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  • Masoud Dalvand 8:51 am on July 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    New US Sanctions Blacklist Iran’s IRGC 

    WASHINGTON, DC — APRIL 05: Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during a news conference discussing new legislation on U.S. policy toward Russia April 5, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. U.S. Also pictured is Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

    By Heshmat Alavi

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday placing new sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. This follows a similar version adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate in a 98–2 vote last month.

    The House resolution, however, faced a more peculiar road even riddled with obstacles. Fortunately, the overwhelming 419 to three vote in favor of this bill, the bipartisan Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act (H.R.3364) has made it veto proof. Despite the fact of alterations made in the initial text, all glitches have been set aside to gain White House consent.

    “The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), not just the IRGC Quds Force, is responsible for implementing Iran’s international program of destabilizing activities, support for acts of international terrorism and ballistic missiles,” the House Resolution text reads in part.

    This development is a devastating blow to Tehran and a major success for the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

    https://twitter.com/Maryam_Rajavi/status/890533063599509504

    Calls for regime change in Iran and support for the NCRI have been gaining unprecedented weight in Washington, leaving Iran’s mullahs utterly terrified.

    Iran has been found “threatening U.S. national security and undermining global stability with a range of aggressive acts” through ballistic missile tests, supporting terrorist organizations and meddling in the internal affairs of other states. The House bill is calling for political and economic measures to place Iran before accountability.

    This resolution can fundamentally be considered the blacklisting of Iran’s IRGC as the criteria imposes mirroring restrictions, and at times goes even further.

    The IRGC will be placed on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists following these procedures becoming law and US President Donald Trump taking the engagements necessary. The following is a list of the actions stated in this House resolution:

    • All assets and property in the US belonging to IRGC-linked individuals and entities will be frozen.
    • No American individual or entity has the right to establish financial, business, services or other affiliations with any individuals directly or indirectly associated to the IRGC.
    • No American individual or entity has the right to violate these sanctions through intermediaries or bypassing these procedures.
    • All individuals and entities having any relations with the IRGC must be sanctioned. Considering the fact that the IRGC officially enjoy a variety of connections and associations, this will effectively be paralyzing for Iran. One such example is the IRGC Khatam al-Anbiya group that is currently cooperating with more than 2,500 economic firms. All these companies will be sanctioned, rendering any relations with them illegal.
    • As these measures place the IRGC under secondary banking sanctions, practically no financial institution will be permitted to provide direct and/or indirect banking services to IRGC-linked individuals and entities. No foreign bank will cooperate with any Iranian entity that is in any way related to the IRGC and/or its affiliated entities.

    These sweeping arrangements follow the NCRI’s annual convention held on July 1st in Paris this year with senior American figures such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling for even more drastic moves against Iran.

    “It is long past time to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization. They on their hands the blood of so many of your people, and they have on their hands the blood of my people, too, whom they helped to kill in Iraq. We should declare them a terrorist organization so we can cut them off support around the world,” Giuliani said in his speech at the NCRI event.

    Through Iran’s perspective, these new methods are the “mother of all sanctions,” as described by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Keyhan daily, considered the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This sheds light on the significant political impact of these sanctions for Tehran.

    These new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is blueprinting its comprehensive Iran policy, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis both mentioning regime change in recent remarks.

    These actions are the building blocks for the next vital steps necessary for Washington and the international community:

    • Officially designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization,
    • Standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized opposition, represented by the NCRI, to realize regime change in Tehran.

    Originally published at http://www.forbes.com on July 26, 2017.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:32 am on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    First New Iran Regime Sanctions Since Nuclear Deal Passed 

    The bill also sanctions anyone associated with(IRGC) or anyone whom the US determines is complicit in Iranian human rights violations

    IRAN, 25 July 2017The bill also sanctions anyone associated with Iran regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)

    To impose additional sanctions on Iran’s defense sector, The House voted 419-3 (25 July 2017) moving the bill forward to be approved by President Trump.

    While there are some slight modifications to the bill’s sanctions on Russia, the language on Iran is undistinguishable to the version the Senate passed 98-2 in June. Like its Senate counterpart, the House bill would block the assets of any individual who works with Iran on its ballistic missile program or sells it arms.

    The bill also sanctions anyone associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) or anyone whom the US determines is complicit in Iranian human rights violations. Anyone sanctioned under the act may be removed after a five-year review.

    Although the Senate had already voted in favor of the sanctions package on June 15 by 98-2, the House has tacked an additional set of provisions sanctioning North Korea onto the bill, forcing the upper chamber to vote once more. The House has already passed the North Korea sanctions separately by a vote of 419-1, but the Senate has not yet taken it up.

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., negotiated with the House over the weekend alongside the committee’s ranking member, Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., to reach consensus.

    Corker stated: while the Senate is close to approving the House package, the addition of the North Korea sanctions could cause further delays before the long-awaited sanctions finally make their way to the White House.

    “We’re about there,” Corker told reporters. “It depends on a couple of things we’re looking at on the North Korea piece, so it’s not fully worked out. … We’re talking through some procedural issues right now, but we had a very good weekend and are very, very close to having it fully resolved.”

    Nonetheless, Senate Democrats are eager to vote on the sanctions and deliver it to the president before the August recess.

    “It is critical that the Senate act promptly on that legislation,” said Schumer. “I will work with the majority leader to ensure its swift passage so that we can get it to the president’s desk before we leave for the recess.”

    The White House is supportive of taking a harder line against Iran but had initially opposed the bill as it would require Congress to approve any removal of sanctions on Russia. However, the White House changed its tune over the weekend with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying, “The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place.”

    And while president Trump has twice certified that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, most recently last week, he only did so after a lengthy internal debate inside the administration.

    Foreign Policy reported last week that Trump has asked his aides to make a credible case for declining to recertify that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. The administration must certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA every 90 days

    Source: First New Iran Regime Sanctions Since Nuclear Deal Passed

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:01 pm on July 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    The Right Solution For Iran Is Not War 

    Iranian military trucks carry surface-to-air missiles during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    By Heshmat Alavi

    We are at a critical juncture in our time in history. The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has entered now its third year.

    As the Trump White House is pending its Iran policy there is increasing support for regime change. All the while the Iran appeasement camp are boosting their efforts of claiming any firm policy on Tehran will lead to war. The question is do the measures professed by this party truly prevent war?

    When Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) recently held its annual convention in Paris, with Trump “emissaries” such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking powerfully of regime change in Iran. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton went as far as declaring the Iranian regime will not witness its 40th anniversary in February 2019.

    In response, Iran and its lobbies in the West, terrified of such a surge behind the NCRI as the sole alternative able to bring about true change in Iran, have not remained silent. Iran apologists are yet again seen resorting to the old tactic of warning about a new war in the Middle East.

    For decades now pro-Iranian regime writers have cautioned against adopting a firm policy on Tehran, allowing the mullahs’ regime to plunge the entire Middle East into havoc.

    As we speak Iraq, Syria and Yemen are in ruins thanks to Iran’s support of proxy elements fueling sectarian conflicts and deadly civil wars.

    The war in Afghanistan has yet to finalize after 16 years, and reports continue of Iran supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in this country.

    Lebanon has yet to witness political stability in decades as Iran continues to funnel millions of dollars and arms to its offspring, the Hezbollah, brought to life by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) back in 1982.

    Many other Arab countries can follow suit after Kuwait expelled Iran’s ambassador and more than a dozen other “diplomats” from its soil based on espionage charges.

    But of course, the Iran apologists conveniently consider such matters as irrelevant or at best second hand. These very Iran lobbyists are the actual warmongers as their efforts have provided Tehran the opportunity to bring upon utter devastation to all Middle East nations.

    Pat Buchanan in a Townhall piece argues, “After Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, would America and the world be well-served by a war with Iran that could explode into a Sunni-Shiite religious war across the Middle East?”

    Neglected here is the passivity encouraged by such Iran-apologists has actually empowered Tehran. The end result has been Iran engulfing Iraq and Syria into a horrific abyss of Shiite militias massacring innocent Sunni civilians.

    Former MEP Struan Stevenson sheds light on such an unfortunate phenomenon.

    “800,000 people have been rendered homeless from Mosul alone, millions when you count the refugees who fled from Ramadi and Fallujah. Thousands of innocent Sunni civilians have been killed, and tens of thousands among them were injured,” he wrote in a recent Al Arabiya article.

    There is no question that the 2003 Iraq war was a strategic mistake. Yet why do Iran-apologists, again conveniently, neglect another drastic error of Obama prematurely pulling all US troops out of Iraq in 2011? This left the fledgling state of Iraq at the hands of wolves, being Iran, its puppet, former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Shiite proxies and death squads.

    We simply cannot deny the fact that al-Maliki in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, all supported financially and logistically by Iran, paved the path for the rise of ISIS. They massacred Syria’s Sunnis, parallel to Maliki’s crackdown of the Iraq’s Sunni minority. This allowed ISIS to spread, and first in Iraq and Syria, and thus throughout the Middle East, Europe and beyond.

    The regime in Iran actually benefited extremely from the rise of ISIS to claim legitimate its involvement in Iraq and Syria through Shiite proxy groups.

    Again, as Iran-apologists across the board in the US and Europe encouraged engagement and rapprochement with Tehran, climaxing unprecedentedly during Obama’s tenure, Iran’s mullahs continued their killing spree across the region.

    Looking back at the past several years, one can dare to accuse these Iran-apologists of paving the path for Tehran to legitimize its horrific killing sprees, and causing a horrible number of deaths. Can we not accuse them of warmongering?

    These Iranian lobbyists, including Trita Parsi, head of the so-called “National Iranian American Council”, raise the flag of war being bad for business, and thus cheering diplomacy to encourage business. Yet he neglects Iran’s own warmongering in the Middle East.

    All said and done, with the Trump administration seriously weighing regime change as policy vis-à-vis Iran, the international community sees before it the opportunity to finally adopt the right policy on Iran.

    Engagement has failed. Wars in the Middle East have been disastrous. We do not want to go down that road in regards to Iran. And there is no need.

    The Iranian people and their organized opposition, the NCRI, are more than capable of toppling the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. This organization has everything in place and seek only the international community to recognize their struggle and end the disastrous Iran appeasement approach. A course correction vis-a-vis Iran policy regarding is needed, too, in order for the people of Iran and their opposition to take on the rest.

    Originally published at http://www.forbes.com on July 24, 2017.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:40 pm on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Has The Iran Nuclear Deal Changed Anything After Two Years? 

    July 14th marks two years of a controversial nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), brokered between the international community, represented by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – and Germany, with Iran.

    Where are we now? Has Iran changed for the better? Or has Tehran taken advantage of the Obama administration’s concessions to further advance their domestic crackdown, foreign meddling and nuclear/ballistic missile programs?

    We are now at a crucial juncture. The Trump administration is currently weighing all options, including regime change, in their evaluation of a comprehensive Iran policy. As wars in various countries and appeasement with Iran have all proved disastrous, regime change by supporting the Iranian people and their organized opposition is the best viable option.

    The pro-deal camp described Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “reformist” and decided to neglect the massive wave of executions launched during his first tenure. The Iran nuclear deal gave a green light to Tehran, leading to over 3,000 executions during Rouhani’s first term as president.

    Despite all the naive expectations in Rouhani’s second term, there are reports of increasing executions. This month alone 57 prisoners have been sent to the gallows.

    View image on Twitter

    The regime in Iran is fearing a repeat of widespread protests mirroring those seen rocking its very pillars back in 2009. In response, Iranian regime security forces are seen raiding homes of a long slate of political and human rights activists in Iran, most specifically those supporting the main opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

    This YouTube video shows a brave Iranian activists declaring “My Vote is Regime Change” on May 19th when the regime held its elections.

    Rest assured Iran will ramp up its domestic crackdown as rifts in its senior hierarchy continue to deepen. To add insult to Iran’s injury, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned his support for regime change through backing domestic opposition at a June 14th congressional hearing.

    Looking abroad, Iran took advantage of the nuclear deal to first convince Russia to launch its Syria campaign in September 2015 and provide the air support needed to help prop up the Bashar Assad dictatorship. Prolonged death and destruction resulted as Syria is bearing nearly half a million dead and over 12 million internally and externally displaced.

    Iraq has also seen the wrath of Iran’s foreign intervention. Under the pretext of the fight against ISIS and the US-led coalition providing air coverage, Tehran’s proxies are literally changing the social fabric of Iraq’s Sunni provinces.

    ISIS may have been defeated in Iraq, but the battle to establish stability and true Iraqi sovereignty has only just begun. Iran’s influence runs deep in this country despite the US spending $3 trillion of its resources, and thanks to Obama’s premature troop departure handing over Baghdad to Tehran in a silver plate.

    Yemen and Iran’s support for the Houthi proxies is no better story. As Obama focused solely on preserving his legacy-defining nuclear deal with Iran, the mullahs continued to support the Houthis financially, logistically and with crucial arms supplies. The country will not see peace unless a strong will is adopted to end Tehran’s deadly involvement.

    Iran’s mullahs have also been fast advancing their ballistic missile program, all in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Knowing the Obama administration would fail in taking any punishing actions, Tehran carried out numerous test launches after the Iran nuclear deal signing and continued to do so after Obama left office.

    The Trump administration has slapped three rounds of sanctions against Iran. In one instance Tehran cancelled plans for one missile test launch. The mullahs need these test launches to maintain face and curb many internal issues amongst its already dwindling social base.

    Moreover, Tehran’s ballistic missiles have become a leverage to threaten the Middle East. As North Korea continues its ballistic missile advances, a possible trade between Pyongyang and Tehran could be devastating for future regional stability and possibly even world peace.

    “And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse. Their continued violations of the agreement; their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles only continues to grow… North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well simply by signing a check,” said John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN at a recent Iranian opposition rally in Paris.

    Reports also indicate Iran is continuing to focus activities with the objective of obtaining nuclear weapons.

    In a recent publication the state of Hamburg in Germany reports “there is no evidence of a complete about-face in Iran’s atomic polices in 2016” [after the Islamic Republic signed the JCPOA deal with Western powers in 2015, aimed at restricting Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief]. Iran sought missile carrier technology necessary for its rocket program.”

    For the road ahead, the Trump administration should adopt a firm policy of first inflicting the true nature of strict measures implemented in the JCPOA, especially the tough inspections of all facilities and holding Tehran in violation without any reservation.

    GOP Senators have made a call on President Trump to find Iran in non-compliance with the nuclear accord. Tehran has enjoyed far too much time to cheat its way around the deal and Washington should bring an end to this.

    Targeting the core entity responsible for these measures is key. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is involved in domestic crackdown, foreign meddling and the mullahs’ nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. To this end, designating this entity as a foreign terrorist organization is long overdue.

    Finally, the Trump administration should lead the international community to first bring an end to the highly flawed appeasement policy with Iran. This will lead to the world standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized opposition movement, symbolized in the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in bringing about true change in order to establish freedom, democracy and a non-nuclear Iran peacefully coexisting with all its neighboring countries.

     

    via Has The Iran Nuclear Deal Changed Anything After Two Years? — Iran Commentary

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:17 pm on July 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    OPINION | Trump must withdraw from Iran nuclear deal – now 

    BY JOHN R. BOLTON

    For the second time during the Trump administration, the State Department has reportedly decided to certify that Iran is complying with its 2015 nuclear deal with the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”).

    If true, it will be the administration’s second unforced error regarding the JCPOA. Over the past two years, considerable information detailing Tehran’s violations of the deal have become public, including: exceeding limits on uranium enrichment and production of heavy water; illicit efforts at international procurement of dual-use nuclear and missile technology; and obstructing international inspection efforts (which were insufficient to begin with).

    Since international verification is fatally inadequate, and our own intelligence far from perfect, these violations undoubtedly only scratch the surface of the ayatollahs’ inexhaustible mendaciousness.

    Certification is an unforced error because the applicable statute (the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, or “INARA”) requires neither certifying Iranian compliance nor certifying Iranian noncompliance. Paula DeSutter and I previously explained that INARA requires merely that the Secretary of State (to whom President Obama delegated the task) “determine…whether [he] is able to certify” compliance (emphasis added). The secretary can satisfy the statute simply by “determining” that he is not prepared for now to certify compliance and that U.S. policy is under review.

    This is a policy of true neutrality while the review continues. Certifying compliance is far from neutral. Indeed, it risks damaging American credibility should a decision subsequently be made to abrogate the deal.

    Beyond the procedural question, however, is the importance of swiftly resolving the underlying policy gridlock. President Trump has repeatedly made clear his view that the Iran deal was a diplomatic debacle. It is not renegotiable, as some argue, because there is no chance that Iran, designated by Ronald Reagan as a state sponsor of terrorism in January 1984, will agree to any serious changes. Why should it? President Obama gave them unimaginably favorable terms, and there is no reason to think China and Russia will do us any favors revising them.

    Accordingly, withdrawing from the JCPOA as soon as possible should be the highest priority. The administration should stop reviewing and start deciding. Even assuming, contrary to fact, that Iran is complying with the JCPOA, it remains palpably harmful to American national interests. It should not have taken six months to reach this conclusion. Well before Jan. 20, we saw 18 months of Iranian noncompliance and other hostile behavior as evidence. The Trump transition team should have identified abrogating the deal as one of the incoming administration’s highest policy priorities.

    Within the Trump administration, JCPOA supporters contend that rejecting the deal would harm the United States by calling into question our commitment to international agreements generally. There is ominous talk of America “not living up to its word.”

    This is nonsense. The president’s primary obligation is to keep American citizens safe from foreign threats. Should President George W. Bush have kept the United States in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, rather than withdraw to allow the creation of a limited national missile-defense shield to protect against rogue-state nuclear attacks? Was Washington’s “commitment” to the ABM Treaty more important than protecting innocent civilians from nuclear attacks by the ayatollahs or North Korea’s Kim family dictatorship?

    Similarly, President Bush directed that we unsign the treaty creating the International Criminal Court because we had no intention of ever becoming a party. Was he also wrong to extricate American service members and intelligence personnel — not to mention ordinary citizens — from the risk of arbitrary, unjustified and politically motivated ICC detention and prosecution?

    Of course, the answer is “no.” The president would be derelict in his duty if he failed to put the interests of U.S. citizens first, rather than worrying about “the international community” developing a case of the vapors. The Trump administration itself has already shown the courage of its convictions by withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. Compared to that, abrogating the JCPOA is a one-inch putt.

    We must also urgently reassess the available intelligence on issues like joint Iranian-North Korea nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, free from the Obama administration’s political biases. Cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang is deep and long-standing. North Korea’s July 4 ICBM launch should cause greater interest in the implications for Iran.

    Much of the current JCPOA debate would be strategically irrelevant if, as seems virtually certain, the ayatollahs can send a wire transfer to Kim Jung-un to purchase whatever capability North Korea develops.

    In years past, appreciation for the Iranian and North Korean threats has invariably been enhanced by greater public awareness of what was at stake. One useful suggestion to that end was made here last week by the Wisconsin Project’s Valerie Lincy. She advocated declassifying the fourth semi-annual report (also required by INARA) specifying incidents of Iranian non-compliance, the first from the Trump administration.

    With appropriate protections for intelligence sources and methods, making this report public would undoubtedly help increase public awareness of Iran’s continuing progress, and thereby inform the broader policy debate.

    In the last six months, Iran has made six more months of progress toward posing a mortal threat to America and its allies, and now totals two years since the JCPOA was agreed. This U.S. approach is both dangerous and unnecessary. Care to bet how close Tehran — and North Korea — now are? Consider the costs of betting wrong.

    John R. Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.

    The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.


    Originally published at thehill.com on July 16, 2017.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 5:47 pm on June 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran’s Impasse and the “Sanctions Black Hole” 

    By Shahriar Kia

    My article originally posted on Practical Politicking

    The current plan for sanctions against Iran leaves the regime between a proverbial rock and hard place since its choices are complied or die.

    The adoption of “Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017” by the United States Senate has rendered a variety of reactions from Iran resembling the terrified status of the regime’s senior ranks. Iranian media have widely referred to this new bill and the resulting authorizations as the “mother of all sanctions” and the “sanctions black hole.”

    “Section 5 of this bill is related to new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). This new bill is dubbed the ‘sanctions black hole’ considering the fact that based on Executive Order 13224, any individual providing services to an identified organization in this Executive Order, that individual or his/her entity will be placed on the US sanctions list or the SDN… with the adoption and implementation of this bill, we can forecast that a few thousand individuals will be placed in the SDN sanctions list…,” according to IRGC-affiliated semi-official Fars news agency.

    Continue reading:  via  Iran’s Impasse and the “Sanctions Black Hole” — Iran Liberty

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:43 pm on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , US Senate Resolution   

    Understanding The New Iran Sanctions 

    By Heshmat Alavi

    By Heshmat Alavi   

    Acting as a major wake up call for Iran, the US Senate on Thursday sent a strong message to the mullahs through a bill fit to place new sanctions targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile program, its support for regional and global terrorism and human rights violations.

    Experts have noted the powerful nature of these new measures and analysts close to the Iranian regime have dubbed this measure as the “mother of all sanctions.”

    Foad Izadi, a known Iranian intelligence figure, in a recent interview reflected on the depth of this advantage and described the nuclear sanctions as child’s play in comparison.

    When we place these new sanctions alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s support for regime change in Iran through peaceful steps and Members of Congress calling for blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, we find the mullahs on the receiving end of very commanding signal.

    The 98-2 vote has approved a sleek text that abides by the Iran nuclear deal. These sanctions, technically considered secondary, are in compliance with the nuclear deal due to the very characteristics of Iran’s missile program being excluded from the so-called “landmark” agreement that has failed to provide anything to boast about for the Iranian people. This was yet another concession provided by the Obama administration to Tehran, and the mullahs are seeking to capitalize by operating hand in hand.

    “It truly is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For a people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interest.

    “We see destabilizing act after destabilizing act — from missile launches, to arms transfers, to terrorist training, to illicit financial activities, to targeting Navy ships and detaining American citizens — the list goes on and on.”

    The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 enjoys an overwhelming focus on sanctioning any foreign individual or entity doing business with a counterpart pre-designated by the US administration in association with Iran’s ballistic missile program. For example, these sanctions can be imposed on any financial institution or foreign company involved in providing key parts or components necessary for Tehran’s controversial missile program.

    Two other such actions by the Treasury Department in February and May were preludes, as the administration officially slapped sanctions against a slate of individuals and entities procuring for Iran’s ballistic missile program. The February sanctions were in response to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile test in late-January, considered by many as a United Nations Security Council Resolution violation.

    There are also voices heard questioning the effectiveness of this new measure able to add any particular new bite considering the already extensive landscape of US measures. And yet it is also recognized how such an initiative will be sending a very dominant political message to Iran.

    The mullahs in Tehran are also one of, if not the, leading state in human rights violations. While many boasted of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gaining a second term launching a new drive for moderation, there are already increasing reports of dozens of executions ever since the May 19th vote and sweeping crackdown across the country. The recent twin attacks in Tehran on June 7th, which was claimed by ISIS, are also being exploited by the mullahs’ to increase domestic crackdown and foreign meddling.

    • At least 30 inmates in a Southeast Iran prison are on the verge of execution, reports.
    • As the Middle East is engulfed in a rift with many states severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, Iran continues to fuel the dilemma through capitalizing on this sensitive subject.
    • Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen recently targeted three Saudi aid trucks delivering relief aid.
    • Iranian boats resorted to new “unsafe and unprofessional” moves in training a laser on a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter as three US Naval ships were transiting Strait of Hormuz international waters.

    The world has already experienced how a policy of appeasement and engagement has only emboldened the mullahs to the point of taking advantage of such dismal practices by the international community.

    The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have a history of unveiling Iran’s plots and warning the world about Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, ballistic missile drive, meddling across the Middle East and supporting terrorism, and resorting to unspeakable human rights violations.

    This new round of sanctions will be considered a significant blow to these the Iranian regime’s illicit efforts, especially as experts believe the path is being paved to blacklist Iran’s IRGC. The Guards play a major, if not the leading, role in all the above-stated belligerences, and most concerning today is the foreign meddling that continues to wreak havoc in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and a variety of international waterways that can disrupt billions of dollars of economic transactions.

    View image on Twitter

    Bipartisan #Senate sanctions bill on #Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is most effective when coupled with FTO designation of #IRGC

    The new US Senate sanctions are very necessary indeed, as Iran only understands the language of force. This very correct measure should act as the building block and cornerstone of a new foundation of strong action to rein in Iran’s mullahs and finally bring about true and everlasting change and peace.

    Source: Understanding The New Iran Sanctions

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:50 am on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    ANALYSIS: Adopting a different approach on Iran 

    Signaling a major buzz topic in Washington these days, with the international community waiting anxiously, the new US administration is on the verge of implementing a significant Iran policy overhaul.

    America nearly lost all of its influence in the Middle East as a result of a devastating engagement policy captained by the Obama-Kerry team, all in a desperate effort to obtain Tehran’s consent in completing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    The impact of the support by the Obama Administration of the Arab Spring did the rest, as main Arab allies came under immense pressure.

    US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on nuclear deal with Iran at American University in Washington August 5, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

    Considering Obama’s yearning to seal the JCPOA as the foreign policy hallmark of his legacy, he was seen succumbing to literally any and all demands made by the Iranians. Tehran understood and used this leverage to issue threats of walking away from the deal.

    While President Trump has not torn up the deal as candidate Trump pledged, his administration has taken the lead to strongly criticize Iran’s current behavior in the Middle East that poses a major threat to America’s strategic position and the security of regional allies.

    The Trump administration, unlike its fledgling predecessor, is weighing on how to bring Iran’s mischievous behavior under control and have it completely halted.

    Selling a false deal

    The pro-JCPOA camp sold the deal to the international community by claiming Iran’s mullahs’ would become more moderate and begin acting reasonably.

    Let’s review the facts on the ground:

    – The Middle East is in carnage, with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and proxies launching deadly killings in Syria in support of Assad, massacring Sunnis and other minorities in Iraq, supporting Houthi militants in Yemen, and the Lebanese Hezbollah, just to name a few.

    – Tehran is continuing its ballistic missile program full speed ahead, preparing to couple the project with an ongoing secret nuclear weapons drive, as exposed recently by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

    – Military confrontations between US-Arab allies and Iranian forces continue, as shown in the Gulf and the Bab Al Mandab.

    – Flagrant human rights violations and increasing domestic crackdown. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, now seeking a second term, has presided over 3,000 executions.

    We were reminded recently by US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley ,when she referred to existing Security Council resolutions banning Iran from importing or exporting arms, and end all ballistic missile testing.

    Haley clearly indicated Trump will not allow such measures slide, as we witnessed far too often under the Obama watch.

    “The United States will work closely with our partners to document and address any actions that violate these resolutions,” Haley said. “We must take a stand against Iran and Hezbollah’s illegal and dangerous behavior.”

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also raised eyebrows in remarks unseen from America’s top diplomat for many years. Iran continues to enjoy the top ranking of the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The nature of sanctions being vital to the national and security interests of America, and its regional allies in particular, will be a major topic of a new JCPOA review.

    Fresh sanctions

    Meanwhile, a new bill seeking to slap fresh sanctions against Tehran for continuing its illicit missile program is in the preparation process in the House of Representatives.

    Sanctions and economic pressures are a major leverage the US enjoys against Tehran. Blocking access to the global banking system and compelling companies and various institutions to choose between America’s $19 trillion economy and Iran’s half a trillion should not make the decision any harder.

    Irony lies in the fact that Obama initially boosted US sanctions against Iran, only to ignore Iran’s highly belligerent proliferation activities and support for terrorism.

    A recent Politico report highlighted how the Obama administration even released Iranian arms dealers apprehended by US authorities and dropped international arrest warrants seeking others. To this end, Obama literally risked US national security for the sake of appeasing Tehran’s mullahs.

    The Trump administration is set to draw a major line in the sand. Beefing up sanctions could be a major policy change adopted by the new White House. To take steps further, Washington should seriously consider designating the mullahs’ Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization for its role in Iran’s meddling and supporting terrorism, extremism and Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East, Tehran’s ongoing military development programs -especially the ballistic missile drives – and horrific human rights violations across the country.

    Missed opportunity

    In 2009 Obama missed the opportunity to support the Iranian people’s cry for freedom and democracy, and now the new US administration cannot stand again on the sidelines. Supporting the Iranian people and their organized opposition, currently openly represented by liberal movements such as the NCRI, seeking a democratic, secular and non-nuclear Iran, living in harmony with its regional neighbors and returning to the international community as a responsible member, could be a starting point.

    If Washington would be able to address these options in full, not falling into the trap of removing the Iranian regime under the umbrella of “bringing democracy”, but supporting a growing liberal democratic opposition, a better future for Iran is possible. This will take time, during which economic and political pressure should be increased on the regime. Appeasing the mullahs will not reap any positive rewards, Tehran will not see any need to change at all.

    – Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is the co-writer of this article.

    via  ANALYSIS: Adopting a different approach on Iran — Iran Commentary

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 10:27 am on April 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran Secretly Conducting Nuclear Weapons Research Claims Opposition 

    The main Iranian opposition group held a press conference on April 21, releasing information that backed their claims that Iran was secretly conducting research into nuclear weapon components, such as bomb triggers and enriched uranium.

    According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the regime is doing the engineering and weaponization testing at a walled military compound that has been declared off-limits to inspectors.

    “This is the site that has been kept secret,” said Alireza Jafrazadeh, the NCRI’s Washington office deputy director. “There is secret research to manufacture the bomb and basically cover up the real activities of the Iranian regime.”

    According to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 2015, Iran has to follow specific rules in order to keep the sanctions from being put back in place. This agreement is seen as a major thorn in the side of the Trump administration by various U.S. officials. However, the State Department reported this week that Iran was abiding by the agreement. Iran has benefited from the billions of dollars that have been freed up by the lifting of the secondary sanctions, but the economic benefits have not been felt by the Iranian people. Instead, the funds appear to be paying for Iran’s interventions in various countries throughout the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that “inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines.” A number of Iranian leaders have repeated that warning in recent months.

    “In order to understand the regime’s secret and illicit activities, it is critical that the IAEA inspect and monitor not only the Research Academy, but also all other sites related to SPND,” the NCRI-MEK said. “This will help shed light on the scope of the regime’s secret military and nuclear activities.”

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also called Iran out for its expansionist terrorist activities, acknowledging that they are meeting the letter of the JCPOA, but not the spirit of the agreement.

    “They are carrying out their research in various fields related to the manufacturing of a nuclear weapon,” said the NCRI’s report. “In some of these fields, new initiatives have also been undertaken in order to keep the real objectives of the research a secret and to cover up the real activities.”

    Jafrazadeh noted that this report was not based on the IAEA monitoring known sites and measuring technical metrics, such as the amounts of enriched uranium. “What the council is disclosing is secret weaponization work that now needs to be investigated,” said Jafrazadeh. “We’re talking about an extensive covert operation by the Iranian regime.”

    He also noted that these sites need to be inspected right away, before they are cleaned up by Iran and the evidence essentially disappears.

    According to a statement by Sona Samsami, NCRI-US Representative Office, there are critical steps that need to be taken to restrict Iran’s nuclear program, including the end of their uranium enrichment program. She also encouraged that the international community exert control to obtain access to all sites, including the military ones for IAEA inspectors. The MEK have a long history of exposing sites and other information about Iran’s nuclear program.

    via  Iran Secretly Conducting Nuclear Weapons Research Claims Opposition — The Media Express

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:53 am on April 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Active Despite JCPOA, Opposition Says 

    Alireza Jafarzadeh at the NCRI press conference in Washington

    Alireza Jafarzadeh at the NCRI press conference in Washington

    By Heshmat Alavi

    Days after the U.S. State Department issued a quarterly report informing Congress of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement sealed between Tehran and the international community back in 2015, the U.S. office of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Washington held a press conference Friday shedding new light on how the mullahs’ regime is in fact continuing its effort to manufacture atomic weapons.

    The NCRI provided new information on the “nerve center” directing Iran’s nuclear weapons drive and in charge of designing the bomb. This entity is continuing its work and efforts to this day, according to the NCRI.

    The engineering unit behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program is dubbed the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known through the Persian acronym SPND. This organization, first exposed by the NCRI back in 2011, consists of seven different subdivisions or sections, each responsible for specific portions and aspects of Iran’s nuclear weapons research.

    The NCRI has a history of unveiling Iran’s nuclear activities and especially those focused in SPND. This entity has various secret locations in Tehran, some within the city vicinity and some in the outskirts, and also around Karaj, west of the Iranian capital, which the NCRI is continuing its research into.

    The information obtained cited by the NCRI is from within the Iranian regime and obtained through a network affiliated to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the largest of the NCRI’s five organization members. This organ is famous for first blowing the while on Iran’s nuclear weapons program in 2002 by unveiling a secret uranium enrichment plant and heavy water site.

    The PMOI/MEK has obtained its information from onsite observations and reports compiled by its affiliated sources within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Defense Ministry and SPND. This evidence shows Iran has maintained its nuclear bomb-making apparatus intact and their activities have continued without being subsided despite the JCPOA signing.

    IRGC Brigadier General Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, aka Dr. Hassan Mohseni, and recognized as the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, currently heads SPND and is known to be the key figure in Tehran’s atomic weapons drive.

    NCRI first revealed the existence of SPND in July 2011

    NCRI first revealed the existence of SPND in July 2011

    It is now crystal clear that Iran has actually further expanded its activities and this new information clarifies all of SPND’s subdivisions, now located inside the highly controversial Parchin site in Tehran Lavizan district, are continuing their work without the JCPOA causing any halts or even speedbumps in this regard.

    SPND and the possible military dimension (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program were the subject of an extensive 2011 report issued by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA).

    The PMOI/MEK has also unveiled new information about a new location associated to Iran’s nuclear weapons project, being kept secret to this day from the eyes of the IAEA inspectors. This led to the US State and Treasury departments in 2014 blacklisting SPND. The IAEA has yet to enjoy no access to SPND sites.

    Obvious is the fact that Iran’s nuclear program is not peaceful in nature, as confirmed by US President Donald Trump in his latest remarks after Secretary Tillerson’s report.

    The PMD aspect of Iran’s nuclear program were never resolved. Based on Iran’s nuclear program history, this regime has a long record of razing sites and cloaking its efforts from the outside world. Even Iran’s declared sites were acknowledged by Tehran only after the NCRI exposed them and eventually the IAEA gained access to.

    The issue at hand that deserves long overdue attention is Iran’s covert efforts regarding its nuclear weapons program. Iran has been able to maintain intact the bigger bulk of its nuclear program, run by the military apparatus. Even the so-called civilian aspects of Tehran’s nuclear effort is under military control.

    The international community should not limit its measures to merely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program. The NCRI is now, as ever, suggesting that all the sites referred in Friday’s press conference should be visited by the IAEA and there should be no acceptation of these sites being kept off limits by Tehran.

    Secretary Tillerson correctly highlighted how the JCPOA fails to meet the objective of establishing a non-nuclear Iran and merely delays Tehran’s efforts of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    The weaponization aspect of Iran’s nuclear program has not been the focus of drive to contain the mullahs’ devious intentions. This must change. These latest revelations make it necessary for Congress to impose widespread sanctions and designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. This will send the ultimate message to Tehran, especially at a time when the regime is engulfed in a presidential election crisis.

    NCRI press conference in Washington

    NCRI press conference in Washington

    Source: Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Active Despite JCPOA, Opposition Says

     
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