U.N. reprimands Tehran amid ongoing nuclear ramp-up, development of missiles
Iran engaged in covert nuclear work that breached international accords as recently as 2019, according to nuclear inspectors who have been blocked from accessing these contested military sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors officially reprimanded Iran on Friday for denying inspectors access to at least two sites now known to have been part of Tehran’s secretive atomic weapons program.
The two locations have remained off limits to the IAEA despite evidence they were used for illicit nuclear operations in the last year. At least one of these sites contained a secret high-explosives testing site that could have been used to advance Tehran’s nuclear know-how.
The resolution was forwarded by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, all of which are still party to the nuclear accord with Tehran. While these nations have sought to preserve the accord, their willingness to publicly reprimand Iran is a new sign of mounting frustration with the country’s behavior. In addition to blocking IAEA access, Iran has ramped up its development of advanced missiles and enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, to levels needed for a bomb.
The resolution highlights what these nations described as a “continued lack of clarification regarding Agency questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear related activities in Iran.”
The move was met with anger by Iranian officials, who said they will continue to block access until the international community offers greater concessions, particularly relief from biting economic sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s behavior is proof that it continues to lie to the world about its development of nuclear arms and has no intention of curtailing its nuclear program.
“Iran’s denial of access to IAEA inspectors and refusal to cooperate with the IAEA’s investigation is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about what Iran is trying to hide,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Iranian military leaders announced on Thursday the successful test-firing of both short- and long-range cruise missiles, which could be used in a conflict with the United States and allied partners operating in the region. The firing of these missiles runs counter to United Nations restrictions on Iran’s missile program.
The tests were conducted in the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman, according to reports from Iran’s state-controlled media. Tehran claims the military operation was “more sophisticated” and “more difficult” than previous drills.
The launch marks a significant escalation in Tehran’s ongoing standoff with U.S. military vessels operating in the region. Iranian military boats have routinely harassed American ships and sought to choke off access to key shipping lanes in international waters. The display of new cruise missiles is a warning to the United States that the Iranian regime is ready for a military confrontation.
A United Nations embargo on Iran’s purchase of advanced weaponry is set to lift later this year. If the United States fails to extend the ban, nations will be able to legally sell Iran missiles and other offensive weapons. The Trump administration is currently pressing its allies at the U.N. to extend this embargo, though these efforts are likely to be blocked by Russia and China, Tehran’s top patrons.
If the arms embargo lapses, the United States is likely to push for a so-called snapback, the reimposition of all international sanctions that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal.
An Iran analyst said Tehran’s latest moves are a ploy to stave off international scrutiny.
“All eyes should be on Iran now to see how it will make good on its threats which were intended to scare and prevent the vote on this critical [IAEA] resolution,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think-tank with close ties to the Trump administration. “Tehran often uses such flashpoints to incrementally ratchet up the pressure through expansion of its nuclear program.”
Ben Taleblu said that nations such as France, Germany, and the U.K. will have to get tougher on Iran if they want to change its behavior. Although they backed the IAEA’s latest censure, these nations also have worked to block the reimposition of major sanctions on Tehran.
Historically, efforts to prevent dead set regimes from acquiring nuclear weapons have been marked mostly by embarrassing diplomatic fiascos. The chronology of every state-sponsored nuclear program began with developing the necessary human resources to facilitate domestic plutonium production. In phase two, while diligently laboring on enriching uranium to the critical mass, all these states denied vehemently their intentions to become nuclear powers by emphasizing their governments inherently peaceful nature. In phase three they presented the rest of the world with a fait accompli, namely, the nuclear bomb.
Thus far, the Islamic Republic of Iran has followed the same well-trodden path. Most importantly, from its inception, the Mullahcracy has been, even within the Islamic Ummah, an international pariah. Isolated and therefore devoid of friends and allies, the two Ayatollahs, the late Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini and the current one Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, have decided to acquire the ultimate weapon for self-preservation.
Therefore, the quest for a nuclear power Iran has started immediately after the fall of the Shah in early 1979. In 1987, the theocratic regime acquired technical schematics for building a P-1 centrifuge from the Pakistani Abdul Qadeer Khan network. The conversion of the Test Readiness Review that was done in 1987 by Argentina’s Applied Research Institute allowed the regime enrichment to less than 20%. In 2002, the National Council of Resistance on Iran, the political wing of the so-called Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK), revealed that Iran already built two secret nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak respectively. More ominously, thousands of documents seized by Israeli intelligence agents during a raid of a nondescript hanger in Shorabad district of Tehran in 2018, revealed that the regime never abandoned its clandestine quest for building a nuclear bomb. Among the documents released to the public, one that originated in 2002, contains a proposal for “warhead”, which were given the green light by the regime’s top nuclear official Moshen Fakhrizadeh. His hand-written remark in Farsi in the top left corner of the document reads in English translation: “In the name of God. Right now in a treatment process. Please archive the original script of the document. Fakhrizadeh.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had its own doubts about Tehran peaceful intentions and sincerity. As a result, the Board of Governors adopted a resolution on September 12, 2003, calling on Tehran to suspend all enrichment as well as all reprocessing-related activities. Moreover, the same resolution called upon the Iranian regime to declare all material relevant to its uranium enrichment program. Finally, the Board demanded that the regime allow the IAEA inspectors to undertake unencumbered environmental sampling at any location. The deadline for compliance was set at October 31, 2003.
In its reply, the regime seemingly indicated its readiness to comply. On October 21, 2003, Tehran agreed to meet the IAEA demands by the designated date. However, on June 18, 2004, the IAEA complained of Iran’s non-compliance. Again, Tehran notified the IAEA on November 14, 2004, that it will suspend enrichment-related activities for the duration of talks with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In this manner, Tehran prevented the IAEA Board of Governors to notify the UN Security Council. On February 27, 2005, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran concluded an agreement to supply fuel for the nuclear reactor in Busher. A provision of this agreement mandated that Iran shall return the spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Next, Tehran announced on August 8, 2005, that it has commenced the production of uranium hexafluoride at its Isfahan facility. Following this announcement, the United States, France, and Germany froze negotiations with Tehran. Shortly thereafter, on September 24, 2005, the IAEA adopted a resolution declaring Tehran in noncompliance with the previous safeguard agreement. Most glaringly, this resolution stated that Iran’s nuclear activities combined with the absence of their peaceful nature are within the competence of the UN Security Council, opening the way for future referrals.
Sure enough, on February 4, 2006, the Board of Governors of the IAEA referred the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN Security Council. Pursuant to the resolution, the Board of Governors deemed it “necessary for Iran” to immediately suspend its enrichment related activities, reconsider the construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor, ratify the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement, and fully cooperate with the IAEA’s investigations. As a result, Tehran informed the IAEA on February 6, 2006, that it will “voluntarily” implement the additional protocol and other non-legally binding inspection procedures. Nonetheless, on April 11th, Tehran announced that it successfully enriched uranium for the first time to 3.5%. The enriched uranium was produced at the Natanz pilot enrichment plant. On June 6th, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Federal Republic of Germany (the P5+1) proposed a framework agreement to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Then, on July 31st, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1696, elevating the IAEA’s demand for Tehran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities legally binding for all member states. Tehran responded on August 22nd. On the one hand, it rejected the demand to suspend enrichment, but on the other hand, added that the resolution contained “elements which may be useful for a constructive approach.”
As a reply and for the first time, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737 on December 23rd, imposing sanctions on the lslamic Republic of Iran for its refusal to suspend its enrichment-related activities.
According to the resolution, states were prohibited from transferring sensitive nuclear-and missile-related technology to Tehran. Moreover, the states were obligated to freeze the assets of ten Iranian organizations and twelve individuals for their involvement in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
In 2007, Tehran continued to defy the international community. Thus, the UN Security Council again unanimously adopted Resolution 1747, demanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran suspend uranium enrichment. Three rounds of talks followed. These talks brought forth on August 21st, a so-called “work plan.” This work plan mandated that Tehran must answer specific and long-standing questions about its nuclear activities, including activities suspected of being related to nuclear weapons developments. To make the point, the Bush administration made public on December 3rd, an unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program. While stating “with high confidence” that Tehran stopped pursuing its nuclear weapons program approximately around the fall of 2003, it could not state with the same degree of confidence that Tehran had not resumed those activities as of mid-2007. More alarmingly, the National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the Islamic Republic of Iran was technically capable of producing sufficient quantities of weapon-grade
The year 2008 witnessed another UN Security Council Resolution. Resolution 1803, added new sanctions to the previous ones. Among its other provisions, it broadened the blacklist with seven new entities and thirteen more individuals. In conjunction with this resolution, the P5+1 states also proposed that Tehran shall freeze its enrichment activities in exchange for no more sanctions.
The year 2009 was a significant one for the international community. First, Tehran announced on February 2nd its successful launch of a satellite. On
September 25th, the Obama administration revealed the existence of a second secret uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, in the mountains near the holy city of Qom. On October 1st, the Obama administration agreed the supply 20% enriched uranium in exchange for Iran removing from the country the majority of its 3.5% enriched uranium. The so-called “fuel swap”, the stupid brainchild of the Obama administration, was never fully implemented by Iran.
The year 2010 saw the same old pattern. Tehran started to produce 20% enriched uranium on February 9th. On May 17th, diplomacy kicked in once more. A joint declaration by Brazil, Turkey, and the Islamic Republic of Iran tried to breathe fresh air into the old fuel swap proposal. The United States, France, and the Russian Federation rejected the proposal on the grounds that Tehran stockpiled more 3.5% enriched uranium than it is willing to give up and that Tehran systematically misled the IAEA, the UN Security Council, and everybody else concerning its additional enrichment activities. On June 9th, another UN Security Council resolution followed. Resolution 1929 significantly expanded sanctions against the theocratic regime. It also banned Tehran from nuclear-capable ballistic missile tests. Finally, the resolution imposed an arms embargo on the transfer of major weapons systems to Tehran. On June 24th, the U.S. Congress adopted the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, tightening U.S. sanctions against legal entities investing in Iran’s energy sector, and imposing new sanctions on legal entities that sold refined petroleum to Tehran. On July 26th, the European Union joined the United States by agreeing to impose its additional sanctions on Tehran. On September 16th, the Obama administration decided to act. The Stuxnet computer virus attacked the Natanz enrichment plant.
The year 2011 commenced on a negative note. The January 21st and 22nd meeting in Istanbul between the P5+1 group and the Islamic Republic of Iran ended without any real results, because the latter laid down two unacceptable conditions. First, Tehran demanded that the P5+1 group recognize its right to enrich uranium. Second, that sanctions must be lifted unconditionally. On May 8th, the Bushehr nuclear power plant started operations and, according to Russia’s Atomstroyexport, it successfully achieved a sustained chain reaction. On the same day, Tehran announced that it intends to triple the rate of 20% enriched uranium production, utilizing more advanced centrifuge designs. In addition, it declared that production will be shifted to the Fordow plant. On July 12, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief sent a letter to the chief negotiator of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saeed Jalili, proposing “meaningful discussions on concrete confidence building steps” to address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear “ambitions.” On November 8th, the IAEA published a report underlying the concerns of the organization about Tehran’s nefarious intentions. To wit, on the last day of the year, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to empower the federal government to sanction foreign banks doing business with the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The year 2012 began with a sour note for Tehran. The European Union decided in early January to ban all member states from importing Iranian oil, beginning on July 1, 2012. Moreover, the decision also barred member countries from providing the legal protection and indemnity insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil. The intervening months between March and August were spent on arduous negotiations between the P5+1 group and Tehran with barely any meaningful progress. In August, the IAEA highlighted the futility of diplomacy with Tehran. On the 30th of this month, it was reported that Tehran produced more 20% enriched uranium than was needed to fuel its research reactor. The IAEA upped the ante on November 16th, by stating that Tehran was busy installing more centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow.
The year 2013 was consumed by slowly progressing negotiations between the P5+1 group and the Islamic Republic of Iran at a variety of locations.
On January 9, and January 10, 2014, the member states of the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran met a third time in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, agreed upon on December 30-31, 2013, in the same place. As a result, the parties agreed that the implementation will begin on January 20th. Simultaneously, the IAEA certified that Tehran in compliance with the provisions of the Joint Plan of Action. Accordingly, the United States and the European Union waived the specific sanctions listed in the November 24, 2013, deal and also released a schedule of payments for Tehran to receive the oil money that various states withhold.
Subsequent meeting mainly in Vienna, Austria, between February and July 2014, involved negotiations concerning a comprehensive nuclear agreement. The rest of the year was consumed with more negotiations. In January 2015, negotiations continued in Geneva. In February, additional negotiations took place in Vienna.
Ominously enough, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opined in his speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress that any Iran deal “would all but guarantee that Iran gets (nuclear) weapons, lots of them.” In the same vein, Senator Tom Cotton of Kansas and forty five of his colleagues signed an open letter to the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They warned, as it turned out prophetically, their counterparts that any agreement reached without Congress’s approval could be revised by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
During the month of March, more negotiations took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. Finally, on April 2, 2015, the parties announced that they reached an agreement on the general framework of a comprehensive deal.
Again, the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that required the president to submit any agreement to Congress for a vote. This resolution was approved by the full Senate on May 7, 2015, by a vote of 98-1.
On July 14, 2015, the member states of the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran signed the nuclear deal, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria. Commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal or simply Iran Deal, it mainly dealt with enrichment-related activities. Tehran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium was reduced by 97%, from 10,000.00 kg to 300.00 kg. This reduction had to be maintained for fifteen years. For the same period, Tehran was ordered to limit its enrichment of uranium to 3.67%. Yet, after fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed. Moreover, for ten years Tehran must put two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, with enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. There, the centrifuges must be the type IR-1. The IR-2M centrifuges must be stored in Natanz and monitored by the IAEA. Finally, Tehran shall not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for the next fifteen years.
On the other hand, Tehran was allowed to continue its research and development work on enrichment, but only in Natanz. The Fordow facility was barred from enriching uranium for fifteen years.
To monitor the implementation of the JCPOA, a comprehensive and multilayered inspection regime was set up. However, prior to January 16, 2016, several exemptions were granted to Tehran that weakened from the get go the severity of the enrichment provisions.
Sanctions in the form of “snap back” provisions were also included in the JCPOA. Specifically, the deal established a “dispute resolution” process. Accordingly, a Joint Commission was created to monitor implementation. If the Joint Commission cannot resolve the dispute, the UN National Security Council had to be notified. Finally, future reinstatement of the sanctions allowed Tehran to leave the JCPOA altogether.
After fifteen years, Tehran will be free to do whatever it wants.
Criticism of the JCPOA both within Iran and in the rest of the world was instantaneous. Benjamin Netanyahu called the Iran nuclear deal a “historic mistake.” Addressing President Barack Obama he stated: “In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which is ongoing.” In the United States, criticism centered on ignoring Tehran’s ballistic missile program and the lack of provisions regarding the regime’s support for terrorist groups and organizations across the region. The $150 billion plus money transfer from the Obama administration
to Tehran in cash only strengthened opposition to the deal.
On October 13, 2015, the Iranian Parliament approved the deal. The next day, the Guardian Council ratified the JCPOA. Two days later, the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran formally adopted the JCPOA.
On October 21st, the United States raised Iran’s ballistic missile test as a possible violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 at a meeting of the Security Council.
On November 21st, Tehran tested another medium-range ballistic missile in clear violation of Resolution 1929.
On January 16, 2016, the IAEA verified that Tehran met its nuclear related responsibilities. On February 26th, the IAEA published its first quarterly report on Tehran’s post-implementation day nuclear activities. The report noted that Tehran met its general obligations with some minor deviations. However, missile launches continued unabated.
More ominously for the JCPOA, then Republican candidate Donald Trump stated at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference on March 21, 2016, that his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” After having been elected president on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump again labeled the JCPOA as the worst deal ever negotiated and pledged its renegotiation.
On January 28, 2017, Tehran test fired a medium-range ballistic missile, in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. On March 23rd, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, introduces the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its support of global terrorism. In spite of Democrat opposition, the full Senate passed the Act 98-2. On July 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3364, the Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act, which was designed to impose new sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia.
As the years have gone by, the JCPOA has turned out to be a great hoax. Its main objective to prevent Tehran from achieving military nuclearization within ten or even fifteen years could not have been accomplished. The reason for this was and is obvious. Tehran was building and operating many secret enrichment plants that were not included in the JCPOA, which only listed Natanz and Fordow. In this manner, Tehran has operated two nuclear programs: one for the gullible international community and a secret one that has continued to develop military nuclear capability unabated. For this reason, the IAEA quarterly statements concerning Tehran’s compliance with the limitations of the JCPOA were technically correct, but in reality absolutely meaningless. Clearly, President Obama and his administration intentionally fooled themselves, lied to the American people, and misled the entire international community.
Adding insult to injury, the JCPOA has never been a mutually ratified international treaty. The Obama administration did not even submit it to the U.S. Senate for ratification. According to U.S. as well as international law, the JCPOA has remained a nonbinding agreement among the signatory states.
Thus, President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018, based on what he termed as “Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program” was absolutely justified. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, maintaining the fiction of the JCPOA merely would have resulted in certain nuclearization of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The recent elimination of Qassem Soleimani, the resulting threats by Tehran to withdraw from the JCPOA, and the invocation of the dispute resolution process by Great Britain, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany were the last nails in the coffin of this fake and, therefore, useless agreement.
Legally, the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is much more significant. Based on this Treaty, Tehran is subject to all the limitations on its enrichment activities. Accordingly, Tehran cannot exceed enriching uranium to more than 5% U-235. Any violation of this limit will automatically trigger the intervention of the IAEA and the UN Security Council. Should Tehran repudiate the NPT, UN Security Council Resolution 1540 must be activated.
In this case, Tehran’s production of weapons-grade uranium must be considered as a “threat to international peace and security” pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter that calls for necessary actions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Throughout 2017, 2018, and 2019, Tehran’s noncompliance with its obligations under numerous UN resolutions, in particular Resolution 2216 respecting the prohibition of “direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer” of short-range ballistic missiles and other equipment to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, has become legendary. In addition, Tehran has continued to flaunt the JCPOA restrictions on the number and type of centrifuges that it was allowed to operate under the agreement. On September 7, 2019, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announced that technicians introduced UF6 to cascades of 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges, clearly exceeding the number of machines permitted in a cascade under the research and development terms of the JCPOA.
On September 16, 2019, cruise missiles and drones attacked a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (ARAMCO) facility in Abqaiq, eastern Saudi Arabia. The investigation launched after the strikes determined that the missiles and the drones were fired from Iranian territory. The rest of the year 2019, was filled with threats and lies by AyatollahKhamenei, President Rouhani, and Foreign Minister Zarifagainst the United States and President Trump personally.
Most recently, on January 15, 2020, PresidentRouhani made the announcement that his country now enriching uranium at a higher level than before. To wit, Ayatollah Khamenei, the real leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, just followed up with another provocative sermon on January 17, 2020. The so-called Supreme Leader praised the retaliatory strike against the United States and described all Americans as “clowns” who cannot be trusted. Reacting to the Iran-wide protests against the regime and him personally he mocked President Trump’s sympathy declaration for the Iranian people calling it a “poisoned dagger” into the back of the entire nation.
Without a doubt, the Mullahcracy in Tehran has been constituted from its inception as a theocratic dictatorship that uncompromisingly has been committed to foment permanent instability across the globe, especially in the greater Middle East and South-East Asia. Internally, the regime has established a ruthless and cruel oppression against its opponents and anybody else deemed to challenge and thus jeopardize the religious and cultural uniformity of the country. Internationally, the Mullahcracy has become the source of permanent instability in the greater Middle East and beyond. The timeline of recent events has demonstrated the increasing aggression of Tehran, which has been connected with the regime’s internal predicaments. The most recent attacks against American military installations and the shooting down of the Ukrainian civilian airplane have shown the increasing desperation of the Mullahs.
The more than forty years of Mullahcracy has demonstrated that the regime has been incapable of reforming itself. On the contrary. Even according to official Iranian statistics, in the year 2018 alone, more than 100,000 Iranians committed suicide, and many more were killed or executed. Tragically, 75% of the suicide victims were between the ages of fifteen and thirty four. These numbers show that the younger generation that comprises the majority of the population reject the religious, ideological, and political foundations of the theocratic regime. Clearly, the regime is increasingly incapable of suppressing the opposition by only applying ruthless terror. Since the fraudulent elections of 2009, the Islamic Republic of Iran has experienced six major nationwide uprisings. Now, the Iranians’ patience broke irreversibly. By discrediting itself in the eyes of the world, the bloody and corrupt Mullahcracy signed its own death warrant. With the exception of a minority that benefits from the all-pervasive corruption of the regime, nobody trusts and supports the Islamic Republic. Presently, even the resignation of the Ayatollah Khamenei will not pacify the Iranian people any more, because the reason for the rot of the regime is he himself.
More disappointingly, the Mullahs have shown total resistance of any moderation both domestically as well as internationally. Now, when the regime is bankrupt both ideologically and economically, the Ayatollah’s and his minions’ diminishing rule will surely be more ruthless at home and increasingly aggressive abroad. Under these circumstances, diplomacy definitely will not work. The only solution is to remove by any means this cancerous tumor from the international body politics. Nothing but total regime change will bring a permanently satisfactory solution for the Iranian nation and the rest of the world.
Column: And scores a victory against terrorism
The successful operation against Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, is a stunning blow to international terrorism and a reassertion of American might. It will also test President Trump’s Iran strategy. It is now Trump, not Ayatollah Khamenei, who has ascended a rung on the ladder of escalation by killing the military architect of Iran’s Shiite empire. For years, Iran has set the rules. It was Iran that picked the time and place of confrontation. No more.
Reciprocity has been the key to understanding Donald Trump. Whether you are a media figure or a mullah, a prime minister or a pope, he will be good to you if you are good to him. Say something mean, though, or work against his interests, and he will respond in force. It won’t be pretty. It won’t be polite. There will be fallout. But you may think twice before crossing him again.
That has been the case with Iran. President Trump has conditioned his policies on Iranian behavior. When Iran spread its malign influence, Trump acted to check it. When Iran struck, Trump hit back: never disproportionately, never definitively. He left open the possibility of negotiations. He doesn’t want to have the Greater Middle East—whether Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, or Afghanistan—dominate his presidency the way it dominated those of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. America no longer needs Middle Eastern oil. Best keep the region on the back burner. Watch it so it doesn’t boil over. Do not overcommit resources to this underdeveloped, war-torn, sectarian land.
The result was reciprocal antagonism. In 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by his predecessor. He began jacking up sanctions. The Iranian economy turned to shambles. This “maximum pressure” campaign of economic warfare deprived the Iranian war machine of revenue and drove a wedge between the Iranian public and the Iranian government. Trump offered the opportunity to negotiate a new agreement. Iran refused.
And began to lash out. Last June, Iran’s fingerprints were all over two oil tankers that exploded in the Persian Gulf. Trump tightened the screws. Iran downed a U.S. drone. Trump called off a military strike at the last minute and responded indirectly, with more sanctions, cyber attacks, and additional troop deployments to the region. Last September a drone fleet launched by Iranian proxies in Yemen devastated the Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. Trump responded as he had to previous incidents: nonviolently.
Iran slowly brought the region to a boil. First it hit boats, then drones, then the key infrastructure of a critical ally. On December 27 it went further. Members of the Kataib Hezbollah militia launched rockets at a U.S. installation near Kirkuk, Iraq. Four U.S. soldiers were wounded. An American contractor was killed.
Destroying physical objects merited economic sanctions and cyber intrusions. Ending lives required a lethal response. It arrived on December 29 when F-15s pounded five Kataib Hezbollah facilities across Iraq and Syria. At least 25 militiamen were killed. Then, when Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias organized a mob to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, setting fire to the grounds, America made a show of force and threatened severe reprisals. The angry crowd melted away.
The risk to the U.S. embassy—and the possibility of another Benghazi—must have angered Trump. “The game has changed,” Secretary of Defense Esper said hours before the assassination of Soleimani at Baghdad airport. Indeed, it has. The decades-long gray-zone conflict between Iran and the United States manifested itself in subterfuge, terrorism, technological combat, financial chicanery, and proxy forces. Throughout it all, the two sides confronted each other directly only once: in the second half of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. That is about to change.
Deterrence, says Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, is credibly holding at risk something your adversary holds dear. If the reports out of Iraq are true, President Trump has put at risk the entirety of the Iranian imperial enterprise even as his maximum pressure campaign strangles the Iranian economy and fosters domestic unrest. That will get the ayatollah’s attention. And now the United States must prepare for his answer.
The bombs over Baghdad? That was Trump calling Khamenei’s bluff. The game has changed. But it isn’t over.
by David Rutz • Washington Free Beacon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of having a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran for its illicit nuclear weapons program during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
Netanyahu castigated what he called “inaction” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog, in the face of Israeli intelligence about Iranian clandestine nuclear work, adding that he would reveal a new finding to the world by Israel in its battle to keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions at bay. Continue reading
By Peter Roff • RealClearPolitics
The relationship with Kuwait should be one of the United States’ strongest, but it is starting to fray. There’s still time to set it right, and the Kuwaiti Emir’s visit to Washington last week was a good start. Meanwhile, however, investors remain on edge, as they have been ever since officials in this Gulf state froze millions of dollars in American and international assets without any clear explanation.
Candidly, there’s a lot going on in Kuwait that’s suspect. The regime seems to be cozying up to Iran and China, officials have made remarks about Israel that are just short of incendiary, and corruption surrounding the delivery of supplies to U.S. troops stationed there has been highly disruptive. Americans, it seems to me, have the right to expect better from those whom they saved by leading an international intervention after their country was invaded by Saddam Hussein.
It seems instead that much has changed since President Donald Trump hosted Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah last year and hailed the countries’ bilateral relationship, calling it as strong as it had ever been. Indeed, the country continues to be a key regional security partner with 20,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
Recently though, officials in the Kuwaiti government seem to have gone to great lengths to offend America’s allies and get close to our adversaries. Their outspoken defense of the Palestinians inside the U.N. Security Council has undermined the White House’s effort to make peace and has caused problems for Israel. The United States was even forced to veto a Kuwaiti-drafted resolution calling for the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. officials are fighting against a recently filed lawsuit by Iran in the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, that seeks to block the imposition of harsh new sanctions on Iran by the Trump administration, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Iranian officials launched a formal complaint with the ICJ, a legal body established by the United Nations to adjudicate disagreements between member nations, against the United States earlier this month, alleging the reimposition of harsh new sanctions on Iran by the Trump administration violates international treaties created as a result of the landmark nuclear agreement.
Iran’s lawsuit is reportedly gaining traction at the ICJ, which sent an official letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week urging him and the Trump administration to hold off on new sanctions amid an economic collapse in Iran that has ignited popular protests across the country. Continue reading
After almost four decades of ruthless oppression of the Iranian people, the indiscriminate terrorization of the greater Middle East and beyond, the absolute reign of the Shi’a Mullahs is nearing to its well deserved inglorious end. Bleeding from multiple, mostly self-inflicted wounds, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as envisioned by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini, has turned out to be an unviable hybrid – neither Islamic nor Republican.
To the eternal embarrassment of God, the existing Constitution implies that it has been given the Iranian nation by the Almighty God Himself: “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful” intones the first sentence of the Preamble. In a follow-up provision God appears to speak directly to the devouts: “We have sent Our Apostles with veritable signs and brought down with them scriptures and scales of justice, so that men might conduct themselves with fairness.” Accordingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a perfect political regime, because it is religiously correct. Yet, in spite of God’s so-called direct assurances, justice and fairness have not been the guiding principles of the Iranian Mullahcracy.
As every revolution before the Iranian of January 1979, the establishment and the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been analyzed and interpreted ad nauseum from both political and emotional perspectives. Yet, perhaps the most poignant verdict came from the late President Anwar Sadat who in a remarkable speech before the Egyptian People’s Assembly in 1981 compared the Iran of pre-1979 to the post-1979 era. In his speech he pointed out that under the Shah Iran imported one-third of its food supply from Israel and earned $250 million from oil exports daily. Two years into the Mullahcracy the regime struggled to feed the people and the latter could only obtain fuel on their personal ID cards.
From its inception, the regime has relied on extreme violence against its own people for the sole purpose of retaining absolute power. Having showed no mercy even for children as young as twelve years of age, the regime has executed during its almost four decades of existence tens of thousands of Iranians and foreigners. All this internal terror has been based on Khomeini’s sick rhetoric
that differentiates among three foundations: theocratic power embodied in the doctrine of Velayat-e-Faqih, Islamic ideology corrupted by Marxist and Bolshevik dogmas, and spiritualism based on discrimination between the Shi’a Muslims who follow the correct Islam and the misguided masses who adhere to the satanic ways of disbelief, such as the Sunni Muslims, the Jews, and the Christian powers and their allies. In Khomeini’s political and religious dictionary the righteous Shi’a Muslims have been the oppressed victims of both the East and the West. In one of his frequent public speeches he said: “….when we say we want to export our revolution, we mean we want to export the spirituality that dominates Iran…. We shall export Islam when we assist Islam and Islamic ethics grow in every country.” In other words, Khomeinism called for global and permanent revolution in the mode of Leo Trotzki, one of the leading Russian Bolsheviks, a century ago.
A simple examination of the Iranian Constitution shows that the only real authority resides in a single person, namely the Leader, also called the Imam. He possesses all the powers of a despot. He plans and sets the policies of the Islamic Republic. He is the Supreme Supervisor of implementing those policies. He issues decrees, declares war and peace, is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, appoints, dismisses and retires the clerics of the Council of Guardians. He is the Supreme Judicial Authority. He is the head of the radio and television. He is the Leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He can dismiss the elected President of the Islamic Republic. Finally, he has the power of pardons. In summary, the Leader is an unelected, absolute potentate whose status makes a mockery of all the fake democratic institutions of the theocratic state, such as the Council of Guardians, the National Exigency Council, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, also known as the Majlis, etc. For these reasons, the President and all the seemingly august institutions of the Islamic Republic have no more power than any unelected or unappointed non-governmental body or any ordinary citizen.
Indeed, Khomeini sought political legitimacy of his earthly religious kingdom in two conflicting principles – one religious and one political. While he declared God the sole sovereign, he claimed himself the monopoly to be self-appointed as God’s omnipotent earthly despot. This clearly is an inadmissible contradiction. Moreover, the subjects who are forced to live under such an inadmissible contradiction, constantly feel that their intelligence and morality are insulted daily. The problem for the regime
has been that it could not disguise itself any more from the critical eyes of the majority of Iranians, because the latter have discovered the Mullahcracy’s real nature. A terrible situation in which the incurable agony of the regime causes the people to seek redemption in no-holds-barred violent revolts.
Violent eruptions by the oppressed masses in Iran have been the ever present hallmarks of the Mullahcracy’s reign since its very inception. Indeed, Khomeini’s Iran has never known peace and stability. The ubiquitous restlessness and ever present anger, not only against the Mullahs and their coterie, but also against Khomeini and his successor Khamenei, have established a chain reaction of official terror and public counter terror across Iran. Clearly, both Khomeini and Khamenei have been accused as the individuals almost exclusively responsible for the many miseries of the Iranian people. They have been the despots who have designed the ruinous scheme of foreign interventions that have demanded the lives of hundreds of thousands and that have pushed the Iranian economy to the brink of bankruptcy. To wit, they also have been instrumental of transforming the country into a living cemetery. It has been in this general atmosphere of mutual hatred that the 2009 and the currently ongoing riots have shown that the Mullahcracy has lost its quest for the hearts and minds of the people. What is left appears to be nothing but a political, religious, spiritual, cultural, economic, and financial vacuum that cannot be filled by lies, idiotic accusations, and blind terror any more.
Khomeini’s invention of Velayat-e-Faqih is for all practical purposes dead. The odor of its stinking corpse has contaminated the air throughout the Middle East. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the Gaza strip are dying too. Meanwhile, the appeasement policies of the Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and particularly Obama administrations have ended in spectacular failures. Collectively, these presidents have learned nothing from the disastrous Munich Agreement of 1938. As the West betrayed the countries that they created in 1918 in Versailles, the totally incompetent former President Barack Hussein Obama abandoned the United States’ friends in the pursuit of an idiotic utopia with a denuclearized Iran.
Over a millennium ago, a Persian by the name of Jabir Ibn Hayyan penned a book with the title “Book of Stones.” In it he claimed to have created by a secret script and even more secret codes a human-like, artificial creature called “homunculus.” Following the Shi’a dogma of takiya, which roughly translates to concealment, the author hoped to mislead everybody, but those Shi’a Muslims who truly believed in Allah. Throughout the next centuries his version of takiya has taken on a life of its own to be resurrected in the late 20th century by the Mullahcracy. While the Islamic Republic of Iran is a militarily weak economically exhausted, and financially bankrupt regime, its leaders pretend that their country is the hegemon of the greater Middle East. Yet, the only area that they enjoy an advantage is in employing terrorist and paramilitary tactics.
Facing unending nationwide protests, the Mullahs are in a state of extreme panic. For this reason alone appeasement is not an option. The anti-Shah movements of 1978 and 1979 were about the establishment of a Republic based on justice and freedom. In Khomeini’s Mullahcracy there is neither justice nor freedom. Therefore, the Iranian people must be assisted in their attempt to accomplish the noble objectives of the pre-Mullahcracy era.
By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling on America to “make guns illegal” in light of deadly shootings that have taken place across the United States, according to comments made by the Iranian leader over the week.
Khamenei, who has instructed his government to spend billions of dollars on military hardware and ballistic missiles, lashed out at the United States over the weekend, calling on America to ban all guns in light of a series of domestic shootings.
“No one dares apply the clear solution to the promotion of guns and homicide in America. What’s the solution? It’s to make guns illegal,” Khamenei wrote on Twitter. Continue reading
By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Iran announced on Monday that it has begun mass-producing a new weaponized drone that carries smart bombs capable of precision strikes, according to the Islamic Republic’s military leaders.
Iran, which has engaged in a massive military buildup since receiving billions of dollars in cash windfalls as a result of the landmark nuclear deal, says that these advanced new drones will be delivered to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, which has been coordinating war efforts across the Middle East, including most controversially in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces have attacked U.S. troops.
The new drones, dubbed the Mohajer 6, are “equipped with the smart Qa’em precision-striking bombs and different electro-optical explorers and different warheads, [and] can trace, intercept and Continue reading
By Babak Dehghanpisheh • Reuters
Iran put a ballistic missile on display as thousands marched on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy, with a senior official accusing President Donald Trump of a “crazy” return to confrontation with Tehran.
Turnout for the annual Iranian street rallies commemorating the embassy takeover, a pivotal event of the Islamic Revolution, appeared higher than in recent years when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama pursued detente with Tehran.
Last month, Trump broke ranks with European allies, Russia and China by refusing to re-certify Iran’s compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reached during Obama’s tenure. Under that deal, most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing nuclear activity seen to pose a risk of being put to developing atomic bombs. Continue reading
By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Iran is on the pathway to fully restarting its contested nuclear weapons program due to insufficient international inspections of its military sites and caveats in the landmark nuclear deal that permit it to reengage in nuclear enrichment work within the next several years, according to experts who testified Wednesday before Congress.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to preserve the agreement and focus on more aggressive enforcement. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The United States faces a growing threat of ballistic and cruise missiles from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, according to a military intelligence report.
“Ballistic and cruise missiles present a significant threat to U.S. and allied forces overseas, and to the United States and its territories,” states the latest report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Ohio.
The report warns that both China and Russia are expanding their force of strategic nuclear missiles with new multi-warhead weapons.
North Korea now has three intercontinental-range missiles and is moving ahead with a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Continue reading
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
An Iranian citizen identified as a senior member of the country’s Basij military force was caught trying to enter the United States posing as a cancer researcher, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation who told the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration should begin investigating how the individual was granted a U.S. visa in the first place.
Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, who has been identified as a member of Iran’s highly vetted volunteer Basij force, was turned away from entering the United States at Boston’s Logan Airport.
Sources familiar with the situation said that Dehnavi is billing himself as a medical researcher and was to assume residency at a Boston-based hospital. He was detained earlier this week at Logan Airport along with his family and later sent back to Iran. Continue reading
In January 2016, the Obama administration released seven Iranian-born prisoners in what President Barack Obama called a “one-time” “humanitarian gesture” intended to sweeten the nuclear deal hammered out between Washington, D.C., and Tehran. The prisoners — who Josh Earnest insisted were guilty only of “sanctions violations or violations of the trade embargo” — were exchanged for five Americans, unjustly held by Iran since as early as 2011. In fact, some of the Iranian prisoners were national-security threats, and it wasn’t a straight prisoner swap: The Wall Street Journal revealed that on the day of the exchange the U.S. flew $400 million in cash on an unmarked cargo plane to Iran.
When it came to its negotiations with Iran, duplicity was the hallmark of the previous administration’s public statements. (Sanctimonious preening was a close second.) But supporters assured skeptics that the administration was acting in the country’s best national-security interests. Now comes a new bombshell investigation that shows the lengths to which the previous administration went to secure Iranian cooperation, even when it meant putting American security at risk. Continue reading
By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the landmark nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup meant to transform the Islamic Republic’s fighting force into an “offensive” juggernaut, according to a largely unreported announcement by Iranian military leaders that has sparked concern among U.S. national security insiders and sources on Capitol Hill.
Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran’s defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it “a forward moving force,” according to regional reports.
Iranian leaders have stated since the Iran deal was enacted that they are using the massive amounts of cash released under the agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments. Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were nixed as part of the deal. Continue reading