Trump Is Already Too Late (Daniel 8:4)

President Trump insisted Monday that Iran must “never, ever” come close to acquiring nuclear weapons, and called on Israel to join the U.S. in resisting a nuclear Iran shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem for his first visit to Israel as president.
“The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately,” Trump said during a joint appearance with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.”There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there is no question about that,” Trump added.Israel strongly opposed the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. The finalization of that deal in 2015 dealt a blow to U.S.-Israeli relations.

Trump has already delivered harsh criticism to Iran and its destabilizing activities throughout the region on the first few days of his trip. On Monday, he told Rivlin that Iran’s aggression has caused other countries in the Middle East to gravitate toward Israel.

After his joint appearance with Rivlin, Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, headed to a visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a historic church in the Old City of Jerusalem. Trump is also slated on Monday to visit the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site that is also located in the Old City.

Iran Continues To Develop Nuclear Weapons (Daniel 8:4)

The White House responded cautiously Friday to claims by an Iranian dissident group alleging that Iran’s clandestine work on a nuclear weapon has continued unabated by the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran finalized with the Obama administration and five other world powers two years ago.

At a news conference in Washington, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) brandished recent satellite imagery and intelligence purportedly derived from informants inside the Iranian military to bolster their claim that the Islamic Regime is still working covertly on what nuclear experts call weaponization: the final station on the path to nuclear weapons.

“The engineering unit that is charged and tasked with actually building the bomb in a secret way for the Iranian regime is called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office. That unit, whose Persian acronym is SPND, was first exposed by Jafarzadeh’s group in 2011, and was designated by the State Department in 2014 because U.S. officials said SPND “took over some of the activities related to Iran’s undeclared nuclear program.”

“Our information shows that their activities have been continuing in full gear, despite the JCPOA,” Jafarzadeh said, using the acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is the formal name for the nuclear deal.

NCRI’s startling claim came in the same week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran is meeting the terms of the JCPOA but also announced an interagency task force to reevaluate the entire deal, saying the JCPOA is not meeting its objective. President Trump followed that up the next day by saying the Iranians “are not living up to the spirit of the agreement.”

That prompted a sharp tweet of rebuke from the Iranian foreign minister, an architect of the nuclear deal. Dr. Javad Zarif posted: “We’ll see if US prepared to live up to letter of #JCPOA let alone spirit. So far, it has defied both.”

Asked about NCRI’s allegation and supporting evidence, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said only that his colleagues are “carefully evaluating” the NCRI package against “the best intelligence reporting and analysis available to the United States.”

NCRI’s satellite imagery is focused on the military base at Parchin, a site to which inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have been granted only limited and tightly controlled access. The photos outline an area in the north of the sprawling base where installations surrounded by berms are visible. According to NCRI officers, the newly constructed site is known internally as “Plan 6.”

There, the dissident group alleged, a sub-unit of SPND known as METFAZ – another Persian acronym for the formal title of the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact – is working with high explosives in ways the NCRI said are identical to the “possible military dimension” that Western officials long suspected Iran was pursuing with its nuclear program.

Skeptics of NCRI note that it is the political affiliate of an Iranian opposition group, known as MEK, that spent fifteen years on the State Department’s list of foreign terror organizations. But many have seen NCRI’s disclosures about alleged clandestine nuclear activities or sites in Iran borne out, starting with the group’s identification of the theretofore secret installations at Natanz and Arak. Frank Pabian, an adviser on nuclear nonproliferation issues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was quoted in 2010 as telling the New York Times of the NCRI: “They’re right 90 percent of the time.”

To assess the imagery of Plan 6 at Parchin, Fox News consulted  a pair of nuclear scientists and arms control analysts who are among the world’s most renowned. David Albright, the trained physicist and former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, told Fox News the structures visible in the satellite photography are consistent with a facility that makes high explosives; but he noted that Iran has the right to do so under the JCPOA, and that the imagery yielded no outward sign that Iran was also testing high explosives at the site. Still, he believes the IAEA should press for access there. “The international inspectors should use authorities under the nuclear deal to go and look at this site, and see what’s going on and start to verify a critical part of the nuclear deal,” Albright said, “namely, those activities involved in the development of nuclear weapons.”

Olli Heinonen spent nearly three decades at the IAEA, eventually rising to the level of the number-two official at the agency: deputy director-general. He has traveled to Iran for inspection tours and other business some twenty-five times. He reached a similar assessment about Plan 6, even as both men emphasized the need for more information to make determinative judgments.

“We see that the buildings are surrounded by berms; they are a distance from each other. This is a typical design for a site that works with high explosives,” Heinonen told FoxNews. “I think there are serious questions to be asked [of] the Iranian government. Most likely IAEA should have access to this site.”

Neither the IAEA nor the Iranian mission to the United Nations responded to requests for comment.

James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show “The Foxhole.” His latest book is “A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century” (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).

Tillerson Threatens To Go After Iran

Image result for iran nuclear

Tillerson slams Iran nuclear deal as ‘failed approach,’ vows ‘comprehensive review’

Published April 19, 2017

FoxNews.com

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ratcheted up criticism Wednesday of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, publicly confirming the Trump administration is conducting a “comprehensive review” and declaring they have “no intention of passing the buck.”

In some of his toughest language yet, Tillerson said at a brief press conference that the Iran deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” and only delays it becoming a nuclear state.

He faulted the agreement for “buying off” a foreign power with nuclear ambitions, saying: “We just don’t see that that’s a prudent way to be dealing with Iran.”

The statement comes after he said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, that the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement to evaluate whether continued sanctions relief is in the best interest of the U.S.

In the same notification, the administration said Iran is complying with the landmark nuclear deal negotiated by former President Obama, and the U.S. has extended sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

But Tillerson noted in his letter, and repeated during his appearance Wednesday, that Iran continues to foment violence around the world.

“Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” he said Wednesday. “Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a grave risk to international peace and security.”

While not saying definitively whether the administration is inclined to uphold or scrap the deal, Tillerson said they will meet the challenge of Iran with “clarity and conviction” once the review is done.

“The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran,” he said, claiming the deal represents the “failed approach” of the past.

Tillerson also likened Iran’s behavior to that of North Korea. He said an unchecked Iran could pursue the same path as Pyongyang “and take the world along with it.”

As a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was an outspoken critic of the deal but had offered conflicting opinions on whether he would try to scrap it, modify it or keep it in place with more strenuous enforcement. Tuesday’s determination suggested that while Trump agreed with findings by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran is keeping to its end of the bargain, he is looking for another way to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — and Germany. Under its terms, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program, long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump Reviews Iran Deal

The Trump administration is reviewing the Obama-era nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to determine whether they will stop the deal’s suspension of U.S. sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today.

Tillerson said administration officials would review the deal despite also announcing that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 agreement reached under President Obama.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote in a Tuesday night letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The terms of the nuclear agreement require the State Department to update Congress on Iran’s compliance every 90 days. Tillerson’s letter noted that Iran is meeting the deal’s requirements.

Tillerson wrote that Trump has directed an inter-agency review of the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran … is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

What’s the Iran deal again?

In 2015, the United States and five other nations — the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran drastically limiting its nuclear activities.

Around $100 million worth of Iranian oil money and other assets were frozen prior to the agreement. In order to unfreeze that money, Iran agreed to several terms, including:

  • Dropping nearly 75 percent of its uranium centrifuges — equipment used to produce nuclear fuel for power plants or weapons.
  • Reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 percent for 15 years and keeping its level of uranium enrichment low enough to only fuel nuclear power plants, not weapons.
  • Redesigning its existing heavy-water reactor so it can’t make weapons-grade plutonium and pledging not to build more reactors for 15 years.
  • Complying with regular monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international watchdog for nuclear power.
  • Allowing IAEA inspectors access to any site within 24 days of an inspection request.

These sanctions don’t eliminate Iran’s access to nuclear energy, but it does significantly reduce the country’s “breakout time” — the time needed to build a nuclear weapon. According to the Brookings Institution, the deal increased Iran’s breakout time to at least one year.

What does the Trump administration think about it?

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal for years, calling it a “disaster” throughout his presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016.

Since he has come into office, he has continued to blast the deal.

In July last year, Trump told CNN that the Iranians “are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear. We should double up and triple up the sanctions and have them come to us. They are making an amazing deal.”

Trump’s Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, has also criticized the deal and Iran’s actions in the Middle East. At a press conference this morning, speaking on Iran’s support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Mattis said “everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region you find Iran.”

What comes next?

At today’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump may believe that Iran is cheating on the deal.

“That’s why he’s asking for this review,” Spicer said. “If he didn’t, if he thought everything was fine, he would have allowed this to move forward. I think he’s doing the prudent thing by asking for a review of the current deal and what’s happening.”

Spicer said the administration will be conducting the review over the next 90 days, and will have more to report at the end of that period.

At a press conference this afternoon, Tillerson suggested that the current nuclear agreement “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran and only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” Tillerson said. He went on to say that the Iran deal “is another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions, we buy them off for a short period of time and then someone has to deal with it later. We just don’t see that that’s a credible way to be dealing with Iran.”

Earlier this week, a senior White House official told Foreign Policy that the Trump administration is considering taking a harder stance on the deal — implementing the agreements in an “incredibly strict” way — or expanding sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is an Iranian military branch intended to protect the country’s Islamic system.

There is some speculation that the Trump administration may expand sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile testing and it’s funding for terrorist acts. The administration already implemented new sanctions on Iran in early February for testing a missile.

Additional sanctions wouldn’t necessarily violate the terms of the Iran deal, but it is possible that they could push Iran to drop out of the agreement and begin to develop nuclear weapons.

Spicer said sanctions have been “an effective tool,” but added that the administration recognized the possible consequences of increasing sanctions.

“Obviously we’re well aware of any potential negative impacts that an action could have,” Spicer said. “So regardless of whether it’s an economic, political or military action, you always weigh all those kind of options.”

Iranian Horn Backs Syria (Daniel 8:4)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed his support over the phone for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s killing of this country’s people, claiming the Idlib chemical attack is “false and without evidence”, outrageously accusing the opposition for the attack.

The use of chemical weapons… was aimed to diverse the general public’s attention from the truth. We must not permit terrorists use such weaponry, then accuse others and provide pretexts for measures in violation of international regulations,” he said. (Iranian state media – April 9)

Rouhani is the same criminal who has for 38 years accused the Iranian opposition of oppressing and killing the Iranian people, and considers deceiving the international community on Tehran’s nuclear program as one of his main prides.

In other developments, Mohammad Reza Ne’matzadeh, Rouhani’s Minister of Industries and Mines made startling remarks on April 8th in an interview with the Aftab News website associated to Rouhani’s faction.

“Rouhani once said in a cabinet meeting how he asked [Khamenei] what is in our interest. Should I participate or not? [Khamenei] emphasized you must participate as a candidate. I am certain that if [Khamenei] said, for example, don’t participate, it is not in our interest, he would have accepted it immediately. He makes no decision on major issues without [Khamenei’s] blessing,” he said. While emphasizing on Rouhani’s complete abidance of Khamenei’s instructions on various issues regarding the nuclear negotiations, Ne’matzadeh added, “Since 1963 Rouhani was a student of Khomeini and followed his instructions. Afterwards, wherever he had any role or responsibility, it was always according to Khamenei’s approval.”

Last month Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeghi cited Rouhani in a meeting with other MPs how he had sought Khamenei’s opinion before taking part in the 2013 presidential election.

According to Sadeghi in response Khamenei said, “I have and never had any problems with you. We can work together.”

“Khamenei emphasized on his old friendship with Rouhani and not only does he have no negative opinion about him, in fact he thinks positive of Rouhani,” Sadeghi added. (“Arman Rooz” – March 12)

Rouhani’s phone call with the Syrian dictator and providing his utmost support for this war criminal, parallel to Khamenei blessing his candidacy, all prove that various factions of the mullahs’ establishment are no different in their domestic crackdown and plundering the Iranian people’s wealth, they also commonly support exporting terrorism and fundamentalist, and fully back Assad and his massacre of the Syrian people.

They understand very well that with Assad overthrown the pillars of their own religious fascist establishment ruling Iran will be shaken. A few months ago Khamenei admitted if his regime fails to fight in Syria, they will be forced to fight in Tehran, Fars, Khorasan and Isfahan. (State-run media – January 5)

Assad and his senior ranks, alongside Khamenei, Rouhani and Revolutionary Guards commanders, are the main perpetrators behind the killing of 500,000 Syrians and more than half the country’s population being displaced, and they must face justice. Their criminal record is far worse than many of those tried in the Nuremberg hearings.

“Rouhani said to his cohorts he obtained Khamenei’s approval to run,” the Iranian Resistance said in an April 7 statement, adding Ebrahim Raisi also announced his candidacy only after obtaining Khamenei’s agreement to participate in the sham presidential election.

The Iran Nuclear Horn Increases Its Uranium (Daniel 8:4)

President Hassan Rouhani (R) and AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi unveil a rock core centrifuge, while FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd L) and Vice President for science and technology Sorena Sattari look on in Tehran, April 9, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)
Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:1AM

Iran’s nuclear chief says the country is to produce about 40 tonnes of uranium this year, more than half the total amount yielded over the preceding years.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, made the remarks in a televised interview on Sunday.

Over 70 percent of the country’s terrain has been subjected to aerial prospecting for uranium, he said, adding, “Contrary to our previous perception, our country is not poor in uranium resources, and we will be able to satisfy our needs over the next several years.”

Should the country fail to produce its uranium, it will come under pressure in the process of obtaining it from foreign sources, Salehi said.

The official said that since the conclusion of the nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 countries — the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — in July 2015, the Islamic Republic has purchased 360 tonnes of yellowcake — a type of uranium condensate powder.

As a member of the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission monitoring the implementation of the nuclear agreement, the UK prevented Iran from further purchases of 900 tonnes, Salehi said.

“This is while it is up to us to decide how much (yellocake) we need. Therefore, we have to show to the opposite side that we are self-reliant so they do not make up excuses.”

Salehi said the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in southern Iran and two other facilities which are to be built over the next 10 years will need a total of 600 tonnes of uranium a year for their operation. 

Iran’s nuclear reversibility

Salehi said if the Iranian committee, tasked with observing the nuclear accord, decides that the other party has violated the deal, Tehran will roll back its nuclear program in such a way that it will surprise the opposite side. 

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011.

As per the agreement, Iran is forbidden from producing uranium and plutonium metals over the next 10 years, the official said, adding, “Of course, we have produced uranium metal in the past and know the way to produce it.”

Small nuclear reactors

Salehi said Iran has to build smaller reactors in the 100-megawatt range in the country’s central parts because big reactors need to be built near the sea for cooling.

According to the official, the construction of a 1,000-magawatt power plant similar to Bushehr requires some $5 billion of investment and involves energy waste during power transmission, while the cost of a 100-megawatt facility is significantly lower.

Salehi said negotiations have been held with the Chinese to build two 100-megawatt power plants in Iran, while nuclear agreements have been signed with the Czechs and Hungarians. Iran is further working with Slovakia and France since becoming a member of Euroatom, he added.

‘Building nuclear hospital afoot’

Austrian experts, Salehi said, would come to Iran over the next weeks to break the ground on a “nuclear hospital.”

The facility, which would be unique in West Asia, would take four years to build and revolutionize the country’s medical equipment.

Iran and China are also expected to finalize an agreement on redesigning Arak heavy water reactor in the upcoming weeks, Salehi said.

The 40-megawatt Arak reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. Iran is redesigning the planned research reactor to sharply cut its potential output of plutonium.

Salehi has said the amount of plutonium the reactor will be able to yield will be reduced to less than 1 kg a year from 9-10 kg in its original design.

Iran has removed the sensitive core of the Arak nuclear reactor and UN inspectors have visited the site to verify the move crucial to the implementation of Tehran’s nuclear agreement with major powers.

The War of Iranian Hegemony (Daniel 8:4)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters, RTX34BQA)

Of course I loathe Assad. And of course I despise the Obamans for that phony red line and the subsequent retreat-and-bogus-Russian-deal. But just carrying out vengeance against Assad isn’t good enough. It fails to address the central problem of our time: the global anti-American alliance.

There is no Syria any more, and the enemy forces on the Middle Eastern battlefield come from various jihadi groups, and three regimes: Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus. We have to defeat them all, and other members of the enemy alliance, including Cuba and North Korea. Nikki Haley has it right: “The truth is that Assad, Russia and Iran have no interest in peace.”

Indeed, they are waging war, and the principal force driving that war is not Assad, but Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei’s killers have been alongside Assad’s from the very beginning, as the survival of the Syrian dictator is crucial to Iranian ambitions and quite likely also the survival of the Islamic Republic itself. Listen to Defense Secretary James Mattis a few days ago (from Reuters):

Asked about comments Mattis made in 2012 that the three primary threats the United States faced were “Iran, Iran, Iran,” Mattis told reporters that Iran’s behavior had not changed in the years since.

“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today,” Mattis said.

True, and Mattis’ characteristically strong language points the way to the best American action in the region, namely bringing down the Tehran regime. Lashing out at Assad isn’t nearly good enough. After all, what strategic objective would we accomplish by smashing, even removing, Assad? The Iranian and Russian fighters would still be there, as would the Islamist forces. The demands on our military would dramatically expand. We do not want to occupy a significant land mass in what used to be called Syria, nor do we seem to have sorted out what we want to do with the Turks and the Kurds.

Punishing Assad would be satisfying, but we’ve got a big war to win. It’s smarter and more effective to go after the regime in Tehran. Not militarily, but rather supporting the tens of millions of Iranians who detest the Khamenei regime. Call it political warfare, or subversion, or democratic revolution. It worked against the Soviet Empire, and there are good reasons to believe it would work in Iran as well. Most Iranians, suffering under the failed regime, want a freely chosen government that will address their problems instead of dispatching their husbands and sons sent to the battlefield.

Regime change in Iran would be devastating to Assad and Putin, and its positive effects would be felt in North Africa and our own hemisphere, striking at the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah in Latin America. And it would remind the tyrants that America’s greatest weapon is political. We are the most revolutionary country in the world, and we should act like it.

Iran’s Tit For Tat

Iran Sanctions US Companies and Considers a Bill to Designate US Military and CIA As “Terrorist Groups”

Published: 05 April 2017

Apparently in response to U.S. sanctions placed on dozens of Iranian entities earlier this year, following Iran’s unlawful ballistic missile tests, the Iranian regime imposed sanctions on 15 American companies, last week. Among other things, it accused them of “support for terrorism”.

The U.S. companies who were targeted do not do business in Iran.

Additionally, a senior Iranian lawmaker stated that Iran is now considering a bill calling the U.S. military and the CIA “terrorist groups” in reaction to the U.S. Congress’s bill to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The White House’s review of that possibility has rattled Tehran, as it would have far-reaching consequences for the IRGC, who control a large portion of Iran’s entire economy.

Evidently, these are Tehran’s latest reactions to the new U.S. administration’s tougher rhetoric. The former American administration followed a policy of appeasement, giving Tehran many concessions. However, that policy has ended.

According to an article by Ali Safavi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, “In 2005, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei executed an elaborate and comprehensive plan to strengthen the IRGC. In May of that year, Khamenei issued a directive instructing the government to transfer 80 percent of its holdings to “non-governmental public, private and cooperative sectors” — a.k.a. Khamenei and IRGC affiliates — by 2009. A month later, he engineered the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

He continues, “Ahmadinejad came out of nowhere to occupy the presidential palace. A day before the election, official opinion polls had pegged his support at 1.7 percent. The poll favorite, with 28-percent support (a 17-fold superiority over Ahmadinejad), was the former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,” and adds, “True to form, Ahmadinejad quickly stacked ministries with veterans of the IRGC. Half of his cabinet members were IRGC members. A year earlier, IRGC veterans had won the majority of seats in parliament. Shortly after Ahmadinejad’s win, the IRGC announced an internal restructuring push to reflect its expanding roles and responsibilities on the political playing field.”

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, published a new book entitled, “The Rise of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire”. In it, they divulge how the state-owned assets were transferred to the IRGC, including large mines, primary industries, foreign commerce, banks, insurance, power industries, post, roads, railroads, airlines and shipping companies.

It is estimated that $12 billion worth of assets were transferred to Khamenei and the IRGC between 2005 through 2008, who now own 14 major powerhouses that run the economy, according to the NCRI, including a conglomerate known as Setad; the foundations (or bonyads) like the Mostazafan, Astan-e Qods, and Shahid foundations; the IRGC Cooperatives; major business empires like the Khatam Construction Co. and Ghadir Investments; as well as “cooperatives” controlled by the security forces.

The NCRI reports that Tehran spends between $15-20 billion annually to fund the war in Syria, including some $1 billion in salaries. Addiionally, at least $1 billion is provided annually to the Lebanese Hezbollah. Yemen and Iraq are supported by the IRGC and Khamenei, according to the report.

Western business ventures and governments should be warned that “doing business with Iran is doing business with the IRGC.”

According to Safavi, “The new administration should designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity. The possibility alone has inspired Iran’s resort to pathetic countermeasures. However comical, they are harmless. And that’s a step in the right direction.”

Preparing For War With Iran

america-vs-iranNew Iran Sanctions Bills Could Kill the Nuclear Deal, Pave the Way to War

by Tyler Cullis

Congress is in an apparent race with the Trump administration to see who can pose the greater threat to the sustainability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)–the nuclear accord between the United States, other major world powers, and Iran.

Last week, Congress introduced separate House and Senate bills that would impose new sanctions on Iran. The most imminent danger to the JCPOA is the Senate bill–the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S.722), co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The proposed Senate legislation would risk upending the U.S.’s obligations under the JCPOA and undoing the long-term restrictions the JCPOA imposed on Iran’s nuclear program, all the while setting the stage for renewed conflict between the two countries.

Several provisions of the Senate bill are troubling. Contrary to the bill’s sponsors, the proposed legislation is not consistent with the JCPOA – containing provisions that would place the U.S. in clear violation of its JCPOA commitments. Just as troubling, the bill would mandate the President to utilize existing sanctions authorities targeting Iran with greater force, all the while providing new sanctions authorities to the President to target the Islamic Republic – an effective green light to the hardline aspirations of the Trump administration. Finally, the bill would take the unprecedented step of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a branch of Iran’s armed forces – a terrorist group. Absent significant revisions to the bill, the Senate legislation will not only undermine the fundamentals of the nuclear accord, perhaps fatally. It could also quickly engulf the United States in a military conflict with Iran.

Challenge to the JCPOA

On Transition Day, which is either 8 years from Adoption Day or upon a finding from the IAEA that Iran’s nuclear program is being used for exclusively peaceful purposes, whichever is earlier, the United States is required to remove certain Iranian parties from its sanctions lists. Most, if not all, of these entities were designated for involvement in Iran’s nuclear program, but some were also involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program. To the extent that their designation was related to ballistic missiles, this bill would prohibit the President from de-listing those parties on Transition Day, unless the President can provide certification that they have not engaged in activities for which they have been designated in the three-month period preceding their de-listing. If the President cannot provide such certification, then the President would be prohibited from de-listing those parties, placing the U.S. in clear violation of its JCPOA obligations.

Most troubling, this provision–if enacted–will likely provoke an Iranian response. Iran has been careful to reciprocate each U.S. action with its own reaction (see e.g., Iran’s imposition of sanctions on U.S. companies following the U.S. Treasury’s recent announcement of new sanctions designations.) In this case, any reciprocal measure will likely involve Iran’s promised reneging of its own JCPOA commitments. In doing so, both the U.S. and Iran risk undermining the confidence that has so far sustained the JCPOA and prevented either side from terminating the agreement.

Green Light to Trump?

The bill would also mandate the President to impose sanctions on activities related to Iran’s ballistic missile program in a manner that could lead to the re-imposition of sanctions lifted under the JCPOA. Section 4 of the bill requires the President to impose blocking sanctions on persons that engage in activities that have materially contributed or pose a risk of materially contributing to the activities of the Government of Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program, as well as persons who knowingly provide financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, a person so sanctioned. For example, this provision would mandate the President to impose sanctions on Iranian banks that provide financial services – including, as a benign example, payment of employee salaries at designated Iranian government entities – in ways that would violate the JCPOA. Under the JCPOA, the United States is prohibited from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions lifted under the nuclear accord, including the de-listings of certain Iranian entities (e.g., most of Iran’s financial institutions). In mandating the President to broadly impose sanctions on Iranian parties even tangentially related to Iran’s ballistic missile program, this bill risks placing Washington in violation of its JCPOA commitments.

Perhaps more importantly, this provision would also effectively provide a green light to the Trump administration to take a much harder line against Iran for its non-nuclear activities. Some in Congress might think that is a good thing, but the context is everything. First, this puts the JCPOA itself at risk, as the U.S. has certain affirmative obligations under the nuclear accord to prevent interference with Iran’s realizing the full benefits of the sanctions-lifting and refrain from adopting policies or taking actions intended to make the normalization of trade and economic relations between Iran and the rest of the world more difficult. Imposing broad new sanctions on Iran would clearly contradict these basic principles of the agreement. Second, it was not more than a few months ago when the Trump administration put Iran “on notice,” a forewarning of the ambitions of some in the administration to set the stage for a possible military showdown between the two countries. In urging the President to more broadly sanction Iran, Congress risks empowering these more extreme hardline elements in the White House. So far, President Trump has mimicked the prior administration in his use of the sanctions tool; bipartisan support for cracking down on Iran via this legislation could quickly turn the tide and give his administration the confidence to pursue a more aggressive stance toward Iran that could well trigger a military conflict.

Designating IRGC a Terrorist Group

The bill would also designate the IRGC a terrorist group. The bill’s proponents have been willfully obtuse as to the effect of this particular provision (§ 8 of the bill), but it is nonetheless true.

Specifically, the bill would require the President to impose the sanctions identified in Executive Order 13224 on the IRGC and its officials, agents, and affiliates. EO 13224 is the foundational order to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 594, and persons designated pursuant to the Order are routinely known as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). Organizational SDGTs are U.S.-designated “terrorist groups.” The bill’s proponents have variously argued that (1) Congress is not mandating the President to designate the IRGC an SDGT, but instead only to impose the sanctions outlined in EO 13224 to the IRGC; or (2) that the SDGT designation cleverly avoids designating the IRGC a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This is, at the same time, deliberately misleading and beside the point. First, in order to implement this provision, the President will designate the IRGC pursuant to EO 13224 – i.e., as an SDGT. Congress will not be able to wash its hands of this command; it has directed the President. Second, whether to designate the IRGC an FTO or an SDGT is beside the point: considering current sanctions on the IRGC, there are few actual sanctions consequences as a result of either designation. The concerns with designating the IRGC a terrorist group are “extra-legal.”

What are those concerns? Designating the IRGC a terrorist group has zero sanctions consequences, but important real-life ramifications. Currently, the IRGC is designated under no less than three separate U.S. sanctions programs and is subject to robust secondary sanctions. Designating the IRGC an SDGT will thus only duplicate existing sanctions, adding nothing. However, as the U.S. defense establishment has long warned, there could be important consequences to labeling the IRGC a terrorist group, including, but not limited to, possible retaliation against U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, who are vulnerable to Iran-backed militias. If such a scenario came to pass, the potential for open hostilities between the U.S. and Iran would have been effectively triggered by the (legally inconsequential) designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Passage of the Senate bill would thus render the U.S. non-compliant with its JCPOA obligations, while also providing an effective stamp of approval to President Trump to utilize his sanctions authorities to target Iran in ways that could fatally undermine the JCPOA and pave the path towards war. Important revisions will need to be made in the weeks ahead if Congress intends to avoid responsibility for unraveling the Iran nuclear accord.

Iran Responsible For Syrian Attack?

Tillerson: Russia, Iran share ‘responsibility’ for Syrian attack

By Associated Press | Posted: Tue 3:15 PM, Apr 04, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia and Iran bear “great moral responsibility” for deaths from an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Tillerson is calling on Russia and Iran to use their influence over Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent future chemical weapons attacks. He says they bear moral responsibility because they have declared themselves to be the guarantors of a ceasefire they helped broker in Astana, Kazakhstan.

He says in a statement that Iran and Russia shouldn’t have any illusions about Assad or his intentions. Tillerson says anyone using chemical weapons to attack his own people must be held accountable for a “fundamental disregard for human decency.”

Tillerson says the chemical weapons attack makes clear that Assad operates “with brutal, unabashed barbarism.” He says Syria needs a “genuine ceasefire” and that anyone supporting armed combatants there must help ensure compliance.