Tag Archives: Iran Nuclear Deal

Reality Check: EU Replacing U.S. as Global Leader After Trump Leaves Iran Deal?

The president of the European Commission says the the EU needs to replace the U.S. as a global superpower because President Trump has announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Jean-Claude Juncker had strong words. But is he right?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

“At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence…”

Those are the words of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during an address to Belgium’s Flemish Regional Parliament in Brussels. He says that the European Union should take over as global leader because the U.S. “no longer wants to cooperate” with the world, as it’s abandoning the Iran nuclear deal.

Is the EU posturing after President Donald Trump said the new U.S. sanctions against Iran would impact anyone who deals with Iran, including companies in the EU?

One sign indicating EU is posturing is talk of sanctioning the U.S.

According to Reuters, EU officials are revamping a blocking statue used by the governing body in the 1990s to threaten then President Bill Clinton’s administration when the U.S. tried to penalize foreign businesses trying to work with Cuba.

It worked, coupled with a political strategy, and Washington backed down.

Basically the statue blocks EU companies from following U.S. sanctions, and doesn’t recognize court rulings enforcing U.S. penalties for non-compliance. But it’s never actually been used, and is seen by EU governments as more of a warning to the U.S. than anything.

Now, the idea that Europe should or would replace the U.S. as global leader is somewhat silly at this point.

Through NATO, the United States uses its massive military to protect and pay for protection for 27 European nations, with the U.S. spending more than double and in some cases triple for defense.

But the underlying concern behind Juncker’s statements are the very real questions about the reasons for President Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, especially when the IAEA says Iran is in fact following the agreement.

The IAEA Director General released a statement last week stating, “As requested by the United Nations Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board of Governors in 2015, the IAEA is verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.

“Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime under the JCPOA, which is a significant verification gain. As of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.”

So what you need to know is that there are actually multiple story lines here.

The EU leadership posturing, stating the U.S. should no longer be the world leader—that isn’t really worth debating.

The IAEA saying that Iran is following the deal—that is something we need to pay attention to.

And finally, the biggest, most under reported story line so far—the fact that Israel is pushing this decision at the same moment that nation launching military strikes against Iranian positions in Syria.

Again, that is the question here. Is the U.S. going to be dragged into another Middle East war, this time alongside Israel against Iran and Syria?

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

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.

Iran: Aggravating New US Sanctions ‘Illegitimate’

by Jason Ditz

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement today condemning the US for following up its Saturday removal of nuclear sanctions against Iran with the imposition of a new round of sanctions on Sunday, saying the move was “aggravating and propagandistic.”

There is considerable dispute over the US sanctions, which cite a UN resolution forbidding Iran from developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. It was been argued that this makes the sanctions nuclear-related, and a violation of the P5+1 nuclear deal, and Iran insists that the missile isn’t nuclear capable in the first place, meaning the resolution doesn’t apply.

The statement by Iran’s foreign ministry is that they consider the sanctions “illegitimate” at any rate, and that Iran intends to continue to develop its conventional missile systems to improve its overall defensive capabilities.

That the US waited less than 24 hours after ending sanctions to impose new ones is a big boost to Iran’s ultraconservative factions ahead of next month’s elections, as they declared them vindication to their opposition to the nuclear deal on the grounds the US couldn’t be trusted to keep up its end of the bargain.

Report: NSA Spied on Israel’s Private Talks with U.S. Lawmakers about Iran Nuclear Deal

The United States National Security Agency reportedly spied on Israeli lawmakers and ended up obtaining information from private conversations with U.S. lawmakers during negotiations about the Iran Nuclear Deal.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, President Obama monitored the activities of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because it served a “compelling national security purpose,” which ultimately gave the White House insight into Israel’s campaign to combat a nuclear deal with Iran.

The White House reportedly let the NSA decide “what to share and what to withhold,” and as a result it learned that  Netanyahu and his advisors “leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations- to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes.”

As previously reported, in March, both Netanyahu and former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner denied allegations that Israel spied on nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran, and then gave the stolen classified information to Congressional Republicans to sway their vote.

Following the revelation from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA was spying on and collecting metadata from innocent Americans in June 2013, Obama promised that the U.S. “will not eavesdrop on the heads of state or government of close U.S. friends and allies, unless there is a compelling national security purpose” in Jan. 2014.

While diplomats such as French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made Obama’s “protected list,” the WSJ’s report noted that Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not.

According to the report, a former Obama administration official claimed that the NSA was “so proficient at monitoring heads of state that it was common for the agency to deliver a visiting leader’s talking points to the president in advance.” 

After Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress in January 2015 without consulting the White House, the NSA reportedly realized that it was collecting data from Israeli lawmakers’ conversations with U.S. congress members. The report noted that while NSA rules require all names be changed to “U.S. person” in intelligence reports, senior U.S. officials can still request the names directly.

House Rejects Iran Deal in Symbolic Vote

Also Plans to Vote to Forbid Obama Implementing Pact

by Jason Ditz

The House of Representatives has voted today on the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, rejecting the bill 162-249. The vote has no practical impact, as the Senate failed in a cloture vote yesterday, and subsequently will not be passing a resolution on the pact before the deadline.

The 60-day deadline for Congressional review of the deal expires on Thursday, and the House vote is yet another failure, since they failed again to get a veto-proof majority needed to override a promised presidential veto.

The House is also planning to pass another resolution which will forbid the president from lifting any sanctions on Iran until after the 2017 inauguration. This would effectively prevent the US from abiding by the Iran deal, though there has been no indication the Senate will address this attempt, and again it probably won’t get a veto-proof majority.

Beyond that, House Republicans are also talking about filing a lawsuit trying to get the court to forbid the US from complying with the Iran deal on the grounds that the White House never provided them with copies of confidential IAEA deals with Iran. This too seems a long-shot, but reflects the Congressional leaders’ determination, after losing the battle on blocking the deal, to keep trying to undermine it.

Sec. Kerry: Dollar to “Cease to Be the Reserve Currency of the World” If Iran Deal Fails

At a Thompson Reuters moderated discussion on President Obama’s negotiated nuclear deal with Iran in New York City on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that if Congress rejects the agreement, the U.S. dollar will lose its current status as the world’s reserve currency.

The United States is going to start sanctioning our allies and their banks and their businesses because we walked away from a deal? And we’re going to force them to do what we want them to do even though they agreed to the deal we came to? Are you kidding?said Sec. Kerry in the above-embedded video provided by The Washington Free Beacon.

Can you imagine trying to sanction [our allies] after persuading them that we’ve put in place sanctions to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and when they have not only come to the table but made a deal, we turn around and nix the deal and then tell them ‘you’re going to have to obey our rules on the sanctions anyway.’ That is a recipe, very quickly, my friends, businesspeople here, for the American dollar to cease to be the reserve currency of the world, which is already bubbling out there,” added Kerry.

[RELATED: Obama: Only Alternative to Iran Deal Is War]

Sec. Kerry said that if the U.S. were to cancel the deal after building an international coalition in its support, continuing to enforce sanctions against Iran would require sanctioning other U.S. allies.

According to Reuters, Kerry also claimed that under President Obama’s deal, the U.S. would be able to detect any attempt by Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

U.N. Security Council Unanimously Votes To Endorse Iran Nuclear Deal

The 15 members that make up the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of adopting a deal between Iran and major world powers that intends to limit Iran’s nuclear ability, in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

The deal, which was called “historic” by both the European Union’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister, was settled on Tuesday between Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom after 20 months of negotiations, four target dates and three extensions.

The Hill reported that the vote “sends a strong signal of international support for the agreement,” and that some U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Obama administration for “pushing for U.N. action before Congress has a to chance to weigh in.

Reuters noted that the UN will be able to re-impose penalties “during the next decade if Tehran breaches the historic agreement” and that no sanctions relief can be implemented until the International Atomic Energy Agency “submits a report to the Security Council verifying that Iran has taken certain nuclear-related measures outlined in the agreement.”

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power said that although the deal “does not address many of our profound concerns,” it would ultimately make the world “safer and more secure.”

Power also said that if Iran “abides by the commitments” that it agreed to in the deal, then it will find both the international community and the United States “willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement.”

The nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will start lifting sanctions on Iran in 90 days, after the “respective capitals and legislatures have had a time to review the deal’s provisions,” according to Power.

While several members of Congress were irked at the fact that the U.N. Security Council was taking a vote on the nuclear deal before they had time to weigh in on it, Secretary of State John Kerry said that he felt it was their right to vote.

“I mean honestly, it’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany and Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do,” Kerry said. “They’re individual countries and they have sovereignty. They’re members of the United Nations and they have a right to have a vote.”

Along with Republicans in Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been very critical of the nuclear deal, calling it a “historic mistake for the world,” and saying it will not stop “Iran’s aggression.”

Beginning Monday, Congress has 60 days to review the deal’s provisions before Obama can begin removing congressional sanctions. Obama has said that he will veto any congressional legislation seeking to block the agreement.

The Hill noted that President Obama, Vice President Biden and other officials have recently begun an “aggressive lobbying push to rally Democrats,” including a “rare golf outing” over the weekend between Obama and three Democratic House lawmakers.

Obama Says Reporter ‘Should Know Better’ Than To Ask About American Hostages In Iran

During a press conference on Wednesday, CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked President Obama why he was “content” celebrating the current deal with Iran when the release of four American hostages was not included in the provisions.

“As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran – three held on trumped up charges according to your administration, one, whereabouts unknown,” Garrett said. “Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all of the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for, in relation to these four Americans?”

Obama responded, saying that he had to give Garrett credit for the way he crafted his questions.

“The notion that I am content, as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails – Major, that’s nonsense,” Obama said. “And you should know better. I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody’s content, and our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out.”

The deal, which was announced on Tuesday by Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, will limit Tehran’s nuclear ability, in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Obama said that he believes the deal is “our best means of assuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon,” and he welcomes a “robust debate” with the “politically motivated opposition” in Congress.

“The bottom line is this – this nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the United States and our allies,” Obama said. “It prevents the most serious threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That’s why this deal makes our country safer and secure.”


Following the news conference, Garrett told CBS anchor Contessa Brewer that politicians such as President Obama have a habit of “creating straw men,” or “taking something that they feel rhetorically works to their advantage and using it.”

“My question did not suggest he was content with the captivity of those four Americans,” Garrett said. “My question was about the contentment or the satisfaction or the realization that it was necessary within the context of this deal to leave them unaccounted for was the essence of the question.”

Garrett acknowledged that his question struck a nerve with the President, and said that was his intention.

“The families of those four Americans have heard the President say he’s not content, and he will work overtime to win their eventual release,” Garrett said. “It does not appear to me to be a sideline issue in the whole context of the conversation about this Iran nuclear deal. Was it provocative? Yes. Was it intended to be as such? Absolutely.”

Poll: Majority Of Americans Don’t Want Congress To Interfere With Iran Nuclear Deal

A recent poll found that 61 percent of Americans approve of the framework of President Obama’s agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, while 34 percent oppose it, and that 65 percent of Americans do not want Congress to interfere with the agreement, while only 30 percent want Congress to block it before it is implemented.

The poll, which was conducted by Hart Research at the request of the group Americans United for Change, surveyed 806 registered voters in the United States, using both landline and cell phones, from April 6 to April 8.

The results indicated that 34 percent of the Americans surveyed oppose, and 61 percent favor the framework of the deal surrounding Iran’s nuclear program that was reached on April 2, between the US, Iran, and five other major powers: China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. Out of the Americans who said they favored the deal, 28 percent strongly favor it, and 33 percent somewhat favor it.

The participants were asked to respond to a statement that summed up the framework of the deal, which said that over the next 10 to 25 years, it would “prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” place limits on “the level to which Iran can enrich uranium to far below what is necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” and it would significantly reduce Iran’s “uranium and plutonium production capabilities.” The deal would result in Iran submitting to “intrusive, short-notice inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” and in exchange, Iran would receive “gradual relief from US and international economic sanctions, as long as it complies with the terms of the agreement.”

81 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Independents and 41 percent of Republicans favored the statement above. In contrast, 16 percent of Democrats, 35 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Republicans opposed the statement.

The survey found that according to voters, the most important parts of the deal are the provisions on inspection and verification. 69 percent of respondents favored the provision of the agreement that “allows for intrusive, short-notice inspections and monitoring of Iran’s compliance with the agreement by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and would result in expanded access to Iranian sites by international inspectors,” and 74 percent of respondents favored the provision that states that if Iran violates the agreement, “inspectors will find out, and decisive action against Iran – including strong international economic sanctions – can be taken quickly.”

65 percent of voters said that they do not want Congress to interfere with the agreement, and they would rather Congress “allow the agreement to go forward and closely monitor its implementation,” while 30 percent of voters said they wanted Congress to block the agreement now, before it is implemented.

82 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents, and 47 percent of Republicans want Congress to let the deal go through, while 15 percent of Democrats, 27 percent of Independents and 48 percent of Republicans want Congress to step in and block the deal.

The results of the poll noted that voters continued to support the agreement, even after “hearing what opponents and supporters say about it,” which demonstrated an “important degree of durability and depth to the support measured in earlier questions.”