Preparing for War with Iran (Daniel)

Image result for iran deal
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton has a plan to pull out of the Iran deal. It’s bad.
Updated by Zeeshan Aleem@ZeeshanAleemzeeshan.aleem@vox.com Aug 29, 2017, 2:40pm EDT
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and uber-hawk John Bolton says that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon asked him to draw up a plan for how to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in July. But after the White House ejected Bannon in August, Bolton lost access to the administration and his plan never made it to Trump’s desk.
Now he’s decided to publish his plan publicly, and it’s … not very good.
The five-page memo is basically a strategic public relations campaign to convince the world that the US has a case for pulling out of the deal. That case hinges on one central claim: that Iran is clearly violating the deal and has thus rendered it a meaningless agreement.
But experts say that this claim isn’t grounded in evidence, and that Iran is meeting international standards in complying with the deal’s requirements for inspections and monitoring.
Bolton’s argument, they say, simply assumes that Iran has nefarious intentions to build nuclear weapons despite the absence of any proof. And some analysts warn that his argument suffers from the same kind of war-hungry reasoning that led the US to invade Iraq on questionable evidence in 2003.
“There’s a lot of talk of Iran’s noncompliance with the deal, but there isn’t a lot of evidence of Iran’s noncompliance,” Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told me. “That’s sort of how Iraq happened, where the Bush administration said, ‘Let’s go find the evidence of weapons of mass destruction,’ rather than asking, ‘Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction or not?’”
There’s no compelling evidence that Iran is violating the deal
In 2015, the Obama administration and its allies struck the nuclear deal with Iran, which called for lifting punishing Western economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
The accord helped cool rising tensions between the US and Iran, which could possibly have led to yet another US military intervention in the Middle East. Tehran has already received tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for shipping out a large chunk of its enriched uranium and taking thousands of centrifuges offline.
In his memo, Bolton asserts that Iran’s “outright violations” of the terms of the deal give the US license to scrap the deal and reimpose crippling economic sanctions on the country unilaterally.
But experts say there is no evidence of Iran refusing to comply with the deal in substantial ways.
“Washington’s partners in the deal and the European Union have all clearly stated that Iran is complying with the deal, and more importantly, the US intelligence community is pointing to Iran’s compliance with the agreement,” Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, told me.
“Based on the evidence that’s been presented to the intelligence community, it appears that Iran is in compliance with the rules that were laid out in the JCPOA,” Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in July.
In the runup to the invasion of Iraq, Bolton served as the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration. Both Davenport and Lewis point out that he was a key player in pushing for the war based on cherry-picked intelligence suggesting that Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“Bolton was pretty central to that and he’s replicating that experience,” Lewis said.
In addition to his concerns about compliance, Bolton also points out that Iran’s international behavior is strategically at odds with the US’s. Iran backs militant groups like Hezbollah and others that threaten US allies in the Middle East.
But that conduct is not prohibited by the agreement, and it’s unclear how pulling out of the Iran deal would allow the US to rein in Tehran.
Davenport points out that there are “clear signals that Washington’s partners are not interested in going along with Trump’s plan to exit the deal.”
Why does that matter? If the US is the only one one to scrap the deal and decides to reimpose sanctions, then its penalties won’t have much bite. It was the combined force of the international community’s isolation of Iran that suffocated its economy and made it inclined to curb its program and negotiate for relief.
Parties to the deal, like France and China, have already begun to do business with Iran again. They’re not eager to reverse that without good cause.
So if the US pulls out of the Iran deal when Iran is in fact complying with it, the other parties to the deal have little reason to join the US in dropping it as well and restarting sanctions. Iran would then be in a better position to pursue nuclear weapons than it was before the deal was struck.

Obama’s Great Betrayal (2 Kings 25)


Obama chose dishonor, and Israel will have war

Iran is taking over Syria. The distant enemy is coming closer. The US is out of the picture. Those who put their trust in the new world sheriff, Donald Trump, have to admit he appears to be far more concerned with the American media than the Iranian imperialism. That is who he is.
The world’s sheriff is not whoever has more power—the United States has a lot more—but whoever uses the power he has.
Netanyahu had to go to Vladimir Putin this week again for another round of talks with the Russian leader during his vacation in Sochi. It’s not clear whether Putin is going to stop the Iranian threat. It is clear, however, that he’s the only one there is any point in talking to.
ISIS has been defeated on the ground. Over the last year, its fighters have been pushed out of Mosul in Iraq, and in the coming year, probably, they’ll also be pushed out of Syria’s Raqqa, the caliphate’s capital. The problem is that the alternative for ISIS on the ground—Iran and Hezbollah—is just as bad.
The strengthening and spreading of Iran’s influence were made possible, inter alia, because of the nuclear deal. European nations were quick to court the country that got Barack Obama and John Kerry’s stamp of approval. Most of the sanctions were lifted. Europe rushed to renew the massive deals and oil purchases. In the five months that followed the sanctions’ removal, Iranian exports—excluding oil—grew by $19 billion. The oil production soared from an average of 2.5 million barrels a day during the sanctions to close to 4 million barrels a day in recent months. The billions increased accordingly.
Many of the heads of Israel’s defense establishment, unlike Netanyahu, determined the nuclear deal was the lesser of evils. Its advantages, they claimed, outweigh its shortcomings.
I’m afraid they were wrong. The Iranian threat was twofold: Both the development of nuclear weapons and regional subversion. It is possible there is a temporary waning of the first threat. The second threat, meanwhile, continues growing. Iran is stirring the pot: it has militant affiliates in Yemen; it is fighting in Iraq and turning it into a protected state; Syria is also becoming a protected state; and Lebanon, for a long time now, has been under the control of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
Between Iran and Israel there is a growing, ever expanding territorial corridor under Iranian control, and the Shiite nation is planning on building a sea port in Syria, perhaps an airport as well. This didn’t happen because of the nuclear agreement, but there is no doubt the nuclear agreement served to bolster Iran and its expansionist aspirations.
Obama and Kerry managed to mislead the international community in general—and the American public in particular—by claiming the alternative to the agreement was war. That’s not true. The alternative was continuing and the sanctions and imposing additional, harsher sanctions. Only then, it might have been possible to deal with both threats. Now, it is too late.
Most of the time, Netanyahu’s conduct was appropriate. He was among those who pushed for the sanctions on Iran. He spurred the international community into action. But at some point, something went wrong. Netanyahu became a nuisance. Instead of showing a little more flexibility on the Palestinian issue, in order to get more on the Iranian issue, he made himself the American administration’s enemy on both matters. The result was a complete failure. Iran’s nuclear capabilities were not curbed, and Tehran is now turning into a regional power. Chamberlain, said Winston Churchill, was “given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” As time goes on, it becomes all the more apparent Obama has chosen dishonor. Iran is becoming a world power, and Israel might pay with another war.

Iran Is Nuclear Ready (Daniel 8)


Iran warns it could have enriched uranium within five days if Trump pulls US out of deal | The Independent
Sally Hayden Tuesday 22 August 2017 17:25 BST
Iran could be in a position to create highly enriched uranium within five days if the US ends a major agreement on nuclear proliferation, the country’s atomic programme head has warned.
Ali Akbar Salehi, one of Iran’s vice presidents, made the comments on state TV in apparent reaction to increased sanctions imposed by America this month.
He suggested the country could achieve 20-per cent enriched uranium in “at most” five days – a level at which it could then quickly be processed further into weapons-grade nuclear material.
“Definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening,” Mr Salehi said. “We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”
Mr Salehi said the US would be surprised by how quickly Iran could rebuild its stocks if the 2015 nuclear deal was dropped.
“If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 per cent-enrichment in at most five days,” he said. Iran’s permitted uranium enrichment is currently capped at five per cent.
President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who began his second term earlier this month, has also warned of the speed with which Iran could increase its nuclear capabilities. Last week he said US “threats and sanctions” would give Iran reason to build up nuclear resources.
“In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced level than at the beginning of the negotiations” he said.
Criticising the US as not a “good partner,” Mr Rouhani added: “Those who are trying to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past hallucinations… They deprive themselves of the advantages of peace.”
During his US presidential campaign, Donald Trump dismissed the 2015 nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever.”
The leader has since accused Iran of violating the “spirit” of the nuclear deal, which the countries entered into along with five other world powers – France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany.
This month, his administration introduced new economic sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and people involved in its ballistic missile programme, after Iran conducted missile tests.
Last week, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Iran could not “use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage,” adding: “Iran, under no circumstances, can ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”

Iran Nuclear Capable Within Days (Daniel 8)

https://i2.wp.com/andrewtheprophet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/iran-Khamenei-600.jpgBismarck Tribune Online – World and National News
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state television is quoting the country’s atomic chief as saying the Islamic Republic would need only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent – a level at which the material could start to be used for a nuclear weapon.

State TV’s website on Tuesday quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying: “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”
Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment at under 5 percent.
Iran long has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purpose.

Of Course Iran Has a Clandestine Nuclear Program

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Did Rouhani Accidentally Admit to a Clandestine Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program?

by David Gerstman | 08.18.17 3:28 pm
The New York Times asserted on Tuesday that with a more advanced nuclear program, Iran “could start enriching uranium up to the level of 20 percent, a step toward building a nuclear weapon.”
But was Rouhani making a threat? Or did he accidentally admit that even now Iran is engaged in clandestine nuclear weapons research, in violation of the nuclear deal?
One of the weaknesses of the accord is that it doesn’t force Iran to reveal the full extent of its past nuclear research.
In December 2015, a month and a half before Implementation Day, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report that found that Iran had engaged in nuclear weapons research until at least 2009. The IAEA, which is the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations and is in charge of monitoring Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, couldn’t say for certain whether Iran had stopped seeking nuclear weapons because Iran withheld information.
In June 2016, the Obama administration acknowledged that traces of enriched uranium found at the Parchin military installation were likely the result of Iran’s nuclear weapons research.
In addition to the unresolved questions raised by the final IAEA report on Iran’s past nuclear work, a former Obama administration official told The New York Times in 2013 that “there has never been a time in the past 15 years or so when Iran didn’t have a hidden facility in construction.”
There also is a historical reason to suspect that Iran is cheating on the nuclear deal. That is because when it reached an agreement with the United Kingdom, France and Germany in 2004, Iran cheated on its commitments too.
In November 2004, Iran and the three European nations, known collectively as the EU3, agreed that Iran would stop enriching uranium in order to avoid being referred to the UN Security Council for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In reporting the 2004 agreement, The New York Times noted:

The foreign ministers of the three countries brokered a deal, announced with much fanfare in Tehran 13 months ago. In it, Iran agreed to suspend its production of enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear energy or nuclear weapons programs, and to submit to more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities.
After Iran violated the agreement, officials from the three countries acknowledged that the deal had been made too hastily and that the language of the final accord was too vague and open to misinterpretation.
However, within a year, Iran announced its rejection of the Paris agreement, saying that the incentives offered by the Europeans for it not to pursue a military nuclear program were “not acceptable.” Two days later, on August 8, Iran restarted its uranium enrichment program.
In response to Iran’s rejection of the deal, the Europeans said that they would refer Iran’s case to the Security Council. Beginning in July 2006, the Security Council would approve at least six resolutions (1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, and 1929) sanctioning Iran for its illicit nuclear program as it repeatedly refused to halt enriching uranium. (The nuclear deal removed the nuclear-related sanctions and allowed Iran to maintain its enrichment program.)
If Iran was concerned about the consequences of defying the Europeans, their lead nuclear negotiator for the Paris agreement didn’t show it.
Hassan Rouhani, now president of Iran, told a closed meeting of clerics in March 2006 that the negotiations allowed Iran to advance their nuclear program.
“From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them’,” The Telegraph reported.
“When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Teheran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan,” Rouhani added.
“The dilemma was if we offered a complete picture, the picture itself could lead us to the UN Security Council,” he said, speaking of the predicament Iran was facing in September 2003, when the IAEA demanded a full accounting of its nuclear activities. “And not providing a complete picture would also be a violation of the resolution and we could have been referred to the Security Council for not implementing the resolution.”
Rouhani made similar boasts in 2013 when he was running for his first term as president. During a televised debate, when the moderator accused Rouhani of suspending Iran’s nuclear program for negotiations, the candidate pushed back:

Quite the contrary, Rouhani countered, detailing the completion of various phases of work at Isfahan under his watch in 2004 and 2005. He went on to state proudly that the Iranian heavy water reactor at Arak was also developed under his watch, in 2004.
“Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004,” Rouhani went on. “Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.”
Incredulous at the notion that Iran had bowed to international pressure and halted nuclear activities in that period, Rouhani asked the interviewer, “We halted the nuclear program? We were the ones to complete it! We completed the technology.”

Not once—but twice—did Iran’s one-time nuclear negotiator admit that the Islamic Republic engaged in negotiations with the West to deceive the world and allow it to advance its illicit nuclear research.
Now he’s president.
What are the chances that the negotiations from 2013 to 2015 were also a distraction, “creating a tame situation” in Rouhani’s words, giving Iran the money it needed to advance its nuclear research and develop nuclear weapons?
I think the chances are pretty high.

Nuclear Iran Will Rise When the Nuclear Deal Fails

We can sense fear in statements made by Iranian officials and most recently President Hassan Rouhani who warned against the consequences of the big scheme’s collapse – the reconciliation agreement with the West based on the nuclear deal signed during the term of former US President Barack Obama.
The Congress shocked the Iranian government when it reinstated a number of economic sanctions on Iran, and US President Donald Trump insisted on his stance that the nuclear agreement serves Iran more than the US, threatening to abolish it.
Countries of the European Union (EU) are keen to preserve the agreement, which they believe it ushered in a new phase with the Iranian regime. Since signing it, they rushed to seal huge trade deals with Tehran, a move that was previously not possible because the US government would have put any European company that dealt with Iran on the blacklist.
Most provoked
Arab states, especially Gulf countries, were the most provoked by this agreement. They were neither against sealing a deal that eradicates the Iranian nuclear danger nor against dealing commercially with Iran but objected over its high cost – extending Iran’s powers via fighting in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and threatening other Arab states.
In case Iran considered that imposing sanctions abolishes the nuclear deal then it will resume uranium enrichment, renewing tension. Iran offers the West two options: its nuclear project that will threaten the West and Israel in the future, or being allowed to have hegemony over the region.
Tehran used the second option as a weapon to blackmail the West: Obama’s administration struck with it a deal that only aims at halting its nuclear program, allowing it to enjoy its powers in several areas, including those that the US considers as interest zones such as the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The new Iranian threats against the US economic sanctions must be taken seriously because they trigger Iran’s way of imposing what it wants via violence and chaos
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Significant progress

Yet, Iran’s commitment to ceasing the nuclear project is a significant progress that makes Iran worthy of the removal of economic and commercial sanctions. But Obama’s administration went so far in its concessions and allowed Tehran to wage wars, for the first time and in a direct manner, even in states not lying on its border such as Syria and Yemen.
The nuclear agreement is partially responsible for the region’s chaos. There are more than 50,000 extremists fighting in Syria – directed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and brought in from various countries at the time when the international community was endeavoring to get rid of extremist groups such as ISIS.
Because the nuclear agreement was negotiated discreetly between the Obama and Rouhani teams, the region hasn’t been aware of its details until recently – the Obama administration left behind it a dangerous mine. Iran has become more aggressive after signing the agreement, this is evident.

Disrupting the project

The deal might succeed in disrupting the nuclear project for another decade but it has fueled a more dangerous war in the Middle East and posed an unprecedented level of threat to regimes since the revolution in Iran in 1979. It also reinforced extremists in Tehran.
The new Iranian threats against the US economic sanctions must be taken seriously because they trigger Iran’s way of imposing what it wants via violence and chaos. But the US relapse in Syria represents a huge tactical mistake because Syria is where Iran can be besieged and obliged to cooperate regionally and internationally.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
______________________________
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Iran Will Soon Restart Their Nuclear Program (Daniel 8:4)


Iranian president threatens to restart nuclear program
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world powers.
Hassan Rouhani’s remarks to lawmakers follow the Iranian parliament’s move earlier this week to increase spending on the country’s ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
The bill — and Rouhani’s comments — are seen as a direct response to the new U.S. legislation earlier this month that imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The U.S. legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.
If Washington continues with “threats and sanctions” against Iran, Rouhani said in parliament on Tuesday, Tehran could easily restart the nuclear program.
“In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced (nuclear) level than at the beginning of the negotiations” that preceded the 2015 deal, Rouhani said.
He did not elaborate.
The landmark agreement between Iran and world powers two years ago capped Iran’s uranium enrichment levels in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
It was not immediately clear what Rouhani was referring to — and whether he meant Iran could restart centrifuges enriching uranium to higher and more dangerous levels.
He also offered no evidence Iran’s capability to rapidly restart higher enrichment, though Iran still has its stock of centrifuges. Those devices now churn out uranium to low levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes, but could produce the much higher levels needed for a nuclear weapon.
Iran long has insisted its atomic program is for peaceful purposes despite Western fears of it being used to make weapons.
However in December, Rouhani ordered up plans on building nuclear-powered ships, something that appears to be allowed under the nuclear deal.
Rouhani’s remarks were likely an attempt to appease hard-liners at home who have demanded a tougher stand against the United States. But they are also expected to ratchet up tensions further with the Trump administration.
Iran has said the new U.S. sanctions amount to a “hostile” breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“The U.S. has shown that it is neither a good partner nor a trustable negotiator,” Rouhani added. “Those who are trying to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past hallucinations. They deprive themselves of the advantages of peace.”
But Rouhani also tempered his own threat, adding that Iran seeks to remain loyal to its commitments under the nuclear deal, which opened a “path of cooperation and confidence-building” with the world.
“The deal was a model of the victory of peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism,” said Rouhani. “It was Iran’s preference, but it was not and will not remain Iran’s only option.”
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)


Another country with nuclear aspirations is watching the North Korean standoff closely

Jason Gewirtz
As the world turns its attention to reports that North Korea has mastered a key component to making a nuclear missile, experts warn that the White House must also keep its eye on Iran.
The concern, some say, is that Tehran will see that if North Korea can get away with building a nuclear weapon in spite of U.S. protests, then it can, too.
Matt Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said North Korean progress may lead Iran to try to become the next nuclear power. “It’s a human and emotional response, but also logical,” he said of Tehran’s possible goals.
Adding to worries Iran will try to take advantage of the U.S. focus on North Korea, a top aide to supreme leader Kim Jong Un is on a 10-day trip to meet with Iranian leaders in Tehran, according to official North Korean news reports. The reports say top officials from North Korea’s army, navy and air force are part of the trip.
Alireza Nader, an expert on Iran for the global policy think tank RAND Corp., said the meetings aren’t surprising. “Iran and North Korea cooperate on many fronts but mostly on defense,” he said.
Nader added that “most of the North Korean relationship with Iran centers on missile systems. North Korea was helping Iran, but now Iran is helping North Korea with technology for inter-continental ballistic missiles.”
The Iran-North Korea relationship
Despite colliding ideologies, the relationship between the Islamic Republic and communist-atheist North Korea began to blossom during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iran sold oil to North Korea to raise cash for military supplies. Iran still ships some oil to North Korea, but that’s limited because North Korea doesn’t have much to trade in return for the fuel. “The relationship is really more military than anything” according to Nader.
Levitt cautioned, however, that the North Korean crisis and the situation in Iran are not entirely parallel: “Iran is not a closed economy that is entirely blocked off from the rest of the world, while North Korea largely is.”
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, right, meets with a top North Korean leader, Kim Yong Nam, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013.
That is, Tehran has more to lose from breaking the 2015 international nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country, while North Korea is a true rogue nation. In fact, French automaker Renault earlier this week struck a deal to build cars in Iran, and energy giant Total recently reached a deal with the Iranians.
Estimates show that more than 90 percent of all trade conducted by North Korea goes through China, whereas Iran is seen as a regional power in the Middle East.
But, Levitt added, “when one situation goes wrong it is inevitable that you think about the other.” Still, he said, President Donald Trump’s administration right now has no choice but to focus most of its attention on North Korea.
Dealing with multiple trouble spots
Former U.S. ambassador Ed Walker disagreed. Walker, who served in Egypt, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, said it’s crucial that the Trump team focuses on both issues at the same time.
“As soon as you start distracting U.S. efforts to contain Iran, that frees up space for Iran to move forward with its nuclear program,” he said.
Walker also said that if the Trump administration can’t keep both issues in check at the same time, “they should quit and go home.”
“President Trump has put himself at a terrible disadvantage by leaving key posts at the State Department unfilled and by not hiring qualified staff fast enough,” said Walker, who served under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week, Michael O’Hanlon, a Brookings Institution specialist in defense strategy, warned that Iran is watching what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula closely and using it as a test. He asked rhetorically, “What lessons will Iran draw if North Korea gets away with not only getting a bomb, but building up continuously with China and Russia tolerating it?”
While the North Korean nuclear front is clearly escalating, tensions with Iran are hardly dissipating. After the White House said it wants inspections of Iranian military facilities, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry mocked the push, reportedly calling it “possibly something that a satirist wrote up.”
RAND’s Nader said the Trump administration would be wise to not push for more inspections of Iran just for the sake of testing the nuclear deal.
“If there is true suspicion of Iranian cheating or violating the accord, then the U.S. should increase inspections,” said Nader. But, he added, the North Korea crisis is a great example of why the current deal is so important. “Iran is under a heavy inspections regime, North Korea was not.”

Iranian Terrorism Courtesy of the Obama Deal

Iran Using Nuclear Deal Sanctions Relief to Fund Terrorism?
Iranian IRGC units have been fighting in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region. Photo: Twitter.
JNS.org – As the Trump administration considers its options regarding Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the 2015 nuclear deal is funding Tehran’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East?
Last week, President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and its human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported efforts to fuel the Temple Mount crisis, and its agreement to bolster relations with Hamas.
Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah also continue to back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, although Russia’s military support for Assad is far more important for Iran’s involvement there than the sanctions relief that Tehran obtained in the nuclear deal.
“I think what has been crucial for the expansion of Iran’s role in Syria, more than anything, has been the air support [Assad] has received from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” said Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya research college.
Javedanfar estimates that, so far, Iran has received less than $20 billion of the $150 billion in sanctions relief that it secured in the nuclear deal. Even if all of the sanctions relief money had been released immediately, he said, it “wouldn’t have been enough to save Syria.”
While the released funds have aided the Iranian regime, Javedanfar said that President Hassan Rouhani’s government is plagued by around $100 billion in debt carried over from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure. The new sanctions leveled by the Trump administration will hamper Rouhani’s ability to attract foreign investment, but hardline entities such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “will be happy since less economic growth will give them more ammunition against the government,” he said.
“The IRGC is responsible for these additional sanctions that were imposed,” Javedanfar said. The sanctions were levied after Iran fired a ballistic missile with a banner calling for Israel’s destruction. Javedanfar added: “The real intention of this launch, in practice, was to target Rouhani’s economic achievements.”
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said that it remains unclear how much of Iran’s sanctions relief funds have been diverted to causes such as Palestinian terrorism. But he said that “sanctions relief coupled with the campaign to ‘normalize’ Iran has enabled its fighters, money and weapons to go largely unchecked throughout the region.”
The Trump administration’s new sanctions are part of “a desperately needed strategy, since for over a decade, Iran’s regional ambitions and military programs took a back seat to the nuclear issue,” Taleblu said.
Ronen A. Cohen, an Iran expert and the chair of the Department of Middle East Studies at Israel’s Ariel University, said that “Iran will promote terror with or without the sanctions.” Cohen added that since 2015, Iran has spent less on regional terrorism due to Rouhani’s strategy to strengthen the Iranian economy through trade.
“Iran has a pragmatic strategy in the Middle East, and will invest money only where it gains something in return, irrespective of sanctions,” Cohen said.
Last week, Israel Hayom quoted a Palestinian Authority security official as claiming that Iran invested “millions of shekels” to inflame the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. According to the report, tens of thousands of Muslim protesters received prepackaged meals along with notes citing a quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.”
Taleblu said that Iran’s Shiite regime “uses the Palestinian issue to drive a wedge between the Arab world and Israel, as well as to mask … ethno-sectarian differences with its Sunni Arab neighbors, and bolster its Islamist standing in the region.”
Iran has championed the Palestinian cause since its inception, and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “would rob Tehran of that card and render naked its regional aspirations,” said Taleblu.
“Iran’s longstanding provision of money and weapons to Palestinian terror groups tells you one thing: Iran has more to gain from perpetual conflict in the Levant and eastern Mediterranean than peace,” he said.
IDC Herzliya’s Javedanfar said that he has seen no real evidence that Iran was behind the recent tensions in Jerusalem. Rather, he said, Iran exaggerated its role in the Temple Mount crisis since “it feels isolated in the region because of its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his atrocities against Sunni Muslims.”
Iran’s claims regarding the Temple Mount, Javedanfar said, show “how desperate the Iranian regime has become.”

We Have Already Committed Political Suicide

https://i2.wp.com/i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161206095438-01-hassan-rouhani-donald-trump-split-exlarge-169.jpgIran nuclear deal: Rouhani warns US against ‘political suicide’
Media captionMr Rouhani said Iran would “respond to violations”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned US President Donald Trump he risks political suicide if he scraps the nuclear deal with Tehran.
At his swearing-in ceremony, Mr Rouhani said Iran would continue to abide by the terms of the deal as long as the other signatories do the same.
The White House says Iran is complying with the deal but Mr Trump says Iran is violating its spirit.
Last month the US state department announced new sanctions on the country.
The US says the sanctions relate to Iran’s missile programme and alleged support for terror groups but Tehran says they violate the nuclear deal.
Mr Rouhani – being sworn in for a second term after winning presidential elections in May – said he had nothing to do with “newcomers to the world of politics” and urged “old-timers” to see the nuclear deal as an example of how to manage international relations.
“Those who want to tear apart the JCPOA [nuclear deal] should know that they would also be tearing apart their political life,” he said in a ceremony broadcast live on state TV.
He accused the US of a “lack of commitment” to the deal and said it was an “unreliable partner”.
Meanwhile Iranian officials have been urging Europe not to side with the Trump administration.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Mr Trump was “trying to destroy the nuclear accord at Iran’s expense” and said “Europe should be conscious of this”, private Tasnim news agency said.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked Europe to “take a more independent policy towards Iran”, state media reported.
Mr Rouhani won 57% of the vote in May’s election after promising to create jobs and build bridges with the outside world.