Tag Archives: Iran deal

Pompeo’s “Unrealistic” Iran Demands Set Stage For Regime Change

During a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a well-known conservative think tank in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a laundry list of demands to Iran on Monday, just a few short weeks after the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The demands, described by Pompeo as “basic requirements,” include Iran’s full withdrawal from Syria, the release of all U.S. citizens imprisoned in the country, the end of Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, ending the “enrichment” of uranium, allowing “the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country” and promising to never process plutonium.

Pompeo also noted that a Iran’s failure to comply with these demands would result in the “strongest sanctions in history” being imposed on Iran that would cause the country to struggle to “keep its economy alive.”

“The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations. These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete,” Pompeo said.

This strategy, the Trump administration’s “Plan B” for dealing with Iran following its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, has been regarded as unachievable and unrealistic as Iran is all but certain to reject the ultimatum.

Indeed, Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council asserted that Pompeo’s “requirements” are intentionally unrealistic as his speech was “clearly designed to ensure there cannot be any new negotiation.”

“If you maximize pressure and set unachievable demands, you solely pave the way for war. That is the objective of Trump, and that’s been the objective of his cheerleaders in Saudi and Israel,” Parsi added.

Parsi’s concerns appear warranted given one of Pompeo’s questionable demands that Iran end military support of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Though long labeled an Iran “proxy” by the corporate media, the Houthis are a movement unique to Yemen that share a religious identity with Iran and little more.

Thomas Juneau, a former analyst for Canada’s Department of National Defence, wrote in the Washington Post that “Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.” He further stated that Iran’s assistance “remains limited and far from sufficient to make more than a marginal difference to the balance of forces in Yemen, a country awash with weapons.”

Even the U.S. State Department has acknowledged that the Houthis have not been not armed by Iran but are instead largely armed by purchases from the black market and the Yemeni military. Furthermore, the Saudi blockade of Yemen ensures that support from Iran, were it to be offered, would not even be able to make it into the Houthi-controlled portion of the country.

Given his “wildly unrealistic” list of policy demands, Pompeo’s speech has largely been regarded as further evidence that the Trump administration has adopted a “regime change” policy towards Iran. This has been expected for some time, as news broke last week that National Security Adviser John Bolton had been circulating a plan throughout the National Security Council that calls for making regime change an explicit part of the administration’s Iran policy.

Pompeo, as well as Bolton, have long been advocates for regime change in Iran, as have other powerful figures closely connected to the Trump administration such as former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani who now serves as one of Trump’s lawyers.

Earlier this month, Giuliani openly stated that Trump and his administration were “committed” to bringing regime change to Iran during a speech to the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK), a “cult-like” group of Iranian exiles that was listed as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. until 2012 for its use of terror tactics that have resulted in the deaths of both Iranians and Americans. During his recent speech to the group, Giuliani led a chant of “regime change,” underscoring the desired result of the MEK and its contacts in Washington.

Bolton also recently spoke to the MEK during a gathering of the group in France last year. In that speech, Bolton told members and supporters of the group: “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. […] The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself. […] And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!”

Pompeo’s recent speech seems to be an indication that Bolton, with help from other like-minded officials in the Trump administration, is seeking to fulfill his regime change promise sooner rather than later.

Reality Check: Why Did Trump Abandon the Iran Nuclear Deal?

President Trump announced Tuesday that the U.S. will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. It is a campaign promise that he made repeatedly during the election.

Trump has said the Iran deal is the worst of all time, and instead of staying in it he’s going to impose new sanctions against Iran.

So why did Trump abandon the Iran deal? Was it truly a bad deal, or was there influence coming from Israel? And what could that influence mean for our future?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

“The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

That was President Trump on Tuesday announcing that just three years into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. will abandon the agreement that got Iran, some say, to rein in its nuclear program.

But others say it was a terrible deal that sped up their nuclear ambitions.

So why did President Trump abandon the Iran deal? To understand that, we actually need to look back at our relationship with Iran. Here’s a quick history lesson to bring you up to speed.

In 1953, the CIA led Operation Ajax, a coup in Iran to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh and to strengthen the monarchy led by the Shah.

After that, our government actually provided Iran a nuclear reactor fueled by highly-enriched uranium, under the Atoms for Peace program.

But then the shah was overthrown in 1979, and the U.S. stopped supplying Iran with highly enriched uranium.

Since then, our government has worked to prevent any nuclear development deal in the nation of Iran. It’s been going on for some time.

That is, until 2015, when the Obama Administration made a deal to allow Iran to keep a maximum of 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium through 2031 and drastically reduce the number of installed nuclear centerfuges.

As part of the deal, Iran has been under 24-hour surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 2015, the IAEA found no credible evidence of nuclear bomb development. And the country has been under a very tight watch ever since.

But now, the U.S. pulling out of the deal, just as President Trump promised he would.

Yet a key reason that the president gave for quitting the Iran deal is alleged evidence from Israel that Iran was not in compliance.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on April 30 that Israeli spies had stolen Iranian nuclear plans. Yet, according to the New York Times, Netanyahu did not provide any evidence that Iran violated the agreement.

What you need to know is that Israel’s influence in President Trump’s decision is interesting. Those on the left say the Iran deal would have prevented a nuclear Iran. Those on the right say the Iran deal would have sped that process up. But that isn’t the question we should be asking. No, the real question is one I asked here exactly one month ago.

Is the U.S. being pulled into an all-out war with Iran and Syria?

Remember, in March the U.S. participated in a joint military exercise in Israel to play out a scenario of an Iranian attack. In April, Israel bombed Syria and injured Iranians, just days before the U.S. led targeted attacks on Syria. You see a theme here?

And now, just hours after the U.S. abandoned the Iran deal, Israeli air strikes targeted an Iranian position in Syria, with nine reported Iranian deaths. And in Israel, military forces are preparing for a possible Iranian attack.

The real question we should be asking: Are we, the American people, ready to join Israel’s escalating war against Iran, a war that looks more likely every day?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

In Open Letter, Retired Pentagon Brass Endorse Iran Deal

Call on Congress to Vote in Favor of the Pact

by Jason Ditz, August 11, 2015

In a new open letter, three dozen retired US generals and admirals have endorsed the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran as the “most effective means” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and called on Congress to vote in favor of the pact.

The letter echoes sentiment from current Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who said that resolving the dispute with Iran diplomatically “is superior than trying to do that militarily.”

A military confrontation with Iran is very much the point for a lot of the Congressional opponents, however, and the letter also seemed aimed at them, saying that a US war with Iran would be much easier to sell internationally if the diplomatic deal had been tried first.

Congress is not expected to be able to muster enough votes to block the deal, and administration officials are warning that if they do it would be calamitous for America’s global standing, and making diplomacy with other nations much more difficult in the future.

Senior Republican Senators Condemn Ted Cruz For Criticism Of Mitch McConnell

Senior Republicans in the Senate criticized Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday for accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of lying and using tactics similar to those of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The remarks came from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) during a special session on Sunday when the Senate advanced legislation to restore the federal Export-Import Bank, 67-26, and did not advance legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 49-43. Both amendments needed 60 votes in order to pass, as part of a highway bill that has a deadline of July 31.

As previously reported, Cruz spoke out against McConnell on Friday, noting that after several senators got together and negotiated a deal that would both revive the Export-Import bank and pass trade promotion authority granted by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, he confronted McConnell, who was “visibly angry” and insisted that there was “no deal.”

The Associated Press noted that in addition to no senators coming to Cruz’s defense, they also blocked Cruz from offering an amendment related to the Iran deal, going as far as to refuse to grant his routine request for a roll-call vote.” 

Hatch, the Senate pro tempore, spoke out against the 2016 Presidential contender on the Senate floor on Sunday, saying, “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues and perhaps on the campaign trail, but they have no place among colleagues in the United States Senate.”

“The Senate floor has even become a place where senators have singled out colleagues by name to attack them in personal terms, to impugn their character, in blatant disregard for Senate rules,” Hatch continued. “Such misuses of the Senate floor must not be tolerated.”

Alexander likened Cruz’s actions to Americans rendering themselves lawless, and said that Cruz will create a precedent that destroys the orderly consideration of amendments,” and as a result “there will be unlimited amendments; there will be chaos.

Cornyn, the Senate Majority Whip, agreed with Alexander, saying that if senators sided with Cruz and wanted to overturn current procedure, the Senate would not be able to function and maintaining that he believes there was “no misrepresentation made by the majority leader on the Ex-Im Bank.” 

If the majority leader had somehow misrepresented to 54 senators what the facts are with regards to the Ex-Im Bank, I would suspect that you would find other voices joining that of the junior senator, but I hear no one else making such a similar accusation,” Cornyn said.

“Speaking the truth about actions is entirely consistent with civility,” Cruz replied, insisting that although accusing McConnell of lying “may be uncomfortable,” it was “entirely consistent with decorum, and no member of this body has disputed that promise was made and that promise was broken.”

Cruz isn’t the first presidential candidate at odds with McConnell. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) clashed with McConnell in May, when he stood up against McConnell’s wishes to extend the Patriot Act and forced the expiration of Section 215, which was used by the National Security Agency to justify its bulk collection of Americans’ data.

US Preparing ‘Unprecedented’ New Arms Package to Israel for Iran Deal

Netanyahu Complains About Plan, Pentagon Downplays It

by Jason Ditz, July 19, 2015

On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed the nation expects significant “compensation” from the US in the form of a major new arms package after the Iran nuclear deal. Today, officials confirmed that they are mulling an “unprecedented” package for Israel.

Last week’s indications were that the figure was formerly in the $3.7 billion range, but that Israel expected this figure to grow significantly in return for their acquiescence on the pact. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was complaining about the package at any rate, saying the fact that the US is willing to pay him off proves the Iran deal is “bad” for Israel.

In reality, of course, the US is trying to buy off Netanyahu on Iran because they see him as being for sale on the issue. Though officials are downplaying the chances of sending “swag bags” of arms across the region after the Iran pact, it does seem that Israel will be getting one.

The Israeli expectation is that they will get more the longer they hold out, however, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is not expected to make an offer during this week’s visit, after Netanyahu refused to even address the subject in talks with Obama last week.

Holding off on the deal is a gamble for the Israeli leadership, however, particularly with Netanyahu publicly spurning the idea. If it becomes increasingly clear that the Israel Lobby’s efforts will not secure a veto-proof majority in Congress to kill the deal, the administration may decide Israel doesn’t need buying off, or at least not at such a gaudy price.

Obama: Only Alternative to Iran Deal Is War

British Foreign Secretary: Israel Just Wanted Permanent Standoff

by Jason Ditz, July 15, 2015

When the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran was announced early Tuesday, everyone knew what was coming next. After spending decades railing against Iran’s nuclear program and months claiming the negotiations were a threat to Israel, there was no calming Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu down.

A day later, world leaders are starting to fire back with surprising openness, lashing Netanyahu for his insincerity. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insisted no deal would’ve been good enough for Netanyahu, and that what he really wanted was a “permanent standoff” with Iran.

President Obama seemed a little less interested in placating Netanyahu today as well, giving his usual lip service on Israeli security concerns but insisting Netanyahu never provided a valid alternative to the deal, and said the deal was a fair sight better than war.

The criticisms are all fairly obvious, and the real news is how publicly they’re being made by high profile officials, and how quickly. This underscores a growing problem faced by Netanyahu internationally, compounding domestic criticism over his botched lobbying against the deal.

Israelis must see Netanyahu’s effort one of two ways. Either he was correct that the deal means the end of Israel, and failed despite his promises to stop it, or he was incorrect about the deal and is alienating the international community by continuing to complain. Neither puts him in a particularly favorable light.

The 6 Most Problematic Statements In Obama’s Iran Speech

By Blake Neff

Obama gave an optimistic speech Tuesday morning, hailing a newly-reached nuclear deal with Iran as an historic accomplishment.

Many have praised the new deal, and there’s a near-universal hope in the West that it will be successful in its goal of halting Iranian nuclear ambitions. Still, many have expressed doubts about parts of the deal, and Obama’s speech glosses over areas of the deal that warrant significant scrutiny.

We’ve parsed Obama’s optimistic speech to add context:

1. “Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location. Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary.”

The Associated Press acknowledges that most observers consider the inspections regime a “victory for Iran.” Any request by UN inspectors to visit an Iranian nuclear site may be contested, with the visit approved by the Joint Commission consisting of representatives from each party to the Iran deal. The approval process could be rejected, and even if approved, allows a potential window of 24 total days prior to international intervention, giving Iran significant time to conceal any violations of the deal.

2. “It’s now more than 50 years since President Kennedy stood before the American people and said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.’ He was speaking then about the need for discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union, which led to efforts to restrict the spread of nuclear weapons.”

Even Obama’s fellow dems are wary of comparing this deal with past nuclear negotiations. David Rothkopf, CEO of the FP Group (which publishes Foreign Policy) and a Democrat until recently, has warned that relating this deal to those with the USSR is folly.

3. “As Iran takes steps to implement this deal, it will receive relief from the sanctions that we put in place because of Iran’s nuclear program … if Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place.”

This “snapback” of sanctions should Iran violate the deal are a key part of the agreement, but reimposing them could be tougher in practice than in theory. As pointed out by The Wall Street Journal, there is huge interest in both the energy industry and elsewhere to invest in Iran and build substantial business operations. These groups will have strong incentives to lobby against reimposed sanctions.

Plus, as Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic argues, even if sanctions return, the idea of a true snapback is a “fiction”: “The U.S. could reimpose sanctions on Iran if Tehran cheats on the deal, but it would be reimposing these sanctions on what will be a much-richer country, one that could withstand such sanctions for quite a while.”

Rothkopf has made a similar warning, Tweeting that a snap back is an “intellectually dishonest” … “fantasy.”

4. “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.”

Experts, including some in the U.S. government, are already warning that, whether Iran’s nuclear capacity is restricted or not, today’s deal is unlikely to stop the ongoing race for nuclear capacity in the Middle East.

“The rhetoric isn’t changing,” one official told NBC News. He warned that major regional powers like Turkey and Egypt are skeptical of the deal and still believe Iran wants a bomb. As a result, they may try to start their own nuclear programs. Others warned that Saudi Arabia, which helped fund Pakistan’s nuclear development, could try to call in its “IOU” by asking for one of Pakistan’s bombs, or at least assistance with nuclear technology.

The only likely way the U.S. could avoid proliferation would be to make strong military guarantees for every country in the region, something experts told NBC is unlikely with the declining U.S. presence in the region.

The upshot of all this: The Iran deal might stop proliferation, but it’s hardly the sure thing Obama hopes it is.

5. “[This deal] has the full backing of the international community.”

Not true. Whatever the opinions of other leaders, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been absolutely apoplectic over the deal, calling it a “mistake of historic proportions,” and aggressively blasting it over Twitter.

6. “Because of this deal, Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges — the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium for a bomb — and store them under constant international supervision. Iran will not use its advanced centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for the next decade. Iran will also get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium.”

The statement is accurate, but it glosses over key concessions the U.S. has made to Iran. It’s heavy water plant at Arak (used to make plutonium) is to be redesigned to limit its weapons potential, but it won’t be dismantled. Its underground Fordow enrichment plant also remains operational, though it’s supposed to be converted to “peaceful” purposes.

Not only are facilities allowed to remain open, but Iran is allowed to continue certain nuclear research. For example, the deal allows Iran to conduct R&D on new types of centrifuges, and they only even have to seek permission if they plan to produce working prototypes for new designs they create.

Follow Blake on Twitter




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Sen. Cotton: Iran War Would Only Take a Few Days

Says US Should ‘Pursue Military Strikes’

by Jason Ditz, April 08, 2015

Remember that big disastrous US war in the Middle East and how officials at the time were assuring us it’d only take a few days? Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR) remembers how popular those quick easy wars were in theory, and is pushing for one again.

The target is obvious for those following Sen. Cotton’s career, he wants the US to “pursue military strikes” against Iran, a war he believes would only take a few days to win outright.

Sen. Cotton is citing the mostly forgotten December 1998 US war on Iraq as the model, saying the US won after several days of attacking Iraq for “disobeying Security Council resolutions.”

The reason the war is mostly forgotten is because it killed a couple thousand people, didn’t resolve anything, and was just a brief escalation amid sanctions that killed far, far more.

The US attacked Iraq falsely in 1998 over WMDs, then kept harping about it for four and a half more years until the 2003 invasion and occupation, which was similarly launched over false claims of WMDs. It hardly seems a model for anything, though Cotton is keen for Obama to follow the example of Bill Clinton and kill a couple thousand people in Iran just to show how serious the US is.