Shi’a Horn to Unify Against the World (Daniel 8:8)

Iranian FM calls for Muslim unity following Temple Mount riots

Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticizes Israel following clashes between police and Muslim worshipers on Temple Mount.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday commented on the riots which broke out on the Temple Mount when Muslim worshipers clashed with police officers in an attempt to prevent Jews from visiting the holy site on Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second Holy Temple.

Zarif posted a photo from the riots on Twitter and wrote, “The crime shown in this photo was but one perpetrated on Al-AQSA this morning—on our holy day.”

“The same terrorists are hoping to impose #HumiliationoftheCentury on Palestinians. We Muslims have power to end this tyranny, but only if we unite,” he added, in what appeared to be a reference to the US administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which has come to be known as the “Deal of the Century”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday blasted the Trump administration’s peace plan as well, and called on all Muslims to support the Palestinian people in their opposition to it.

In a letter marking the Islamic hajj pilgrimage, Khamenei said the still-unreleased US plan was a “ruse” that’s “doomed to failure.” He also called for “active participation” in efforts to block the US plan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later mocked Khamenei for what he called his “faux concern” for residents of the Palestinian Authority.

“It’s sick that on the eve of Tisha B’Av – a solemn day for the Jewish people – Khamenei calls for violence against the Jewish state,” Pompeo tweeted.

“Khamenei’s faux concern for the Palestinian people runs so deep that under his reign of terror he provided less than $20,000 in aid since 2008, while sending millions to Hamas & other terrorists. In contrast, U.S. provided $6.3 billion in support to Palestinians since 1994,” he added.

The Irony Behind the Saudi Nuclear Horn

IRAN CLAIMS SAUDI ARABIA KILLED OVER ‘3000 AMERICANS’ AND STILL GETS TO ‘HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS’

By Tom O’Connor On 7/31/19 at 12:53 PM EDT

U.S. Central Command chief Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. stands before portraits of Saudi Arabia’s founding King Abdulaziz ibn Saud (R) and current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L), during his visit to a military base in Al-Kharj, central Saudi Arabia on July 18. U.S. troops were set to deploy in the kingdom for the first time in 16 years amid heightened tensions with Iran.

PHOTO: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Iran’s top diplomat has accused Saudi Arabia of killing more than 3,000 U.S. citizens, while at the same time still being allowed a path to obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a clip Wednesday of White House national security adviser John Bolton at the conservative Young America’s Foundation, where he touted President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw last year from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bolton argued the agreement “failed utterly in preventing the mullahs from obtaining a nuclear weapon” ⁠— using a term that refers to an educated holy man in Islam, but often used pejoratively among the right-wing in the West — and argued that “any country that chants ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”

Zarif accused the U.S. of hypocrisy as the Trump administration attempted to support Saudi Arabia in building its nuclear program, tweeting: “Kill 3,000+ Americans but remain a US client and you can have nuclear weapons — even get help in acquiring them.” The statement is a likely reference to the fact that 15 of the 19 Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the vast majority of which were U.S. citizens, were Saudi citizens, and other alleged links between Riyadh and jihadi groups that target Washington’s interests.

“But refuse to bow to #B_Team ‘s whims,” he added, citing a phrase he has coined to describe Bolton and the heads of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, “you can’t even possess peaceful nuclear energy. It apparently matters not that ‘Iran is killing ISIS’ while US’ clients arm it.”

Trump acknowledged in January that “Iran is killing ISIS,” also known as the Islamic State militant group, and back in 2011 called Saudi Arabia “the world’s biggest funder of terrorism.” The president argued that the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom “funnels our petro dollars, our very own money, to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people while the Saudis rely on us to protect them.” He was also a vocal supporter of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that would allow those affected by 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia.

The so-called “28 pages” of the 9/11 Commission report indicated potential, yet unconfirmed links between two of the hijackers and the Saudi government, but some counterterrorism officials have alleged a deeper, joint effort to cover up these ties. Former President Barack Obama attempted to veto JASTA in 2016, a move Trump called “shameful” the same year he began instead describing revolutionary Shiite Muslim Iran as “the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism” and ultimately won the presidency.

Also in 2016, Iran and Saudi Arabia officially cut ties following a spat in which Saudi Arabia executed a popular Shiite Muslim cleric and Iranian protesters burned down Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran. The top rivals have been involved in a battle for influence in which both sides have backed opposing political and militant movements across the region, accusing the other of destabilizing the Middle East.

Washington has found itself alternatively siding with and against both sides of this equation over the decades. Though the U.S. and Iran were recently major contributors to the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Trump administration has also claimed that Iran was behind deaths of “at least 608 American troops” between the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that stirred both Sunni and Shiite Muslim militant activity and the 2011 withdrawal. Last month, the president himself claimed Iran’s production of makeshift bombs “killed 2,000 Americans.”

While Iranian officials like Zarif have repeatedly rejected these claims, Trump has cited Iran’s alleged links to militant groups as one of the major reasons he left the nuclear deal forged by his predecessor alongside Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as China, the European Union, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. These parties still support the deal, but Europe especially has struggled to keep it alive under threat of mounting U.S. sanctions.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, joined Israel and the UAE as being among the few powers to oppose the nuclear deal in 2015 and to welcome Trump’s exit last year. While Iran has insisted it did not seek nuclear weapons, these powers remained skeptical and, while Israel was believed to already possess such weapons of mass destruction, Saudi officials have said they too would build such a bomb if Iran sought it too.

A graphic depicts global nuclear weapons arsenals as estimated by the Federation of American Scientists as of December 2017. Israel is believed to be the only nuclear weapons power in the Middle East and the close U.S. ally has bombed nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria, warning it would also prevent Iran from attaining such weapons.

STATISTA

Despite being the top foreign buyer of U.S. weapons, accusations of Riyadh’s wrongdoing throughout the ongoing the war against a Zaidi Shiite Muslim group known as the Houthis or Ansar Allah in Yemen and in the killing last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey have made the kingdom an unpopular ally at home. While Trump has vetoed congressional attempts to end military assistance to Saudi Arabia, he faces a new battle over his administration’s transfer of nuclear technology.

FROM THE WEB

by ZergNet

The Tragedy of Jim Carrey Just Keeps Getting Sadder and Sadder

About a week after Republican staff of the House Oversight Committee cleared the Trump administration of breaking federal laws in its quiet, nuclear dealings with Saudi Arabia, House Oversight Committee Democrats issued a new report Tuesday identifying the administration’s “willingness to let private parties with close ties to the President wield outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia.”

These reports come at a time of particularly heightened tensions in the Middle East as the U.S. sent troops to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 16 years and Iran warned against a heightened presence of foreign military forces in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. has so far struggled to attain significant backing for a joint maritime mission in the strategic region, while Iran has continued discussions with the remaining nuclear deal parties, as well as regional powers, such as Saudi neighbors Oman, Iraq and even the United Arab Emirates.

“If Saudi Arabia is ready for dialogue, we are always ready for dialogue with our neighbors,” Zarif said Wednesday, according to the semi-official Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting news outlet. “We have never closed the door to dialogue with our neighbors and we will never close the door to dialogue with our neighbors.”

How Trump and His Cronies are Building the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

By Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Report Accuses Trump Allies of Conspiring to Profit Off Saudi Nuclear Deal

By Alison DurkeeJuly 30, 2019Tom Barrack was among the members of the president’s inner circle who tried to use their influence to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to House Democrats.
The Trump administration’s coziness with Saudi Arabia—and willingness to kowtow to corporate interests—were thrown into sharper relief Monday, as a new House Oversight Committee report revealed the extent to which a private company and the Trump allies associated with it were able to use the administration to further their own financial interests in Riyadh. The new House report centers on how IP3, a private company described by one nuclear industry exec as “the Theranos of the nuclear industry,” has been attempting to circumvent the obstacles stopping them from transferring U.S. nuclear technology to the Saudis—with the Trump team’s help. “With regard to Saudi Arabia, the Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests,” the House report alleges. “The documents show the Administration’s willingness to let private parties with close ties to the President wield outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia.”The report, which is the second to be released on this topic and was based on a review of 60,000 documents, details how IP3 lobbied the Trump administration to relax their standards for any future nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia. Typically, such an agreement would require the other country to agree to a “Gold Standard” that prevents the risk of nuclear proliferation, which the Saudis have already refused to comply with. IP3, which is assembled of companies wanting to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, is unhappy with this “total roadblock” to their plans to strike it rich in the Persian Gulf—and they have been making their case to the upper echelons of the Trump team. According to the report, IP3 officials were granted such “unprecedented access” to Trumpworld that they considered the administration an “extended team member,” and officials met directly with “President [Donald] Trump, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, K.T. McFarland, and Cabinet Secretaries Rick Perry, Steven Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Wilbur Ross.” This access, the report explains, “yielded promises from high-level government officials to support IP3’s efforts with Saudi officials.”One particular figure who stands out in the House report is longtime Trump ally and former Trump inauguration chair Thomas Barrack, whom the report alleges was attempting to seek a position in the administration at the same time as he was “(1) promoting the interests of U.S. corporations seeking to profit from the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia; (2) advocating on behalf of foreign interests seeking to obtain this U.S. nuclear technology; and (3) taking steps for his own company, Colony NorthStar, to profit from the same proposals he was advancing with the Administration.” (The New York Times reported separately Monday that federal prosecutors are looking into Barrack’s foreign entanglements in the Gulf region and their connection to the Trump campaign.) Also implicated in the report is former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who served as an adviser to IP3. In 2016, the report alleges, Flynn told business partners about upcoming interactions with key officials in Russia and the Persian Gulf—including Vladimir Putin—and “offered to use these contacts to further IP3’s business interests.”In addition to lobbying the Trump team, IP3 and Barrack’s efforts also directly involved Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. IP3 officials traveled to Saudi Arabia in December 2016 to ask then-deputy crown prince MBS to invest in the company, using IP3’s Trump connections and the incoming administration’s support of IP3 as the primary argument to solicit funds. Trump and Kushner then met directly with MBS in March 2017, and IP3 officials said afterwards that the meeting “established the framework for our unique opportunity to take the next steps with IP3 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Barrack used his Saudi connections to directly influence Trump even before the president’s 2016 victory, as Barrack sent a draft of Trump’s May 2016 energy speech to Saudi and Emerati officials to “coordinate pro-Gulf language.” (The speech’s theme, ironically, was “America First.”)“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistleblowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” House Oversight Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know the facts about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s personal friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.” Republicans issued a response countering the Democrat-led House report, which claims that “the evidence currently before the Committee does not show impropriety in the proposed transfer of nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia” and blames the House report on Democrats’ “[obsession] with investigating every decision made by the Trump White House.”In a statement to ABC News after the report’s release, a spokesman for Barrack said the businessman “has been cooperating with the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives and has provided the documents the Committee requested. Mr. Barrack’s engagement in investment and business development throughout the Middle East for the purpose of better aligned Middle East and US objectives are well known, as are his more than four decades of respected relationships throughout the region. Mr. Barrack’s consistent attempts to bridge the divide of tolerance and understanding between these two great cultures is etched in the annals of time. This is not political it is essential. Mr. Barrack has never had a position in the Trump administration.” Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell called the report a Democratic-led “smear campaign,” telling ABC News that the “special counsel investigated all of these matters, and General Flynn cooperated extensively—answering all their questions on all their Middle East issues and everything else.”Monday’s report marks the latest sign of the Trump administration’s enduring alliance with Saudi Arabia, which has come under heightened scrutiny in the wake of the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Trump recently defied Congress by vetoing a bipartisan block on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, an override vote for which failed Monday in the Senate. Kushner, meanwhile, has continued to ally himself with MBS, whom he’s expected to meet with once again this week. And IP3’s efforts, the report alleges, “continue to this day.” The Daily Beast reported in March that progress on transferring U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia is continuing, as the U.S. Department of Energy approved six authorizations for U.S. companies to conduct nuclear-related work in the country—two of which were approved after Khashoggi’s murder. “The alarming realization that the Trump Administration signed off on sharing our nuclear know-how with the Saudi regime after it brutally murdered an American resident adds to a disturbing pattern of behavior,” Sen. Tim Kaine said in a statement about the authorizations. “President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan Congressional objection, harms American national security interests.”

Iran Advances Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

Iran says missile tests defensive, needs no one’s permission

Saturday, July 27, 2019 7:46 a.m. CDT

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday missile tests were part of its defensive needs and were not directed against any country, after Washington said Tehran had test-fired a medium-range missile.

A U.S. defense official said Iran tested what appeared to be a medium-range ballistic missile on Wednesday that traveled about 1,000 km (620 miles), adding that the test did not pose a threat to shipping or U.S. personnel in the region.

“An informed source at the armed forces staff said Iran’s missile tests are natural within its defensive needs. This missile capacity is not against any country, and only aims to respond to possible aggression,” Iranian news agencies reported.

Iran does not need the permission of any power in the world for its self-defense,” the reports quoted the military source as saying.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program last year and stepped up sanctions on Tehran.

He said the nuclear deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran has ruled out talks with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile program that it says is defensive. It denies the missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads and says its nuclear program is peaceful.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter and Edmund Blair)

The French Horn Fruitlessly Warns the Iranian Nuclear Horn

France stresses need for Iran to respect nuclear accord

Elaine Ganley | APJuly 23

A speedboat of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Sunday, July 21, 2019. Iranian officials say the seizure of the British oil tanker was a justified response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier off the coast of Gibraltar, a British territory located on the southern tip of Spain. (Hasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency via AP) (Associated Press)

PARIS — French authorities in a meeting Tuesday with an Iranian envoy stressed the need for Tehran to quickly respect the 2015 nuclear accord it has breached and “make the needed gestures” to deescalate mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

A statement by the French Foreign Ministry said Seyed Abbas Araghchi gave a message to President Emmanuel Macron from Iranian leader Hassen Rouhani. Macron and Rouhani spoke last Thursday.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who met with Araghchi, is working with European partners on an observation mission to ensure maritime security in the Gulf, where tensions have mounted after Iran’s seizure last Friday of a U.K.-flagged oil tanker.

Le Drian made no mention of a Europe-led “maritime protection mission” announced a day earlier by his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, offering instead what seems to be a softer version.

France is working “at this moment on a European initiative” with Britain and Germany, he told lawmakers, without elaborating. “This vision is the opposite of the American initiative, which is … maximum pressure” against Iran.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll said at a briefing that the initiative involves “appropriate means of surveillance” aimed at “increased understanding of the situation at sea” to facilitate traffic in a waterway that is critical to the global economy.

Iran’s seizure Friday of British oil tanker Steno Impero and its 23-member crew in the Strait of Hormuz aggravated tensions that were already mounting with Iran’s breaching of a 2015 Iran nuclear accord among world powers.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord last year, reinstating sanctions on Iran and raising tensions.

Nations still party to the shaky Iran nuclear deal plan to meet in Vienna on Sunday to see to what extent the agreement can be saved. The European Union said the meeting of China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, chaired by the EU, “will examine issues linked to the implementation of the (nuclear deal) in all its aspects.”

Iran began openly exceeding the uranium enrichment levels set in the accord to try to pressure Europe into offsetting the economic pain of U.S. sanctions.

Le Drian stressed the need for diplomacy to de-escalate volatile tensions, which he has said previously could lead to “an accident.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Next U.S.-Iran Flashpoint Will Probably Be Iraq

The Next U.S.-Iran Flashpoint Could Be Iraq

July 23, 2019, 1:02 PM MDT

(Bloomberg) — Drones have been downed and tankers attacked in the Persian Gulf as U.S.-Iran tensions raise fears of war around a critical oil chokepoint. But any conflict between rivals might actually start in the one country where both sides have forces on the ground: Iraq.After two wars with America since 1990, a brutal civil conflict and the rise of Islamic State more recently, about 5,200 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq — amid thousands of Iranian-backed Shiite militias, controlled by officials in Baghdad sympathetic to Tehran.That complicated reality leaves Iraqi officials in a difficult situation as they navigate security ties with the U.S. and their political and religious links to Iran, according to Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group.“The Iraqi government cannot afford to alienate either side,” Vaez said in a phone interview from Washington. “That is exactly why now it finds itself between a rock and hard place.”So far direct conflict has been avoided, and open warfare is unlikely given greater U.S. firepower, but it’s an uneasy lull. The U.S. pulled non-emergency staff from its embassy in Baghdad — its largest and most expensive mission in the world — and closed its consulate in Basra late last year as officials worried that Iran was undermining Iraq’s central authority, as well as Washington’s influence. The consulate remains closed.Exxon Mobil Corp. temporarily evacuated its foreign employees from a camp near the West Qurna-1 oil field in Basra in southern Iraq after a nearby rocket attack. In June, rockets hit an official compound in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the Taji Military camp near Baghdad, both of which house American military advisers, according to local press reports.Some “rogue” Iranian-backed militias “plot against U.S. interests and plan operations that could kill Americans, coalition partners and Iraqis,” Joan Polaschik, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said at a Senate hearing last week. These groups monitor U.S. diplomatic facilities and “continue to conduct indirect fire attacks,” she said.At the same hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Michael Mulroy said that Iran’s “cynical interference” undermines Iraqi interests and “jeopardizes” stability.‘Loyal to Tehran’“Our primary concern is the extent to which noncompliant militias, more loyal to Tehran than Baghdad, undermine the Iraqi prime minister’s legitimate authority, prey on ordinary Iraqis and destabilize the fragile communities recently liberated from ISIS control,” Mulroy said.Iran’s influence with Iraq was highlighted on Monday when Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran and discussed ways to defuse the ongoing crisis in the region. In the latest flare-ups, Iran said it will execute a group of alleged CIA-trained spies, while Tehran and London remain in a standoff over a pair of seized oil tankers.Caught in the middle, the Iraqi government “tries to control the situation” by being a “calming factor” in the region, said Raid Fahmi, an Iraqi lawmaker with the Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr-backed Saeroon alliance. “If the situation escalated and moved to armed clashes, then this could have consequences. Iraq could become part of the conflict because there are political parties” that would consider this as “their battle against the U.S.,“ he said.Iranian officials regularly tout their access to top Iraqi officials as well as their ability to travel the country openly, a stark contrast to American diplomats and administration officials who usually remain hunkered down.When Rouhani visited Iraq in March, he met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s most revered Shiite cleric. President Donald Trump, who earlier this year angered Iraqi lawmakers by saying U.S. troops in the country were needed to keep “watch” on Iran, visited American forces northwest of Baghdad in December but didn’t meet with any top Iraqi officials.Syrian AllianceFor Iran, Iraq is a strategic link in its regional policy that pits it against the U.S. and America’s allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Iranians have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen in regional proxy wars, and bolstered ties with Qatar — which hosts a key U.S. military base — after the emirate was economically isolated by a Saudi-led bloc of nations two years ago.On rare occasions, U.S. and Iranian interests in Iraq converge, as they did when forces from both sides fought separately to oust Islamic State from the country after the terrorist group gained a foothold about five years ago.Hussein EraIran’s ability to influence politics in Iraq goes back to the era of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Then, many in Iraq’s Shiite majority fled across the border into Iran to escape imprisonment, execution and torture. Over decades, they built close ties to Iranian officials, became members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, learned Persian and married into Iranian families, according to Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.After the U.S. toppled Hussein and his Baathist party in 2003, they returned to join the government or support powerful Shiite militias.“Large parts of the Iraqi civil-military establishment, not just the militias, are very closely aligned to Iran,” said Kamran Bokhari, founding director at the Center for Global Policy and a non-resident scholar at the Arabia Foundation. “Iran’s influence is far greater in Iraq than that of the United States.”This month, in what was viewed as a nod to Washington, Iraq moved to curtail the power of Iran-backed militias in the Popular Mobilization Forces by putting them under the formal command of the military. Its decision was welcomed by U.S. officials, though cautiously.‘Flouted’ GovernmentElements of the militia forces, “fought bravely against ISIS and earned public respect,” the Pentagon’s Mulroy said. “But in recent years, Iran-backed, semi-autonomous militias have consistently flouted the government of Iraq and turned to local criminality for self-enrichment. ”Under Trump, the U.S. has ramped up its policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran after the president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord, and that effort shows little sign of easing. With Islamic State’s so-called caliphate largely wiped out, the U.S. wants Iran to get out of Iraq, seeing it as another example of Tehran’s regional meddling.“Iran must respect the sovereignty of Iraq and other regional states, cease destabilizing activities in the region, and refrain from actions that inflame sectarian tensions or empower extremists,” Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email.The potential of a conflict in Iraq — intended or not — is something Iranian officials worry about too, Vaez of the International Crisis Group said.“I asked a very senior Iranian official a few months ago of all of these flash points around the region — from the Strait of Hormuz, to Yemen, to the Golan Heights, to Iraq, to Lebanon — which one worries him the most?” Vaez said. “And he said Iraq.”(Updates with Iraqi lawmaker comment in 11th paragraph.)\–With assistance from Kevin Crowley and Khalid Al-Ansary.To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Washington at gcarey8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iran to Execute American Spies

Iran says it arrested 17 CIA spies, sentencing some to death

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaks at a meeting in Tehran on Sept. 12, 2017.(Associated Press)

By RAMIN MOSTAGHIM , NABIH BULOS

JULY 22, 2019

TEHRAN —  Iran claimed Monday that it had smashed a CIA spy ring on its soil, saying some of the 17 Iranian nationals netted by authorities had already been sentenced to death.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, in an interview with Fox News, dismissed the claims, insisting that “the Iranian regime has a long history of lying.”

“It’s part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” Pompeo said in reference to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion of actions they have taken.”

President Trump weighed in with a tweet, calling the claim “totally false.”

“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

Speaking to dozens of journalists assembled in the underground press club of Iran’s Ministry of Culture, an Iranian counterintelligence official said the 17 detained Iranian nationals had been working in a number of key private-sector institutions in “economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber fields.”

“We have intelligence dominance over the CIA’s espionage activities in Iran,” said the official, who identified himself as “director-general of the intelligence ministry’s counter-espionage department” but declined to give his name.

An accompanying presentation provided to journalists showed business cards for a number of U.S. diplomats based in Turkey, Austria, Zimbabwe and elsewhere who Iranian officials said recruited the spies when they were applying for U.S. visas.

“Some of the Iranian citizens get into the ‘visa trap’ and they are asked to become spies if they want to receive visas,” the official said.

Others, he said, were framed by the CIA when they wanted to “maintain or extend their visas.” CIA officers also approached Iranian citizens through shell companies or “on the sidelines of scientific conferences in European, African and Asian countries,” he said.

The spies were foiled through inter-service cooperation with Iran’s intelligence allies, the official said. Countries whose intelligence services allowed the CIA to recruit on their soil would “be held responsible,” he warned.

The presentation also featured images, said to be of CIA operatives, taken from the suspected spies’ phones. The spies were enticed, said the official, with promises of immigration to the U.S. as well as jobs and money once there.

In March, Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, said in an interview with the Iranian news agency Tasnim that authorities had apprehended 290 suspected spies. Iranian intelligence services routinely claim to have captured spies working for the United States or Israel.

Monday’s assertions come amid tensions between Tehran and Washington, as well as an Iranian standoff with Britain over tit-for-tat seizures of oil tankers at sea.

The alleged spy bust, the official said, was “another global failure for the CIA.”

“Considering that CIA has been crippled, it will be natural that this service tries to restore and rebuild itself, and of course Iranian intelligence community will always be wakeful and vigilant,” he said.

Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran and Times staff writer Bulos from Beiru

The Iranian Horn Grows Rapidly (Daniel 8:4)

What the Smuggled Archive Tells Us About Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Project

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael OfekJuly 22, 2019

Iranian flag image via Columbia SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,233, July 22, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: As an apparent act of defiance against Western countries’ reluctance to support it against US sanctions, Iran has begun to enrich uranium beyond the level permitted by the nuclear deal. This fact, together with the information revealed by the smuggling out by the Israelis of Iran’s nuclear weapons program archive, belies Tehran’s oft-expressed claim that its nuclear program was always for peaceful use and shows the hollowness of the nuclear agreement.

On July 7, 2019, Iran announced that in light of Western countries’ reluctance to support it against the newly imposed US sanctions, it will enrich uranium above the maximum 3.67% level agreed upon in the 2015 nuclear agreement (the JCPOA). According to Ayatollah Khamenei aide Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran will enrich uranium to 5% from now on, which is the level of enrichment of nuclear fuel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Iranian officials have since signaled that their country might in fact increase uranium enrichment to 20% (the level in the fuel of Tehran’s research reactor).

This would represent Iran’s second violation of the JCPOA. On July 1, it crossed the maximum amount of 300 kg UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), which, according to the agreement, is allowed to be enriched to 3.67%.

Furthermore, on July 11 – ten months after PM Benjamin Netanyahu identified the “secret atomic warehouse” at Turquzabad in Tehran – it was reported that soil samples taken from the site by IAEA inspectors were found to contain traces of radioactive material. This proves that the warehouse was indeed a nuclear storage facility, and that Iran’s failure to report it to the IAEA was a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which it is a signatory.

Despite all this, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on July 15 that Iran’s recent breaches of the JCPOA are insignificant and can be reversed. The EU ministers, scrambling to salvage the nuclear deal, stressed that it is the only option available by which to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Although Tehran can theoretically break out to produce nuclear weapons within six months or so, it is more inclined to take slow, measured steps to withdraw from the agreement. It threatens Western Europe with its intentions while being careful not to categorically break the rules in the hope that Europe will circumvent Trump’s sanctions. This form of brinksmanship is reminiscent of Iran’s conduct in 2003 after its military nuclear program was exposed: it cooperated with the IAEA with regard to nuclear facilities that could be presented for civilian purposes, such as the uranium enrichment facilities and the Arak heavy water reactor, while at the same time concealing activities of a nuclear-military nature.

The Iranian nuclear archive that Israel seized at the beginning of 2018 proves that by 2003, Iran had a well-planned and advanced program of developing nuclear weapons capable of launch via ballistic missile. The bottleneck since then has been to accumulate enough fissile material, high-enriched uranium or plutonium, for nuclear weapons.

The nuclear archive contains a wealth of new information about Iran’s accelerated efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Investigation of the information suggests that Iran’s nuclear capability had progressed far beyond what the Western intelligence services and the IAEA had estimated so far. This effort was carried out within the framework of the 110 Project of the Amad program. The program began in 1989 with the aim of producing five nuclear bombs at 10 kilotons each that can be installed with ballistic missiles.

In the second half of 2002, Iran violated its commitment to the NPT. This was revealed via the exposure of the uranium enrichment plant that Iran established in Natanz and its plan to build a heavy water reactor for plutonium production near Arak, which Iran had refrained from reporting to the IAEA.

The extensive documentation in the archive indicates that notwithstanding the IAEA’s demand for full disclosure of the Iranian nuclear program, senior Iranian defense officials and senior Iranian nuclear scientists were discussing how to proceed with the nuclear weapons program in mid-2003. The most prominent scientists were Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi, former president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. They concluded that a complete separation should be made between 1) nuclear R&D activities that could be presented overtly as purely civilian in nature; and 2) nuclear R&D activities that should be camouflaged and kept covert; e.g., neutron physics studies. The activities classified as secret were to be linked to legitimate research at Iran’s universities and technological research institutes.

Thus, in late 2003, the Tehran authorities decided to convert Amad into a smaller, more secretive nuclear weapons program. In 2011, after taking steps to disguise the plan, Tehran assigned it the wonderfully euphemistic name “Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research” (the Persian acronym of which is SPND).

The nuclear archive operation was first exposed by Netanyahu on April 30, 2018. From October 2018 through May 2019, two institutes in Washington, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), presented a series of highly detailed reports on the archival documents, which contained information about secret facilities that had not yet been exposed. (According to the institutes, some of the information in the archive is unpublishable due to rules regarding non-proliferation of nuclear weapons technologies.)

As early as 2004, the IAEA suspected that key elements of the nuclear program were being conducted at the Parchin military site, about 30 km north of Tehran. In May 2012, satellite images detected suspicious activity there: the Iranians destroyed some of the structures previously blocked by IAEA inspectors, and the area around them was completely razed.

Information in the nuclear archive allows us for the first time to correlate the images in the archives of the two main buildings on the site, Taleghan-1 and Taleghan-2, and satellite photographs of the buildings from 2004.

In the Taleghan-1 structure, a huge cylindrical steel cell was installed for explosive detonation experiments that began in February 2003. The purpose of the experiments was to develop a neutron trigger for a nuclear explosive device. (When the nuclear device is imploding, the trigger emits a neutron flux to increase the chain reaction of the uranium core and strengthen the yield of the nuclear explosion.) The archive proves that the Taleghan-1 was designed for neutron trigger development experiments, as it contains images from inside the building of two types of neutron detectors.

A smaller cylindrical steel tank was installed in the Taleghan-2 structure to conduct “cold tests” of the compression of a non-fissile uranium core with explosives for imaging a nuclear-grade uranium-core compression. In addition, the Taleghan-2 contained a huge flash x-ray camera designed to capture the core compression process due to the implosion. Such a camera is designed to shoot with extremely fast and extremely short pulses of 20 to 35 nanoseconds.

In addition, the archive documents uncovered a previously unsuspected subterranean nuclear facility in Parchin known as the Shahid Boroujerdi project. The facility was used to convert the UF6 compound into metallic uranium, then melt, cast, and machine it into hollow hemispheres designed to train future production of cores.

Another important facility that was unknown until the Iranian archive revelation was Sanjarian, adjacent to Tehran. Initial information on the facility, which has not yet been verified, was reported in 2009 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition organization to the Tehran regime based in Paris. The purpose of the Sanjarian facility was to produce the explosive system that surrounds the uranium core of a nuclear weapon, the function of which is to compress the core through the explosion in order to bring it to super-criticality. This process is called implosion. The explosive system is called MPI (Multi-Point Initiation system) or “Shock Wave Generator.” The main explosive in the MPI envelope is Octol, a mixture of HMX and TNT. The channels inside the shell contain special exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonators that are suitable for simultaneous ignition and are ignited only when high voltage is applied.

Another critical activity in Sangjarian was the production of PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate), a high-risk, high-impact explosive designed to be installed inside MPI channels. By around 2002, Iran had completed about two-thirds of the tasks required for the MPI project. According to the assessment reflected in the archival documents, the third part was probably completed by the end of 2003.

Other important activities within the framework of the nuclear weapons program included the Midan Project – which involved locating and setting up a nuclear test field, apparently in a desert area in northern Iran southeast of Semnan – and Project 111, which involved integrating a nuclear bomb as the warhead of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile.

The archive revelation exposed Iran’s repeated declarations that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes as a bald-faced lie, and highlighted the many shortcomings of the Iranian nuclear deal. It can be assumed that a surrender by Iran to Trump’s demand to reopen the nuclear agreement, which would mean a complete renunciation of its nuclear weapons development, is inconceivable to the Tehran regime.

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, a BESA Center Research Associate, is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community.

A War With Iran Would Benefit Trump’s Reelection

Image result for trump electionNoam Chomsky: Trump Is Trying to Exploit Tension With Iran for 2020

David Barsamian One of America’s most tireless and wide-ranging investigative journalists, David Barsamian has altered the independent media landscape. His weekly radio program “Alternative Radio“ is now in its 34th season. His books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said sell around the world. His latest book with Noam Chomsky is Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy. He lectures on world affairs, imperialism, capitalism, the media, and the eco-crisis. In 2017 Radical Desi in Vancouver presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. He has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet in events in New York, London, Vienna, Boulder and San Francisco. David Barsamian is the winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes. More by this author…

Published July 18, 2019

President Trump talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a cabinet meeting at the White House on July 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“Any concern about Iranian weapons of mass destruction could be alleviated by the single means of heeding Iran’s call to establish a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East,” says legendary public intellectual Noam Chomsky, but that isn’t stopping the Trump administration from concocting stories about Iran threatening to “conquer the world” in order to escalate tensions and thereby strengthen Trump’s hand going into the 2020 election.

In this exclusive transcript of a conversation aired on Alternative Radio, Noam Chomsky — the brilliant MIT professor and linguist who in one index is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Shakespeare and Marx — discusses Iran’s military deterrence strategy and the actions taken by U.S. leaders who cannot countenance what the State Department describes as Iran’s “successful defiance.”

David Barsamian: Let’s talk about Iran, in particular, locating it in post-1945 U.S. foreign policy. Washington laid out its Grand Area Strategy and Iran takes on enormous significance because of its oil wealth.

Noam Chomsky: Oil wealth and strategic position. It was taken for granted in the Grand Area Strategy planning that the U.S. would dominate the Middle East, what Eisenhower called the “strategically most important part of the world,” a material prize without any analogue.

The basic idea of the early stage of the Grand Strategy and the early stages of the war were that the U.S. would take over what they called the Grand Area, of course, the Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire and the Far East. They assumed at that time that Germany would probably win the war, so there would be two major powers, one German-based with a lot of Eurasia and the U.S. with this Grand Area. By the time it was clear that the Russians would defeat Germany, after Stalingrad and then the great tank battle in Kursk, the planning was modified, and the idea was that the Grand Area would include as much of Eurasia as possible, of course, maintaining control of Middle East oil resources.

There was a conflict over Iran right at the end of the Second World War. The Russians supported a separatist movement in the north. The British wanted to maintain control. The Russians were essentially expelled. Iran was a client state under British control. There was, however, a nationalist movement, and the Iranian leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, led a movement to try to nationalize Iranian oil.

The British, obviously, didn’t want that. They tried to stop this development, but they were in their post-war straits and were unable to do it. They called in the U.S., which basically took the prime role in implementing a military coup which deposed the parliamentary regime and installed the Shah, who was a loyal client. Iran remained one of the pillars of control of the Middle East as long as the Shah remained in power. The Shah had very close relations with Israel, the second pillar of control. They were not formal because theoretically, the Islamic states were supposed to be opposed to Israeli occupation, but the relations were extremely close. They were revealed in detail after the Shah fell. The third pillar of U.S. control was Saudi Arabia, so there was kind of a tacit alliance between Iran and Israel and, even more tacit, Israel and Saudi Arabia, under U.S. aegis.

In 1979, the Shah was overthrown. The U.S. at first considered trying to implement a military coup that would restore the Shah’s regime. That didn’t work. Then came the hostage crisis. Iraq, shortly after — under Saddam Hussein — invaded Iran. The U.S. strongly supported the Iraqi invasion, finally even pretty much intervening directly to protect Iraqi shipping in the Gulf. A U.S. missile cruiser shot down a civilian Iranian airliner, killing 290 people in commercial air space. Finally, the U.S. intervention pretty much convinced the Iranians, if not to capitulate, then to accept an arrangement far less than they hoped after the Iraqi aggression. It was a murderous war. Saddam used chemical weapons. The U.S. pretended not to know about it — in fact, tried to blame Iran for it. But there was finally a peace agreement.

The U.S. at once turned to sanctions against Iran and severe threats. This was now the first Bush. His administration also invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in nuclear weapons production, which, of course, was a serious threat to Iran.

It’s kind of ironic that when Iran was a loyal client state under the Shah in the 1970s, the Shah and other high officials made it very clear that they were working to develop nuclear weapons. At that time, Kissinger and Rumsfeld and Cheney were pressuring American universities, primarily MIT — there was a big flap on campus about this — to bring Iranian nuclear engineers to the U.S. for training, though, of course, they knew they were developing nuclear weapons. Actually, Kissinger was asked later why he changed his attitude toward Iranian nuclear weapons development in later years when, of course, it became a big issue, and he said, very simply, they were an ally then.

The sanctions against Iran got harsher, more intense. There were negotiations about dealing with the Iranian nuclear programs. According to U.S. intelligence, after 2003, there was no evidence that Iran had nuclear weapons programs, but probably they were developing what’s called a nuclear capability, which many countries have; that is, the capacity to produce nuclear weapons if the occasion arises. As Iran was rapidly increasing its capacities, more centrifuges and so on, Obama finally agreed to the joint agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, in 2015.

Since then, according to U.S. intelligence, Iran has completely lived up to it. There is no indication of any Iranian violation. The Trump administration pulled out of it and has now sharply escalated the sanctions against Iran. Now there is a new pretext: It’s not nuclear weapons; it’s that Iran is meddling in the region.

Unlike the U.S.

Or every other country. In fact, what they’re saying is Iran is attempting to extend its influence in the region. It has to become what Secretary of State Pompeo called a “normal country,” like us, Israel and others, and never try to expand its influence. Essentially, it’s saying, just capitulate. Pompeo particularly has said that U.S. sanctions are designed to try to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero. The U.S. has extraterritorial influence: It forces other countries to accept U.S. sanctions under threat that they will be excluded from the U.S. market and, in particular, from financial markets, which are dominated by the U.S. So the U.S., as the world’s leading rogue state, enforces its own unilateral decisions on others, thanks to its power. Bolton, of course, as he has said, just wants to bomb them.

My speculation is that a lot of the fist-waving at the moment is probably for two reasons: one, to try to keep Iran off balance and intimidated, and also to intimidate others so that they don’t try to interfere with U.S. sanctions; but I think it’s largely domestic. If the Trump strategists are thinking clearly — and I assume they are — the best way to approach the 2020 election is to concoct major threats all over: immigrants from Central America coming here to commit genocide against white Americans, Iran about to conquer the world, China doing this and that. But we will be saved by our bold leader with the orange hair, the one person who is capable of defending us from all of these terrible threats, not like these women who “won’t know how to do anything,” or “sleepy” Joe or “crazy” Bernie. That’s the best way to move into an election. That means maintaining tensions, but not intending to actually go to war.

Unfortunately, it’s bad enough in itself. We have absolutely zero right to impose any sanctions on Iran. None. It’s taken for granted in all discussion that somehow this is legitimate. There is absolutely no basis for that. But also, tensions can easily blow up. Anything could happen. An American ship in the Gulf could hit a mine, let’s say, and some commander would say, “OK, let’s retaliate against an Iranian installation,” and then an Iranian ship could shoot a missile. Pretty soon, you’re off and running. So, it could blow up.

Meanwhile, there are horrible effects all over the place, the worst in Yemen, where our client, Saudi Arabia, with strong U.S. support — arms, intelligence — along with its brutal UAE ally, is in fact creating what the UN has described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” It’s pretty clear; it’s not really controversial what’s happening. If there is a confrontation with Iran, the first victim will be Lebanon. As soon as there’s any threat of war, Israel will certainly be unwilling to face the danger of Hezbollah missiles, which are probably scattered all around Lebanon by now. So it’s very likely that the first step prior to direct conflict with Iran would be essentially to wipe out Lebanon or something like it.

And those missiles in Lebanon are from Iran.

They come from Iran, yes.

So, what is Iran’s strategy in the region? You hear this term, the “Shi’a arc,” the Shi’a population in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Syria.

The Shi’a arc is a Jordanian concoction. Of course, Iran, like every other power, is trying to extend its influence. It’s doing it, typically, in the Shi’a areas, naturally. It’s a Shi’ite state. In Lebanon, we don’t have detailed records because they can’t take a census — it would break down the fragile relationship that exists there in the sectarian system — but it’s pretty clear that the Shi’ite population is the largest of the sectarian groups.

They have a political representative, Hezbollah, which is in the parliament. Hezbollah developed as a guerilla force. Israel was occupying southern Lebanon after its 1982 invasion. This was in violation of U.N. orders, but they pretty much stayed there, in part through a proxy army. Hezbollah finally drove Israel out. That turned them into a “terrorist force.” You’re not allowed to drive out the invading army of a client state, obviously.

Since then, Hezbollah serves Iranian interests. It sent fighters to Syria, who are a large part of the support for the Assad government. Technically, that’s quite legal. That was the recognized government. It’s a rotten government, so you can, on moral grounds, say you shouldn’t do it, but you can’t say on legal grounds you shouldn’t. The U.S. was openly trying to overthrow the government. It’s not secret. Finally, it became clear that the Assad government would control Syria. There are a few pockets still left unresolved, the Kurdish areas and others, but it’s pretty much won the war, which means that Russia and Iran have the dominant role in Syria.

In Iraq, there is a Shi’ite majority, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq pretty much handed the country over to Iran. It had been a Sunni dictatorship, but, of course, with the Sunni dictatorship destroyed, the Shi’a population gained a substantial role. So, for example, when ISIS [also known as Daesh] came pretty close to conquering Iraq, it was the Shi’ite militias that drove them back, with Iranian support. The U.S. participated, but secondarily. Now they have a strong role in the government. In the U.S., this is considered more Iranian meddling. But I think Iran’s strategy is pretty straightforward: It’s to expand their influence as they can in the region.

As far as their military posture is concerned, I don’t see any reason to question the analysis of U.S. intelligence. It seems pretty accurate. In their presentations to Congress, they point out that Iran has very low military expenditures by the standards of the region, much less than the other countries — dwarfed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, of course Israel — and that its military doctrine is essentially defensive, designed to deter an invasion long enough for diplomatic efforts to be initiated. According to U.S. intelligence, if they have a nuclear weapons program — which we have no reason to believe they do, but if they do — it would be part of their deterrent strategy.

That’s the real Iranian threat: It has a deterrent strategy. For the states that want to be free to rampage in the region, deterrence is an existential threat. You don’t want to be deterred; you want to be able to do what you would like. That’s primarily the U.S. and Israel, who want to be free to act forcefully in the region without any deterrent. To be accurate, that’s the real Iranian threat. That’s what the State Department calls “successful defiance.” That’s the term the State Department used to explain back in the early 1960s why we cannot tolerate the Castro regime, because of its “successful defiance” of the U.S. That’s absolutely intolerable if you intend to be able to rule the world, by force, if necessary.

And it seems a component of that is the threat of a good example.

There’s also that, but I don’t think that’s true in the case of Iran. It’s a miserable government. The Iran government is a threat to its own people. I think that’s fair enough to say. And it’s not a real model for anyone. Cuba was quite different. In fact, if you look back in the early 1960s at the internal documents that have been declassified, there was great concern that — as Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s close adviser, particularly on Latin American affairs, said — the problem with Cuba is “the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands,” which has great appeal to others in the region who are suffering from the same circumstances as Cuba was under the U.S.-backed Batista regime.

That’s dangerous. The idea that people have the right to take things into their own hands and separate themselves from U.S. domination is not going to be acceptable. That’s successful defiance.

Another theme that plays out post-1945 is Washington’s resistance to independent nationalism.

Yes. But that’s automatic for a hegemonic power. The same with Britain, when it was running most of the world; the same with France and its domains. You don’t want independent nationalism. In fact, it’s often made quite explicit. Right after the Second World War, when the U.S. was beginning to try to organize the post-war world, the first concern was to make sure that the Western Hemisphere was totally under control.

In February 1945, the U.S. called a hemispheric conference in Chapultepec, Mexico. The main theme of the conference was precisely what you described: It was to end any kind of “economic nationalism.” That was the phrase that was used. The State Department internally warned that Latin American countries are infected — I’m virtually quoting now — “by the idea of a new nationalism,” which meant that the people of the country should be the first beneficiaries of the country’s resources. Obviously, that’s totally intolerable. The first beneficiaries have to be U.S. investors. That’s the philosophy of the new nationalism, and that has to be crushed. And the Chapultepec conference, in fact, made it explicit that economic nationalism would not be tolerated.

So, for example, to take a case that was discussed, Brazil, a major country, could produce steel, but not the high-quality steel of the kind that the U.S. would specialize in. Incidentally, there is, as always, one unmentioned exception to the rules. The U.S. is permitted to follow policies of economic nationalism. In fact, the U.S. was pouring government resources massively into development of what became the high-tech economy of the future: computers, the internet, and so on. That’s the usual exception. But for the others, they can’t succumb to this idea that the first beneficiaries of a country’s resources should be the people of that country. That’s intolerable. This is framed in all sorts of nice rhetoric about free markets and so on and so forth, but the meaning is quite explicit.

You’ve often quoted George Kennan, the venerated State Department official, in his famous 1948 memo: “We have 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.” That was 1948. I was interested to discover that two years later, he made a statement about Latin America to the effect of, “The protection of our raw materials” in the rest of the world, particularly in Latin America, would trump concern over what he called “police repression.”

He said police repression may be necessary to maintain control over “our resources.” Remember that he was at the dovish extreme of the policy spectrum, in fact, so much so that he was kicked out about that time and replaced by a hardliner, Paul Nitze. He was considered “too soft” for this tough world. His estimate of the U.S. having 50 percent of the world’s resources is probably exaggerated now that more careful work has been done. The statistics aren’t great for that period, but there are studies. It was probably less than that. However, it may be true today in a different sense. In the contemporary period of globalization, global supply chains, national accounts, meaning the country’s share of global GDP, is much less relevant than it used to be.

A much more relevant measure of a country’s power is the wealth controlled by domestically based multinational corporations. There, what you find is that U.S. corporations own about 50 percent of world wealth. Now, there are good statistics. There are studies of this by a very good political economist, Sean Kenji Starrs, who has several articles and a new book coming out on it with extensive details. As he points out, this is a degree of control of the international economy that has absolutely no parallel or counterpart in history, in fact. It will be interesting to see what the impact is of Trump’s wrecking ball on all of this, which is breaking the system of global supply chains that have been carefully developed over the years. It may have some impact. We really don’t know. So far, it’s just harming the global economy.

Getting back to Iran, you mentioned in our book Global Discontents that, “Any concern about Iranian weapons of mass destruction could be alleviated by the single means of heeding Iran’s call to establish a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East.” This is almost on the level of samizdat. It’s barely known or reported on.

It’s not a secret. And it’s not just Iran’s call. This proposal for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East and extended to WMD-free zone, that actually comes from the Arab states. Egypt and others initiated that back in the early 1990s. They called for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. There are such zones that have been established in several parts of the world. It’s kind of interesting to look at them. They aren’t fully operative because the U.S. has not accepted them, but they’re theoretically there. The one for the Middle East would be extremely important.

The Arab states pushed for this for a long time. The nonaligned countries, the G-77 — that’s by now about 130 countries — have called for it strongly. Iran strongly called for it while serving as spokesperson for the G-77. Europe pretty much supports it. Probably not England, but others. In fact, there is almost total global support for it, adding to it an inspection regime of a kind which already exists in Iran. That would essentially eliminate any concern over not only nuclear weapons, but weapons of mass destruction.

There’s only one problem: The U.S. won’t allow it. This comes up regularly at the regular review sessions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the most recent in 2015. Obama blocked it. And everybody knows exactly why. Nobody will say, of course. But if you look at the arms-control journals or professional journals, they’re quite open about it, because it’s obvious. If there were such an agreement, Israel’s nuclear weapons would come under international inspection. The U.S. would be compelled to formally acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons. Of course, it knows that it does, everybody does, but you’re not allowed to formally acknowledge it. For a good reason. If you formally acknowledge it, U.S. aid to Israel has to terminate under U.S. law. Of course, you can find ways around it; you can always violate your own laws. But that does become a problem. It would mean that Israel’s weapons would have to be inspected — not just nuclear, but also biological and chemical. That’s intolerable, so we can’t allow that. Therefore, we can’t move toward a WMD-free zone, which would end the problem.

There is another thing that you can only read in samizdat. The U.S. has a special commitment to this, a unique commitment, along with Britain. The reason is that when the U.S. and Britain were planning the invasion of Iraq, they sought desperately to find some legal cover for it so it wouldn’t look like just direct aggression. They appealed to a U.N. Security Council resolution in 1991 which called on Saddam Hussein to end his nuclear weapons programs, which in fact he had done. But the pretext was he hadn’t done it, so he had violated that resolution; therefore, that was supposed to give some legitimacy to the invasion.

If you bother reading that U.N. resolution, when you get down to Article 14, it commits the signers, including the U.S. and Britain, to work for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. So the U.S. and Britain have a unique responsibility to do this. Try to find any discussion of this. And, of course, it could resolve whatever problem one thinks there is. In fact, according to U.S. intelligence, there is essentially none.

The real problem is pretty much what U.S. intelligence describes, the Iranian posture of deterrence. That is a real danger and is constantly regarded as an existential threat to Israel and the U.S., which cannot tolerate deterrence.

There are big paydays for a militaristic foreign policy such as the U.S. has. For example, Lee Fang, writing in The Intercept, reports, “Large weapons manufacturers,” like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, “have told their investors that escalating conflict with Iran could be good for business.”

Of course, it is. That’s a factor. I don’t think it’s the major factor, but it certainly is a factor. It’s what’s called “good for the economy” if you can produce material goods that you can sell to other countries. The U.S. is preeminent in military force. That’s its real comparative advantage — military force. Other countries can produce computers and TVs, but the U.S. is the largest arms exporter. Its military budget overwhelms anything in the rest of the world. In fact, it’s almost as large as the rest of the world combined, much larger than other countries’. The U.S. increase in the military budget under Trump — the increase — is greater than the entire Russian military budget. China is way behind. And, of course, the U.S. is way more technologically advanced in military hardware. So that’s the U.S. comparative advantage. You would naturally want to pursue it. But I think the major thing is just ensuring that the world remains pretty much under control.

Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of an interview that was aired on Alternative Radio.

Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Did Iran Just Payback the U.K.?

US fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of Hormuz

By Obsev

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defense official said Tuesday.

Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late Saturday night, though an Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The concern about the Riah comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago.

Recently, Iran has inched its uranium production and enrichment over the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, trying to put more pressure on Europe to offer it better terms and allow it to sell its crude oil abroad.

However, those tensions also have seen the U.S. send thousands of additional troops, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets into the Mideast. Mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone has added to the fears of an armed conflict breaking out.

The Riah, a 58-meter (190-foot) oil tanker, typically made trips from Dubai and Sharjah on the UAE’s west coast before going through the strait and heading to Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. However, something happened to the vessel after 11 p.m. on Saturday, according to tracking data.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the tanker hadn’t switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

“That is a red flag,” Raja said.

A U.S. defense official later told the AP that the Riah was in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it.

“We certainly have suspicions that it was taken,” the official said. “Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility. But the longer there is a period of no contact … it’s going to be a concern.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter did not directly involve U.S. interests.

An Emirati official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing security matter, said the vessel “did not emit a distress call.”

“We are monitoring the situation with our international partners,” the official said.

The ship’s registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told the AP it had sold the ship to another company called Mouj Al-Bahar. A man who answered a telephone number registered to the firm told the AP it didn’t own any ships. The Emirati official said the ship was “neither UAE owned nor operated” and carried no Emirati personnel, without elaborating.

Separately Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country will retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil. The vessel was seized with the help of British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar over suspicion it was heading to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions, an operation Khamenei called “piracy” in a televised speech.

“God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evil without a response,” he said. He did not elaborate.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday that Britain will facilitate the release of the ship if Iran can provide guarantees the vessel will not breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

Iran previously has threatened to stop oil tankers passing through the strait, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all crude oil passes, if it cannot sell its own oil abroad.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seemed to suggest in a television interview that the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program could be up for negotiations with the U.S., a possible opening for talks as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington. Zarif suggested an initially high price for such negotiations — the halt of American arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two key U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s ballistic missile program remains under the control of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Khamenei.

Zarif brought up the ballistic missile suggestion during an interview with NBC News that aired Monday night while he is in New York for meetings at the United Nations. He mentioned the UAE spending $22 billion and Saudi Arabia spending $67 billion on weapons last year, many of them American-made, while Iran spent only $16 billion in comparison.

“These are American weaponry that is going into our region, making our region ready to explode,” Zarif said. “So if they want to talk about our missiles, they need first to stop selling all these weapons, including missiles, to our region.”

Iran’s mission to the United Nations later called Zarif’s suggestion “hypothetical.”

“Iran’s missiles … are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period,” the mission said.

Trump during his time in the White House has pointed to arms sales to the Mideast as important to the American economy, so it remains unclear how he’d react to cutting into those purchases.

Since its 1979 Islamic Revolution and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran has faced a variety of economic sanctions. That has cut into Iran’s ability to buy advanced weaponry abroad. While Gulf Arab nations have purchased advanced fighter jets, Iran still relies on pre-1979 U.S. fighter jets, as well as aging Soviet MiGs and other planes.

Facing that shortfall, Iran instead invested heavily into its ballistic missile program. That’s both due to sanctions and the memory of the missile attacks launched by Saddam Hussein during Iran’s bloody 1980s war with Iraq.

Khamenei reportedly has restricted the range of ballistic missiles manufactured in Iran to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). While that keeps Europe out of range, it means the Iranian missiles can hit much of the Middle East, including Israel and American military bases in the region.

In pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, Trump in part blamed the accord not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program. The U.S. fears Iran could use its missile technology and space program to build nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, something Tehran denies it wants to do.

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Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.