalf of Melgen, Menendez allegedly accepted, among other things, free flights on Melgen’s private jet and vacations at Melgen’s resort home in the Dominican Republic, as well as campaign contributions and contributions to the senator’s legal defense fund.

Menendez said the charges against him are “outrageous.” He claimed that all the claims against him were trumped up by political enemies.

“I’m confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated, and they will be exposed,” Menendez said.

However, the senator will step down from his position as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is from that seat that the New Jersey senator has proven to be particularly irksome to this administration, as Menendez has pushed hard for increased sanctions against Iran throughout the current negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear power program.

Most congressional Democrats have been in lock-step with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, but Senator Menendez has pushed back hard against the administration’s insistence on pursuing an agreement with a wily adversary few believe will ever follow the terms of any deal.

Menendez also opposed Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. The senator is Cuban American.

Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

When the people of Egypt decided to overthrow its (allegedly) democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi through a military coup, the United States was not pleased.

Never mind that Morsi, during his exceptionally short 11-month tenure as president, tore up the old constitution and began replacing it with a strict Islamist document that would hurtle Egypt back through time, negating any progress in the area of human and equal rights.

Nope. Obama and his crowd was not interested in punishing Morsi, an anti-West, anti-modernity Egyptian leader who had attained power through the revolutionary crucible of what was initially believed to be an “Arab spring.”

Instead, the U.S. punished the new democratically-elected leader, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, as his rise to power was via the military. Sisi’s, unlike Morsi’s, was not a pure people’s revolutionary paroxysm and therefore was not embraced. The U.S. punished Egypt for this unacceptable folly by imposing an arms freeze.

But on Tuesday, March 31, the White House announced that it was lifting that arms freeze. The U.S. removed its hold on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M1A1 tank kits, according to the New York Times.

It only took two years, but U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Sisi on Tuesday, informing the Egyptian leader that the $1.3 billion annual military assistance to Egypt would continue, despite the 2013 military coup.

In a Middle East realignment that was not what Obama envisioned nor encouraged, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have become the military counterbalances to Iran’s creeping hegemony in the region.

The Saudi Kingdom has been bombing the Iranian-backed revolutionaries in neighboring Yemen, and Egypt has hinted that it may soon send in ground troops to support the Saudi air campaign.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-stops-punishing-egypt-for-dumping-muslim-brotherhood-prez/2015/04/01/

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