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July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

Five Former Advisers to Obama Publish Warning on Iran Deal

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The proposed deal with Iran to supposedly prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon “falls short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,'” five of President Barack Obama’s former senior advisers said in a public letter.

They published their warning just before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are to meet in Vienna for negotiations to come up with a final agreement by next week, President Obama’s self-imposed deadline.

The ex-advisers are big time sluggers:

Dennis Ross, a semi reformed Oslo Accords architect;

David Petraeus, the former CIA director who once claimed that solving the Palestinian Authority Israel conflict was the key to all Middle East problems;

Robert Einhorn, a former member of the U.S negotiating team with Iran;

James Cartwright, a former vice-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

Gary Samore, a former Obama adviser on nuclear policy.

The letter, published in full below, states:

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The former advisers to President Obama urge him to reinstate a previous condition that Iran come clean on its previous research on nuclear weapons and allow international inspectors at military sites, which the regime in Tehran has repeated over and over the past two months it will not permit.

The letter, which is backed by a larger group that includes former Sen. Joe Lieberman, also calls on President Obama to take steps that would weaken Iran’s influence in the Middle East considering the huge economic boost Tehran would receive with the lifting of sanctions.

“Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran,” the letter states.

A White House sources insisted that a “large part” of the letter is on the same page as the American “negotiating position inside the negotiating room.”

Maybe so and maybe not,, but what about the ‘small’ part?

Here is the entire letter, as posted on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: 

The Iran nuclear deal is not done. Negotiations continue. The target deadline is June 30.  We know much about the emerging agreement. Most of us would have preferred a stronger agreement.

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The agreement does not purport to be a comprehensive strategy towards Iran. It does not address Iran’s support for terrorist organizations (like Hezbollah and Hamas), its interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen (its “regional hegemony”), its ballistic missile arsenal, or its oppression of its own people. The U.S. administration has prioritized negotiations to deal with the nuclear threat, and hopes that an agreement will positively influence Iranian policy in these other areas.

Even granting this policy approach, we fear that the current negotiations, unless concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.

We are united in our view that to maximize its potential for deterring and dissuading Iran from building a nuclear weapon, the emerging nuclear agreement must – in addition to its existing provisions – provide the following:

Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.

Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.

Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.

Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.

Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.

Most importantly, it is vital for the United States to affirm that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from producing sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon – or otherwise acquiring or building one – both during the agreement and after it expires. Precisely because Iran will be left as a nuclear threshold state (and has clearly preserved the option of becoming a nuclear weapon state), the United States must go on record now that it is committed to using all means necessary, including military force, to prevent this.

The President should declare this to be U.S. policy and Congress should formally endorse it. In addition, Congressional review of any agreement should precede any formal action on the agreement in the United Nations.

Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran.

We urge the U.S. administration not to treat June 30 as an “inviolable” deadline. Stay at the negotiating table until a “good” agreement that includes these features is reached. Extend the existing Joint Plan of Action while negotiations continue.

This will freeze Iran’s nuclear activity and international sanctions at current levels. While the United States should extend the Iran Sanctions Act so it does not expire, it should not increase sanctions while negotiations continue. U.S. alternatives to an agreement are unappealing, but Iran’s are worse. It has every incentive to reach an agreement and obtain relief from sanctions and international isolation well in advance of its elections next February. If anyone is to walk out of the negotiations, let it be Iran.

Some argue that any nuclear agreement now simply further empowers bad Iranian behavior. And there is a lot to this argument. This is why we believe that the United States must bolster any agreement by doing more in the region to check Iran and support our traditional friends and allies.

This does not mean major U.S. ground combat operations in the Middle East. But it does mean taking initiatives like the following:

In Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S. Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units (“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.

In Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped. Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.

In Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away from Iran.

Regionally: Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at the expense of our friends and allies.

Collectively, these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed “Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued commitment. And it will help address Israel’s legitimate concerns that a nuclear agreement will validate Iran’s nuclear program, further facilitate its destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when Israel faces the possible erosion of its “qualitative military edge.”

We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns.

Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.

US, World Powers Offering Nuclear Equipment to Iran

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

A secret eight-page document obtained Tuesday and revealed exclusively by The Associated Press shows just how far the U.S. and world powers are willing to go for a nuclear deal with a Iran.

Dated June 19 and entitled “Civil Nuclear Cooperation,” the document appears to make it clear the international delegation is providing everything Iran needs to produce peaceful nuclear power. Among the equipment to be provided are “high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment.”

Also on Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on national state television that Tehran would not agree to a long-term freeze on nuclear development. Nor would he allow international inspectors into military nuclear sites. Finally, he demanded that all sanctions against Iran be lifted immediately upon signing a deal with the U.S. led group of world powers.

In offering cutting-edge light-water nuclear reactors to replace its heavy-water facility at Arak – which if completed can produce several atomic weapons per year – in effect the group appears to call Iran’s bluff. Either it truly wants to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, or not. If Iran turns the offer down, its intentions are clear.

But according to Omri Ceren of The Israel Project, it may not be that simple. “There is no ‘peaceful only.’ All of this stuff can be re-purposed for weapons work,” he wrote in an emailed reply to JewishPress.com.

“As the annex is written right now… this is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program,” he pointed out in a brief prepared for TIP. “It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection.

“Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs,” Ceren contended. “Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.

“As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.”

Despite “Freeze”, Iran Nuke Stockpile Mysteriously Growing

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

How does one translate the phrase “negotiating in good faith” into Persian?

Over the past 18 months, Tehran’s stockpile of enriched uranium – a nuclear fuel – has grown by some 20 percent, eight percent in the past two months alone, as documented last Friday in a report by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned of just such a scenario in his landmark address to the U.S. Congress in March (2015). So this probably comes as no surprise to most Israelis. However, it is making headlines across the United States, since it is seen by some as a direct betrayal by the White House.

The Obama administration had assured the American people that Iran had “frozen” its nuclear development activities while negotiating with U.S.-led world powers over a deal to limit the nuclear program and prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons under President Obama’s watch. Now the talks are in their final month, with the June 30 deadline looming ahead.

Under the terms being negotiated, Iran is to possess only 660 pounds (300 kg) of nuclear fuel, less than that needed to create a nuclear weapon, once the deal is signed. The rest of its nuclear fuel stockpile is to be removed — either shipped out, transformed or otherwise destroyed.

But Tehran made it clear as far back as March that Iran has no intention of shipping the remaining 96% of its nuclear fuel out of the country. Nor has it proposed any other solution to the dilemma. This raises a rather curious question about the disposal of Iran’s mysteriously growing stockpile.

American officials don’t actually know how Iran will comply. As one official told The New York Times, “It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”

It sure is.

One can also question how anyone in the Obama administration could claim that Iran froze its nuclear activities while Tehran has clearly been growing that stockpile – significantly.

The U.S., meanwhile, seems baffled at how an Iranian stockpile that should at least have remained static, could possibly have grown.

Here’s an even bigger problem: Under the terms of the interim agreement signed in March between Iran and the U.S.-led world powers (P5+1), Iran had allegedly been building a “conversion plant” at the Isfahan nuclear complex. There, enriched uranium could be transformed into oxide powder and then into reactor fuel rods, rather than left to become weapons-grade fuel. But they didn’t.

Iran didn’t keep its word. “Iran has failed” to make the conversion, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research group in Washington which reported on the issue in February.

Tehran didn’t keep its end of the bargain – and the deal isn’t even signed yet.

That’s 18 months of nuclear undercover evasion (“cheating”) that the U.S. administration claims to know nothing about. It’s not clear which is more frightening: an American administration so clueless that it truly did NOT know anything about what was happening under the ground in Iranian nuclear plants, or did know and didn’t say, ‘didn’t ask and didn’t tell.’

It is also important to note that Iran will only have to maintain that minimized nuclear fuel stockpile for 15 years. The deal does not address what happens after that.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation has announced they are building a second nuclear reactor in Iran, in addition to the one they built in 2013.

The oil-rich Islamic Republic plans to build 20 such nuclear reactors, allegedly to reduce its dependency on oil.

If only Iran were building settlements instead of enriched uranium – then the Obama administration would put its foot down.

Netanyahu Warns of Increased Iran Aggression in Middle East

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that Iran is stepping up its aggression in the Middle East – and that world powers seem to be deliberately ignoring Tehran’s activities in the region.

In his opening statement to the weekly government cabinet meeting, Netanyahu noted how Iran proudly displayed the recent shipment of the S-300 missiles Tehran received from Russia in a military parade.

“Israel views with utmost gravity the supply of S-300 missiles from Russia to Iran, especially at a time when Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region and around the borders of the State of Israel,” the prime minister said.

“Israel also views with utmost gravity the fact that there is no reference to this aggression in the agreement being made between the major powers and Iran.

“There is no stipulation that this aggression be halted, whether at the start of the agreement or as a condition for the lifting of sanctions.

“Yesterday we saw the military parade in Tehran and Iran’s exhibition of weapons to the world. Every year the missiles are bigger and enhanced – in accuracy, strength and deadliness; however, one thing does not change.

“What does not change is the inscription ‘Death to Israel’ on the missiles. Against the threats that I have described, Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend the security of the state and its citizens,” Netanyahu added.

Obama: ‘Deal Ensures Iran Won’t Have Nuclear Weapons, Will Keep Israel Safe’

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Leopards do not change their spots and Iran’s radical Islamist government is not likely to stop sponsoring terrorism either. U.S. President Barack Obama apparently does, in fact, know that — he just doesn’t think it’s important enough to stop the U.S. from closing a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Why? Because he says he believes it’s the best way to keep everyone, including Israel, safe.

Actually, Obama believes the world powers led by the United States should close that deal precisely because the Iranian government is not likely to stop sponsoring terrorism. At least, that is the way Obama explained his reasoning in an interview Monday with NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep. In the exclusive interview, he also said Israelis are right not to trust Iran, but that they can always trust America to be there to help protect them.

The interview was focused in its entirety on the issue of the nuclear deal worked out between U.S.-led world powers and Iran last week, and how it affects the rest of the world, particularly Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been especially critical of what he has called, from the start, a ‘bad deal” repeatedly urging the “P5+1” world powers to reconsider, and reformat the agreement into a “different, better deal.”

Netanyahu this week expressed his deep concern over the enhanced ability of Iran to promote its terror agenda with newly-increased funds earned when international sanctions are dropped as a result of the agreement.

But Obama told NPR he believes it is more important to keep the focus on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – via the current agreement – than dealing with anything else Tehran is doing.

“I’ve been very forceful in saying that our differences with Iran don’t change if we make sure that they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.

“They’re still going to be financing Hezbollah, they’re still supporting Assad dropping barrel bombs on children, they are still sending arms to the Houthis in Yemen that have helped destabilize the country.

“There are obvious differences in how we are approaching fighting ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq, despite the fact that there’s a common enemy there.

“So there’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran — and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime.

“But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment,” he said.

“The — I want to return to this point. We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons precisely because we can’t bank on the nature of the regime changing. That’s exactly why we don’t want [Iran] to have nuclear weapons. If suddenly Iran transformed itself into Germany or Sweden or France, there would be a different set of conversations about their nuclear infrastructure.

“So, you know, the key here is not to somehow expect that Iran changes — although it is something that may end up being an important byproduct of this deal — but rather it is to make sure that we have a verifiable deal that takes off the table what would be a game-changer for them if in fact they possess nuclear weapons.

NPR: The demand that’s being made there, of course, underlies a broader concern that Israelis have. You’re suggesting implying through this nuclear that Israel must live another 10 or 15 years and longer with a country that is fundamentally opposed to the existence of Israel. How should Israelis think about Iran in the years to come?

Obama Finally Forced to Admit Iran’s Nuclear Breakout Time ‘Zero’ in 13 Years

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

It took a lot of pressure and many more speeches and harangues by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu than anyone probably wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, it paid off:

U.S. President Barack Obama was finally forced on Tuesday to admit the truth: In 13 years – if not fewer – Iran’s breakout time to an atomic bomb will be zero.

That means the world will have practically no warning whatsoever as to when Iran actually reaches its nuclear weapons capability – if it has not already done so by then, without telling anyone.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Obama told NPR News that for the first decade following the new deal reached last week with world powers led by the United States in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tehran will be capped at 300 kilograms of enriched uranium. The president insisted this was not enough to convert to a cache of weapons-grade fuel.

But then the president said this:

What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

By then, restrictions on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles will have been eased for the two years prior – in Years 11 and 12 – which means there will already have been two years in which to gather enriched nuclear fuel.

The admission confirms just one of a long list of concerns that Israel’s prime minister had underlined to the U.S. Congress – and to the rest of the world – in his repeated explanations of why “an even greater danger” exists that Iran could “get to the bomb by keeping [this] deal.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday issued a government statement outlining “the irresponsible concessions given to Iran” in the agreement. The document also showed “how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the world.”

Among the changes demanded by Israel to the current agreement between Iran and world powers prior to the June 30 final deadline (which the United States has ignored):

  • Bar further Iranian research and development on advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges;
  • Significantly reduce the number of centrifuges available to Iran for it to reactivate in violation of the deal;
  • Close down the Fordow underground enrichment facility;
  • Require Iranian compliance in detailing previous nuclear activities with potential military dimensions;
  • Ship Iran’s stockpile of lower-enriched uranium out of the country;
  • Ensure “anywhere-anytime” spot inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The document (click here for the PDF file) also made clear – as has Netanyahu, repeatedly in statements to the media – that the current agreement “ignores the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program to Israel.” The prime minister emphasized that a “better deal” can and must be reached with Iran, “an enemy of the United States whose regime, even during the negotiations, continued to conduct aggression in the region and to call for the destruction of Israel.”

The document pointedly calls attention to the fact that under the current agreement:

  • Not a single nuclear facility will be shut down;
  • Iran is allowed to continued advanced uranium centrifuge enrichment research and development;
  • Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile program development is altogether ignored;
  • Sanctions that could be used to regulate Iran’s compliance are instead removed.

Included in the document are 10 questions aimed at those who negotiated this deal and support its passage into law:

1. Why are sanctions that took years to put in place being removed immediately (as the Iranians claim)? This removes the international community’s primary leverage at the outset of the agreement, and make Iranian compliance less likely.

American Jews Rethink Loyalty to Democratic Party Over Iran Deal

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Jewish leaders in the United States are starting to rethink the instinctive ties the community has had with the Democratic Party from time immemorial.

The change of heart comes in the wake of the deal signed last week with Tehran allowing it to pursue nuclear technology development and research.

Last week, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough met with a group of Jewish Democratic Congress members to discuss the issue. According to a source who was present at the meeting, McDonough was told that to help “sell a very unpopular deal to our constituents…” President Barack Obama would have to “increase his popularity with our constituents,” Fox News reported.

He was also advised to suggest the president tone down his war with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – or at least avoid “getting into a daily argument” with him, as one person at the meeting reportedly put it.

Bottom line, however, was that the Democratic party is losing its credibility with Jewish voters, and their leaders as well, because Jewish concerns do not seems to be as important as America’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Given the fact that the deal constitutes an existential threat to the State of Israel – and that U.S. leaders are refusing to add a condition that Iran also “recognize Israel’s right to exist,” the loss of Jewish support is no surprise to anyone with a brain.

Republicans will work hard to transform this into new Jewish support for the GOP in the 2016 presidential race, but their ability to recruit the group to the ranks of conservatives has yet to be determined.

Israel’s security cabinet last week unanimously voted to oppose the deal, which does not dismantle Iran’s nuclear technology program, nor does it adequately enforce limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment activities.

Israel is not the only country is the Middle East made uneasy by the agreement: Saudi Arabia is outraged, as are a number of other Gulf nations. So are Lebanese and moderate Syrian opposition forces, who contend the deal opens the door for a flood of new funding from Iran to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Approximately $150 billion in Iranian funds is likely to be unfrozen shortly, according to Syrian coalition representative in exile, Monzer Akbik. “This will help Assad a lot,” he told The New York Times.

Syrian activist Aboud Dandachi, currently living in Istanbul, also made his disgust clear: “Set up a theocracy in Idlib, fund terror groups worldwide & then Obama will give you your heart’s desire,” he tweeted last week.

And then there’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which wields heavy influence and control in Lebanon and Damascus.

Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps are also fighting alongside the Syrian government troops to crush moderate Islamist opposition forces. Oddly, they have done little to fight back against radical Islamist groups such as Al Qaeda-backed Jabhat al-Nusra, and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as Daesh or ISIS.

In Yemen, Iran is strongly backing Houthi rebels who destroyed that country’s legitimate government and now are dismantling the rest of its capital and other cities.

But closer to home – for Israel, anyway – Iran long ago armed Gaza terrorist groups to the teeth. Now Tehran has committed itself to arming jihadist groups in the West Bank as well, stating last week, again, that the annihilation of the State of Israel is “non-negotiable.”

Given Iran’s commitment and its new freedom to continue to develop nuclear technology, Jews in America have good reason to re-evaluate their loyalty to a political party with little interest in their own concerns.

Have they awakened too late? It’s too soon to say.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/american-jews-rethink-loyalty-to-democratic-party-over-iran-deal/2015/04/05/

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