Obama says nuclear terrorist attack would ‘change our world’

Peace, man: Surrounded by world leaders, President Barack Obama gave the peace sign at the end of a nuclear security summit today

Peace, man: Surrounded by world leaders, President Barack Obama gave the peace sign at the end of a nuclear security summit today

Fox News, April 1, 2016:

Addressing the last nuclear security summit of his administration, President Obama warned that despite measurably reducing the risk of a devastating attack, the prospect of a terror group like the Islamic State obtaining nuclear weapons is “one of the greatest threats to global security.”

“There is no doubt that if these mad men ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material, they would certainly use it to kill as many people as possible,” the president said, opening the last day of the international summit in Washington on Friday.

Though Obama was determined to end the summit on a hopeful note, discussions among the dozens of world leaders that took place Friday were focused on Islamic terrorism, which followed Thursday’s conversations about the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Obama also used the controversial deal with Iran to promote a “carrot and stick” approach to nuclear diplomacy, saying that while it has not swept away all of the other issues the U.S. and other nations still have with Iran, it’s been an effective way to address the narrower issue of nuclear proliferation with Iran.

“This is a success of diplomacy that hopefully we will be able to copy in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Japan are pledging to remove highly enriched uranium from a Japanese research reactor to reduce the risk of theft and nuclear terrorism. Fuel from the Kyoto University Critical Assembly will be sent to the United States to be down-blended, and the reactor converted to use low-enriched uranium instead. The allies made the announcement Friday.

Their statement does not say when this process would be complete. Japanese media reports that more than 300 kilograms of plutonium is en route to the Savannah River Site, a federal government facility, despite objections from South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

This is just one thread in an overall concern about the accessibility of bomb-making material across the globe.

The International Panel on Fissile Material stated last year that the stockpile of accessible fissile material such as highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium remains around 1700 metric tons. What worries security officials is the lack of oversight and utter insecurity of many of these stockpiles, and the potential of “dirty bombs” in the world’s most insecure places.

“It is plausible that certain (terrorist) organisations could attack transports of nuclear material or civilian installations and try to steal radioactive material,” said Benjamin Hautecouverture, a senior fellow at Foundation for Strategic Research in France.

“There is a black market where such material is available coming from central and eastern Europe.”

The absence of nuclear states like Russia at the summit this week underscore the reality that not all governments are on the same page on this issue.

The White House called the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin a “missed opportunity.” Russia’s stockpile is only rivaled by the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Moscow consequently, has scoffed at the Washington summit, complaining that the U.S. wanted merely to control the process and take power away from international agencies.

Nawaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan, another nuclear state, canceled his trip to the event following an Easter Sunday bombing that killed 72 people in Lahore. Pakistan is reported to have a nuclear stockpile of roughly 120 weapons, making it one of the most nuclear-equipped states in the world.

Furthermore, Obama stated that Latin America and the Caribbean are now “free of highly enriched uranium.”

The White House also praised Argentina’s commitment to converting the rest of its stockpile of radioactive material into a less dangerous material. Since the 1980’s, Argentina has cooperated with American authorities to dispose of its uranium stockpile.

With the removal process now complete, the White House has stated that no Latin American state possesses more than one kilogram of highly enriched uranium, labeling Latin American and the Caribbean as a “region free of the material.”

That does not include North America, though according to newly declassified data, the amount of highly enriched uranium held by the U.S. government is dropping.

Statistics indicate its own national inventory of the material has dropped from 741 metric tons two decades ago to 586 metric tons as of 2013.

Despite all of the good news, less than half of the governments attending the summit agreed to secure their radioactive sources – mainly those available in academic institutions and in research hospitals.

The earlier sessions focused on stopping North Korean provocations. Obama discussed steps to deter further North Korean missile tests with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In another session with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, he called for vigorous implementation of stepped-up U.SN. sanctions. In January, North Korea reportedly detonated its fourth nuclear bomb.

Fox News’ Rich Edson, Daniel Lativa and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Chairman of FDD’s Leadership Council Jim Woolsey comments on the nuclear summit and proliferation.

Also see:

Belgium Revelations Add Troubling Twist to Nuclear Security Summit

shutterstock_277314425.sized-770x415xtPJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, March 31, 2016:

White House officials acknowledged that concerns about nuclear surveillance by terrorists linked to the Belgium and Paris attacks will be on the agenda at this week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, but only because ISIS was on the agenda before last week’s bombings.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on a Tuesday conference call previewing the summit that they know “terrorist organizations have the desire to get access to these raw materials and their desire to have a nuclear device.”

“That was certainly the case with al-Qaeda, and that is certainly the case with ISIL as well. And given the ongoing concern about chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, we have seen ample proof that terrorist organizations like ISIL have no regard for innocent human life or international norms, and that only redoubles the need for us to have effective international nuclear security approaches,” Rhodes said.

“As the president said back in Prague, a terrorist attack with an improvised nuclear device would cost an enormous amount in terms of human life, and could also have profound political and economic and environmental effects on global security as well. And so, therefore, this is a challenge that demands the type of international cooperation that we are promoting through the Nuclear Security Summit process.”

The summit begins Thursday as President Obama holds a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts about North Korea, followed by a bilateral with Chinese President Xi Jinping. All leaders in town for the summit will join Obama at a working dinner to “share perspectives on the evolving nuclear terrorism threat,” Rhodes said.

Obama’s Friday schedule is largely dedicated to “mark the progress that has been made in implementing the Iran deal.”

Laura Holgate, senior director for WMD and terrorism at the National Security Council, was asked if the Belgium attacks impacted the conference agenda — specifically, reports that Belgian bombers Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui were involved in video monitoring of a Belgian nuclear official who had access to sites harboring a range of materials that could be used in weapons. That video was reportedly given to Mohammed Bakkali, a planner of the Paris attacks now in custody.

Concerns over the terrorists’ interest in nuclear officials and sites range from ISIS cells constructing their own dirty bombs to sabotaging a country’s nuclear infrastructure.

Holgate said “having a portion of the discussion that focuses on counter-ISIL is a judgment that was made in January, but it turns out that it’s obviously very timely, unfortunately.”

“We have seen those reports about targeting nuclear facilities as part of a broader-level — broader plot. And certainly the video footage is of concern and suggests that there is at least some interest by ISIL. But we don’t have any indications that it was part of a broader planning to acquire nuclear materials, and we don’t have any information that a broader plot exists,” she said.

Holgate added “we’ve been working closely with Belgium over the years on nuclear security issues.”

“We’ve worked with them to reduce the amount of highly enriched uranium at that particular site where that manager worked. And there’s extensive cooperation between our regulatory bodies that includes discussions of nuclear security and related issues,” she said. “And we stand ready to help the Belgians in any way should they require or wish to cooperate more deeply with us on these issues.”

Rhodes added that the working meetings can look “at denying access to the most dangerous materials and going on offense against ISIL broadly.”

“We’ve seen over the years different terrorist organizations have ambitions related to acquiring nuclear materials. We’ve seen that in their public statements. We’ve seen that in different cases in terms of their monitoring of nuclear facilities. And that’s why the summit process is so important,” he said. “Because different countries have different levels of security at their facilities or in terms of how they are handling nuclear materials. Belgium has advanced nuclear security protocols in place, but we have a variance among different countries.”

Asked if the administration is more concerned about terrorists constructing a dirty bomb or obtaining fissile material or a nuclear weapon, Holgate replied it’s “hard to handicap” the scenarios.

“They’re both ones that we’re working hard to prevent and avoid. Certainly there is much more extensive radiologically material out there in the world than there is highly enriched uranium or plutonium that you need to make an actual nuclear weapon. You find radiological material in industrial, medical, academic and other communities, and there is a code of conduct that identifies best practices on how to secure that,” Holgate said.

“…That having been said, there are abandoned sources, orphan sources that concern us. And the potential for that kind of a device certainly exists. At this point, we don’t have explicit indications that ISIL is looking to achieve either type of a nuclear or a radiological capability, but we’re keeping a close eye on that.”

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Iran Missile Tests Possible Violation of U.S. Sanctions, U.N. Resolutions

REUTERS/FARSNEWS.COM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

REUTERS/FARSNEWS.COM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

Breitbart, by John  Hayward,  March 9, 2016:

Iran conducted another round of illegal ballistic missile tests on Tuesday, and they may prove to be an even more egregious violation of sanctions than the launch in October. Iran openly defied the United Nations and United States — which an Iranian general described as “our main enemy” — and threatened to walk away from President Obama’s nuclear deal.

“State media announced that short-, medium- and long-range precision guided missiles were fired from several sites to show the country’s ‘all-out readiness to confront threats’ against its territorial integrity,” AFP reported. The Iranian broadcasts included pictures of the launches, which included ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 2,000 kilometers.

AFP notes these missile exercises were dubbed “The Power of Velayat” by Iran, a “reference to the religious doctrine of the Islamic republic’s leadership.” More specifically, it apparently refers to a book by the revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini, in which he argued that Islamic sharia law should rule over secular government, administered by clerical “guardians” — the essence of “hardline” political thought in Iran.

The launches were conducted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is under the command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not President Hassan Rouhani. This leads to suspicions the missile tests were a demonstration of internal power and international defiance by the Iranian “hardliners,” after big “moderate” victories in the recent Iranian parliamentary elections.

“Our main enemies, the Americans, who mutter about plans, have activated new missile sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are seeking to weaken the country’s missile capability,” said IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh in a TV interview. “The Guards and other armed forces are defenders of the revolution and the country will not pay a toll to anyone… and will stand against their excessive demands.”

For all his alleged “moderation,” AFP notes that President Rouhani said in response to the prospect of fresh sanctions against Iran over missile violations: “Any action will be met by a reaction.”

Those reactions include a threat to walk away from Obama’s nuclear deal, if the U.S. insists on holding Iran to parts of the deal it doesn’t like.

“If our interests are not met under the nuclear deal, there will be no reason for us to continue. What makes us remain committed to the deal is our national interests,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday, during an address to an Iranian legal council. He implied that it would be America that nullified the deal, by imposing any further sanctions against Iran.

CNN quotes U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner saying on Tuesday that if the Iranian missile launches were confirmed as violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the U.S. would ask the United Nations to take an “appropriate response,” without specifying what that response might be.

“There are strong indications (this) test is inconsistent with U.N. Security Council 2231,” said Toner, referring to the relevant United Nations resolution. “If confirmed, we intend to raise the matter in the U.N. Security Council. We will also encourage a serious review of the incident and press for an appropriate response.”

There is some question about precisely what Iran launched last night, as Reuters notes images broadcast on Iranian TV of the most advanced missile Iran claimed to test, the Emad, appeared to come from the October test. The administration will want to confirm illegal missile tests before taking any further action.

In addition to the belligerent statements of defiance quoted above, the Iranian government argues that these missile tests were not violations of the Security Council resolution Toner cited, because the missiles cannot carry nuclear warheads.

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House said the Iranian missile launch was not a violation of the nuclear agreement, although the question of whether they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions remains:

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Iranian State Television Flaunts Anti-Israel Ballistic Missile Launches

For the second day in a row, Iranian state television has broadcast propaganda videos that show the launch of several ballistic missiles with anti-Israel intent.

A video released Tuesday shows the inside of an underground tunnel used for launching the missiles. It features an Israeli flag painted on the ground which Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, members are meant to walk over on their way to launch.

Wednesday’s video shows another two missiles labeled with “Israel must be wiped off the Earth” in Hebrew. Persian-language media headlines included the Hebrew message in order to emphasize the IRGC’s anti-Israel intentions. The missiles were reportedly precision-guided Qadr missiles that put Israel within striking range.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC aerospace division, said that the tests were meant to intimidate Israel.

“The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.”

Iranian officials have brushed off the launches as part of their national defense capabilities, arguing that they are not in violation of the nuclear agreement implemented in January. The nuclear deal will free Iran from ballistic missile restrictions in eight years.

However, the tests do stand in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which states that Iran should not partake in “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Speaking in Jerusalem Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. would “act” if Iran violated the nuclear deal and would keep an eye on threatening conventional military activity.

“There is no need to doubt that the United States has Israel’s back,” Biden said.

Also see:

Missing Radioactive Material Found Dumped in South Iraq

Radioactive-symbol-jpgNBC, Feb. 21, 2016:

BAGHDAD — A “highly dangerous” radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near a petrol station in the southern town of Zubair, environment ministry spokesman Ameer Ali said on Sunday.

Ali said it had not been damaged and there were no concerns about radiation from the material, the loss of which raised concerns it could be used as a weapon if acquired by ISIS militants.

The material had been stolen in November from a storage facility belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra.

It was not immediately clear how the material ended up in Zubair, around 9 miles southwest of Basra.

“A passer-by found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special prevention radiation team and retrieved the device,” said Jabbar al-Saidi, the chief of security panel in Basra provincial council.

Related: Smugglers Tried to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS

“After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 percent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.”

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

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CSP’s Kyle Shideler discusses black market for radioactive material, dangers of it’s dissemination and efforts to track such criminal activities:

Also see:

Underestimating Nuclear Missile Threats from North Korea and Iran

Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dangerous Fantasy behind Obama’s Iran Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Iran nuclear agreement is national security fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Did North Korea Really Test an H-Bomb?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smugglers Attempting to Sell Radioactive Material to Islamists

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

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

Clarion Project, Oct. 7, 2015:

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

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

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

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

The other three cases were reported as happening in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Obama Administration’s Huge Nuclear Concessions to Iran

iran-nuclear-deal-concessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama’s Nuclear Concessions to Iran Accelerating

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

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

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Former CIA Head James Woolsey Launches Unprecedented Attack on Iran

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From the Iran Short Film Series:

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

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

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

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

The witnesses at this hearing were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

[be prepared to adjust for volume fluctuations]

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

Iran Implicated in Foiled Hezbollah Attacks on Europe

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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