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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

US Denies Conditioning $400 Million Payment on Prisoner Release Was Ransom

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The U.S. State Department continues to insist that a $400 million cash payment airlifted to Iran earlier this year was not a ransom payment for the release of four American hostages but new details initially revealed by The Wall Street Journal beg the point.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, were released January 17. A Jewish prisoner also held hostage — Bob Levinson — somehow was not included in the released. Oddly, the Iranians claim they have no knowledge of his whereabouts. As that was taking place, a separate aircraft had landed in Tehran with the cash. State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday the money was held back until the prisoners were freed.

“In basic English you are saying you wouldn’t give [them] the 400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?” asked a reporter during the briefing on Thursday.

“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

Kirby said negotiations for the return of the money to Iran, which was related to a failed 1979 military equipment deal between the two countries, were separate from the talks about the prisoners. Another $1.3 billion is expected to be paid to Iran in interest on the failed deal.

But Abedini told reporters that he and the other hostages were kept waiting at the airport in Iran for more than 20 hours, and that he was told by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that their departure would depend on the arrival of a second plane.

The State Department has denied these claims.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama likewise insisted the money was not a quid pro quo. “This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” he told journalists during a news conference Aug. 4. “We do not pay ransom for hostages.”

Hana Levi Julian

Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

JNi.Media

ISIS Takes Weapons in US Retreat, But Where Else Are American Arms?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The Amaq media outlet of the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization disseminated photos of American arms this past weekend showing the new military treasure it acquired when U.S. troops who were supporting government soldiers in Afghanistan retreated in the face of terrorist fire during a clash that took place in July.

Among the seized items were a rocket launcher, grenades, machine gun ammunition, an encrypted radio and military identification cards, the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday. One of the identity cards was that of an American soldier, but U.S. officials denied he was taken prisoner and said he was with his unit.

U.S. Brigadier-General Charles Cleveland, deputy chief of staff for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan confirmed the loss, saying the clash had taken place in the eastern province of Nangarhar as American forces were moving a “casualty collection” area. Cleveland said in his statement the soldiers came under “effective enemy fire” and were forced to retreat. “In the course of moving the [casualty collection point] to a safe location, some equipment was left behind. For understandable reasons, the lives of soldiers were not put at risk to recover the equipment,” he said. “The loss of equipment is regrettable but no equipment is worth undue risk to those involved,” Cleveland pointed out. “And we do not expect any measurable operational impact due to the loss.”

This is not the first time that American military hardware and weapons have ended up in hands other than those for whom they were intended.

Weapons that were sent to Syrian opposition forces via Jordan last year by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia were reported stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives, according to an investigative report by the New York Times.

Instead, they ended up in the hands of arms merchants who sold them to the highest bidders on the black market, American and Jordanian officials told the newspaper.

Those same weapons were used by a Jordanian officer to murder two U.S. government security contractors, a South African trainer and two Jordanians in an attack at a U.S.-funded police training facility for Jordanian intelligence in Amman last November, both NYT and Al Jazeera reported. The killer was later shot dead in a shootout.

The site was set up in 2003 as a center for the U.S. to train Iraqi police. It then was used to train Palestinian Authority security forces, who were ultimately equipped with new American military equipment. Although (USSC) U.S. Security Coordinator (2005-2010) Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton repeatedly stated, “We don’t give out any guns or bullets,” the forces received them from Jordan and Egypt with approval from Israel.

Numerous Palestinian Authority security forces have since used their vastly improved military skills to target Israelis in terror attacks.

In his report, The Implications of United States Military Training of Palestinian Security Forces, journalist David Bedein points out that in addition to the United States, the European Union also started training and equipping Palestinian Authority security forces in 2007. (see page six)

Under the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS), about one thousand police officers were trained and at least a dozen police stations were opened in Judea and Samaria. By mid-2008, European donor states had already pledged $242 million to the Palestinian Authority, all this in addition to the USSC effort.

At present, a similar issue is taking place in Syria with American weapons once again going astray. Western-backed “moderate” opposition forces are fighting government troops defending the regime of President Bashar al-Assad together with Russian, Iranian and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist fighters.

The Western-backed opposition forces, supplied in part by the United States, are not in any way linked to Al Qaeda or Da’esh (ISIS). But in the heat of battle and for the purposes of achieving their objectives, all opposition forces often band together as one in Syria — regardless of ideological affiliation.

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Seizes Chance to ‘Help’ Beirut, Shipping Arms to Lebanon

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Iran is making final preparations to send a large arms shipment intended for the Lebanese army, according to a report on the Hebrew-language NRG website.

The shipment is being sent by Iran to fill the vacuum created by Saudi Arabia, which pulled its economic aid to Beirut.

A senior official in Tehran said that Iran is waiting only for the approval of Beirut to finalize the shipment of the deadly supplies. Saudi Arabia announced its decision in February to reconsider a grant of $4 billion in military aid to the Lebanese Army and its security services.

The decision came after Beirut declined to condemn the assault by Shi’ite protesters against the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. The demonstrators were protesting the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is dominated by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization via cabinet ministers and parliamentarians who serve in a large percentage of the government.

Interestingly, the United States has also just announced the arrival of “an entire ship full of military equipment” at a port in Lebanon.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth H. Richard told reporters on Tuesday that Lebanon was the recipient of $50 million in military aid from Washington DC.

Among the items shipped to Beirut were 50 armored Humvees, 40 Howitzers and more than a thousand tons of ammunition.

Lebanon is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing in the world, Richard said.

The Israel Defense Forces have been preparing for the possibility of a new war with Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border.

The supply of new military hardware to an active Israeli enemy sworn to annihilate the Jewish State — one who is serving as a proxy for Iran — has raised red flags for the Jewish State, which is closely watching the border.

The Lebanese Army is closely entwined with Hezbollah and for all intents and purposes, a nation that once was called “the Riviera of the Middle East” has now become a satellite of jihadist Iran.

Hana Levi Julian

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Hanged for Spying for US

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Iran has executed a nuclear scientist convicted of selling top secrets to the US, a judicial spokesman said on Sunday.

“Shahram Amiri was hanged for revealing the country’s top secrets to the enemy,” Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie announced according to Mizan news website.

Amiri, 39, an Iranian Kurdish nuclear scientist, disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 during a pilgrimage to Mecca, and in July 2010 reappeared at the Iran interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC, seeking help to return to Tehran. A short while later he appeared at a press conference in Tehran, where he told journalists he had been kidnapped, tortured and offered $5 million to cooperate with the CIA, which he refused.

In 2009, the Iranian government accused the US government of kidnapping Amiri, because, as Iranian government media reported, he was working for Iranian intelligence. After his return to Iran, American sources confirmed he had come to the US with the help of the CIA, but insisted he had not been kidnapped, but, instead, was seeking asylum. According to a 2011 NPR News report, Amiri was recruited by the CIA, but once he was in the US he “got cold feet” and “made his way back to Iran.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Iranian authorities had threatened to hurt Amiri’s family if he did not return to Iran.

Iranian officials initially celebrated his return to Iran in 2010 but then he dropped from public view until he was arrested in 20111 and reportedly tried for treason. News of his execution surfaced on Saturday, after his mother said she had received his body with rope marks around his neck.

David Israel

AP: Secret Iran ‘Side Deal’ Allows Tehran To Accelerate Nuclear Development

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

When the P5+1 deal was first revealed the review on these pages after reading it, was “there is no other way to describe the Iran deal—it stinks!” Associated Press reporter George Jahn did something I didn’t think was possible, in an exclusive report on Monday he revealed that the Iran deal was even worse than we first thought. Jahn got hold of a secret side deal which allows to upgrade its centrifuges and increase its enriching capacity, all before the deal officially expires in 15 years. The projection is this will reduce the time for Iran to build a bomb to 6 months instead of the year time frame that was promised.

The document is the only part linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public. It was given to the AP by a diplomat whose work has focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.

The diplomat who shared the document with the AP described it as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal. But while formally separate from that accord, he said that it was in effect an integral part of the deal and had been approved both by Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the six powers that negotiated the deal with Tehran.

One of items that was fuzzy in the public version of the P5+1 deal is what happens between years 10 and 15. Mr. Jahn’s scoop explains that period, “It says that as of January 2027 – 11 years after the deal was implemented – Iran can start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.” Those advanced centrifuges are about 5x more efficient than the centrifuges it now uses. They will only be allowed between 2,500-3,000 of the high-tech centrifuges but because they are better at enriching uranium, Iran will be able to enrich at twice the speed as before.

As a result, Obama’s promise that the Iran deal would ensure that Iran would need at least a year to “break out” to a bomb was (not surprisingly) a lie.

But based on a comparison of outputs between the old and newer machines, if the enrichment rate doubles, that breakout time would be reduced to six months, or even less if the efficiency is more than double, a possibility the document allows for.

The document also allows Iran to greatly expand its work with centrifuges that are even more advanced, including large-scale testing in preparation for the deal’s expiration 15 years after its implementation on Jan. 18.

(…) A U.S. official noted, however, that the limit on the amount of enriched uranium Iran will be allowed to store will remain at 300 kilograms (660 pounds) for the full 15 years as well as being restricted to a level used for reactor fuel that is well below weapons grade. Like the diplomats, he too demanded anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the document.

In other words, the deal sets them up with the centrifuges necessary to go nuclear six months after the expiration of the deal.

In the Iran deal as first presented did not require Iran to close a single nuclear facility, not one centrifuge gets dismantled, some of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium gets “converted” but all of it stays in the country. Their entire nuclear infrastructure remains intact, they gets to continue its nuclear research, the ballistic missile program continues, the sanctions come off as Iran complies, and while there are provisions for sanctions to snap back, any such action needs to be approved through the U.N. Security Council and vetoes from Russia and/or China.

Thanks to the AP’s Mr. Jahn we learn that it also helps Iran cut the time it needs to leap to a nuclear bomb from a year to six months. And thanks to Barack Obama, the United States of America, our Sunni allies in the gulf region, and Israel are in worse danger than before.

Jeff Dunetz

Iran Celebrates Anniversary of Nuclear Deal by Firing Ballistic Missile

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

One year almost to the day after the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, and in blatant violation of UN Resolution 2231, Tehran tried to launch a ballistic missile using North Korean technology, Fox News reported, citing intelligence officials.

The test failed when the missile exploded after liftoff, on July 11 at night, outside Saman, a city west of Isfahan, at a site Iran has used before to conduct ballistic missile tests. This is the latest attempt in the year since the signing of the nuclear deal.

The test rained on President Obama’s parade, who said on Thursday, the actual anniversary of the deal, that “over the last year, the Iran deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But according to The Hill, the Republicans used the one-year anniversary for several largely symbolic measures to undermine the deal. “We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

In UN Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

According to Reuters, a confidential report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. The Security Council is due to discuss the Ban Ki-moon report on July 18. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced that “Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets regularly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said this week that “Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.”

Which means the US is content to permit the Iranians to defy the UN and the Western allies in working on long-range missiles, which should be ready to carry nuclear payloads as soon as the temporary limit on Iran’s development of a nuclear device is removed, in 2025. And with its newly thawed billions of dollars, what would stop Iran from buying the device from North Korea, its favorite shopping spot?

In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching its home-grown Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan, this after five earlier failures.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iran-celebrates-anniversary-of-nuclear-deal-by-firing-ballistic-missile/2016/07/16/

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