Tag Archives: Iran

Trump’s Middle East Policy

Since we were remembering Obama’s Middle East Policy, what about Trump’s?

Such absurd New York real estate boasting aside, in his first year in office, Trump has taken a number of truly radical steps. In December, he promised to meet a longstanding Israel wish: moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has also challenged the Palestinians frontally, closing the spigot of funds the U.S. provides to the UN under the rubric of refugee assistance.

Neither move is likely to advance a “peace process” that has been moribund almost from birth. Both have spurred condemnation worldwide. But neither move has sparked the kind of conflagration on the Arab street that was predicted by so many experts.

Indeed, both moves might even be called Reaganesque. By staking out firm positions, stating obvious truths and aligning the U.S. more closely with the only democracy in the region, the Trump administration is forcing all the players in the region to reconsider stale positions that have brought them nothing but sporadic violent collisions with Israel for half a century.


If Reagan-like boldness can be detected in some of Trump’s statecraft, so can Obama-like fecklessness, or worse. In dealing with Iranian imperial ambitions, Trump has been talking loudly and carrying the smallest of sticks.

Trump came into office pledging to tear up the Iranian nuclear deal and set new “red lines” on Iranian behavior. But when push came to shove, he has let the Iranians do the shoving while allies of the U.S. have been pushed around.

The most dramatic case in point concerns treatment of our longstanding ally, the Kurds. This past October, less than two days after Trump blasted the Iranian revolutionary guard’s Quds Force as the “corrupt personal terror” militia of Iran’s supreme leader, and then promised to “work with our allies to counter the (Iranian) regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region,” the United States did precisely the opposite of what he pledged.

The U.S. stood by as Iraqi troops, aided by the very same Quds Force Trump had just promised to resist, conquered the Kurdish-held oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the nucleus of a future independent Kurdistan. This betrayal of an ally was not preordained. It was also not an irony but the opposite of irony if one considers that during the presidential campaign Trump jumbled the Quds with Kurds and was unable to say which was which.

Of a piece with this passivity is Trump’s response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons. Readers will recall that while serving Chinese President Xi Jinping “the most beautiful chocolate cake” in Mar-a-Lago back in April, Trump informed his guest that a fusillade of 59 American cruise missiles had just been launched toward a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

Head of Revolutionary Guards Claims Opposition Has Been Crushed

I hope that this is an optimistic statement on his part.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has declared the defeat of the “sedition” in the country, referring to a wave of anti-government protests.

Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari made the announcement as tens of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies called to counter the unrest.

It began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad and has seen 21 people killed.

The protests were initially against price rises and corruption, but turned to wider anti-government sentiment.

They have been the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Iran Erupting

It’s probably too much to hope for, but let’s hope that they people of Iran can cast aside the oppressive yoke of Islamic fundamentalism.

Anti-government protests have continued in Iran for a third day, with reports of demonstrations in many cities despite warnings from authorities.

At Tehran University, protesters called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and there were clashes with police.

Demonstrators ignored the interior minister’s warning that citizens should avoid “illegal gatherings”.

Meanwhile, thousands of pro-government demonstrators turned out for rallies.

These official rallies were organised in advance of the anti-government protests, to mark the eighth anniversary of the suppression of major street protests in 2009.

The current protests began in the north-east on Thursday over living standards and by Friday had spread to several major cities.

Saudia Arabia Accuse Iran of Aggression

The Dogs of War are barking.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of an act of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen.

This “may be considered an act of war”, state media quoted the prince as telling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation.

On Saturday, a ballistic missile was intercepted near the Saudi capital.

Iran has denied arming the Houthi movement, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government.

Trump Pushes Back on Iran Deal

Good. Now it’s up to Congress.

US President Donald Trump has condemned Iran as a “fanatical regime” and refused to continue signing off on a landmark international nuclear deal.

In a combative speech on Friday, Mr Trump accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and proposed new sanctions.

He said Iran had already violated the 2015 deal, which imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear capability in return for easing international embargoes.

International observers say Iran has been in full compliance with the deal.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said he was acting in order to deny Iran “all paths to a nuclear weapon”.

“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” he said.

Iran Sanctions Oshkosh Corporation

I think Oshkosh Corp. will be fine. It’s almost a badge of honor to be sanctioned by Iran.

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Sunday sanctioned what it described as 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression and Israel’s occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state, likely in retaliation for sanctions earlier announced by the U.S.

The wide-ranging list from an American real estate company to a major arms manufacturer and Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Corp. appeared more symbolic than anything else as the firms weren’t immediately known to be doing business anywhere in the Islamic Republic.

Oshkosh Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military vehicles, with thousands of its trucks used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company also has produced military trucks for U.S. allies including Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates, Jordan, Oman, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and the United Kingdom.

Trump Condemned Iran Treaty to Putin


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said. The White House declined to comment. It referred Reuters to the official White House account issued after the Jan. 28 call, which did not mention the discussion about New START.

The Iran treaty was horrible and a bad deal for America. I’m not sure in what context that came up, but the point is valid.

What is clear is that Trump has a serious leak in his administration. You’ll notice that it seems like almost every conversation he’s had with a foreign leader has had this kind of leak fishing for a “gotcha.” Someone – probably a hacked off insider at the State Department or White House staff – is leaking this stuff. And I don’t care who our president is, he or she needs to be able to have frank conversations with other foreign leaders with the assurance that the conversation will remain private. Trump needs to figure out who the leaker is and fire them. And if they have violated any laws by leaking these conversations (I imagine that they have), then they need to be prosecuted.

Iran Breaks Nuclear Agreement Again

Meanwhile, another Obama failure is on display.

VIENNA, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Iran has exceeded a soft limit on sensitive material set under its nuclear deal with major powers, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Wednesday, hours after Donald Trump – who has strongly criticized the agreement – won the U.S. presidential election.

It is the second time Tehran has surpassed the 130 metric tonne threshold for heavy water, a material used as a moderator in reactors like Iran’s unfinished one at Arak, since the deal was put in place in January. It had 130.1 tonnes of the material on Tuesday, the watchdog said.

The last time Iran overstepped that mark was brief, passing without major criticism from the other countries that signed the nuclear deal last year. But there are questions about whether the incoming Trump administration will react to such incidents the same way.

Iranian-Supported Militants Fire Missiles at U.S. Warship

Yes, Iran does continue to support terrorists around the globe who hate America despite Obama’s sham nuclear treaty with them.

Riyadh (AFP) – Two missiles fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen fell short of a US warship patrolling the Red Sea off the coast of the war-torn country, the US navy said Monday.

The USS Mason “detected two inbound missiles” within an hour of each other from around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Sunday, said US Naval Forces Central Command spokeswoman Paula Dunn.

The destroyer had been “conducting routine operations in international waters” at the time, she said in a statement.

“Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship,” said Dunn, adding that “there were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship”.

“We assess these missiles were launched from Huthi-controlled territory in Yemen,” she said, referring to the Iran-backed rebels fighting Yemen’s internationally recognised government.

Iran Takes More Hostages After Obama Ransom

From their perspective, it never hurts to have a few Americans to bargain with when they want something from us.

At least half a dozen other dual-national Iranians, including at least three other Iranian-Americans, have been arrested on similar charges in the past year.

News of the latest arrest came on the same day that the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy committee met members of the intelligence wing of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran Granted Exemptions In Nuclear Deal

This deal was bad even before we knew of all of the secret provisos. The more we learn about it, the worse it gets.

The report says “most of the conditions” laid out in the agreement “were met by Iran” but it also claims Iran would have not been in compliance by January 16, 2016, the deal’s so-called Implementation Day, without the exemptions to the requirement that Iran limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium to under 300-kilograms. The exemptions supposedly pertained to uranium in “waste form,” according to the report, but the authors noted that that waste was potentially recoverable.
The report’s authors, David Albright and Andrea Stricker, went on to blast President Barack Obama’s administration for keeping these exemptions secret.
“Any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified,” the report said.
Albright told CNN that the additional low enriched uranium could reduce the amount of time needed for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb if it decided to break the accord.
The report said another exemption allowed Iran to operate 19 “hot cells” larger than specified in the accords, larger hot cells could be used to produce plutonium, which can also be used to produce a nuclear weapon.
Obama was so intent on getting this deal done to build his legacy that he has put the U.S. and the world in more danger.

Obama’s Ransom Payment to Iran Unprecedented

Well, yeah… that’s because past presidents didn’t pay massive ransoms to terrorist-supporting regimes.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $400 million cash delivery to Iran to repay a decades-old arbitration claim may be unprecedented in recent U.S. history, according to legal experts and diplomatic historians, raising further questions about a payment timed to help free four American prisoners in Iran.

The money was sent to Iran on Jan. 17, the same day Tehran agreed to release the prisoners. The Obama administration claimed for months the events were separate, but recently acknowledged the cash was used as leverage until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran. Only then, did the U.S. allow a plane with euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency loaded on pallets to take off in the other direction for Tehran.

“There’s actually not anything particularly unusual about the mechanism for this transaction,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week of the initial cash payment.

But diplomatic historians and lawyers with expertise in international arbitration struggled to find any similar examples.

Asked to recall a similar payment of the U.S. using cash or hard money to settle an international dispute, the office of the State Department historian couldn’t provide an example.

Obama Bribed Iran

As I said in my column 9 days ago:

We have all heard the idiom, “If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” That certainly seems to be the case regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cash the Obama administration sent to Iran before the nation released American prisoners. Despite their vehement protestations, it sure looks like the Obama administration sent a massive ransom to a terrorist-supporting nation to free American hostages in violation of American law and policy.

And now we learn:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says a $400 million cash payment to Iran was contingent on the release of American prisoners.

Spokesman John Kirby says negotiations over the United States’ returning Iranian money from a decades-old account was conducted separately from the prisoner talks. But he says the U.S. withheld delivery of the cash as leverage until the U.S. citizens had left Iran.

Both events occurred Jan. 17.

Yes. That is a ransom. There are very good reasons that American doesn’t pay ransom demands. And in this case, Obama paid a ransom to a regime that hates America and actively funds terrorist organizations all over the world. What a disgrace.

Obama’s ransom to Iran

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

We have all heard the idiom, “If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” That certainly seems to be the case regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cash the Obama administration sent to Iran before the nation released American prisoners. Despite their vehement protestations, it sure looks like the Obama administration sent a massive ransom to a terrorist-supporting nation to free American hostages in violation of American law and policy.

Last week the Wall Street Journal broke the story that the United States sent $400 million in cash to Iran in an unmarked cargo plane Jan. 17. That was the same day Iran released five American hostages. America also released seven Iranians who were in jail or facing charges in America.

According to the Obama administration, the Americans were released by Iran as part of a prisoner exchange and the cash payment to Iran was part of a separate deal running in parallel to both the nuclear negotiations and the prisoner exchange. The payment was part of a settlement that goes back to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979.

When Iran took Americans hostage that time, President Jimmy Carter severed diplomatic relations with Iran and froze all Iranian assets in America. Once the hostages were finally returned, America returned some of the money and established a tribunal in The Hague to settle the rest of it. One issue to be resolved was a $400 million payment the former Shah of Iran made for military equipment before he was ousted from power. After the uprising, the U.S. banned the delivery of military equipment, but kept the $400 million.

In the 36 years since that happened, the case has wormed its way through The Hague and was reportedly nearing resolution through a binding arbitration process. The Obama administration expected to lose the case and be forced to pay Iran as much as $10 billion, so they reached out to Iran and agreed to settle for $1.7 billion. The $400 million paid to Iran this January was a down payment on the settlement.

Such are the technical details, but they do not tell the whole story. While the negotiations about the nuclear deal, prisoner exchange and financial settlement were being handled by separate parts of the administration, they were all clearly linked, and being handled by the same people in Iran. The Iranian government has told the world as much.

According to the Iranian press and military leaders, they considered the payment a ransom for the American hostages. And according to the Rev. Saeed Abedini, one of the American hostages released, they were held for hours at the airport before being released as guards told them they could not be released until the plane with the cash arrived. Abedini says that the guards told them they would not be released if the other plane failed to arrive. After the plane with the cash arrived, the Americans were released.

Furthermore, it is clear the Obama administration understood the American hostages would not be released if they did not send the cash. First, there is the timing. The $400 million was purportedly part of a settlement for a dispute stretching back to 1979, but they had to send it on the day the prisoners were released. In the more than 12,000 days since the dispute started, why that day if not because the hostage release was contingent on it?

Second, rather than sending the money to Iran as a normal bank transaction, the Obama administration converted hundreds of millions of dollars to Euros, Swiss Francs and other foreign currencies specifically in order to circumvent the law prohibiting U.S. transactions with Iran in dollars. They also structured the deal in a way to avoid briefing Congress on it before Congress voted on the Iran nuclear deal. Despite its claim all of these negotiations were separate, the Obama administration clearly viewed them as unrenderable.

As more facts about the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran come to light, it is clear America’s interests, policies and laws were subverted or subordinated to Barack Obama’s unyielding ambition to notch a foreign policy success after two terms of failed policies.

Iran Executes Scientist for Spying

You’ll notice that despite our president’s prostrations toward Iran, they still refer to us as the Great Satan.

(CNN)An Iranian nuclear scientist who once claimed he was kidnapped by the CIA has been executed after being accused of spying for the United States.

Shahram Amiri had been in custody in Iran since 2010.
“Shahram Amiri had access to the system’s top secrets and had gotten connected with our number one enemy the Great Satan,” Iranian judicial spokesman Hojjat al-Eslam Mehdi Mohseni-Ejehei told reporters Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA.

Obama Shipped Pallets of Cash to Iran

Wouldn’t most of us get in trouble for shipping wads of cash to a terrorist-supporting regime?

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration secretly arranged a plane delivery of $400 million in cash on the same day Iran released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal, US officials confirmed Wednesday.

President Barack Obama approved the $400 million transfer, which he had announced in January as part of the Iran nuclear deal. The money was flown into Iran on wooden pallets stacked with Swiss francs, euros and other currencies as the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement resolving claims at an international tribunal at The Hague over a failed arms deal under the time of the Shah.
Call it what you will, but everybody knows what this was.

Obama creates path for a nuclear Iran

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

While political pundits and talking heads posing as serious people passionately debated whether or not Ted Cruz should have endorsed Donald Trump last week, we learned that the deal our current president made with Iran had secret provisions that made a dangerous deal even more perilous.

Given the fact that virtually every foreign policy initiative by President Barack Obama has ended in disaster (Libya, ISIS, Iraq, Russia, Ukraine, Boko Haram, etc.), he set out to solve one of our nation’s most enduring and difficult foreign policy problems: Iran. For years, America has sought to curb the nuclear ambitions of terrorist-supporting Iran by isolating it through sanctions and pressure through international organizations.

Obama told us there was a better way. He engaged Iran in talks and ended up with an agreement he said would protect the world from a nuclear Iran for generations to come. He was wrong at the time and the recent revelations show he might have actually accelerated Iran’s nuclear program.

Up until last year, Iran was on the proverbial ropes. International sanctions drastically limited its ability to sell its primary export, oil, on the world market and the collapse in the price of oil was further hurting its economy. This drastically limited the influx of hard currency into Iran and made it tough for it to fund its nuclear ambitions. Obama changed all of that. In exchange for Iran’s promise to cut back the number of centrifuges to a few older models, ship some of its enriched uranium out of the country and allow international inspectors, Obama lifted the sanctions to allow billions of dollars to flow into Iran and released millions more in Iranian funds that were frozen since Iran tookAmerican hostages.

Obama soothed Americans by promising, “We have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb.” That was a lie before we knew of the secret side deal.

The core problem with the deal is it requires that Iran will live up to its promises despite decades of provocations, funding of terrorists, creating fake companies to get around sanctions, stonewalling inspectors and lying about its nuclear program. Indeed, in the few months since the deal was signed, Iran has stonewalled more inspectors and been implicated in cyber attacks on American infrastructure.

But even if one lives in Obama’s fantasy world where Iran can be trusted, he cut a side deal, giving Iran a faster path to a nuclear weapon. According to a report by the Associated Press, the secret side deal allows Iran to begin replacing its old, less-efficient centrifuges with far more advanced centrifuges after 10 years. While Iran will still have fewer centrifuges than it does now, the newer models will allow it to enrich uranium at more than twice the rate that it can do now. This would reduce its breakout time — the time it would take to create enough enriched uranium to make a bomb — from the current estimate of a year to less than six months.

This means that Obama’s deal with Iran lifts sanctions allowing Iran to bring in billions of dollars to fund its nuclear ambitions for the next decade, and then use the money to buy equipment that can create a nuclear weapon faster than it can now. And that assumes Iran abides by the agreement and does not start installing more-advanced centrifuges even sooner.

Despite Obama’s assurances he has “cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb,” he has made America and the world less safe by actually allowing Iran access to the money and equipment necessary to enter the nuclear club even sooner.

Secret Addendum to Iran Deal Allows Faster Path to Nuke

Yes, there was some secret fine print that allowed President Obama to lie to the American people about the strength of the deal.

Details published earlier outline most restraints on Iran’s nuclear program meant to reduce the threat that Tehran will turn nuclear activities it says are peaceful to making weapons.

But although some of the constraints extend for 15 years, documents in the public domain are short on details of what happens with Iran’s most proliferation-prone nuclear activity – its uranium enrichment – beyond the first 10 years of the agreement.

The document obtained by the AP fills in the gap. It says that as of January 2027 – 11 years after the deal was implemented – Iran will start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.

Centrifuges churn out uranium to levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes to much higher levels for the core of a nuclear warhead. From year 11 to 13, says the document, Iran will install centrifuges up to five times as efficient as the 5,060 machines it is now restricted to using.

Those new models will number less than those being used now, ranging between 2,500 and 3,500, depending on their efficiency, according to the document. But because they are more effective, they will allow Iran to enrich at more than twice the rate it is doing now.

Components other than centrifuge numbers and efficiency also go into the mix of how quickly a nation can make a nuclear weapon. They include how much enriched uranium it has to work with, and restrictions on Iran’s stockpile extend until the end of the deal, crimping its full enrichment program.

But a comparison of outputs between the old and newer machines shows the newer ones work at double the enrichment rate. That means they would reduce the time Iran could make enough weapons grade uranium to six months or less from present estimates of one year.

And that time frame could shrink even more. While the document doesn’t say what happens with centrifuge numbers and types past year 13, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told The AP that Iran will be free to install any number of advanced centrifuges beyond that point, even though the nuclear deal extends two additional years..

Remember these heady assurances?

Whereas Iran was steadily expanding its nuclear program, we have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb.  Whereas it would have taken Iran two to three months to break out with enough material to rush to a bomb, we’ve now extended that breakout time to a year

Except there will be a path to a bomb and the breakout time will be much less than a year. But other than that…

Obama Says Deal With Iran is Great for Iranians

Has anyone figured out what the U.S. gets out of this deal?

President Barack Obama says the benefits of the Iranian nuclear deal are “undeniable” although it may still take time for people to begin enjoying them.

Obama says the deal makes it possible for Iran to rejoin the global economy through increased trade and investment, creating jobs and opportunities for Iranians to sell their goods around the world.

Obama says the U.S. still has “profound differences” with Iran, but he says the fact that the countries are talking regularly for the first time in decades could help solve them.

US to Name Iran in Cyber Attack on Infrastructure

And yet… we’re still freeing billions of dollars for them to use to build their terror network and nuclear arsenal.

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration is preparing to publicly attribute a 2013 cyber attack against a New York dam to Iranian hackers, according to U.S. officials familiar with the investigation.

The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against people thought to be behind the attack, according to the officials. An announcement could come in the next week.

The intrusion at the Bowman Avenue Dam, around 30 miles north of New York City in suburban Rye, New York, isn’t considered sophisticated — the hackers managed only to get access to some back office systems, not the operational systems of the dam, U.S. officials say. U.S. investigators quickly determined the attack was carried out by hackers working for the Iranian government.