Underestimating Nuclear Missile Threats from North Korea and Iran

Korea

Naïve reliance on their transparent disavowals could end up costing millions of American lives.

National Review, By R. James Woolsey, William R. Graham, Henry F. Cooper, Fritz Ermarth & Peter Vincent Pry — February 12, 2016

North Korea launched its second satellite on Saturday, yet the national press continues to ignore this existential threat. The White House has not recognized that a nuclear-armed North Korea has demonstrated an ability to kill most Americans with an electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attack. And White House spokesmen and the media have misled the public with unjustified assurances that North Korea has not yet miniaturized nuclear warheads for missile or satellite delivery.

We, who have spent our professional lifetimes analyzing and defending against nuclear-missile threats, warned years ago that North Korea’s Unha-3 space launch vehicle could carry a small nuclear warhead and detonate it a hundred or so miles over the United States to create an EMP, leading to a protracted nationwide blackout. The resulting societal chaos could kill millions.

Indeed, the trajectory and altitude of North Korea’s last satellite orbited three years ago, the KSM-3, could have evaded detection by U.S. missile-tracking radars in its initial orbit and evaded interception by our National Missile Defense, exposing the 48 contiguous United States to an existential EMP attack.

Last year, Admiral William Gortney, commander of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), acknowledged the nuclear-missile threat from North Korea:

On April 7, 2015, he warned that North Korea has mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) called KN-08, armed with nuclear warheads, that can strike the U.S. mainland.  He revealed that critical assets hardened against EMP are moving back into an underground command post inside Cheyenne Mountain at a cost of $700 million.

On October 8, 2015, he warned the Atlantic Council:

I agree with the intelligence community that we assess that they [the North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland.

Iran is also being underestimated as a nuclear-missile threat. The press accepts Obama-administration assertions that its recent nuclear deal will keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons for a decade. The administration and the press both celebrate Iran’s shipping of enriched uranium to Russia and its filling the core of the Arak plutonium reactor with cement. We are supposed to believe that these acts signify Iran’s good faith, and that the nuclear deal is working. We do not.

Apparently forgotten are North Korea’s equally dramatic gestures to deceive President Bill Clinton while cheating on his “nuclear deal” called the Agreed Framework. North Korea stopped its Yongbyon plutonium reactor, allowed the United Nations to install cameras and seals to monitor nuclear activities, and acceded to virtual occupation of Yongbyon by U.N. inspectors. All the while, North Korea’s clandestine underground nuclear-weapons program continued unimpeded — indeed, its nuclear weapons existed before the Agreed Framework was signed.

The Congressional North Korea Advisory Group saw through this deception and warned that the Agreed Framework was not working. But while North Korea developed long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, President Clinton and the press preferred to believe otherwise.

Iran is following North Korea’s example — as a strategic partner allied by treaty and pledged to share scientific and military technology. Iran sacrificed its overt civilian nuclear program to deceive the Obama administration, to lift international sanctions, to prevent Western military action, while a clandestine military nuclear program no doubt continues underground. That is why Iran, under the nuclear deal, will not allow inspection of its military facilities and prohibits interviewing scientists — it is concealing the dimensions and status of Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

We assess, from U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency reports and other sources, that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons. Over 13 years ago, prior to 2003, Iran was manufacturing nuclear-weapon components, like bridge-wire detonators and neutron initiators, performing non-fissile explosive experiments of an implosion nuclear device, and working on the design of a nuclear warhead for the Shahab-III missile.

Thirteen years ago Iran was already a threshold nuclear-missile state. It is implausible that Iran suspended its program for over a decade for a nuclear deal with President Obama.

Iran probably has nuclear warheads for the Shahab-III medium-range missile, which they tested for making EMP attacks. Two recent tests violate UN agreements, demonstrating that Iran is brazenly developing its nuclear-capable missiles. Iran already has the largest medium-range ballistic-missile force in the Middle East.

Iran could be building a nuclear-capable missile force, partly hidden in tunnels, as suggested by its dramatic revelation of a vast underground missile-basing system last year. Iran is building toward a large, deployable, survivable, war-fighting missile force — to which nuclear weapons can be swiftly added as they are manufactured.

And at a time of its choosing, Iran could launch a surprise EMP attack against the United States by satellite, as they have apparently practiced with help from North Korea.

We live in a very dangerous time, and we urge that the Senate immediately pass the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (already passed by the House) to safeguard U.S. life-sustaining critical infrastructures against EMP attack. We also recommend that a Congressional Iran Advisory Group be formed to objectively assess the Iran deal.

— Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence, is the chancellor of the Institute of World Politics and the chairman of the Leadership Council of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; William R. Graham was President Reagan’s science adviser, and acting administrator of NASA, and is the chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission; Ambassador Henry Cooper was the director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and chief negotiator at the Defense and Space Talks with the USSR; Fritz Ermarth was chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security and served in the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA.

The Dangerous Fantasy behind Obama’s Iran Deal

1896925188 (1)Center for security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Jan. 27, 2016:

On January 16, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that Iran had satisfied the conditions necessary to achieve a lifting of most international sanctions under its nuclear deal with the Obama administration. In exchange for reducing its number of operational uranium-enrichment centrifuges, sending most of its enriched uranium out of the country, and removing the core of a plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor, Iran received approximately $150 billion in sanctions relief, and the United States returned $400 million in Iranian funds it seized in 1979, plus $1.3 billion in interest. The same day, Iran released five Americans it had held prisoner in exchange for the release of seven Iranian criminals held by the United States.

The White House and its supporters did victory laps, arguing that Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and its willingness to swap prisoners had proven the wisdom of the president’s Iran policy. But there are many reasons to believe that these developments, far from strengthening American national security, are actually dangerous wins for Iran.

Before all else, it should be noted that American officials had to relax certain requirements of the deal so Iran could receive sanctions relief in the first place. Language barring the testing of ballistic missiles was removed from the agreement’s text and buried in the annex to a UN Security Council resolution. The U.S. also dropped a stipulation that Iran resolve questions about its past nuclear activities, choosing to address those questions in a secret side dealbetween the IAEA and Iran. As a result, even though Iran conducted two ballistic-missile tests last fall and did not fully cooperatewith an IAEA investigation into its nuclear history, the IAEA was able to certify that Tehran met the Implementation Day requirements to have sanctions lifted because these issues had been dropped from the agreement.

The steps Iran did take to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for the suspension of sanctions are limited and easily reversible. Since Iran will continue enriching uranium and developing advanced centrifuges, they’ll continue to get closer to a nuclear weapon while the deal remains in effect. And although Tehran sent most of its enriched uranium out of the country, in return it received an equivalent amount of uranium ore from Kazakhstan, which can be converted into enriched uranium in a few months.

What’s more, the nuclear deal had weak verification provisions to begin with, and the Iranian parliament made them even weaker last October when it ratified an amended version of the deal that calls for Israel’s nuclear-weapons program to be dismantled, requires that sanctions be canceled rather than suspended, and forbids the IAEA from inspecting military installations or interviewing Iranian military officers and scientists. The United States, its European allies, and the IAEA have ignored the Iranian Parliament’s action, and it had no bearing on the lifting of sanctions, but there’s good reason to believe that Iran’s conception of the deal’s terms is quite different from that of its Western partners.

And indeed, though the Obama administration has ignored it, Iran’s belligerence abroad has continued unabated since the nuclear agreement was announced last July. In the last six months, Tehran has stepped up support for the genocidal Assad regime, fired rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier, and captured and humiliated U.S. sailors. It seems more than likely that the $100 billion-plus the regime received in sanctions relief will go toward its continued efforts to destabilize the Middle East, sponsor terrorism, and inch closer to a nuclear warhead.

There also are growing questions about the prisoner exchange. The five U.S. citizens released by Iran, several of them brutally mistreated while behind bars, were arrested because they are Americans, and thus made good bargaining chips in Iran’s efforts to influence U.S. policy. Iran is still holding at least two other American citizens hostage, and an Iranian official has claimed that the $1.7 billion payment the country received, supposedly a return of its frozen funds plus interest, was actually ransom for the five Americans’ release. (House Republicans plan to investigate this claim.) By contrast, the seven Iranians released by the United States, most of them dual citizens, were convicted of sending technology with military applications to Iran in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. 14 other Iranians accused of similar crimes were removed from an INTERPOL wanted list at the same time.

So how can the White House justify such a lopsided deal?

Legendary national-security expert Richard Perle said it best in a recent interview with Secure Freedom Radio:

Their concept is that the terms of the agreement and the likely consequences if the Iranians choose to do what they are able to do under the agreement don’t matter because this agreement is somehow going to magically transform an Iranian regime that regards the United States as the great Satan and engages us through the subvention of terrorism in many places throughout the world. . . . And so for people who hold this view — and I believe the president is among them — the details of the agreement and the consequences of the agreement are of no significance. They are making an enormous and I think an improvident bet. This bet is that this agreement, which satisfies what the Iranians are looking for, will somehow lead the Iranians to become our friends. In this they are certainly mistaken.

That’s the utter absurdity of the Iran deal in a nutshell: Its details don’t matter, because it is meant only to transform Iran into an American ally, against all reason. Because Obama knows he could never sell such a utopian plan to the American people and the U.S. Congress, his administration used the mostly incoherent agreement as a pretext.

But giving Iran everything it wanted in a nuclear agreement won’t lead it to rejoin the community of civilized nations and become a friend of the U.S. All indications from Tehran say the opposite: the regime’s character remains unchanged, and if anything it has become a more influential and destabilizing actor in the Middle East since it signed the nuclear deal. As a result, America’s friends and allies in the region are increasingly worried about a growing threat to their security and U.S. credibility has been further diminished.

Here’s hoping Obama’s successor can repair the damage.

The Iran nuclear agreement is national security fraud

1636300814 (1)

Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz,  Jan. 19, 2016:

As the Obama administration celebrates what it claims is a great victory for its nuclear diplomacy with Iran, many Americans are scratching their heads and wondering how we got to this point given the many examples of Iranian bad faith and belligerent behavior since the nuclear deal was announced last July. For example…

  • Because the IAEA declared that Iran met the requirements to roll back its nuclear program to what the nuclear deal calls “Implementation Day,” it will receive approximately $150 billion in sanctions relief even through Iran is still designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terror and was listed in a June 2015 State Department report as the world’s leading terrorist state.
  • Over the last six months, Iran increased its support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, its terrorist proxy.
  • Iran is threatening Saudi Arabia by backing a Shiite insurgency in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states broke off diplomatic relations with Iran this month after the Saudi embassy and a consulate in Iran were ransacked.
  • Iran tested ballistic missiles in October and November even though President Obama and Secretary Kerry said last July that under the deal Tehran would abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions for eight years calling on it to halt its missile program.  (The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iran for the missile tests yesterday but Foundation for Defense and Democracy Executive Director Mark Dubowitz called them “symbolic and ineffective.”)
  • Iran fired rockets last month near a U.S. aircraft carrier.  It also detained and humiliated 10 U.S. Navy sailors last week.
  • At the same time, few Americans understand that Iran keeps its nuclear infrastructure under the nuclear deal and will be allowed to expand it.
  • Iran will continue enriching uranium under the nuclear deal with 5,000 uranium centrifuges and will be developing more advanced centrifuges while the deal is in effect. This will occur even though when Barack Obama became president, his administration supported the Bush administration’s effort to stop the spread of uranium enrichment technology and strengthened a nuclear technology sharing agreement with the UAE which required it to not to pursue this technology.  
  • Although Iran agreed to remove the core of a plutonium-producing heavy water-reactor, it will be rebuilt and redesigned with Chinese assistance.  While the redesigned reactor will produce less plutonium, it also will help Iran to master this technology.
  • Although President Obama and Secretary Kerry said Iran sent all of its enriched uranium out of the country, they failed to mention that this was a swap for an equivalent amount of uranium ore that can be converted into enriched uranium in a few months.
  • President Obama said last July that the issue of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work would be addressed. The IAEA issued a report on this issue in December that said Iran failed to fully cooperate and provided some answers to investigators that were false. The report also said Iran engaged in nuclear weapons research until 2009.  Despite this report, the United States voted with other IAEA members last month to close the IAEA’s file on this issue.
  • Although nuclear deal has weak verification provisions, the Iranian parliament made them even weaker last October when it ratified an amended version of the deal containing new language on dismantling Israel’s nuclear weapons program, requiring that sanctions under the agreement be cancelled and not suspended, forbidding IAEA inspections of military installations, and barring IAEA interviews of Iranian military officers and scientists.

And then there is the issue of the “swap” of five American hostages for seven Iranian criminals held in U.S. prisons and the removal of 14 other Iranian criminal and terrorists from the INTERPOL wanted list.  As objectionable as this sounds, President Obama and Secretary Kerry failed to mention that Oman paid Iran $500,000 ransom each for the release of the Americans and that several were brutally mistreated while incarcerated.  At least two other innocent Americans plus a U.S. green card holder are still being by Iran.

Given these factors, how can the Obama administration claim Iran has complied with the nuclear agreement? 

How can it justify providing over $150 billion in sanctions relief that Tehran is likely to spend on terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East?  

How can the United States reward a state that used Americans as hostages to advance its policy goals?

How can Obama officials say this nuclear deal is a great diplomatic success?

The answer to these questions is this: because the Obama administration wanted a legacy nuclear agreement with Iran so badly they made any concession necessary to get one. 

When Iranian officials refused to give up their uranium enrichment program, the U.S. said they could keep it. 

When Iran balked on including restrictions on ballistic missile tests in the agreement, they were removed.  

To get around Tehran’s refusal to answer questions about its past nuclear weapons work, this issue was moved into a secret side deal between the IAEA and Iran.

The Obama administration also took Iran’s sponsorship of terror and its meddling in the Middle East off the table.  The deal drops U.N. and EU sanctions on Iranian terrorist individuals and entities.  Even worse, the U.S. encouraged Iran to play a more active role in Iraq which is driving tensions between the Shiite government and Iraqi Sunnis.

The Iran nuclear agreement is national security fraud. It will not stop or slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

The deal’s weak verification provision will not detect Iranian cheating. 

Seeing itself as the big winner in the nuclear deal, Iran probably will beemboldened to expand its efforts to destabilize its neighbors and sponsorship of terrorism using the estimated $150 billion in sanctions relief it won in the deal.

How did Iran reach the nuclear deal’s Implementation Day?  Because the Obama administration rigged the game by setting the bar so low that Iranian compliance was assured. 

That’s how desperate President Obama was to get his legacy nuclear deal with Iran. 

That’s what led to a disastrous agreement that will may do enormous damage to international security for decades to come.

Also see:

Cherry on Top: Iran to Get $1.7 Billion Settlement from U.S. in Addition to Sanctions Relief

AP_336523169796.sized-770x415xc

President Obama leaves the podium after speaking about the release of Americans by Iran on Jan. 17, 2016, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, JANUARY 17, 2016:

President Obama today declared at the White House that “Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb” and that their “tireless” negotiations paid off with several American hostages coming home.

Obama’s Cabinet Room statement came a day after the administration announced the lifting of sanctions on Iran for Implementation Day of the nuclear deal as well as the prisoner swap: seven to Iran, five to the U.S. The administration is claiming the fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, was released not as part of the swap but as a goodwill gesture by Iran.

Obama called the clemency granted to six Iranian–Americans and one Iranian serving sentences or awaiting trial “a reciprocal humanitarian gesture,” and asserted none of them were “charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.” They were, however, involved in networks procuring illegal components for Iran deemed damaging to national security by the Justice Department and in one case hacked a defense contractor to steal millions in proprietary software.

“And their release is a one-time gesture to Iran given the unique opportunity offered by this moment and the larger circumstances at play,” he said. “And it reflects our willingness to engage with Iran to advance our mutual interests, even as we ensure the national security of the United States.”

“So, nuclear deal implemented. American families reunited. The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades. Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we’ve worked through a international tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries. The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government. Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought,” Obama said.

That payout to Iran from the United States? $1.7 billion.

Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the settlement is $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest dating back to the Islamic revolution. That’s separate from the sanctions windfall Iran will receive.

“For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran,” Obama claimed. “So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.”

The president then acknowledged a bit of Iran’s other bad behavior, such as “a violation of its international obligations” with illegal ballistic missile tests.

“But today’s progress — Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program — these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience,” Obama said. “America can do — and has done — big things when we work together. We can leave this world and make it safer and more secure for our children and our grandchildren for generations to come.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called it “a huge relief that these Americans are finally coming home,” and noted that “all of them should have been unconditionally released a long time ago — period.”

“Instead, a disturbing pattern is emerging where the Obama administration is willing to negotiate the release of spies, terrorists and now criminals. I fail to see how this trend will improve the long-term security of the United States and its citizens,” Royce said.

“The Obama administration will need to answer why this policy won’t encourage terrorist groups and regimes to step up their efforts to target Americans. And the Iranians still need to answer for Robert Levinson, an American citizen who has been missing in Iran since 2007.”

The Levinson family was still on a heartbreaking tweetstorm Sunday using the haghtag #WhatAboutBob.

“Let me just say Bob Levinson is still missing,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this morning on CBS’Face the Nation. “The Iranians know where he is or we believe they do. And they’re not being cooperative about that. We should not forget Mr. Levinson and his situation.”

Obama said what he’s said before: that Iran “has agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson — missing from Iran for more than eight years.”

“Even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob,” he said. “Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family, and we will not rest until their family is whole again.”

Iran is also holding on to a couple more hostages: Since the Iran nuclear deal was inked last year, one American citizen, businessman Siamak Namazi, and one permanent U.S. resident, IT expert Nizar Zakka, were arrested by Iran. Iran’s Fars News Agency said they kept Namazi out of the deal because his charges were “not political.”

Zakka, a Lebanese-American, works in Washington as secretary-general of the Dupont Circle-based Ijma3 group, which lobbies for the information and communications technology industry in the Middle East. He last tweeted on Sept. 9 about Internet freedom and free expression.

Zakka received an invitation on Sept. 11 from Iran’s vice president for Women and Family Affairs to attend the 2nd International Conference & Exhibition on Women in Sustainable Development, titled “Entrepreneurship & Employment.” After the conference, while he was trying to return home to D.C., he was seized.

“For decades, our differences with Iran meant that our governments almost never spoke to each other. Ultimately, that did not advance America’s interests. Over the years, Iran moved closer and closer to having the ability to build a nuclear weapon,” Obama declared today.

“But from Presidents Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the United States has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries. And as president, I decided that a strong, confident America could advance our national security by engaging directly with the Iranian government. We’ve seen the results.”

***

Also see:

North Korea’s Nuclear Advance–With Or Without The Hydrogen Bomb

960x0 (1)Forbes, by Claudia Rosett, Jan. 6, 2016:

President Obama waited, under the rubric of “strategic patience.” Now we get to see. North Korea says it has just tested a hydrogen bomb.

If true, this means a big jump in the destructive power of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. An H-bomb, also known as a thermonuclear device, can pack far more explosive force than the atomic bombs North Korea has previously tested.

Pyongyang’s claim that it has mastered the H-bomb has yet to be confirmed. But coincident with North Korea’s announcement, the U.S. Geological Survey did record a significant seismic event near North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site. This suggests that whether or not it was an H-bomb, North Korea probably did carry out some kind of underground nuclear test.

Let’s be clear on what this means: For America and its allies this is not just a setback. It is a debacle. This goes beyond even the highly unpleasant prospect of North Korea becoming ever more capable of directly threatening South Korea and the U.S. with nuclear strikes. In an increasingly tumultuous 21st century, North Korea is demonstrating to the entire world — notably the terror-spawning and blood-soaked Middle East — that it is quite possible for a state to ignore the rules, and illicitly acquire and brazenly test nuclear weapons. There were abundant signs of a looming nuclear arms race in the Middle East before North Korea announced this test. Now, brace for the deluge.

What are the great powers of the world doing about it? The answer these days (now that the Israelis are enjoined not to fly to the rescue) is that they wait and see.

This is North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006. North Korea has carried out three of those tests on President Obama’s watch, in 2009, 2013 and now 2016 — the last two of those tests conducted under the rule of current hereditary tyrant Kim Jong Un. For young Kim, nuclear weapons are clearly central to his reign. North Korean television, which exists to sustain and glorify his rule, showed him personally signing the order for this latest test, which was carried out on Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, local time.

North Korea has also been toiling away at missile systems to deliver the bombs. Along with beefing up its Sohae launch site, North Korea’s Kim regime has paraded road-mobile missile launchers, and advertised its interest in developing the ability to launch missiles from submarines. Last year, a number of senior U.S. military officials warned that North Korea has acquired the ability — as yet untested — to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, mount it on a ballistic missile and target the United States.

Read more

Did North Korea Really Test an H-Bomb?

783680434Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Jan. 6, 2016:

After reports of a small, magnitude 5.1 seismic event in the vicinity of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site on Tuesday, the state-controlled North Korean news service announced a successful test of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb — which it called a “hydrogen bomb for justice.” A North Korean television anchor said the test elevated North Korea’s “nuclear might to the next level.”

It is very unlikely that this was a test of a true H-bomb, a thermonuclear device in which a primary fission reaction ignites a much larger secondary fusion/fission reaction. The technical challenges of constructing a true H-bomb, which could be over 1000 times more powerful than North Korea’s previous three nuclear tests, are far beyond North Korean capabilities. The real meaning of this nuclear test, regardless of its type, may be an attempt by North Korea to get a nuclear deal similar to Iran’s before President Obama leaves office.

It is possible this was a test of a “boosted-fission” nuclear weapon. In such a device, a small fusion reaction of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, is initiated in the core. This reaction releases a flood of high-energy neutrons that causes a more efficient fission reaction by the weapon’s enriched uranium or plutonium fuel resulting in an explosive yield several times higher. Boosted fission enables states to construct smaller and lighter nuclear weapons and to make more efficient use of scarce nuclear fuel.

North Korea has been claiming for several years that it was engaged in nuclear-fusion research. In 2010, North Korean officials even said that their nation had mastered nuclear fusion. In January 2013, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that a “new higher level nuclear device” that North Korea was threatening to test might be a boosted-fission nuclear device. Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said his country had developed a hydrogen bomb.

Although most experts dismissed North Korea’s nuclear fusion claims as bravado, a boosted-fission nuclear test would be the next step in the development of a North Korean nuclear-weapons program. Building such a device would be technically challenging. India, which has a more advanced nuclear-weapons program than North Korea, reportedly conducted a failed test of a booted-fission nuclear device in 1998.

Determining what type of nuclear device this was will be difficult. The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will try to analyze air samples for evidence of xenon gas, a by-product of nuclear explosions. This will help determine whether the explosion was nuclear and possibly whether enriched uranium or plutonium fuel was used. It probably will not determine whether North Korea detonated a boosted-fission device.

The small 5.1 magnitude of Tuesday’s seismic event suggests either this was not a boosted-fission device or that the boosted-fission reaction failed. 5.1 was the same magnitude of the seismic event that accompanied North Korea’s February 12, 2013 nuclear test and North Korea’s 2009 and 2006 nuclear tests caused seismic events measuring 4.3 and 4.7, respectively.

North Korea’s nuclear tests appear to represent a pattern of trying to get the world’s attention in order to force a resumption of multilateral talks that can be used to extract concessions from the United States and regional states. This could be the case with the North’s latest nuclear test. The North Korean regime knows President Obama entered office hoping to get nuclear agreements with both North Korea and Iran. The North Korean government probably views the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a great victory for Tehran and is hoping this test will lure the Obama administration into resuming nuclear talks so it can get a similar deal.

Regardless of North Korea’s motivations for Tuesday’s nuclear test and whether it was a test of a boosted-fission nuclear device, this is still a very dangerous development. Every time North Korea conducts a nuclear test, it gains more experience and data for its effort to construct nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles. North Korea has made major strides in its missile program over the last ten years, including the December 2012 launch of a rocket to place a satellite in orbit, which most experts believe was actually a test of an ICBM capable of hitting the United States.

I believe there is a strong possibility that North Korea and Iran are collaborating on their nuclear-weapon programs and that Tehran will benefit from any knowledge gained from this nuclear test. Iranian observers reportedly were present at previous North Korean nuclear and long-range missile tests. Determining Iran’s possible role in the recent North Korean nuclear test will be a priority for U.S. intelligence agencies.

Former CIA director James Woolsey and former CIA analyst Peter Pry believe North Korea and Iran may be developing small nuclear warheads to use as electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons to target the U.S. electrical grid. I agree with these concerns since EMP weapons are a way that rogue states with small nuclear-weapons programs could actually attack states with far superior military capabilities by greatly amplifying the destructive power of these weapons. Ted Koppel recently wrote about how devastating an EMP attack on the United States would be in his new book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.

Making this situation worse is the absence of American global leadership under President Obama. “Leading from behind,” the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the president’s dismissal of the global threat from ISIS, and numerous red lines drawn — and later ignored — have severely undermined America’s credibility on the world stage. The North Korean regime knows this. Its latest nuclear test may be an attempt to take advantage of Mr. Obama’s weakness before he leaves office.

***

Smugglers Attempting to Sell Radioactive Material to Islamists

A truck in Moldova (Photo: © Saskia Heijltjes Creative Commons)

A truck in Moldova (Photo: © Saskia Heijltjes Creative Commons)

Clarion Project, Oct. 7, 2015:

Smugglers in Eastern Europe have been attempting to sell nuclear material to Islamist extremists, according to Associated Press reports.

The deals were attempted in Moldova, a small country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.

The FBI has been fighting a secret war against the smugglers for the past five years in cooperation with local authorities. Criminal organizations with ties to the former Soviet secret police force the KGB have been running the operations.

The most recent attempt was in February this year, when a smuggler tried to sell a large quantity of radioactive cesium specifically to the Islamic State. The cesium was reported to be enough to contaminate several city blocks.

The other three cases were reported as happening in:

  • 2010, when three people were arrested for selling depleted uranium;
  • 2011, when authorities disrupted a deal to sell weapons grade uranium; and
  • 2014, when six people arrested for selling unenriched uranium.

Police and judicial authorities in Moldova told AP that the FBI has thwarted four attempts to transfer nuclear material to Islamist extremists in the past five years.

They used undercover agents to infiltrate the smuggling rings and make arrests.

However, leading smugglers escaped or evaded lengthy prison sentences and the smuggling problem continues.

Constantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer, investigated all four smuggling cases. In one case a smuggler told an informant that he specifically wanted to sell to terrorists because they would use the nuclear material to attack America.

“He said to the informant on a wire: ‘I really want an Islamic buyer because they will bomb the Americans,” Malic said.

“We can expect more of these cases,” Malic predicted. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.”

Also see:

NIAC June 25 Discussion on Geopolitical Implications of Nuclear Deal with Iran

Slavin-Beinart-Parsi-Kaplan-Web-3CSP, by Caitlin Anglemier, June 26, 2015:

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) serves as de factor influence for Iranian interests in Washington politics, as previously reported by the Center for Security Policy’s Clare Lopez. Trita Parsi, NIAC’s president, has been very influential in this process.

Yesterday, June 25, NIAC held a discussion on “The Geopolitical Implications of an Iran Deal”. The panel of speakers included: Peter Beinart, contributing editor forThe Atlantic and National Journal; Fred Kaplan, war stories columnist for Slate; Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council; and Barbara Slavin, South Asia Center senior fellow for the Atlantic Council.

The talk began with a discussion on how foreign policy has become a primary focus of the Republican party and how generally, the Democratic party tends to place more emphasis on social and economic issues. The discussion then drifted towards discussing the negotiation talks themselves and the ten-year time period aspect. The panel acknowledged the concern that many have, which is that the ten-year period is just delaying the inevitable truth that Iran could obtain a nuclear weapon within a year. But the panel emphasized the importance of those ten years. While that negative viewpoint is out there, why not try to focus on the time positively and the opportunity it provides for even more talks, negotiations, and compromising?

In trying to frame the ten-year period in such a positive manner, the NIAC panel attempted to depict a reality that is simply not accurate. Solely based on how the nuclear deal negotiations have gone so far, it would be foolish to think that ten years of talks and additional demands would go any better than what has transpired-which has not been good at all.

The discussion then moved to reflecting on the implications of all the money involved in the deal talks. “…[the US] will have released a total of $11.9 billion to the Islamic Republic [of Iran] by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June, according to figures provided by the State Department”. The panel seemed to indicate that if a deal is successfully reached, Iran would utilize the freedom gained from lifted sanctions as well as the cash assets given from the United States to benefit the people of Iran. The panel’s theory was that if Iran continued, over the next ten years, to send money overseas for alternative projects, the people of Iran would start questioning the government and would become upset. In the past, Iran has used the funds it had to fund terrorism and terrorist organizations. If the country has placed an emphasis on aiding terrorism over taking care of its people in the past, why would that change after a new deal?

The last part of the discussion before questioning commenced revolved around the “misfortunate reality” that the US can’t work in alliance with Iran to combat the Islamic State. The panel emphasized how the Islamic State is well aware of the fact that all of its major opponents are at war with one another, and has already taken advantage of this situation. At first glance it does seem that Iran has taken steps towards combatting the Islamic State. However, Iran is actually continuing to fund Hezbollah as well as Shia tribes and militias. While the US clearly wants to abolish the Islamic State, this must be accomplished without simultaneously strengthening Iran and its militant connections. This hypothetical alliance with Iran against IS could never manifest itself in reality.

The last part of the discussion allowed for members of the audience to ask questions to the panel. One of the most prominent themes of questioning revolved around the exact details of the deal talks and their implications. The panel tried to emphasize with great significance the problem of coming to negotiations with lists of hardline demands, and with no willingness to compromise or concede anything on any of the details. The US tried to approach the talks with certain demands, and has essentially back peddled on almost all of them. There has been no compromising either side of the talks. A speaker on the panel described compromise as “a dirty word”. This is not the most effective way to reach agreements and negotiate.

More importantly, even if we were able to compromise and establish a negotiation with Iran on their desires and demands, we have no reason to believe that they will be honest and follow through on said demands in the future. Therefore, this essentially indicates that a “deal” is just a blissfully ignorant façade.

Conclusive, the discussion was polite, peaceful, and very informative. It would be easy to imagine a listener walking away with a positive mental image of Iran and the extensive benefits a successful nuclear deal agreement. However, we must take it upon ourselves to not be so easily deceived. Pursuing an agreement with Iran in nuclear talks is not only a waste of time and resources, it would result in directly providing Iran with significant relief from sanctions as well as billions of dollars. And contrary to what some apparently believe, these billions will in fact not be used towards benefiting the wellbeing of the Iranian citizens, but will continue to be used in funding terrorism and terrorist organizations.

We must abandon these attempts at negotiations with Iran before we make ourselves out to be even greater pushovers than we have already portrayed.

***

Also see:

The Obama administration has been assuring lawmakers that there can be prompt reporting and measures such as “snap back” sanctions if Iran cheats. By now, the record goes far to suggest that in the time it takes State to transmit a legally required report to Congress, Iran could violate its way to a nuclear breakout.

The Obama Administration’s Huge Nuclear Concessions to Iran

iran-nuclear-deal-concessions

National Review, by Fred Fleitz, June 15, 2015:

On June 11, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a report on a stunning new concession offered by the Obama administration to break a deadlock in the Iran nuclear talks.

The deadlock stems from Tehran’s refusal to permit inspections of military facilities or answer questions about past nuclear-weapons-related work (known as “possible military dimensions” or PMD in U.N.-speak). With the clock ticking down on a June 30 deadline for a nuclear agreement, the refusal of Iranian leaders to budge on these issues has become a political problem for President Obama, who said in April that Iran has agreed to “the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has said the nuclear agreement will allow “anytime, anywhere inspections of any and every Iranian facility.”

Several U.S. organizations, including the Center for Security Policy (my employer), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the bipartisan Iran Task Force, have made anytime, anyplace inspections and resolving PMD questions red lines for a nuclear agreement with Iran. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said late last month that France will not sign off on a nuclear deal if Tehran rules out inspections of military sites.

According to the MEMRI report, the Obama administration proposed the following to resolve the deadlock over inspections of Iranian military facilities, undeclared nuclear sites, and past nuclear-weapons-related work:

• The United States has proposed to close the International Atomic Energy Agency’s PMD dossier and forgo actual IAEA inspections of suspect Iranian nuclear facilities.

• Instead, the IAEA would conduct token inspections of a handful of nuclear sites — including two military sites — and question several senior Iranian military officials.

• Inspections of Iranian nuclear sites after the token inspections would be limited to declared facilities.

• Undeclared and suspect nuclear-weapons sites would be monitored through intelligence means.

MEMRI, a well-regarded think tank in Washington, D.C., sourced its report to statements cited in the Iranian press from Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and head nuclear negotiator, and Hamid Baidinejad, another Iranian nuclear negotiator. Araghchi reportedly said the Iranian negotiating team agreed to the proposed U.S. concession, but the plan was subsequently rejected by Supreme Leader Khamenei and triggered harsh criticism of Iranian officials in the so-called pragmatic camp. Baidinejad claimed the Iranian negotiating team rejected the proposed U.S. concession but agreed to an American request to present it to Khamenei anyway, who rejected it outright.

MEMRI believes CIA director John Brennan was secretly dispatched to Israel in early June to convince Israeli officials (and EU officials via Israel) that intelligence monitoring of PMD-related sites was sufficient, and actual investigation of these sites could be waived. My guess is that Israeli officials reacted to Brennan’s presentation with laughter and derision.

This proposed U.S. concession is appalling, because it would allow Iran to shield military and undeclared sites from IAEA inspectors. Obviously, if Iran is engaged in nuclear-weapons work, the work is not being conducted at declared sites. Given the poor track record of U.S. intelligence agencies in discovering covert nuclear facilities in Iran and North Korea, the idea that intelligence is an adequate replacement for inspections of military and suspect nuclear sites is absurd.

Iran agreed in late 2013 to resolve an IAEA list of PMD-related issues in twelve areas. Iran has resolved questions in only one of these and is refusing to address the rest. Resolving questions about past Iranian nuclear-weapons work is important to set a baseline for verification, since IAEA inspectors need to know what nuclear research Iran has been engaged in and where this work has been conducted. Closing the IAEA’s PMD dossier would seriously undermine efforts to verify a nuclear agreement and would be another instance of Iran getting a pass for cheating on international agreements.

I’ve written previously in NRO that in their desperation to get a nuclear deal with Iran, which they hope will bolster the legacy of the Obama presidency, Obama officials are pursuing a policy of containment of an Iranian nuclear bomb. President Obama has in effect decided to concede the nuclear bomb to Tehran. In such a context, the latest proposed Obama-administration concession to Iran makes sense. Since the nuclear agreement is all about the Obama legacy, and not about stopping or slowing Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, Obama officials will make almost any concession to Iran to get a deal. Iranian leaders know this and are holding out for further and more generous U.S. concessions.

Congress must put a stop to this madness. If a nuclear agreement is concluded with Iran, Congress must reject it on a bipartisan basis. Congress also must restore a responsible U.S. foreign policy on Iran by passing new sanctions requiring Iran to comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program.

***

Obama’s Nuclear Concessions to Iran Accelerating

 On June 10, 2015, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, held an important hearing on Iran’s ballistic missile program and why this program must be part of a nuclear agreement with Iran.

Fred Fleitz talks about the dangerous concessions the Obama administration is making with Iran over the nuclear arms deal.

***

Former CIA Head James Woolsey Launches Unprecedented Attack on Iran

***

From the Iran Short Film Series:

General Flynn and Ambassador Joseph Testify on Iran’s Missile Program and a Possible Nuclear Deal

NOT IMPRESSED: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, shown here in 2014, warned a House of Representatives panel that the Obama administration – whose Defense Intelligence Agency he ran until 10 months ago – is clueless in its approach to Iran's nuclear game

NOT IMPRESSED: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, shown here in 2014, warned a House of Representatives panel that the Obama administration – whose Defense Intelligence Agency he ran until 10 months ago – is clueless in its approach to Iran’s nuclear gameCSP, by Fred Fleitz, June 11, 215:

On June 10, 2015 the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held an important hearing on Iran’s ballistic missile program and why this program should be part of a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The witnesses at this hearing were:

Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, U.S. Army (retired)
(Former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency)

Ambassador Robert Joseph
Senior Scholar,  National Institute for Public Policy
Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Dr. David A. Cooper
James V. Forrestal Professor and Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College

Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman
Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Although all of the witnesses gave excellent presentations, the remarks of General Flynn and Ambassador Joseph were especially noteworthy.  Both believe the nuclear agreement being negotiated with Iran will not stop or slow its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  They are very concerned at the exclusion of Iran’s missile program which they believe is being developed as a nuclear weapon delivery system.  Flynn discusses his concern about a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.  Joseph explains why the nuclear deal is likely to undermine global nuclear and missile nonproliferation efforts.

Excepts from Joseph’s and Flynn’s testimonies are in the below video.

[be prepared to adjust for volume fluctuations]

To watch the entire hearing from the House Foreign Affairs Committee website, clickHERE.

Iran Implicated in Foiled Hezbollah Attacks on Europe

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 2, 2015:

The arrest of a Hezbollah terrorist in Cyprus is believed to have foiled attacks in Europe, probably against Israeli or Jewish targets. The plots show that Iran is as committed to international terrorism as ever and is not the least bit dissuaded by the prospect of a lucrative nuclear deal.

The terrorist came to Cyprus last month and had nearly two tons of ammonium nitrate—a substance commonly used for making bombs—in his basement. That’s about the amount that was used to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that took down a federal building and killed 168 people.

It is suspected that he was planning on attacking Israelis, and there is evidence linking the operative to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. It is also believed that the operative belonged to a network planning on using Cyprus as a “port of export” for additional terrorist plots in Europe.

The National Council of Resistance in Iran, an opposition group, says that a Cyprus newspaper reported that he was trained in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In 2012, a Hezbollah terrorist was arrested and later found guilty of planning attacks on Israeli tourists in Cyprus. His possession of a Swedish passport enabled him to conduct surveillance on targets in Europe. It was discovered that he was tracking flights from Israel to Cyprus, researching bus routes used by Israeli tourists and assessing a hospital parking lot. He also traveled to France and the Netherlands for Hezbollah.

The foiled plot helps make an important point about the nature of the Iranian regime. If there was any time for the regime to resist its impulses to engage in international terrorism, it is now.

An Iranian-sponsored plot could unravel the nuclear deal that could strengthen its “Islamic Revolution,” bolster the regime and allow it to dramatically increase its sponsorship of terrorism. And yet, even under these conditions, the Iranian regime can’t help but orchestrate terror plots in Europe with the objective of killing hundreds of innocents.

If this is the behavior of the Iranian regime when it has every incentive to temporarily play nice, then what will it do when it breaks free of sanctions and uses trade deals to disarm the U.S. of its economic leverage?

***

Also see:

LIVE EVENT: Iran Truth Panel

4100482676President Obama has made numerous exaggerated and misleading statements to promote his nuclear diplomacy with Iran as a good deal. However, in an interview with NPR, the president accidentally told the truth and confirmed what many have been saying about his nuclear diplomacy with Iran:

“What is a more relevant I 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.”

Because the nuclear agreement being sought by the Obama administration will allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium and develop much more efficient centrifuge machines, it is very likely that the time to an Iranian bomb could shrink to “almost zero” as the president said. This is one of many reasons to stop this deal.

The Center for Security Policy will hold a panel discussion on how the Iran deal is a path for Iran to get the bomb.

WHO:
  • Kenneth Timmerman: Author, Activist and investigative journalist; Executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI)
  • Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons (U.S. Navy, Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and father of the Navy Red Cell counterterrorist unit.
  • Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: President, Center for Security Policy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting) under President Reagan.
  • Clare Lopez, Senior Vice President for Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy and former Operations Officer in the CIA’s Clandestine Service
WHERE:
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
WHEN:
Friday, May 8th, 2015 | 10:00am

Kerry Tries to Dismiss Criticism of Iran talks as “Hysteria”

87446063CSP, by Fred Fleitz, May 4, 2015:

In a statement to Israel’s Channel 10 News over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry aggressively defended the Obama administration’s controversial nuclear diplomacy with Iran and dismissed critics of the nuclear talks as engaging in “hysteria.”

This kind of talk is typical of the way Kerry and other Obama administration have defended their nuclear diplomacy with Iran.  They refuse to discuss criticisms of the talks and instead attack their critics as uninformed and partisan.

Kerry defended the nuclear talks in unusually strong terms, claiming under the deal, inspections would remain in place “forever” and that “We will not sign a deal that does not close off Iran’s pathways to a bomb and that doesn’t give us the confidence — to all of our experts, in fact to global experts — that we will be able to know what Iran is doing and prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”

No serious person believes international inspectors will be in Iran forever.

This kind of rhetoric shows how worried Kerry is about the nuclear talks.  His briefings to Congress about the negotiations have gone very badly.  There are bipartisan concerns that the Obama administration has made enormous and dangerous concessions to Tehran and got nothing in return.

The Obama administration’s Iran policy also is in deep trouble because Iranian officials claim it lied about what will be in a final nuclear agreement.

Today, the Center for Security Policy released a compelling ad on the Iran nuclear talks titled “Why are the Mullahs laughing?”   This ad helps explain the dangers of the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran.  You can watch this ad below or click HERE.

Please also check out our new website IranTruth.org for more information about the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Secure Freedom launches IranTruth.org site

snip

CSP, April 30, 2015:

We are at a critical juncture in stopping a disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. President Barack Obama tells us the agreement will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but the truth is that he’s desperate to get a deal – any deal. According to the Wall Street Journal “President Obama said Tehran could receive significant economic relief IMMEDIATELY after concluding a deal…”  The Iranian regime will use it to pay for more terrorism, more regional subversion, more ballistic missiles AND to get the bomb.

Tell the Senate to do its duty as a check and balance on this national security malfeasance by President Obama.

Secure Freedom has launched a powerful one minute video on this topic at our new IranTruth.org website. You can also link directly to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIYH0zivykQ

It is optimized to go viral and launches today with the hashtag #NoIranBombBonus.

Twitter targets should include the  Republicans who voted AGAINST the Johnson amendment which would have secured congressional review before any agreement is concluded:

– Alexander (R-TN) @SenAlexander
– Ayotte (R-NH) @KellyAyotte
– Capito (R-WV) @SenCapito
– Coats (R-IN) @SenDanCoats
– Cochran (R-MS) @SenThadCochran
– Corker (R-TN) @SenBobCorker
– Ernst (R-IA) @joniernst
– Flake (R-AZ) @JeffFlake
– Hatch (R-UT) @OrrinHatch
– Isakson (R-GA) @SenatorIsakson
– McCain (R-AZ) @SenJohnMcCain
– Perdue (R-GA) @Perduesenate

Suggested tweet: “Tell the Senate, don’t let Obama give Iran the bomb and $50B bonus #NoIranBombBonus”

Please share with your networks and ask them to do the same.

***

After Iran Seizes Ship, Senate Republicans Must Act on Nuclear deal

4027956444CSP, by Fred Fleitz, April 29, 2015:

Yesterday, Iranian forces seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris, while it was traversing the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian forces boarded the ship after firing warning shots across its bridge and diverted it to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Iranian officials have not explained why the ship was seized.

The Pentagon revealed yesterday that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels surrounded a U.S.-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Kensington, last Friday as it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz. No shots were fired, the Iranian vessels broke off contact, and the cargo ship proceeded without further incident.

Both actions by Iranian forces violated international agreements allowing for innocent passage of ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

Despite these serious Iranian provocations, the Obama administration is pushing ahead with a nuclear agreement with Iran that will lift crippling trade sanctions.

These are the latest belligerent incidents by the Iranian government since the nuclear talks began in January 2014. Other incidents include:

  • Iran has precipitated a civil war in Yemen by arming the Shiite Houthi rebels.
  • Iran continues to hold four American citizens prisoner, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who was charged last week with espionage and other serious crimes.
  • Iranian leaders remain dedicated to the destruction of the United States and Israel. Last November, Supreme leader Khamenei released a nine-point plan to destroy the state of Israel. On March 21, the day after President Obama’s Persian New Year message to the Iranian people, Khamenei said “death to America.”
  • In February, Iranian naval units destroyed a mock U.S. aircraft carrier as part of a military exercise.
  • The Times of Israel reported this week that Iran is spending $35 billion a year to prop up Syrian President Assad.
  • Iran continues to support the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups. The Jerusalem Post reported this week that Hezbollah has constructed an airstrip in Lebanon for Iranian-made drones.

And now Iran is seizing and harassing ships on the high seas, including an U.S.-flagged ship.

If the Iranian government is behaving this way before it gets a nuclear deal and sanctions relief, how will it behave after it gets a deal that the Center for Security Policy and many other experts believe will be extremely weak and will do nothing to stop Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons?

It has been clear since Barack Obama became president that he is so desperate for a legacy nuclear agreement with Iran that his administration will give Iran anything it wants and overlook any Iranian bad behavior to get a nuclear deal.

The American people have had enough. They are counting on Congress to impose adult supervision on the Obama administration’s foolhardy nuclear diplomacy with Iran. This means Senate Republicans must pass amendments to toughen the Corker-Cardin bill, a piece of legislation recently approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that supposedly would give Congress a chance to reject a nuclear deal with Iran. This bill has been strongly criticized as turning the Constitution on its head since instead of requiring a nuclear agreement be submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty (which would require a 2/3 vote), this bill would require a vote of disapproval get veto-proof and filibuster-proof majorities. (To learn more, see this article by Andrew McCarthy.)

The best option to amend the Corker-Cardin bill would be to require the president submit it as a treaty. Unfortunately, 11 Republican senators voted with their Democratic counterparts yesterday to reject such an amendment submitted by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).

But the fight to toughen the Corker-Cardin bill is far from over. Almost two dozen amendments to the bill have been submitted by Republican senators, most of which require a nuclear agreement with Iran be linked to an improvement in its behavior. Given Iran’s recent actions against ships in the Strait of Hormuz, passage of such amendments is vital.

Democratic senators and some Republicans oppose any amendments to the Corker-Cardin bill because they want a “clean” bill and are worried that amendments will draw a presidential veto.

What these legislators and the president are really worried about is having to take a public stand against amendments mandating that a nuclear deal be linked to the release of U.S. citizens being held by Iran, Tehran’s support for terrorism, its meddling in Yemen, Iranian threats to destroy Israel, harassing and seizing ships, etc.

It is crucial to force votes on these amendments which will put members of Congress and the president on the record on how they are prepared to support a nuclear agreement with Iran that ignores its increasingly threatening behavior.

It probably is not possible to stop President Obama from concluding a foolhardy nuclear agreement with Iran. However, the amendments to the Corker-Cardin bill clarify how dangerous this deal is and will identify members of Congress who helped facilitate it.

***

Marco Rubio Makes the Case Iran Deal Must Include Iranian Recognition of Israel’s Right to Exist