Game on: The New Strategy of the US and its allies in the Middle East

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration’s Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, US May 21, 2018.. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

Bad management, corruption and a failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to generate expected levels of foreign investment compound the problem.

Jerusalem Post, by Jonathan Spyer, May 24, 2018:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s outlining of 12 conditions that Iran would need to meet in order to make possible a new nuclear deal amounts to a call for the wholesale reversal of Iranian regional strategy.

The conditions stated are not only, or primarily, concerned with the nuclear program. In addition to a call for the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force to end “support for ‘terrorists’ and ‘militant’ partners around the world,” there are specific demands for a cessation of support to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shia militias, the Houthis in Yemen and the Assad regime in Syria.

These are not a list of demands issued with the expectation that they will be met. Rather, they are a clear setting down of US goals in an emerging strategy to contain and roll back Iran’s advance in the region.

SO WHAT are the practical aspects of such a policy? And what might Iran’s response be to an attempt to implement it?

Iran today is a country in the midst of an economic and environmental crisis.

The rial has fallen 47% against the dollar since January. The country is blighted by drought – precipitation across the country fell by 46% in the past 50 years, and Tehran has seen a 66% drop in rainfall in just a year. This is impacting on the agricultural sector.

Bad management, corruption and a failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to generate expected levels of foreign investment compound the problem. Unrest and demonstrations continue in many parts of the country.

At the same time, Iran is in danger of imperial overstretch. It is heavily committed in two ongoing regional conflicts – in Syria and in Yemen – and also has major assets requiring investment in Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq (the Shia militias) and among the Palestinians (Islamic Jihad and Hamas). While Iran is dominant in Lebanon and ascendant in Syria and Iraq, it has achieved a final and conclusive victory in no area.

A strategy seeking to contain further Iranian gains and then to roll Iran back is likely to focus on increasing the cost of Iran’s adventures abroad and exacerbate internal tensions while subjecting the country to tactical humiliations and defeats in order to reduce any domestic benefit to be accrued from regional commitments. Tehran will thus be forced to either spend more on its commitments, exacerbating the problems at home, or pull back, with the accompanying humiliation and loss of prestige.

Thus, the intention will be to raise the cost and reduce the benefits accruing to Iran from its policy of interference and sponsorship of proxies in neighboring countries.

What precise form is this effort likely to take? First, it is important to note that this is not to be a US effort alone. Rather, the clear intention is to mobilize US allies that share the concerns regarding the Iranian threat.

There are three areas in which the effort is likely to be undertaken – military, economic and political.

Regarding military activity, there are currently two fronts of active conflict occurring in the region between Iran and US allies. These are the Saudi/ UAE intervention in Yemen, and Israel’s actions to prevent Iranian consolidation and entrenchment in Syria.

It is unlikely that the events of May 10, in which Israel and Iran exchanged fire across the Syrian frontier, will prove to be the final round of conflict between the two countries. (It is notable that this round came from an unsuccessful Iranian attempt to respond through missile fire for earlier Israeli operations.)

Apart from their practical application, the Israeli operations have the value of forcing the Iranians into an arena in which they are very weak – air power and air defense – thus hitting at their prestige.

They currently have the choice of appearing to desist from further attempts at developing their infrastructure or facing the certainty of Israeli action in an area in which they have little ability to respond.

In Yemen, it has become commonplace to describe the Saudi/Emirati intervention as a quagmire and a failure. In reality, however, the intervention prevented the Iran-supported Houthis from reaching the strategically crucial Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. Houthi advances have stopped, and since the killing of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, it is not clear what the goals of the Houthis’ rebellion are beyond mere survival.

A third important conventional military front is eastern Syria, where US and French forces, in cooperation with local allies, hold around 30% of Syrian territory, including the greater part of the country’s oil and gas resources. This territorial holding prevents the operation of a contiguous Iranian land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean and the border with Israel. It also offers an example of a successful US partnering with a local proxy. Its maintenance is crucial.

REGARDING THE economic front, the US policy of renewed sanctions is already in operation. New sanctions have been imposed in recent days on five Iranian officials suspected of involvement in the Iranian program to provide missiles to the Houthis. The US Treasury Department, meanwhile, imposed sanctions on officials of Iran’s Central Bank in the days following the decision to quit the nuclear deal. The officials were suspected of helping move Revolutionary Guard Corps funds to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Treasury has announced new sanctions on members of Hezbollah’s Shurah Council. Notably, US and UAE officials cooperated in recent days in disrupting a currency exchange network maintained by the Quds Force.

There is more to come. Sanctions are due to be placed on the acquisition of dollar banknotes by Iranian institutions. Penalties for institutions dealing with Iran’s Central Bank and other designated bodies are also forthcoming. All are designed to stretch the Iranians to the limit, producing either retreat or internal unrest.

In the political field, Iraq is now the central arena. The Iranians suffered a setback in the recent elections there. With the 90-day coalition-forming period under way, the issue will be the make up of the new government. The key player here on the pro-US side will be Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have been quietly growing their involvement in Iraq in recent months. They have pledged $1 billion in loans and $500,000 in export credits for reconstruction following the war against Islamic State. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman hosted Muqtada al-Sadr, the main winner of the elections, in Riyadh last year. Direct flights have been resumed.

The Saudi goal is to revive Iraqi Arab identity as a counterweight to Iran’s sectarian, non-Arab appeal to Iraq’s Shia-Arab majority. The oilrich Basra province is a focus of Saudi activity.

The issue in Iraq will not be the complete expulsion of Iranian influence, but rather to set up a counterweight to the Iranians, again forcing Tehran to spend time and energy on preventing the erosion of its position.

Lastly, it is possible that clandestine activity is underway to connect those in Iran who are opposed to the regime with the expertise and funding of US allies.

Will this project succeed? It appears to derive from an attempt to locate Iran’s weak spots and exploit them. The Iranians, without doubt, will be seeking to develop a counter- strategy along similar lines against the US and its allies.

The region, as a result, is entering a new strategic chapter. The game is afoot.

***

Also see:

***

***

***

The Iran Deal Wasn’t An ‘Alternative To War,’ It Was A Continuation Of War

The Federalist, by Ben Weingarten, My 16, 2018:

The central narrative of the Iran Deal echo chamber run by former President Barack Obama — that it was absolutely necessary to avoid war — is plainly wrong. The Iran Deal was not the “alternative to war.” It was part of the war Iran has been waging against the West and all who refuse to submit to its Khomeinist rule since 1979.

The Khamenei-Rouhani regime merely took advantage of an Obama administration willing to appease at all costs to make Iran the “strong horse” in the Middle East, along with European partners both greedy and fearful, in order to recapitalize and rapidly expand its operations under the veneer of a Swiss cheese “verification regime.”

All that this regime verified was how deluded the progressive Western national security foreign policy establishment was with respect to Tehran’s tyranny. It showed that the establishment was willing not only to legitimize Iran’s totalitarian mullocracy, but also to commit to protecting its nuclear infrastructure and even to subject itself to speech-stifling measures barring Western leaders from speaking out against the deal.

The Iran Deal was the poisonous fertilizer from which sprung an Iran confident enough to launch an armed drone over Israeli airspace, and for the first time to directly attackIsrael with a barrage of missiles from Syria.

The defensive actions that Israel is presently taking — striking at strategically significant Iranian military sites in Syria in response to Iranian aggression, presumably preparing to grapple with Iran proxy Hezbollah and the 150,000-plus missiles pointed at it from Lebanon, and if necessary striking Iran — reflect the cost of the world’s Chamberlainian bargain that enabled this dire reality.

The godsend of the Iran Deal for the Islamic revolutionary regime made it a question of when, not if Israeli military strikes would begin, because it made Iran’s existential threat to the Jewish state infinitely more acute. Our ally’s movements, and America’s potential comprehensive efforts to counter Iran’s malign influence are the natural defensive response to the jihadist regime’s unabated advance over the Obama years.

We in the West by dint of the Iran Deal helped subsidize — as even Iran colluder, Logan Act violator, and lobbyist-in-chief John Kerry admitted — the exportation of Iran’s bloody jihad, to the tune of billions of dollars. By facilitating trade through sanctions relief consistent with Iran’s constitution, which states that its “economy is a means that is not expected to do anything except better facilitate reaching the goal [of furthering and exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution],” we have underwritten the economy-controlling Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

But it’s worse than that.

In service of the Iran Deal, we not only allegedly spiked the Project Cassandra cars-for-cocaine terror financing scheme, enabled Iran’s gas-for-gold sanctions evasion operation, and paid Iransom, but also permitted the mushrooming of a broad array of additional malign activities in our own hemisphere. Seemingly unchecked by Western law enforcement and intelligence, we allowed Iran’s proxy forces in cahoots with other criminal networks to engage in widespread drug dealing, arms smuggling, money laundering and other illicit activities generating big money for the Khomeinist regime, while posing a clear and present danger to the U.S. homeland.

To channel former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the known unknowns and unknown unknowns of what the West was willing to sacrifice so as not to scuttle its Iran Deal appeasement are likely incalculably large. Meanwhile, we encouraged the growth of a Shia Crescent and commanded Israel to lay off, putting the Jewish nation’s existence at risk. This was the worst trade in history — Israel for Iran.

In short: The Iran Deal provided the Khomeinist crocodiles with a cover of peaceful engagement for gullible useful idiots and cowardly but avaricious trading partners, while it expanded its power globally. The Obama administration ceded the Middle East to Iran and its partner Russia, and sought to elevate its Sunni jihadist counterparts, whose goals often overlap with those of the Shia, while berating our Israeli ally and subordinating the Sunni monarchies.

The Iran Deal, and the concessions made in its run-up, was not the cessation of war. It was part of Iran’s war.

The pushback we are beginning to see from the Israelis, and perhaps by the U.S. government, is merely a necessary response to Iran’s ongoing attack. This is not as the Left and Islamic supremacists will argue “neocons” (often a thinly-veiled dog whistle for Jews) rushing to war, but rather the rational reaction to Iran’s accelerating march.

Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a formerly pro-Western, relatively liberal, relatively secular, modern nation. There is no need for invasion, occupation and re-casting of a Sharia dictatorship as a Jeffersonian democracy. Rather what is needed is a concerted set of actions to bring down the jihadist regime through means peaceful and militant, overt and covert, enabling the Iranian people to thwart the Islamic revolution.

The Iran Deal was not even a pause to war, it was the means to a far more deadly one — or from the mullah’s perspective to strengthening to such an extent that the West would not have the will to engage them, lest we open ourselves up to massive bloodshed and destruction.

Jettisoning it, snapping back sanctions, imposing far harsher ones and using every element of national power to collapse the mullocracy is the only way to reverse the gains of the jihadist march the West bankrolled.

Ben Weingarten is a senior contributor at The Federalist and senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. He is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media, a media consulting and production company dedicated to advancing conservative principles. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.

TEARS IN TEHRAN: Trump Pulls US Out Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Daily Caller, by  Saagar Enjetti, May  8, 2018:

President Donald Trump will withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, he announced Tuesday.

Trump will reimpose devastating economic sanctions on Iran in a bid to force the regime back to the negotiating table for a new agreement. The president has long railed against the 2015 nuclear agreement noting its lack of perpetual ban on a nuclear program and how it fails to address the Islamic Republic’s malign activity across the middle east.

“This was a horrible deal that should never, ever have been made,” Trump declared. National Security Advisor John Bolton continued to reporters “We’re out of the deal.”

President Donald Trump arrives to announce his decision on the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The new deal the president will seek would not have a similar “sunset clause” which ceases restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and would also address the regime’s ballistic missile program. Iran has continued to test and deploy ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, despite signing the deal.

The White House released a list of demands following the President’s speech:

  •  Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others.

o Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa’ida.

o End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel.

o Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

o Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis.

o End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel.

o Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens.

o Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens.

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif however has indicated his government may not be willing to negotiate any follow on agreement with the U.S. if Trump withdraws. “If Trump makes this mistake and scraps the JCPOA (Iran’s nuclear deal) as an international achievement, he will later have to accept the rights of the Iranians under a worse situation,” he said Tuesday.

The decision was not well received by European signatories to the deal who mounted a last ditch effort to convince the President not to withdraw. Two European heads of state and the British Foreign Secretary visited Washington in the span of two weeks to instead convince Trump to keep the agreement and attempt to negotiate a follow on agreement.

Also see:

Bibi’s presentation shows why it’s time to change course on Iran

Kanisorn Pringthongfoo | Shutterstock

The Iran deal is the problem. There’s nothing to fix.

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, May 1, 2018:

Perhaps just as stunning as the Mossad’s ability to smuggle 100,000 documents out of Iran right under the nose of the Islamic regime is the response to Netanyahu’s presentation from the pro-Iran Left. Liberals, including Iran’s favorite senator, Bob Corker, are asserting that while Netanyahu showed evidence of Iran’s past development of nuclear weapons, he didn’t provide evidence that the regime is still producing them in violation of the deal. And in fact, in their estimation, this is why we needed the Iran deal.

Iran can’t produce nuclear weapons … in places where it was never developing them

Proponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are obfuscating the central point of Israel’s discovery. The main flaw of the Iran deal was that all along, most suspected that Iran already had an entrenched, clandestine program run underground and through military facilities and had long closed up shop in the revealed facilities that were a part of the inspection plan of the agreement. Netanyahu proved conclusively that not only did this program exist, it changed names and locations and was continued under the same leadership as late as 2015. Why in the world would anyone believe that Iran would suddenly suspend a program that was undetected by the Iran deal and not subjected to restrictions?

Just last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, an ardent proponent of the Iran deal, foolishly said, “The verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in.” Yeah, we can get into the sites where they are not developing the weapons.

The entire point of the Iran deal, from Iran’s vantage point, was to continue developing the clandestine program, now buttressed by the tens of billions in new revenue, so that once the deal expires, Iran can break out the program and continue it openly. Even in the public inspection sites, Iran is allowed to continue developing more advanced centrifuges than it already has. And meanwhile, the regime can continue to openly develop its ICBM program while continuing its clandestine program on nuclear warheads, then merging, at the end of the decade, the continued growth of the infrastructure in the public sites with the nuclear material from the clandestine sites – all without even breaching the deal.

Ironically, it was now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Sen. Tom Cotton, who exposed the side deal Iran secured with Obama to keep any process for inspection of their secretive Parchin military complex and issues related to the broader military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program classified from any U.S. officials. This was a direct violation of the Corker-Cardin bill, which required the administration to provide Congress with all information and documents, including the details of side deals. Yet GOP leaders never held Obama to it.

We also now know that the nuclear program was originally based, in part, in the Fordo facility, which was kept restricted from weapons inspectors. As late as 2012, Obama said, “We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program.” Yet the Iranians insisted they never pursued a nuclear weapons program there.

Not only did the Iran deal allow the Iranians to maintain their heavy-water reactor in Arak, it promised that the parties to the deal would purchase their excess heavy water for profit. In January 2017, the AP reported that Russia shipped Iran 116 metric tons of natural uranium, enough to enrich weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs. The AP’s sources revealed that the Russian shipment was in exchange for 40 metric tons of heavy water used as coolant for nuclear reactors. The problem is that Iran’s production of so much heavy water is in itself a violation of the nuclear deal. However, a loophole in the agreement allows Iran to sell off its heavy water in excess of 130 metric tons on the international market. Obama rewarded Iranian bad behavior by purchasing the heavy water, which allowed Iran to take the scam a step further by deliberately producing more heavy water than allowed under the agreement and then benefiting from the violation by using it to … purchase uranium!

Thus, the entire Iran deal from day one was a lie, because it was designed to ensure that Iran gets nuclear weapons.

The Iran deal is the problem. There’s nothing to “fix”

Now that it is clear they lied about never pursuing a program, the Iranians are obligated to demonstrate that this program we now know existed was indeed discontinued since 2015. The lack of disclosure alone is a breach of the agreement. Iran was building, developing, and testing nuclear warheads at the very military facilities that were kept off-limits to the inspections regime. Game over. There is no Iran deal unless Iran demonstrates that the programs Israel unearthed have been destroyed.

Netanyahu likely declined to withhold the juicy details about the ongoing nuclear activities since 2015 because he doesn’t want to tip off the Iranians about any plans Israel might have to launch a strike inside Iran’s territory. However, now that it is clear such a program exists, it is the nuclear deal that prevents us from destroying it. By definition, it can’t be working to prevent them from developing weapons, because Iran never ceased the program.

It is therefore a no-brainer for Trump to follow his instincts, not some cabinet members and the Europeans who want to “fix” the deal before it’s too late to act.

One of the overlooked aspects of the deal is Article 10 of Annex III, which would obligate us to help protect Iran’s program against sabotage, presumably from Israel. Just last month, the European Union put out a statement celebrating “the implementation of Annex III of the JCPOA on civil-nuclear cooperation,” and “welcomed in this context the work done by a number of participants with Iran.”

What exactly is it that the Europeans and possibly our own government have been doing to “cooperate” with Iran on its nuclear program? On April 25, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio sent a letter to the State Department seeking clarity on the meaning of this discussion in light of the fact that the Obama administration never explained the scope of cooperation required under the agreement and whether it would force us to protect Iran from an Israeli attack. They sought clarification on what is entailed in “civil-nuclear cooperation” and what our government, as well as France, United Kingdom, China, Germany, China, and Russia, has already done to fulfill this obligation.

However, if Trump does the right thing and terminates this agreement, this point will be moot. The single best leverage is the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. Section 4.3.1 of Annex II forced us to refrain from “efforts to reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, including limitations on the quantities of Iranian crude oil sold and the nations that can purchase Iranian crude oil.” Congress should back up Trump by immediately slapping a new round of energy sanctions on Iran to choke off its terrorism windfall from the deal. Unfortunately, many establishment Republicans, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry, have grown weak on the issue.

It’s time to completely change our strategic alliances in the Middle East

In addition to the official Iran deal, Obama realigned our alliances to comport with Iran in almost every theater. Trump has changed course on many of those policies, but not on everything. Here are the changes that must be made:

  • Stop funding Hezbollah: Why are we still giving weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is a puppet of Hezbollah, and sending our special forces to fight for them against the Sunni insurgency at a time when Iranian hegemony is the bigger threat? Continued support flies in the face of Trump’s stated doctrine.
  • Stop fighting Sunni insurgency on Iran’s behalf: We bailed out Iran from the Sunni insurgency when it was Iran’s problem. Notice Israel never found a need to fight the Sunni insurgents, even though they were on Israel’s own border. The Israelis understood that doing so would tip the balance of power too much in favor of Iran. With new Sunni radical groups popping up in Syria, it’s time for us to get our ground troops out of there, allow the “bloods and the crips” to fight each other, and limit our operations to strike-and-maneuver when we see a legitimate threat. We should focus on countering Iran directly in its home by encouraging regime change among protesters. Additionally, we should focus on our own homeland by combatting the growing relationship between Hezbollah and the drug cartels and using our diplomacy to demand that Latin American countries designate Hezbollah as a terror group.
  • End support for Qatar: Qatar is a major ally of Iran while also, ironically, serving as a primary source of funding for Sunni terror groups. If Saudi Arabia wants to choke off Qatar, why not let it? Instead, this administration has shown mixed signals.
  • Give Baghdad the pink slip: It’s time we finally recognize the Baghdad government is not an ally, but a puppet of Iran. Our continued support and protection of Baghdad is not only hurting the Kurds, it is helping Iran. The next time the Sunni insurgency marches on Baghdad, let’s not bail out the Iraqui government and make Iran deal with the problem it created.

Finally, let’s not forget that, unlike most other Islamic terror groups, Iranian-backed Hezbollah poses a direct homeland security threat because of its presence in Latin America. Hezbollah serves as specialty smugglers for Middle Easterners sneaking through our border and empowers the drug cartels, killing thousands of Americans. We must expand every tool to sanction Hezbollah that was cut off during the Obama era to foster the Iran deal. Of course, choking off Iran will be bad for business in the narco-terror field and good for our communities.

Nowhere does Trump have the opportunity to right the ship from the Obama years more than in Iran. We must end Obama’s de facto alliance with the rogue regime. Most of it can be done unilaterally without Congress.

Also see:

U.S. Confirms Authenticity of Secret Iran Nuclear Docs, Officials See Game Over for Deal

Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on Iran’s nuclear program / Getty Images

Trump administration officials praise Netanyahu’s ‘powerful presentation’

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, April 30, 2018:

U.S. officials and congressional insiders view the disclosure Monday by Israel of Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear weapon as game over for the landmark nuclear deal, telling the Washington Free Beacon that new evidence of Iran’s top secret nuclear workings makes it virtually impossible for President Donald Trump to remain in the agreement.

Senior Trump administration officials confirmed the findings as authentic and praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s for disclosing thousands of secret documents proving Iran lied about its past work on a nuclear warhead, telling the Free Beacon the revelation was a “powerful presentation” by Israel outlining why the Iran deal must be fixed or killed.

U.S. officials who reviewed the secret documents confirmed their authenticity and said that Israel has shared the information fully with the United States, most likely to help build the case for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal, rather than try to fix what the White House views as a series of insurmountable flaws.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon say that Monday’s presentation by Netanyahu resulted from a recent conversation between the prime minister and Trump, who has expressed his opposition to remaining in the deal.

During his presentation, Netanyahu disclosed that Israel had obtained some 100,000 secret documents that provide “conclusive proof” Iran lied to the world about its past nuclear work. The Israeli leader further presented information from these documents purporting to show that Iran continues to build on its nuclear know-how in pursuit of a fully functioning weapon.

While Trump has not made a final decision on whether to scrap the deal, sources close to the president say he is increasingly wary of the deal itself, as well as proposed fixes to the deal currently being discussed by the Europeans.

One senior administration official, speaking only on background, confirmed to the Free Beacon that the United States assessed the secret documents obtained by Israel to be fully authentic.

“All the materials we have reviewed are in our assessment authentic,” the official said, praising Netanyahu for presenting the evidence to the world.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful presentation today of compelling new evidence documenting Iran’s determined pursuit of a nuclear weapon,” the senior official said. “It certainly would have been helpful to have this information when the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was negotiated but the Iranians decided to lock it away in a secret vault for future reference.”

The cache of documents showing that Iran has retained the infrastructure and know-how to produce a nuclear weapon has cast further doubts on U.S. efforts to broker a series of fixes to the landmark agreement.

“Only the regime knows what else they’re hiding, but the revelations today don’t give us much confidence in their protestations that they have never had interest in militarizing their nuclear program,” the official said. “They’re showing us in Syria how they plan to deploy their existing arsenal—we would be foolish to think that behavior is going to change because of a deal that was implemented two years ago that was based on a lie.”

Following Netanyahu’s remarks, Trump emphasized his opposition to the deal.

Those familiar with the president’s thinking said that he has soured on efforts to fix the deal and would prefer to see a wholly new agreement, a demand Iran has rejected in recent days.

Trump “made a clear signal today that he’s not confident in the JCPOA,” said the senior administration official. “The decision is with him and I don’t think he’s made it, but he seemed to indicate he’s more open to a new deal then to try to fix something this broken.”

A senior congressional official who has worked closely with the White House on the Iran issue told the Free Beacon the news has sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill.

“Everything the Obama administration told us about the Iranian nuclear program was a lie,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “They assured us that we knew everything about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, that it was put on ice, and that the intelligence community had full insight into what was going on.”

“Now we find out the Iranians have warehouses of nuclear weapons designs. People are in shock,” the source said. “Forget the policy implications, which get to the heart of the deal, this shows how the whole sale was built on a lie. Expect to see momentum build in Congress for just scrapping the whole thing.”

The White House National Security Council and the State Department have yet to comment formally on Netanyahu’s disclosures. The Free Beacon will update this report as more information becomes available.

Also see:

Netanyahu says Iran ‘brazenly lying’ after signing nuclear deal, moved documents to a secret location

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows where Iran moved its nuclear weapons files to a location in Tehran after signing the nuclear deal. (AP)

Fox News, By Travis Fedschun, April 30, 2018:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed new “dramatic” intelligence on Monday which he claimed shows Iran is “brazenly lying” about its nuclear weapons program and moved materials to a secret location, showing the country is not complying with the vaunted nuclear deal it signed in 2015.

The information was obtained within the past 10 days, Israeli officials told Fox News. Netanyahu said the files were moved to a “highly secret” location in Tehran after the deal was signed, and contained materials spread over 55,000 pages and 55,000 files on 183 CD’s.

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program,” he said.

Netanyahu briefed President Trump about the intelligence on Saturday and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday. European counterparts were being made aware Monday prior to the speech.

Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to exit the Iran nuke deal, which was signed during the Obama administration. And though he has yet to end it, a crucial deadline for re-certifying the deal is on the horizon.

Netanyahu’s statement came on the heels of a missile attack in northern Syria that killed nearly 26-pro-government fighters, mostly Iranians, according to a Syria war monitoring group. Israel had no comment on the strike, but there was widespread speculation that Israel was behind it. Tehran has sent thousands of Iran-backed fighters to back Assad’s forces in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

Israel and Iran are arch-enemies, and Israel has said repeatedly it would not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria. Iran, which is backing the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has accused Israel of carrying out another airstrike in Syria this month that killed seven Iranian military advisers and vowed revenge.

SUSPECTED ISRAELI ‘EARTHQUAKE-LEVEL’ SYRIA STRIKE KILLS MOSTLY IRANIANS

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday ratcheted up the Trump administration’s rhetoric against Iran and offered warm support to Israel and Saudi Arabia in their standoff with Tehran.

“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo said.

The 2015 deal gave Iran relief from crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu has been a leading critic of the agreement, saying it fails to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability and welcoming Trump’s pledges to withdraw from the deal if it is not changed.

“The nuclear deal gives Iran a clear path to producing an atomic arsenal,” he said Monday.

Both Trump and Netanyahu say the deal should address Iranian support for militants across the region and Iran’s development of long-range ballistic missiles, as well as eliminate provisions that expire over the next decade.

On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the time when Iran’s enemies can “hit and run” is over.

“They know if they enter military conflict with Iran, they will be hit multiple times,” he said, according to his website. He did not specifically refer to the latest attack in Syria.

Michael Oren, a senior Israeli official, had no comment on the airstrike in Syria, but warned both Syria and Iran against trying to attack.

“If someone shoots at us, we shoot back and we will shoot back either at the Syrian army or the Iranians, at the origin of the aggression,” Oren said.

Fox News’ Yonat Friling in Jerusalem and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Netanyahu to announce ‘significant’ new info on Iran’s nuclear program

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on April 29, 2018. (Amit Shabi/Pool/Flash90)

PM to speak live at 8 p.m.; TV reports say he will reveal intel, based on trove of documents obtained by Israel, that proves Tehran is not adhering to accord with world powers

Times of Israel, by Alexander Fulbright, April 30, 2018:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce a “significant development” regarding Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in a live speech at 8 p.m. Monday, his office said.

Netanyahu will give the statement at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

According to Hadashot news and Channel 10 news, Netanyahu will reveal intelligence information, based on a large cache of documents recently obtained by Israel, which he believes proves Iran has duped the world regarding the state of its nuclear program.

Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu will speak in English, in order for the announcement to reach a worldwide audience.

Ahead of his remarks, Netanyahu cancelled a speech he was to make at the Knesset and his Likud party called off its weekly faction meeting due to the security tensions. The opposition Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties withdrew their proposed no-confidence vote in the government. Given the “sensitive” security situation, it was appropriate to “show a unified front,” said Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson.

Earlier Monday, Netanyahu convened an unscheduled meeting of Israel’s decision-making security cabinet at the Defense Ministry HQ.

Netanyahu’s announcement will come a day after he met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said US President Donald Trump will withdraw from the nuclear accord on May 12 barring significant changes.

Both Trump and Netanyahu have harshly criticized the 2015 nuclear deal, taking aim at its “sunset” clauses and saying it does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or involvement in numerous regional conflicts.

The premier also spoke with Trump by phone Sunday, with the White House saying the two discussed Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) is seen with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

The imminent Netanyahu announcement also comes after an airstrike in Syria early Monday, attributed by some to Israel. The strike destroyed some 200 surface-to-surface missiles and killed 16 people, including 11 Iranians, according to a New York Times report.

Iran denied that any of its soldiers were killed or that its bases had been targeted in the raids, although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later warned the Islamic Republic’s foes they will be “hit multiple times” if they attack Iran.

That attack came after an earlier airstrike this month on an Iranian military facility in Syria that was blamed on Israel, in which Iran acknowledged seven of its soldiers were killed and vowed to respond to the attack.

Screen capture from video purporting to show a missile strike in Syria, April 29, 2018. (Twitter)

In the wake of Iran’s warning, Israeli officials have informed the United States and Russia that Israel will respond to any attack from Syria by Iran or its proxies, the Haaretz daily reported Monday.

According to the officials quoted by the newspaper, Israel could launch a widespread attack on Iranian sites in Syria if attacked, with the main targets being bases established by Tehran for weapons transfer and storage.

The report said the extent of a response by Israel to any attack on its territory by Iran or its proxies has been debated recently in Israeli political and security circles, with political elements favoring attacking targets in Iran itself, while the security establishment opposes expanding the battlefield against the Islamic Republic.

Also see: