Category Archives: Iran

Iranian aircraft buzzed Navy helicopter in Persian Gulf

Iranian aircraft buzzed Navy helicopter in Persian Gulf

Washington (CNN)An Iranian military observation aircraft flew within 50 yards of an armed U.S. Navy helicopter over the Persian Gulf this month, sparking concern that top Iranian commanders might not be in full control of local forces, CNN has learned.

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in November 2014.
An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in November 2014.

The incident, which has not been publicly disclosed, troubled U.S. military officials because the unsafe maneuver could have triggered a serious incident.

It also surprised U.S. commanders because in recent months Iranian forces have conducted exercises and operations in the region in a professional manner, one U.S. military official told CNN.

“We think this might have been locally ordered,” the official said.

The incident took place as the U.S. and other world powers meet with Iran in Switzerland to negotiate a deal limiting Tehran’s nuclear program. At the same time, Iran has been active in supporting proxies in several hotspots in the Persian Gulf and neighboring regions.

The Navy MH-60R armed helicopter was flying from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on a routine patrol in international airspace, the official said.

An unarmed Iranian observation Y-12 aircraft approached. The Iranian aircraft made two passes at the helicopter, coming within 50 yards, before the helicopter moved off, according to the official.

The official said the helicopter deliberately broke off and flew away in a ‘predictable’ manner so the Iranians could not misinterpret any U.S. intentions.

The Navy helicopter was in radio contact with the ship during the encounter, but there was no contact between the two aircraft and no shots were fired.

The Navy crew took photos of the incident but the military is not releasing them.

The U.S. administration is considering a potential demarche protest against Iran, the official said.

CNN has reached out to Iranian officials but has not received a response.

This type of Iranian observation aircraft generally operates over the Gulf several times a month. But after the recent incident, U.S. naval intelligence did not see it again for two weeks, leading to the conclusion that the incident may have been ordered by a local commander who was then reprimanded by higher-ups.

READ: White House readies Iran nuclear deal sales pitch to skeptical Congress

The Pentagon has noted for the last several years that most encounters with the Iranian military at sea or in air are conducted professionally, but that some missions run by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces have been too aggressive against U.S. forces in the area.

The U.S. military’s concern has been that one of these incidents could escalate into a military encounter.

This incident “might have been buffoonery” the official said, but there is always a risk from such actions.

The incident comes as the Navy patrols the Gulf of Aden to watch for Iranian ships the U.S. believes are trying to bring weapons to resupply the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Navy would share such intelligence with Saudi Arabia, a second U.S. official told CNN.

READ: Iran destroys mock U.S. carrier

Iranian Defector: ‘U.S. Negotiating Team Mainly There to Speak on Iran’s Behalf’

Iranian Defector: ‘U.S. Negotiating Team Mainly There to Speak on Iran’s Behalf’

BY DANIEL HALPER

Iran Revolutionary Guards
Iran Revolutionary Guards

An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America’s role in the nuclear negotiations.

“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” Motaghi told a TV station after just defecting from the Iranian delegation while abroad for the nuclear talks. The P 5 + 1 is made up of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, plus Germany.

The British Telegraph has details of Motaghi’s defection:

A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.

Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).

He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told.

“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he told Irane Farda television. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.

“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.” Mr Mottaghi was a journalist and commentator who went on to use social media successfully to promote Mr Rouhani to a youthful audience that overwhelmingly elected him to power.

US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel’s Nuclear Program

US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel’s Nuclear Program

Obama revenge for Netanyahu’s Congress talk? 1987 report on Israel’s top secret nuclear program released in unprecedented move.

By Ari Yashar, Matt Wanderman

Dimona nuclear reactor circa 1960s
Dimona nuclear reactor circa 1960s

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel’s nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu’s March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.

Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel’s sensitive nuclear program, it kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document.

The 386-page report entitled “Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations” gives a detailed description of how Israel advanced its military technology and developed its nuclear infrastructure and research in the 1970s and 1980s.

Israel is “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,” reveals the report, stating that in the 1980s Israelis were reaching the ability to create bombs considered a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs.

The revelation marks a first in which the US published in a document a description of how Israel attained hydrogen bombs.

The report also notes research laboratories in Israel “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories,” the key labs in developing America’s nuclear arsenal.

Israel’s nuclear infrastructure is “an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories,” it adds.

“As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,” the report reveals, noting a time frame just after America tested its first hydrogen bomb.

Institute for Defense Analysis, a federally funded agency operating under the Pentagon, penned the report back in 1987.

Aside from nuclear capabilities, the report revealed Israel at the time had “a totally integrated effort in systems development throughout the nation,” with electronic combat all in one “integrated system, not separated systems for the Army, Navy and Air Force.” It even acknowledged that in some cases, Israeli military technology “is more advanced than in the U.S.”

Declassifying the report comes at a sensitive timing as noted above, and given that the process to have it published was started three years ago, that timing is seen as having been the choice of the American government.

US journalist Grant Smith petitioned to have the report published based on the Freedom of Information Act. Initially the Pentagon took its time answering, leading Smith to sue, and a District Court judge to order the Pentagon to respond to the request.

Smith, who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, reportedly said he thinks this is the first time the US government has officially confirmed that Israel is a nuclear power, a status that Israel has long been widely known to have despite being undeclared.

Senator Behind Iran Letter Is Latest Freshman Republican to Stir Things Up

Senator Behind Iran Letter Is Latest Freshman Republican to Stir Things Up

By

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is the youngest member of the Senate and had served as of Wednesday exactly 65 days there. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — First there was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who held up bills, conducted an antidrone talk-a-thon and generally annoyed his colleagues. Next was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who whipped up a campaign that shut down the government.

Now comes Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, another Republican freshman, whose letter to the leaders of Iran warning against a nuclear deal with the Obama administration has caused an international uproar.

At 37, Mr. Cotton is the youngest member of the Senate and had served as of Wednesday exactly 65 days. A graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, Mr. Cotton served as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq in 2006, one of the bloodiest periods of the war.

So while Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz influenced the Tea Party, libertarian wing of their party, Mr. Cotton personifies a wave of Republican newcomers to the Senate who back a hawkish, interventionist foreign policy.

“Tom Cotton is ahead of the mainstream of Republicans on foreign policy thinking,” said Bill Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and an early supporter of Mr. Cotton’s political career. “Most of those running in 2016 will sound a lot more like Cotton than Rand Paul.”

If Mr. Cotton and others newcomers wish to lead on military and foreign affairs issues, then “more power to them,” said Senator John McCain of Arizona, who once referred to Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz as “wacko birds.” “I was a bit of an upstart myself.”

The word most used to describe Mr. Cotton — by his admirers and detractors — is disciplined. A long-distance runner, he begins most days with a long workout and focuses relentlessly on his daily tasks. His seriousness is such that he was often dinged during his campaign as seeming more like a robotic agriculture display than a Senate hopeful.

Willowy and alpine, with a pronounced Adam’s apple and a mild Southern drawl, Mr. Cotton, who declined to be interviewed for this article, regularly sails past reporters in the Senate hallways in what appears to be a hypnotic trance. He is unflappable, even during a grilling by Megyn Kelly of Fox News about his letter, which was signed by 47 Republican senators and quickly dismissed in Tehran.

tom cotton Arkansas senator

“What’s the point in writing to the Iranian mullahs?” Ms. Kelly demanded of him on Tuesday. “They already dismissed it, like, ‘Whatever.’ ”

The Obama administration has similarly hammered Mr. Cotton. “My reaction to the letter was utter disbelief,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, warning that the letter could embolden Iranian hard-liners.

Mr. Kerry did acknowledge one of the points of Mr. Cotton’s letter, that any deal would not be “legally binding” and that the next president could revoke it. But, Mr. Kerry said, no president would do that as long as Iran kept its part of the bargain and as long as the other negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — continued to support it.

“I’d like to see the next president, if all of those countries have said this is good and it’s working, turn around and just nullify it on behalf of the United States,” Mr. Kerry said sarcastically.

Mr. Cotton has a long history in conservative thought.

Raised on his parents’ cattle farm in Dardanelle, Ark., he stood out for — along with his basketball skills — his studiousness and curiosity about Republican politics, particularly in his Democratic family. He participated in a program that brought young students to Little Rock, the state capital, said his childhood friend, Michael Lamoureux, who is now the chief of staff to the Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson.

“I don’t know where he got his ideas,” Mr. Lamoureux said. “Probably from reading.”

At Harvard College, Mr. Cotton wrote a 92-page senior thesis on the Federalist Papers and later served as a clerk with the United States Court of Appeals before joining a private law practice in Washington.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Cotton joined the Army and spent almost five years on active duty, including as a platoon leader on combat patrols in Baghdad. While in Iraq, Mr. Cotton reached out to Mr. Kristol to compliment him on his magazine, Mr. Kristol said, and began the cultivation of other conservatives.

That same year, reporters at The New York Times broke a story about the Bush administration’s tracking of terrorist financing, and Mr. Cotton wrote a letter to the paper expressing his anger: “By the time we return home,” he wrote, “maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.”

The Times did not print the letter, but it went viral on conservative websites and helped give Mr. Cotton a national profile.

Back home, Mr. Cotton began to attend events at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and became closer to Mr. Kristol and others who saw his potential. After his military service, he took a job in 2009 as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company and began pondering a run at a Senate seat back home against Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat.

“It would have been a reach,” Mr. Kristol said, so Mr. Cotton deferred until a House seat opened in 2012. “He stayed genuinely close to people in Arkansas,” Mr. Kristol added. “A lot of this was generated from bottom up more than at the Mayflower Hotel bar in D.C.”

Leaders in the House noted Mr. Cotton’s intellect and the fact that he showed little willingness to compromise on legislation, even when the leadership wanted him to. In 2014, he campaigned in a camouflage-themed recreational vehicle against the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mark Pryor, and handily beat him.

 His latest moves have already endeared his home base: This week, State Senator Bart Hester introduced a bill that would permit Mr. Cotton to seek re-election and run for president simultaneously.

And while Mr. Cotton was broadly supported by Senate Republicans, his letter attracted many critics in his own party and beyond. “The idea of engaging directly with foreign entities on foreign policy is frankly a gross breach of discipline,” said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who is retired and a senior adviser to VoteVets, a liberal political action committee consisting of veterans.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declined to sign the letter. “Tom is a really nice person, and I know feels very strongly, especially about the issue of Iran,” he said. “And that’s all I can say.”

Michael R. Gordon contributed reporting.

Republicans undercut nuclear deal with warning to Iran

Republicans undercut nuclear deal with warning to Iran

chemical weapon gas mask bomb WMD

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers warned the leaders of Iran on Monday that any nuclear deal they cut with President Barack Obama could expire the day he leaves office. The White House denounced the GOP’s latest effort to undercut the international negotiations as a “rush to war.”

Monday’s open letter from 47 GOP senators marked an unusually public and aggressive attempt to undermine Obama and five world powers as negotiators try to strike an initial deal by the end of March to limit Iran’s nuclear programs.

Republicans say a deal would be insufficient and unenforceable, and they have made a series of proposals to undercut or block it — from requiring Senate say-so on any agreement to ordering new penalty sanctions against Iran or even making a pre-emptive declaration of war.

Obama, noting that some in Iran also want no part of any deal, said “I think it’s somewhat ironic that some members of Congress want to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”

The letter was written by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who opposes negotiations with Iran. It’s addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and presents itself as a constitutional primer to the government of an American adversary. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky’s signature is on it, as are those of several prospective presidential candidates.

Explaining the difference between a Senate-ratified treaty and a mere agreement between Obama and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the senators warned: “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif responded via state media, dismissing the letter as a “propaganda ploy” and noting that many international deals are “mere executive agreements.” He suggested the senators were undermining not only the prospective deal with Iran but other international agreements as well.

With Cotton presiding over the Senate on Monday, Democratic leader Harry Reid spoke out, saying Republicans were driven by animosity toward Obama and unwilling to recognize that American voters had twice elected him president.

“Let’s be very clear: Republicans are undermining our commander-in-chief while empowering the ayatollahs,” Reid said.

“Republicans don’t know how to do anything other than juvenile political attacks against the president,” the 75-year-old Reid said with the 37-year-old Cotton listening.

The Republicans’ move to stop a nuclear deal with Iran comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint meeting of Congress at Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation. In his address, Netanyahu bluntly warned the United States that a deal would pave Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb.

The White House denounced Cotton’s letter, saying it was part of an ongoing partisan strategy to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said that “the rush to war, or at least the rush to the military option, that many Republicans are advocating is not at all in the best interest of the United States.”

Not all Republican senators are united. One significant signature missing from Monday’s letter was Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman. Action on any new legislation challenging the administration’s strategy would be likely to begin with him.

Still, even if all parties to the international talks reject the letter as a stunt, the mounting opposition to an accord could have repercussions. Negotiating alongside the U.S. are Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The Obama administration believes it has authority to lift most trade, oil and financial sanctions that would be pertinent to the nuclear deal in exchange for an Iranian promise to limit its nuclear programs. For the rest, it needs Congress’ approval. And lawmakers could approve new Iran sanctions to complicate matters.

Nuclear negotiations resume next week in Switzerland. Officials say the parties have been speaking about a multi-step agreement that would freeze Iran’s uranium enrichment program for at least a decade before gradually lifting restrictions. Sanctions relief would similarly be phased in.

Iran says its program is solely for peaceful energy and medical research purposes. The deadline for the whole agreement is July.

In the letter, Cotton and his colleagues stressed that presidents may serve only eight years while senators can remain in office for decades. The implication was that without Congress’ blessing, the deal could fall apart when Obama’s successor is sworn in in January 2017.

The deal taking shape is not a treaty. Under international law, the provisions of treaties are far more binding than other agreements.

But by themselves, congressional Republicans won’t be able to block an international agreement.

McConnell has spoken of action later this month authorizing Congress to take a yes-or-no vote on a deal. But that vote would be symbolic.

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Steve Peoples and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses Barack Obama’s criticism

Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses Barack Obama’s criticism

By NICK GASS

Israel Benjamin netanyahu Prime Minister

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected President Barack Obama’s criticism that he failed to offer “viable alternatives” to the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, telling reporters upon his return to Israel that he was encouraged by the responses he got from U.S. lawmakers in both parties.

“I proposed a practical alternative that through tougher restrictions would extend the breakout time, by years, that it would take Iran to reach a nuclear weapon if it decides to breach the agreement,” the prime minister said, according to The Associated Press.

The prime minister told reporters that he got a good bipartisan impression at the U.S. Capitol.

“I got the impression that they better understand that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal and that the alternative is a better deal,” he said.

Netanyahu’s statement followed remarks from the president that dismissed the speech as “nothing new.”

One Year Until Iran’s Nuclear Mushroom Cloud: U.S. Concessions Handing Iran a Clear Path to Nuclear Bomb

One Year Until Iran’s Nuclear Mushroom Cloud: U.S. Concessions Handing Iran a Clear Path to Nuclear Bomb

Deal would leave Iran just a year away from functional nuclear weapon

John Kerry, Mohammad Javad Zarif

BY:

The Obama administration is pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran that leaves the Islamic Republic a year away from obtaining a nuclear bomb and which, according to experts, gives the United States insufficient leverage to dismantle Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure.

As negotiations with Iran hit a critical juncture, U.S. officials and policy experts from across the spectrum are warning that the Obama administration is poised to agree to a deal that all but guarantees Tehran the ability to build a nuclear bomb.

The position outlined by President Obama and key administration officials in recent interviews represent a significant shift in U.S. negotiating policy over the past few years. The administration, critics argue, has walked back its own red lines in talks, conceding to Iran the ability to retain its core nuclear infrastructure and the technological know-how to build a weapon.

More Lies From Obama: “I Will Not Let Iran Get a Nuclear Weapon”:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel expressed concerns over the administration’s stance on Tuesday during remarks before a joint session of Congress.

“If the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.

“We know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran,” Netanyahu added. “The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb.”

“According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished,” he said. “Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.”

Permitting Iran to retain the core of its program—and return to it after a reported 10-year period—would keep Tehran a year away from obtaining a nuclear bomb, Netanyahu said.

“Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short—about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s,” he said. “And if—if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.”

President Obama confirmed this timeframe Tuesday in a response to Netanyahu’s speech, saying that the proposed deal would “ensure that [Iran] did not have what we call a break-out capacity that was shorter than a year’s time.”

Many U.S. lawmakers agree with Netanyahu’s assessment and are beginning to signal that they will block the proposed deal.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is right to argue that the clear alternative to a bad deal is a better deal with Iran, one that only lifts crippling pressure on the Iranian regime when it stops its nuclear weapons program, stops aggression against its neighbors, stops supporting terrorism, and stops threatening to annihilate Israel,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), a critic of the White House’s strategy, said in a statement.

“Netanyahu made a powerful case to the American people on why a bad nuclear deal with Iran, one that allows the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism to keep vast capabilities to make the world’s worst weapons, is worse than no deal,” Kirk said. “A nuclear-armed Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to the United States, Israel, and our allies in the Gulf.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), a leading member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also expressed alarm about the administration’s clear shift in negotiating posture.

“I stand with Netanyahu’s demands today that Iran’s government must change its behaviors,” Inhofe said in a statement following the prime minister’s remarks. “This must be a non-negotiable item in any agreement the United States seeks to reach with Iran, and anything short of it will be a bad deal, not only for Israel but for the West.”

“I hope the president was listening today and will reverse course on the unfortunate leverage he has given the government of Iran over the past year to continue pursuing its nuclear weapon’s capabilities,” Inhofe said.

The key concession causing alarm among administration critics hinges upon the president’s approvalof a so-called sunset clause in the deal that effectively allows Iran to restart its nuclear program after a decade of relief from economic sanctions (a demand that Tehran has already rejected).

This differs from the White House’s negotiating posture in previous years, which focused on dismantling Iran’s nuclear program.

“While we go through these next six months, we will be negotiating the dismantling, we will be negotiating the limitations,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in November 2013. “You can’t always start where you want to wind up.”

Other top administration officials also made this claim.

“Our position is clear: Iran must live up to its international obligations, including full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions,” White House National Security Council (NSC) Spokesman Tommy Vietor said in April 2012.

Bernadette Meehan,  spokeswoman for the NSC, also pushed the notion of Iranian concessions in December 2013 remarks.

“We are prepared to negotiate a strictly limited enrichment program in the end state, but only because the Iranians have indicated for the first time in a public document that they are prepared to accept rigorous monitoring and limits on level, scope, capacity, and stockpiles,” she said at the time.

Mark Dubowitz, a nuclear expert and executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said Iran has gained the upper hand in talks with the United States

“The Obama position has gone from dismantle and disclose to disconnect and defer,” Dubowitz said. “They have squandered their negotiating leverage to an Iranian regime that entered negotiations with a weak hand and looks likely to get what it also wanted—nuclear weapons, a growing economy, and regional dominance.”

Sanctions relief provided to Iran under an ongoing interim agreement also has emboldened Iran, Dubowitz said.

“The Obama administration significantly underestimated the value of the direct and indirect economic relief triggered by the JPOA and the de-escalation of sanctions pressure,” he explained. “Iran’s economy, which was once on its back is now on its knees and getting up to its feet. The Obama administration responded to Iranian declarations that key nuclear elements were nonnegotiable by agreeing to these demands.”

David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, said that the president is surrendering to Iran in negotiations.

“President Obama has repeatedly promised that he will never permit Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” said Brog. “Was this a word game? Does the content of this pledge depend upon what the meaning of the word “never” is? By all accounts the agreement taking shape in Geneva will allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. In the most optimistic scenario, it merely delays this dark day. This is surrender on the installment plan.”

One senior congressional aide called the president’s concessions mind-boggling.

“It boggles the mind just how much the Obama administration has already conceded to Iran, to include a significant ability to enrich uranium and make ballistic missiles, as well as sanctions relief that’s resuscitated Iran’s tanking economy, all before Iran has done anything to the world that it no longer has any secret nuclear activities,” the aide said.

The Obama administration’s repeated concessions to Iran are also being noticed with alarm among pro-Israel policy makers.

“We set out to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. And now we’re settling on allowing them to acquire that capability in a decade,” said one pro-Israel policy expert involved the debate. “If the president convinces Congress to capitulate on a bad deal, a decade from now, we will look at this moment the same way we now look at Chamberlin’s ‘peace in our time.’”

Another D.C.-based official with a pro-Israel organization said that in the past year, the White House has walked back its key demand that Iran completely shut down its nuclear program.

“A year ago the Obama administration demanded the benefit of the doubt, and promised that it would bring home a deal that would permanently shutter Iran’s nuclear program,” said the source, who declined to be named out of fear of offending the White House. “Now the president himself has declared that Iran will be allowed a full-scale nuclear program in 10 years. He’s putting the mullahs on the glide path to a bomb. What happened?”

 

Israel’s Prime Minister Destroys Iran and Obama with One Speech

Israel’s Prime Minister Destroys Iran and Obama with One Speech

Israel Benjamin netanyahu Prime Minister

Americans and the world just got a lesson in chutzpah. That’s the Jewish word for balls, bravado, courage, audacity, cajones. No one else in the world could have pulled off what Bibi just did. Talk about a masterful speech.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu walked into a joint session of the U.S. Congress like he owned it. Like he was the president of the United States. He received 29 standing ovations. He then held court for almost an hour like he was the most powerful man in the world. Like he held the key to saving the world. And just maybe…he does.

Bibi walked onto the biggest stage in America and embarrassed President Barack Obama. He schooled him. He took him to the woodshed. And here’s the masterful part – he killed him with kindness! Bibi pulled off a speech ripping America’s president to shreds, in front of the political leadership of America…in front of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi…in front of the American people…and he did it like only a master of communication, chutzpah and salesmanship could – by first praising him. By thanking Obama. By showering him with compliments.

Then he proceeded to strip him naked and pummel him into submission.

You can’t make deals with tyrants, terrorists, thieves and murderers whose word cannot be trusted.

When it was over, I guarantee you that a majority of the American people…at least a majority who watched the speech…would rather have Bibi as president than Obama. Certainly a majority would sleep sounder at night, would feel safer about the future of their children with Bibi as president than Obama.

What was the main takeaway of the speech?

That you can’t reward bad behavior. That you must punish bad behavior. That you can’t agree to deals with tyrants, terrorists, liars, thieves and murderers whose word cannot be trusted. That no deal is in fact better than a bad deal.

That the only deal worth doing punishes Iran and takes away their nuclear capabilities until they change their behavior…until they stop supporting and funding terrorism…until they stop vowing to annihilate their neighbor Israel and kill all the Jewish people…until they check their aggressive support of militant, radical Islam all over the world. That to allow any nuclear capability for a militant Muslim nation is suicide for the entire world.

Bibi understands three things Obama clearly doesn’t (or does, and doesn’t care because he’s a Muslim sympathizer):

The art of negotiating. Bibi compared negotiating with Iran to negotiating at a Persian bazaar. Hilarious, and so true.

“If they threaten to walk away, let them.” Bibi said. “Because they’ll be back.”

It takes an Israeli to understand the human nature of Persians. That threat of walking away is just part of a negotiation. Bibi understands that. I understand that. Can Obama be that stupid? Bibi sure made him seem that stupid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

But I know Bibi knows what I know. He just can’t say it in public. Obama is not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s not on Israel’s side. So Bibi had to play a masterful game of chess with Obama. So he painted him as naïve and stupid. He embarrassed him in front of the world. He made it clear the deal Obama has negotiated is Neville Chamberlain all over again. It’s a repeat of the worst deal ever agreed to – Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler.

Secondly, Bibi made it clear that Iran is not a normal country. It shouldn’t be treated like a normal country. It is a militant Islamic country. It is a rogue terrorist state no different than Islamic State. Iran is the enemy of Islamic State, so Bibi had to make a very interesting point.

Iran and Islamic State are the same people. They want the same thing. They say it. They tweet it. Iran wrote it in their constitution. They are dedicated to killing, conquering, converting and enslavng the entire region, then the world. Iran is only fighting Islamic State to determine who gets to do it in the name of Allah.

Bibi then drove the nail home, “the enemy of your enemy…is your enemy.” Masterful.

Thirdly, Bibi made a simple clear point that the American people can understand. Forget intellectual arguments. Forget the fancy words of lawyers and Ivy Leaguers like Obama, meant to obscure, confuse, distract and deceive the people.

Bibi spoke from the heart. Bibi painted a picture of militant radical Muslims like Islamic State and how they act – they commit atrocities…they cut off heads…they torture…they throw gays off buildings…they parade prisoners in cages…they set people on fire…they rape and kill women and children…even babies are cut in half and mutilated at the hands of militant radical Muslims.

And Obama wants to allow them to possess NUCLEAR WEAPONS? And he thinks that’s okay? He thinks they’ll change? He thinks they’ll stop being angry and aggressive with a nuclear weapon now in their hands? That image ends the debate.

Bibi’s point was clear, somber and frightening: No militant Islamic state can ever be allowed to possess nuclear weapons…or they will certainly use them. No one in the world will be ever sleep soundly again. No one’s children will ever be safe again. People that cut off heads…stone woman for having sex…throw acid in a little girl’s face for wanting to go to school…set fire to a prisoner in a cage…people like that will use a nuclear weapon.

Bibi made it clear Obama’s deal with Iran allows them to possess nuclear weapons. It’s only a matter of when. That cannot be allowed to pass.

I think I heard Obama and Valerie Jarrett screaming at the TV in the White House.

Bibi embarrassed them. Thrashed them. Emasculated them. The emperor has no clothes. By the way, not only is it clear Obama does not like Israel…that Obama is a Muslim sympathizer…that Obama is trying to weaken Israel and put her people in danger…but the ruler of Obama’s White House is Valerie Jarrett. Where was Valerie born? Iran.

Obama’s actions and negotiations are no mistake…fluke…coincidence…not done out of naivete. Bibi knows that as well as I do. So he had to deconstruct Obama and his Iranian-born svengali in a nice way…in front of the Congress…in Obama’s own house.

Bibi had to kill Obama with kindness. He could not win over the American people by ripping our president in our own home court. So he never once named Obama as the bad guy. He never once blamed Obama for a bad deal, or bad negotiations. He never said out loud “your president is trying to hurt Israel.”

But he didn’t have to. We all know.

Bravo Bibi. You just showed us all what a real leader looks like – someone who stands up to evil, instead of negotiating and compromising in the face of another Hitler. Bibi made his point subtly…as subtly as a jackhammer and blowtorch. Best of all, it was a two-for-one sale: Bibi destroyed both Iran and Obama with one masterful speech.

Israel’s Netanyahu Says Obama/Iran Deal Threatening Existence of Israel

Israel’s Netanyahu Says Obama/Iran Deal Threatening Existence of Israel

Obama, Israel’s Netanyahu clash over Iran diplomacy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while addressing the 2015 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu clashed over Iran nuclear diplomacy on Monday on the eve of the Israeli prime minister’s hotly disputed address to Congress, underscoring the severity of U.S.-Israeli strains over the issue.

Even as the two leaders professed their commitment to a strong partnership and sought to play down the diplomatic row, they delivered dueling messages – Netanyahu in a speech to pro-Israeli supporters and Obama in an interview with Reuters – that hammered home their differences on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Neither gave any ground ahead of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday when he plans to detail his objections to ongoing talks between Iran and world powers that he says will inevitably allow Tehran to become a nuclear-armed state.

Netanyahu opened his high-profile visit to Washington on Monday with a stark warning to the Obama administration that the deal being negotiated with Tehran could threaten Israel’s survival, saying he had a “moral obligation” to sound the alarm about the dangers.

He insisted he meant no disrespect for Obama, with whom he has a history of testy encounters, and appreciated U.S. military and diplomatic support for Israel.

Just hours after Netanyahu’s speech to AIPAC, the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby, Obama told Reuters that Iran should commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on its most sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached. But with negotiators facing an end-of-March deadline for a framework accord, he said the odds were still against sealing a final agreement.

The Reuters interview gave Obama a chance to try to preemptively blunt the impact of Netanyahu’s closely watched address to Congress.Previewing his coming appearance on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu told a cheering audience at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “As prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there’s still time to avert them.”

At the same time, Netanyahu said the relationship between his country and the United States was “stronger than ever” and not in crisis.

EASING TENSIONS

Obama also sought to lower the temperature by describing Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress as a distraction that would not be “permanently destructive” to U.S.-Israeli ties and by saying the rift was not personal.

Obama refused to meet Netanyahu during the visit, on the grounds that doing so could be seen as interference on the cusp of Israel’s March 17 elections when the prime minister is seeking re-election against a tough center-left challenger. On Monday, the president said he would be willing to meet Netanyahu if the Israeli leader wins re-election.

But he said Netanyahu’s U.S. visit gave the impression of “politicizing” the two countries’ normally close partnership and of going outside the normal channels of U.S. foreign policy in which the president holds greatest sway. Netanyahu’s planned speech has driven a wedge between Israel and congressional Democrats. Forty two of them plan to boycott the address, according to The Hill, a political newspaper.

Netanyahu, who was given rousing bipartisan welcomes in his two previous addresses to Congress, is expected to press U.S. lawmakers to block a deal with Iran that he contends would endanger Israel’s existence but which Obama’s aides believe could be a signature foreign policy achievement.

The invitation to Netanyahu was orchestrated by Republican congressional leaders with the Israeli ambassador without advance word to the White House, a breach of protocol that infuriated the Obama administration and the president’s fellow Democrats.

The partisan nature of this dispute has turned it into the worst rift in decades between the United States and Israel, which normally navigates carefully between Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

Netanyahu wants Iran to be completely barred from enriching uranium, which puts him at odds with Obama’s view that a deal should allow Tehran to engage in limited enrichment for peaceful purposes but under close international inspection.

Obama said a final deal must create a one-year “breakout period” for Iran, which means it would take at least a year for Tehran to get a nuclear weapon if it decides to develop one, thereby giving time for military action to prevent it.

Netanyahu has said such a deal would allow Iran to become a “threshold” nuclear weapons state, that it would inevitably cheat on any agreement and that the lifting of nuclear restrictions in as little of 10 years would be an untenable risk to Israel. He has hinted at the prospect for Israeli military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities as a last resort, though he made no such threat in his AIPAC speech on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Emily Stephenson in Washington and Arshad Mohammed in Montreux, Switzerland; Writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Howard Goller and Stuart Grudgings)