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

Alireza Jafarzadeh press conference on Iran missile program 20 June 2017

On June 20, 2017, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference in NCRIUS office and revealed the acceleration of the missile program of Iran, presented a list of 42 locations of missile sites of Iran involved in the design, production, testing, launching and command of the missile program of the Iranian regime. He also elaborated on the collaboration between the organization in charge of the weaponization of the nuclear program of Iran (SPND) and the missile program. He then elaborated on the role of North Korea in building the underground tunnels under the mountains, as well as research and production of the missile for the Iranian regime. Alireza Jafarzadeh provided the latest organizational charts of the Aerospace Force tasked with the manufacturing of the missile as well as the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps tasked with the launching and deployment of the missiles. There were a dozen sites exposed for the first time by the NCRI. Jafarzadeh provided the first full picture of the missile program of Iran. He also made some policy suggestions for the United States Government.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s future after new US sanctions

The regime in Tehran continues to be in a state of shock after the passage of unprecedented United States Senate sanctions on Thursday targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for terrorism in the Middle East and flagrant human rights violations.

Many of the new measures imposed on Iran are far more complex than any sanctions even prior to the Iran nuclear deal. There is no need for the Trump administration to tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as these new sanctions provide the US President vast authority for further punitive action. This new initiative also contains a classified amendment believed to describe Iran as an extremely dangerous state.

The threats

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir highlighted the importance of this threat after a recent meeting with his British counterpart in London.

“If Iran seeks respect it must bring an end to supporting terrorism, bombing embassies and spreading sectarianism… Iran also supports terrorism, meddles in others’ affairs, fuels sectarianism, and dispatches the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he said.

Further signs of the mullahs’ devious intentions are seen as Iran is reported to provide cruise missiles to Yemen’s Houthis and resulting in a grave threat to the strategic Bab el-Mandeb waterway, according to the US.

As Iran also continues its destructive support for Shiite groups in Iraq, Vice President Ayad Allawi voiced concerns over Tehran of fomenting sectarian rifts across the country prior to next year’s parliamentary election.

And Iran will also continue its efforts in Syria, as many parties are seeking land grabs to ensure their interests in the post-ISIS era. Knowing this, Tehran is seeking leverages in the region to have negotiating ammunition, especially considering the sweeping actions exerted through the new US Senate resolution.

A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shows him delivering a speech during a conference entitled “Implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) a new chapter in Iran’s economy”, on January 19, 2016, in Tehran. (AFP)

‘JCPOA 2, 3 and 4’

Section 5 of this bill enforces sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Any individual providing services to an entity identified in this executive order will result in that individual being placed in the US sanctions list. There is no longer any temporary measures and the individual or entity will be permanently sanctioned.

All government and non-government branches having any cooperation with the IRGC bear the potential of being blacklisted. Prior to the JCPOA around 600 individuals and entities were blacklisted and the JCPOA delisted around 400. However, with the approval and implementation of this new bill we can forecast a few thousand individuals and entities being blacklisted as a result.

One sign of Iran’s shock is seen in the fact that the regime’s parliament has postponed its response to the Senate bill after a two-week recess. This is no ordinary sanctions bill against Iran and can be considered a mother initiative paving the path for far reaching sanctions against Tehran that bear no need for legal legislation, as they will become operational through executive orders.

In the regime’s circles these new sanctions have been described as the end of the JCPOA and the beginning of enormous challenges. Demands by the international community will be increasing and there may be even calls for measures dubbed in Iran as “JCPOA 2, 3 and 4,” covering Iran’s ballistic missile program, meddling and support of terrorism in the region, and their human rights violations dossier.

Iranian state media outlets have gone as far as describing the new sanctions as “black holes” and the “mother of all sanctions.” The future of Iran’s ballistic missiles are currently considered very dark as these sanctions target all IRGC activities.

New revelations

The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance (NCRI) US Office released a statementannouncing their upcoming Tuesday press conference “to reveal information on key centers for production, testing and launching ballistic missiles by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)” and “details (including satellite imagery) on four of the most important missile centers, including one closely linked to Tehran’s nuclear program. In addition, a dozen of hitherto-unknown centers involved in various aspects of production, testing and launching of ballistic missiles will be made public. Information on the role of North Korean experts involved in the construction of these centers will also be discussed.”

These new sanctions have the IRGC in its crosshairs and seek an end to Iran’s support for the Guards’ regional action and ballistic missiles program. However, the comprehensive nature of this new bill will slowly but surely expand to all organs of the regime in Iran.

This can be considered the unofficial end of the JCPOA, without the US ever needing to officially tear the accord apart. All previous sanctions are returning, with additions, and yet there is no violation of the Iran nuclear deal whatsoever. The main question here is how will Tehran react?

The sanctions are returning for one reason and one reason only. The US has come to realize the regime in Iran is in no position to provide any response whatsoever to the new sanctions. To this end, the time has come to in fact levy far more pressure and sanction all branches of the Iranian regime.

The road ahead

In the mullahs’ dictionary such setbacks are described as “drinking from the chalice of poison” and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, along with all senior Iranian officials, very well know they must prepare their entire apparatus, ranks and files, for such chalices in the not so distant future.

These sanctions couldn’t have come at a worse time for Tehran considering the fact that the NCRI is currently preparing for its annual convention scheduled for July 1st in Paris. As Saudi statesman and diplomat Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud stood alongside over 100,000 Iranians from all over the globe in last year’s event, this year’s rally will be joined by hundreds of prominent political dignitaries from the US, Europe and the Middle East.

This will send a strong message to the international community] that Iran enjoys a major alternative seen in a powerfully organized opposition led by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her 10-point-plan envisioning a bright future for a free, liberal and tolerant Iran of tomorrow.

via  ANALYSIS: Iran’s future after new US sanctions — Iran Commentary

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.

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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

Sanctions on Iran signal a new horizon

The United States Senate recently voted overwhelmingly 92-7 in favor of moving forward on evaluating further sanctions against Iran and especially targeting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Following eight years of Obama’s appeasement, this is a significant turn of events resulting in major concerns amongst Tehran and foreign counterparts. A key signal of Iran’s concerns and […]

via   Sanctions on Iran signal a new horizon — Iran Commentary

The IRGC finances these terrorist activities through its business activities

 

The IRGC is dedicated to protecting the Islamic Revolution, not the state of Iran. As guardians of the Islamic Revolution, it supports terrorist activities by the Quds Force and its other military divisions. The IRGC finances these terrorist activities through its business activities, making the overall organization simply the paymaster for terrorist activities by its constituent elements. Efforts to shut off the flow of funds by using U.S. Treasury sanctions against different controlled or directed business entities become a never-ending attempt to keep track of firms that shut down and reopen under a new name, adding difficulties to blocking the flow of funds to them.

Why Boeing and Airbus deals with Iran shouldn’t fly

Iran-foreign-policy-is-built-on-meddling-in-...
Iran foreign policy is built on meddling in the affairs of other countries

Aiding and abetting terrorists is bad business

The Colorado Statesman, May 5, 2017 – Sometimes international law is ambiguous. Sometimes not. When it comes to murdering civilians and using chemical weapons to get the job done, there are no grey areas, no fuzzy lines, no mitigating circumstances. Such practices are clearly and specifically prohibited under what’s called “the law of war.” That makes Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dynastic dictator, a war criminal. And it makes Iran his chief accomplice.
As far back as 2005, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that Iran’s rulers were actively helping Mr. Assad launch an “innovative chemical warfare program” — providing technology to build equipment that would produce “hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin nerve agents and mustard blister agent.”
When it comes to the Islamic Republic, President Trump and his advisors are under no illusions. “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
“Iran is the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed the same day. The clerical regime, he added, “is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon and continuing to support attacks against Israel. An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it.”
So what’s the Trump administration’s strategy for checking Iran? That’s still a work in progress. But some measures can and should be taken immediately. In particular, unlike his predecessor, President Trump should refrain from facilitating Iran’s support for terrorism and war crimes.
For example: During the final months of the Obama administration, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a license for Boeing to sell 100 new planes to Iran Air, “The Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Treasury also issued licenses to Airbus for a similarly sized deal. Iranian officials claim these aircraft will be used for civilian purposes only.
The evidence suggests they’re lying. Emanuele Ottolenghi, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been painstakingly tracking Iran Air flights between Tehran and Damascus. There have been 768 since Jan. 16, 2016, the day that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was implemented. Of those, 129 were on Iran Air.
Dr. Ottolenghi believes few, if any, are ferrying tourists keen on sightseeing, shopping and fine dining. He believes they are supplying military equipment and fighters in support of Mr. Assad’s forces and those of Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy militia which has been deployed to help defend Mr. Assad’s regime.
It’s worth recalling that, in 2011, Treasury “designated” Iran Air for providing material support and services to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which had itself been designated for proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Treasury particularly noted that Iran Air had been transporting “missile or rocket components to Syria.”
Then, suddenly, just over a year ago, Iran Air’s designation was removed. Administration spokesmen declined to explain why except to say they were acting “pursuant” to the JCPOA. An educated guess: President Obama had added a sweetener — one of many — to a deal he saw as essential to his legacy.
Decades of sanctions against Iran’s civil aviation sector were lifted as well. In congressional testimony earlier this month, Dr. Ottolenghi said that from Iran’s perspective, the timing could not have been better: This was the point at which the aviation sector “became vital to Tehran’s war efforts in the Syrian theater.”
Dr. Ottolenghi is recommending that the Trump administration, at the least, now “suspend licensing for aircraft deals while it conducts a thorough review of their role in the airlifts to Syria.”
The U.S. intelligence community has the means to determine what’s moving between Iran and Syria. If these flights are, in fact, military rather than commercial and civilian, Dr. Ottolenghi would urge the administration to sanction — or rather re-sanction — Iran’s entire aviation sector. Because these would be non-nuclear sanctions, doing so would not violate the JCPOA. Airbus’s license can and should be suspended as well because its planes contain key parts made in the USA.
The same week Mr. Assad used chemical weapons to slaughter more than 70 people in northwestern Syria, yet another Iranian airline, Aseman, signed yet another deal to purchase Boeing planes. Aseman’s CEO, Hossein Alaei, spent most of his life in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Ministry of Defense, a branch of Iran’s government also designated for proliferating weapons of mass destruction and their delivery system. President Trump should instruct Treasury not to grant a license to Aseman either.
Executives, stockholders and lobbyists for Boeing and Airbus will not be pleased by what I’ve written above. But they should ask themselves: Do they really want history to record that they helped Iran Air enable Mr. Assad’s mass murder of innocent men, women and children?
Under the JCPOA, Iran’s rulers agreed to delay — not end — a nuclear weapons program whose existence they do not acknowledge. In exchange, they’ve received billions of dollars as well as permission to join the nuclear weapons club a few years down the road. What if, at that point, they’re still the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism, vowing genocide against Israel and “Death to America!”? Under the deal Mr. Obama concluded, that won’t matter.
When it comes to the threats President Obama left for his successor, none is more daunting than that posed by Tehran. In principle, President Trump should be encouraging Boeing and other American companies to make a buck abroad. But as a matter of principle, President Trump should not allow Boeing nor any other American companies to be in the business of aiding and abetting terrorists and war criminals.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) columnist for the Washington Times and member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bipartisan federal body reporting to the president, secretary of state, and Congress. May’s columns regularly appear in The Colorado Statesman.

Source: Why Boeing and Airbus deals with Iran shouldn’t fly