Iran’s Soft War Against America

by Lawrence A. Franklin

Iran’s Anti-Semitism

by Majid Rafizadeh
May 16, 2016 at 3:30 am


  • Thanks to the lifting of sanctions, the prize for best Holocaust cartoon was lifted as well. Iran is now offering $50,000 for the best Holocaust cartoon, more than quadruple last year’s prize, which was $12,000.
  • The competition is expected to draw participants from more than 50 countries. It is sponsored by two organizations which are directly or indirectly linked to the Iranian regime: the Owj Media and Cultural Institute, funded by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Sarsheshmeh Cultural Center, which is supported by the Islamic Development Organization (IDO). The Iranian parliament provides the IDO’s budget.
  • These kinds of Holocaust events and conferences in Iran are based on the notion that Holocaust did not occur.

This week, Iran is hosting its second annual Holocaust Cartoon Competition, even as some politicians and world leaders continue to argue that Iran is becoming a stabilizing force because it is re-joining the international community, by implementing the nuclear agreement and integrating into the global financial system.

The exhibition of Holocaust cartoons will open on May 14. Iran’s Holocaust Cartoon Competition reflects the Iranian regimes’ attempts to expand its efforts to promote anti-Semitism beyond the borders of its nation.

As Iran’s revenues are rising, thanks to the lifting of sanctions, the prize for the best Holocaust cartoon was lifted, as well. Iran is now offering $50,000 for the best Holocaust cartoon, more than quadruple last year’s prize, which was $12,000. According to Iran’s semi-official IRNA news agency, the conference is expected to draw participants from more than 50 countries.

The Iranian regime seems to be using global legitimacy, granted to its leaders by many Western politicians through the nuclear agreement and business deals, to promote the core pillars of its Islamic revolution, opposing the US and rejecting Israel’s right to exist, as well as its fundamental ideals.

In addition, it is worth noting that these kinds of global conferences, which work to deny the historical fact of the Holocaust, are aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy, as well as its right to exist. One of Iran’s major foreign policy and ideological objectives, which rests on the religious teachings of Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, is the struggle against Israel.

For more than 35 years, the Iranian regime has been trying to delegitimize Israel through both soft and hard power. Iran promotes its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel narrative through schools, social media, television, and non-stop political rhetoric. Its narrative has attracted an audience in the Middle East, as well as in the West.

The Iranian government claims that it has nothing to do with sponsoring such a conference and that it does not endorse such an event. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif explained last week to the New Yorker, in response to this news: “It is not Iran. It is an NGO that is not controlled by the Iranian government. Nor is it endorsed by the Iranian government.”

Zarif added that Iran “does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about.”

Mr. Zarif is being disingenuous. The competition is sponsored by two organizations which are directly or indirectly linked to the Iranian regime: the Owj Media and Cultural Institute and the Sarsheshmeh Cultural Center, which is supported by the Islamic Development Organization (IDO). The Iranian parliament provides the IDO’s budget.

In Iran, governmental or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), groups, or institutions cannot hold events — whether cultural, economic or political — without the explicit or implicit approval of Iran’s officials. The approval normally comes from the Ministry of Culture, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Basij, intelligence agencies, Etela’at, Tehran Municipality or the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.

If the government is not involved in these kinds of events and NGO activities, why do no events exist that criticize the Supreme Leader or the ideological principles of Iran? Why are there only events that promote Ayatollah Khamenei and the revolutionary principles of the IRGC?

In short, it is impossible to hold such a large and global conference without the sponsorship and approval of the government.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum accurately pointed out in a statement that in Iran, “Previous [Holocaust cartoon] contests in 2006 and 2015 have had the endorsement and support of government officials and agencies.” The museum added that, “There are reports in the Iranian press that the Ministry of Culture is asserting its support for the upcoming contest.”

By denying any involvement in such conferences, Rouhani, Zarif and their team are playing the tactical shift that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a senior cadre of IRGC designed long time ago. The tactical shift is to feign a softer tone on the international stage through the president and the foreign minister, while keeping the fundamentals of Khamenei and the IRGC’s policy intact.

By denying the Iranian regime’s official involvement in the Holocaust cartoon contest, President Rouhani (right) and FM Zarif are feigning a softer tone on the international stage, while keeping the fundamentals of Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards’s policy intact.

To gain more wealth through business deals and the lifting of sanctions, Rouhani and Zarif are faking a nicer façade and illusion on the international stage, while Khamenei and the IRGC continue with their longstanding objectives of opposing the US and Israel, and preserving Iran’s Islamic and revolutionary norms. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism are two of the core values of Iran’s Islamic revolutionary principles. Khamenei and the IRGC leaders derive legitimacy from these revolutionary and ideological values.

These kinds of Holocaust events and conferences are not linked to “understanding” the Holocaust, as the Iranian leaders disingenuously argue. The conference premise is based on the notion that Holocaust did not occur.

Iran’s propaganda can normally turn this anti-Semitism into a motivation for violence and more terrorist acts.

Western powers are aware of the fact that the improving ties and rapprochement between Tehran and the West, particularly Washington, are contributing to legitimizing the Iranian regime. Nevertheless, it is incumbent on the international community to strongly condemn these hatred-driven moves by Iran’s regime.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American political scientist, Harvard scholar, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He can be reached at Dr.rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu and followed at @Dr_Rafizadeh

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Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

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Regering-Obama: Ja, we logen tegen Israël over Iran

maandag 9 mei 2016 |  Redactie Israel Today
Ben Rhodes, een plaatsvervangend adviseur nationale veiligheid van de Amerikaanse president Barack Obama, onthulde in een vorige week in de New York Timesgepubliceerd lang interview wat vrijwel iedereen al wist: het Witte Huis van Obama loog om de goedkeuring te krijgen voor de nucleaire overeenkomst met Iran.

Het bereiken van een akkoord was belangrijker dan de gevolgen van deze handelwijze, het was belangrijker dan de realiteit van een agressief en nucleair bewapend Iran.

De kern van wat Rhodes aan de New York Times vertelde is het volgende:
‘We kunnen dingen doen die het conventionele denken tarten, die AIPAC [de lobbygroep American Israel Public Affairs Committee] niet leuk vindt,’ of ‘de Israëlische regering houdt hier niet van,’ of ‘de Golfstaten willen dit niet,’ zei Rhodes. ‘Het is de mogelijkheid van verbeterde betrekkingen met de tegenstanders. Het is non-proliferatie.’

Obama loog expliciet tegen bondgenoten en Amerikanen bij het beschrijven van de nucleaire overeenkomst, die zou zijn gesloten met een ‘gematigd’ Iraans regime, dat tenslotte een veel hardere regering in Teheran had vervangen. ‘Het idee dat er een nieuwe werkelijkheid in Iran was, was politiek nuttig voor de regering-Obama,’ aldus het artikel in de NY Times.

Indien Obama eerlijk was geweest over het feit, dat de basis voor het akkoord al was gelegd met de vorige onbuigzame Iraanse regering, en dat het nieuwe ‘gematigde’ regime helemaal niet zo gematigd was, dan zouden veel meer mensen dezelfde mening als Israël hebben gehad over de nucleaire overeenkomst.

Ook de voormalige Amerikaanse minister van Defensie Leon Panetta werd geïnterviewd, en deze wees op nog een leugen: het idee dat Amerika onder Obama militair geweld zou gebruiken indien Iran de overeenkomst zou schenden en een kernwapen gereed zou maken.

Slechts enkele dagen na deze onthullingen meldde het Iraanse nieuwsagentschap Tasnim, dat Iran onlangs een nieuwe ballistische raket voor middellange afstand heeft getest die nauwkeurig elk punt in Israël kan treffen.

Bron: http://www.israeltoday.nl

 

Ben Rhodes’s Fiction Behind the “Iran Deal”

by A.J. Caschetta
May 10, 2016 at 4:00 am


  • Rhodes even acknowledges that there is nothing “moderate” about Rouhani, Zarif or Khamenei.
  • The dates and facts conflicted with the narrative, so they were finessed, rewritten and sold to the public with different plot-lines and different themes. Outside Washington, D.C. this behavior is sometimes called lying.
  • At best Ben Rhodes is the author of a Pyrrhic victory, ensuring that the next president will face the same choice Obama faced but against an Iran armed with nuclear bombs.
  • This is what happens to foreign policy when it is entrusted to the unqualified and undereducated.

That the Obama administration’s Iran deal is a work of fiction has been known all along, but now Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, is taking credit as its author. In a long interview with New York Times reporter David Samuels on Sunday, the world learned that Rhodes is “the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign policy narratives” who “strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign.” Samuels lauds Rhodes as “a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda packaged as politics.”

Welcome to the post-modern techno-presidency where everything is a text, easily manipulated by skilled writers and disseminated in 140 or fewer characters. Don’t like the facts? Change the narrative. What really counts is “the optics.”

In the midst of his fawning profile, Samuels exposes a number of lies behind the Iran narrative, or rather quotes Rhodes himself doing so. For instance, the first outreach to Iran came 2012, not in 2013. I’d bet it came even earlier. Rhodes even acknowledges that there is nothing “moderate” about Iranian leaders Rouhani, Zarif or Khamenei. But these dates and facts conflicted with the narrative, so they were finessed, rewritten and sold to the public with different plot-lines and different themes. Outside Washington, D.C. this behavior is sometimes called lying.

The Rhodes narrative, at its core, is a simple tale in which a hero, armed with special skills and weapons, goes on a quest that requires a fight against the forces of evil. It incorporates elements of the ancient epic, the medieval romance and the eighteenth-century novel, with elements of drama splashed in here and there.

The hero, of course, is Rhodes’s real-life hero, Barack Obama (with whom he “mind melds,” as he apparently tells anyone who will listen). The hero’s special weapon is diplomacy — in the case of Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a.k.a., “Iran Deal.” But Rhodes himself is also the hero of his tale. As he tells Samuels in one particularly dewy-eyed moment: “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

Barack Obama works on a speech with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. (Image source: Pete Souza/White House)

In his tale, Iran is recast into a moderate regime through the magic of fiction, while the new villains are all who oppose the JCPOA, recast into warmongers: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, the majority of Americans. As Samuels puts it: “Framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes’s go-to move — and proved to be a winning argument.”

But it was not really a winning argument. Neither the American public nor Congress was persuaded, which is why Obama did not submit it as a treaty for Senate ratification. At best, Ben Rhodes is the author of a Pyrrhic victory ensuring that the 45th or 46th president will face the same choice Obama faced, but against an Iran armed with nuclear bombs. At worst, Rhodes is the author of a tragedy he does not understand.

Rhodes’s narrative is not even particularly good fiction. Mistaken identities, fudged timelines, villains in disguise, and a two-dimensional hero are clichés. But the quality of fiction does not matter as long as consumers line up to buy it. And this is where Rhodes truly excels, as a relatively shallow thinker, adroit mostly at influencing even shallower thinkers and hoodwinking people too busy to bother learning.

Rhodes is proud of the way he manipulates a gullible and hungry media comprised mostly of repeaters pretending to be reporters. From his White House “war room,” he and his assistant, Ned Price, reach out to their media “compadres” who are waiting by their iPhones, ready to transform the daily storytelling sessions into facts for the uninformed. Boasting that he “created an echo chamber,” and unable to conceal his contempt for the minions who amplify his fiction, Rhodes calls them “27 year olds who literally know nothing.” Enter the storyteller who provides them with lines. Samuels shows us he is in on the joke too, by pointing out that “Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once.”

In his daily conversation, Samuels tells us, Rhodes lumps together nearly everyone who came before Obama (Kissinger, Clinton, Bush, Gates, Panetta) as “the Blob” — the establishment that damaged the world so badly that only a magical hero can repair it. Rhodes tells Samuels that the “complete lack of governance in huge swaths of the Middle East, that is the project of the American establishment.” This is what happens to foreign policy when it is entrusted to the unqualified and undereducated.

In eight months, Ben Rhodes can get back to his former life — as he puts it, “drinking and smoking pot and hanging out in Central Park.” And presumably writing more fiction — this time perhaps the honest kind that does not pretend to be non-fiction. The entire world, except perhaps the world of fiction, will be better for it.

A.J. Caschetta is a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

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Iran’s Plans to Control a Palestinian State

by Khaled Abu Toameh
May 9, 2016 at 5:00 am


Translations of this item:

  • The Iran nuclear deal, marking its first anniversary, does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East.
  • Iran funnels money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too “moderate” for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.
  • More Palestinian terror group leaders may soon perform the “pilgrimage” to their masters in Tehran. If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region.

The Iran nuclear deal, marking its first anniversary, does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East. The Iranians seem to be deepening their intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and in internal Palestinian affairs in particular.

This intervention is an extension of Iran’s ongoing efforts to expand its influence in Arab and Islamic countries, including Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and some Gulf states. The nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers has not stopped the Iranians from proceeding with their global plan to export their “Islamic Revolution.” On the contrary, the general sense among Arabs and Muslims is that in the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran has accelerated its efforts to spread its influence.

Iran’s direct and indirect presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon has garnered some international attention, yet its actions in the Palestinian arena are still ignored by the world.

That Iran provides financial and military aid to Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has never been a secret. In fact, both the Iranians and the Palestinian radical groups have been boasting about their relations.

Iran funnels money to these groups because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed to play the role of Tehran’s proxies and enablers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran used to funnel money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Relations between Iran and Hamas foundered a few years back, when Hamas leaders refused to support the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Pictured above: Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (left) confers with Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei, in 2010. (Image source: Office of the Supreme Leader)

But puppets must remain puppets. Iran gets nasty when its dummies do not play according to its rules. This is precisely what happened with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Relations between Iran and Hamas foundered a few years back over the crisis in Syria. Defying their masters in Tehran, Hamas leaders refused to declare support for the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Things between Iran and Hamas have been pretty bad ever since.

First, the Assad government closed down Hamas offices in Damascus. Second, Assad expelled the Hamas leadership from Syria. Third, Iran suspended financial and military aid to Hamas, further aggravating the financial crisis that the Gaza-based Islamist movement had already been facing.

Islamic Jihad got it next. Iranian mullahs woke up one morning to realize that Islamic Jihad leaders have been a bit unfaithful. Some of the Islamic Jihad leaders were caught flirting with Iran’s Sunni rivals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Even worse, the Iranians discovered that Islamic Jihad was still working closely with their erstwhile allies in the Gaza Strip, Hamas.

Iran had had high hopes for Islamic Jihad replacing Hamas as Tehran’s darling, and major proxy in the Palestinian arena. But here were Islamic Jihad leaders and activists working with their cohorts in Hamas, in apparent disregard of Papa Iran.

The mullahs did not lose much time. Outraged by Islamic Jihad’s apparent disloyalty, Iranlaunched its own terror group inside the Gaza Strip: Al-Sabireen (The Patient Ones). This group, which currently consists of several hundred disgruntled ex-Hamas and ex-Islamic Jihad members, was meant to replace Islamic Jihad the same way Islamic Jihad was supposed to replace Hamas in the Gaza Strip — in accordance with Iran’s scheme.

Lo and behold: it is hard to get things right with Iran. Al-Sabireen has also failed to please its masters in Tehran and is not “delivering.” Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say that Iran has realized that the investment in Al-Sabireen has not been worthwhile because the group has not been able to do anything “dramatic” in the past two years. By “dramatic,” the sources mean that Al-Sabireen has neither emerged as a serious challenger to Islamic Jihad or Hamas, and has not succeeded in killing enough Israelis.

So Iran has gone running back to its former bedfellow, Islamic Jihad.

For now, Iran is not prepared fully to bring Hamas back under its wings. Hamas, for the Iranians, is a “treacherous” movement, thanks to its periodic temporary ceasefires with Israel. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too “moderate” for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.

That leaves Iran with the Islamic Jihad.

In a surprise move, the Iranians this week hosted Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah and senior officials from his organization, in a renewed bid to revive Islamic Jihad’s role as the major puppet of Tehran in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad officials said that the visit has resulted in the resumption of Iranian financial aid to their cash-strapped organization. As a result of the rift between Islamic Jihad and Iran, the Iranians are said to have cut off nearly 90% of their financial aid to the Palestinian terror organization.

Some Palestinians, such as political analyst Hamadeh Fara’neh, see the rapprochement between Iran and Islamic Jihad as a response to the warming of relations between Hamas and Turkey. The Iranians, he argues, are unhappy with recent reports that suggested that Turkey was acting as a mediator between Hamas and Israel.

Other Palestinians believe that Iran’s real goal is to unite Islamic Jihad and Al-Sabireen so that they would become a real and realistic alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Whatever Iran’s intentions may be, one thing is clear: The Iranians are taking advantage of the nuclear deal to move forward with their efforts to increase their influence over some Arab and Islamic countries. Iran is also showing that it remains very keen on playing a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — one that emboldens radical groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel and that share the same values as the Islamic State terror group.

Iran’s latest courtship of Islamic Jihad is yet another attempt by the mullahs to deepen their infiltration of the Palestinian arena by supporting and arming any terror group that strives to smash Israel. For now, it seems that Hamas’s scheme is working, largely thanks to the apathy of the international community, where many believe that Iran has been declawed by the nuclear deal.

But more Palestinian terror group leaders may soon perform the “pilgrimage” to their masters in Tehran. If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region. Their ultimate task, after all, is to use this state as a launching pad to destroy Israel. And the Iranians are prepared to fund and arm any Palestinian group that is willing to help achieve this goal.

Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.

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Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

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Iran Comes Clean on Banking Problems

by Lawrence A. Franklin
May 5, 2016 at 4:30 am


  • Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor Seif Valiollah mentioned that Iran has a reputation for not being exactly transparent on countering financial support for terrorist operations. He further blamed the regime’s willingness to facilitate money-laundering schemes as another factor discouraging investment from abroad, and indirectly criticized the overweening influence of the huge business conglomerates run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Iranian economy.
  • Nasser Hakimi, another CBI official blamed Iran’s own banks for access problems with the Society for Worldwide International Transactions (SWIFT) network.
  • Several of Iran’s key banks had not yet purchased or installed the required software and financial identifier codes that would enable SWIFT to become operable in Iran.

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) officials have admitted that the regime’s own financial policies, and not the United States, are responsible for some of the country’s banking problems. CBI governor Seif Valiollah admitted recently that Tehran’s failure to reap more economic benefits from the JCPOA agreement is, at least in part, Iran’s own fault.

These revelations by Iran’s top banking officials refute charges by Iranian hardliners that the United States has been orchestrating a toteyeh bozoorg (“grand conspiracy”) to deny Iran access to international banking networks.

CBI officials and others have detailed the shortcomings of Iran’s own banking system. These CBI statements challenge the skewed comments in the Iranian press that America’s refusal to grant foreign banks access to U.S financial services is what is responsible for Iran’s bank problems. Some of the negative commentary came from economists disappointed with President Rouhani’s management of the economy.

CBI governor Valiollah said that the failure of the country’s banks to adhere to standard international reporting practices is at fault. He also blamed the financial policies of former President Ahmadinejad as contributing to the present disorder in Iran’s banking network. Valiollah criticized, for instance, Ahmadinejad’s populist policies, such as frequent and careless loans, as a waste of finances. Valiollah also specifically mentioned Ahmadinejad’s penchant for using non-accredited financial institutions, through which he doled out rewards to political cronies, and addressed the lack of liquidity in Iran’s banks as a consequence of the large amount of failed loans. Subsequently, these bad loans necessitated the buy-back by the government of physical assets, such as residential and business properties. Valiollah offered an overall bleak assessment of Iran’s tarnished financial image, which he suggested, has discouraged foreign investment.

In a swipe at the hardliners who oppose President Rouhani’s economic “opening to the West,” Valiollah also mentioned that Iran has a reputation for not being exactly transparent on countering financial support for terrorist operations. He further blamed the regime’s willingness to facilitate money-laundering schemes as another factor discouraging investment from abroad, and indirectly criticized the overweening influence of the huge business conglomerates run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Iranian economy. Valiollah also called for Iran to have a unified and stable exchange rate tied to the market rate, not one subject to manipulation by powerful groups affiliated with the regime.

Nasser Hakimi, another CBI official, blamed Iran’s own banks for access problems with the Society for Worldwide International Transactions (SWIFT) network. The SWIFT messaging system enables banks to process financial transactions in a secure and rapid manner. Moreover, one CBI functionary added that several of Iran’s key banks had not yet purchased or installed the required software and financial identifier codes that would enable SWIFT to become operable in Iran.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi stated in the press that Iran’s banks are determined to improve access to SWIFT, and urged Iranian economists to visit the SWIFT Room of the CBI.

Economists opposed to the Rouhani administration had accused Washington of obstructing banking ties with the European Union and discouraging investment in Iran.[1] One of these economists, Asadollah Asgaroladi, claimed that Iran still can only process transactions with foreign countries through Dubai. One official, affiliated with the Iranian Chamber of Commerce’s Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Division, stated that there is limited access to SWIFT, but with Asian nations only, such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

CBI officials realize now that the Obama White House went out of its way to allay the fears of Western banks, especially those from the European Union, that they would risk being fined for conducting normal banking relations with Iran. CBI governor Valiollah even complimented Secretary of State Kerry’s assistance in convincing European banks that it is acceptable to deal with their Iranian counterparts. In praising Kerry’s effort to facilitate the foreign transactional activity of Iran’s banks, “Kerry insisted that foreign banks should cooperate with Iranian banks and that any bank that doubts this, should contact Washington.”

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.


[1] Keyhan Newspaper quotes hard-liner Jaffar Bolour re U.S. Bank Conspiracy and exerting pressure on EU banks.

Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

 

Iran’s Nuclear Missiles in Our Future

by Peter Huessy
April 21, 2016 at 4:30 am


  • Iran has not only failed to sign the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, it passed a parliamentary resolution reiterating Iran’s right to do the nuclear activities the deal forbids. By blocking transparency for its nuclear activities and evading enforcement of the deal, Iran continues its nuclear weapons development even as it pretends not to.
  • Most of the media have ignored satellites photos showing that Iran has hidden its Parchin military nuclear facility by completely bulldozing the area and then building an underground nuclear facility off-limits to any inspections.
  • A missile can be launched from the sea (as Iran has done at least twice) by a freighter, which has no return address. Even the threat of missile launch can have significant coercive political effect.
  • As for accuracy, if a nuclear missile configured for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) exploded anywhere in the atmosphere between Atlanta and Boston, it would knock out most of America’s electrical grid.

In 2017, the next U.S. administration will face the choice of keeping the U.S.-Iran 2015 nuclear deal — still unsigned by Iran — or of creating a new approach to eliminate Iran as an emerging nuclear power.

Supporters of the current deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will continue to argue that Iran has implemented the important provisions of the deal; that current violations and uncertainties are not critical to fulfilling the agreement, and that troublesome activities by Iran’s leadership are just designed to appease some hardliners opposed to any concessions to the United States, “the Great Satan.”

A significant number of senior security policy specialists, on the other hand, as well as members of Congress, apparently have serious doubts that Iran will fulfill the terms of the nuclear framework.

There is also growing concern that Iran already has a nuclear weapon, built with technology acquired in part from its North Korean partner, as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of delivering it.

Moreover, as a result of the JCPOA, Iran will be receiving in excess of $100 billion from previously sanctioned oil-sales revenue. This windfall makes its further missile and nuclear development easily affordable.

In what direction, then, should the next American president go?

That question requires analysis of two key issues. First, what does the U.S. know of Iran’s nuclear and missile activities? Second, what is the objective of these Iranian activities?

It might help to examine Iran’s relationship with its key military partner, North Korea.

Since at least 1988, Iran has manufactured nuclear-weapons-related neutron initiators and bridge-wire detonators. It has also experimented with implosion nuclear devices, all of which are directly related to any serious effort to build nuclear weapons. Iran could therefore very well already have a nuclear weapons capability, one that could be used against America and American interests, as it has openly and repeatedly vowed to do.

Ironically, even if Iran had signed the JCPOA deal, the regime is allowed to continue to enrich more uranium, modernize its centrifuges, and continue to develop technologies applicable to nuclear weapons.

Satellite photos show that Iran continues to build underground nuclear research and missile facilities, while upgrading its Emad missiles. At the same time, Iran has received shipments of large-diameter rocket engines from North Korea.

Both of these enhanced missile technologies mean that Iranian missile ranges extend beyond the Middle East and can soon begin to reach U.S. territory, in addition to Europe.

Breezily dismissing previous UN resolutions that prohibit nuclear-capable long-range missile tests, Iran has test-fired some 140 missiles since 2010 — some with ranges greater than 2000 kilometers. It has also, according to former CIA director R. James Woolsey, begun designing a nuclear warhead for its Shahab-III missile.

Iran is evidently seeking to exercise military power beyond the Middle East to coerce, blackmail and terrorize its enemies, including the United States.

This capability will further restrict the freedom of military and diplomatic action by the United States and its allies in the Mediterranean, in southern Europe and South Asia — as it is undoubtedly meant to.

Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear activities continue. Most of the media have ignored satellites photosshowing that Iran has hidden its Parchin military nuclear facility by completely bulldozing the area and then building an underground nuclear facility off-limits to any inspections.

This lack of transparency is made more alarming by a recent decision of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA), no longer to report details of Iran’s violations of the JCPOA.

Parallel to its missile and nuclear activity, Iran continues its activities as the world’s #1 terror master, as determined by official reports of the U.S. Department of State.

These activities hardy seem a reflection of a new and moderate Iran, willing to become a partner with the West in bringing peace to the Middle East. Does anyone actually believe that these activities are the harbinger of an arrangement for Iran to learn to “share” the region with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as President Obama suggested in a recent interview in The Atlantic?

The U.N., by agreement among the JCPOA parties, is reporting less from Iran than previously, and there are no interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists or inspections of Iran’s military facilities.

The response of the U.S. and the international community is apparently not to challenge Iran but, in the words of the U.S. Department of State, to “avoid misunderstanding” Iran’s activities. Unfortunately, this posture enables Iran to transform every question into a legalistic quarrel.

The result is that U.S. administration spokesmen gravely “promise to deal with” Iranian violations in a lawyerly fashion, but then unilaterally take off the table effective diplomatic and military tools to stop Iran from “cheating.”

In the process, the UN can do little more than complain that Iran is “not supposed to be doing that.” After all, what can the UN do if its key members signal a reluctance to get serious about enforcing the terms of an unsigned agreement — or even, as we have repeatedly observed, a signed one such as the NPT?

Iran has not only failed to sign the JCPOA agreement, it also passed a parliamentary resolution reiterating Iran’s right to engage in nuclear activities the JCPOA forbids.

With international corporations eager to do business with Iran, the strength of instruments of international law, such as sanctions designed to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, have eroded. Iran regularly — and, it appears, successfully — calls the bluff of the business-ravenous international community.

The JCPOA’s Faustian bargain has, of course, the effect of accelerating the Iran’s nuclear activities. As these activities accelerate, the promise by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that national and international sanctions would “snap back” in case of Iranian bad-faith become even more meaningless than they were in the first place.

Matters are not any better at the UN. Even as Iran openly disregarded the terms of the JPCOA and UN resolutions, the UN Secretary-General was urging all parties to act with “restraint” and to avoid “hasty action.”

Given such weak American and UN responses, it is no wonder Iran repeatedly threatens to walk away, should efforts be made actually to enforce key provisions of the nuclear accord or resolutions barring missile tests.

Iran’s purpose seems obvious. By blocking transparency for its nuclear activities and evading enforcement of the terms of the JCPOA, Iran gets to move forward with its nuclear weapons development even as it pretends not to.

As Aaron David Miller, vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,noted, the result of this strategy is that “…a fundamental shift in the balance of power is taking place in the region in Iran’s favor,” especially as states in the region fear Iran will soon be a nuclear armed power.

As for North Korea’s role in Iran’s nuclear program, Iran and North Korea have an agreement to exchange missile and nuclear technology

Iran’s military leaders have also been to North Korea to “observe” Pyongyang’s ICBM and nuclear tests. Tehran has even established a presence at a military base just south of the Chinese border.

Any Iranian-North Korean covert nuclear cooperation is also easily camouflaged or hidden, further undermining the notion that Iran is somehow voluntarily restricting its nuclear activities.

In light of these untrustworthy Iranian activities, how can one explain the sense of security held by many supporters of the JCPOA? Why does the administration continue to insist its deal is working?

Many supporters of the JCPOA accept, for example, the assurances made in March by Stratfor’s George Friedman, who admits Iran has tested ballistic missiles and has a nuclear program — but he is not, he says, worried. He assumes that preparations for Iranian missile launch could easily be seen by the American and allied satellites, and the rockets destroyed on the ground before they could be launched.

Friedman evidently assumes that Iranian rockets only use liquid propellants. Liquid propellants require days to dispense prior to launch. Keeping a rocket fueled with a liquid propellant is highly dangerous: liquid fuel is unstable and subject to explosion. Thus the liquid fueling process of a rocket or missile is elaborate, above ground, time consuming, and can readily be seen by satellites.

Friedman also evidently incorrectly appears to assume that Iranian and North Korean warheads have not been sufficiently hardened and are not sufficiently accurate, thus making them not particularly dependable weapons. Taken together, he concludes, there is little threat from Iran’s ballistic missile or nuclear capability.

But what are the facts?

A missile can be launched from the sea (as Iran has done at least twice) by a freighter, which has no return address. Even the threat of missile launch can have significant coercive political effect, particularly if one does not know from where it will be fired.

Given the connection between Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, and Latin American’s terror groups and drug cartels, a missile attack originating from the maritime areas immediately adjacent to the U.S., especially from the Caribbean or, in the future, Cuba, is a distinct possibility.

Additionally, solid-fueled rockets — unlike liquid-fueled ones — can be launched at any time from tunnels or mountain silos with no notice. Iran has mastered this capability both with the Sajjil missile and with other missiles whose ranges reach 2000 kilometers, such as the Shahab-III.

Iran’s missiles are also increasingly mobile, a capacity North Korea has developed and which it appears to have shared with Iran. Missile mobility makes quick detection of missile launch sites particularly difficult.

Moreover, a nuclear missile configured for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) does not need a heat shield or an accurate warhead. It can be detonated 70 kilometers above the Earth and does not fall through the atmosphere where a heat shield would be necessary. As for accuracy, if it exploded anywhere in the atmosphere between Atlanta and Boston, it would knock out most of America’s electrical grid.

In addition to these mistaken technical assumptions are the equally questionable political assumptions many analysts make about Iran’s objectives and motives.

One is that Iran’s “moderates” are its controlling authority. A second is that Iran’s terrorism and nuclear ambitions will easily diminish if America “behaves.”

The U.S. administration claims that if Iran continues to engage in “extremist” behavior, such as launching missile tests or supporting terrorist groups such as the Yemeni rebels, businesses will not be willing to invest in Iran.

U.S. president Barack Obama said on April 1, 2016, “When they [Iran] launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous.”

The administration seems to be assuming that the prospects of business investment in Iran will certainly take precedence over Iran’s continued revolutionary and terrorist activities, and that the “moderates” in Iran will “of course” choose the former (business), and pressure the “extremists” in Iran not to choose the latter (terrorism).

But Iran apparently does not see the situation this way. The mullahs have been echoing the American leftist line that the cause of “turmoil” in the Middle East is bullying by the United States. [1]

Moreover, when the mullahs support the Yemeni-based rebels, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, presumably to expand the influence of the Iranian regime in the Middle East, they claim they are defensive actions. Such “defensive actions,” according to Iran, cannot accurately be characterized as “terrorism” by the U.S. and therefore cannot be grounds for the U.S. to curtail business investment in, or maintain sanctions against, Iran.

Iran can thereby pretend to be defending of its own security instead of its real role: trying expand its influence through revolutionary terror.[2]

Part of this façade is Iran’s advocacy for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East — in reality a simplistic feint to try to disarm Israel and distract attention from Iran’s terrorist activities.

The reality is even more deadly. Iran’s regime has previously killed thousands of Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, as well as having been complicit in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.[3]

Iran’s missile and nuclear activity thus should be examined in light of — and not as distinct from: 1) Iran’s destruction of Lebanese sovereignty; 2) Iran’s massive support for militias and civil war in Iraq; 3) Iran’s military, financial and diplomatic support for Assad’s regime in Syria; 4) Iran’s inciting armed unrest in Bahrain, and 5) Iran’s providing weapons for the rebels in Yemen’s civil war.

Are those the actions of a “moderate” regime?

Iran claims it does not see its military activities as “terrorism;” the United States does. The decision facing Iran is not a simple matter of trading in their jihadi suicide vests for a business suit and briefcase.

Iran’s theocratic leaders seem to be seeking hegemonic control of all Middle East oil wells and all the Middle East Muslims, including the Islamic religious shrines in Mecca and Medina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Terror is evidently their top tool to accomplish that.

This seemingly overarching Iranian goal explains many of the conflicts in the Middle East and the potential implications for life in the free world. Bringing Iraq and Saudi Arabia into Iran’s orbit would give Iran essential control of two-thirds of the world’s store of conventional hydrocarbons.[4]

Anthony Cordesman explains that this would give Iran tremendous economic leverage over the industrial world, by giving Iran control of 20% of the world’s exports of oil and 35% of all oil moved by sea. This leverage is especially significant given the most optimistic projections that put U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil in 2040 still at 32% of all U.S. oil supplies.

At some point, Iran may confidently declare that it can confront any “threat” from the United States. The means to do so could easily include using nuclear weapons against the U.S., or threatening to do so. How credible, then, would be America’s promises that its military would stop the mullahs from becoming a regional power? As credible as many of America’s other promises?

In addition, should Iran’s mullahs not prefer to stay in power, they might determine that such a confrontation could also usher in the advent of the Mahdi, the messianic heir of Mohammed in Shia Islam, and through him the wished-for “End of Times.”

Dr. Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981, and was the senior defense consultant at the National Defense University Foundation for more than 20 years. He is now the National Security Fellow at the AFPC, and Senior Defense Consultant at the Air Force Association.


[1] “American Foreign Policy in a Globalized World,” edited by David P. Forsythe, Patrice C. MacMahon

[2] Stephen Kinzer’s book “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror” is the most popular example of this narrative.

[3] In particular, see Morton Klein in the Algemeiner, on September 11, 2015: “Iran’s key role in the 9/11 attacks was detailed in the U.S. District Court’s Findings of Fact in Havlish v. bin Laden, et al — a case brought by 9/11 victims against Al Qaeda, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah and numerous other Iranian and Iranian-backed entities. The case was the culmination of years of investigation prompted by information initially uncovered by the 9/11 Commission. Overwhelming evidence of Iran’s complicity included testimony from experts and a top former Iranian regime insider, in addition to damning documents, such as a May 2001 memo on behalf of Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, discussing communications regarding Al Qaeda’s then upcoming attack.”

See also The Daily Beast on essay by Philip Shenon who explains: “The court papers also include sworn statements from staff members of the 9/11 Commission, including Dietrich Snell, a former top terrorism prosecutor at the Justice Department, who says in his affidavit that ‘there is clear and convincing evidence the government of Iran provided material support to al Qaeda in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attack.’ He said the support came in the form of ‘facilitating the travel of members of the 9/11 conspiracy to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which countries, in my opinion and as found by the 9/11 Commission, the plot was hatched and developed.'”

[4] “Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Clash within a Civilization” by Tony Cordesmann, February 3, 2014, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., and “Iran’s deadly Ambitions: The Islamic Republic’s Quest for Global Power” by Ilan Berman, published August 2015 by the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.

Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

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