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Vienna talks reveal Biden team’s attachment to sanctions that would torpedo Iran deal

BY GARETH PORTER · THE GRAYZONE · APRIL 18, 2021

Biden’s foreign policy team refuses to relieve Iran from sanctions illegally imposed by the Trump administration, setting the stage for the collapse of negotiations and a major crisis.

The Biden administration signaled once again at the April 9 Vienna meeting on the Iran nuclear deal that it intends to maintain Trump-era Iran sanctions in an effort to win political and military concessions going well beyond the original deal itself. Team Biden continued to insist during the conference that Iran return to full compliance with the nuclear agreement without any reciprocal US commitment to remove the sanctions President Donald Trump imposed after abandoning the agreement in 2018.

The Biden administration’s stance on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has already provoked a forceful response from Iran. Rather than enriching uranium at the 20 percent level that was used before Washington began making its new demands, Tehran has begun enriching to 60 percent purity.

In a video press conference with journalists after the first round of the “Joint Commission” of the JCPOA in Vienna, an unnamed “senior official” implied that the Biden administration intends to maintain sanctions on Iran, framing them as necessary political leverage. The unnamed US official also griped about “repeated statements by Iranians that all sanctions imposed since 2017 have to be lifted.”

Asserting the Biden administration’s position on the JCPOA, the official stated: “[U]nder the deal the US retains the right to impose sanctions for non-nuclear reasons, whether it’s terrorism or human rights violations or interference with our elections, et cetera.”

The official added, “[A]ll sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA and inconsistent with the benefits that Iran expects from the JCPOA, we are prepared to lift. That does not mean all of them, because there are some that are legitimate.”

However, the official refused to clarify just how the Biden administration distinguishes between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” sanctions. The Biden administration’s deliberate ambiguity on that central point strongly suggests a determination to force Iran into making concessions on issues which happen to be Israeli priorities: lengthening the sunset dates of Iran’s key JCPOA obligations as well as imposing limits on its ballistic missile program and regional alliances.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, has made it clear that Iran will not bend to the Biden administration’s diplomatic coercion. Just before the Vienna meeting, he said, “The US should remove … all sanctions that were reimposed after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA or newly imposed or relabeled … and then we [will] verify and return to our commitments.”

Further evidence of the obdurate US strategy came in the form of comments made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a March 3 interview with PBS Newshour. While crediting the JCPOA with having “put Iran’s nuclear program in a box,” Blinken ignored the fact that the agreement had resulted from Tehran’s acceptance of limits on its nuclear program for several years in return for the removal of US and UN sanctions.

Blinken even framed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as though it were a consensus US policy rather than an extremist policy that Biden himself had attacked.

“When we pulled out of the nuclear agreement,” he said, “Iran then started to break out from that box. And it is now in a position where it is closer to having the ability to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon on short order, in a matter of months.”

Blinken emphasized that the Biden administration has “a real interest in trying to put Iran back into that box.” Yet he downplayed the role of sanctions relief in returning to the original JCPOA. “We have been very clear that Iran has to come back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement,” he stated. “And if it does, we will do the same thing… that would involve, if they do it, some sanctions relief.”

The Biden strategy of coercion as outlined by both the anonymous senior US official and Blinken is entirely consistent with multiple indications of the Biden team’s intentions signaled well before Biden’s electoral victory.

The Biden administration saw an opportunity to exploit diplomatic coercion on Iran because Trump, responding to pressures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and major pro-Israel Trump donors, had abandoned the nuclear agreement and embarked on what his administration called a “maximum pressure” campaign. Trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, then declared the reinstatement of all US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the 2015 deal.

In making that decision public, the Trump administration highlighted the secondary sanctions against countries that had imported Iranian oil — but also gave waivers for six months to eight countries it said had already reduced their imports from Iran significantly.

The Trump administration was merely continuing a technique for attacking the Iranian economy that had been pioneered by Obama-era Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey. The key to his strategy, Levey explained in Congressional testimony in 2010, was to focus on “illicit conduct” by Iran, such as Iran’s missile program or its alleged support for terrorism, in order to “maximize the chances of achieving a truly multinational coalition” for breaking or avoiding economic ties with Iran.

Levey identified UN Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted in 2010, which calls a wide range of actions by member states against Iran over nuclear and missile activity, as crucial to his approach.  He sought to exploit the fear of foreign companies that their investment in Iran could be linked to any Iranian activities labeled as “illicit.”

“The operating presumption,” Levey suggested, “should be that virtually all transactions or financial services involving Iran could contribute to its nuclear or missile programs.” Levey saw the establishment of that “presumption” as the key to frightening potential investors away from Iran.

 

Even though the Treasury sanctions legally apply only to assets and transactions under US jurisdiction, Levey observed, “[W]e have found over the years that many banks and businesses around the world cut off dealings with designated targets…”

By enriching uranium at the 60 percent level of purity, Iran is applying its own strategy of diplomatic leverage, hoping to force an end to economic sanctions ravaging its economy. Tehran employed the same tactic in 2012, pressuring the Obama administration to drop its insistence that Iran essentially give up its enrichment program entirely.

The Obama administration believed it was well positioned to force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. To whittle away at US diplomatic pressure, Iran doubled its total number of centrifuges onsite between May and August 2012, but it never actually used the bulk of that capability to enrich uranium. None of the newly installed centrifuges were even connected with pipes; and only one third of those that were connected were actually enriching. In September 2012, Iran offered to end its policy of 20 percent enrichment in return for the lifting of sanctions. An Obama administration official acknowledged that Iran had gained “leverage” by creating a high degree of capacity, but not using it.

The result was the compromise at the heart of the JCPOA: Iran agreed to give up its ability to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon and the US removed its economic sanctions that had blocked Iran from achieving its development goals.

Now, the Biden administration is planning to exploit the crushing sanctions regime it inherited from Trump to extract further concessions from Iran. Those sanctions have brought what the IMF has called “extreme distress” to Iranian economy and society, increasing inflation and unemployment, and sharply reducing popular access to food, healthcare and medicine.

But any notion that US sanctions would result in popular pressure for government concessions on the nuclear deal was contradicted by a survey of Iranian public opinion by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in late 2019 which found that a solid majority of Iranians now questioned whether Iran should have signed the JCPOA in the first place.

Nevertheless, Joe Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and other top officials in the administration are acutely attuned to Israeli strategic thinking. They appear convinced that their ability to pressure Iran through sanctions has been strengthened –– especially after the April 11 Israeli sabotage attack on the Natanz enrichment facility, which will set back Iranian enrichment plans at the facility for at least nine months.

But the Biden team’s hopes that Iran could be coerced to return to the nuclear deal while the US attempts to economically strangle Iran until it accedes to its demands demonstrates a breathtaking lack of perspective. If this delusional mindset prevails, it is likely to lead to a much more serious crisis in the coming months.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Report: Iran’s verification of US reversal to take 3 months at least

Press TV – April 11, 2021

A detailed report by the Iranian parliament’s Research Center says the verification of any US removal of sanctions on Tehran would require at least three months, emphasizing that the process would not be possible within hours or days.

“It is obvious that the real test of sanctions removal and fulfillment of measurable indices put forward by Iran is not possible in a matter of few hours or days, and would take at least 3 to 6 months. It is also necessary to verify within specified intervals (for example every six months) that the Iranian economy benefits from the removal of the sanctions,” the parliament’s Research Center (IPRC) said in its report.

The report said Article 6 of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed in December by Iranian legislators, stipulates several general criteria concerning the removal of the anti-Iran sanctions.

They include normalization of banking transactions, total removal of export barriers, unhindered sale of Iranian petroleum and oil derivatives, in addition to complete and rapid return of revenues from Iranian oil sales.

Last December, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the action plan, which tasked the administration with suspending extra commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Iranian parliament’s report went on to say that Article 7 of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions obliges the government to report to the parliament on measures taken to counteract the US sanctions. Parliamentary commissions have been assigned to assess those measures.

The report noted that Washington has a number of economic, political and legal means which it could employ despite its possible removal of the sanctions in order to prevent the Iranian economy from benefiting from the dividends of the nuclear deal.

The United States, the report said, may prevent Iran from benefiting economically from the removal of the sanctions by trying to maintain the status quo, including limiting other countries’ cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

Research conducted by the IPRC has significant impact on the legislation passed by Iranian lawmakers.

On April 8, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said verification means Iran should be able to sell its oil under normal conditions and receive its money.

The Biden administration has conceded that its predecessor’s so-called maximum pressure campaign has failed, but it has so far failed to take any practical steps to undo the wrongs.

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Iran will in no way enter negotiations beyond JCPOA: Security chief

Press TV – April 6, 2021

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani says the Islamic Republic will under no circumstances enter negotiations beyond the nuclear agreement it clinched with six major world states in 2015.

“Regardless of whether Europe has the will or ability to persuade #USA to lift all sanctions at once & Washington’s return to its commitments, there will be no possibility for Iran entering the talks in the new fields, more than JCPOA, under any circumstances,” he said.

The security chief posted the tweet with the hashtag #activeresistance in his tweet.

Shamkhani’s tweet followed remarks by the US administration’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, who is based in a hotel near the venue of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna between representatives of Iran and the remaining signatories to the JCPOA.

In an interview with the American National Public Radio, Malley was asked about a “follow-up” agreement in case the JCPOA gets back on track.

“What we would pursue is, first of all, a longer agreement. Even though this one lasts quite some time and some of its provisions last forever, of course, it would be better, as in any arms control agreement, to see whether we could get a follow-on deal that extends the timelines,” he replied.

Earlier in the day, representatives of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — began a new round of talks in Vienna over a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA, which abandoned by the US under former president Donald Trump some three years ago.

The Vienna negotiations took place within the “in-person” and expert-level formats.

Ahead of the talks, Iran’s Foreign Ministry reaffirmed in a statement that no representatives from the US are to attend the nuclear talks in Vienna, and that the Iranian delegation’s agenda does not feature any direct or indirect negotiations with Americans either.

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Iran will have no direct, indirect talks with US in Vienna: Official

Press TV – April 4, 2021

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says Iran and the US will have no direct or indirect talks in Vienna, where the remaining parties to a 2015 nuclear deal will meet Tuesday to discuss the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

He made the remarks on Sunday, two days after participants at the virtual meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission agreed to resume in-person talks in the Austrian capital.

Araqchi said Iran’s negotiations with Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia in Vienna are purely technical about the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s remedial measures as well as the sequence of the US lifting of sanctions which should be verified.

“What we are pursuing in Vienna at the Joint Commission is precisely based on the firm positions of the establishment that have repeatedly been stated by Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] and the country’s officials,” he said.

“We will have no talks, whether direct or indirect, with the Americans in Vienna. We will negotiate with the Joint Commission and the P4 + 1 and pronounce our condition for the [US] return to the JCPOA. Our demand is that the US must first fulfill all its obligations and remove all the sanctions it has imposed, then we will verify and return” to the point before the remedial measures Iran has taken, he added.

The Europeans are trying to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal, which the administration of former US president Donald Trump almost wrecked after abandoning it in May 2018 and imposing the “toughest ever” anti-Iran sanctions.

After the withdrawal, Iran waited for a year for the Europeans to take remedial measures and thwart the unilateral American sanctions as per their obligations under the JCPOA, but to no avail.

That prompted the Islamic Republic to suspend some of its obligations in line with its legal rights stipulated under Article 36 of the JCPOA.

The new US administration, under President Joe Biden, has spoken of a willingness to return to the nuclear agreement, but in practice, it has been sticking to Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

Last month, Ayatollah Khamenei said Washington must first remove all the sanctions it has imposed on Tehran in a verifiable manner before Iran reverses its nuclear countermeasures.

Iran has drawn a line in the sand before going to the Vienna talks: it will not accept any step-by-step lifting of the sanctions as suggested by the Americans.

“We do not have any step-by-step plan or proposal and do not accept it,” Araqchi reiterated Sunday.

“In our opinion, there is only one step: All the sanctions that were reimposed after Trump’s withdrawal or imposed newly under different headings should be identified and the United States must lift them. Then we will verify and return to our commitments.”

April 4, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | 2 Comments

Biden Regime Proposal to Break JCPOA Deadlock with Iran?

By Stephen Lendman | March 31, 2021

Hold the cheers!

Believe nothing from duplicitous USA, especially from interventionist Blinken and others in charge of the Biden regime’s hostile geopolitical agenda.

Iran and other countries know that hegemon USA can never be trusted — its word virtually never its bond.

Promises by its ruling regimes aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Sooner or later they’re breached. It happens time and again.

Good faith diplomatic outreach to the US by independent countries is virtually never reciprocated in kind.

It’s an exercise in futility virtually always.

The Biden regime has no intention of rejoining the landmark JCPOA nuclear deal as affirmed by Security Council Res. 2231.

It wants the agreement hardened with provisions no responsible government would accept.

According to Politico, the Biden regime is “struggling just to get the Iranians to the table (sic).”

Getting there is as simple as observing SC Res. 2231 provisions, what its hardliners refuse to do.

Politico reported that Biden’s geopolitical team intends “ask(ing) Iran to halt some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, in exchange for some relief from US economic sanctions (sic).”

On Tuesday, Iran’s Press TV reported the following:

An unnamed “senior Iranian official has told Press TV that Tehran will not stop 20-percent uranium enrichment before the US sanctions are lifted.”

“20-percent uranium enrichment is in line with Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA and will be stopped only if the US lifts all the sanctions.”

“The Iranian official said the country will not stop any of its current nuclear activities before the removal of all sanctions.”

If the Biden regime fails to comply with its obligations under international law by lifting illegally imposed sanctions “soon, Iran will take the next steps, which will be further reduction of its JCPOA commitment” — as permitted by JCPOA Article 36.

What Press TV explained above came in response to Politico’s report about an alleged Biden regime proposal not released so far.

Time and again, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif stressed that his government rejects renegotiating what’s affirmed by SC Res. 2231.

In early March he tweeted: “JCPOA cannot be renegotiated—period.”

The US breached the landmark agreement, not Iran.

The violator must return to compliance. Otherwise the deal is gone.

Last week, Zarif tweeted:

“There has been an inordinate amount of spin about what needs to be done to resurrect the JCPOA, trying to reverse the victim and the culprits.

This fact sheet indisputably corrects the historical amnesia & sets the record straight.”

It’s lengthy but here it is in its entirety as compiled by Iran:

Fact Sheet on the JCPOA timeline from implementation to present

January 16, 2016, Implementation Day:

• The IAEA certifies that Iran is fully implementing the JCPOA. Key steps on the part of Iran include restrictions on its nuclear program and increased monitoring.

• The IAEA’s report on Implementation Day should have triggered effective sanctions lifting on the part of the US and the EU/E3. It did not.

January 17, 2016: The US Treasury Department imposes new sanctions on 11 individuals and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile programs.

This defensive program is not prohibited by the JCPOA, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 nor even its Annex B, which “calls upon” Iran not to develop missiles “designed to be capable” of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iranian missiles are not designed for weapons that Iran will never develop.

March 21, 2016: Candidate Trump delivers remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference, noting his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

September 21, 2016:

• The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) grants Airbus and Boeing partial permission to sell planes to Iran.

• The licenses were issued after a 7-month delay, and only in response to a written warning by Iran on September 2, 2016 to invoke the DRM (Dispute Resolution Mechanism) under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.

• Iran receives only 3 out of 117 Airbus passenger aircraft it ordered—and none of the Boeing aircraft.

December 1, 2016:

• Congress passes a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), in clear violation of the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231.

• President Obama refuses to sign the legislation but fails to veto it, allowing it to become law on December 15.

December 16, 2016: Iran officially invokes the DRM under Paragraph 36 but does not take any remedial measures prescribed therein.

January 12, 2017: In his confirmation hearing for the position of Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis tells Congress that “when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”

March 23, 2017: Senator Corker introduces Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, in clear violation of both the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231.

March 31, 2017: Former Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and six former Obama administration officials pen an op-ed in Foreign Policy outlining their opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.

May 16, 2017: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator for the JCPOA, states her opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, noting its potential to undermine the nuclear accord.

July 10, 2017: White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that at the G20 summit, President Trump encouraged foreign leaders not to do business with Iran, a clear violation of both the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231.

July 17, 2017: The Trump (regime) reluctantly certifies Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, delaying the announcement for hours and issuing new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran the next day.

October 13, 2017: Trump declares—in violation of the JCPOA and UNSCR2231—that he will not certify Iranian compliance under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Trump encourages Congress to enact legislation against the JCPOA’s “sunset clauses”. Trump says if his concerns about the deal are not resolved, he will terminate the agreement.

October 16, 2017: Iran officially invokes the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA again, in response to the unlawful decertification by Trump, but does not take remedial measures under the same paragraph to give diplomacy a chance.

May 8, 2018:

• Trump announces that he is ceasing US participation in the JCPOA and signs a presidential memorandum to institute the “highest level” of economic sanctions on Iran.

• President Rouhani announces that Iran will give diplomacy a chance for a few weeks so that the other states in the agreement can try to continue the deal without the United States.

May 10, 2018: Iran writes letters to the UN Secretary General and the JCPOA Joint Commission Coordinator, officially invoking again the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, but states that it will not take remedial measures immediately to allow diplomacy to work.

May 17, 2018: The European Commission meets in Sofia and announces that it will pursue a “blocking statute” to ban European companies and courts from complying with US sanctions against Iran.

However, EU allows all European companies to comply with US secondary sanctions and cease doing business with Iran.

July 6, 2018: A Ministerial Meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission (China, France, Iran, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union) is convened to consider Iran’s invocation of the DRM under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.

Ministers issue a joint statement promising wider economic relations and preservation of effective financial channels with Iran; continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals; continuation of sea, land, air and rail relations; promotion of export credit; effective support for economic operators trading with Iran; encouragement of further investments in Iran; protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, etc.

Not a single one of these promises have been realized to date.

August 6, 2018: In a joint statement, the French, German, and British foreign ministers as well as the EU say they “deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US” and note that they are “determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231.”

They reiterate that preserving the JCPOA is a “matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security.”

This had no actual effect on international business with Iran, which remains frozen to this day.

August 7, 2018: Certain sanctions measures reimposed by Trump on May 8 the same year come into full effect.

The measures include restricting Iran’s purchase of US dollars, trade in gold, precious metals, aluminum, steel, coal, software, and transactions related to sovereign debt and the automotive sector.

Licenses allowing certain foodstuffs to be exported to the United States and Iran to purchase commercial aircraft are also revoked.

September 24, 2018: The second Ministerial Meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, convened to discuss Iran’s triggering of the DRM under Paragraph 36 “re-affirmed their continued commitment to the objectives mentioned in the statement of the Ministerial session of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA on 6 July 2018, in particular to pursue concrete and effective measures to secure payment channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals.”

Not a single effective measure has been taken to date.

October 3, 2018: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules unanimously that the United States must remove any impediments to the export of food, agricultural products, medicine, aircraft parts, and other humanitarian goods.

The Court concludes that Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran was unfounded given Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

November 5, 2018: The second round of sanctions on Iran following Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA—targeting Iran’s banking, oil, shipping and ship-building sectors—come into effect.

In addition to redesignating entities removed from the SDN list under the JCPOA, the United States designates an additional 300 new entities.

November 6, 2018: Iran officially informs the EU, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom that having waited 6 months in vain for the EU/E3 to take measures promised following the US withdrawal, Iran will start taking remedial measures under Paragraph 36 and will “cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”

It continues, however, to fully observe the restrictions under the JCPOA for another 6 months.

November 8, 2018: Newsweek reports; “Mike Pompeo Says Iran Must Listen to US. ‘If They Want Their People to Eat.’”

November 22, 2018: The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments despite the US’ unlawful withdrawal and economic warfare.

February 13-14, 2019: The United States and Poland host a ministerial meeting on the Middle East in Warsaw where US Vice President Mike Pence explicitly calls on “our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

March 22, 2019: The US Treasury Department designates 31 Iranian entities and individuals for past involvement in Iran’s nuclear program.

April 8, 2019: The United States designates the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

April 22, 2019: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that the United States will not issue any additional sanctions waivers for states to continue importing Iranian oil on May 2.

May 8, 2019: Iran announces that it will no longer be bound by stockpiles limitations on enriched uranium and heavy water reserves in the JCPOA and could restart construction on its unfinished heavy water reactor at Arak and resume higher level enrichment in the future. Iran also declares that all its remedial measures are reversible upon the fullfilment of all JCPOA obligations by all sides.

May 31, 2019: IAEA reports for the 15th time (the 5th since Trump’s withdrawal) that Iran has continued to fully observe all of its obligations under JCPOA.

June 23, 2019: Trump says new sanctions are coming for Iran amid ongoing “economic war.”

June 24, 2019: The United States sanctions the Supreme Leader of Iran and his office.

July 1, 2019: IAEA reports for the first time that Iran has exceeded 300 Kg stock of enriched uranium—a full 14 months after Trump’s withdrawal and 8 months after Iran’s official notification of remedial measures under Paragraph 36.

July 31, 2019: The United States sanctions Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

September 3, 2019: The US Treasury sanctions the Iran Space Agency and two affiliated research

institutes.

September 20, 2019: The US Treasury imposes new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and other entities.

September 25, 2019: The White House issues a proclamation suspending the entry of senior Iranian government officials to the United States.

January 2, 2020: President Trump officially claims responsibility for the targeted extra-judicial murder of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani.

February 5, 2020: IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tells reporters in Washington, DC that Iran has not taken further steps to breach the JCPOA, and that Iran continues to comply with its ‘safeguards’ obligations mandated by the deal.

April 30, 2020:

• US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, discloses Trump administration’s plan to prevent the October 2020 expiration of UN restrictions on arms sales to and from Iran—written into UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Hook says that the Trump administration is prepared to use “every diplomatic option available” to extend the restrictions, including by making a legal argument that the United States remains a participant of the nuclear deal in order to exercise a Security Council provision to instate the UN restrictions indefinitely.

• EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell says that “it’s quite clear for us that the US is no longer a participating member in this agreement.”

May 27, 2020: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announces that the United States will terminate sanctions waivers that allow for nonproliferation cooperation projects to continue in Iran.

These waivers cover the conversion of the Arak reactor, the provision of enriched fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of Iran’s spent fuel.

This makes it impossible for Iran to continue to fullfil its commitments under the JCPOA.

June 25, 2020: The United States imposes additional sanctions on Iran targeted at the country’s metal industry.

July 3, 2020: EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell announces that he has received a letter from Iran triggering the JCPOA’s DRM, citing concerns about the E3’s implementation of the agreement.

July 4, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets that the country triggered again the JCPOA Dispute Resolution Mechanism because of violations by the European members of the deal, in addition to outright U.S. violations.

Zarif notes that European members of the deal are failing to fulfill their JCPOA duties and have given in to U.S. “bullying.”

August 14, 2020:

• In a vote on a US resolution to extend UN arms restrictions against Iran, the United States is defeated with only 2 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 11 abstentions, falling drastically short of the nine votes needed for an extension.

• In an act of piracy on the high seas, the United States seizes cargo for the first time from Iranian fuel tankers bound for Venezuela.

August 20, 2020: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivers a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General and to the President of the Security Council, invoking provisions of UNSCR 2231— which are only available to JCPOA participants—to re-instate revoked resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran.

August 25, 2020: The United Nations Security Council dismisses the US effort to re-impose UN Security Council sanctions on Iran.

The President of the Security Council says the Council is “not in position to take further action” pursuant to the US request.

September 21, 2020: Speaking at a news conference, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says, “no matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.”

Pompeo also announces new sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Defense, Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, and its director.

November 17, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif states that if the United States adheres to its commitments under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran will return to compliance with the restrictions under the JCPOA.

He further reiterates that this can be done without negotiations.

November 27, 2020: Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is assassinated near Tehran.

December 1, 2020: The Iranian Parliament responds to the assassination by requiring the Government to take further and more drastic remedial measures under Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA if US unilateral sanctions are not lifted by February 23, 2021.

January 5, 2021: The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control imposes a new round of sanctions on Iran’s steel industry.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says in a statement that “the Trump administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime.”

February 21, 2021: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi travels to Tehran to meet with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as well as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

They discuss Iran’s planned Feb. 23 suspension of the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement and together reach an arrangement whereby the IAEA will continue its necessary verification activities for up to 3 months.

March 25, 2021:

• Despite promises made by incoming US President Joe Biden, his (regime) has yet to take any steps to abide by either the JCPOA or UNSCR 2231—a resolution the US itself co-sponsored.

• Iran, as evidenced by the above timeline, has shown maximum restraint in the face of “maximum pressure”, “economic war”, bullying, assassinations, cruelty and collective punishment of its

people.

• Today, the ball is firmly in the US court.

If it claims interest in the JCPOA, it must abandon its unlawful violations and verifiably remove all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017.

• Iran will stop all of its remedial measures upon verification of a US return to compliance.

The detailed account above shows why the US can never be trusted — why it’s a waste of time dealing with its duplicitous regimes.

Nonbelligerent Iran threatens no one.

Yet it’s been wrongfully vilified, lied about, and targeted by the US for regime change for over 40 years — because it won’t be subservient to its interests at the expense of its own.

Looking ahead, there’s virtually no chance that Biden regime hardliners will soften their agenda toward Iran — nor against other countries free from US control.

Whatever proposal Biden’s geopolitical team may make to Iran will no doubt be rejected unless it includes lifting all illegally imposed sanctions — and not reimposing any.

Chances for this to happen are virtually nil.

Whatever the US says publicly or proposes, its hostility toward Iran remains unchanged.

The JCPOA will likely dissolve ahead because the US won’t observe its provisions.

Nor will colonized Britain, France and Germany — going along with their US [or Israeli] master even when harming their own interests.

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Iran blasts Johnson’s ‘utter hypocrisy’ for ‘concerns’ over Tehran plutonium risk after PM announces UK nuke warhead increase

RT | March 16, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been branded a hypocrite by Iran’s foreign minister for raising concerns of the risk of Tehran developing nuclear weapons minutes after announcing an expansion to the UK’s own nuke arsenal.

On Tuesday, Javad Zarif condemned what he called Johnson’s “utter hypocrisy” in a statement on Twitter, adding: “Unlike the UK and allies, Iran believes nukes and all WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] are barbaric and must be eradicated.”

Earlier in the day Johnson revealed that the UK would lift a cap on its own nuclear stockpile, allowing it to keep a total of 260 warheads, rather than being limited to 180, as had been set by previous British governments.

The PM was then quizzed about Iran’s role in the Middle East by a fellow Tory MP after unveiling the plans as part of the government’s Integrated Review Of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

“We remain extremely concerned by Iran’s influence in the region, the disruptive behavior of Iran and particularly, of course, we are concerned by the risk of Iran developing a viable nuclear weapon,” Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons.

He added that it would be beneficial for the security of the people of Iran and the wider Middle East if the state returned to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In recent months the deal has been a major flashpoint between Iran and the Western signatories of the JCPOA, including Germany, France and the UK, which have all called for Iran to stop breaching its commitments.

US President Joe Biden has said Washington will return to the deal, which provides sanctions relief for Iran, if Tehran stops undermining the agreement by stepping up its uranium enrichment – a crucial step in the development of nuclear weapons.

For its part, Tehran has repeatedly said it would be prepared to fall back into full compliance under the deal if the US drops its sanctions against Iran.

The UK’s security review accuses Iran, Russia and North Korea of destabilizing their respective regions and the “weakening of the international order.”

The 100-page document says it is the UK’s priority to “prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon” and that it remains open about further JCPOA talks.

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Biden Regime won’t incentivize Iran to join JCPOA talks

Press TV – March 12, 2021

The US once again asserts that it will not offer any “incentives” to prompt Iran to rejoin talks with Washington on “mutual compliance” with a 2015 nuclear agreement it unilaterally left later, insisting that it is Tehran that has to take the first step.

“We will not offer any unilateral gestures or incentives to induce the Iranians to come to the table,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday, Reuters said.

“If the Iranians are under the impression that, absent any movement on their part to resume full compliance with the [nuclear deal], … we will offer favors or unilateral gestures, well that’s a misimpression,” he added.

Under his signature “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, former American president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 group of states – the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.

He then restored the economic sanctions that the deal had lifted. The US also began threatening third countries with “secondary sanctions” if they did business with Iran in defiance of the bans.

This is while the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been ratified as a United Nations Security Council resolution, making both the US’s departure from the accord and its snapping the sanctions back into place unilateral and illegal.

Iran, in turn, began confronting the sanctions under Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei’s Resistive Economy directive.

It also started a number of nuclear countermeasures on the first anniversary of the US’s withdrawal in line with its rights under the deal to retaliate for the other side’s non-commitment. The Islamic Republic gradually increased its counteractions as Washington and its allies in the deal would continue to violate their JCPOA obligations.

Price suggested that Washington could consider step-by-step resumption of each party’s nuclear commitments only after Tehran returned to the negotiation table.

“If and only if Tehran comes to the negotiating table, would we be in a position, would we be prepared to discuss proposals that would help push both sides back on that path of mutual compliance to the deal,” he said. “Ultimately, that is where we seek to go: compliance for compliance,” the spokesman added.

Iran has, on the one hand, underscored that, unlike the US, it was never the party to leave the talks in the first place. On the other, it notes that the JCPOA is a done deal and does not need any renegotiation.

As its definitive stance on the issue, the Islamic Republic also emphasizes that it will only resume its full compliance with the deal once the US lifted all the sanctions, noting that the sanction relief process is Washington’s contractual duty and should take place without any preconditions.

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

How Israel is Shaping Biden’s Iran Policy

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 09.03.2021

While Joe Biden the candidate wanted to quickly normalise relations with Iran and re-enter the JCPOA, Joe Biden the president has, as the developments that have happened so far, deviated from his stated course of action. To a large extent, Biden has appropriated Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy and has refused to lift sanctions on Iran and simply make the US a part of the Iran nuclear deal. To a significant extent, this dramatic change in policy, while not completely surprising for the Iranians, is a result of the way Israel is pushing the Biden administration away from reconciliation and normalisation. In fact, a crucial reason for Biden’s appropriation of Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy is the way the Israelis have very quickly implanted their own discourse vis-à-vis Iran in the mindset of the Biden administration. Echoing what the Israelis have been saying for years, Antony Blinken recently remarked that Iran was only “weeks” or “months” away from making a bomb. Although there is a huge difference between having the capacity to build a bomb and actually building and using a bomb, the US sees this [doubtful] proximity to building a bomb as a crucial factor that has made the Biden administration change its plans from re-joining the JCPOA to emphasising renegotiations. It has led it to refuse to lift sanctions.

The hard-line position that the Biden administration has taken feeds directly into the Israeli narrative. What Blinken said matches perfectly with what Israeli officials have also recently claimed. According to a recent assessment issued by Israel’s Militray Intelligence Directorate, “Iran may be up to two years away from making a nuclear weapon if it chooses to do so.” The report further says that Iran’s current enrichment level brings it closer to various “breakout” estimates about how quickly it could enrich uranium to 90%, and also begin to build better missiles and a weapons system that might lead to a nuclear weapon.

For Israel, therefore, it is of utmost importance that the US remains focused on the “violations” that Iran has committed by enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by the JCPOA. A recent report of The Jerusalem Post thus sums Israel’s current approach. It says, “What is important for Israel is that the brinkmanship continue, and that Iran’s violations and Israel’s concerns continue to be recognized. For that to happen, it is also important for close US-Israel cooperation and discussion in order to prevent nuclear proliferation by the Tehran regime.”

The report refers to an IDF intelligence officer Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heiman who said in a briefing on the IDF assessment that Iran is at an unprecedented low point and is “battered, but on its feet,” following actions carried out by Israel and the US. Tehran is banking on the Biden administration for some breathing room. It is incumbent on the US – and Israel – to make sure that is not allowed to happen for nothing.”

Now, the fact that the Biden administration has refused to take a step back and lift its sanctions to pave the way for the US’ re-entry shows how closely the US and Israel are already coordinating their policies vis-à-vis Iran. The Biden administration’s announcement that the US would not re-join the agreement or even lift sanctions unless Iran halts enrichment dovetails perfectly with what Netanyahu had said just before the US elections. To quote him, “There can be no going back to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy of ensuring that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.”

The Biden’s administration’s capitulation to Israel’s uncompromising policy vis-à-vis Iran has led Iran to stick to its own path. An official Iranian statement released on February 28 said that:

“the way forward is quite clear. The US must end its illegal and unilateral sanctions and return to its JCPOA commitments. This issue neither needs negotiation, nor a resolution by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to actions with action and just in the same way that it will return to its JCPOA commitments as sanctions are removed…”

The hardening of US and Iranian positions serves Israeli interests in the best possible way. An unresolved nuclear power tussle in the Middle East would keep Israel at the centre stage of regional politics. Given Israel’s recent rapprochement with the UAE and other Gulf states, tensions in the Gulf would not only reinforce Israel’s direct security ties with these Gulf states, but the scenario could very well make other Gulf states join The Abraham Accords. Tensions with Iran, therefore, could allow Israel to establish itself as the new regional hegemon.

Israel has already got supporters in the form of not only the UAE but Saudi Arabia as well. They have both stated that they would be open to a deal only if it went well beyond the previous one. According to them, any deal, in addition to putting limits on Iran’s nuclear program, must include provisions aimed at reversing Iran’s ballistic missile program, ending its “meddling” in other countries and the militias it supports in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Israel, as it stands, is already leading the Gulf states in lobbying the US for an agreement that not only limits Iran’s nuclear program, but also curtails its national power potential in many other ways. As some reports in the US mainstream media show, the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, and a team of experts will soon travel to Washington to brief senior American officials about what they see as the threats still posed by Iran, hoping to persuade the US to hold out for harsher restrictions on Iran in any deal.

Iran, on the other hand, is unlikely to change its position vis-à-vis any new deal, especially the one that tends to force it into a virtual capitulation. China and Russia continue to support an unconditional US return to the JCPOA in exchange for Iran’s return to full compliance with the deal. An unconditional return “is the key to breaking the deadlock,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, in a recent news conference.

But “breaking the deadlock” is not what Israel and its allies in the Gulf are seeking to achieve. They are pushing the US to adopt a policy that keeps the deadlock alive unless Iran’s power and regional influence can be fully and permanently curtailed. For the Israelis, the path to Iran’s capitulation demands a US capitulation to Israel first so that they can shape the US policy in a way that best serves their interests. So far, the Israelis have been successful.

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Asks Why Israel Gets Preferential Treatment With IAEA Despite Its Arsenal of Nukes

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 06.03.2021

Tel Aviv adheres to a policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’, meaning that it neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons. At the same time, the country reserves itself the right to bomb, sabotage or otherwise act to stop activities of any Middle Eastern power it believes could lead to the development of a nuclear weapon.

Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal poses a threat to the Middle East and the world, and Tehran is concerned by the country’s apparent preferential treatment with the International Atomic Energy Agency despite its status as a non-signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, has said.

“Since all [countries] in the Middle East region, except the Israeli regime, are parties to the NPT and have undertaken to accept the Agency’s comprehensive safeguards, development of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme by this regime poses a continuing serious threat not only to the security and stability of the region and the world, but also to the effectiveness and efficiency of the NPT and the Agency’s safeguards regime,” Gharibabadi said, speaking at the meeting of the IAEA border of governors meeting this week.

The diplomat suggested that despite Israel’s censure at the United Nations and the IAEA over its suspected non-proliferation violations, the country has refused to accede to the NPT, or to place its nuclear facilities and activities under the IAEA’s safeguards regime.

“Ironically, Israel is now even enjoying a more preferential treatment as compared with that of the Nuclear Weapons States, since they are members of the NPT and have several obligations specifically under Articles 1 and VI of the Treaty,” Gharibabadi argued. The articles he mentioned relate to the non-transfer of nuclear weapons technologies, and to good-faith talks on the cessation of the nuclear arms race and disarmament.

“It is a clear contradiction that Israel as a non-member to the NPT is enjoying the full rights and privileges due to its membership to the IAEA, while at the same time, it considers itself free from any responsibility, and participates in all deliberations of the Agency related to members of the NPT,” the diplomat said.

It is “an irony” that the IAEA has focused its attentions on Iran and other members of the NPT while making “the chronic strategic mistake” of “overlook[ing] Israel’s nuclear materials and activities in the volatile region of the Middle East,” Gharibabadi suggested, suggesting that this “very serious shortcoming” needs to be addressed.

Otherwise, he asked, “what is the advantage of being both a NPT member and fully implementing the Agency’s safeguards?”

Israel has repeatedly called on the international community to take action against Iran’s nuclear programme and its alleged secret military component. Tel Aviv has also threatened that it would not rule out unilateral military actions to halt this alleged weapons programme. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed for the better part of the last decade that Iran is on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons, with the timeframe involved claimed to be either “weeks” or “months.”

Israeli threats of action against Iran come amid multiple reports citing satellite intelligence suggesting that Tel Aviv itself is engaged in major construction activity at the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, the top secret installation thought to have given birth to Israel’s first atomic bomb in the 1960s.

Israel does not confirm nor deny possessing nuclear weapons. Estimates on the size of its nuclear arsenal range from 80 to 400 warheads, with these weapons believed to be deliverable via a number of medium and long-range ground-based missiles, aircraft and cruise missiles launched by subs.

Iran is not known to possess nukes, and its leaders have issued at least two fatwas (religious rulings) banning their development. In the 1980s, one of these fatwas also prohibited Iran from retaliating to Iraqi chemical attacks using Iran’s own chemical weapons arsenal. The country later eliminated these weapons before joining the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In 2015, the Islamic Republic, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a landmark treaty promising Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its peaceful nuclear programme. Washington pulled out of the agreement in 2018, and the Biden administration has yet to live up to its campaign pledge to rejoin it.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 5 Comments

Biden Extends Sanctions against Iran by One Year

Al-Manar | March 6, 2021

US President Joe Biden has decreed to extend the set of sanctions against Iran, which are in force since 1995, for another year, the White House press office announced.

“The actions and policies of the Government of Iran – including its proliferation and development of missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities, its network and campaign of regional aggression, its support for terrorist groups, and the malign activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its surrogates – continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the statement reads.

“For these reasons, the national emergency declared on March 15, 1995, must continue in effect beyond March 15, 2021,” according to the statement.

The US national emergency state with respect to Iran was declared in March 1995 by former US President Bill Clinton.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Hague-based tribunal orders US to pay $37mln to Iran for breaching 1981 treaty

Press TV – March 4, 2021

In a legal victory for the Islamic Republic, the Hague-based Iran–United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) has ordered Washington to pay $37 million to Iran after finding it guilty of passing Treasury regulations that prevented or delayed the transfer of part of the Iranian assets in violation of the 1981 Algiers Accords.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Iran’s Presidency Center for International Legal Affairs said the tribunal — which resolves claims by nationals and governments of Iran and the US — had ruled in favor of Iran in the legal case brought by Tehran, obliging the US to pay financial damages to the country and restitute some of the assets belonging to the Iranian government and government institutions.

In 1982, the Islamic Republic of Iran brought the case against the US before the IUSCT, which issued its initial ruling in 1992, it added.

After hearings, the center said, the tribunal handed down a final verdict in March 2020 condemning the United States for failing to transfer Iran’s assets or delaying the process.
Under the ruling, the US government was ordered to pay almost $29 million to Iran.

The court also set a time limit for America to restitute some assets with historical value like musical instruments belonging to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. If the US fails to do so, it must pay Iran $8 million dollars, bringing the total fine to $37 million.

The IUSCT, which was established on January 19, 1981, consists of nine members, three appointed by each government and three (third-country) members appointed by the six government-appointed members.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

More Suggestions for Dealing with Israel

Recusal and banning dual nationality good places to start

By Philip Giraldi | Unz Review | March 2, 2021

My article last week that made some suggestions about what ordinary Americans can do to put pressure on Israel and on the lopsided bilateral relationship with Washington that has done so much damage to the United States proved to be quite popular. It also resulted in some comments by readers who saw other issues that might be considered pressure points that could be exploited to bring about change or at least to mitigate some of the damage.

Two areas that were mentioned a number of times were the possibility of recusing the most strident Israeli partisans from some discussions on Middle East policy and also refusing to issue security clearances to American government employees and politicians who are “dual national” citizens, which raises the issue of dual loyalty. Recusal is defined as removing oneself from participation to avoid a conflict of interest due to lack of impartiality while refusing to issue clearances would completely block dual national Israeli and other foreign citizens from having high level positions in the U.S. government.

Some would argue that recusal is an excessive punishment that will limit debate on a key foreign policy issue. It will also inevitably be perceived by the usual suspects as anti-Semitic since the only ones who would be excluded would be some Zionists, but they miss the point, which is that the current system does not in any way permit the review of a range of points of view on the Middle East since it is monopolized by Jews and friends of Israel. And there is a precedent. Not so long ago the U.S. State Department had an informal policy that discouraged the selection of Jewish ambassadors for Israel. The intent was to prevent any conflicts of interest and also to protect the ambassadors from inappropriate pressure. There also existed a cadre of so-called Arabists who dealt with issues in the Middle East alongside Jewish officers in the State Department. In the 1950s and 1960s a concerted effort was made by Jewish organizations and Congress to weed out the Arabists and currently nearly all the working level handling of policy formulation for that region is being done by Jews.

One might assume reasonably that the concentration of decision making in the hands of a partisan group, whether Arabists or Zionists, would inevitably not be in the U.S. national interest, and so it has proven if one looks at the shambles in the arc from Afghanistan over to Lebanon.

The following description of how the process actually works comes from Ben Rhodes, who is himself half-Jewish, and it describes the decision making on the Middle East during the administration of President Barack Obama where Rhodes served as Deputy National Security Advisor. During his time in office he observed how same 10 to 20 individuals who invariably took the position of the Israeli government were in on discussions of Middle East policy but if anyone in the White House paid attention to Arab-American or peace groups, they could “get in trouble.”

Rhodes observed that “You meet more with outside, organized constituency groups on Israel than any other foreign policy issue. I’d actually go as far to say that… as a senior White House official working on national security… the number of people you meet from the organized pro Israel community equals all the other meetings that you might do with kind of diaspora or constituency groups on all the other issues. It’s that degree of dwarfing. I’m pretty confident that’s consistent across [presidential] administrations…

“You just have this incredibly organized pro-Israel community that is very accustomed to having access in the White House, in Congress, at the State Department. It’s taken for granted, as given, that that’s the way things are going to be done… I remember looking around the situation room on a meeting on the Israel Palestine issue and every single one of us in the meeting was Jewish or of Jewish origin like me…”

The United States has many interests in the Near East, but if every move is seen through the optic of Israel the inevitable results will not be beneficial to Americans. So, if recusal, either voluntary or forced, is employed to obtain a better mix of opinion on policy options it can only beneficial. And it will also ipso facto loosen the overweening influence that successive Israeli governments have exercised over U.S. presidents and Congress.

Preventing individuals holding two passports from obtaining sensitive government jobs would also be a highly desirable step but it will be hard to execute in practice as the Israeli government does not make available lists of American citizens who have also taken up Israeli citizenship. Holding two passports was, in fact, illegal in the United States up until 1964. New citizens were required to turn in old passports and swear loyalty to the United States. Retention of former citizenship could be punished by the loss of the American citizenship.

Numerous online lists of dual Israeli-Americans in government circulate on the internet, but it is clear from the content that most of the compilations are speculative. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer describes himself as the “shomer” or protector of Israel in the Senate and appears on such lists. So too does former Congressman Tom Lantos, described as holocaust survivor and very active in his support of Israel. And then there is former Senator Frank Lautenberg was often described as the “Senator from Israel” and Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania who tried to cover up the Jewish source of the enriched uranium that Israel stole to construct its nuclear weapon.

Protecting Israel sometimes includes bending the rules. Lautenberg, for example, was responsible for the “Lautenberg amendment” of 1990 which brought many thousands of Russian Jews into the United States as refugees, even though they were not in any danger and were therefore ineligible for that status. As refugees, they received significant taxpayer provided housing, subsistence and educational benefits.

One might also include Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff and mayor of Chicago, who reportedly served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army, and Doug Feith, who caused so much mischief from his perch at the Pentagon in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Feith had a law office in Jerusalem, suggesting that he might have obtained Israeli citizenship. Obama Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro chose to live in Israel after his term in office ended and wound up working for an Israeli national security think tank. He quite likely obtained Israeli citizenship and never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as required by law. Both he and Emanuel are reportedly being considered by President Biden for major ambassadorial assignments.

But in reality, few in Congress and in the federal government bureaucracy are likely to have actual Israeli citizenship even if they regularly exhibit what amounts to “dual loyalty” sympathy for the Jewish state. Nevertheless, Jews who are Zionists are vastly overrepresented in all government agencies that have anything at all to do with the Middle East.

That said, there was one individual dual national who truly stood out when it came to serving Israeli interests from inside the United States government. She might be worthy of the nickname “Queen of Sanctions” because she was the Department of the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (OTFI), who handed the punishment out and had her hand on the throttle to crank the pain up. She is our own, unfortunately, and also Israel’s own Sigal Pearl Mandelker, and it is wonderful to be able to say that she finally resigned in late 2019!

Mandelker was born in Israel and largely educated in the United States. She is predictably a lawyer. She has never stated how many citizenships she holds while repeated inquiries as to whether she retains her Israeli citizenship have been ignored by the Treasury Department. It is not clear how she managed to obtain a security clearance given her evident affinity to a foreign country. The position that she held until October 2019 was created in 2004 by George W. Bush and is something of a “no Gentiles need apply” fiefdom. Its officials travel regularly on the taxpayer’s dime to Israel for consultations and also collaborate with pro-Israel organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). Mandelker’s predecessor was Adam Szubin and he was preceded by David Cohen and, before that, by the office’s founder Stuart Levey, who is currently Group Legal Manager and Group Managing Director for global bank HSBC. Since its creation, OFTI has not surprisingly focused on what might be described as Israel’s enemies, most notably among them being Iran.

During her time in office, Mandelker, who predictably claims to be the child of “holocaust survivors,” was clear about her role, citing her personal and business relationship with “our great partner, Israel.” Referring to her office’s imposed sanctions on Iran, she has said that “Bad actors need money to do bad things. That is why we have this massive sanctions regime … Every time we apply that pressure, that crunch on them, we deny them the ability to get that kind of revenue, we make the world a safer place.”

So the answer is pretty clearly that there are Israelis and/or dual nationals working for the federal government and possibly also ensconced in the Congress. Refusing them clearances so they would not wind up in policy making jobs would be a good step forward, particularly if it is combined with recusal from policy planning for obvious partisan representatives of organizations dedicated to protecting Israel.

As a final observation, one might only suggest three additional bastions of “Israel-first” think that need to be assailed to permit any rational discussion of an appropriate U.S. role in the Middle East. They are the deeply flawed accepted holocaust narrative, which is used to grant Israelis and Jews special exemption due to their status as perpetual victims; the cynical use of the label anti-Semitism to silence critics; and the still undisclosed role of Israel in 9/11, which has never been adequately addressed. For more information, I would refer the reader to Norman Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry, Ron Unz’s American Pravda piece on Mossad Assassinations and Justin Raimondo’s book on 9/11 The Terror Enigma. They are all major areas of inquiry on which some new information has developed and are worthy of separate articles in the future.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

March 2, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments