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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Iranian Revolutionary Guard: 'No foreigners allowed in our military sites'

Waiting for President Hussein Obama to cave in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1....
A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Sunday that inspectors would be barred from military sites under any nuclear agreement with world powers.
Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guard's deputy leader, said on state TV that allowing the foreign inspection of military sites is tantamount to "selling out."
"We will respond with hot lead (bullets) to those who speak of it," Salami said. "Iran will not become a paradise for spies. We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy."
...
A fact sheet on the framework accord issued by the State Department said Iran would be required to grant the U.N. nuclear agency access to any "suspicious sites." Iran has questioned that and other language in the fact sheet, notably that sanctions would only be lifted after the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Tehran's compliance. Iran's leaders have said the sanctions should be lifted on the first day of the implementation of the accord.
The fact sheet said Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would grant the IAEA expanded access to both declared and undeclared nuclear facilities.
But Salami said allowing foreign inspectors to visit a military base would amount to "occupation," and expose "military and defense secrets."
"It means humiliating a nation," Salami said on state TV. "They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams."
 So there won't be inspections. We can trust Iran, right? What difference does it make?

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Accidental statement of the truth?

Heh.

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Arab commentators: 'Obama supports Iran because his father was a Shiite'

Here are a couple of clips from Arab television in which a Syrian and a Saudi commentator argue that President Hussein Obama supports Iran because his father was a Shiite Muslim (the brand of Islam practiced in Iran).

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Jack W).

Certainly not implausible.

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Ouch! Sharansky: 'US suffering from tragic loss of moral self-confidence'

With the possible exception of Elie Wiesel, there may be no one alive today who is more qualified to speak as the moral conscience of contemporary government than Natan Sharansky. In a Washington Post op-ed, Sharansky makes a biting comparison between American negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capability and American negotiations with the Soviet Union 40 years ago (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Reality is complicated, and the use of historical analogies is always somewhat limited. But even this superficial comparison shows that what the United States saw fit to demand back then from the most powerful and dangerous competitor it had ever known is now considered beyond the pale in its dealings with Iran.
Why the dramatic shift? One could suggest a simple answer: Today there is something the United States wants badly from Iran, leaving Washington and its allies with little bargaining power to demand additional concessions. Yet in fact Iran has at least as many reasons to hope for a deal. For Tehran, the lifting of sanctions could spell the difference between bankruptcy and becoming a regional economic superpower, and in slowing down its arms race it could avoid a military attack.
I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides’ respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.
Read the whole thing.

I often wonder if Americans have really bought into the moral diffidence of their current government, or whether that lack of conviction is the sole province of those currently running its government. Certainly, the fact that Obama was reelected in 2012 would seem to indicate that the American people have bought into his agenda of degrading America and making it no better than any other nation. And I worry that with all of the illegal immigrants Obama has made citizens, many of whom either have no clue what being an American is about, or wish to destroy what America was, another Obama-like leader will be elected in a year and a half.

As an American ex-pat and as a lover and admirer of all America represented until January 20, 2009, I can only hope and pray that Americans will see the light and elect a different kind of leadership in November 2016.

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Where is Hillary?

In a Wall Street Journal blog, former peace processor Aaron David Miller argues that Hillary Clinton will 're-set' US-Israel relations.
She’s too smart for anti-Israeli  tantrums: As secretary of state Hillary Clinton had tough moments with Mr. Netanyahu. In her memoir “Hard Choices,” she describes their relationship as partners and friends and opines that it was best not to corner Bibi or he would fight. She writes that she worried that President Obama’s decision to have it out with Israel on settlements would trigger a confrontation that would lock Jerusalem and Washington into an unproductive battle. Nor did she relish having to be the bad cop to Joe Biden’s good cop and delivering anti-settlement messages to the prime minister. It seems clear in light of the administration’s anti-Netanyahu  messaging after Israel’s elections last month that Mrs. Clinton perceives that kind of rhetoric as bad for her and the U.S.-Israel relationship. Last month, in a heavily publicized phone call to Malcom Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish-American organizations,  she called for a return to a constructive bilateral relationship.
Should Hillary Clinton win in 2016 her pragmatic pro-Israeli streak would no doubt set a different tone in U.S.-Israeli relations. That may well be true for a Republican president, too. Frustrations with Prime Minister Netanyahu will remain high. Mrs. Clinton will look for opportunities to revive prospects for a two-state solution, something she cares about. But as the Middle East implodes, she will also try to find a way to reset relations with Mr. Netanyahu. She knows to avoid unproductive fights with the Israelis, particularly ones you can’t win. That will disappoint  those who believe that more vinegar than honey is needed to get Israel to move. But that’s not Hillary Clinton’s style. She’d fight with the Israelis on peace  if she thought she could win and in the process do something that was good for the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians too.
But Caroline Glick does not cut Clinton so much slack, and believes that American Jewish donors to the Democratic party must force Clinton to take a stand in favor of Israel.
To date, Hillary, who was herself a full partner in Obama’s moves to marginalize Israel supporters during her stint as secretary of state, has said as little as possible about his foreign policy. As a result, she has given no reason for Democratic senators to consider parting ways with the president on Iran.

So far, Clinton’s only move to put distance between herself and her anti-Israel former boss was to allow Malcolm Hoenlein from the Conference of Presidents to issue a statement late last month in his name claiming that Clinton told him that she thinks the US and Israel should bury the hatchet. Clinton, for her part, neither confirmed nor denied Hoenlein’s statement.

Almost simultaneous with Clinton’s announcement Sunday that she is running for president, came a statement from her campaign that she seeks to raise the whopping sum of $2.5 billion in order to secure her election.

There is no way that Clinton can hope to raise that sum without securing the support of major Jewish donors. While some major Jewish donors do not care about whether or not the US supports Israel, as an unnamed Jewish Clinton supporter told JTA this week, Clinton will also need to win the support of donors who do support Israel.

In the source’s words, “Some of the most prominent Jewish Democratic donors are very concerned about the relationship the president has had with Netanyahu and the Iran deal.”

If these Jewish donors band together and condition their support for Clinton on her issuing a clear statement opposing Obama’s deal with Iran and opposing any plan to abandon US support for Israel at the UN Security Council, they will accomplish three vital things.

First, they will loosen Obama’s control over otherwise pro-Israel Democratic senators and other pro-Israel groups in the Democratic Party, including the NJDC. In so doing they will reopen the possibility that Congress will scuttle Obama’s deal with the mullahs.

Second, they will take a major step toward rebuilding Democratic support for Israel that Obama has worked so hard to diminish.

Finally, they will reestablish their political significance in American politics. By supporting Obama, even as he has abandoned the US alliance with Israel, Jewish Democrats have lost their political leverage and power. That power is contingent upon their refusal to abandon Israel.

During the next two months, Obama will be focused on closing his deal with Iran, and Clinton will be avidly seeking to lock up the Democratic nomination for president by building an impregnable fortress of campaign funds. If the American Jewish community uses this critical period to leverage Clinton’s financial requirements to convince her to oppose Obama’s deal that paves the way for a nuclear armed Iran, then they will reassert their relevance in American politics and they will restore support for Israel to its pre-Obama position as a bipartisan position.

If they fail to do so, then Obama’s bid to transform Israel into a partisan issue will succeed. If a Republican wins the White House in 2016, he will face an anti-Israel Democratic opposition. And if Clinton wins the White House, she will have no reason to support Israel.
I'm with Caroline. I'm not a big fan of Bill Clinton, but Bill's affection for Israel is genuine albeit misguided with respect to his views of what's in our interest. Hillary, on the other hand, has a long history of being anti-Israel.
It seems that in the Obama White House, the boss may not be the biggest Israel hater. That title may well belong to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).
In his book American Evita, Christopher Anderson writes.
At a time when elements of the American Left embraced the Palestinian cause and condemned Israel, Hillary was telling friends that she was "sympathetic" to the terrorist organization and admired its flamboyant leader, Yasser Arafat. When Arafat made his famous appearance before the UN General Assembly in November 1974 wearing his revolutionary uniform and his holster on his hip, Bill "was outraged like everybody else," said a Yale Law School classmate. But not Hillary, who tried to convince Bill that Arafat was a "freedom fighter" trying to free his people from their Israeli "oppressors." (1)
Of course Hillary's feelings about the PLO and Israel are only one aspect of her character, often a person's true nature is more closely revealed in a more intimate setting. In an early showcase of Hillary's diplomatic skills Christopher Anderson relates an experience that she and her future husband had during a trip to Arkansas in 1973.
It was during this trip to his home state that Bill took Hillary to meet a politically well connected friend. When they drove up to the house, Bill and Hillary noticed that a menorah-the seven branched Hebrew candelabrum (not to be confused with the more common and subtler mezuzah)-has been affixed to the front door.

"My daddy was half Jewish," explained Bill's friend. "One day when he came to visit , my daddy placed the menorah on my door because he wanted me to be proud that we were part Jewish. And I wasn't about to say no to my daddy."

To his astonishment, as soon as Hillary saw the menorah, she refused to get out of the car. "Bill walked up to me and said that she was hot and tired, but later he explained the real reason." According to the friend and another eyewitness, Bill said, "I'm sorry, but Hillary's really tight with the people in the PLO in New York. They're friends of hers, and she just doesn't feel right about the menorah." (2)
Read the whole thing. After that second story, anyone want to try to convince me that she 'only' hates Israel and not Jews?
The only time in her adult life that Hillary Clinton was pro-Israel was when it was necessary to be elected as US Senator from the heavily Jewish state of New York. I don't believe that Hillary Clinton is worthy of Jewish support at all, but if American Jews are going to donate to her campaign they should at least condition their support on a clear and irreparable break with President Hussein Obama's policies on both the Iranian nuclear file and the so-called 'peace process.'

Read the whole thing.

PS to Aaron David Miller: The Rabins are not exactly lionized in Israel today.

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The US wasn't the only government to fund 'Victory-2015'

Prime Minister Netanyahu will undoubtedly want to take this up with German Premier Angela Merkel the next time he sees her:
If you go through the comments, you will see that Victory 2015 - the group that attempted to defeat Netanyahu in the last election with backing from the Obama administration - is not happy about being exposed.

Heh.

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Putin warns Israel against selling weapons to Ukraine

Earlier this week, I reported that there is talk of Israel selling advanced weapons systems to Ukraine and Georgia in response to Russia selling the S-300 missile defense system to Iran. Vladimir Putin has taken notice, and the leader of the world's only superpower is warning Israel against making such weapons sales.
Speaking to official state media in Russia, Putin said that any such deals between Israel and Ukraine would be “counterproductive” and would “only cause a new round of hostility.”

“The death toll would rise, but the result would not change,” Putin was quoted as telling Rossiya, the official state-run television channel.

...

“It’s a choice for the Israeli leadership to make, they can do what they see necessary,” Putin said.
Something tells me that Putin doesn't really want a direct confrontation with Israel. He just wants money from Iran. Perhaps we should offer to  buy the S-300 instead?

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

A $50 billion signing bonus for Iran

The cartoon above is from 2008 and is actually more optimistic than what's going on today. For today, it is clear, that President Hussein Obama is perfectly happy to have Iran become nuclear armed, at least so long as it doesn't happen on his watch.

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

In an email, Omri Ceren reports that President Hussein Obama is offering Iran a $50 billion cash infusion to sign a nuclear agreement with the P 5+1. That would increase Iranian GDP by 10% immediately. And that's only the beginning.
This Wall Street Journal article by Carol Lee and Jay Solomon went live yesterday just as everyone was going home, but it's everywhere this morning so I wanted to pass it along. Pasted at the bottom. It reports out the President’s comments from yesterday, which you would have gotten from me along with video, in which he moved to placate Khamenei's new demand for immediate sanctions relief upon signing a deal.

The White House is trying to spin the new concession, which contradicts the factsheet they distributed the evening of the Lausanne announcement, in two ways.

1st -- they're telling journalists that the new concession doesn’t matter because the snapback mechanism is more important than the sequencing of sanctions relief. That's a difficult position to defend politically, because it's obvious the White House caved again, and even more difficult to defend substantively, because snapback only works in theory if the Iranian economy is sufficiently fragile for pressure to matter - and immediate relief would stabilize that economy. Beyond the optics and the theory, very few people believe the administration's Rube Goldberg mechanism for restoring sanctions would even work (FDD's Mark Dubowitz has been saying so for months and David Rothkopf was brutal on the question last week). It's just not a great position to defend.

But this is what the administration has left, so this is what they're going with. You'll see more of it – ‘snapback more important than sanctions’ - over the weekend and into Monday as White House officials do damage control.

2nd -- they're trying to borderline-gaslight journalists by insisting that there was no new concession, that the President didn't signal any new flexibility, and that sanctions relief will still be phased out. That line is falling a bit flat - Obama said what he said - but now the question is how they intend to square the circle. How do they make sanctions relief phased in principle, so they can keep saying they didn't cave, but instantaneous in practice, so that the Iranians will take the concession? On that point there's a suggestive little scooplet buried in the WSJ article:

The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the administration. Complicating negotiations, U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia has repeatedly charged in recent weeks that Iran has provided significant funding, arms and training to Shiite insurgents in Yemen who gained control of the country’s capital, San’a, and forced the country’s president to flee. Iran has denied these allegations. Iran also is a major supporter of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and a group of Shiite militias fighting in Iraq.

An immediate and irreversible infusion of $50 billion would boost Iran's GDP by more than 10% overnight and signal the end of meaningful financial pressure. But it would also allow the White House to continue insisting that sanctions relief was being phased out in principle: all the sanctions that matter would get removed immediately, but there would still be a few sanctions left as a legal matter.

The trick could still prove politically toxic on the Hill. It would provide the Iranians with an infusion of $50 billion for their terror infrastructure and their march across the Middle East, which would panic our Arab allies. who are at war with Iran because of those campaigns. It’s also $50 billion to a regime that is dedicated to America's destruction and that killed over a thousand American soldiers. That spins itself.
Here's the clip of President Obama refusing to rule out immediate and complete sanctions relief to Iran upon signing an agreement. Let's go to the videotape.


So far no reaction to this from Democrats on Capitol Hill. What could go wrong? More from Powerline here.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

How the US missed Israel's nuclear program

On my first trip to Israel, in 1972, my father z"l (of blessed memory) took our family on a tour that started in Tel Aviv and ended in Eilat. On the way, we passed what you see pictured at the top. The guide told us that we were not to tell anyone what we saw there (all we did was drive past it) and that he would not tell us what it is. My father told me at the time that it was 'obviously' a nuclear reactor.

As you might recall, last month, the Obama administration made public for the first time that Israel is a nuclear power. Yes, we've all known that for 40-50 years (or thought we did), but the Obama administration made it official. They did so by releasing some - but not all - of the US documents relating to what may have been one of the greatest intelligence failures in US history: the failure to realize that Israel was becoming a nuclear power until it was too late to stop it.

Those documents have now been reviewed and a fascinating summary of them appears here. Here are a few short paragraphs from a very long and fascinating story.
So how did Washington finally discover Dimona, and why was the attitude one of great concern? The story that we reconstruct here, which is based upon newly unearthed, hitherto obscure primary sources, is still incomplete and fragmentary. Much of the record is still classified at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, not only in State Department files but also in the records of the Atomic Energy Commission. Indeed, over 100 documents from 1960-61 still remain classified at NARA until a pending declassification request sets them free. Yet, based on the available declassified record, it is possible to tell a fascinating story, much of which is novel.
The first report that Israel was secretly building a large nuclear reactor with French assistance came to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv through an American source. In late July 1960, David Anderson, an employee of American Machine and Foundry  Atomics—the company that installed the Atoms for Peace reactor at Nachal Soreq—informed U.S. Embassy officials that he had heard that French personnel were constructing “a 60 megawatt atomic power reactor” in the Beersheba area. His source was an Israeli oil company director who told Anderson that the French nationals were working on a project described to him as “gas cooled power reactor capable of producing approximately 60 megawatts of electrical power.” Anderson’s understanding was that the project had been underway for “about two years,” with the completion date two years off. This report is the first and earliest available U.S. document that makes explicit reference to the Dimona project as it was actually underway.
When the U.S intelligence community got wind of the embassy report, it took time to digest it; U.S. officials realized that more information was needed, given that they had no independent sources to corroborate the report. The CIA formulated a list of questions about French-Israeli collaboration, including the organizations involved in the project, reactor specifications and plans for spent fuel, e.g., whether the Israelis were building a chemical separation plant. Only in October 1960 did the State Department send the CIA questions as an “Instruction” to the U.S. embassy in Israel, with the embassy in Paris and the U.S. mission to the IAEA also receiving copies. The request for information did not get high priority; it had a “Routine collection priority.” 
...
In early January 1960, Ambassador Reid brought these questions up in another meeting with Ben-Gurion. The telegram itself remains classified, but a summary is available. The essence of the matter, according to Ben-Gurion, was that: (1) Israel “has no plans for producing nuclear weapons”; (2) Israel had no plutonium, but “as far as we know” returning the plutonium produced by the reactor was a “condition” imposed by the country (France) that sold the uranium; and (3) it would not accept IAEA inspection, especially if Russians were involved, or international safeguards “until all reactors are treated as equals.” The implication was that Israel would not accept international safeguards and inspections until they applied to every reactor around the world. Ben-Gurion, however, did allow for the possibility of visits by representatives of “friendly power,” an offer that the incoming Kennedy administration would pursue. How State Department officials interpreted these statements remains unknown, but they probably saw the answer about nuclear weapons as evasive.
More answers would come from the French, who asserted that plutonium produced in the reactor would be returned to France, that France and Israel had agreed that the reactor was for “exclusively peaceful use” and that French inspectors would be visiting the reactor. Yet what mechanisms were in place to assure that the French took the plutonium and to assure that Israel kept its pledges remained unclear. 
Sometime in late January 1961, days after John F. Kennedy was sworn in, the U.S. Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee prepared a “post-mortem” study on the SNIE on Dimona. This document is one of the most intriguing documents in the collection. Its aim was to explain why the U.S. intelligence community had failed to detect in real time the Israeli nuclear project, and, indeed, how late it was in making that determination. It provides an account of what was known, and when, about the Israeli nuclear program, concluding that Washington might have seen through Israeli “secrecy or deception” and better understood Israeli intentions at least a year earlier if the “atomic energy intelligence community had properly interpreted” the available information. In essence, the overall conclusion was that the root cause of the delay was not so much the absence of information as that some important reports and items of information had been lost in the shuffle and the dots not properly connected. 
As the classification of this document is only “secret,” and the document is relatively brief and deliberately vague about the intelligence means and sources employed in the final determination (e.g., it does not refer explicitly to the U-2 flights), it is quite possible that the intelligence community had more sensitive information that it excluded from this version of the post-mortem or that a more thorough report on the subject existed with higher classification.
Ultimately, the challenge of Dimona was too big for Eisenhower to resolve; it had to fall in the lap of his newly elected successor. Ben-Gurion would tell Kennedy the very same cover story and make sure that U.S. visitors to Dimona learned very little. Israel continued to refuse IAEA safeguards on Dimona. And Washington would discover that France had little power to ensure that Israeli kept its promises. 

Read the whole thing.

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But will Biden speak to him?

Let's hope Biden at least acknowledges his host.

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At 'pleasant, cooperative' meeting Jewish group urges Obama to remove UN backing for Israel

There was a second meeting of Jews with President Hussein Obama at the White House this week. The meeting was led by supporters of J Street, the organization for anti-Israel JINO's. In an atmosphere described as 'pleasant and cooperative,' the group urged President Obama to stop protecting Israel at the United Nations.
The exchange took place in the second of two meetings Obama held with American Jewish leaders to discuss the current negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as other regional issues. According to a source who was in the room, one J Street supporter told the president that if he decided to back a Palestinian state resolution over Israeli objections, “let us know first, and we’ll do the legwork for you, in the community… so you’re not going to come in cold.” Among the J Street supporters who were part of the delegation meeting with Obama were Alexandra Stanton, Lou Susman and Victor Kovner.
The atmosphere at that second meeting was described as pleasant and cooperative, in marked contrast to the first meeting, described by one source as “ungiving, very stern and tense.”
The Algemeiner spoke to four individuals who attended the meetings, as well as one other who did not attend, but was extensively briefed on what was said. All of the sources declined to be named for this report, as they were not authorized by the Administration to speak on the record.
The discussions totaled approximately two hours and forty minutes and were likely the most significant ones between the two sides since the start of the Obama presidency. “For sure this was the most important” one prominent Jewish leader stated, “because it was about Iran.”
The President was only at the first meeting for about an hour and ten minutes.

Regarding the first meeting, at which senior representatives of groups like the World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents and the Anti-Defamation League were present, one source said the conversation was “difficult” and “depressing.” The source added that “nobody was breaking ground, they were at cross purposes.” An attendee who spoke with JTA described the gathering as “intense” and said, “There was an openheartedness, there were some deep reflections by the president.” Other participants who spoke with JTA used the term “therapeutic” to describe the tone of the talks.
...
The second meeting, which was largely stacked with Obama allies, “was very pleasant,” according to one of the guests. It was “all his friends,” the guest said. As well as J Street supporters, others present included Haim Saban, the Israeli-American entertainment mogul who has been critical of Obama’s Middle East policies, and Democratic donors associated with AIPAC, including past presidents Amy Friedkin and Howard Friedman
Obama presented himself as thinking “like an ultra-liberal Jew” and conveyed the “J Street mantra,” according to the source.
Although some pointed questions were asked, Obama faced far less resistance, and was even encouraged to take steps against Israel and remain steadfast in his approach to Iran negotiations.
According to the source, one “J Streeter” pushed Obama to remove the American veto protection of Israel at the UN in the event that a Security Council resolution called for the creation of a Palestinian State.
The individual “said if you decide to go against Israel at the UN, ‘let us know first, and we’ll do the legwork for you, in the community… so you’re not going to come in cold…’ and they pushed him to do it,” the participant told The Algemeiner. “Another major Jewish leader… not J Street, more centrist, but he wants to cosy up to Obama, says [regarding Iran] ‘you are doing the right thing, we are behind you 100 percent’.”
Jewish support for Obama has dropped 23% since 2009. One can only wonder how many American Jews would have supported the likes of Hitler and Khomeni had they been given the chance.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

'One of the tensest meetings I can ever remember'

The legacy of Stephen Wise - who chose his personal relationship with FDR over saving Jews during World War II - must have been on the minds of many of the rabbis who attended a meeting with President Hussein Obama regarding Iran on Monday. Perhaps that's why one rabbi described it to Lee Smith as 'one of the tensest meetings I can ever remember' (Hat Tip: Gershon D).

“It was one of the tensest meetings I can ever remember,” said one participant who has been invited to many White House sit-downs over the years and requested anonymity. “The president spoke for 25 minutes, without notes,” he told me. “It was very impressive. Some people said very nice things, others expressed concerns, and talked about the role of Congress, and he talked about presidential prerogative, and cited other precedents for it. Lots of people challenged him very strongly, like about taking the threats of dictators seriously when Khamenei says death to America, death to Israel, death to the Jews. The president said he knows what the regime is, which is why he is trying to take away their weapons. He didn’t dismiss what the Iranians say, he just didn’t really address it.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal center, who also attended the meeting, was willing to speak on the record to Tablet. “Speaking for myself,” said Hier, “I was not satisfied.” Hier declined to describe the president’s comments but told me the point he made in the meeting. “Mr. President,” he said, “in a few weeks, you and others will be going to Germany to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. What meaning does that have when while negotiating over the nuclear treaty with Iran, none of the six powers said a word when the ayatollah Tweeted about annihilating the state of Israel, or a leading general in the IRGC said this is the regime’s raison d’etre? What meaning does the 70th anniversary have? Hitler said he was going to murder all the Jews in a letter from 1919, and he wound up doing it. If you hear the ayatollah saying that, every world leader should repudiate it immediately.”
What Obama is doing may be even worse than what Roosevelt did 70 years ago.
Roosevelt never lifted a finger to save European Jews, but he did defeat the Nazis. Obama writes letters to the man who threatens to exterminate Jews and promises him peace. American Jewish leaders have plenty to worry about. The cost to American political life of legitimizing exterminationist anti-Semitism may turn out to be one of the worst parts of a bad deal.
Obama isn't even going to fight Iran, and he is attempting to hogtie his successor into abstaining from a fight as well. Read the whole thing

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Iran's 'slightly different' nuclear framework

Iran has released its own 'fact sheet' on what was agreed upon at Lausanne last month. Unsurprisingly, it's slightly different than the US version.
“The [Iranian] fact sheet urges operation of 10,000 centrifuge machines at Natanz and Fordow, a maximum five-year-long duration for the deal and for Iran’s nuclear limitations, [and] replacement of the current centrifuges with the latest generation of home-made centrifuge machines at the end of the five-year period,” the Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“The Iranian parliament fact sheet for a revision to the Lausanne agreement came after the US released a fact sheet different from the joint statement issued by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs,” the Iranian version said.

According to the American document, Tehran agreed to reduce the number of installed uranium enrichment centrifuges it has to 6,104 from 19,000, and for 10 years will only operate 5,060 under the future final agreement with the six powers.

The Iranian fact sheet also said that once the final agreement is signed, there must be an immediate end to all US and EU sanctions and to UN Security Council resolutions.

However, the US fact sheet says that Iran would only gradually receive relief from US and European Union sanctions as it demonstrates compliance with the future agreement.

The US version also states that UN Security Council resolutions on Iran’s nuclear file would only be lifted after Iran has fully addressed all nuclear concerns.

Moreover, in place of the US claim that Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent for 15 years, the Iranian fact sheet says that after only five years, enrichment would continue at below 5%.
What could be worse than a bad agreement? A bad agreement that's an ongoing work in which no one can agree on what was agreed.

What could go wrong? 

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Obama meets with some of Israel's most radical Leftists

He backed Isaac Herzog and Tzippi Livni in the last election with an ad campaign that said that 'from the River to the Sea,' all of Israel belongs to the 'Palestinians.' But Livni and Herzog are far - very far - from being the most radical Leftist Israelis to whom Obama has granted succor. Daniel Greenfield has a rogue's gallery.
The Haaretz piece is another exercise in poisoning the well, but it does reveal some bits of interesting information. The article claims that Obama’s people, including Susan Rice, are refusing to meet with the Israeli ambassador. But they’re rather enthusiastic about meeting with assorted Israeli leftists.
...
Looking into the records of the entry permits reveals that several heads of leftist Israeli not-for-profit groups also visited the White House during 2014. At the end of October there was a visit by the head of the Geneva Initiative group, Gadi Baltiansky, followed the next day by a visit by the head of Friends of the Earth Gidon Bromberg. They met separately with Maher Bitar, director of Israeli-Palestinian affairs at the White House.
On December 2, left-wing activist Danny Zeidman, whose main interest is problems related to Jerusalem, met with adviser Gordon. On December 9, attorney Michael Sfard from the Yesh Din human rights group, met NSC Mideast adviser Lempert.
Those are understated descriptions.
Zeidman is with Ir Amim, a radical left-wing group fighting against the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. It gets its funding from the EU and George Soros.
An Ir Amim blog entry in the Huffington Post (April 27, 2010), appeals to the United States government to, “Threaten [Israel] with severing diplomatic ties.”
And apparently Ir Amim is much closer to the White House than anyone thought.
Yesh Din is another anti-Israel lefty group funded by the EU and George Soros.
According to Emily Schaeffer, a lawyer on Yesh Din’s legal team, “Yesh Din was founded to use law as a tool to fight the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
Victor Davis Hansen would tell you that coordinating strategy with groups like Ir Amim and Yesh Din - which are very far from any type of Israeli consensus - is something that Obama does purposefully and as a matter of course.
But, in fact, there is a predictable pattern to Obama’s foreign policy. The president has an adolescent, romantic view of professed revolutionary societies and anti-Western poseurs — and of his own ability uniquely to reach out and win them over. In the most superficial sense, Obama demonstrates his empathy for supposedly revolutionary figures of the non-Western world through gratuitous, often silly remarks about Christianity and Western colonial excesses, past and present. He apologizes with talk of our “own dark periods” and warns of past U.S. “dictating”; he contextualizes; he ankle-bites the very culture he grew up and thrived in, as if he can unapologetically and without guilt enjoy the West’s largesse only by deriding its history and values. 
In lieu of reading or speaking a foreign language, or knowing much about geography (Austrians speak Austrian, the death camps were Polish, the Indian Ocean Maldives are the politically correct name of the Falklands, cities along the U.S. Atlantic Coast are Gulf ports, etc.), Obama adopts, in the manner of a with-it English professor, hokey accentuation to suggest an in-the-know fides anytime he refers to the Taliban, Pakistan, or Teheran. Reminiscent of college naïfs with dorm-room posters of Che Guevara, Obama mythologizes about the underappreciated multicultural “Other” that did everything from fuel the Western Renaissance and Enlightenment to critique Christian excesses during the Inquisition. In truth, what he delivers is only a smoother and more refined version of Al Sharpton’s incoherent historical riff on “astrology” and “Greek homos.” Obama refuses to concede that Islam can become a catalyst for radical killers and terrorists, and he has a starry-eyed crush on those who strike anti-Western poses and have turned their societies upside down on behalf of the proverbial people. 
... 
For Obama, in the struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Israel is a Westernized colonial construct and a proponent of Western neo-liberal capitalism. The PA and Hamas, in contrast, are seen both as the downtrodden in need of community-organizing help and as authentic peoples whose miseries are not self-induced and the wages of tribalism, statism, autocracy, fundamentalism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism, but rather the results of Israeli occupation, colonialism, and imperialism. Obama may not articulate this publicly, but these are the assumptions that explain his periodic blasts against Netanyahu and his silence about the autocratic Palestinian Authority and the murderous Hamas. 
In such a landscape, the current Iranian talks make perfect sense. Obama was in no mood in the spring of 2009 to vocally support a million, pro-Western Iranian dissidents who took to the streets in anger over the theocracy’s rigged elections, calling for transparency and human rights. He snubbed them as if they were neoconservative democracy zealots. In his eyes, their false consciousness did not allow them to fully appreciate their own suffering at the hands of past American imperialists. In Obama’s worldview, the Iranian mullahs came to power through revolution and were thus far more authentic anti-Western radicals, with whom only someone like Obama — prepped by the Harvard Law Review, Chicago organizing, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s pulpit, and the most liberal voting record during a brief stint in the U.S. Senate — could empathize and negotiate. Why would Iranian idealists and democrats be foolish enough to spoil Obama’s unique diplomatic gymnastics? 
Traditional analyses deconstruct the Obama administration’s negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and are aghast at the naïveté — no stop to ongoing uranium enrichment, no open or surprise inspections, no conditions to be met before sanctions are scaled back, no prohibitions against the marriage of nuclear-weapon technology and intercontinental-missile development. 
But that is to misunderstand the Obama worldview. He is less worried about a nuclear Iran and what it will do to a mostly pro-Western Gulf or Israel, or to other traditional U.S. interests, than about the difficulties he faces in bringing Iran back into the family of nations as an authentic revolutionary force that will school the West on regional justice. (“There’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody.”) Iran will assume its natural revolutionary role as regional power broker in the Middle East; and, almost alone, it is not beholden to any Western power. 
In some sense, Obama views the rest of the world in the same way as he views America: a rigged order in which the oppressed who speak truth to power are systematically mischaracterized and alienated — and in need of an empathetic voice on the side of overdue revolutionary accounting.
That's why he's meeting with the likes of Daniel Seidemann and Emily Schaeffer, while refusing to meet with Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. The sooner Israelis recognize that this is Obama's view of the world - and that it's not representative of the United States in general - the sooner the harmful hysteria over 'our strained relations with the United States' will die down.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Report: Obama covered up N. Korea missile component transfers to Iran during nuke talks

The Washington Free Beacon reports that North Korea transferred advanced missile components to Iran while the P 5+1 talks with Iran were ongoing - and that President Hussein Obama hid that fact from the United Nations (Hat Tip: Gershon D).
Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.
...
CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani declined to comment on the missile component shipments, citing a policy of not discussing classified information.
But other officials said the transfers included goods covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.
One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.
The United Nations Security Council in June 2010 imposed sanctions on Iran for its illegal uranium enrichment program. The sanctions prohibit Iran from purchasing ballistic missile goods and are aimed at blocking Iran from acquiring “technology related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
U.S. officials said the transfers carried out since September appear to be covered by the sanctions.
Other details of the transfers could not be learned. However, U.S. intelligence agencies in the past have identified Iran’s Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) as the main shipper involved in transferring ballistic missile-related materials.
...
A classified State Department cable from October 2009 reveals that Iran is one of North Korea’s key missile customers.
The cable, made public by Wikileaks, states that since the 1980s North Korea has provided Iran with complete Scud missiles and production technology used in developing 620-mile-range Nodong missiles.
Additionally, North Korea also supplied Iran with a medium-range missile called the BM-25 that is a variant of the North Korean Musudan missile.
“This technology would provide Iran with more advanced missile technology than currently used in its Shahab-series of ballistic missiles and could form the basis for future Iranian missile and [space launch vehicle] designs.”
“Pyongyang’s assistance to Iran’s [space launch vehicle] program suggests that North Korea and Iran may also be cooperating on the development of long-range ballistic missiles.”
A second cable from September 2009 states that Iran’s Safir rocket uses missile steering engines likely provided by North Korea that are based on Soviet-era SS-N-6 submarine launched ballistic missiles.
That technology transfer was significant because it has allowed Iran to develop a self-igniting missile propellant that the cable said “could significantly enhance Tehran’s ability to develop a new generation of more-advanced ballistic missiles.”
“All of these technologies, demonstrated in the Safir [space launch vehicle] are critical to the development of long-range ballistic missiles and highlight the possibility of Iran using the Safir as a platform to further its ballistic missile development.”
A spokesman for Spain’s mission to the United Nations, currently in charge of the world body’s sanctions committee, said the committee has not received any communications from the United States since Spain took charge of the panel in January.
If you're waiting for a White House or State Department denial, don't hold your breath.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf did not return emails seeking comment.
If you're still wondering whose side President Obama is on, or whether he's seeking to arm Iran with nuclear weapons, I don't think you have to wonder anymore.

High crimes and misdemeanors, anyone?

Read the whole thing.

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Corker-Menendez passes Senate Foreign Relations Committee 19-0, but it's not all it's cracked up to be

By a 19-0 vote, the Corker-Menendez bill giving Congress a vote on a nuclear deal with Iran passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday afternoon, and now there are even indications that President Hussein Obama will sign the bill (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). However, conservatives argue that Obama will still have free reign over what happens with a deal with Iran, and some are even calling Corker a traitor. This is from the first link.
The panel voted 19-0 to approve legislation worked out between Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, who took over as ranking Democrat after Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on federal corruption charges. Menendez was co-author of the legislation with Corker.
The deal shortened the congressional review period for any agreement from 60 days to 30 days and eliminated a requirement that the president periodically certify that Iran is keeping to the terms of any agreement and "has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the United States, or a United States person anywhere in the world."

That provision was replaced by one requiring periodic reporting on Iran's support of terrorism. Another provision aimed at soothing Republican concerns would require the president to certify that any deal would not harm Israel's security, replacing a bid by some GOP members to require Iran to accept the Jewish state's right to exist as part of any agreement.
The compromise makes clear that Obama can waive U.S. sanctions if Congress approves a nuclear deal or if it fails to act.
The Wall Street Journal points out that the nuclear deal is still Obama's one-man deal - he will continue to have free reign over it.
As late as Tuesday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry was still railing in private against the bill. But the White House finally conceded when passage with a veto-proof majority seemed inevitable. The bill will now pass easily on the floor, and if Mr. Obama’s follows his form, he will soon talk about the bill as if it was his idea.
Mr. Obama can still do whatever he wants on Iran as long as he maintains Democratic support. A majority could offer a resolution of disapproval, but that could be filibustered by Democrats and vetoed by the President. As few as 41 Senate Democrats could thus vote to prevent it from ever getting to President Obama’s desk—and 34 could sustain a veto. Mr. Obama could then declare that Congress had its say and “approved” the Iran deal even if a majority in the House and Senate voted to oppose it.
My friend Noah Pollak is disappointed.
And the Tea Partiers are furious.
Traitor is strong language, but in the aftermath of Tuesday’s vote on a bill that was supposed to reaffirm the Senate’s constitutional power to consent to President Obama’s as yet still undefined and undisclosed nuclear treaty with Iran there is no other way to describe the actions of Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The bill Corker rammed through the Foreign Relations Committee is worse than no bill at all.
What Corker’s bill does is, in its post-markup form, require the president to submit for congressional review the final nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the U.S. and its five negotiating partners. The bill does maintain the prohibition on the president waiving congressionally enacted sanctions against Iran during the review period.
However, the review period in the measure has been shortened from 60 days to an initial 30 days. If, at the end of the 30 days, Congress were to pass a bill on sanctions relief and send it to the president, an additional 12 days would be automatically added to the review period. This could be another 10 days of review if the president vetoed the resulting sanctions bill.
Corker’s legislation in effect lowers the threshold for approving the Iran deal from 67 votes to 41 – a craven betrayed of the Senate’s constitutional role as the final word on whether or not the United States agrees to a treaty.
...

More importantly, Corker betrayed American interests and the interests of our allies in the greater Middle East; from Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to India no nation now within the range of Iran’s fast growing missile technology is secure from the threat of a nuclear armed Islamist Iran.
And make no mistake – it is the combination of Iran’s expansionist Islamism and nuclear weapons technology that is the threat.

...

The “growing support” for Senator Corker’s information, was not for him to cave-in to Obama, but for the Senate to exercise its real constitutional role in the approval – or disapproval – of Obama’s treaty to legitimize Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  And that means “advice” while the treaty is negotiated and “consent” after the President concludes the agreement.
Bob Corker has betrayed that constitutional principle and the world will be a much more dangerous place for his inexplicable failure to grasp the existential threat a nuclear armed Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the United States and in that willful blindness he has in effect betrayed all peoples who share the values of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of speech and will be threatened by a nuclear armed Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Wall Street Journal argues that Corker had no choice.
Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker deserves credit for trying, but in the end he had to agree to Democratic changes watering down the measure if he wanted 67 votes to override an Obama veto. Twice the Tennessee Republican delayed a vote in deference to Democrats, though his bill merely requires a vote after the negotiations are over.
It also has a more nuanced take on what ought to happen.
Our own view of all this is closer to that of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who spoke for (but didn’t offer) an amendment in committee Tuesday to require that Mr. Obama submit the Iran nuclear deal as a treaty. Under the Constitution, ratification would require an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the Senate.
Committing the U.S. to a deal of this magnitude—concerning proliferation of the world’s most destructive weapons—should require treaty ratification. Previous Presidents from JFK to Nixon to Reagan and George H.W. Bush submitted nuclear pacts as treaties. Even Mr. Obama submitted the U.S.-Russian New Start accord as a treaty.
The Founders required two-thirds approval on treaties because they wanted major national commitments overseas to have a national political consensus. Mr. Obama should want the same kind of consensus on Iran.
But instead he is giving more authority over American commitments to the United Nations than to the U.S. Congress. By making the accord an executive agreement as opposed to a treaty, and perhaps relying on a filibuster or veto to overcome Congressional opposition, he’s turning the deal into a one-man presidential compact with Iran. This will make it vulnerable to being rejected by the next President, as some of the GOP candidates are already promising.
The case for the Corker bill is that at least it guarantees some debate and a vote in Congress on an Iran deal. Mr. Obama can probably do what he wants anyway, but the Iranians are on notice that the United States isn’t run by a single Supreme Leader.
Well yes, unless the next President is - God Forbid - Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren. 

The Tea Party also has criticism of other Senators.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), at the request of Corker, agreed to withdraw an amendment to provide compensation for American victims of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis from fees collected for violations of Iran sanctions.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who planned to introduce an amendment that would have required the president to certify to Congress that Iran recognizes the state of Israel, wilted and settled for language asserting that the nuclear agreement would not compromise U.S. support for Israel’s right to exist.
Affirmation of Israel's right to exist is of course is a foundational principle of American foreign policy that was never questioned until Obama became president and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill became not so much the leaders of an opposition party, as a collection of craven cowards who wish only to avoid the unpleasantness actually having principles and standing for them would entail.
No, it wasn't questioned. And it's high time the questioning should stop. How many days until Obama's term ends?

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