Nuke Deal Elusive as Iran Digs in Heels Over ‘Inalienable’ Enrichment Rights

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

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Washington Free Beacon, BY: :

VIENNA—Secretary of State John Kerry spent hours locked behind closed doors with Iran’s foreign minister early Friday as both sides rushed to reach a final nuclear agreement that sources say is becoming increasingly elusive as a result of Tehran’s intransigence.

As the United States seeks to impose clear and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear research work ahead of a Nov. 24 deadline, the Iranians have refused to cede any ground and are publicly insisting that its “inalienable” nuclear rights must be recognized under any final deal.

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spent several hours Thursday night and several more on Friday morning meeting in private, according to a senior State Department official. There is no indication yet that major headway has been made between the sides.

The foreign ministers from the negotiating countries, including the United States and Iran, are all gearing up to leave Vienna today, according to one source familiar with the status of the talks. While it remains unclear at this point if the leaders will return in the coming days, some have speculated that Zarif could be conveying the parameters of a tentative deal with higher-level officials in Tehran.

Any agreement that it is reached is likely to pave the way for another extension in talks as final details continue to be hashed out, the source said.

With neither the United States nor Iran appearing publicly before reporters in Vienna and answering questions, insiders in Washington and Vienna are becoming increasingly skeptical that the Obama administration will be able to deliver a deal the American people and Congress will find acceptable.

“The Iranians have refused to budge on the most basic elements—they want to keep the entire fuel cycle, and do so at a level that will allow them to breakout [with a nuclear weapon] whenever they choose so quickly no one will be able to stop them,” said one senior foreign policy strategist currently in Vienna for the talks.

The Obama administration is poised to ink a deal that includes many concessions to Iran before the Monday deadline comes around, according to a senior congressional aide who works on the issue of Iran.

“As Iran digs its heels against dismantling its enrichment program, eliminating its plutonium ‘bomb factory’ at Arak, and coming clean on its nuclear weapon, the worry is that the Obama administration will make more massive concessions and move to grant ‘nuclear amnesty’ to the terror-supporting mullahs in Tehran before Monday,” the congressional aide told the Washington Free Beacon.

“The Clinton administration gave ‘nuclear amnesty’ to North Korea in 1994 and North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb little more than a decade later. So we’ve all seen this charade before,” warned the congressional source.

Many watching the talks unfold in Vienna remain skeptical that Iran will even hold up its end of any bargain that may be reached.

“If Iran agrees to something, history shows they will be lying—it will be the only time in 25 years Iran would not be secretly cheating on its nuclear obligations,” said the foreign policy strategist. “At this point, it seems that only more pressure will get Iran to dismantle its plutonium bomb factory and enough of its illicit nuclear infrastructure to assure us, our allies, Congress, and the American people that Iran won’t have the capability to build nukes.”

If Kerry and his team fail to deliver a deal that restricts many of the most controversial aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, Congress is likely to step in and impose new economic sanctions on Tehran—an outcome that will likely lead Iran to abandon any further negotiations.

“Without that [type of deal], there will be more sanctions on Iran, not fewer as Tehran seeks,” the source explained. “Even if that means a period of increased tension, Tehran won’t race ahead and will be back at the table soon, or it will soon again face a balance of payments crisis and economic default.”

However, Kerry’s version of a likely deal differs drastically from these parameters, which also are supported by a majority of Congress.

The Obama administration only hopes to delay Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon by about a year, according to U.S. officials quoted by the New York Times.

Congressional leaders have called this unacceptable, with many in the Senate promising to veto any final deal that caves to Iran’s demands to continue its nuclear enrichment regime.

“We are now just a few days away from the Iran nuclear deadline. And the P5+1 appear poised to accept a weak deal with a regime that cannot be trusted,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) said on Thursday. “Despite approximately $14 billion in direct sanctions relief, as well as incalculable indirect benefits to the Iranian economy and the nuclear program, Iran has repeatedly stated that it will never stop enriching uranium or take one step back in its research and development.”

General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told Congress Thursday afternoon that the White House’s goals with Iran are flawed. Even if Tehran’s program is stalled, the U.S. intelligence community is not capable of detecting an Iranian nuclear bomb, Hayden said.

“Because of the covert nature of Iran’s activities, American intelligence alone will not be able to verify the agreement,” Ros-Lehtinen reiterated. “It is impossible to verify Iran’s nuclear program because as the Defense Science Board report has said, the capability to detect Iran’s undeclared or covert nuclear sites is either inadequate or does not exist.”

Meanwhile, Kerry is scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond later Friday afternoon.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry will travel from Vienna to Paris Friday evening for consultations with his European counterparts. It is unknown whether or not he will return to Vienna before the Nov. 24 deadline, a sign talks are at an impasse and western delegations will plot the way forward.

Also by Adam Kredo:

Fred Fleitz: Fatally Flawed Negotiations with Iran — The WMD Perspective

CSP: Fred Fleitz, Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy; Former Chief of Staff to then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton; former Professional Staff Member, House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence; Former Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency speaks at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill regarding the fatally flawed negotiations with Iran.

 

Also see:

Completely Recasting U.S. National Security Policy For Dealing With Islamic Jihad

06listeningpost-5-jumboRight Side News, by Col. Tom Snodgrass (Ret.) Nov. 17, 2014:

Confusion Due To Faulty Assumptions

Consider the assumptions that underlie the current U.S. National Security Policy toward the Middle East and the wider Islamic world:

1. The Westphalian nation-state concept imposed on the Middle East by the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the aftermath of World War I is still an operative approach to partition peoples and territories into political entities, while ignoring the reality of the culture and history of religious, tribal, and geographical divisions.

2. The Sykes-Picot creation of the state of Iraq can function viably with a combined Shia-Sunni-Kurd government, while the similarly created state of Syria will also be viable with a combination Alawite-Sunni-Shia-Kurd polity functioning together.

3. The territorial sovereignty represented by the Iraq-Syrian border is still valid.

4. The U.S. can maintain simultaneous, balanced, effective alliances with Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and the various regional minor sects like Alawites.

5. The Khomeinist-Shia mullah government will negotiate discontinuation of their nuclear weapons development program and additionally will serve as a U.S. partner in maintaining political stability in the area of the Persian Gulf.

6. The Saudi, Egyptian, and Gulf Arab Sunnis will compliantly acquiesce to the new U.S.- Khomeinist-Shia Iranian alliance.

7. The absence of a two state Israel-Palestine solution is the driving force of Middle East instability, and it is the Israelis that are responsible for the impasse.

8. Turkey is a secular ally and is not pursuing a Sunni Islamist agenda.

9. Islamic jihad is not a politico-theocratic, imperialistic doctrine that is the organizing principle of Islam as mandated in the Quran, the Hadith, the Sira, and the Sharia and that those Muslims engaged in jihad are merely an isolated fringe.

The Reality

1. The nation-states created by Sykes-Picot have never functioned as intended and instead have been just geographical cauldrons for life-and-death, religious-tribal warfare for the political power to exploit religious-tribal enemies.

2. The reality of #1 above has been violently the case in Iraq and Syria where tribal-sectarian warfare has been what has masqueraded as “national politics” since their foundings.

3. The Sunni Islamic State has forever erased the Sykes-Picot political boundary between Iraq and Syria restoring cultural-historical, religious-tribal territorial hegemonies.

4. The Islamic world is on the brink of a total sectarian Sunni-Shia war for leadership of the Islamic jihad movement. The U.S. would be insane to get involved on one side or the other because the U.S. loses regardless which sectarians prevail.

5. It defies all sensibility to honestly believe that, after the Khomeinist-Shia mullah government of Iran has sacrificed so much national wealth and endured economically debilitating international sanctions, they will forego acquiring the nuclear means to their Khomeinist-Shia jihadist goals, as well as to regional hegemony over neighboring Sunnis.

6. With the Islamic world is on the brink of a total sectarian Sunni-Shia war and the Iranian mullahs on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, the Saudi, Egyptian, and Gulf Arab Sunnis will not hesitate to follow courses of action that are sectarian-religious and tribal motivated, which inevitably will be at cross purposes with U.S. interests.

7. A two state Israel-Palestine solution can never be achieved because it is written in the Islamic Sharia that once a territory is ruled by Sharia law (as Israel was under the Ottomans), it can never again be under the domination of non-Muslims. Therefore according to Sharia, it is obligatory that Muslims fight jihadist war until the territory is once again under Islamic control (such is the essence of the Hamas founding-purpose charter).

8. The Ataturk secularization of Turkey has failed, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (“AKP” in Turkish) have been slowly and deceptively introducing a Sunni Islamist political agenda piecemeal, while changing the Turks’ orientation from secular to Sunni Islamist. The Turks are no longer the reliable Cold War allies they once were.

9. Mohammad clearly stated to Muslims and is quoted in Islamic scripture: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat [which is charity only for fellow Muslims, and/or funding for jihad].”  The first part of this condition is the Shahada, or profession of faith in Islam that a non-Muslim must say in converting to Islam. Furthermore, it is clear that violence is sanctioned until the victims embrace Muhammad’s religion. Mohammad was not addressing “the fringe.” He was establishing the overriding dictum for all Muslims to follow.

Change Required

It is small wonder why the Obama Regime’s National Security Policy is in total disarray. The assumptions undergirding it have no relationships with reality. Were the Obama regime to change its assumptions, how could it recast the National Security Policy?

First, it is necessary to recognize that Iraq is already lost influence-wise to Iran. When Obama pulled U.S. troops out in 2011, Iran moved in and we will never again have the influence in Iraq that we had in 2011 (such as it was). That fact is not going to change as long as the Khomeinist-Shia mullah government rules Tehran, and Baghdad and Damascus by proxy. Therefore, we should not live in a fantasyland that “2011 Iraq” can or even should be recreated.

The purpose of President Bush’s war to democratize and nation-build an American ally in the middle of “Jihadistan” was very misguided, but the limited, tenuous ascendancy over the various Islamic forces in Iraq he gained with “the surge” and “Anbar Awakening” was lost when Obama forfeited Iraq to Iran by complete withdrawal of US forces, absolutely removing our political influence/power in Iraq. In Jihadistan, only force commands political power/influence.

Obama is truly a fool not to understand that fact of life in dealing with international affairs. Mao’s dictum that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” applies in day-to-day politics throughout the world with the current exceptions of the U.S., Western & parts of Central Europe, Australia, and Japan (and some other isolated polities around the world)! Any fool who denies the veracity of the Maoist political power dictum has no business being in charge of the fate of this nation! The Obama-variety utopian foolishness has prevailed in various forms in Democrat Party foreign policy since the McGovernites captured the Democrat Party in 1972.

A policy that would be in accord with reality would be to withdraw everything but U.S. diplomatic presence, along with the military force to protect it and to evacuate it, from Iraq. Let the Iranians have the lead in fighting the Islamic State, just as the Iranian mullahs have demanded. When the U.S. attacks the Islamic State, it is foolishly entering into the Salafist-Sunni/ Khomeinist-Shia religious-sectarian war. Taking military actions that would benefit Iran by removing the threat of the Islamic State from them makes no sense from the standpoint of U.S. national interests.

Another factor to consider in recasting policy is that the Islamic State is an existential threat to the House of Saud, which it wants to overthrow and replace as the true Salafist guardians of Mecca and Medina. The Islamic State’s physical presence on the borders of Iran and Saudi Arabia poses an existential threat to both regimes. If we remove ourselves as a buffer, they will both be forced to contend with the Islamic State for their own national security reasons.

We should encourage our three enemies — Iran/Islamic State/House of Saud (make no mistake, the Saudis are our covert Wahabbi enemies funding jihadist mosques throughout the world) — to war against each other and expend their resources in the fight. All three are more immediate threats to each other than the Islamic State is to us because of physical proximity. The three cannot coexist bordering each other, and they will have to deal with their immediate enemies before they can effectively concentrate jihad against us.

Once the latest Sunni-Shia battle reaches its conclusion, we should be mentally and physically prepared to fight and destroy the winner, when they emerge as a credible threat, which they will. In the meantime, we should invest in building Kurdistan into an independent, militarily capable separate nation-state that could be “our base of operations” for future activities in Jihadistan. Kurdistan could also serve as a safe-haven for Christians and other persecuted minorities that the Islamic State and the Khomeinist-Shiites target. Also, should the Sunni-Shia sectarian war force U.S. nationals to be evacuated from Iraq, Kurdistan could fulfill the role of first stage evacuation destination and way-station.

The Central Principle Guiding All Policy Changes

We have no “friends” in Syria, Iraq, or Jihadistan in general with the exception of the Israelis and Kurds. The current fighting in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon is a Salafist-Sunni/ Khomeinist-Shia religious-sectarian war — we don’t win regardless which sect prevails. So, we should stay out of it. Our immediate national counter-jihad priorities regarding the Islamic State, Iran, and the entire Jihadistan should be:

  • Aiding our Israeli-Kurdish allies protect themselves
  • Providing humanitarian assistance/protection to religious and racial minorities persecuted by the Salafist-Sunni and Khomeinist-Shia jihadists
  • Preparing to counter either Salafist-Sunni or Khomeinist-Shia jihadists when they expand their operations beyond Jihadistan into Europe and the U.S.
  • Closing our borders and improving our visa/immigration administration, while cancelling further Muslim immigration into the U.S.
  • Increasing our national efforts to become carbon energy independent

Conclusion

Aside, from the great power, geopolitical competition emanating from Russia and China, we must acknowledge that the current international disarray in the world stems from Islamic jihad. Whether the terror and death is committed by jihadist “lone wolves,” the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, al-Nusra, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Taliban, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hezbollah, or al-Quds Force, to name a few of the more well-known Islamic terror organizations, there is no denying that the genesis of the terror is the Quran, be it a Sunni or Shiite putting the Quranic murder mandates into practice. All U.S. National Security Policy decisions must be made with that undeniable fact as a primary consideration.

Col_Thomas_Snodgrass_USAFCol. Thomas Snodgrass, USAF (retired) served over a year in Peshawar, Pakistan, working with Pakistani military intelligence. During his year in Vietnam he daily scheduled 130 U.S. Army and Air Force intelligence collection aircraft. In his final overseas tour he was the U.S. Air Attaché behind the Iron Curtain in Warsaw, Poland. In total, Col. Snodgrass was variously an Intelligence Officer or an International Politico-Military Affairs Officer serving duty tours in seven foreign countries, as well as teaching military history and strategy at the Air War College, US Air Force Academy, and USAF Special Operations School during a thirty-year military career.

Additionally, he was awarded an Air Force scholarship to get a history master’s degree in revolutionary insurgent warfare at the University of Texas, as well as being granted a year’s educational sabbatical to teach and to write about international relations as an Air Force Research Associate in the graduate school at the Center for Advanced International Studies, University of Miami, Florida. Following the Air Force, Col. Snodgrass was an adjunct professor of military history for ten years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona.

National Leaders Urge Congress To Repudiate Iran Nuclear Talks And Any Agreement They Might Produce

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(Washington, D.C.): Today, the Center for Security Policy released a letter signed by 17 prominent security policy practitioners and other national leaders denouncing the Obama administration’s conduct of the nuclear talks with Iran and the seriously defective deal likely to emerge from them. Signatories include: former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave,formerAssistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter, formerAssistant Secretary of Defense (Acting) Frank Gaffney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jack David, National Review Editor Rich Lowry and Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes. 

The letter calls on the U.S. Congress to repudiate this year’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran and dissects the terms of the agreement it is reportedly producing. The authors believe the United States and its Western allies have already given away too much to Iran – and still moreconcessions appear to be in the offing.  Their professional assessment is that any accord along these lines will be a threat to our interests, allies and security.

Key problems with the incipient agreement identified in the open letter, which was organized by the Center for Security Policy, include:

  • The deal will effectively concede to Iran the “right” to enrich uranium and allow Iran to continue uranium enrichment.
  • It will permit Iran to install new, still more advanced centrifuges and to retain its large stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
  • It will not require Iran to disassemble existing centrifuges, its underground Fordow enrichment facility or its plutonium-producing Arak heavy water reactor now under construction.

In the signatories’ judgment these dangerous U.S. concessions will do virtually nothing to stop, or even substantially to delay, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  They note estimates by three leading Washington think tanks that Iran will retain its presently assessed capability of producing weapons-grade nuclear fuel in as little as four-to-six weeks from a decision to do so.

In addition to raising their concerns about these disturbing U.S. concessions, the authors of the letter expressed alarm that Iran is already defying a key premise of this year’s nuclear talks and prerequisite for any future deal – namely, that the regime in Tehran would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In that connection, Iran was supposed to give IAEA inspectors unrestricted access to Iranian nuclear sites and answer outstanding questions about the military dimensions of its nuclear program. The signatories conclude that since Iran has failed to live up to these commitments even before an agreement was reached, there is no reason to believe it will abide by these or similar obligations in the final, comprehensive agreement that the Obama administration is trying to finalize by a November 24 deadline.  Neither is there reason to expect that the mullahs will cooperate with efforts by the IAEA to monitor their future compliance with such an accord.

Finally, the authors of the joint letter regard as wholly unacceptable President Obama’s reported intention to deny the U.S. Congress any say in the forthcoming nuclear agreement with Iran and his plan to suspend unilaterally statutorily mandated U.S. sanctions against Iran once a final accord is reached. It appears that Mr. Obama is proceeding in this fashion precisely because he knows that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would find his deal unsupportable.

The letter concluded by stating that Congress must act now to prevent the realization and implementation by the United States of an extremely bad nuclear deal with Iran. Its signatories called on lawmakers to:

…Adopt legislation to repudiate the nuclear agreement now taking shape.  We urge you and your colleagues to insist that a coherent, realistic and firm U.S. policy be adopted instead, one aimed at actually preventing the Iranian regime from realizing its nuclear weapons ambitions.  This should require, at a minimum, that there be no further easing of sanctions or further talks with Iran until Tehran complies with all UN Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program, fully cooperates with the IAEA, and provides truthful answers to all outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

View full text: Iran letter to Congress 111214

Also see: 

The Obama Administration’s Strategic Schizophrenia

obamasCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Last week in the Wall Street Journal it was reported that the Obama administration sought an agreement on fighting ISIS with Iran:

The correspondence underscores that Mr. Obama views Iran as important—whether in a potentially constructive or negative role—to his emerging military and diplomatic campaign to push Islamic State from the territories it has gained over the past six months. Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.

It is now being reported that the same administration believes ISIS cannot be defeated without overthrowing Assad:

President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN. The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront ISIS first in Iraq and then take the group’s fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation. In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.”

The contradiction between these two policies should be obvious, as Iran has expended ample time, funds, and men (primarily through proxy forces like Hezbollah and other Shia militias) to keep Assad in power. In fact overthrowing Assad would by necessity require the targeting and destruction of some of the very same forces that the Obama administration envisioned fighting ISIS on our behalf in Iraq.

The administration’s utter strategic incoherence is founded on an unwillingness to comprehend what drives both the Iranian aims (through proxies in Iraq and Syria), as well as the forces arrayed against them.  As we have repeatedly pointed out here on the Free Fire blog (See here, here, and here), the Syrian opposition is dominated by Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-allied Islamist militias connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama Administration’s policy for Syria has involved alternatively partnering with these Islamists, while also bombing certain units of them during the course of the air campaign against ISIS. All sides in the current regional conflict are motivated by the same ideological agenda, establishing their hegemony in the region in order to extend (their particularly sectarian brand) of Islamic law, and to use future gains as a base for further jihad against their enemies, including principally the United States. Whether the U.S. attempts to partner with Iran against ISIS, or Al Qaeda against ISIS, or the Muslim Brotherhood against Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood against Iran, every permutation will result in the same eventual outcome. Victory for enemies of the United States.

The Obama administration has prided itself on it’s attention to “nuance”. In its dealings in the Middle East, it has repeatedly attempted to tease out differences and distinctions that are at best irrelevant, leading to the construction of a world view that is ultimately divorced from reality in any meaningful way. The result is that this Administration finds itself simultaneously on all sides, and still the wrong sides, of every strategic challenge.

BLACK: It’s Not The Centrifuges-It’s The Warhead

iranian-nuclear-weaponTruth Revolt, By Edwin Black, Nov. 11, 2014:

November 24, 2014 is a looming deadline for Iran, Israel, the United States and the world over its nuclear weapons program. Just days ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] released a report summarized by its conclusion: “The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation.”

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, leading the international negotiations, has described the back and forth as “a forest of distrust.” At the same time, she declares, “Our bottom line is unambiguous … Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.” In the background, media revelations recently disclosed secret correspondence between the Obama White House to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — kept even from Congressional leaders and America’s closest allies and Israel. Washington is struggling to enlist Tehran in the faltering campaign against the Islamic State. This process has juggled agreed numbers of centrifuges — a limit of 4,000 … or is it 10,000 … or is it something in between? Centrifuges are a critical component because each vertical cylinder slowly but steadily distills uranium into a highly enriched weapon-ready state.

However, as the world ponders Iran’s dash to enrich more kilograms of uranium, the underlying concern is not so much about the enrichment process itself, but the end product: a nuclear warhead. Iran has been developing its warhead for some sixteen years. That design is nearly perfected.

Compare the process to gunpowder. To use gunpowder, you need load it into a cartridge, load the cartridge and a bullet into a rifle, and then find a marksman. Iran has nearly mastered all those steps — but in nuclear terms.

Four technological achievements are key to completing Tehran’s nuclear weapon:

1) accretion of enough nuclear materials, highly enriched to weapons-grade or 90 percent; 2) machining that material into metal for a spheroid warhead so it can fit into a missile nosecone; 3) developing a trigger mechanism to initiate the atomic explosion at a precise moment during missile reentry; and, of course, 4) a reliable delivery system.

Start with the nuclear material. Experts estimate that a single bomb would require approximately 25 kilograms of Highly Enriched Uranium, or HEU, with a U-235 concentration of at least 90 percent. Much of Iran’s nuclear enrichment remains at 3.5 and 20 percent levels. But the numbers are deceiving. Enriching to 3.5 percent is 75 percent of the task of reaching weapons-grade. Once Iran has reached 20 percent, it has gone 90 percent of the distance. Indeed, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivered a 2005 speech in his capacity as National Security Advisor in which he declared, “a country that possesses fuel cycle technology can enrich uranium —and the country that can enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent.” Today, Iran possesses enough nuclear material for a fast “break-out” that would finish the job, creating enough for five or ten bombs, in about six weeks.

Second, that HEU must be metalized and shaped into a dense spheroid compact enough to fit into a missile nosecone. Iran has mastered the metallurgical techniques using other high-density metals such as tungsten, which have been test-detonated in a special chamber to measure their explosive character.

Third, the spheroid must be detonated. Iran’s warhead design employs a R265 shock generator hemisphere drilled with 5mm boreholes that are filled with PETN— pentaerythritol tetranitrate, an organic high explosive favored by terrorists. When triggered with precision, the PETN array can cause a massive synchronized implosion. That will fire an internal exploding bridgewire which will in turn actuate an embedded neutron initiator to detonate the atomic reaction—and the mushroom cloud. This sequence of devices has been assembled and tested. Iran has some 500 exploding bridgewires.

Fourth, the warhead must be delivered. The Shabab-3 missile nosecone is large enough to accommodate the warhead. The outer radius of the R265 shock generator-encased warhead is 550 millimeters, less than the estimated payload chamber diameter of about 600 millimeters. Most of all, the Iranian military has selected the Shabab-3 not only because it possesses a range of 1200 kilometers, but because it can be detonated in an airburst some 600 meters off the ground on re-entry. The height of 600 meters was used in the Nagasaki explosion. Such a weapon cannot be crashed into the ground. It must be detonated while still airborne. Iran has a small fleet of Shahab-3 missiles.

Hence, Iran’s metronomic accretion of nuclear material is not just an ambiguous physics undertaking that should worry the West. It is part and parcel of a nuclear attack plan that the international community is determined to address.

Edwin Black is the author of 11 award-winning editions, including IBM and the Holocaust,and his most recent book Financing the Flames. The author can be found at www.edwinblack.com

Also see:

US Embracement of Iran Will Only Help the Islamic State

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

As the November 24 deadline for a deal with Iran looms, President Obama wrote a secret letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei reportedly suggesting a common bond against the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS or ISIL).

The unpublished letter reportedly offered cooperation with Iran against ISIS if a nuclear deal is reached. Secretary of State Kerry saidthis is incorrect and that the nuclear negotiations are being treated as a wholly independent issue.

The evidence supports Kerry, as Iran publicly rejected cooperation with the U.S. against ISIS in September. There has already been some level of indirect coordination, as U.S. airstrikes assisted Iraqi forces and two Iranian-sponsored militias, Asaib Al-Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, in breaking the ISIS siege of Amerli.

President Obama similarly said the U.S. is not coordinating with Iran and that the nuclear issue is not being paired with the ISIS issue. He would not confirm or deny the letter but said he told Iran, “Don’t mess with us, we’re not here to mess with you. We’re focused on our common enemy.”

The White House ruled out military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Iran, raising the question of what kind of relationship the U.S. is seeking with Iran.

The letter underscores one of the biggest flaws in the U.S. strategy against ISIS: The failure to tackle Iranian-backed militias in Iraq whose activity fuels ISIS and other Sunni extremists and undermines the Iraqi government.

Iran needs ISIS and Al-Qaeda just as these organizations “need” Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies, the Syrian regime, have a strategy of setting up Al-Qaeda and ISIS as their opponents  so they can purport themselves up as the “moderate” alternative.

That is why Iran helps Al-Qaeda, even permitting it to use Iranian territory to send fighters to Syria. And that’s why, as senior U.S. Treasury Department official David Cohen mentioned, the Assad regime buys oil from ISIS.

Yet, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, James Jeffrey, hit the nail on the head when he said Supreme Leader Khamenei “is basically a believer in a very similar Islamic philosophy to that of ISIS…It is a pan-Islamic force of revolutionary bent.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Iran Switching to Hard Ball in a Last Attempt to Control Iraq

Shi'ite fighters and Iraqi army members participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Jurf al-Sakhar October 26, 2014.(Photo: © Reuters)

Shi’ite fighters and Iraqi army members participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Jurf al-Sakhar October 26, 2014.(Photo: © Reuters)

The unforeseen ouster of Nouri al-Maliki represented a major defeat for the Iranian regime’s agenda in Iraq. Tactics had to be switched.

BY JACOB CAMPBELL:

“Good Opportunity”

A “good opportunity” is how Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi – one of the Iranian regime’s most senior clerics – described the events of June 10.

By most accounts, the fall of Mosul on that date was exactly the crisis the mullahs needed to tighten their grip on Iraq.

In a June 16  article for the New York Times, under the headline “ISIS Will Fail in Iraq, and Iran Will Be the Victor,” Steven Simon of the Middle East Institute predicted that, “to the extent that this sectarian brawl produces something resembling a winner, it won’t be in Washington, Mosul or Baghdad – but in Tehran.”

Drawing much the same conclusion, Middle East experts Michael Doran and Max Boot wrote in the Washington Post on June 17 that “the rise of ISIS provides Tehran with multiple benefits. For one thing, it makes … the Shi’ites of Iraq ever more dependent on Iranian protection.”

Nor is the long shadow cast over Iraq by the Iranian regime visible only from a Western perspective.

As Iraq’s Azzaman daily – a favourite of Iraqis in the country’s predominantly Shi’ite south – reported on September 4, “The stunning military successes by the Islamic State (IS) have made Iraq more reliant on Iran than any time before … IS’s invasion [has] given Tehran more leverage on almost all aspects of life in the country.”

Likewise, on October 1, Iranian dissident and human rights activist Amir Basiri argued in Forbes magazine that “Iran has been able to benefit immensely from the havoc that the Islamic State has wreaked across Iraq … [by using it] as an excuse to surge thousands of troops through the porous Iran-Iraq border and notch up the violent activities of its many proxy militia groups.”

Indeed, in the months that followed the Mosul takeover, at least 5,000 Revolutionary Guards – including 200 elite Qods Force officers – swarmed across the border into Iraq, while membership of the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia tripled to over 30,000, swelling the total number of Iraq’s Shi’ite militiamen to well in excess of 150,000.

Consequently, the Pentagon assessed that, by mid-July, the Iraqi army was “deeply infiltrated” and had become “heavily dependent on Shi’ite militias – many of which were trained in Iran – as well as on advisers from Iran’s paramilitary Qods Force,” the New York Timesrevealed.

According to Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, as reported by the World Tribune on September 22, “A study by US Central Command determined that 24 of the 50 brigades in the Iraqi army … [are] dominated by Shi’ites believed [to be] aligned with Iran.”

In an interview with CNN on October 13, Fareed Zakaria of the Council on Foreign Relations summarised the state of Iraq’s military in blunter – but no less accurate – terms: “There’s no real Iraqi army … If you scratch the surface of the Iraqi army, it’s a bunch of sectarian militias.”

All of this corroborates the following information, contained in a report handed to the author during a meeting with Iraqi tribal representatives in late June:

“Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), has set up his headquarters in the Baghdad International Airport zone, where he is directing the reorganisation and amalgamation of the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias into 200-man battalions, each of which is to be commanded by an IRGC-QF officer. Soleimani’s chief of staff is Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, a senior advisor to the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia … Recently, Soleimani met with Hadi al-Ameri, Iraqi Transport Minister and leader of the Badr Brigade militia, to negotiate the merger of the Badr Organisation with Kata’ib Hezbollah … For all intents and purposes, Soleimani is now the commander-in-chief of Iraq’s armed forces.”

Rather than downplaying its control over the Iraqi army, the Iranian regime has sought to publicize it, with the state-run Fars Newsproudly affirming that “Soleimani is the actual leader of the Iraqi forces,” according to Iraqi News.

With Iraq in chaos and the reins of its military firmly in the mullahs’ hands, the Iran newspaper – a publication owned by the Islamic Republic News Agency – felt confident enough to claim in a June 26 editorial that, “[since] there is no way to resolve the escalating crisis in Iraq domestically, … Iran can pave the way for an interim coalition” to govern Iraq.

This, however, proved to be an overoptimistic miscalculation.

Read more at Clarion Project

Jacob Campbell is a Senior Fellow of the Humanitarian Intervention Centre, Head of Research at Stand for Peace, and Co-Chairman of the Ashraf Campaign (ASHCAM). He tweets@JCampbellUKIPon Twitter.

Also see:

Netanyahu: ‘There is No Moderation in Iran’

 

BY:
November 10, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Monday to a 9-step plan to eliminate Israel posted by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday.

Netanyahu warned that an impending deal over Iran’s nuclear program negotiated among the P5+1 (permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) does not take into account the violent and inflammatory rhetoric emanating from the Iranian regime.

“He is publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he’s negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” Netanyahu said. “There is no moderation in Iran.”

Netanyahu slammed efforts to reach a ‘deal’ with Iran, citing the Iranian regime’s failure to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors and dishonesty in disclosing information regarding its nuclear weapons program.

“It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said. “This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. I call on the P5+1 countries: don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

****

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei Tweets: Israel Should be Wiped Off the Map. CNN Says It Doesn’t Matter - Fred Fleitz

Today’s big news about Iran concerns a message posted to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei official Twitter account  with a link to his nine-step plan to eliminate the state of Israel.  More details HERE.  The Iranian leader said he prefers Israel be eliminated by a referendum from which “Jewish immigrants” would be excluded.  If this is not possible, Khamenei said  “powerful confrontation and resolute and armed resistance” is the only solution.

This is obviously an important development as the West presses to seal a controversial nuclear deal with Iran that will have a negligible effect in slowing its pursuit of nuclear weapons.   Khamenei’s comments are troubling because they indicate that this kind of hateful rhetoric, which was often expressed by former Iranian President Mamoud Ahmadinejad, continues to be the official view of the Iranian regime despite the election of the supposedly “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013.

You wouldn’t know this from CNN’s coverage of this issue this morning when a reporter made the incredible assertion that Khamenei’s tweet may not matter because there are other views in the Iranian leadership and since Iran and the West are on the brink of striking an historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

CNN apparently does not understand why Khamenei’s title is “Supreme Leader.”

CNN, like the foreign policy establishment, is in lock step with the Obama administration in denying the threat from Iran to get a nuclear agreement with Iran to bolster the Obama legacy.  Dismissing such an outrageous message from Iran’s Supreme Leader is an indication of how far the Obama administration’s media enablers are prepared to go.

Also see:

ISRAEL SECURITY SUMMIT – Boykin, West, McInerney, Berntsen! (pt.2)

Published on Nov 7, 2014 by theunitedwest

Part 2 of 2 – (see part 1 here) Israel Security Summit, September 9, 2014, Stoughton, MA, Congregation Ahavath Torah, Rabbi Jonathan Hausman. In this two-part series you will hear from four of the world’s top experts on US National Security and our relationship with Israel. The panelists are LTG. Jerry Boykin (ret), former commander of Delta Force, LTG. Tom McInerney,(ret) former combat pilot with over 4000 hours and 400 missions and CIA Station Chief Jerry Boykin, who headed up the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in 2003 in Afghanistan. The moderator for this highly-charged panel is LTC Allen West (ret) a combat veteran who also served as a US Congressman from Florida. Part 1 also has a award presentation to Revere Chief of Police, Joseph Cafarelli who was instrumental in capturing the Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Sit back, watch the two parts and get ready to get very upset at the Obama Administration’s failures with Israel and get ready to stand with Israel in the very dangerous days ahead. Contact The United West for more information as to how you can help!

Obama’s Pandering to Iran Has No Limits

1578134015CSP, by Fred Fleitz:

The Obama administration is in desperation mode on the nuclear talks with Iran.  With the prospect of a Republican Senate taking action next year to thwart its controversial nuclear diplomacy and a fast approaching November 24 deadline for the talks, the Obama administration reportedly has doubled down on its previous one-sided concessions to Tehran by offering to allow it to operate up to 6,000 uranium centrifuges.

Further confusing this situation, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the president wrote a secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei in which he reportedly stressed that “any cooperation on the Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a November 24 diplomatic deadline.”

Although the Obama administration made several disturbing concessions to get Iran to the bargaining table, one of the worst was implicitly conceding to Tehran the “right” to enrich uranium by allowing it to operate uranium centrifuges.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly made this point when he visited the United States in September when he said Iran has no need for uranium enrichment and any enrichment it conducts is for one purpose: making nuclear bombs.

Charles Krauthammer made a similar point during the Fox News Special Report program last night, saying that to get a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration “has abolished the central idea of nonproliferation . . . you cannot enrich.”

Using 9,000 centrifuges currently operating, Iran is enriching to reactor-grade enough uranium to fuel about two nuclear weapons per year if further enriched to weapons-grade.  Although allowing Iran to operate 6,000 centrifuges means it would accumulate reactor-grade uranium at a slightly slower pace, this proposal ignores the risk from Iran’s large reactor-grade uranium stockpile and the fact that far fewer centrifuges are needed to enrich to weapons-grade from reactor-grade.

Using less than 2,000 centrifuges, Iran could enrich from reactor-grade to weapons grade in 2.2 to 3.5 months.  Iran currently has enough reactor-grade uranium to make enough weapons-grade nuclear fuel for at least seven nuclear weapons if further enriched.

The Obama administration’s decision to allow Iran to enrich uranium was unconscionable and made the negotiations to slow or halt the Iranian nuclear program an unacceptable risk to American and international security from the outset.  Over the last year, Obama officials gave away more and more to Tehran in the nuclear talks, setting the stage for a final agreement that is certain to be a diplomatic train wreck.

Words escape me to discuss the foolhardiness of the letter that President Obama reportedly sent to Ayatollah Khamenei last month.  Given that Iran is in part to blame for the surge in sectarian violence in Iraq since 2011 due to its ties to the Maliki government and its training of Iraqi Shiite militias, why would the United States be discussing cooperation with Iranian officials against the Islamic State and linking this to getting a nuclear agreement?  If the United States was to say anything to Iran about restoring stability to Iraq and defeating the Islamic State, it should be: “Stop meddling in Iraq!”

A Republican Senate and responsible oversight of the president’s abysmal foreign policy cannot come soon enough.

POTUS OBAMA SENT SECRET LETTER TO IRAN’S LEADERSHIP; SEEKING TEHRAN’S HELP AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE; PLEDGED NOT TO TAKE OUT ASSAD

ayattollah, November 7, 2014 · by R.C. Porter:

Disastrous and ill-conceived. From the very beginning of POTUS Obama’s first term in office, he and his ‘team’ have sought to offend our friends and appease our adversaries. One of POTUS Obama’s first foreign policy affronts against a long-time ally, was to send the bust of Winston Churchill back to England. Great start on how not to win friends and influence people. POTUS Obama’s view of the world and his perceived belief that America was in large part to blame for many of the world’s ills was naïve and perplexing. From his — can’t we all just get along speech in Cairo, to his failure to support the Iran uprising after a corrupt Presidential vote, his re-set with Russia, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq too quickly and without a tether, failure to check China’s aggressive posture in the western Pacific, backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and now appeasing the Mullahs of Iran and the butcher of Syria — Obama’s foreign policy is breathtaking in its fecklessness and vacuity. The best way to defeat the Islamic State — is also take out Assad. The U.S. should have taken out Syrian military airfields — the minute we began bombing ISIS positions in northern Syria. And, we surely do not want to encourage the Mullahs in Tehran/Qum that they can still produce a nuclear weapon, or achieve a near-constant breakout capability with a deal more to their liking — because of a U.S. President’s desperation for a deal — at almost any price. Very, very disturbing. No wonder this letter was sent in secret, and without Congressional input, or knowledge. RCP.

 

Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran’s Khamenei About Fighting Islamic State

Presidential Correspondence With Ayatollah Stresses Shared U.S.-Iranian Interests in Combating Insurgents, Urges Progress on Nuclear Talks

By JAY SOLOMON And CAROL E. LEE, Nov. 6, 2014

WASHINGTON-President Barack Obama secretly wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the middle of last month and described a shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, according to people briefed on the correspondence.

The letter appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.

Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say.

The October letter marked at least the fourth time Mr. Obama has written Iran’s most powerful political and religious leader since taking office in 2009 and pledging to engage with Tehran’s Islamist government.

The correspondence underscores that Mr. Obama views Iran as important-whether in a potentially constructive or negative role-to his emerging military and diplomatic campaign to push Islamic State from the territories it has gained over the past six months.

Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.

Mr. Obama and senior administration officials in recent days have placed the chances for a deal with Iran at only 50-50. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to begin intensive direct negotiations on the nuclear issue with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, on Sunday in the Persian Gulf country of Oman.

“There’s a sizable portion of the political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism,” Mr. Obama said at a White House news conference on Wednesday about Iran’s leadership, without commenting on his personal overture. “Whether they can manage to say ‘Yes’…is an open question.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, foreground left, met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, background right, in Vienna in July. ENLARGE
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, foreground left, met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, background right, in Vienna in July. JIM BOURG

For the first time this week, a senior administration official said negotiations could be extended beyond the Nov. 24 deadline, adding that the White House will know after Mr. Kerry’s trip to Oman whether a deal with Iran is possible by late November.

“We’ll know a lot more after that meeting as to whether or not we have a shot at an agreement by the deadline,” the senior official said. “If there’s an extension, there’re questions like: What are the terms?”

Mr. Obama’s push for a deal faces renewed resistance after Tuesday’s elections gave Republicans control of the Senate and added power to thwart an agreement and to impose new sanctions on Iran. Sens. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) have introduced legislation to intensify sanctions.

‘There’s a sizable portion of the [Iranian] political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism. Whether they can manage to say ‘Yes’…is an open question.’

-Barack Obama

“The best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to quickly pass the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk legislation-not to give the Iranians more time to build a bomb,” Mr. Kirk said Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) expressed concern when asked about the letter sent by Mr. Obama.

“I don’t trust the Iranians, I don’t think we need to bring them into this,” Mr. Boehner said. Referring to the continuing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Mr. Boehner said he “would hope that the negotiations that are under way are serious negotiations, but I have my doubts.”

In a sign of the sensitivity of the Iran diplomacy, the White House didn’t tell its Middle East allies-including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates-about Mr. Obama’s October letter to Mr. Khamenei, according to people briefed on the correspondence and representatives of allied countries.

Leaders from these countries have voiced growing concern in recent weeks that the U.S. is preparing to significantly soften its demands in the nuclear talks with Tehran. They said they worry the deal could allow Iran to gain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in the future.

Arab leaders also fear Washington’s emerging rapprochement with Tehran could come at the expense of their security and economic interests across the Middle East. These leaders have accused the U.S. of keeping them in the dark about its diplomatic engagements with Tehran.

The Obama administration launched secret talks with Iran in the Omani capital of Muscat in mid-2012, but didn’t notify Washington’s Mideast allies of the covert diplomatic channel until late 2013.

Senior U.S. officials declined to discuss Mr. Obama’s letter to Mr. Khamenei after questions from The Wall Street Journal.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to comment on what he called “private correspondence” between the president and world leaders, but acknowledged U.S. officials in the past have discussed the Islamic State campaign with Iranian officials on the sidelines of international nuclear talks. He added the negotiations remain centered on Iran’s nuclear program and reiterated that the U.S. isn’t cooperating militarily with Iran on the Islamic State fight.

Administration officials didn’t deny the letter’s existence when questioned by foreign diplomats in recent days.

Mr. Khamenei has proved a fickle diplomatic interlocutor for Mr. Obama in the past six years.

Mr. Obama sent two letters to Iran’s 75-year-old supreme leader during the first half of 2009, calling for improvements in U.S.-Iran ties, which had been frozen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran.

Mr. Khamenei never directly responded to the overtures, according to U.S. officials. And Iran’s security forces cracked down hard that year on nationwide protests that challenged the re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad .

Mr. Khamenei is believed to be the decision maker on the nuclear program. ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S.-Iran relations have thawed considerably since the election of President Hasan Rouhani in June 2013. He and Mr. Obama shared a 15-minute phone call in September 2013, and Messrs. Kerry and Zarif have regularly held direct talks on the nuclear diplomacy and regional issues.

Still, Mr. Khamenei has often cast doubt on the prospects for better relations with Washington. He has criticized the U.S. military campaign against Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, claiming it is another attempt by Washington and the West to weaken the Islamic world.

“America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions-the wicked government of Britain-have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shiites,” Mr. Khamenei said in a speech last month, according to a copy of it on his website. “They created al Qaeda and [Islamic State] in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them.”

Current and former U.S. officials have said Mr. Obama has focused on communicating with Mr. Khamenei specifically because they believe the cleric will make all the final decisions on Iran’s nuclear program and the fight against Islamic State.

Mr. Rouhani is seen as navigating a difficult balance of gaining Mr. Khamenei’s approval for his foreign policy decisions while trying to satisfy Iranian voters who elected him in the hope of seeing Iran re-engage with the Western world.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency checks the enrichment process inside the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in January. ENLARGE
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency checks the enrichment process inside the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in January. EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The emergence of Islamic State has drastically changed both Washington’s and Tehran’s policies in the Middle East.

Mr. Obama was elected on the pledge of ending Washington’s war in Iraq. But over the past three months, he has resumed a U.S. air war in the Arab country, focused on weakening Islamic State’s hold of territory in western and northern Iraq.

Iran has had to mobilize its own military resources to fight against Islamic State, according to senior Iranian and U.S. officials.

Tehran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has sent military advisers into Iraq to help the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a close Iranian ally. The IRGC has also worked with Syrian President Assad’s government, and Shiite militias from across the Mideast, to conduct military operations inside Syria.

U.S. officials have stressed that they are not coordinating with Tehran on the fight against Islamic State.

But the State Department has confirmed that senior U.S. officials have discussed Iraq with Mr. Zarif on the sidelines of nuclear negotiations in Vienna. U.S. diplomats have also passed on messages to Tehran via Mr. Abadi’s government in Baghdad and through the offices of Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, among the most powerful religious leaders in the Shiite world.

Among the messages conveyed to Tehran, according to U.S. officials, is that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria aren’t aimed at weakening Tehran or its allies.

“We’ve passed on messages to the Iranians through the Iraqi government and Sistani saying our objective is against ISIL,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on these communications. “We’re not using this as a platform to reoccupy Iraq or to undermine Iran.”

-Michael R. Crittenden contributed to this article.

Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee atcarol.lee@wsj.com

Iran Quietly Fearful of Republican Takeover of Congress

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Hassan Rouhani / AP

By Adam Kredo:

Iranian leaders are quietly expressing fear about the Republican takeover of Congress Tuesday night, with many conveying concerns that Tehran has lost a key bloc of U.S. Democrats who wanted to roll back economic sanctions and hand Iran a favorable nuclear deal, according to an internal CIA analysis and Farsi language reports.

Fears about the Republican takeover of Congress have plagued Iranian leaders for weeks, according to the CIA analysis obtained by theWashington Free Beacon that outlines internal commotion in Iran over the shifting political tides in the United States.

The eventual outcome of Tuesday’s elections prompted many Iranian commenters and officials to express concern that years of U.S. capitulation to Iranian demands might soon come to an end.

Republican gains in Congress appear to have motivated Iran to work harder toward inking a nuclear deal with the Obama administration before the lame duck legislative session concludes, according to an official analysis by the CIA’s Open Source Center authored ahead of the midterm elections.

Some Iranians are now betting that the White House will fully lift sanctions before the new Congress assembles and that it will also sign a deal that permits Tehran to continue enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.

“Iranian media from across the political spectrum have cautioned that potential Republican gains in the upcoming U.S. congressional mid-term elections could disrupt the ongoing nuclear negotiations,” the CIA’s Open Source Center wrote in an Oct. 31 analysis marked unclassified but for official use only.

“Some commentary has focused on the possibility that political deadlock between President Obama and Republicans if the latter gain a majority in Congress would constrain the U.S. President’s ability to strike a deal with Iran by [the] 24 November [deadline], while other commentators have highlighted concerns that Republicans may be more reluctant to ease sanctions on Iran, which is a key point of contention for Iran in nuclear negotiations,” according to the CIA analysis.

Tehran’s fears came to fruition on Tuesday night and prompted Iranian commenters and even government officials to express a renewed sense of urgency about finalizing a nuclear deal with the White House.

The spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security Committee predicted negotiations with the Obama administration would continue, but added that Americans must now “drink the cup of poison” as a result of the elections, according to a Persian language report in Iran’s Fars News Agency.

“The change in the balance of power in Senate has no effect on the nuclear negotiations,” Seyyed Hussain Naqavi Husseini, spokesperson for Iran’s National Security Committee of its Parliament, was quoted as saying.

The “Islamic Republic knows that due to Zionists’ influence in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, it is difficult for U.S. politicians to make a decision but this time they should drink the cup of poison,” Hussaini said. “Americans should recognize Iran’s rights and if they do that we can reach to agreement.”

Continued talks with Iran hinge on Obama’s ability to lift sanctions, according to the CIA analysis.

“Hardline media in the past few months questioned the efficacy of nuclear talks if the U.S. president is unable to lift sanctions unilaterally,” the Open Source Center wrote. “They also have exploited disagreements on the nuclear negotiations in the domestic U.S. political arena as a means to warn President Hassan Rouhani to remember Iranian domestic political obligations when considering terms agreed to in any final deal.”

Conservative Iranian pundit Fuad Izadi admitted on Wednesday that the situation had just gotten “much worse” as a result of the elections since a Republican Congress is likely to try to block any nuclear deal that they view as too favorable to Tehran.

Other Iranian analysts labeled the next two months as critical for the Obama administration to reach a deal with Iran.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Also see:

A rose-colored glasses vision of a ‘new Iran’

Expecting Tehran to surrender its nuclear ambitions is wishful thinking

- – Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The British Economist magazine gave its Nov. 1-7 cover story over to a lengthy puff piece on Iran, just in time for the U.S. congressional elections — or more likely, aimed at the looming Nov. 24 deadline for the current round of the endless “P5 + 1″ talks on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

“The revolution is over,” The Economist bleated: The new, younger Iranian generation, all born well after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution, aren’t religious, don’t go to the mosque and care a lot more about the Internet, getting ahead materially, and getting their hands on cutting-edge technology than Islam. Besides, according to Jack Straw, a former British foreign minister cited for the report, “Tehran looks and feels these days more like Madrid and Athens than Mumbai or Cairo.” (Given the burgeoning Muslim populations in European capitals, he may have a point.) The Green Movement is so five years ago, and Election Day marked 35 years since the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.

Yes, some people got beaten up or arrested, tortured even, after those fraudulent 2009 presidential elections, but things have settled down a lot since then, says The Economist. The Qods Force is just “a special-operations unit” that “fights on Iran’s behalf outside the country” — nothing to do with exporting the revolution, liaison with Islamic terror groups such as al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic State or the Taliban, or managing narcotrafficking operations in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Americas.

Besides, the Iranians’ new president, Hassan Rouhani, is a “centrist” and “the face of moderation” in Iran today. Aside from the more than 900 executions in Iran since he became president in 2013, the important thing is that he’s been reaching out to the neighbors, you know: helping prop up Iranian puppets in Iraq and Syria, making sure Hamas doesn’t run out of missiles to lob at Israel, and reassuring internationally wanted war criminal, Sudanese President Omar Bashir, that charges of genocide are no impediment to good bilateral relations. As we should all realize by now, “Iran is a bastion of stability.” (Where did we hear that phrase before? Oh, yes, that was President Carter, when he called Iran “an island of stability” — in 1978, right before the revolution broke out.)

All of which is to say that everybody should just calm down, forget they ever read the Iranian Constitution (which cites the Koranic command to terrorism and dedicates the country to global jihad), and give the mullahs and their revolutionary goons a chance. A chance to reach an agreement in the nuclear negotiations, by the deadline, please. After all, Iran “says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.” Yes, Iranian negotiators have been stonewalling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for years on a commitment to come clean about its past nuclear activities with possible military applications.

This time, though, Iran promises it’s dealing in good faith. After all, it’s so much “more mature and modern” now that the rest of the world should really just forget about how it built its nuclear-weapons facilities in secret for years, buried them deep underground, refused IAEA inspections, got caught with the blueprints for a nuclear warhead, tested warhead explosives devices, and built intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland by 2015.

Just sign the agreement, quickly, so Iran can get busy installing all those brand-new, better, faster centrifuges, spinning up ever-increasing amounts of enriched uranium, and putting the finishing touches on its heavy-water reactor at Arak (for a parallel plutonium route to the bomb).

Where on earth did The Economist get this sunshine and lollipops vision of a “new Iran”?

It will come as no surprise to Iran watchers that the list of those The Economist acknowledges for “sharing their knowledge and insights” reads like a membership roster for the Iran lobby in America: National Iranian American Council stalwarts Afshin Molavi and Trita Parsi are there, and so are regime cheerleaders Suzanne Maloney, Vali Nasr and Karim Sadjadpour. A little more difficult to understand is a set of senior scholars from the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs who ought to know better, including Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji, Dennis Ross and Robert Satloff.

Doves of peace bursting from a shattered portrait of the Ayatollah Khomeini on The Economist magazine cover notwithstanding, the nuclear deal that appears to be on the table between the P5 + 1 and Iran is a bad one, dangerous to international stability, an existential threat to Israel, and a deadly threat to U.S. national security as well (especially if Iran is working on a miniaturized version of a nuclear warhead that could deliver an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, to the unprotected U.S. electric grid.)

Congress, new members and old alike, and the American people must oppose this deal and any deal that the Obama White House and John F. Kerry’s State Department propose to sign with Iran, unless it guarantees that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program and ICBM delivery system will be shut down permanently.

Clare M. Lopez is the vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Obama and the Definition of ‘Islamic’

obama-384x350by Caroline Glick:

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

In his speech on September 11 announcing that the US would commence limited operations against Islamic State, US President Barack Obama insisted, “ISIL, [i.e. Islamic State] is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.”

To be sure, it is hard to see how any human faith can countenance IS’s actions. For the past several months, on a daily basis, new videos appear of IS fighters proudly, openly and wantonly committing crimes against humanity. This week for instance, a video emerged of an IS slave market in Raqqah, Syria, where women and girls are sold as sex slaves to IS fighters.

Despite the glaring contradiction between divinity and monstrosity, the fact is that IS justifies every single one of its atrocities with verses from the Koran.

IS referred to its sex slave market in Raqqah for instance as the “Booty Market… for what your right hands possess.”

The phrase “what your right hands possess” is a Koranic verse (4:3) that permits the sexual enslavement of women and girls by Muslim men.

Whether it is mainstream Islamic jurisprudence or not to embrace the enslavement of women and girls as concubines is not a question that Obama – or any US leader for that matter – is equipped to answer. And yet, Obama spoke with absolute certainty when he claimed that IS is not Islamic.

Obama speaks with similar conviction whenever he refers to Iran as “The Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Obama’s consistent deference to the Iranian regime, exposed by his studious use of the regime’s name for itself whenever he discusses Iran indicates that at a minimum, he is willing to accept the regime’s claim that it is an Islamic regime. In other words, he is willing to accept that everything about the Iranian regime is authentic Islam.

And that the Islamic Republic then, in keeping with his assertion that “no religion condones the killing of innocents,” similarly does not condone the killing of innocents.

Of course, there is a problem here. In fact, there are two problems here.

First, in its treatment of its own people, the Iranian regime condones and actively engages in the killing of innocents, the vast majority of whom are Muslims. The Islamic regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran invokes the Koran to justify its killing.

Likewise, the political imprisonment, torture and general repression of Iranians from all faiths are justified in the name of Islam.

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