Iran’s secret helper: President Obama 1

Paying ransom for captured citizens is one of the worst things a government can do.

It obviously launches a lucrative industry, signaling that it will be profitable to go on capturing them wherever they may be found.

Obama paid a $400 million cash ransom for the release of American hostages held in Iran. It’s against the law, but such a triviality never bothered Obama. He tried to hide the transaction by sending Swiss francs and Euros packed in wooden crates in an unmarked cargo plane to Tehran. The American hostages were released.

Now more have been taken, of course.

When rumbled, the crooked administration came up with a cock-and-bull story about the money being a debt owed to Iran since the days of the Shah.

From the WSJ by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee:

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

As usual, the administration lies to the American people, insisting that there is no connection between the money and the hostage release. Instead:

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17 — without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.

“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim… were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. …

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.

Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. …

At the time of the prisoner release, Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House portrayed it as a diplomatic breakthrough. Mr. Kerry cited the importance of “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks”.

Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. …

The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.

According to the New York Post, there is proof that the administration is lying about there being “no link between the payment and the prisoner exchange”:

One of the American hostages who was released the day the United States sent $400 million to Iran said his plane to freedom was not allowed to take off until “another plane” arrived in Tehran, according to a report.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was among four Americans released this past Jan. 17, told Fox Business he wound up waiting for an extended time for the second plane to reach the Iranian capital and was never told why the arriving aircraft was so important.

“I just remember the night at the airport sitting for hours and hours there, and I asked police, ‘Why are you not letting us go?’ ” Abedini said. “He said, ‘We are waiting for another plane so if that plane doesn’t come, we never let you go.’ ”

The WSJ report concludes:

Revolutionary Guard commanders boasted at the time that the Americans had succumbed to Iranian pressure. “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Guard’s Basij militia, on state media.

Among the Americans currently being held are an energy executive named Siamak Namazi and his 80-year old father, Baqer, according to U.S. and Iranian officials. Iran’s judiciary spokesman last month confirmed Tehran had arrested the third American, believed to be a San Diego resident named Reza “Robin” Shahini.

Friends and family of the Namazis believe the Iranians are seeking to increase their leverage to force another prisoner exchange or cash payment in the final six months of the Obama administration. Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials have been raising their case with Iranian diplomats, U.S. officials say.

Iranian officials have demanded in recent weeks the U.S. return $2 billion in Iranian funds that were frozen in New York in 2009. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the money should be given to victims of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks.

Members of Congress are seeking to pass legislation preventing the Obama administration from making any further cash payments to Iran. One of the bills requires for the White House to make public the details of its $1.7 billion transfer to Iran.

“President Obama’s … payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance,” said Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.), who co-wrote the bill. “Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

The only surprise is that Obama did something – though very much the wrong thing – to get American captives freed. Why? That’s the deeper mystery, the answer to which we may never know.

(Is one of the released hostages related, or closely connected, to one of Obama’s henchmen? To John Kerry, for instance? A good investigative journalist is needed to find out.)

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An insoluble mystery – or an unutterable solution? 1

What can explain the zeal with which Obama has empowered Iran, against all reason, against all opposition and difficulty – including the truculent and obstreperous behavior of Iran itself?

Obama ardently wants Iran to be a power in the world. Why?

Bret Stephens’s report yesterday at the Wall Street Journal on the progress of Iran towards nuclear arms under Obama’s patronage only deepens the mystery of the motive.

What diplomats call the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—known to the rest of us as the Disastrous Iran Deal—was agreed in Vienna a year ago this week. Now comes a status update, courtesy of our friends at the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, or BfV.

In its fascinating 2015 annual report, published late last month … there’s this:

The illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities [by Iran] in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level. This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.

The report also notes …

a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran’s ambitious missile technology program which could among other things potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons. Against this backdrop it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.

The BfV report arrived days before Germany arrested a Pakistani national, identified as Syed Mustufa H., accused of spying for Iran. It also corroborates another German intelligence report, this one from the intelligence service of North Rhine-Westphalia, that Iran’s nuclear procurement efforts have increased dramatically in recent years, from 48 known attempts in 2010 to 141 in 2015. Seven other German states have reported similar Iranian procurement efforts.

This violates Iran’s explicit commitment to go through an official “procurement channel” to purchase nuclear- and missile-related materials.

There is such a channel open to Iran?

All this was enough to prompt Angela Merkel to warn the Bundestag last week that Iran “continued to develop its rocket program in conflict with relevant provisions of the U.N. Security Council”. Don’t expect German sanctions, but at least the chancellor is living in the reality zone.

As for the Obama administration, not so much. For the past year it has developed a narrative — spoon-fed to the reporters and editorial writers Ben Rhodes publicly mocks as dopes and dupes — that Iran has met all its obligations under the deal, and now deserves extra cookies in the form of access to U.S. dollars, Boeing jets, U.S. purchases of Iranian heavy water (thereby subsidizing its nuclear program), and other concessions the administration last year promised Congress it would never grant.

“We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support for terrorism, and for its ballistic-missile program, and we will continue to enforce those sanctions vigorously,” Mr. Obama said in January. Whatever.

The administration is now weighing whether to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. That would neutralize a future president’s ability to impose sanctions on Iran, since WTO rules would allow Tehran to sue Washington for interfering with trade.

The administration has also pushed the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that enforces anti-money-laundering standards, to ease pressure on Iran, which FATF did last month by suspending some restrictions for the next year.

And then there’s the Boeing deal to sell $17.6 billion worth of jets to Iran, which congressional Republicans led by Illinois’s Pete Roskam are trying to stop. Iran uses its civilian fleet to ferry weapons and fighters to its terrorist clients in Syria and Lebanon.

“The administration is trying to lock in the Iran deal and prevent a future president from doing anything, including pushing back on Iran’s malign behavior,” says the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, who knows more about Iran sanctions than anyone in Washington. “Instead of curbing Iran’s worst behavior, the administration effectively facilitates it.”

One last detail: In June, the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered “traces of man-made uranium” at Iran’s military facility at Parchin. The agency reported this finding in a footnote to a report in December, but the administration made no comment then and now dismisses it as old news. The IAEA is no longer allowed to inspect Parchin, or any other military installation, under the deal.

So let’s recap. Mr. Obama says Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, but German intelligence tells us Tehran is violating it more aggressively than ever. He promised “snapback” sanctions in the event of such violations, but the U.S. is operating as Iran’s trade-promotion agent. He promised “unprecedented” inspections, but we’re not permitted to inspect sites where uranium was found. He promised an eight-year ban on Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, but Tehran violated that ban immediately and repeatedly with only mild pushback from the West. He promised that the nuclear deal was not about “normalizing” relations with a rogue regime. But he wants it in the WTO.

Is Mr. Obama rationalizing a failed agreement or did he mean to mislead the American public? Either way, truth is catching up with the Iran deal.

Plainly Obama has misled the American public. What is the truth?

Iran has declared that it desires the annihilation of Israel. It has inscribed that aim on its missiles.

Is it illogical, or too far-fetched, to ascribe the same desire to the American commander-in-chief who is helping Iran become powerful enough to achieve its aim?

Posted under Commentary, Germany, Iran, Israel, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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Meet the nuclear scientists working in Iran for peace 1

As more about the US’s terms of surrender to Iran emerge, it becomes ever clearer that despite the big lie told by Obama and the Ayatollah Khamenei – the two Supreme Leaders – that Iran would never use nuclear energy for anything but peaceful purposes, it is in fact a nuclear arsenal that Iran is after.

Is anybody surprised?

In this article at the Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon names some of the people and organizations behind the intense activity in Iran to acquire nuclear warheads and missiles to deliver them.

What? The Religion of Peace make war?

And against whom? Surely not the country they call “the Great Satan”? Whoever could imagine such a thing!

The Obama administration and European Union agreed as part of the accord last week to lift sanctions over eight years on a network of Iranian scientists, military officers and companies long suspected by the U.S. and United Nations as central players in a covert nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. also agreed to remove a German engineer from its financial blacklist by late 2023 after he was targeted by sanctions for his alleged role in a global black market in nuclear weapons technology run by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The decision to roll back sanctions on these individuals and organizations is detailed in more than 100 pages of documents released last week as part of the landmark nuclear accord reached between Iran and six world powers.

The Obama administration decided to remove Gerhard Wisser from its sanctions list by 2023. The German engineer was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison [suspended] by a South African court in 2007 for his role in supplying centrifuge components to the A.Q. Khan black-market network. … The U.S. and IAEA accuse Mr. Khan and his associates of facilitating the sale of nuclear equipment to North Korea, Iran and Libya during the 1980s and 1990s. The senior U.S. official didn’t provide specifics about why Mr. Wisser was granted sanctions relief as part of the Iran deal. Mr. Wisser could not be located. He pleaded guilty in 2007 in South Africa to manufacturing components that could be illegally used in nuclear technology. …

Republicans said in recent days they were stunned the White House and European allies agreed to lift sanctions on such individuals and expressed concerns about the long-term impact on U.S. and global security. A number of leading Republicans said the issue of sanctions relief will be among those they cite in attempting to block legislative approval of the Iran deal.

Congress started a 60-day review period of the agreement this week.

This would remove sanctions on those responsible for Iran’s nuclear weapons development at the same time restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program come off,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the delisting of Iranian scientists, companies and officers. “That’s a deadly combination.” …

Among those [people] to be removed from the U.S., U.N. and EU sanctions lists by 2023 is Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies suspect he oversaw a secret Iranian program to develop the technologies for a nuclear weapon, at least until 2003. He’s been called by American officials the “ Robert Oppenheimer” of Iran’s nuclear efforts, a reference to the American scientist who oversaw development of atomic weapons during World War II. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly attempted to interview the military officer to conclude its investigation into Tehran’s alleged weaponization work, but has repeatedly been rebuffed.

Iran denies it sought to build a bomb and has guarded access to its military sites and leadership. …

The U.S., U.N. and EU also committed in Vienna to remove Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, from their sanctions lists over the next eight years. …  Mr. Abbasi-Davani was promoted to head the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran from 2011-2013.

The military body Mr. Fakhrizadeh allegedly headed, the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known as SPND, also will be removed from the U.S. sanctions list by 2023. The IAEA has said SPND may have been involved in nuclear weapons research after 2003. The agency has sought to interview officials from the organization but have also been rebuffed.

The U.S. also agreed to remove Kalaye Electric Co. from its sanctions list over the next eight years. The Iranian company was exposed by the IAEA as having secretly run a uranium-enrichment facility in the early 2000s. …

The EU and U.N. also committed to removing Malek Ashtar University from their sanctions lists. The Tehran research center was accused of supplying scientists who participated in secret weaponization work, according to former U.S. and IAEA officials. …

Denials and confusion will continue:

The Obama administration will begin briefing Congress on Wednesday, including with appearances by Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Kerry and other administration officials have in some cases added to the confusion over the status of Iranians and others on sanctions lists. According to the Vienna documents, the commander of Iran’s overseas military unit known as the Qods Force will be taken off EU and U.N. sanctions lists in the next eight years. But the secretary of state initially denied that the commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, would be removed from sanctions lists.

Of course he will be removed. He and everyone else on the list will probably be given awards soon by Obama, or the UN, or the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.