Iran has been playing America for a fool for a long time now in respect of their nuclear program, while the Obama Administration has tacitly permitted this. This has now reached a stage where the Americans are so fed up that they have invited Binyamin Netanyahu to address Congress in order to do what their own President is not doing – give a true picture of Iran’s nuclear program and their bypassing of sanctions.
The UANI organization (United Against Nuclear Iran) has produced a very clear chart, Spinning the Iranian sanctions, showing how the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), agreed between the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US), to impose sanctions on Iran has been flouted by Iran and has become effectively toothless.
Since the signing of the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) interim agreement on November 24, 2013, and continuing on past its second extension a year later, a misleading narrative has emerged and crystallized. It is a story used by certain advocates to support the overarching claim that the JPA is emphatically “succeeding.” However, the story is false because it rests on a variety of “myths.” These are articulated in the following key assertions, theories, analyses and predictions – the “Ten Myths of the JPA.” Each myth is refuted by reality, grounded in verifiable facts, quantifiable figures and, of course, actual outcomes and occurrences.
Read it all for an eye-opening exposé of the lies that the Iranians tell in order to get round the sanctions, and the lies that the West tells itself in order not to have to continue imposing or expanding the sanctions.
The danger from the Iranian nuclear program is evident to all. But its conventional ballistic missile threat is of a much more immediate nature. It threatens not only, and not even chiefly the West. Its main targets for the present are the Arab countries of the Gulf, as Yoel Guzansky and Yiftah S. Shapir detail in “Iran goes ballistic”:
Tehran’s massive ballistic missile arsenal poses a clear and present danger to both the oil installations of the Persian Gulf monarchies and to the Western military presence in the region. This in turn has prompted members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to acquire air defense and ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems at various levels and in various configurations. At the same time, endemic inter-gulf rivalries (e.g., the growing rift between Riyadh and Doha) have left these nations highly vulnerable to Iranian missile threats.
Tehran is currently improving the missile accuracy and destructive power of its arsenal in addition to shortening exposure time to hostile attack through increased reliance on solid-fuel engines, which cut launch preparation time and make for easier maintenance. This ever-growing and more sophisticated arsenal has increased fears among the GCC states in recent years, especially as Iran’s ballistic missile program has not received the same level of international scrutiny as its nuclear program.
Read the whole article to understand more fully the dangers to the Gulf countries, and by extension, to Western interests as well as to Israel.
Demonstrating precisely this ballistic danger, the Times of Israel reported on the discovery of an Iranian ballistic missile that can reach far beyond Europe, already placed on its launch pad:
Iran has built a 27-meter-long missile, capable of delivering a warhead “far beyond Europe,” and placed it on a launch pad at a site close to Tehran, an Israeli television report said Wednesday, showing what it said were the first satellite images of the missile ever seen in the West.
It stressed that the missile could be used to launch spacecraft or satellites, but also to carry warheads.
The Channel 2 news report showed satellite imagery documenting what it said was Iran’s “very rapid progress” on long-range missile manufacture.
It showed one photograph of a site near Tehran, which it said the West had known about for two years, where Iran was working on engines for its long-range missiles.
It then showed a satellite photograph of a second site, nearby, which featured a launch pad, with the 27-meter missile on it — an Iranian missile “never seen before” by the West.
The missile is capable of taking a manned spacecraft or satellite into space, the TV report said.
It is also capable of carrying a conventional or non-conventional warhead “far beyond Europe,” the report added.
This report seems to have flown rather under the radar of Western news outlets, as Camera asks “Where’s the coverage?“.
Just as the media have ignored the Iranian missile threat, whether ballistic or nuclear, so it seems has Barack Obama. In his recent State of the Union address, Obama reiterated his vow to veto Congress’s Iran sanctions bill:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama vowed to veto any bill that would place additional sanctions on Iran, while receiving ringing applause for his commitment to “take down terrorists and their allies” in a State of the Union speech largely defined by its focus on domestic policy.
Obama warned that “there are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran,” but added that “new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.”
“It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress,” he continued. Obama left a military option on the table, noting that “the American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”
In the coming weeks, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) is expected to be introduced, calling for an automatic renewal of sanctions against Iran in the event that the president fails to submit to Congress the details of a comprehensive deal reached with Iran and the required “verification assessment” by July 5. Menendez and Obama reportedly faced off verbally about the bill late last week during a Democratic retreat.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) has said that he is also drafting legislation that would allow Congress to vote on any potential agreement with Iran — a bill that is also expected to face a presidential veto threat.
Obama’s threat (or promise) to veto more sanctions on Iran so enraged Congress, particularly the Republicans, that Speaker John Boehner invited Binyamin Netanyahu to address Congress in order to rebut Obama’s claims:
Republicans in Congress moved quickly Wednesday to reject many of President Obama’s proposals from the State of the Union address — and invited the prime minister of Israel to rebut Obama’s Iran policy from the same congressional podium next month.
That invitation to address Congress, extended by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marked a sharp rejection of Obama’s plea for Congress to stay out of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. If Congress votes to sanction Iran, Obama had warned, it could upset delicate and long-running talks.
Boehner said he would ignore the president’s demand, taking the unusual step of inviting a foreign leader directly into an American political debate.
The invitation is unusual in that it was not coordinated in advance with the White House, as is usual when inviting a foreign head of state, and the move is seen as very controversial, setting the scene for a potential showdown between Congress and the White House as Politico reports:
Netanyahu is a fierce opponent of the emerging U.S. nuclear agreement with the Islamic republic and has served as Obama’s foil, of sorts, as the negotiations have progressed. And his visit to Washington seems mostly for optics: When it comes to Iran, many Republicans and Democrats in the Capitol seem more closely aligned with Netanyahu than with Obama.
Netanyahu’s speech could present a spectacle rarely seen in Washington — the leader of another nation, standing just blocks from the White House at the invitation of Congress to rebut the United States’ foreign policy.
In fact, Boehner did not consult with the White House or the State Department about inviting Netanyahu — a snub that White House spokesman Josh Earnest called “a departure” from protocol. Instead, Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
John Kerry however took a slightly more conciliatory note, saying that Netanyahu was welcome to speak in the US at any time:
But Kerry agreed it had been a “little unusual” to hear about the Israeli leader’s speech to US Congress next month from the office of Speaker John Boehner and not via the usual diplomatic protocols.
Earlier, the White House reacted icily to Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress, an appearance sure to intensify opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran.
The White House’s “icy response” included a revolting accusation by Obama that senators were bowing to donor pressures on expanding sanctions on Iran:
Obama also set the stage for a new battle over Iran in Congress, as he accused Democratic senators opposed to his policy, including New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, of kowtowing to “donors” for the purpose of “short-term political gain.”
Writing on the blog of the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams, a senior official in the George W. Bush Administration, described as “remarkable” the exchange between Obama and Menendez. “No wonder Sen. Menendez took ‘personal offense,’” Abrams wrote. “What does a senior Democrat get from the leader of his party when he spends years working on the Iran file? The accusation that it’s all about politics and campaign cash. Mr. Obama remains unable to respect differing views; at bottom he considers them not only wrong, but corrupt.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) also weighed in on the dispute.
“What exactly was President Obama suggesting when he said opposition to his Iran policy is due to ‘donors’?” asked RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “No one would say opposition to his Russia policy is due to ‘donors,’ or his Cuba policy is due to ‘donors,’ or his general foreign policy is due to ‘donors.’ So why did President Obama single out those who seek tougher sanctions on Iran and say their viewpoints are based on ‘donors?’ The threat Iran poses to Israel and the western world is a national security issue. Attributing opposition to his Iran policy to the views of ‘donors’ is an inappropriate statement and it underplays the serious threat that Iran represents.”
Not only was it “inappropriate”, it was borderline antisemitic with its implications of sinister ‘donors”.
Shortly after this showdown, we learned that apparently the Mossad was undercutting Netanyahu, saying that more sanctions on Iran would be counter-productive.
But that story was blown out of the water by Carl at Israel Matzav who wrote: What was not said:
Note that the Mossad is not saying ‘don’t pass new sanctions.’ It’s saying ‘if you do pass new sanctions, Iran is likely to walk away from the talks. If one accepts the proposition that Iran is using the talks as cover to continue its nuclear weapons development program, Iran walking away from the talks would probably not be such a bad thing.
Since it is election season in Israel, opposition politicians leaped on the Mossad’s statement, claiming it was Obama’s revenge on Netanyahu, thus implicitly accusing Netanyahu for destablising Israel’s relations with the Administration.
However the entire story collapsed as the Mossad came out with a very unusual statement denying that they had made such a statement:
Contradicting Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency denied on Thursday reports that its chief warned US senators against a bill that would hit Iran with sanctions if ongoing nuclear talks fail to secure an agreement by their June deadline.
“Mossad head Tamir Pardo met two days ago with a delegation of US senators, at the request of the senators and with the prime minister’s permission,” the agency said in a rare statement. “Despite what the report said, the head of the Mossad did not say he opposes additional sanctions against Iran; the head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions against Iran, for a number of years, in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.”
The Mossad statement also said Pardo had emphasized to the senators that he believes in a “carrot and stick” approach, but that there were not enough sticks available to the West. “Pardo noted that without firm pressure it would not be possible to bring about meaningful compromises from the Iranian side.”
The Mossad statement also stressed that Pardo had expressed in no uncertain terms that he opposes the terms of the current agreement being negotiated with Iran, and that it would lead to a regional arms race.
A Ynet report late Thursday said Israel had “clarified to the Americans” on Tuesday that Pardo had not made the remarks attributed to him. Officials in Jerusalem “checked the protocols” of the meeting time and again, this report said, and “could not fathom” how the Americans could have interpreted Pardo’s remarks to suggest he opposed further sanctions. Jerusalem was also shocked that the Americans had made public remarks that were made by an intelligence official in a closed meeting.
The Middle East and the Iranian nuclear arms race is much too important to be left in the hands of a petulant White House more intent on cosying up to the Iranians and punishing Israel than in securing its own and Western interests. The power vacuum at the top is an extremely dangerous thing and the Iranians are taking full advantage of it.