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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Whose problem? 0

The US-Iran “agreement” … “can’t actually be an ‘agreement’ in the normal sense of the word [because] there is no prospect of Iran complying with it, and it’s quite possible that it will be proclaimed by the Obama administration regardless of whether Iran has even ostensibly ‘agreed’ to it .

So writes the splendid military-political analyst, Commander J. E. Dyer here.

The following also comes from her article:

Marie Harf is back, smacking down a mildly critical article in the New York Times about a looming problem with Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU at 3.5% purity), and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) undertaken in November 2013 as the basis for continued negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

The gist of the concern is that the Iranian stockpile has grown 20% since the JPOA was agreed on.  This is a problem partly because it indicates non-compliance with the JPOA, under which Iran’s stockpile was supposed to be frozen.

But it’s also a significant problem because it’s not clear how Iran will be able to comply, on a meaningful timetable, with the stockpile allowance under a long-term deal.  Iran is supposed to get down to an LEU stockpile of 300 kg, and keep it there.  When IAEA completed its most recent inspection, Iran had 8,714 kg of LEU stock in uranium hexafluoride gas form (the form in which it is fed into centrifuge arrays for enrichment).

Iran thus has to convert to other forms, and/or render non-weaponizable, 96% of her current LEU stockpile in order to comply with the terms of the proposed final “agreement”.  Yet Iran has spent the last 18 months enlarging this stockpile, and has claimed technical difficulties with her plan to turn much of the stockpile into fuel elements for nuclear reactors.

An administration official reportedly acknowledged the issue:

“How are they going to do it?” one senior American official said recently when asked about the negotiations, details of which Mr. Kerry and his team are trying to keep confidential. “We’re not certain. It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”

The Institute for Science and International Security, moreover, in its analysis of the latest IAEA report, repeated its warning from April 2015 that Iran still has a substantial stockpile of uranium hexafluoride, in oxide form, enriched to the higher 19.75% purity.  Although it would require re-conversion to be enriched further as weapons-grade material, doing that would more than double Iran’s post-“agreement” stockpile of LEU.

The warning about these real problems came to a head with the NYT article on Monday.  Reporters at the State Department’s daily briefing taxed Marie Harf with it; she described the State Department as “perplexed” by it, claiming that the article’s “main contentions are totally inaccurate”. But she proceeded to both misidentify and misstate one of these “main contentions” in her explanation:

“First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd,” Harf said.

The article doesn’t say any such thing, so Harf is just arguing against a straw man here.  Her other comments shed no additional light on the issue.  She merely alludes to Iran’s “commitment” to reducing the LEU stockpile to 300 kg.

“What matters is that they [Iran] have committed already, and we said [it] publicly, to reducing their stockpile whenever this implemented 300 kilograms,” Harf said. “The notion that this is some big issue of concern of negotiation is more manufacturing a controversy than actual reality. Everyone who read that story this morning was totally perplexed by it.”

This comes from PowerLine, written and assembled by Scott Johnson:

Intelligence Squared US arranged one of its excellent debates on the upper West Side of Manhattan this week. The debate had as its subject the merits of President Obama’s pending arrangement with Iran. Addressing the proposition that the deal is good for the United States, the debate matched Philip Gordon and Amb. Thomas Pickering (for the affirmative) with Michael Doran and Mark Dubowitz (for the negative), with moderator John Donovan cracking the whip in impressive fashion. The audience votes on the proposition before and after the debate; the team that maximally moves the dial is declared the winner.

Intelligence Squared has made resources on the debate accessible here. The video is below; the transcript is here.

We think the case for the “agreement” or “arrangement”  as made by Gordon and Pickering is extremely weak.

Doran and Dubowitz bring some strong arguments to the debate, and in our opinion win it overwhelmingly. But then, we start off thinking the “agreement” is merely a cover for Obama’s intention to let Iran become a nuclear-armed power.

Secretly aiding the enemy – but why? 2

Is there no one inside the White House loyal enough to the USA to stop or expose Obama’s secret dealing with its enemies – dealings that strengthen them and weaken us?

This is from Front Page, by Majid Rafizadeh:

I have long pointed out that Barack Obama’s administration, and particularly president Obama himself, has been more than likely clandestinely communicating and working with the Islamic Republic of Iran much longer than just before the current nuclear talks, and even long before President Hassan Rouhani came to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly.

Several national and international outlets have just released more details and reports on this issue.

The crucial point … is that while the American people were told by the Obama administration (an image projected by President Obama) that this September’s “historic” telephone call between President Obama and President Rouhani was the first diplomatic outreach to achieve agreement on nuclear issues, the recent revelations indicate otherwise.

These secrets talks, surreptitious letters, leading to confidential and classified negotiations between Obama and the Islamist leaders of Iran, were initiated long before the current nuclear talks, right after the current president of Iran was elected to office.

According to several outlets, including the [Democratic supporting] Daily Beast … the White House— under the leadership of President Obama— started lifting and easing its sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran right after President Hassan Rouhani took office.

According to The Daily Beast, Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group that works closely with Congress and the White House regarding Iranian matters, stated that for “five months, since Rouhani’s election, the United States has offered Iran two major forms of sanctions relief.” In addition, Dubowitz pointed out that Iran has been selling oil illegally on the black market, leading to a large profitable amount of illegal revenues for Iran.

This also explains why President Obama has tried to oppose any sort of sanctions, policy recommendations, and legislation presented by the overwhelming majority of congressional representatives.

While it took several American administrations, the international community, the United Nations, and European countries to identify illicit institutions and actors in Iran who have abused the international financial sector, the Obama administration is quietly reversing these processes.

The Obama administration’s policy of quietly lessening financial pressure on Iran has significantly emboldened the position of Iranian Islamists in the international arena.

According to Dubowitz, two types of relief and special offers have been given to Iran by the Obama administration.

Firstly, the Obama administration has significantly decreased issuing designations of sanctions violators in comparison to any previous administrations. This is occurring at a time when Iran has been more rapidly working on its nuclear program and increasing its centrifuges, according to the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran has also increased the number of engineers working at a new plutonium plant, and according to many nuclear experts, Iran will reach the breakaway capacity of developing bomb-grade nuclear weapons within the first six months of next year.

The latest assessment is that it could be done in a matter of weeks, not months.

These secrets concessions have significantly assisted the new president of Iran … [and]  President Obama has … assured the Iranian Islamist leaders that they have the green light to receive further relief down the road. …

In addition, Iranian lawmakers have previously pointed out that President Obama has sent secret letters to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While the Obama administration denies [this], Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that Tehran did receive the secret letter to the Supreme Leader.

Furthermore, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently pushing for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program which will ease sanction on Iran without even asking Tehran to slow down its nuclear activities.

The secrecy of the Obama administration’s work with the Islamist leaders of Iran is bringing, and will continue to bring, further severe repercussions for American national interest, which will just intensify as these clandestine communications networks continue to occur. …

Finally, and more fundamentally, this move has worked to embolden the Islamists’ position, weakening and damaging the American image.

Obama loves Islam. Obviously. But why the choice now of (Shi’a) Iran? His first choice – it seemed – was (Sunni) Saudi Arabia, to whose King he bowed deeply when they met.

We put our little grey skeptical cells to work on these particulars:

Obama has made a close friend of the (Sunni) Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan. Erdogan has befriended Iran, and has turned his country’s former friendship with Israel into enmity. Has Erdogan acted as a go-between for Obama in his wooing of Iran?

Iran is working to become a nuclear-armed power. What it wants to do with its nuclear arms – Iranian leaders have announced – is wipe Israel off the map; whereas the Saudis dread a nuclear armed Iran and seem to have become, on this issue, tacit allies of Israel. Is there a reason in that for Obama to turn away from the Saudis and towards the Iranians? Yes.

So Obama – who has been bullying the Israeli prime minister for the last five years – is positively against the survival of Israel?

We think that is a logical conclusion. But an appalling one.

What others, if any, might there be?